Pre Day 3 Notes
I had sent my Ride Report thus far to my brother who after a quick discussion sparked a bit of introspection on this ride. Looking back on what I wrote about Day 2, I felt like what I wrote was rushed. Recalling back however, this is pretty well inline with how Day 2 was for me. Day 2 was filled with what was the core of the best riding areas of the TWAT. At that point, we were out of the flat open corn fields of Illinois, and were winding our way up and around the Driftless area of Wisconsin. Not only that, but we were bang on track for riding the trickier terrain of the Black River Falls area. By the time we got to the Black River Falls area, Caleb was zonked, I was feeling the affects of riding a KTM 350 for quite a few hours straight, and I was getting sick of Dust. Not only that, but as the day wore on, we were all relatively indecisive about where and when to stop. The day was just a rushed one, but that is more or less the story of this trip. A lot of distance covered in not a lot of time. That was OK though, because tomorrow would be a new day.
Day 3 (Tuesday) – Hawkins, WI to The End of the TWAT……and Back :huh
We woke up relatively chipper in the morning. Our camp site was more or less a staging area for some ATV Trails. As I noted before, I was a bit concerned about us riding on the ATV Trails, as at this point with our non-existent internet access, we were unable to do some online reading through the evening. We went with our gut, and figured that if the publicized TWAT had us navigating on some of these trails, we would be OK. Looking at my GPS, I hadn’t realized how close we were to the end of the TWAT. We did some rough math, and figured that we’d be at the end by noon.
For me, it was a nice refreshing way to wakeup. I’m plenty comfortable on my bike in just about any condition (aside from ice, unless I’ve got studded tires), so despite having a street oriented dual sport tire setup on my bike, and the somewhat slick ground conditions, I was really enjoying myself. The sky was slightly overcast, the trails were winding, with the right amount of dirt\sand mix, and I found myself able to ride a brisk yet comfortable pace.
After the ATV Trails, we wound up at Rustic Road 111
Now at this point, we were I dunno, 50-100 miles into our available fuel. I hadn’t been worried on my 350, as I’d been get 55-60mpg, and had 4 gallons of fuel. Jameson’s 950 was holding plenty of gas, but Caleb was beginning to worry about his situation. He had done the TWAT the year before and was concerned about a section which was muddy, and which he rode…..at night. It was early morning for us, so I wasn’t concerned about the trail conditions, however, I don’t like having to tow bikes due to running out of fuel. At this point, we pulled a bit of an audible and took a straight shot North on Cr-GG to refuel in Clam Lake.
Cr-GG for me, embodied the essence of the trip. The morning air was calm. The road was lined with beaufitul trees as far as you can see. A feeling of “being out there” began to fall over me. With my 350 humming along at 60mph, I had felt what I’d been looking for with this trip. I knew we weren’t far from the end, but this section just felt right. On top of this, we were graced by the quick sight of a wolf running across the road. I had to rethink this over, as my mind kept thinking, was that a coyote….no, much too large for that to be a coyote. A wolf, a desolate road, with calm cool air. This was where I wanted to be.
Like all good things, this road soon came to an end. We refueled in Clam Lake, and set off North once again. Unbeknownst to me, I would soon lose my SPOT Tracker shortly after this fuel stop. From Clam lake, we worked our way up to the Delta Diner. Yes, the silver restaurant near the end of the TWAT.
You can likely tell from the picture that we were the only ones there. Lesson learned was that they are closed on Tuesdays. That’s ok, cause we weren’t really hungry at this point. In my mind however, we were only a few miles from the end of the TWAT. As it turns out, this isn’t quite true. We still had a few miles to go. After the Delta Diner, there were some awesome fun sand roads. I know, a lot of folks hate riding sand. You gotta embrace it. There is nothing quite like riding full throttle, railing turns, just locked in like you’re Bob Hannah. I love personally love it, but I suppose years of riding the sugar sand of Michigans UP will do that for you. A bit further down the trail, and we had our first glimpse of Superior
Around 12:30, our projected time, we reached….The End. Holy anti-climactic Batman. I kid you not. We thought we got to the wrong spot. We were at some sandy dead end road. Jameson took the lead, and found there was a short maybe not so legit trail to climb down to the shore. Sure enough, we found ourselves on a beautiful set of large rocks, crystal clear Lake Superior water, and some vintage graffiti to enjoy a snack.
Hey look….a selfie:
A stolen picture of Jameson from his instagram:
It’s just after noon. The sun was baking on us. And so the talk began. Were we or weren’t we going to jump into the water. I know I needed a shower, but dipping my hand in the water….yup frigid. What the heck, let’s make this trip official. Off came the riding gear and with a run on some slipper rocks….off we jumped into the water. Hells horses was that cold and refreshing. Sure, I was only about 10′ from the rock itself, but sweet word, that water sucked the breath out of me and I felt I was a mile away. We spent the next 20 minutes or so making random leaps into the water. Each time claiming it was getting colder and colder trying to find a more convenient way of climbing the rocks to get out, without looking like a beached shamu whale.
After enough shinanigans, we felt it was time to move on and work our way sadly South. We knew we had skipped some sections of the trail, so figured that we’d snag these on our way South. We had the time, so why not? Our first order of business was to get gas in Redcliff, and zip South through Bayfield and on into Ashland, WI. We stopped in at the local Wal-Mart. I stocked up on some ramen\water\etc (also grabbed myself a fancy new coffee mug). I wanted something to eat, so talked the group into going to the local Culvers. This was a good choice, as my subconscious had reminded me that Culvers are pretty good about keeping their restrooms clean…..ideal for someone who isn’t overly fond of pit toilets and what have you (hey…..I got attacked by a bat in an outhouse….that’ll scar anyone ).
Jameson, in his infinite wisdom snapped a picture of us as we were to set off from Culvers. We left culvers according to my phone at 4pm.
I’m not sure if it was at this point, or when, but we began heading south. It’d been a good day of riding thus far. We were heading South, and figured we had plenty of time. It was when we went to refill with fuel at Clam Lake (again) that I realized that I had lost my SPOT Tracker.
Jameson gave me the stink-eye making me feel like a fool for losing my tracker
I did some critical thinking. According to my phone, my SPOT was just up the road. It was roughly 5:15pm, and I wasn’t communicating very well with Caleb & Jameson. I (in my mind) explained to them that the SPOT was thankfully a couple miles up the road. I said I’d go zip up the road, and look for it. I thought Caleb was fixing something on his bike, so felt I had plenty of time to go up the road, find the device, and get back to the gas station, where we’d rendezvous to then find camp.
I get to where the SPOT is supposed to be, and yeah….I’m not seeing it. I got a bit worked up with myself, because, it shoulda been there, and how did I lose it, and I’m tired, and insert long list of reasons here. I went up and down the road & trail looking for it. I decided to put the GPS coordinates into my Garmin, and see if maybe I was looking at things wrong. At this point, my Garmin tells me the SPOT is like 20 miles straight line away, at what looks like a persons house. I kept thinking, how the crap could the SPOT’s reported location be so far off from what my Garmin showed. Meanwhile, my phone was bouncing in and out of reception, and I’m getting text messages from Jameson\Caleb that they don’t know where I am. Then I get one that they’re going to look for a place to camp, and what have you. It’s getting mildly darker, I realize I’m becoming impatient about my situation, so decide…..who cares about the SPOT, let’s go meetup with the guys, and enjoy camp.
I zip my way back down the road and stock up on adult beverages at the Clam lake gas station, and end up meeting Jameson & Caleb at Day Lake Campground. Go figure, we manage to pick a spot where the past campers decided to dump their gray water. Thanks wankers. They did leave us a nice empty bottle of Smirnoff with some flowers in it.
Only about 800ish miles in:
Caleb posing while posting at Day Lake:
The lake was calm, and very relaxing:
We setup camp, got a fire going, and retired relatively early. The wind had picked up pretty good. Caleb told us to hop into his hammock to see what it was like. It was an awesome view of the clear sky and bright stars. That said, with how much the trees were swaying in the wind, I’m not sure I coulda slept in that all night. On the ground, in my tent for me.
Day 3 Map
Day 4 to Follow –
I’m well behind on this. What can I say, I’ve been busy. Since my last version was a TLDR Wall o Text, I’ll keep it short & sweet.
August 17th Harescramble. I don’t remember how the race went. For the bulk of the race, I thought I was in 2nd place. Turned out there was a timing\scoring error in my favor. 1st place Open B, 18th\48 Overall.
September 20th GP Race:
I did this race for 2 reasons. 1. I hadn’t ridden the 350 since the last race, and 2. I was in 1st place for the FVOR Open B Overall and racing the GP would give me some bonus points, should I not perform well on Sunday First moto I had a bad start, but everyone seemed to be moving a good pace. I learned the course (short) and ended up 4th\11 in the B class. Not bad considering I was shaking off some cobwebs. Second moto things were great……until the skies opened . Goggles were removed. I couldn’t see a thing, and it was like riding on ice. Lap times dropped substantially. I was riding reasonably well until I stalled the bike on the simplest of climbs. Go figure my E-Start button decided to not work. I tried kick starting the bike, only to slide backwards into a tree I got back up & finished 4th again.
Recap – Moto 1 – 4th Moto 2 – 4th – Overall 3rd. Apparently some folks stopped riding when the rain came….I said bring it
September 21st Harescramble:
This was the race I wanted to race. I knew if I won this one, I’d have the FVOR Open B overall. It had rained a bit more overnight, but luckily the morning race combined with dry weather made the course plenty tacky (though still a bit slick in areas). My bike was coated in mud from Saturdays race. My gear was coated & mostly still wet. Luckily I had some dry gloves with & some alternate goggles to use. Once again, I had a weak start (starter button is on the fritz). This time though, the bad start was a blessing in disguise. A group of guys piled up on the inside of the 1st turn, allowing me to squeak around the outside of them.
I had 2 or 3 guys in front of me from my class. I ended up making quick work of them & had them passed before the end of the first lap. Lap timer showed I was in 1st place. I knew at this point it was mine to lose, so I kept as sharp as I could, and kept pushing as hard as I could. Riding the GP helped a lot, as most all of the GP course was part of the harescramble course.
The Harescramble course first half was windy stuff through some sloppy wooded areas. After the first lap, this area tacked up pretty well. Next up was the endurocross. Normally I was jumping these obstacles. This time I kept the same speed, but tried to keep as low as possible on them. I wasn’t in the mood for heavy impacts. Next up was the 1st half of the moto track. I did what I could to keep pinned through here as it felt like “free time” to me as most guys don’t keep it full speed there. I tucked the front on a sandy turn though. Thankfully slow speed & the bike kept running.
After the 1st half of the moto track, we did a small climb\descent, hit the moto whoops, and back up another climb to the 1st grass section. This was good fun here. I’d do the climb in 3rd gear (slightly lugging) which kept good traction on the bad surface. It allowed me to rev out through 3rd into the first grass turn, keep in 3rd for the turn and up into 4th before dropping back into the woods. From here it was back onto the moto track, and another off-camber uphill climb. I was loving this climb. I went into the first portion in 3rd, and then dropped to 2nd when the hill got steeper. At the top, you’d jump out into the 2nd grass track section, where I’d click into 3rd, 4th, and then pinned in 5th to the end. It felt good to stretch the bikes legs a bit. From here it was some windy 2-track type stuff, through timing & scoring, and then across and down into the creek section. Again, another spot where I felt I made good time.
The entire race, I felt I was riding extremely well. I was confident on the bike (moreso than I’d been all year) and above all, just felt in control of things. I was a little sore from Saturday, but it wasn’t really affecting me. I wasn’t out of breath, and my muscles weren’t really feeling it. I was just having fun riding as fast as I could. On top of that, I was incredibly consistent. My times were within 5-10 seconds throughout the entire race.
I was fast, consistent, and having fun. Unofficial results 1st in Open B, 9th\48 overall.
These finishes should get me the FVOR Open B Overall too
Good weekend, finished off with a nice glass of beer when I got home:
And while it’s not much, a couple pics.
Bike after Saturdays GP (and before Sundays HS):
FreeMotoPix again snagged some photos from the weekend.
The bike was nice & clean at the GP
Leaving Timing & Scoring:
Probably the 2 slickest spots, there were others, but these 2 were the only ones I thought about in the race:
On the gas on the MX track:
Hillclimb just before getting on the 2nd portion of grass track:
Working the creek section (wow a shot where I have decent form ):
And a parting shot:
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.
1st race of the season down, and I can’t complain one bit. I managed to pull a handy 1st in my class (Open B). Looking at the numbers, I Overalled in the B class (little\big\30+), so I’m happy about that. My finish woulda put me in about 6th place in the A Class, and well….let’s not even go into where I’d be in the AA class. On the upside, it puts me around 20th out of 72 for the afternoon race. Not too bad considering the 10 deep AA class.
I rode pretty well, and managed a decent start. Into the 2nd turn, I was in 3rd place. I slipped into 4th in the middle of the first lap, and then took advantage of the MX portion of the course, and kept the 450 pinned as best I could. After that section, I pulled back into 3rd, and shortly after the 1st & 2nd place guys made some poor line choices over a log (much faster going around it ), and I managed to squeak up to 1st. I held 1st through the rest of the race, and did my best to try to not let anyone pass me (AA guys lapped me )
The course was overall pretty easy. There was nothing super technical, as they had a good bit of rain, and races really suck when there are traffic jams on slick hills and such. This helped a bit, as I was racing my WR450F, as my 250F was still on the fritz. On the 2nd lap, I managed to dump the bike in the creek section. I wouldn’t have minded, but my gloves were then soaked, and my left grip was spinning like mad. Not fun when I still had 10 laps to go.
About an hour in (and coincidentally when my GoPro stopped recording) I caught a tree with my handguard on the left side. This bucked me pretty good (I’m blaming my handguards as they were some homebrew ones I made out of plastic), and I managed to huck-a-buck myself into the dirt pretty good. This took the wind out of me a bit, but I kept on trucking.
Approaching the 90 minute mark (105 minute race), and my body was really feeling things. The 450 power, the multiple crashes, the blisters growing ever larger on my hands….it was all adding up. The braking bumps in some of the turns were wreaking havoc on my lower back. You could just feel things being jarred. I was chuckling to myself thinking about how I used to blame my suspension for getting harsh late in a race. I laughed as I realized that I’m just not in 100% perfect shape. I continued on with this thought in my head.
As I rolled through Timing\Scoring just before my last lap, I realized I made the cutoff for the “extra lap” by just a couple of minutes. I really didn’t want to do this lap at all. I was concerned I’d drop the bike in the creek section again, so I really tip toed it through there (which ironically makes it more difficult). I more or less did my best to just enjoy the last lap. You could hear that there were less riders out there, so there was a sense of calm and I was able to collect my thoughts and push through the burning sensation in my hands.
I slightly fumbled my way over the 2 large Timing\Scoring “speed reducing” logs, and off the course. I putted my way back to the truck, and could feel my body was already wanting to lock up. I did my best to load up the truck, and off we went. Glad I wasn’t the one driving home.
I learned a few things about my riding. I watched as the AA guys passed me. The speed that they carry, is just far better than me. I could see that they were experiencing less obstacles, due to the fact that they were essentially skipping over them. I’ve realized that I really need to smooth out my riding. This would probably get easier with doing a better job of looking ahead at the course, but as fatigue sets in, that grows increasingly difficult. I was on my 450, and I really wish that I had been on my 250F. Not so much the power situation, but the fact that its at least 30# lighter, and heck, I’ll admit it, the Rekluse wouldn’t have hurt me either. I’m perfectly OK not using an autoclutch, but there are times where I think it would help me with keeping a gear higher, and lugging the bike a bit more. Why I wasn’t doing that more on the 450, I’ve no idea. The thing can drop down to 0 RPM and still be running, and will pull it just fine. Keeping the bike in 3rd gear (instead of clicking between 2nd\3rd), I woulda been in much better shape.
Overall though, I had a blast, and am itching to get back riding (though the hands are still healing). I’m going to invest in some of those locking grips in the meantime, and some more proper\sturdy handguards.
Here’s some pics some folks took at the race. I’ll be uploading whatever video I have from the race when I get home this evening.
Heading into the creek section:
Bowl turn before a tabletop (that I always manage to over-jump):
This is a short climb, followed by a quick right hand uphill climb. My goodness that 450 excelled here. 2nd WFO and roost up the hill:
Start Finish speed logs. When just riding there, I normally jump these things. In the races, I find I do a trials style double tap. I figure that’s the safest way to go over, with least risk of messing up (note that these logs have no ramp on the opposite side in pic):
And the coolest one of the bunch, mid-creek section, full attack mode: