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 –
Got invited to ride on some farm property yesterday. Close by, free, and wide open areas to work on some skills…how could I say no? I also saw it as a chance to do some scientific testing between some bikes and see which gets me through some trails quickest.
We plotted out a small loop. Started on a small section of farm field, into a singletrack tall grass section and then a quick duck into some mildly tight\off-camber section. This led to a small jaunt back out of the woods and back across the field. Once you were back across the field, there was a dried up pond that we roosted around. The outside was packed full of downed trees, and sticks, and by the end of the day, getting slick and rutted. As you finished your way around the pond, we had a pile of downed tree limbs to hop over followed by a slightly larger 18″ diameter-ish tree to hop. After the tree hop, you immediately banked hard right, and then a quick left to bring yourself back out of the pond area to where you started.
It was a short loop, but it gave me a chance to do a lot of hot laps. My findings were mildly frustrating, but I suppose telling of my riding. I had 3 bikes to test out. My Husky, the Mighty XR, and my buddies KDX200. I started out on the Husky, so I had a good general idea of how the bike handled the loop, what to do, what to expect, etc, etc. Initial lap times were 59-60 seconds. I then hopped on the KDX, and my lap times were 57-58 seconds. I hopped onto the Mighty XR, where my lap times were at a consistent 58 seconds. After all that, and some other fooling around, with my body tired, I did another 5 laps on the Husky, where my lap times were at a consistent 58 seconds.
So what’s this telling me? I know I felt that on the KDX, the bike felt the most compliant and kind of the easiest to go fast. The bike felt plush and confident. The S12XC front he has on the thing helped in the slick sections for sure. He’s got an autoclutch, though I still work the clutch manually, but that may have had an effect on things. The XR, I felt I had to work the most to go the same speed. The drum rear brake always required more attention to help stop you, and the slightly sticky throttle made you have to think more while riding, rather than focusing on going fast. I liken riding it to riding a 125 2-stroke. They can go just as fast, but require a LOT more input, body english, and finesse to get the speed out of it. Now for the WR, I felt to me it has the most room for improvement. The bike has got plenty of power which helps immensely in anything more open. It was the most forgiving if I messed, up, but required a bit more brain focus to extract the speed out of it. The suspension is also not nearly as plush as the KDX, however, it is feeling better now than it ever has (I opened HS\LS Rear compression 100% open).
I got to do a lot of work on drills that we did at the Shane Watts school. Braking\accelerating\drifting\wheelies\etc. From where I was a year ago, I’m 10x more confident in high speed roosting, and drifting out the rear. Heck, I could be dragging my knee on the XR if I wanted.
Yesterdays riding (and subsequent timing results) has me questioning if the Husky is the bike for me. With my apparent knack for breaking a bike at every race, it’s got me considering the idea of going back to a Japanese bike, due to the abundance of parts\spares\cheap prices. Hard to say as I really enjoy the Husky, but I need something that I can trust will take me all the way through a race. Any thoughts\opinions on this?
I can say however that that XR350R just won’t be sold. We did some flat out drag races between it & the KDX200. The XR was dead even with the KDX. Quite the mighty little beast.
Time for some Sunday lunch.
Saturday went pretty well with testing the bike, and getting some good seat time in. We rode from about 10:30am until 3:30pm. Aside from the changes on the bike, I made the decision to try just a roost guard instead of my complete pressure suit. I was quite glad I did, as the temps were hitting the mid 90’s. I got so much better air flow over my body and honestly in the woods, didn’t feel any less protected. Though I’m sure I’ll feel otherwise the next time I crash hard.
The riding area is a combo of a mini MX track, and some very sporadic woods trails. There is absolutely nothing defined in there, and is 2-way traffic. Though it could be called 360 way traffic, as the way the trails intertwine with each other, you could run into someone from any and every possible direction. I shouldn’t complain though, as it gives me a good idea of the random trails they may tie in for harescrambles there.
The real downside is that it is next to impossible to ride the same exact course twice. I could try all I wanted, but yeah just not happening. So what I ended up doing was alternating between a few hot laps on the mx track, and then duck into the woods for a bit. I found that doing 5 laps on the mx track was like doing an hour in the woods. I found though as the day\heat grew, that it got to me, which will be addressed with more\better pre-race hydration. I guess I just haven’t been drinking enough water, and I felt it.
On the upside of all this, I really like how the bike was feeling. I felt strong and planted on it at all times. I had installed some CR-Hi bars that put me in a much more relaxed position while standing. The grips I installed gave me some blisters on my thumbs, though that could also be a product of my body sweating profusely and the gloves slipping on my hands. I may ditch the pillow-top pro-tapers and go back to the half-waffles that were on the thing stock.
Check the post below for footage: http://andrewgore.net/?p=590
PS – More footage on the way.
Well this past weekend was spent re-energizing my riding batteries. A lot of time spent on the bike, in a non-competitive, non-race situation. Granted I still pushed myself while tooling around, but in a way that just puts a big ol smile on my face. Me & 2 other riding friends loaded up the toy-hauler and drove due North to the great y00per (The Upper Peninsula of Michigan). The plan was to ride some fun 2-track loops based around our camp & if we were up for it, hit up some of the local singletrack. Some\most of the pics courtesy JZEE
The 3 bike crew:
JZEE on the KTM 530xcw
Jburroughs12 on the Honda XR350R
Me on the Husky WR250
We were all having a blast out there. Essentially all of the 300ish miles we rode, we didn’t pass a single other dirtbike\4×4\ATV\UTV\ORV\Car\Truck\Bus\Logging operation. It was just some good pure fun. I realized immediately I shoulda re-geared my Husky. The OEM 13/48 gearing left a lot to be desired in the speed department. On these same trails on my 450, I could cruise 10-15mph faster and not feel like I was revving the snot out of the bike. My fault for not gearing up for the ride properly. Not the end of the world, but in some of the more open riding (and sandy areas), I really like to open the bikes up, and being topped out around 65-70mph, just wasn’t enough.
On the 2nd day of riding, just after a rockier section….followed by a high speed whoop section, I was flagged down, with John & Joe pointing at the rear of my bike. I thought I had some deadly animal attacking me, but soon found the problem.
A rock (presumably) shot up a hole through the center of the rear fender, and the following whoop section sealed the deal and that rear fender was toast. No biggy. First some duct tape, which was the replaced by just looping the thing onto my Nomad Rider pack. Initial repairs took place at the local Ace Hardware:
After that, we continued riding, and remembered part way through the 2nd day that the loop we were on, was one of our least favorite. It had a few road sections & way too much gravel road for our liking. It wasn’t much, but more than we’d care for. There were a couple more spirited sections, but nothing overwhelming. It’d be a better loop if you’re worn out on harder riding & just looking to have a more relaxing final day of riding. When we got back, Joe had the look of “I need some singletrack”, so we tossed our gear back on, filled up the camelbak & around 6:30pm rolled out to go hit up the Bass Lake singletrack loop (videos earlier in thread).
I started out on the Husky and Joe on the XR. I figured I’d offer up the Husky to him, since he’s more used to a 250 2T. He gladly swapped, and I gotta say I was quite happy to really ride the bike on some more aggressive trails. What a blast. That bike was so much fun. I was able to maintain a 15-20mph speed on the loop without trying too hard and was just having a blast while doing it. The only downer with the bike was the rear drum brake. I may have overshot a few turns and ended up in the weeds, but what a blast. I’m really loving that little bike.
Day 3 was our last, and unfortunately cut short. Before we rolled out, I pulled the Rekluse autoclutch from the bike. I didn’t miss it on the XR the day before and figured it’d be a good chance to really test the bike out without it in there. Things started out really well, but unfortunately about 20 miles into the loop, I came down from a roller, and noticed when I got on the gas, that it felt like the rear wheel was spinning. Odd, but it seemed to grab again, so I figured it popped out of gear. Again, another roller and this time it felt out of gear for good. I pulled the clutch cover and immediately saw the problem. My primary gear (on the crank), the nut had backed off and was somewhere in the engine.
I tore things down mid trail and found that the nut thankfully fell in an area where it caused NO damage, but then found that the keyway on the crank\primary gear had sheered itself. I also destroyed my clutch cover gasket in the process of all this, but knew at this point, I wasn’t riding that bike under it’s own power back to camp:
With that we figured the weekend was done. We just had to get back to camp. Luckily we were only a couple miles from a paved road, and luckily I had a tow strap in my kit, so we were off…….and with that I have the pic of shame:
Stuff happens, I’m just glad nothing more went wrong. A 2$ keyway, and 10$ in gaskets and the husky will be back in action for another day. I learned a lot though on the trip. For one, I immediately listed my Rekluse for sale. I just don’t need it. Shane Watts was spot on with his assessment on how it affects the bike. I just had to see\feel it for myself. I found I also learned to ride wheelies on the WR really well. Apparently all the tooling around on the XR translated over, as I can now click through all 5 gears and just rest at the balance point for as long as I want.
I also feel I need to do some work to my suspension. Higher speed stuff, the Husky is pretty good. Low speed stuff, the XR feels so confidence inspiring, and feels like you’re riding on pillows. Low speed the WR feels like it’s being jarred like mad. High speed on the XR…..well you just don’t. lol I’m really looking forward to my next race, whenever it may be. I’m just gonna go have fun with it. I found while riding the singletrack loop, that yes I could push myself super fast right off the bat, but I lose energy too quickly, and overshoot things. If I tone it back to 80-90%, I overall end up much faster. Heck, we rode the loop in 1:35. Not bad at all, considering the last time I rode it, I finished in 1:45.
I’m ready for riding.