This past weekend was the Klim Cow Tag Race in the hills above my home. This is an annual event that has been held for the last three years to raise money to protect trail riding in Idaho, and in which I have never participated. This year I thought maybe I would give it a go to show off my new XTR 250, and maybe raise some awareness about PitsterPro being a competitive bike at a great price. So, I asked a trusted friend what his take was on it and he said “sounds great dude, but what are you going to do to stand out,” to which I had no reply. A few days later my wife showed up with a vintage Stars and Stripes helmet which gave me a stroke of genius — and this is what I came up with.
I would dress up like Evel Knievel, and put the words “Powered by PitsterPro and Outlaw Motors” on the cape. Little did I realize I didn’t need a costume to stand out. Being on an air-cooled Chinese bike amongst 200 other top-of-the line European crossovers was shock factor enough. I got a lot of funny looks, had some good conversations, and made some friends along the way. Needless to say I will probably do it next year costume and all.
Most people who know me well would probably say I’m a pretty reserved person who doesn’t like to draw attention to himself, but if you get me on a bike it might surprise you what I will do. When I was 17 years old my best friend scraped up an old jeep Cherokee that only ran on 5-8 cylinders depending on the rpm range you happened to be in at the time. One day while tinkering on the old jeep we ran out of gas and had no alternative way to get to town for more except on an old Honda Saber road bike. The coveralls I would wear while tinkering were an old retired orange jump suit from the county jail with these words still printed legibly on the back, “Property of Jefferson County Corrections.” Without thinking twice we grabbed a five-gallon can and headed into town on the back of the old Saber. Once at the gas station we realized it wasn’t the gas can I was holding out at arms length into oncoming traffic that was getting us the funny looks, but rather the escaped convict that had hitched a ride into town.
There is something about being on the back of a motorcycle where you feel like you can be yourself, and not care what others think. You can evaluate your life uninterrupted by cell phones, co-workers, or other distractions. It’s just you and your thoughts. An acquaintance of my father-in-law demonstrated that he understood this principle (maybe too well and at the risk of his own life), when one day he stopped his bike to chat with us as we worked along the side of the road one evening. He commenced telling us of the long trips he and his wife had made the past summer and how much fun they had had touring North America. My father-in-law asked a logical question “How did you and your wife communicate? Did you have an intercom system?” He looked around to see if anyone else was looking or listening and said, “Why the hell would I want that? If she needs something she will just squeeze my arm.” It would be interesting to hear his wife’s perspective on that, but to protect his life, I will let that question go in answered.
As I peeled out of the parking lot no one knew me as Matt, or the PitsterPro dealer, or the guy on the Chinese bike, but by the end of the race almost everybody had gotten a glimpse of Evel Knievel. I never heard what they really thought, but it took me out of my comfort zone and it brought me to conversations I wouldn’t have ordinarily had, and I felt good knowing I was different, not just another guy on an orange bike with black gear.
I rode some trails that race officials had labeled double black diamond and the bike handled really well. I got help going over one large root after I helped the three people in front of me and I got help after I picked a bad line on a deep creek crossing and ended up in knee deep water stuck between two boulders. Later on one of the trails, I towed a kid about a mile so he could bump start his bike after he sheared off the kick start and dumped it over in the creek. I rode about 40 miles on single track and the rest was split between atv trails and a gravel road along the river. The chain is still stretching and needed adjusting about mid day but I didn’t have the tools so I just kept going. I bent the brake lever in a tip over, and I depleted the battery with all the starting and stopping, but that was all the damage the bike sustained during seven-and-a-half hours of grueling riding. The bike held pace really well I only got passed once by four guys, but that was because I was stuck in the creek.
I was afraid I would run out of fuel so I took an old Gatorade bottle full just in case. I poured it in mid day but I did it more out of duty than necessity, as I probably would have been fine without it, but better safe than sorry.
I did not get any really good video because with all the rain we’ve had this year the trails are overgrown and a branch right at the beginning knocked the camera out of alignment, so I have six hours of video of the bushes along the trail and two hours of decent footage. Here are the highlights.
I am loving this bike on the single track, and I’m even learning how to wheelie over the obstacles. I softened the rear suspension and let a little air out of the rear tire and the bike’s response in the corners, and the riding comfort improved. I have now it over, crashed once, and tipped over at least a dozen times, and it just keeps going and going. I thought for sure I would have broken the levers off at the perch or had the blinkers ripped off by now, but everything continues to be fully functional. It’s a great trail bike at a great price. My only complaints stay the same — I still want to trade out the chain for an o ring and put 2-3 inch risers on the bars, but in an effort to give it a good test, I will continue to ride it stock so no one can say I tampered with the test.