Midnight Ride

Impromptu night rides are some of the best rides on a bike.  Lou who lives local messaged me to go grab a tag on tuesday night around 9:30pm.  What is a tag you might say?  It’s a game played by ADV fans around the world where you take a picture in front of something with your motorcycle then other riders go out and find it to take a picture with their bike.  Then the person who found it goes and finds something else cool to take a pic of.

 

On to the 9:30 message……..I had worked an 11 hour day, had to be up the next day early for a meeting, I was absolutely whiped out.  But I could use a good ride and after some himming and hawing I approprietely said “f*ck it lets go”.  Funny thing was Lou became tentative about going!  We did finally agree to go and Lou was cool enough to let me catch a ride to my storage unit and get my bike.  We did ride 2up……..but you have to do what you have to do!

 

Once on the bikes and riding into the cool night air all my tiredness and everything I worried about at work was gone.  It was absolutely refreshing to be out and about on the Ducati even if it was just a bunch of highway riding.  We eventually came upon the tag which was in my old stomping grounds and grabbed the pic.

 

I rolled into the apartment a bit after midnight with a huge grin on my face and passed out around 1.  I hadn’t slept that well in a while and wokeup refreshed on only 5 hours of sleep.  It is amazing how much a short ride can refresh you. This also allowed me to commute on the bike the next morning!

What may these be?

Well look what arrived today?  Some shiny new engine bits for the husky.

 

I tried reshimming the valves last week but they were almost at the maximum limit for shims so a rebuild of the top end is now in order.  Those shiny bits are the new stainless steel valves that I am putting in.  The 04′s were known to have valve problems and with these pieces I should be in good shape for a long time.

 

How is everyone else’s last second winter wrenching going?

My Take on the 2012 Sandy Lane Enduro

OK, so it should be absolutely clear up front that I had no intention on doing the SLE this year.  We originally considered heading down to Daytona to see the 200 while my brother (who works in the TV industry) was down working the races, but logistics got in the way and we couldn’t swing the trip.  My plans were to do some tree removal around the yard in preparation for a new fence, maybe some bike maintenance, typical busywork for a weekend day.  On Saturday morning I groggily walked into the kitchen at around 8:30a to see I had received a voicemail earlier that AM – surely not the “norm”, and played it to hear a somewhat panicky Fn Hal leaving a message that he and GLantern needed my help asap.  I was concerned.

 

Immediately my brain shifted into crisis mode, and I quickly called them back expecting to hear of a broken down vehicle issue or a desperate need for bail money.  What came next was a 5 minute “berating” session for being such a pantywaste for not doing the event now that I had the weekend free.  By the time the call finished, I promised to think about loading up the bike and heading down – and after a 15 minute “ugh, am I really going to do this” tantrum I begrudgingly wheeled my bike up into the Ridgeline bed and started the trek to Wharton in Jersey to meet up with the gruesome twosome who were already on their way.

 

Attempting this enduro wasn’t completely based in negative feelings, though I will certainly say that I wasn’t overly excited about it.  I’d read tons on this event, known quite a few people who’d done it years prior and knew that it was likely going to be single-track hell that would give my bark busters a workout.  I looked forward to the challenge, but I just wasn’t sure I was in the mood for a self-inflicted 6 hour asskicking.  Alas, once I’m in, I’m in – and I was going to try to do well.

 

On the way down

On the way down

 

For those not “in the know”, here’s a nice primer about the Sandy Lane Enduro:  http://www.meteormc.com/history.htm.  As this was the 75th anniversary of the event, they had an awesome display of hundreds of photos of the event and it’s history – photos of old salty guys on heavy old bikes knee deep in mud puddles, donning leather helmets with smiles peaking through dirty faces.  It was an amazing display of history and fortitude and a firm reminder that as tough as things might feel at the time, there are guys who had it a lot tougher and managed to make it through.

 

Triumphs, some of the old "winners" of years past

Triumphs, some of the old "winners" of years past

 

Maybe a "couple" of years older than Fuzzy's husky

Maybe a "couple" of years older than Fuzzy's husky

 

As Glantern already explained in his previous post what some of the issues were that plagued his bike, I will skip delving further into it – it suffices to say that when you see someone starting a bike by towing it behind a car, you know it’s going to be an interesting weekend :)

 

Note Glantern`s smile - it will be long gone in 12 hours :)

Note Glantern`s smile - it will be long gone in 12 hours :)

 

I’d ridden a few organized DS rides already that were primarily rough single track, so I had an idea of what we were getting into – but the only way I can describe the SLE route is “hellish”.  Tight, gnarly, whooped sand/dirt singletrack with scattered trees tighter together on the edge of the trail than 31″ (my bar width).  It was relentless.  Whatever you imagine, multiply it by 10.  Some of the saplings you could bash through, but the majority were wider trees that you had to thread your bars through.  I’ve never prayed for sandy roads more.  There were times when it felt like there was no way you would be able to keep up any level of stamina – it just went on and on with no breaks.  Every once in a while you’d catch glimpse of an open field off through the woods, and you’d be praying that the route sent you in that direction – to have it double back and send you deep into the woods again.  When you weren’t in deep woods hell (which was about 80% of the ride), you were on deep sand two track or fire cuts with huge whoops.    I get that it’s an Enduro, and this suggests a test of Endurance, but man, I was completely unprepared mentally for just how much endurance you’d need.  I was able to stay “fresh” for the first hour in each leg – but then I’d break down mentally and it became a real struggle to push on with the same gusto, and once your “will” starts to falter you wrap your “disgust with the situation” around you like a straitjacket.  I’d pull into each gas stop SURE that I was done, that I was going to bail out and just stop.   After a cliff bar, some water and a few minutes of rest, I would suddenly become possessed by some horrible evil spirit – forcing my mouth to utter words like “ok, are we ready to roll?”  And off we went.  Back into hell.

 

I can say without question it was the hardest ride I’ve ever done on a DS bike.  Not due to the terrain – that was gnarly, but not so bad.  It was just the nonstop relentless pushing that you had to do.  Every time you wanted to stop and take a 5 minute break, you couldn’t.  You want to hit your times, you want to do well, so you just continue to push.  Push through your hands feeling like they would fall off because you’ve been gripping the damned bars too tightly.  Push through the frustration.  Push through the TIRED.  I wasn’t willing to quit, even though I really wanted to.  I might not be riding as fast and as hard as I wanted, but I was going to keep pushing until I saw it through to the end.    Or at least until the next sandy road, when the wind could blow through your jersey and cool you down, and you could relax and regain your composure on 4ft tall deep sand whoops for the next 2 miles.  Ugh.

 

In the end, I actually didn’t do too poorly.  I scored a 58, which put me in the upper 50% of the class I was riding in (senior with all of the old guys who were much faster than me :)  ).  Oddly enough, that score would’ve gotten me top 10 in quite a few other classes, top 5 in some.  Not so bad.  I did a lot better than I thought I was doing at the time.  Mind you, this was in no small part due to Hal’s ability to read the trail and use his psychic ability to just KNOW where the next checkpoint was, he was 100% the reason why we hit our marks so well on most of the checkpoints.   Armed with the knowledge of what it was REALLY like, I am sure I could do better next time out.  Mentally, I’d prep myself differently.  I’d push “differently” than I was, and I wouldn’t be so hard on myself during the process because I wasn’t doing as badly as I had imagined I was.  Oh, I’d I’d put a few more years of experience under my belt first.  I have to remind myself I’ve only been out on dirt bikes for a couple of seasons.  I’m still a child in all of this.

 

I still have a lot to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandy Lane Enduro 75th Anniversary

So I made it I did my very first enduro and boy have I got a story to tell.  Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?  For a couple of weeks now I have had a problem with the Husky’s hydraulic clutch, all the fluid would leak past the piston in the slave cylinder into the crankcase. Long story short that means my clutch didn’t work at all.  I thought the new oring I put in would fix it but when Friday rolled around and I went to pick up the bike it wasn’t working again.  It’s a good thing I got a trusty tool roll now to help me work on the bike!

 

On top of that the bike wouldn’t start……..so one problem at a time I say.  Arriving at the bike at 11pm or to start packing it up for a 6am departure I don’t have a ton of time to fix stuff.  I go from top to bottom and replace bits in the master cylinder and put another oring in the slave. Still the same thing though it’s just leaking non-stop now……..I dig out the spare stock slave cylinders the PO gave me and put one of those on.  The one on there was an aftermarket piece to lighten the pull, being my street bike has a dry clutch a lighter pull doesn’t mean much to me haha.

Low and behold the aftermarket slave was the problem and the stock slave did the trick!  So that problem is now fixed and its about 1:30 in the morning.  So what is next?  O yeah the bike doesn’t start!!  I started with an oil change at least then tried the electric start, no go…..kick start no go……it seems like the decompression lever isn’t working.  So I try what every good dirt rider does in this situation I have a friend push me downhill and bump start it.  Well it starts right up like this and I figure it just needed to warm up so I pack it up on the trailer and go to bed at 2:30am…..2 hours of sleep is plenty right?  And my clothes are already filthy the wife is going to kill me.

The alarm goes off at 5:30 but i’m already awake at 5:15 making sure I don’t miss my ride out.  I head over to Ironivar’s place, aka F’n Hal, and load up the bikes and then we are off!

The ride down goes off without a hitch since Hal has the most badass truck ever made towing the RV.  We do come upon one hitch though……the other guy on here Crudmop wasn’t very busy this weekend and he was staying at home.  So what do we do?  We call him and leave a message mentioning we could use some help with something.  When he calls back we put on the smooth talking and tell him how much fun he would have being down here with us.  An hour later he is on his way down!  So now we go from two to three riders and the fun begins!  And by fun I mean as soon as I got to the campsite I tore into the Husky again working out why it wouldn’t start.

 

I went through everything the air filter, the spark, the fuel, we even changed the wheel bearings!  But no go…….so what did we do?  Well we towed it behind Hal’s truck and that got it going!  So it seemed the estart and kick wasn’t giving enough stroke to turn the motor over.  Crudmop shows up soon after we get it going and the home base is complete.  Not exactly sure what is up with the bike but crudmop figures later it’s something with the valves and they probably just need adjusting.  We realize a couple of things about my bike that has been nagging me for a while and this finally confirms it.  For one when I got the bike it had a ton of service history and receipts which seemed to say the bike was well taken care of.  Well these receipts were not from the previous owner but the owner before him.  The last guy?  I think he just rode the heck out of it and never did anything to it…,hopefully I’ll have it sorted soon though and won’t have to worry about it anymore.

But homebase is complete!

Crudmop’s KTM and his new Ridgeline!

 

Until then the plan is not to let the bike shut off when I ride tomorrow……we all head over to signup right after this and check out some of the vintage bikes being shown off.

 

The ORIGINAL dual sport!

 

We signup , grab our route sheets and door prizes then had back to the RV. A nice pin is one of those prizes, it’s the 75th anniversary of the sandy lane! Who knew?!

 

Crudmop presents me with a cool gift from fuzzygalore.com for good luck, the resemblance of me to little GLantern is uncanny.

 

Now for the saturday fun we grab some beers, cook some burgers and work on our route sheets!

Check out the awesome glass Meteormc.com, the hosts of sandy lane, gave us!

O and the route sheets!

 

The rest of the night was the usual festivities on any ride talking with neighbors enjoying the scenery and the company.

Some birds circling, they better not take my bubba burgers!

 

I personally was out cold by 10pm even though our start time wasn’t till 9am I was wiped out from only having two hours of sleep and spending the day fixing my bike.  And of course the jokes I received for once again going on a ride with a half working bike hah!

 

We wakeup bright and early ready for the day first order of business is food and packing everything to be ready to go at our key time.  And of course we had to tow my bike to bump start it and warm it up……..this is going to be interesting.  One rub of the GL for good luck by me and Crudmop and we were off to the starting line!

 

Now pictures are sparse from here on out as we weren’t allowed to video and I was too busy trying to survive!  Hopefully you read through it all and enjoy it!

 

This is my experience in  nutshell the start line was intimidating I have never seen so many dual sports just fiending to get out.  The energy coming into there was so intense and exciting.  Since I couldn’t shut my bike off though it began to overheat and I had to run and do some laps to cool off before we started.  When i got back we were up next as soon as our time started we were off charging into the first corner!  It was such a blast!  Now for those who aren’t familar with an enduro it isn’t about how fast you can get from point A to point B but how close you can get to a predetermined amount of time between checkpoints.  They have speeds to keep on each section and specific times for you to arrive.  Your goal is to hit those marks as best as you possibly can.

 

It all started off great just a bunch of whoops on a slightly small trail nothing I haven’t done before.  I was hanging in there fine but then after the first main checkpoint things got out of hand.  We went deep into the woods and every corner became tighter and tighter and was usually a 90 degree turn or more.  It got so tight you could see the trees where other riders had worn the bark off fitting their bars through.  I started to think man this is crazy it has to let up at some point right?  No it didn’t it was unrelenting and brutal there came a point where I was so hungry I wanted to stop but was scared to because I thought the bike wouldn’t start again.  My hands were going numb from gripping the bars so tight and the vibrations.  Eventually I came around a corner and wasn’t hard enough on the gas and I had my first stall of the day.  I was in the middle of the woods and thinking i’m totally screwed, this is it im done.  I tried to kick the bike a bit and it almost started, so slightly calmed down I pulled my helmet off and proceeded to eat my cliff bar and drink some water to get myself back into the right mindset.  After the 5 minute break I felt recharged enough and propped the bike on a tree and went for broke.  Believe it or not it fired up again with the estart, someone was looking out for me I think, maybe the little GL?  Grateful knowing the bike would start again if I dropped it I continued on.

 

I thought I would have to quit there and then but I kept pushing, mentally I was fighting with myself the whole way I dropped down into 1st gear and was putting along for most of the woods, people passed me a lot but I didn’t care it became a matter of pride to just finish more then anything.  I had to stop to fix a bark buster and a guy came out of the woods said to me “This is bullshit” and headed down the bail out trail.  I knew then that I already beat one person because they did not finish and decided I would not be that guy.  One mile at a time the distance just ticked by.  Long ago I lost crudmop and Hal as they were ahead so I was on my own back here just pushing myself.  I would catch up to them at gas stops when I could.  Eventually I made it to right before the last gas stop and went full throttle 6th gear to save some time.  It was funny to see that a lot of the riders who kicked ass in the woods couldn’t ride deep sand fire roads for the life of them.  I guess I had that on them at least right?

 

I arrived at the last gas stop to meetup with Hal and Crudmop with 25 minutes till the final section of only 13 miles.  I downed the rest of my water ate a hot dog and then 10 minutes  before we had to leave tried to start the bike.  Thunk thunk………thunk thunk…….nothing……..It had cooled off too much I was dead in the water.  We tried bump starting but it wouldn’t go.  Other riders there told me that if I got the bike going with it not starting like that it could wreck the engine for good, guess what?  I didn’t care because I was 13 miles from the end and nothing was going to stop me.  If I had to walk and push my bike the last 13 miles I would, everyone in my time had to leave so I went for one last option.  I found a father and son heading out in their truck and told them the deal with my bike.  I begged them to hook me up to their truck and try to bump start it by towing just like I did in the morning.  They finally agreed to it after seeing the desperation in my voice to want to finish.  And sure enough the bike turned over and it got going again!  With a thumbs up from the dad and a big thank you to them I was back in it.  The next 13 miles were a blur the enduro finally let up and gave us some easy terrain.

 

30 minutes later or so and I was across the finish line I rolled into the homebase with such a huge sense of achievement and relief to have done it.  It was easily the hardest thing I have ever done the only thing on par I can think of is my first mountain bike ride in high school when I thought 23 miles off the bat was a good way to start.  Well all or nothing I guess right?

 

The ride home

 

Would I do it again?  Right then I said no way never, but now after my body has healed up a bit I think I just might…….and after seeing the results, I got 11th out of 16 in my class, I didn’t think that is too bad for my first enduro.  Hal got 1st place in his division!!  I’ll let Crudmop mention his placing but he kicked a ton of ass too! So what did you think?  Want to try it?

I Made It

A full report is coming soon but I have to just post this picture of me after the enduro.  I have never done anything so hard in my life.  If you took the hardest twistiest mountain bike trail you can think of then multiply by 10 and put a dirtbike on it instead of a bicycle that still wouldn’t be as hard as this.

 

That is the look of success and defeat all rolled into one.