Rustic Road to Ruins Pt4.5 – Riding with a Miata

Well I’m finally back at it. Life as usual has been hectic. My wife is on day shift now, so she’s got a normal schedule which means my post-work rides are a bit more limited. Not too big a deal, cause she likes to go out on the bike with me.

Yesterday I was planning to take a ride out to my parents cabin an hour south of Lacrosse, WI. From my place it’s about a 3.5 hour drive. I figured I could leave early enough to get there, and be back home in time to make some dinner. The weather, my GPS, and my apparent lack of sense of direction had other plans.

I left my place at about 8:30am, got about 5 minutes down the road, only to have it start to rain quite heavily on me. I stopped in at my local skatepark where there is a shelter and tossed on the rain gear. I more or less couldn’t see jack until I was about 10 minutes North of Lake Geneva. I was planning to scoot as quick as I could to Janesville, WI, grab gas, and then take a new route West over to my parents place.

My brother called and said he left a bit behind me in his miata, so we’d try to meetup somewhere along the way. My route had me going through Dodgeville, WI, so I said lets meet there and rock on. Unfortunately my navigational systems were not working. I took a turn too soon in Janesville off of rte 14. I found myself who knows where, trying to follow God only knows what route, and with a bladder that had to be relieved of the gatorade & coffee it had ingested earlier.

I made a pitstop off some backroad and gave my brother a ring. I was watching my clock and realized there was no chance I’d make it out to my parents place and back home in time to make dinner, so we made the executive decision to stop in New Glarus, WI for some lunch. I worked my way along a few back roads to get myself to ummmm 59 or 69 or something like that, which heads North into New Glarus.

Things got real for me at this point. I came to where I’d make a right onto the main road. I saw 2 cars off a bit in the distance working their way towards me. I thought at first…..they’re far enough away, I can accelerate and it’d be no big deal. Then I thought….eh, my brother is a little behind me, and I’m in no hurry, lets just chill, let them go, and cruise behind them.

That choice was a ride saver. About a mile down the road 2 small deer decided to jump out right as the lead car came up on them. You couldn’t see them at first due to them being as small as they were and with how tall the grass was. The lead car nailed one of them sending it spinning down the road. The car behind the lead car more or less just drove around the lead car after they moved to the side of the road. I pulled over and talked to the woman. She was OK and relayed she was glad it was her that hit the deer and not me. Needless to say, I felt the same way.

The ride into New Glarus from there was only a couple miles, so in a way it felt good to be in the relative safety of a small town, and theoretically less wildlife. My brother and I grabbed some lunch, and worked on a route that would take us back home following some back roads.

I relayed to him that I found I am having troubles coming to grips with riding the Ducati on the street. The bike is no slouch, it is plenty fast and I’m wondering if that is the “problem”. As I roll through turns, the bike feels it is going incredibly slow. A quick glance at the speedo tells me it’s not, but it just feels that way. I find myself constantly worrying about the gravel in the roads, and with yesterdays weather, all the dark\wet spots (notably the locations where people decided to shoot their grass clippings into the street). I explained that I don’t have these thoughts or concerns when I’m on my KTM, even with full on knobbies. I can feel with the knobbies the tires rolling and beginning to slide. I don’t get that same feedback with street tires.

I’m sure it’s a combination of not having road raced in a long time, a high power street bike, and just still early in the season to be 100% comfortable with pushing a bit. Or maybe I should go back to a lower power street bike. This thing cruises so smoothly at highway speeds that its hard to dislike, yet I keep finding a way.

On the way back, we managed to end up on a Rust Road that I hadn’t nabbed yet. RR81. I honestly don’t remember what it was all like. More narrow and covered with trees, opening up at the end where it meets 39.

We took some Wisconsin Lettered Roads on home, with us testing a camera setup my brother has been working on for awhile. We managed to capture a pretty rad shot:

And with that, the sun seemed to creep out, giving us a real nice cruise home. After a 250+ mile day, I was back home by 4pm and was able to begin prepping dinner.


Edit – Footage from the camera while mounted on my brothers car.

Doocati For Sells

Some business reasons are prompting me to sell one of my machines to free some capital.  I purchased this bike last year and don’t want to sell it, but at times, there are more important things in life.  This time is one of them.  Here is the info on it:

2004 Multistrada 1000DS

34,xxx miles

Heads completely redone this past winter.  New Valves, Guides, re-shimmed, etc.  Millennium Technologies did the work.  They recut the seats to match the Kibblewhite Valves.  Kibblewhite Guides were used as well.  New Athena\OEM Seals were used throughout the top end rebuild.

Belts were replaced at the end of last season, and reused when I reassembled everything this past winter.

I inspected each cylinder bore, as well as pistons & rings.  Everything was well within spec.  If they were not, I would have replaced them.  The engine looked phenomenal on the inside.

Chain & Sprockets are new.  Sprockets are JT with the rear being a JT “quick release” hub.  Making sprocket changes quicker\easier.

The bike has an Arrow exhaust header.  Basically no more Catalytic converter.  The actual muffler part is still OEM.

I installed fresh rear brake pads as well this winter.  EBC HH pads, though apparently Ducati’s are known for mediocre rear brakes.

The bike has heated grips installed underneath some Pro-Grips.

I have also flashed the ECU with the Ducati Performance Map and have also disabled the Immobilizer.  The DP Map is phenomenal.  Fuel mileage suffers slightly, but the low speed throttle is so worth it.  I can flash the OEM Map back on if you want. I’ll give you all the tools to mess with everything as well.  There’s a couple harnesses, plugs, software, etc.  I’ve got it all and have it all documented for simplicity (I made sure to cover my basis….didn’t want to fry my ECU haha).

Outside of that, the bike is bone stock.  I love it.  I love riding it.  I love the power delivery.  The engine pulses make my insides melt with each increasing RPM.  The exhaust tone is pure symphony.  From 6,000-8500 rpm is just absolutely glorious.

The bike has complete Ducati Performance luggage.  I have all the keys for the luggage.  I have all the keys and original owners manual for the bike as well.  As noted above, I also have the software to flash the ECU as well as all the required cables & such.

I have a few custom tools that I built for the bike.  Tools for adjusting valves, loosening hardware, etc.

Not shown in most of the pics is the carbon fibre chin spoiler.  I didn’t like the look of it.  I still have it & it will be included with the sale.

That’s about all I can say on it at this point.  It’s not a perfect bike, but the key thing (heads\guides\valves) were all redone this past winter.  The tires probably have about 50% on them.  I was on the bubble of putting on some TKC80’s, but the bike is far more appropriate on the street (not that I haven’t hit a gravel road or two on it).

If you have any questions on it, let me know.  I just want to move the bike quick as noted above, I need the cashes more than I need this 2nd bike.

I was anxious a few weeks ago and took the bike out on a barely warm enough day:

Some of the tools I made during the rebuild:

(Left to right – Cam Pulley holder, Crank turning tool for adjusting valves, Cam holding screw to keep cam at TDC while adjusting\changing belts, Head Bolt Torquing tool, Opener valve holding tool, Cam Pulley Nut tool)

Motor during rebuild:

Head with new valves & guides:

It’s a sexy motor:

Your adventure awaits:


I’m in Northern Illinois.  Basically Southern Wisconsin.  Hour North of Chicago & an Hour South of Milwaukee.  Zip Code – 60081

Price: $4500 obo

Questions? Comments? Additional Pictures to follow (I know people want closeups….)



Multiple reports update – June & July FVOR Race Results

I’m just a wee bit behind on my updates here.  Real quick on the June race.  I’d like to not think about it too much, but if I don’t keep the past in my mind, I’ll likely repeat it.  I don’t want that.  Junes harescramble at FVOR went like this:

I got a poor start.  I was then stuck behind a good deal of slower riders in my class and got frustrated.  Not the end of the world, as I started passing people, but I unfortunately let a lot of their mistakes affect me.  I went to make a hasty pass on a rider on a downhill section.  I attempted to pass him on the outside, which was fine until he crossed over into me.  I slammed on the brakes hard, but still managed to clip his rear wheel with my front.  Front VS. Rear, Rear always wins.  I cartwheeled down the hill.  I picked up the bike, noted the bars were tweaked, as was the front fender.  Each bump I heard a loud grinding noise.  I was a bit mentally defeated at this point, and thought I was having little fun while trying to navigate some arrows & blown tape in the wooded areas.  I wasn’t having fun, end o story.  I called it quits early.  Packed up and went home.

That’s the past and I aimed to do better come next race.  This Sundays race, I kept calm.  The little B & Big B classes grouped together for 1 line were too big, so they split us into separate lines at the start.  I liked this, as I had no one on the immediate sides of me.  I wear ear plugs when I race, so dead engine starts can prove to be tricky as I have a hard time hearing the motor start.  I kept calm, and pulled the holeshot.  I was holding a decent pace, but early on tucked the front in a slick turn.  I got back up as quick as possible and kept pushing.  I noted I was getting some arm pump pretty bad early on.  I don’t normally get arm pump, so I figured it was a combo of not riding off-road enough & possibly having tossed a different set of bars on the bike (and pushing to keep up my early race pace).  I calmed myself down and dealt with it.

On the second lap I tried getting a sip of water from my camelbak.  Nothing.  I thought Ice had clogged the hose, so I kept going.  Next lap as I noted I slipped into 3rd place, I again tried getting some water from my camelbak.  Nothing.  At some point I decided when I had a decent gap from whoever might be near me, I would have to stop.  I knew while I was plenty hydrated, I’d have a hard time making 105 minutes without water.  The dust in some open sections had been coating my mouth & it was needless to say, not pleasant.

My gap (perceived or whatever) opened up enough where I felt comfortable stopping to fix the camelbak.  Bladder out, and saw the quick release hose had released itself.  A quick click back in and I was back going.  Around 30 seconds loss I’d say.  The rush of cool water was an instant boost and I felt a resurgence of energy.  Unfortunately a group of guys had passed me (4 or 5).  They were in different classes, but it meant I’d have to deal with passing them again.  Not a big deal, but each person you gotta deal with passing is precious time lost.  I managed to pass them within the lap, so that was good for me mentally.

As the race progressed I could feel I was making some costly mistakes.  I let a few riders mess me up on some hill climbs.  Both times I had selected alternate lines, only to mess up and lose my momentum.  Not the end of the world, but HUGE energy sucks.  I felt the end was nearing, and saw there were approximately 20 minutes left on the clock.  At this point I had been lapped by the AA guys.  I knew my lap times were over the 10 minute mark, so tried to push that next lap to try and maybe find the 2nd place guy.  No such luck.

Last lap, my body was feeling it.  My tweaked ankle (from a skateboard incident) was really bothering me, and I felt the blisters on my left thumb really cropping up.  On the first real downhill, I managed to tuck the front (and subsequently destroy my left footpeg).  I hadn’t noticed the footpeg, so I just tried trucking on best I could.  I pushed when I could, I kept calm and knew no one was too close behind, and felt OK with the (unofficial) 3rd. Official 2nd Place

I saw the checkers and relaxed as I crossed the finish line logs.  I was definitely sore & out of breath.  The early half of the race without being able to quench the dryness in my mouth hampered things a bit.  I can really tell I haven’t been riding off-road enough.  The past several years I’d been spending almost every weekend riding dirt.  Lately it seems I’ve only been riding at the races.  This does not help me keep my speed up.  I’m going to have to figure out how I’m going to work around that.  Having my messed up ankle (rolled it while skateboarding) didn’t help either, though this should be 100% by the next race.

So there we have it.  I’ve got an unofficial 3rd place.  Overall I’m happy with my performance given the circumstances.  I’d really like to be winning every race, but well I’m trying to be as realistic about my situation as possible.  I’m looking forward to the next one.


Update: Official result = 2nd in Open B.  28th Overall.


ps – I’ll post pics as soon as I can find any online.

Fox Valley Off Road Harescramble Report (5-11-14)

First race is down and in the books. I’ve been him-hawing about racing this year. I’ve just been enjoying riding my bikes, so the hassle of dealing with a race was a bit less than appealing. In the morning, I was kinda hoping it was down pouring and I’d stay home and relax all day. It was the opposite, and we had perfect weather all day.

My wife and MIL came with to the race. My MIL hadn’t seen any of my races, and wanted to see what it was all about. When we got to the race, my buddies morning race had just started, so we went over and watched some of the action from the start area. This gave me a chance to eye up the first few turns, and see where the faster guys were starting to brake for the first dash into the woods. After a bit of watching, I figured it was time to start prepping myself for my race.

I like to be geared up and ready to roll 30-45 minutes before my race. I don’t like to really talk to anyone before, preferring to put on my headphones and mentally prep myself. About 15 minutes before the race, I start to do some mild jumping jacks\stretches\etc. Get the blood flowing a little bit and try to just zone in. About 5 minutes before the race is supposed to start, I head over by the starting area (where no one is really even lining up yet) and do some screwing around on some mulch piles and figure I should try out some dead engine starts.

My past 4-stroke & e-start bikes had cost me some terrible starts. Nothing like pushing the damn button and watching the rest of your class just launch away. I tested in 1st gear and 2nd. 1st didn’t seem to want to let the motor spin quick enough to fire, so I tried 2nd. It seemed to work well, but hey….I was uneasy about it. That is one thing I miss about the 2-stroke. With that RMX, you look at it wrong, and it starts up and roosts away. These 4-strokes…not a chance.

Wardy (land owner\race organizer) finally shows up, gives a speech which I can’t hear (ear plugs), and the bikes fire up, waiting for the flag to drop. B class guys are all on Row 4. That gives me 3 chances to do test dead engine starts.

My line is up, engines off, the last check and the flag drops. The 350 fired right to life, but I don’t get the pull that I wanted into the first turn. I’m a couple riders back. I see 2 guys up front really start to scoot away, and I know it’ll be a lot of work to catch them with being stuck behind another 2 or 3 slower guys. I use it as a chance to regroup myself mentally after the start and form my plan of attack.

I slowly begin recognizing where the course is leading us, and know that my first big offensive move will be in the Endurocross section. I’d practice it a LOT the last 2-3 times I’d been there, and I felt confident in my bike. I knew the good lines through there, and I know that if I treat everything like a jump or something I can just wheelie over, I’ll pass a lot of guys. And I did just that. There seemed to be 10 guys all fiddling around through the section as I roosted on past them. That gave me a hell of a mental push to truck on and try to put some distance between anyone I passed.

Unfortunately the section right after the Endurocross section was where I had my bad crash there a few weeks prior. On the upside, they were running the section backwards, so it was like a new section. I was a little gunshy running through there, but kept a decent enough pace that I felt I was pushing fast enough, but not at a speed where I’d be screwed if things got a bit wonky.

I end up making my way through the course and get to timing and scoring. First lap through, and I see I’m 1st in Class. Again, another motivator that makes me push myself to go faster. I remind myself that at this point, it’s mine to lose, so get on the gas. I pace myself, but push in areas where I feel confident. There were a few slick spots where I didn’t trust my front tire, so I was a bit slow in those areas. Again though in the technical areas, I make my attacks. Endurocross, creek section, and the singletrack I gain a LOT of time on people. Thank God I rode trials before getting into harescrambles 

Around the 45 minute mark, I feel some minor fatigue setting in. By the next lap though I get a second wind (thanks to some big gulps of icey water) and am able to keep a good solid push. At some point I catch up to another guy in my class, who didn’t realize that I was lapping him decided he’s going to try to keep pace and not move over. Not the end of the world, as there were plenty of spots I could make a move. Of course right when this happens, I end up with an AA guy breathing down my neck. We’re both hooting\hollering\revving to get the slow guy to just slide over a smidge to give us some space. We both finally find a spot to squeak past the guy. I lose sight of the AA guy pretty quick and continue on.

By the 90 minute mark, I’m feeling some pain in my hands. I know they’re blistered, but wasn’t quite sure to what level. I see at timing and scoring that the race ends at 2:20 and it was currently 2:12. I pray that my lap times were not under 8 minutes. I knew I had 1 lap left in me, but 2 more would have been rough.

I get to the endurcross section for what was the last time. All was fine until I jumped the last set of tractor tires. I land and feel all the blisters in my hand all spontaneously explode with the skin ripping off my hands. I grit down knowing that at least I won’t likely have to do the creek section again. I knew I slowed down a bit, but it was still an acceptable pace considering.

I cross the line and see the scoring still says I’m the class leader. I’ll take it. 

My wife & MIL greet me back at the truck and I do my best to get my gear off and catch my breath. I was a bit exhausted, but most of all, my hands BURNED. Removing my gloves revealed some nasty blisters, but hey…as far as I knew, I won, so again…I’ll take it.

My upper body is a bit worn out, but otherwise, I’m in relatively good shape. I’m happy with my performance. I’m thrilled with my bike. I would like some new tires on the bike. The OEM DOT tires are……not the best, though oddly the rear hooks up incredibly well. I keep being told I should invest in slightly stiffer springs for the bike, but I’m quite cheap. 

Overall a great day. My MIL kept repeating how amazed she was at how difficult the racing was. I knew this, but it is incredibly difficult to explain to people who don’t ride, just how difficult this racing is. There is an assumption that since you have a motor, you just twist the throttle and you go faster. If only 

Some pics from the day (most action shots were from FreeMotoPix on facebook)

Filling up with race fuel (yes…I’ve learned my lesson):

Gearing up:

Sweet word I look like one of those KTM guys:

All lined up:

Making a pass happen in the creek section:

Working the Endurcross section:

Some more creek action:

Just before timing\scoring:

Landing after jumping a bit too high off the tires:

On the gas, making the pass:

Gotta score some style points on this one 

How I felt at the end:

The results 1st in Open B – 3rd in both B classes – 18th overall (out of 73):

My lap time sheet:

Great day!



Photos thanks to Free Moto Pix @

Fired My Mechanic.

This is about how I feel right now:
My 250F has been a royal pain in my ass. Well, more so, my right foot. I made the epic mistake this past winter of messing with the engine. I’ve been paying for it since, and the currency has been Head Gaskets. I had worries about not being able to actually get to race this year. I made some quick decisions, and long story short, I’ve no longer got a Trials bike, but a Yamaha WR450. I’ve also fired my mechanic (myself). I’m only allowed to change oil, filters, and grips. Beyond that, if that shmuck touches anything else, he’s gonna get slapped around 

Not a move I’ve exactly wanted to make, but it’s making more and more sense as time goes on here. I realize it’s not the easiest to use 45hp in the woods, but I’m finding it incredibly easier than I remember. I find that I don’t really want a Rekluse on the thing. It’s nice, but it’ll lug so much better than the YZ, that I’m just not stalling it like the 250F. We’ll see how things pan out.

Here’s some riding from 2 weekends ago:

I’ve got 2 weekends on the WR450F, and will be racing it this weekend. My biggest concern with it is related to starting it. It’s no 2-stroke, that’s for sure. I did about 30 dead engine starts Saturday while riding. If the engine is good n warm, it seems like it’ll fire just fine with the kick start. Suppose I’ll do that with the finger on the e-start button at the same time.

In the meantime, I’ll be on the rower tonight. This 450 works your body a heck of a lot more than the 250F. The riding from Saturday was pure awesomeness. I’ll be putting up video of it. We had a track groomed in a farm field for us. Flat track & kinda like supermoto. Tacky dirt that you could in places just about put the handlebar into the ground while railing a corner. Awesome stuff.