After a few hours of farting around with all the wrong ideas, we got the old girl reassembled. The plastic welder epoxy didn’t work as planned, so I Frankenstein stitched the broken plastic back together with tie wire. I figured tie wire holding the headlight in place was going a little too far down redneck road, so I went with Plan B. I fastened the upper side of the headlight by drilling a small hole in the plastic and running a small bolt through the plastic and the headlight bracket on the back side, holding it with jamb nuts. My soldering skills also turned out to be substandard, but with the back of the bulb blown apart and the wires exposed to each other, there wasn’t much hope for that from the beginning, but I tried valiantly anyway. In the end after blowing two main fuses the only solution was to fork out the big bucks and buy a new bulb. The warehouse in Utah said they had one in stock they could send me, but before I placed the order, I found an acceptable replacement in town at the local automotive store, higher wattage but the same volts. I believe it should do the trick. The total damages for five new fuses and headlight was $15, which seemed reasonable to me. So, it would seem parts are easy to come by, but time will tell if that is really true. The only other casualty on the repair trail was I stripped out one of the bolts that holds one side of the seat in place, cha-ching, an additional $1.50 in stupid tax and we are on our way.
In Lonesome Dove, Augustus McRae, of the Hat Creek Cattle Company proudly displayed on his sign a short phrase of garbled Latin which reads “uva uvam vivendo varía fit,” Which means nothing according to the Wittliff collections, but they go on to state that it is probably a spin off of a Latin proverb which means a grape changes color or ripens when it is with other ripe grapes. This past week I got to ride with a couple of men that I’ve looked up to for a long time. I worked for them for a little while when I was younger and they taught me useful trades, they are also great husbands, fathers, and excellent businessmen who treat others the way they would want to be treated. Hopefully some of those attributes rub off on me and help me to ripen.
The miles covered in this section were ridden in two trips, the first with my father-in-law Tom and the second with a former employer Gary. With Tom we stuck to the gravel and dirt logging roads, and with Gary we did some technical single track riding. As I rode this past week with both these men I spent sometime evaluating why I have set such a lofty goal. In the past I’ve never really paid much attention to the miles I’ve ridden because none of my previous bikes had an odometer, therefore all I knew was I rode this week or I didn’t. This was a pretty vague measurement of forward progress, but now with the miles clicking right before my eyes, I have felt a little rush of anxiety that the miles aren’t accumulating fast enough. As a result, this question has come up, do I spend the time that I have to ride bombing down the dirt roads just to knock 150 miles out each trip, or do I enjoy the adventure and let the miles slowly accumulate as I ride the trails I want to ride and see the sights I want to see? This is the conclusion I came to: the goal was set because I love to ride and it’s a break from my hectic summer lifestyle, so it shouldn’t really matter how many miles I’ve traveled, they are only a tangible measure of the time spent on the trail. Don’t get me wrong I’m not throwing my goal out the window, but I am going to cover up the odometer with electrical tape so I can’t lose the real focus of why I’m riding. I’m going to enjoy the ride and not preoccupy myself with the fast or slow clicking of the miles.
So I finally got around to letting some air out of the front tire and it made a world of difference especially on the rocky portions of the trail. I have a lot more control of the front end because the tire folds around the rocks and roots instead of uncontrollably bouncing over them.
After almost 150 miles I am learning how to better ride this bike. It lugs really low, and second gear around 4000 rpm seems to be the place to be most of the time even on the single track. If that’s too fast, first gear is great as well. I just have to remind myself that first gear in the higher revolutions gets too much tire spin and results in momentum loss. Additionally, I’ve found that even without a recluse, you can almost come to a complete stop while keeping the clutch engaged, and, as long as you feather the gas it won’t stall. This comes in really handy on the single track.
Once out on the road I opened her wide and at 8000 rpm I can touch 60 mph, which is plenty fast for the type of riding I do. If you wanted to step it up a bit for commuting to work or riding the desert, I’m sure you could change out the sprockets and get another 10-15 mph out of her without hurting your low end power too much. I have not tried it, but from the research I’ve done that would be my assumption.
During the process of seat removal to replace the blown fuse, I loosened a bolt that holds the rear cargo rack in place, thinking it had to be removed. About midstream I realized it didn’t so I left it loose thinking I would tighten it with the rest when I was finished. Well, I didn’t, and it rattled out somewhere on the trail, so my Chinese bike lived up to the reputation of loosing bolts. Although this lost bolt was due to my own stupidity and not the Chinese design. Also, on the second ride with Gary, the slick pipe on a poorly maintained cattle guard at the top of a steep climb got the best of me and over I went. When the dust settled, the mountain had claimed half of my clutch lever, luckily leaving me with enough of the lever enough to continue the ride. Both the brake lever and clutch levers are notched at the mid point, so hopefully upon impact they break there and not at the perch, which is a nice feature.
Overall I’m loving this bike. Yes, it doesn’t quite have the thump of a 450, but it has carried me up everything I’ve ever climbed in the past without a hitch. So far, I would say it is an excellent bang for the buck if you are looking for a great trail bike!