Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 4

Day 4 (Wednesday) – Day Lake to Gays Mills, WI
Day 4 for me, would be a day of hunker down and get cozy on that there KTM saddle.  I’ll explain later, so let’s start at the beginning.
Morning found me putting my fancy Wal-Mart coffee mug to the test:
From here, we discussed the days plans.  I was confident I had the location of my SPOT sorted, so I decided I’d packup quickly, find the SPOT, and meet at the local gas station.  If I didn’t find it, I didn’t find it.  If I did….rad.  According to Google Maps, the unit was in a small clearing on this side trail we were on.  Sure enough, that silly thing was exactly where the internets told me it would be.
Welcome back old friend…
Later on, I figured out why my Garmin gave me an odd reading.  There was a discrepancy in how I input the GPS coordinates.  Once input correctly, sure enough, it showed the correct location of m SPOT.  I hopped on the 350, giddy as could be and blasted my way back to meetup Jameson & Caleb, who hadn’t even made it to the gas station yet.  We thought about things, and contemplated a mad dash to at least get back to the Black River Falls area.  We wanted to hit some sections on the way South that we skipped (fuel\time\light) on the way up.  Rustic Road 111, we officially meet again:
I can’t recall if it was after or during this RR 111 section that we got to ride some more ATV Trails.  Wherever it was, Caleb informed us that that was the section that they had rode…… night……with the trail completely flooded.  When we rode the ATV sections, there were some soft spots, but absolutely nothing worrying.  Ride the side, and you’re through.  Caleb explained that when they rode the year prior, there were football field length sections under water, where they hoped they wouldn’t sink.  Now that’s adventure. :lol3.  Just before we were to hop on the road, in a quick turn-around, Jameson found himself in the dirt.
Nothing to see here….
We’re going how far on the road from here????
We blasted straight South on 70.  Yes, we blasted about 130 miles straight highway.  Now that isn’t that far or that long.  It just slightly more a PITA when you’re riding a bike that feels like its top cruising speed is 65mph.  Yes, 70 started feeling more comfortable as I wanted to get done with it sooner, but 65 was where we needed to be.  We stopped about half way in Cornell, WI.  Grabbed some fuel & some snacks.  At this point Jameson realized that the glass jar of jelly he had in his side pannier decided to open itself.  Yes, a pannier full of strawberry jelly :lol3  Go figure that where we stopped, also happened to be home to a handful of wasps.  I took pity and didn’t snap any pictures of Jameson during this scuffle.
I did snap one picture of myself at this stop to send to the Mrs. back home.  Classy selfies:
From Cornell, we decided to stop just outside of Black River Falls, at the Mocha Mouse.  A small little coffee\whatever place.  It was early afternoon and we had to decide what we were going to do for the rest of the day.  We knew ride, but back to the cabin?  Off-Road in BRF?  We didn’t know.  For me, it was becoming apparent enough as to what I needed to do.  At this point, I knew I wanted to be home some time Thursday.  I also knew that I was within striking distance of my parents cabin near Soldiers Grove.  I could tell Jameson was itching for some more off-road riding.  Caleb, seemed to be erring on the side of getting back to the cabin, to trailer home the next day.  With a healthy dose of Caffeinated Mocha drink (and maybe a jumbo chocolate chip cookie), Caleb and I would say Farewell to Jameson.  His plan however was to meet up with some friends… Minneapolis.  Yes.  He ran from BRF back up to Minneapolis to visit some friends (and then back to BRF the next day to ride some more trails).
We’ll see you later Jameson!
We gotta ride how far now???
Caleb and I hopped on our trusty KTM’s, and worked our way down through Sparta and onto the Ontario area.  Now this is where things got a bit…..interesting.  I’ll tell the story as best I recall, but I could be off in my recollection, and for all I know, it didn’t even actually happen.  We went to stop for fuel outside of Ontario, but I missed a turn.  I figured we’d be fine on fuel, and saw that Ontario had a gas station of its own just outside of Wildcat Mountain (which we had ridden on the way North…and I wanted to ride again heading South).  We roll up to this small gas station, and I see a younger guy on a street bike.  Caleb stops at the pump across from the street bike guy.  I pull up next to Caleb, since there were only like 3 pumps here.  Caleb hops off his bike, and tells me….Hey, I gotta pull all this crap off my bike to fill up.  For those that don’t know, a KTM 690 has underseat gas tank, with the fill spout kinda above the rear fender.  In Calebs case, it requires him to remove all of his gear to get to.
So, I roll up and fill up my gas tank.  When I’m done, I roll my bike back and let Caleb in spot to fillup with fuel.  I am checking some stuff on my GPS when sportbike guy rolls up.  We start chatting, with him explaining he’s from around the Madison area, and loves the roads around here.  We talked Wildcat Mountain a bit, and I explained where we were headed.  He started to fill me in on some of his favorite roads in the vicinity, when all of a sudden some older gentleman gets up out of his car all worked up.  Caleb at this point had literally just finished topping up with fuel and was beginning to strap his luggage back on his bike.
This old guy starts coming at us, screaming to GTFO of the way of the premium pump.  Caleb, sportbike guy, and myself all look at eachother like…what are you going on about?  Old man starts yelling at Caleb to move his bike, and quit sitting around talking.  I try to reason with the guy that he literally just finished fueling up, and we had no idea that this was the only premium fuel pump at the station.  Trying to reason with a crazy person in and of itself is crazy, so I just tried to get the guy to calm down.  Sir, we’ll move the bike, we didn’t mean to inconvenience you here.  Now at this point, sportbike guy get a bit lippy with the man.  On one hand, I can’t blame him.  The old man could have been cool about it, but he came out a blazing hot-head.
So here I am, standing next to my bike.  Caleb is standing at about my 1 o’clock, a few steps away.  Old man is to my 3 o’clock about a step away, and Sportbike guy is at my 9 o’clock.  Sportbike guy begins making a few comments about the old mans car, at which point he pushes me out of the way to get at sportbike guy.  These two kinda lock eyes, looking like I’m about to witness a brawl.  Old man gives sportbike guy a big shove.  I try to step in a bit and try to get the guy to calm down.  Sir, Sir……Sir, just go back to your car.  There is no need for this.  We will move our bikes, we had no idea we were inconveniencing you today.  Sportbike guy looks like he’s about to exchange fisticuffs with the man.  After a few more of my reassuring pep talks, the old man slowly walked back to his car.  Caleb and I roll our bikes away, and begin getting our gear on.
As we’re gearing up, sportbike guy comes up to Caleb and I, and makes mention he’s gonna retaliate.  Caleb and I look at each other, toss our gear on, and get out of dodge.  We stop a bit up the road, and kinda run over to ourselves what just all went down.  We both agree this was crazy.  Where we stopped was close enough to still kind of see the gas station.  At which point we kinda see the sportbike guy circle around old mans car, and then zoom off in the opposite direction.  Caleb and I look at each other.  I tell him if he sees a Mercedes in his mirrors, to just stay on the gas.  We fire up our bikes and make our way through Wildcat Mountain……thankfully with no Crazed Old Man behind us.
Not far after the Wildcat Mountain, we came upon another Rustic Road.  I couldn’t resist:
We moseyed on down the way, taking one of the roads suggested to us by sportbike guy.  It was a great road, and had my bike of been faster…..even more fun.  We stopped for a quick restroom break and enjoyed the peaceful area, away from anyone else.
Fun Bridges….and portapotties :lol3
From here, we followed whatever way we felt like.  I have to say, it was an incredible portion of the trip.  We meandered through farm land, on winding paved roads, darting in and around spotted gravel sections.  The 350 was in its element here.  You could really ride the bike fast, without going illegal speeds.  I carved like I was on a supermoto, and was able to still take in the scenery.  Sooner or later, we were getting close to some locations I had ridden, and knew I needed to snap a quick pic where I had forgotten to when my wife and I had been riding nearby earlier this year.
With that, we finished our ride back to my parents cabin.  It was a long day, with a LOT of riding.  A LOT of varied riding as well.  It beat the prior days for excitement, that’s for sure.  Very good, fun day.  Caleb and I grabbed a frozen pizza and cooked it up, enjoying a few leftover beers from Sunday night.
Day 4 Map –
Day 5 to follow –

Another race down in the books. Handlebars bent?

didn’t get to race the 250F this past weekend, so I was back on the 450F. Bit of a tradeoff here. 450F had fresher tires, which was better for the slick conditions. Downside is that the 450F is a heck of a lot heavier than the 250F. I was unable to test the 250F prior to Sunday, so I opted for the 450F. Was logical. As far as the race goes though……

I had a crap start. I’m pretty sure I was last or 2nd to last off the line. Only perk there was that I was able to snake around the bottleneck in the first turn. I was pushing best I could, though could not get in a good groove. I just wasn’t flowing well. I passed a good number of people in the following laps, but at about 30 minutes in I lost my rear and had a heck of a spill. Almost called it quits at that point, especially after I saw all the guys I had passed……now passing by me. I figured that would be weak and motored on, until I had to stop and take a leak. I rode a bit better after that, but again it sapped some time. I shoulda went for a 5th time just before the start, but what yah gonna do.

The facility decided that for the afternoon race (A\B classes) that they’d add some extra excitement into the mix. We tend to get a longer course, and they tend to add in their creek section and a bit more of their MX track and things like that. I found out on the first lap that they also had just made a small endurocross section. The mini endurocross section was definitely not something I was expecting. With the trials background, I’ve got no real issue with going over just about any obstacle. The issue is that committing to go over the obstacles at “race pace” is easier said than done lap after lap. I know that I can just “jump” the sized logs they had, but committing to that is difficult. Great risk\reward type thing. I tended to opt for just double blipping over the stuff. It worked well, but it saps energy, but tended to be pretty safe for getting over everything.

As the race went on, I found I did better and better through the creek section. I found I could easily pass people there as I’d pick a point to go to and gas it, pick a point, gas it until the end. Amusingly enough, the faster I went through this section, the less effort it took. I knew though that if I went down, I’d for sure be paying for it.

I was pretty fatigued by the end of the race. My lower back wasn’t tightening up, but the crash early on really put a damper on my performance. I was extremely hesitant with any slick stuff. The bike really felt like it weighed a metric ton. It’s initial weight sure didn’t help, but then add on 15-20# of tacky mud and it was just annoying. I saw the sign at timing and scoring that said end time was 2:26, and saw that it was 2:16. I was more than happy to have a 10 minute lap, as I really didn’t feel like pushing for another 2 laps; 1 last one would be more than enough.

I honestly don’t know where I finished in the race. The facility has been struggling with their timing\scoring system. It hasn’t really worked for the past several years I’ve been racing there. I got back to the truck and packed up and we peaced out. I’m mildly curious to see how I fared, but am not exactly optimistic about my result.

So tonight, I’m going to test the 250F. This should be interesting, as my left leg doesn’t really move properly, and my right shoulder is on the fritz. Crashing apparently hurts. I’m getting old . I need to test the bike though. Stadium MX this Friday. We’ll see how I do in a sprint vs an endurance event. 


About freaking time. The WZ290F Lives

I’ve probably said this before.  The Yamaha WZ290F actually lives.  I’ve been struggling with a variety of issues which I am tracing back to my case cleaning method (soda blast) and it appears things have finally been sorted out.  The bike still lost a little bit of coolant, but this was traced back to a loose radiator hose.  The bike other than that just felt spot on.

The gearing on the bike is a bit off for the MX Track & 290 kit.  I was running a 13/48 gearing combo, and while this would be fine with the stock YZ trans & 250cc cylinder, it could be a bit quicker with a 14T front sprocket.  The 290 kit can easily pull the extra gearing and the gaps between gears aren’t too big an issue with the WR trans.  That being said, I found that on the track I kept the bike in 3rd most of the time, and would click into 4th on faster sections.  With the stock YZ trans, I’d be clicking through the gears much quicker, so in that regard, the WR trans makes the bike pretty versatile.  Shifting however isn’t as quick and precise, and I found I need to be precise with my shifts.  That’s not to say that I couldn’t easily click through the gears.

My pseudo woods valving in the fork is pretty annoying on the MX track as well.  On the face of jumps, it soaks up the travel a bit too easily, and the speeds over the choppy stuff is just quicker than I’d be going through the woods.  It’s just a harsh ride.  The rear end however feels pretty well planted.  I found that as I cranked up the compression & rebound on the rear shock, I was far more comfortable in the air off jumps.

Speaking of jumps, I really need to up my game in learning how to scrub speed off of jumps.  There is a series of 2 uphill doubles that are after a long downhill run.  I end up holding so much speed off the first double that I will land into the face of the second double.  While not a huge issue, it would make things difficult on the second double, as I’d end up coming up a bit short on the landing.  I just really need to learn how to scrub speed off of jumps.  I’m getting there, but I’m going off of a combo of youtube videos, online writeups, and just riding.  I think a day with someone who can do it, and I’d have it down.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the bike.  Not thrilled that I over-heated myself, but that’s my fault for improper eating & poor pre-hydration.  I seem to do this once a year, usually just as the heat seems to sneak in on us.  It is what it is.


33 miles, 18mph, 10 blisters, 1 bruised body, and my first Harescramble Win.

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:

More Creek:

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:


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.