Mile 44.2-82

Well, bad news team, turn the days without incident clock back to zero! In the thirteen-ish years I’ve been riding I could say I have only “crashed” once, until yesterday. Sure, I’ve tipped over a zillion times, but yesterday takes the prize. I’ll let the video speak for itself, but here is the Reader’s Digest version. It hadn’t rained at home, but fifteen miles away at the trailhead, it must have dumped. The trail was wet, muddy, and slicker than snail snot. This bike cruises the rolling hill trails really well in 2nd and 3rd gear, 15-25 miles per hour, without lugging the engine. I found that there is also an abundance of torque, that if not controlled in the right conditions will loop you out right on your head. I’m ordinarily one to try to ride a mistake out, even if I end up off the trail a little ways, but not yesterday.

Yesterday, I let the motorcycle-sized rock on the side of the trail use love and logic method of parenting on me, and the choices were not good. Choice A, right the bike and center punch it, then fly over the handlebars down the hill fifty feet. Choice B lay the bike down and center punch it, fly over the handlebars and up the slightly inclining trail ten feet into some fist-sized rocks and maybe if I was lucky I’d  miss a big tree. I was hoping for a Choice C that didn’t include a center punch with resulting human caber toss, but none came so I took my chances on B and luckily escaped with a bruised side, some broken plastic, and twisted metal. As a result of the impact,I damaged the headlight, number plate plastic, and punched a hole in the front fender. Amazingly enough everything, even the blinkers worked, except the headlight, so up the trail we continued.

The end of this trail spits you out on a gravel road, which we rode to the end and up a single track trail about a mile just to see how low the snow line was. First gear on the single track was great, and I rapped it out a little more than I had before and got enough speed so I didn’t feel so wobbly while maintaining plenty of torque to crawl over the obstacles. We then returned the way we had come. Once out on the gravel road I opened up the throttle a little, and in 5th gear at 5000 rpm I could clip along at 44 mph. If you pushed it I would bet you would top out at about 55 mph,(that will be a test for another day, when there isn’t bad juju floating around).

Once back at the truck I thought I could fish around behind the broken number plate and fix the headlight, but  in my hurry to fix the headlight, I shorted out the system and blew the main fuse. While standing there cursing my bad luck, we hear a guy on a 450 hauling up the gravel road to the parking lot, but before he can race into the parking lot, he realizes the hard way, like myself, that in order to ride a motorcycle the rubber side must stay down. He skidded on his backside almost into the parking lot, burning the butt right out of his 501s. Talk about a walk of shame! — Waddling into the parking lot pushing his bike with a busted clutch perch and a full moon hanging out of his once blue jeans. I thought to myself, “Well, things can always be worse!”

You should never say stuff like that, you will only find out a short time later that you were absolutely right. When I got home I decided to unload the bike by myself, which I’ve done a million times without incident, but this time not so. I’ll spare you the gory details and the profanity which ensued, but somehow I ended up with the bike tipped over, me on the ground on my side and the handlebars threaded through the front pocket of my hoodie pinning me to the ground. Good thing it was dark because I had to half undress to get myself unsnarled from the mess.

Upon further review this morning the repair plan is as follows: new fuse, solder and fix the headlight connector, weld the plastic back, and bend the blinker mount back into place and Bob’s your uncle, good as new. As a side note, with the fuse fried you can still kick start the bike and the gauges work once fired. The kick start is an interesting design, you must lift the foot peg up which automatically locks into place so the starter lever can pass by it. I was skeptical as to how well it would work but it fired up second kick. It is a great emergency feature but its design makes the electric start system look even better.

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I did take the time to soften the shocks, and it made a world of difference, but I think I’m going to deflate the front tire down to 3 lbs and see if that will improve the control even more. The chain  is done stretching, I think — at least it hasn’t started talking to me again. I think an aftermarket o-ring chain would be something to consider. I was excited to test out the headlight a little but for oblivious reasons couldn’t, so that will be a test for a later date. I was very impressed with the way the bike handled on the short distance of single track we traveled. I’m excited to put some serious single track miles behind us and see just how this bike handles on the most complicated trails.

Mile 33.7-44.2

 

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For the last two weeks my wife and I have been trying to go on a ride for our weekly date. The first attempt got derailed by projectile vomit coming from everyone at our house at ten-minute intervals for a twenty-four hour period. I think Bill Engvall was onto something when he suggested a baby puke alarm clock. So last Saturday we were determined to go, but the only problem was it was 36 degrees and trying to snow, but with my wife’s coaxing we went anyway. The plan was to ride from Roberts to Hamer across the desert, along the wetland, to sand hole station for lunch —  then back. We made it half way and were almost frozen so we enacted plan B and rode back to the car then drove to the old Watson’s bar in Menan that has been converted into a restaurant. I had a burger and my wife had a salad. I’m not a food critic, and for good reason, probably because price plays too heavily into the equation for me. My philosophy is what’s the best I can get for less than $10 per person. Therefore when the price exceeds $10 I have a hard time focusing on the flavor and quality of the food because one of the parameters is already out of whack, but that being said I would eat there again.

Sorry I got side tracked by vomit and food, now back to the focus, the bike. Not much to report, because in my mad dash to leave I didn’t adjust the shocks or tighten the chain. Although I did notice that both bikes started and ran exceptionally well considering the near freezing temperatures. Other bikes I’ve owned in the past haven’t been so cold-weather friendly, rather, they have been more of the cold blooded variety.

Mile 17.4-33.7

I’ve noticed in Idaho, as I ride, that each trail is unique — no two are alike, which to me is a lot like people. Sure some could say that twins look alike and to the casual eye are the same, but I’m betting such a person has never raised a set of twins. Not that I’m an expert or anything on the subject, but we do have identical twin daughters. They look the same but don’t be fooled they are complete opposites! This polarization of personal preferences and personality has been the cause of more than one altercation in the ten years they have been part of our family. These fights are often a good reminder that if we were all the same, or perfect, and we didn’t have to work to improve, what would be the point of getting out of bed each day? It’s the struggle to make ourselves and our lives what we have envisioned for ourselves that makes life worth living!  Just like the loose rocks, roots, and ruts make riding an enjoyable challenge.

“The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil to live,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

“Good timber does not grow at ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, in rain and snow,
in trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold council with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.”

–Author unknown

With this poem at the back of my mind, this trip I tried something new. I climbed a section of trail that I’ve never attempted to ride up before(I’ve ridden down countless times). New bike, new trail, what the hell, and up we went. The bike handled really well, I on the other hand didn’t. I tipped over on the way down, and stalled out a handful of times on the way up. I know, how embarrassing! But the rear fender is still attached and the blinkers all accounted for.

So for the first real ride the bike handled good. My only complaints, would be the same I would have with any stock bike, the handlebars need risers and the chain continues to stretch. So after 17 more miles it needs to be adjusted again. I noticed as I bounced over the rocks that instead of absorbing the impact, the front tire would try to wash out, so I think I’ll soften the front suspension just a little and I hope that will fix the problem. One feature I hadn’t planned on ever using, but works great, is the horn. Cows on the trail were no match for its powerful blast.

I wouldn’t buy this bike just for the horn but when riding in open range country it’s an added bonus. Cows are stubborn creatures and sometimes won’t leave the trail without a little coaxing, John Wayne said it best in The Cowboys “You got to figure you’re dealing with the dumbest orneriest critter on God’s green earth. The cow is nothing but trouble tied up in a leather bag — and the horse ain’t much better.”
This sums up almost perfectly why I ride dirt cycles and not horses.

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.