Mile 10-17.4

As you may have guessed by now, by reading previous posts,  I am not an English professor. I am what most people would consider an uneducated college dropout, who for the past few years has muddled around working for himself in various business ventures. Some have been monetarily successful, and others have offered an abundance of autonomy. In my opinion, the latter, would be considered more valuable. It has been said[d] that “time” is the only commodity that cannot be artificially duplicated, and therefore makes it the most valuable. The word uneducated is often used very loosely, meaning someone who doesn’t have a college degree. Even though I never finished college, I would not call myself uneducated at all. I would say I am unschooled, or self educated. Self educated actually sounds conceited, so I will give credit where credit is due and call it environmentally educated. The philosophies that make me who I am weren’t contrived by me, they were pirated from others more intelligent than I. Lord Coward said to Sherlock Holmes[e] “how terrible is wisdom, when it brings no profit the wise.” My only claim to anything I’ve learned is that I have committed it to memory and tried to live by it. That being said, I’ve never received higher than a B+ on any paper I have ever written for an English class, therefore, if you want perfect grammar and punctuation, read the World Book encyclopedia, you’ll be much more satisfied.

While reading my “about page” you probably thought to yourself, this dude was a grandpa in dirt bike years, before he even learned to ride, what on earth can be learned from him? There is no way he is a professional! This is all true, I didn’t learn to ride until I was about twenty-one years old, and I’m definitely not a professional. What I do have is a love of riding that I am trying to share with my young family and others. Don’t discount what could be a contribution to your education and experience, because of first impressions and your own preconceived notions.

For example, I once worked as a drywall contractor for a middle aged man who I thought didn’t have two nickels to rub together, but as I went about trying to get to know him, I learned  how he got to where he was and I learned some fascinating things. To my amazement this man,in his dilapidated truck and  thrift store clothes was a real-life millionaire next door. He was in his early fifties and owned 80 rental units with only 10% having small mortgages. I learned more about business, money, and time management in 30 minutes talking to him than I could have learned in a semester at college, and it didn’t cost me a dime, just a half hour of my time. The moral of the story to me, and it may be different for you, is that free advice is sometimes a “you get what you pay for” kind of deal, but other times you hit the jackpot and can learn a lifetime’s worth of lessons in whatever short amount of time the giver allows. You may not get everything you are looking for from somebody but you can get something you are looking for from everybody.

A wise friend of mine once said when I first started riding the old XR250 that “if you aren’t crashing you aren’t getting any better, now go for shit!” Sometimes that’s  exactly what I got, but that’s what has made me the rider I am today. I may not be able to show you how technical of a trail these bikes can handle because of the level at which I ride, but you will be able to see how much abuse the levers and blinkers can take being smashed on the rocks time and time again.

Enjoy the commentary and the footage, but don’t judge the bikes by my incompetent riding or my lack of eloquent writing. Judge them on their ability to be bashed off the rocks, bounced through the bushes and road like a rented mule through the tough back country of the western states.

So for the first unofficial trail ride, the bike handled really well. It has plenty of ground clearance to step over the rocks and roots,  and plenty of torque in the first three gears to move comfortably over the groomed, as well as the technical, sections of the trail. Since my last bike was a 450 with a recluse clutch[f], my tendency was to want to ride in an imaginary gear between first and second, and my clutching skills have also deteriorated. I hope as I get more time on this bike I will become reacquainted with the clutch and accustomed to how it pulls to be able  to ride this bike to its full potential.[g]

Mile 0-10

What better way to spend half a day than to adjust the valves on a buddies bike, set up my new GoPro hero 5, and then test ride the new xtr 250. I learned a few things, some new flashes of brilliance and others just reiterated information I already new.

First, believe it or not, dirt bikes run better when the intake valve isn’t constantly open one half of an inch. once adjusted properly and we fired it up the second new tidbit was revealed to me, but more importantly to my young friend. Apparently, he thought once it started running crappy, that the key to fixing it was to turn the idle all the way up instead of doing a routine valve adjustment. You can imagine my excitement when I fired it up and it immediately climbed to 10,000 rpm. Number three watching all the YouTube videos in the world about GoPro placement doesn’t make you an expert. This I personally found out the hard way,after two hours of careful consideration I decided to mount it on the side of my helmet only to later realize that I placed it right where my goggle strap rides. I know I’m terribly old fashioned with the strap stretched to capacity around the back of my helmet, but all my gear probably needs upgraded. For example my boots are 15 years old and 2 sizes too big which I bought used for $25 from my friends 15 year old brother in law , my pants I got new from a neighbor who bought 3 pairs because if one is a good deal why not buy 3, only problem I have a 30 inch waist and the pants are 36’s . A large strategically placed safety pin has been able to hold up my britches for the last 8 years with moderate success with only a couple of small puncture wounds to show for it . Dragon Goggles with a stretched out band and lenses so scratched that when riding into the sun you can’t tell wether you are on the trail riding gallantly into the sunset or riding straight into the fiery pits of hell. Nicest piece of riding gear I have is a jersey that my dads wife gave me for my birthday, unfortunately it quickly became the most dilapidated piece of gear because a mouse got in my storage box and tried turning it into a nest for its babies. I choose lemonade over lemons and remind my myself that the tiny holes only and to its cooling and sweat wicking capabilities.

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Forth thing I learned, combustion engines run much better with gasoline to burn (I choose 110 octane race fuel for 3 reasons high octane, exhaust smells fabulous and no ethanol to clog the arteries). I’ve developed a great habit of turning the gas off during transportation, but 9 times out of 10 I ride away from the truck with it still turned off only to be baffled 5 minutes later as to why my bike won’t run, Today was no exception.

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I only rode a little ways to start to break in the motor and get a feel for it overall. I tightened the chain because is was a little loose and made a slapping sound when decelerating. It took 2 minutes to loosen the axle and jam nuts and tighten the bolt to adjust the chain tension. The tension marks made it easy to adjust both sides evenly.

My first impressions are, it’s a comfortable bike with great balance, I love that it has disc brakes and the electric start makes getting going effortless. I didn’t do any technical riding, just around the farm,but it seems to have a good power to weight ratio. The power is nothing comparable to a four stroke 450 or a two stroke 250 but it has plenty of low end torque to make it a great trail bike. I think the best way to describe it is crf250x components on a crf 230 motor and frame. When I showed it to a friend this week, and I think he said it best when he said “all tools look the same on the shelf.”
I think that was his nice way of telling me “get on with it already!”

Mile -542 to 0

Since I am now the southeastern Idaho dealer for PitsterPro I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve decided to really see if their full size bikes are as good as I’ve experienced with their small and mid sized bikes.

PitsterPro’s Utah headquarters is located 271 miles from my house. So, I took a little road trip to retrieve the xtr 250 that will be our unsuspecting victim for this summer adventure of 2000 miles on Idaho’s trails. Some people have asked me why a Chinese manufactured bike? To which my lazy man snide response is why not? Upon actually trying to articulate a well thought response I came up with the following:

Cost- Retail on this model with the 21″ front and 18″ rear wheel is $2899.00 as of this posting as compared to a new Honda crf 230 $4299.00.

Specs- If you don’t want to muddle through the spec sheets here are the takeaways. The xtr 250 has better brakes, better suspension, a full light kit, tachometer, odometer, and keyed electric start.  If you are interested the complete spec sheets for both bikes are found below.

Honda Spec Sheet

PitsterPro XTR Spec Sheet

As some things I do, that should be simple turn into a fiasco, this trip was no exception. Winter dies slow in Idaho some years so for starters, I left town in a mid April blizzard.

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Item number two, Since my old construction trailers light only work on rare occasions, I decided against dragging it the 500 plus miles mostly in the dark just to find out the lights won’t consistently work. I was afraid of looking more like a Christmas tree with flashing red and orange lights rolling down the road instead of a professional motorcycle dealer headed down to pick up a shipment of quality motor bikes. So as sometimes happens a stroke of genius hits me I’ll just take my motorhome, plenty of room for 3 crated motor bikes, and added bonus no hotel fees, what could go wrong

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As long as you can count to more than 2 you will see I’m one short of 3 bikes inside the walk ways of Mr. Wayne the hurricane( my kids named the motorhome) so Jeff, and the guys were good enough to give me one they had already assembled and allowed me time to head off the the local harbor freight for a motorcycle rack which I assembled with two pairs of needle nose pliers in the parking lot. Back at the warehouse Jeff and the boys helped me load up and figure out what to do with the leftover parts from assembling the carrier.

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As I pulled into the Walmart parking lot to spend the night I realized part of the plan of putting the bikes inside was for security, I didn’t want my adventurous summer to end before it started. In an effort to keep the honest people honest I trudged into the Walmart to look for some sort of lock and cable to keep the local hobos from riding to Canada instead of me on my bike. What I learned is that bicycle locks come in security levels(highest I could find was level 5) but no explanation as to what that means, leaving one to deduce level 1 can be clipped off by a good pair of kitchen shears, 2 lineman pliers will do the trick,
3 bolt cutters with one foot handles, 4 angle grinder and cut off wheel, 5 atom bomb. Level 5 security it had to be, which was as much security as 25 dollars could buy. As I walked back to Wayne I realized I had some new neighbors a snow bird couple from Canada who’s little yapping dog eyed me from the big open dash of their coach that cost more than my house. I was a little worried that I would have spectators watching the matinee about to unfold, as I tried to snip the level 3 zip ties that held the level 5 locks to their packaging using the only tools I brought, the trusty needle nose pliers. As I army crawled on my back under the motorcycle carrier I glanced at the elderly spectators and instead of seeing them munching popcorn and taking bet which of the hobos eying my bike would make off with it first, they glanced at me in disgust and pulled away in disdain to the other side of the parking lot so as not to be embarrassed by me and my ridiculous antics anymore.

Upon awaking in the morning exhausted from waking every hour to make sure the bike was still there I hurried over to retrieve my family from the airport who were returning from a relaxing week in Maui. They were only slightly disgusted that all the walk ways were clogged and the door to the bathroom blocked by 150 pound crates, but worse things have occurred in our married life.

After about 50 miles on the road I stopped for gas at the flying j to fill up and make sure the bike was riding well on its precarious perch. Everything went off without a hitch and as an added bonus as we were pulling out of the station, our antique Canadian friends were pulling up riding high in the rolling penthouse. To my amazement instead of a glare I was met with a friendly wave, as if to say, “your bike’s still there? You aren’t as big of a dunce as we thought last night, good luck!” I’ll take it, As my dad used to always say luck will beat skill any day.