So many of us have one. We drag it around each ride. Some mount it to our helmets, some put it on a chest, and yet some use it with a tripod. The action camera has been a catalyst in the world of sports to bring all of its excitement to a screen near you.
I remember back in college duct taping a big VHS camera around our bodies as we leapt off bridges. We loved to revisit the adventure later on. There is something captivating about sharing experiences with others. It's part of a visual storytelling phenomenon in which many have become addicted. I am one of them.
Have you ever sat through a treacherous three minute ride video that your buddy put together? He was so stoked about it, but as you reached the 20 second mark you wanted to do something else? Was it all taken from the latest GoPro mounted on his helmet? The sound consisted of a wound out two stroke at blaring levels? Yeah, I've been there. In fact, that may have been one of my earlier videos.
I ride dirtbikes in one of the coolest places on the planet. As I have been exploring the backcountry of Peru over the years, I have picked up some great ride shots via my handy little GoPro. Times have changed a bit with technology. Now, I capture 4k footage straight onto my phone, I can fly a drone above and beyond to bring even better footage back home to show the audience. The mount options are infinite as well as the gadgets for taking different shots.
All of this technology has opened up a new passion for me. I have combined my longing to lay my tires on new tracks with the thrill of capturing the right shot. I also love to write and tell stories.
Over the past decade, I have developed a pet peeve with bad videos. I certainly cannot claim to be top drawer when it comes to talent, but there are a few things that I have learned along the way that can help you put better videos together.
I have included my latest ride video of a group of three guys and myself that hammered our way through some great riding in the Andes of Peru. It is more of a ride video and not much of a story video. My plan is to use it as an example. Whether you think it's good or bad is your opinion. My hope is that you can improve the viewability of your videos with just a couple of practical and simple to use techniques. Besides, you want people to enjoy your work.
Keep the camera still
Whenever possible, use a tripod, a rock, a prop up device to keep the camera from moving while taking the shot. This goes for those that are using basic stuff. If you don't have a gimbal (most riders don't carry one around in their tool pouch) use creativity to figure out a way to place your camera on a solid spot. Personally I almost always use a flexible, three legged tripod to mount my Samsung S7. I can place it anywhere, I keep it in my pocket on my riding pants, and can set it up before the guys come around the corner and into the shot.
Take short clips
If you have ever spent much time editing, you understand. Large files have to be processed by your computer even if you only want a three second clip of a 45 minute file. Another reason to keep them short is for entertainment purposes. Mainstream movies change camera views and angles each few seconds. Its so you don't get bored with the film. Same thing goes for your ride video. Mix it up where possible.
Many Points of View
As I mentioned above, changing camera angles will make your video easier to watch. If you watch a 5 minute video of the same helmet mounted GoPro footage, you might die. It's boring for most everybody that wasn't on the bike.
Its OK to use helmet mounts, but change the scene. Stop and film your buddies zipping by as they bang through the rocks. Pan around and take in some pretty scenes. Follow along on that gnarly section of trail. Get in your buddy's face and ask him about how he crashed. Film a high five or fist bump. Mix those in with your video and you will make it much more enjoyable to watch.
Length of Video
Keep your edits between two and three minutes preferably, and under five minutes for best audience gain.
Many of the professionals on social media talk about how important it is to keep things short. People have little windows of time that they can sneak in a Youtube video. If you have a 45 minute movie, they probably won't be able to check it out while on their coffee break. They also won't run over to Charlie and say, "Hey, check this one out!" In my experience, it's like pricing...Keep it under the minute markers...do a 2:59 second video instead of a 3:02 video. In general, the shorter the better. I try to keep ride videos to the three to four minute mark per day. Pack the best stuff in there and get rid of the rest. People will watch your videos much more often.
In addition, there are limits on social media for file size and video quality. Last thing you want to do is make a cool video to find out the file is too big for your Facebook page.
Keep Edits Simple
You don't need to add a million crazy transitions or graphics. Unless it is done well, its more of a distraction. Transition from shot to shot with basic cuts. Is easier and works well with ride videos.
The Rule of Thirds
This is a time tested film and photo basic...Take your screen and divide it into thirds, up and down and side to side. Basically make a tic tac toe board on your screen. Place your subject in one of the corners of the middle square. If you have a full length subject that takes most of the height of the screen, place the subject on one of the up and down lines. It creates perspective and makes a better shot. Same goes with horizons and mountain backgrounds. Place them on one of the horizontal thirds to make your image more pleasing.
Subject is not centered in the middle of the frame...but rather on one of the 1/3 lines.
If you don't record good sound with your video, don't put it in there.
If you are making a sandwich and the bread is bad, it will make your whole sandwich bad, even if you have the best cheese and meat. Cover up with clear voice over or music. Smart phones usually have good sound recording for videos. Use the best you have available, and if you have little to work with, put in more music.
You are trying to tell as story each time you make a video. Keep an eye out for things that stand out to make your story interesting. A wreck, funny things people say, beautiful scenery, obstacles and struggles, and anything else that stands out in your story. Highlight it with clips that you have taken and your video will be better for it.
As for the video that I included in the post, look it over. I have put many of these principles into practice. It's not perfect, but imagine what it would be like to have only on point of view, or mumbled GoPro sound? Do yourself and your friends a favor and make those videos more entertaining to watch.
Until the next time...keep the wheels down.
Scott Englund is a social entrepreneur living in Cusco Peru. Scott operates MotoMission Peru, which offers super exotic hard enduro tours through the Andes. You can check out MotoMission Peru by visiting the website at www.Motomissionperu.com or find them on Facebook or check out other ride videos and media on the MotoMission Peru Dirtbike Adventures YouTube Channel. Feel free to contact Scott right here through TT if you have any questions about MotoMission Peru.
In this offroad motorcycle training video, I want to show you the benefits of using your front and rear brakes at the same time for maximum control and speed. Give it a watch, see how you're doing, and of course, hit me up in the comment section below if you have any questions or comments.
Brian Garrahan Off-road Training
Over the course of my time operating MotoMission Peru, I have had various opportunities to host/guide dirt bike adventures with other riders. I have a special place in my heart for father/son adventures. I guess it must have something to do with the sentiment I have with my dad.
Official MotoMission Tour Video...Check the others on our Youtube Channel
Dirtbikes and Dads go together
When Tony and Joran contacted me about doing a tour, my excitement level rose. A father/son combo with limited dirt bike experience would be a challenge, but a welcome one. I normally cater to seasoned riders, but his one would put a different pressure on me as the guide. I needed to push these guys to their limits, while completing a route within our time frame of four days. The terrain needed to fit both the skill level and the distance we needed to cover each day. The fellas wanted to roll their tires over some amazing parts of Peru, get some mind blowing pics, and live to tell about it.
A face with a smile tells a story
My work was cut out for me. I put Joran on a crf 230 because of his size and experience. Dad, Tony, was on the Husky 300, I rode a Honda 450x. I figured I could swap out with one of them if I needed. Bike selection worked out perfectly.
The route itself was ideal. It was a mix of single track, some rough two track, and some free ride(go where ever you want) type of stuff. It was perfect to try a hand at hill climbs, scare oneself silly on rock fixtures, and put the tires on the edge of mountain ledges to make the heart flutter a bit.
The ride was fantastic. Tony and Joran both expanded their riding level to new heights. In fact, I was able to coach the guys on various little riding tricks that someone showed me along my journey. Stand up more, focus eyes on where you want to go, as well as some mechanics of body positioning and how it relates to traction and control. It was a bit of a seminar/riding school/test day. No doubt that the guys are better riders now. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the tour.
The view they wanted to see!
When it all boils down, we had a fantastic four days of riding. Each were pushed to the limit various times each day. When the heads hit the pillows each night, it took no time for the sleep to begin. Smiles were abundant, and there were no shortages of whoops, hollars, and high fives.
Certainly another successful tour!
MotoMission Peru is a social enterprise operated by Scott Englund. If you want to see the Andes via dirtbike, this is how to do it. High quality in every aspect. Service, guide, routes, equipment, and overall experience cannot be beat. Contact Scott via Thumpertalk messaging or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Between riders riding and racing every weekend, a frequent question is how to recover properly. If you have followed me for any period of time, you know that I am an advocate for one day of rest per week and to pull back the overall volume and intensity every six weeks to allow your body to rejuvenate both mentally and physically (at a blood chemistry level). What does that look like?
1. Rest Means Rest: this is not the day to go to a theme park,run errands that have you outside and in the heat and humidity, etc. Anything that is stressful on your body should be avoided. Note doing a sport specific event “easy” is not the idea of a rest day. Instead schedule a massage, read a book, go to a movie or go to lunch with an old friend.
2. Take a Nap: when your body gets into REM (rapid eye movement) level 3, it releases hGH (human growth hormone) which make you both lean and facilitates recovery. Make the room dark and cold, eat a quality snack and consume 5-8 ounces of cold water prior to lying down.
3. Contrast Therapy: the goal here is to expose the muscle tissue to the largest temperature deviation that you can tolerate; the bigger the temperature spread between hot and cold the better. If you complete in the shower, strive for 2 minutes hot – 30 seconds cold. If you utilize a bath, strive for 4 minutes hot, 1 minute cold). Repeat 2 to 4 times.
4. Loosen your muscles up: go for a therapeutic massage or take a yoga class the night prior to your rest day. Spend 20 minutes both in the morning and the evening foam rolling and working on trigger points.
Gotta' slow down sometimes to go fast!
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestion for a future article, hit me up on the comments section below. I enjoy hearing from you. Oh, and don't forget to tap that "Follow" button so that you're notified when I post new tips on reaching your highest potential.
Coach Robb Beams Complete Racing Solutions
About Coach Robb
Mistake #1: Not knowing YOUR sport specific heart rate training zone
Your maximum heart rate number changes specific to the sport that you are training and racing. For example, your maximum heart rate on the motorcycle will be higher than on a bicycle (because of the amount of muscle you are using). A frequent mistake athletes make is completing a maximum heart rate assessment within one discipline and then use the established heart rate training zones across all forms of training and racing.
An additional mistake is using the generic algorithms that are programed into heart rate monitors. When you plug in your age, height, body weight and activity level, the watch is programmed to provide you GENERIC heart rate zones. The most accurate assessment of your maximum heart rate is to complete field testing every 6 – 8 weeks.
Solution #1: Complete Sport Specific Time Trials and Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate
[Note: your maximum heart rate varies from sport to sport – the more muscle you utilize, the higher your heart rate]
Your maximum heart rate changes as your aerobic engine improves. The stronger your aerobic base, the lower your resting heart rate. With this being said, your maximum heart rate will come down as well because the heart can pump the necessary amounts of oxygenated blood to the working muscles at a lower number because it is “stronger” and pumps more volume of blood with each beat.
Over the duration of my career, I have found the following field tests as a solid indicator of maximum heart rate along with muscular endurance:
Swimming: 500 yards (capture your interval at each 100 yard interval)
Cycling: 10 miles (capture your elapsed time and heart rate at the five mile and ten mile mark)
Running: 3 miles (capture your elapsed time and heart rate at each mile marker)
For physical strength, I have a customized Plyometric routine that I feel tests your lactate tolerance and anaerobic thresholds. This test is EXTREMELY difficult and requires a doctor’s approval. If you have your doctor’s approval and would like a copy of this Plyometric Assessment, please email me directly.
Mistake #2: Not Testing and Evaluating Your Training Efforts Correctly
When you complete your maximum heart rate assessments through time trials, you want to make sure that you are not fatiguing the muscles too quickly which keep you from accurately testing the strength of your heart (specifically oxygen volume as it fuels your working muscles with oxygenated blood).
Keep in mind that there is a difference between muscular endurance and muscular power. If you muscles fatigue due to excessive load or exertion, you will not push your heart into its upper limits. The key is knowing how to evaluate your time trial results. Below mistake number three, I will outline testing protocols along with how to evaluate them correctly.
Solution #2: Allow for an Adequate Warm Up
When you are attempting to test your aerobic engine, you need to make sure that you don’t increase your intensity too quickly for two reasons.
First: the muscles need adequate time to warm up (usually 20-30 minutes) so that you don’t use the first half of your assessment as your “warm up”.
Second: trying to hit maximum effort too early. The idea is to see what your maximum is over the entire duration, not the first five minutes.
Mistake #3: Following a Generic Training Plan
Following a generic training plan that doesn’t take into consideration your training background, physical abilities and availability of time to train will lead to performance plateaus, illness and injuries. Within our performance programs, we factor in your testing results, physical limiters (see Mistake #2), goals and objectives as we develop your training program.
Too frequently I interview new clients who are frustrated with their last year of training and racing because they don’t see any improvements despite the consistency in their training. The reason for this is that the efforts are not being quantified and the athlete spends too much time in the “grey zone” that yields little to no improvements in performance.
Solution #3: Begin Following a Scientifically Backed Training Program
If you would like to begin maximizing your training efforts, please email me and let’s get a nutrition & performance program built for you ASAP! I guarantee that you will burn body fat, build muscle and improve both your speed and endurance in as little as 12 weeks. Stop the insanity of training without a plan and email me today.
Mistake #4: Not Eating Enough Fat, Protein and Raw Fruits & Vegetables
Many athletes become fat and protein phobic because of the misinformation that is floating around on the internet and morning shows. The truth of the matter is that the body needs more protein and fat than you can even begin to imagine. Simply put, lean protein re-builds torn down muscle. If you want to build more muscle you have to eat protein. Lean protein also supports your immune system which helps protect you against viruses and being down and out being sick. Clean fat will help your body recover from the oxidative stress of aerobic exercise (at all intensity levels). Eating raw fruits and vegetables will provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals to both produce energy as well as recover from your daily training.
Solution #4: Begin Eating More Protein, Fat and Raw Vegetables & Fruits to Burn Body Fat and Improve Your Speed & Endurance
The only two things that satisfy appetite is fat and protein – NOTHING ELSE. If you are on a low fat, low protein diet, you will never experience the true feeling of being full. This will negatively affect your ability to sleep (which makes you gain weight because your body doesn’t have the chance to release human growth hormone (hGH) which is responsible for making you lean). The key to burning fat and building muscle is to satisfy your appetite so that you can sleep deeply (REM patter three). When you get to REM pattern three your body rejuvenates from the inside out and allows your body to release human growth hormone naturally – you will wake up both refreshed and leaner. However, it starts with real, raw fruits, vegetables, high quality fats and lean protein.
You can now see that by training with a scientific, yet simplistic approach will yield the long-term results that you have been always wanting. I look forward to hearing from each of you and how me and my staff can help you and your program.
Until next time, Train Smart-Not Hard!
About Coach Robb and MotoE (CompleteRacingSolutions.com)
Coach Robb has been working with riders and racers since 1987 and is the founder of the Complete Racing Solutions Performance System, the Mental Blueprint of Success, the MotoE Amateur Development Program, the MotoE Educational Series and a nutritional consultant to Nutritionally Green Supplements based out of Orlando Florida.
CompleteRacingSolutions.com is a premium resource center for motocross, supercross and GNCC riders of all abilities and ages. Visit CompleteRacingSolutions.com & subscribe to his monthly newsletter that outlines the training solutions used by Factory KTM/Red Bull Ryan Dungey, Geico Honda's Jeremy Martin, Factory KTM/Red Bulll Alix Martin, Factory Kawasaki/Pro-Circuit Adam Cianciarulo, multi-time Loretta Lynn & Mini O Amateur Champion Jordan Bailey (Factory Rockstar/Husqvarna), Factory KTM/Red Bull Broc Tickle, Factory Kawasaki/Pro-Circuit Stilez Robertson, off road riders Charlie Mullins (Factory KTM/Red Bull), Chris Bach and Ryan Overton along with quad racer Roman Brown (Factory Yamaha) along with thousands of riders all around the world who have families, hold full time jobs and just love to ride and race motorcycles.
Instructional videos with Coach Robb can be found on the Coach Robb’s YouTube Channel addressing rider’s questions about speed, endurance, strength, nutrition, biomechanics, stretching, and soft tissue maintenance. You can also find articles and videos at CompleteRacingSolutions.com relevant to riders of all abilities. If you are into social media, you can find him on Twitter: @MotoCoachRobb, Instagram: CoachRobbBeams and Facebook: Coach Robb.
If you are into podcasts, CLICK HERE for his first three shows where he outlined: How to Eat Healthy on $10 a Day; Importance of Sleep and It's Influence on Weight Loss; The Dangers of Over-Hydrating.
Coach Robb Podcast - #26 - The Difference Between Epstein Barr, Adrenal Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Are you struggling with fatigue, can’t lose those last 10 pounds, not sleeping at night, have poor concentration, experiencing body aches…. (just to mention a few)? Have you sought professional help only to be made to feel like you are losing your mind and it is all in your head? Well the truth is there is a process associated with fatigue and during this podcast Coach Robb walks you through the symptoms, causes and a few ideas on how to turn your miserable conditions around.
Over the last 34 years, Coach Robb has received thousands of emails from individuals all around the world who struggle with fatigue – both mentally and physically. In this podcast Coach Robb walks through a concept he refers to as the “Flow Pattern of Fatigue”. He explains how fatigue can manifest itself in the way of a virus, then overload your adrenal system and eventually result in a condition commonly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as discuss the pivotal differences between this condition, adrenal fatigue and Epstein Barr. After listening to this podcast, you will have a better understanding of where your symptoms originated, why your body is struggling and three specific steps to begin turning your symptoms around.
Nearing the end of the riding season here in Ontario, I was looking for one more ride, something new and fun. So for some reason, I decided an overnight camping trip would be a good idea, one last adventure to end off the season. Well, it was October 26th and the temperature outside was dropping rapidly, most people would think, "who wants to sleep outside right now?". Apparently, I did, and I was gonna bring my cousin Nic with me, me on my CRF230 and him on his TTR225. But where in Ontario do you take two green plated bikes for an 'Adventure Ride'? Well, the Park to Park Trail is a 200Km trail network that stretches from Killbear Provincial Park to Algonquin Provincial Park, a great concept right? Maybe not.
We decided to ride from Parry Sound to Kearney, a 100km journey over a full day. We would then camp with our hammocks on the Crown Land just outside Algonquin Park. We drove to Perry Sound and had booked a motel room for Friday night, we would be up early Saturday morning and ride the trail all the way there for a campfire and a snooze. Saturday morning rolled around much quicker than I would have liked, and we had slept in. We skipped breakfast and made our way to the trailhead to load up the bikes with a couple sets of Nelson Rigg Dual Sports Saddle Bags.
It wasn't long before we were on the trail, with all our camping gear tied down we set out on our adventure. As I was cruising down the trail I got this overwhelming feeling of happiness, everyone who rides knows what I'm talking about. There are lakes and trees on either side of me, nothing but fall colours in sight, and I realized how amazing this country is, and how much land is out there ready to explore. We then came to a closed section of the trail, not a big deal, just a 2km road stretch to find the next trail. That 2km road stretch turned into an hour-long detour trying to find the trail and looking for a collapsible crosscut saw that had shaken loose from the back of my bike. Finally back to where we left the trail to take another look at the map and we were on our way. The terrain matched the description, "Scenic rail trail with the occasional puddle", swerving around the water-filled divots, we slowly made our way along the trail.
By this time, the cold had already made its way through my summer riding gloves and I had switched to my winter mittens. Warm and dry, I was quite content with the trip until I pull up to what was less of a puddle and more of a small pond. Heres a tip, don't try and tiptoe slowly around puddles on a motorcycle, you are going to tip in. It wasn't so bad though, my one foot was a little damp but I managed to keep the rest of my body dry. Pushing onwards, we hoped the puddles would dissipate and we'd be left with a nice dry rail trail again, not the case. Points along a trail are deceiving and everything you've passed seems to become a blur. Plowing through puddles that grew deeper and deeper as we continued, we grew damper and more and more fed up. We were holding on to that hope that it would get drier, that the trail would clear up. Well, it did, a flat, dry, sandy rail trail with mild whoops, exactly what we came for. There were bridges over the rivers and we even passed a warm-up hut accompanied by a nasty washed out section.
It was already somewhere around 3 in the afternoon, knowing that Kearney was still a long ways away we kept trucking. It wasn't long before shit hit the fan, we stumbled across what looked to be a fairly long, wide and deep 'water crossing'. When most say water crossing they're usually referring to a shallow stream crossing the trail, but this was more like a small lake. Nic walked carefully along the edge prodding in with a stick, "It's deep in the middle, stick to the edge and you'll be fine!" he said, he always made me go first. I put it in first and was creeping my way along the edge, it was going dandy until the "ground" (more like a sludgy mud) beneath my front wheel had turned into water, my front end just dropped vigourously. I'm talking about 3 feet of water, I was up to my waist in cold Muskoka swamp in the middle of nowhere in October. Naturally, the water was freezing, but I was more worried about my pride and joy, my 2004 CRF230F that was drowning beneath me. Nic trudged in to help me haul the sunken maiden from the pond. Now both soaked, the CRF on one side and the TTR on the other, it seemed we were in a pickle.
My exhaust, my airbox, both filled with water. I turned over the engine a few times and about a litre of water came out my exhaust, we then tipped the bike on its side to let the airbox drain. With a dead battery and a dampened sense of adventure, we attempted to start my bike. Anyone ever tried to bump start a drowned bike, in wet boots and pants, on wet sand? Let me tell you it was not a pleasant experience. I know what you're thinking, why would you run a bike with water probably in the crankcase? Well, I had no other choice really, besides it's a 230, nothing kills these beasts. So we looked at the map and devised a plan, Nic was going to ride back to the nearest road and take it all the way to the other side where I would meet him. All went as planned but we had a long journey ahead of us, we decided to forget the trail and take the road. 80km later we had made it, not really sure if we were on crown land or not, we were fed up of being cold and decide to pitch camp.
Hammocks were set up, dinner was eaten, it was almost time to call it a night. My pants were dry from the wind smacking my legs for the past hour and a half, but my extra clothes were soaked from my saddlebags bathing in the swamp. So I left the clothes I had on, luckily my extra socks and my coat were still mostly dry. I climbed into my hammock thinking that the night was over, just sleep, get up, eat, and make our way back to Parry Sound. Well, the night was definitely not over, did I mention that my sleeping bag's zipper was missing? So, it was around 2 am when the wind came gusting up my back, I could not sleep so instead of laying there miserable, I decided to get up. I slid on my shoes, ducked out from under my hammock's tarp, just to find that it had snowed. With not much else to do, I began gathering wood for a fire. The wood on the ground was covered in snow so I resorted to snapping twigs off of dead trees.
Shortly after, Nic was up too, a stream of cold water had made its way into his hammock to give him a rude awakening. Ready to light the fire, we found our fire starting paper covered in snow. Nothing a little propane couldn't fix, a quick drizzle, a spark and it burst into flames instantly. The fire was made to keep us warm, but we spent the time getting little, dry, twigs to keep it going, we eventually gave up, they were burning too quickly. We were thirsty and hungry, so we took a short walk down the road to a river close by, and started pumping. We then whipped up some Kraft dinner to fill the void in our stomachs. It was watery and dissatisfying, but I ate it anyway. Tired and cold we decided it was best to start walking, we walked down the road for half an hour, turned around and walked back, hoping we'd see the sun peek over the horizon. It didn't. Feeling exhausted, it didn't feel like a good idea to get back on the road, so we hit the hammocks one more time to try and get some rest.
I woke around 9 am, I slept surprisingly well and was ready to go home. I was completely done with this trip, I wanted to be on my way home already, unfortunately, I was not. It was another 120km back to the car, we were low on gas and it was freezing rain. Wonderful. I slipped on my soaked riding boots and my toes started to go numb, I had no real gloves and knew it was going to be a long journey. The nearest open gas station was 35 km away, both bikes already on reserve, we weren't too sure we were gonna make it. We once again, pushed on, the road seemed to go on forever, Nic's bike sputtering on the downhills when his gas would slosh forwards away from his petcock. Eventually, we arrived in Novar, Ontario, one of the smallest towns I had ever been to with the main attraction being a Foodland with a gas bar, but that's all we needed, some food from the deli, some 91 octane and we were reluctant to leave but set off onto the backroads of Muskoka. My fingers and toes were completely frozen and I thought to myself "I don't think I've been this cold for this amount of time before in my life".
The kilometres dragged on and on, when we finally arrived in Orrville, we popped into the general store for a quick pack of beer nuts. This ended up being half an hour of drinking hot chocolate and talking to the woman who owned it (and eating maple beer nuts of course), recounting to her our adventure so far, waiting for the feeling in my hands to come back. We were 26 kilometres away from Perry Sound, just a hop skip and a jump. It went quickly, soon enough I was back on that first section of the trail again, trying hard to focus on that beautiful scenery, but could not ignore that cold pain sensation my body was experiencing.
I would like to say that as the trip came to an end I was having mixed feelings, but the truth is I just wanted to get into the car and turn the heat up. Would I do this trip again? No. Definitely not in the fall. If I could go back and choose to not go on this trip, would I? Absolutely not. It was an experience, although I was cursing myself throughout the catastrophe, it was an awesome trip. The lesson I learned is this: don't ride the park to park trail on a dirtbike (or motorcycle), especially in the fall. Also if you pass by something that says "Some sections of the trail may require a motorized vehicle or a BOAT to cross." don't ignore it, don't assume you'll be fine. I learned the hard way they have that on their website for a reason.
Over the course of my time in the saddles of various colors of dirt bikes, I have come across numerous situations where a little ingenuity and preparation was the difference between a horrible disaster and a sweet adventure. Let’s start with letting the cat out of the bag. There are a million and one ways to fix various issues. However, we can all agree that when the inevitable happens (its dirt biking and you will break things), having a clear and logical fix might be the thing that saves your day and that of your riding partners.
Each bike has its weak spots. One that I find is more universal is the clutch cover. I have managed to see holes in every one of my Hondas, Huskies, and KTM’s. Early on in my trail riding days, I discovered this stuff called JB weld (a cold weld epoxy compound).
I first used it to connect the foot pegs back to the four stripped out bolt holes in the bottom of the case of my XR 80. I don’t have any pictures as it was a long time ago. However, that stuff was the solution for many a problem over the years. When I started riding in Peru, JB Weld wasn’t available. However, there was another thing that looked really similar. Soldi-Mix. I am guessing it’s even a little better as they can use more toxic and dangerous ingredients in some other parts of the world.
This story starts with a couple of bikes, mostly stock, and two anxious fellas in search of a couple of amazing routes. Weston and I had been spending our time ripping all over the areas around the city of Cusco as our goal was to begin to map out trails in the area in order to understand the system for my MotoMission clients. These were the early days. Before I knew any better.
There was an exquisite trail that I had paid good money to hike. It was a five day excursion complete with mules, backpacks, guides, and some good buddies that were not dirt bikers. However, the first time I hiked it, I realized just how fun it would be on a dirt bike and had to come back someday. My someday had come.
Weston and I planned to go from Cusco to Santa Teresa over the Salkantay pass. Google Salkantay and you will find millions of pictures and stories from tourist that have done the route on foot.
We headed out early in the AM, worked our way through the valley, then down to the base of the route at a little town called Mollepata. We stayed in a nappy little hostel, ate what we could find, and rested for the day to come.
This hole was so big we patched it with a coin...
Morning arrived and off we went. The next place to stay was in the jungle on the other side of the pass. We committed to reaching the top and continuing down to Santa Teresa and eventually looping around back to Cusco.
Over the course of the morning, we fought a tough battle with wet rock, mud, swollen creeks, ice and snow, and tons of altitude. Little by little we made it to the top. We celebrated and quickly began the descent toward the jungle.
Within a couple hundreds of yards from the top, Weston found himself dropping off a rocky ledge and punching his rear brake lever deep into the clutch cover. All the oil was gone in a matter of seconds.
As we sat there wondering what to do, I certainly felt a sense of panic as I had not prepared well for the trip. I had done this before, although it was in the US and not such a ways from civilization. First, we had a hole in the side of the motor. Second, we had no oil to refill the tranny. Third, which we found out later, we had no tow strap.
What did we do? We learned a handful of valuable lessons.
First, the bike was damaged at 15000ft elevation. Our destination was down in the jungle at 8,000ft. It was mostly downhill. However, there were a number of climbs that proved to be nearly impossible without the motor pushing the bike forward.
We chose not to use the motor and coast as much as possible, but when we reached the first section of trail that went uphill, we quickly found ourselves in a bind. I managed to find an old alpaca herder that had a twisted piece of twine that I bought for a couple of good days wages. It was all worth it. Let that be the first one…BRING A TOW STRAP OR SMALL SECTION OF ROPE.
We made it to the town of Santa Teresa well into the night, and found a place to stay. However, we still had a hole in the clutch cover. This is where I discovered the value of a cold weld compound like JB Weld or SoldiMix…Second lesson learned…ALWAYS CARRY COLD WELD.
For the equivalent of three bucks, I found a pack with a two-tube epoxy mix. You squeeze together equal amounts, stir it up really well, then apply the toothpaste textured goop over the hole in the clutch cover. Over the course of about 20 minutes, it dried and was ready for use. A scrounge around town to find some motorcycle worthy oil, and Weston and I were back in business.
A couple of lessons I learned on this one. Always carry a new pack of Soldimix (cold weld compound). Always carry a small section of rope or tow strap. Had we had those items, we would have fixed the problem on site, rode down the hill and finished our ride as planned. We may have needed the tow strap later for something else, but with the Soldimix, we could have taken a small bit of the oil from the other bike and made it work. A pack of Soldimix takes up only a tiny little space in a fanny pack. It can be duct taped to the frame somewhere if you don’t want to carry it. The weight/volume vs the benefits is a no brainer. Sure, you can’t take everything, but when it comes to an efficient use of space, bring a cold weld kit. If you forget it, then make sure you have your tow strap.
The final thing to never leave at home is your brain. Sometimes people are gifted with being able to make solutions. If that is not you, then read about it. Thumpertalk is full of amazing little trail tricks and creative ways to fix your bike without certain tools. You can fill your mental toolbox up with a couple of good forum threads, then take it with you. If you are good at figuring things out, all the better, but DON’T FORGET YOUR BRAIN.
(There may not be as much to this one because it was riding sand dunes, not as much substance there.)
Tuesday, August 7th, I woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. Patrick had gone out to the grocery and gotten fixings to make some kind of breakfast scramble. Eggs, sausage, bacon, veggies, you can imagine how great that was for 8 young men from the south all out here in Colorado without a Mom or girlfriends to cook all week. It's pitiful to admit how much you neglect eating well when you're off on a guys trip. I cook every morning and evening at home but between twisting a throttle, turning a wrench and holding a beer you don't always find time to eat anything decent. Old man Pat(28 y/o) came to our rescue though!
This day's travels would take us back south the way we came into town in total darkness and then of the the northeast so we got to see new sights. The first was Rabbit Ear's Pass. As you might imagine, the name comes from a rock formation that greatly resembles a pair of rabbit ears atop a peak. This drive was much different than the past 2 days. We were heading out of the mountains and down into a huge basin between ranges. Once past Rabbit Ear's we took a left onto Jackson County Road 14 heading towards Walden. Walden is smack in the middle of this basin that is around 27 square miles. It is beautiful there. In every direction you look there are mountains rising up all around you. To the south and west the continental divide trail runs the peaks of the Rabbit Ears Range and the Park Range. To the north and east the Medicine Bow Mountains close up the bowl. The highway takes you through the Arapaho Ranch Co which is beautiful and green during summer with its fields watered by winter snow melt. Its all rolling hills covered in tall grass, the hills bounding slowly down to the creeks that run the bottom of the basin. It took an hour to get to Walden and from there it is another half hour to the riding area. Walden is a tiny place not even half a mile to get through town. It gave me a weird feeling. Almost a depressing sort of feeling. The place looked its age and mostly forgotten. I could not get over the amount of junk cars that lay around the town and the outskirts. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it before.
The sand dunes are a few miles north of town and have to be the most striking feature that I have seen in the mountains. They sit right at the base of the mountain range and are wind swept up to the slopes. It is so strange to be driving along and all of a sudden there are sand dunes in the mountains. I have tried to research how they came to be but really can't find any theories that may explain their existence. It's 1400 acres of sand dunes, it's just odd. The dunes are about 6 miles off the highway and you follow a dirt road out to meet them and of course you can't drive too far out or your tow rig will end up becoming part of the dunes too. Before I even got gear on I had to take a rip on the 450. It always feels so good to just open it up and run up to 70 mph. It was a hot day and the open sand was soaking up the heat. We all got our gear on and headed out onto the dunes.
I really couldn't tell how big they were until we got out there and you would lose guys easily. No trees, no obstacles and you still can't see each other. These aren't like the dunes you see in the FMX videos either, they are much much flatter. It was a nutty experience to begin with. Just open riding, you can't hit anything and if you eat it it doesn't really hurt. We all rode around a while just blasting wide open throttle runs until our hearts were content. We found gaps to jump and berms to rail. There were trails where the dunes blew into the trees but they were just so sandy it was hard to maintain much momentum. Not to mention, coming from Florida I had no desire to ride sand trails 2000 miles away when that is all I have at home to do. The hardest thing we did was hill climbs in that stuff. It just east your momentum and traction and torque. It's tough to do without a sand tire. After plenty of that the next obvious thing to do is go pull the 500 out of the trailer and let everyone tear around on it. Unfortunately, that didn't last too long because the second time it got opened up the water pump gasket went out and she was puking steam and coolant so the 500 was packed up early.
Now we get to the actual fun ideas. Lets all drag race half a mile out across the flat section of sand. Just picture this bike line up: 1994 Honda CR250R (roached, clapped, etc.), 2008 KTM 250 XC, 2009 KTM 250 XCFW, 2012 KTM 300 XC, 2012 KTM 300 XCW, 2014 KTM 250 XC, 2017 KTM 250 XC, and 2017 KTM 450 SXF. There is nothing fair about any of this, but that is what makes it so fun. We set up a camera at the finish line ot record the whole thing coming at it. We used a timer to give us the signal to go. The first race I won pretty handily on the 450. Tjhe second race I won again but it was closer. The third race the 2017 250 XC got me. It actually was an interesting little experiment. The 450 definitely has the most power and top end, no arguing that point. It was geared higher than the other bikes though and suffered off the line. Those 250 to strokes are blazing fast bikes though. Both of them hung with me the whole time. I was very impressed with them. The pair of 300s did fine off the line but quickly fell back due to their lack of over rev I imagine. and all the older bikes suffered from a combination of inexperienced riders and just being older, worn, tech. Those were fun drags and it's always fun to beat your buddies at anything. One other thing I discovered that I'm really good at is riding whoops. I assume that is a product of all the sandy stuff I ride in Florida. We found a few sections of whoop out there and I could run away from all the other guys pretty easily.
After we got through drag racing I decided to go run some of the dirt roads around the dunes. I just wasn't impressed that much with the sand. Not to say I didn't have fun but I was in a place where I could easily go explore and not get lost so I did just that. All the vegetation around was pretty low so you could see quite a distance and the roads were straight and smooth so it was blast just to go ride fast and enjoy the landscape. The roads would run up the mountain a little and then you could come back down or continue along off camber. We came back to the truck for drinks and snacks and to regroup around mid day. A group of us decided to go on up the mountain and see what we could find and the other half stayed down on the dunes to play around more there. The trail up the mountain was all double track. I guess you could take a truck up if you really wanted to. Then soil was a rusty color and the first half was very rocky. This made it slow going for some of the slower guys, but it's such good training. About a quarter of the way up I swapped bikes with a guy so that he could get a feel for the 300 power. Taking off back up I definitely could tell I was on an older 250, they just lack that bottom end grunt but are so much fun to rev out. After about a mile and a half I noticed an odd feeling in the rear and saw that the rear had gone flat so I stopped to wait for Patrick to catch up to me. I would have turned back but he is one of those riders that you really don't want to spook around a corner because there is no telling what he might do. When he caught me I showed him the issue with his bike and he decided that he had had enough fun for one day anyhow and limped it back down the trail to the truck. I offered to let him stay on my bike and I would go back but he insisted. It worked out though; I changed both of his tires the next day. Before I took off I waited for Josh to catch up on his trusty CR250. I told him since its basically a road we are on that I'm going to go on ahead and not wait up, told him to just stay on this road and we'll find him in a bit if he doesn't catch us first. We started back up the top out all the while chasing our fastest rider, Noah. (I could write a book on how fast a mountain bike background makes these guys on a dirt bike.)
The second half of the climb up was smooth and free of all the loose rocks. It was so fast and when going up hill you can hold the throttle open more for maximum fun factor! I eventually caught Noah where he had slowed down to look around for single track stuff. We found on that was very short and dumped up out on a power line cut over. The view was epic. You could see all the way back west across the valley that we had just driven through that morning to get there. The sky was a beautiful, rich, blue with fluffy white clouds dotting it and the sun beaming through the openings. Down below us you could easily make out the 2 sets of dunes and we could actually see and hear the other guys riding down there. It's strange to hear 2 strokes from so far away because their exhaust note just doesn't travel very far. There will definitely be a picture below. We turned back after snapping some pictures and continued down the road. After another couple miles we stopped and Noah brought up that we had no idea where this road led. I pulled up google maps on my phone and realized that this road was a county road and I looked later and saw that this system of dirt roads and trails run 100 miles clear into central Wyoming. That may have been a bit of a trek on dirt bikes! We headed back to the truck and to find Josh. We got about halfway down and still hadn't seen Josh so I turned to go back up again and met him almost where another road connects up with this one. Josh had taken the other road after I explicitly told him to stay on the one we were riding.
He says he just thought we would've gone that way. I got a little more upset than I should've probably, but we're grown men and for your well being sometimes its a good idea to follow directions. That, though, is where his inexperience comes in. It doesn't take much to look for sign, just like tracking an animal, you can track a dirt bike pretty well. Another option is to shut your bike off and listen. Josh didn't think to do either of those. Most of all I would suggest that you use your head and think. It's the "what-ifs" that scare me and are the reason I got upset. Always think "what if" when riding, especially if you are alone or bringing up the rear.
On the way down the mountain I thought it would be fun to run it dead engine. I was right! It was interesting to take a 230 pound dirt bike and basically use it like a mountain bike. My entire focus was on speed, I always wanted to go faster. I also noticed how I had to be a little more careful with line choice because I had no throttle to save me from a bobble. I would recommend trying it if you get the chance. You can hear and feel much better what the bike is doing and how its gripping the terrain. You are much more aware of your braking habits when you don't have any way to speed it back up if you grab too much. This was pretty much the end of the riding day. We all met back up at the truck for beers and of course to tell each other bout the most bad ass thing we did during the day since we didn't all really stay together.
Day 7: Rest
This day we all slept late and made breakfast on our own. Nothing special. We went up to the continental divide trial right out side of town for a bit and rode less than 20 miles. It was a day to just play around and find neat features to hit. We rode a few new trails but all were short and very rocky. I found this neat little step up right at the trail head and we all wore it out jumping it 20 or so times a piece. The less experienced guy practiced getting over logs and rocks. It was also a good day for them to go ride the same trail we had ridden the first day and feel how much faster they were and how much more comfortable. That progression is one of the best parts of riding no matter if you've been riding 20 weeks or 20 years. All in all it was a rest day, we didn't do anything strenuous or any long hauls. I'm one of those riders that loves to emulate the tricks that guys like Jarvis can do, except I have nowhere near the skill level. I hopped every log and rock we passed, jumped off ledges, went up ledges, jumped singles and makeshift little doubles, found the step up, pulled countless wheelies, got better at standing on the bike with just one foot(no hands, standing on one foot peg) and coasting. I recommend the last one as a neat trick to impress your friends. After we decided that we had enough we loaded up and went back to the apartment to play mechanic shop.
On the way in we got a countless number of beers and I grabbed a bottle of Jonnie Walker because who doesn't want a little buzz before wrenching on a whole fleet of bikes. We had gotten tires and tubes shipped in from RM. Then there were other little nagging things on various bikes that needed a fix, luckily mine didn't need anything but an oil and air filter change. For starters we got to work on tires. Now this is a skill that all of you experienced guys need to teach your buddies that are new to riding. I changed both of Patrick's tires in the time it took another rider to do his rear. I am no expert at all but I know what works. Obviously we all helped each other though so it went quicker. The next skill set that guys need to work on is learning how to jet your carburetor. It is important to have some sense of what is in it and what changes you need to make base on how the bike is running. It also helps to know how to get to your jets and needle and if you need to take the carb off the bike. Most of all, do your best to make sure your bike is ready to ride for a whole week before hauling it across the country. I put in a lot of time, effort and fresh parts to ensure that I would not have any preventable issues while out on the trail and it showed.
After we finished up and had put everything back in the trailer we got a complaint from the property manager! (LOL) Once again someone complained about us wrenching on bikes in the parking lot. Not bothering a thing, not at an unreasonable hour, not loud, not obnoxious, but some people just need something to complain about.
I recently did a trip to Tennessee and Georgia and got to further test my new Doubletake mirrors on pavement, forest service roads and a very small amount of single track. The mirrors performed admirably. However, the real test was before I even started on my trip. The night before my departure from home, I loaded my bike in the back of my Honda Ridgeline. I wanted to have everything loaded and ready to go. I also did not want to leave my truck or XR650L outside. I proceeded to slowly pull into my garage and then got this feeling that I better get out and double check the clearance between the garage door header and my mirrors. The mirrors had already made contact with the stucco header and pivoted down without damage to the mirrors or perches, with only some minor scratches on the mirror arms. I was mad at myself for doing such a boneheaded thing, but, it seems I do that type of thing much more often with my chronic sleep deficit. A short side story.....I had a friend in the military that drove his Ford Explorer into his garage with his mountain bike on the roof rack. Now that was a bummer!
Over the course of my time riding dirtbikes, I have snapped thousands of pictures to capture any single moment of one of my adventures. Each picture taken with a purpose, eventually ends up on a hard drive, an old photo album, or gets deleted before anyone else has a chance to see it.
That'll bend out...
The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words carries a lot of wisdom. Without a word, a picture can tell a number of stories, reach into the soul of the viewer, and generate every form of emotion.
I found myself the other day looking back through some of my pictures. I was digging deep into the recesses of my laptop files and ran across a number of albums that begged me to take a peak. I am glad I did.
That's why we ride!
What I found was a mixture of albums titles that stretched from locations, dates, titles of events or activities, and the always so exciting “Random Pics” file. As I scrolled through the options, my heart went back to the places and times that the pictures were taken.
It spurred a thought…Some of the best times in my life have been in the saddle of a dirtbike. I have taken pictures of many of those adventures. If there was one picture that I could pull out of all of the thousands of options, which would be the one that tells the best story?
A helmet full of of joy!
So there you have it. We are going to do a Photo Story contest. I have an official MotoMission Peru jersey or T shirt for the winner. I’ll build a panel of judges to determine which picture tells the best story. Send me your favorite picture with any dirt bike theme. That can be pretty wide open as long as the judge can tell it has something to do with dirtbikes or riding. One picture per TT member. It must be your own photo and by submitting, you are giving Thumpertalk.com permission to use it. Make sure it tells the viewer a story.
Please submit your entry to Scott@motomissionperu.com or send it via TT message. Entry deadline is the 15th of November and the winner will be announced during next month’s post.
I am looking forward to hearing your stories through a lens.
Until the next one,
Ah, Monday August 6th, the first real day of riding. The last 3 riders had made it in so we had the whole group ready to go tear up the back country of Colorado. We got a little bit of a late start but figured we would be fine since Austin knew the trails and said we had plenty of time to go out and get back to the truck before dark. This would not be the case but more on that later. We were heading up to Hahn's Peak about an hour north of town. Once you are within half an hour the mountain takes over your view. Its striking with its rock covered peak. I ask if that is Hahn's Peak and Austin says "Yeah, we are going to ride to the top." Now, from our point of view one the south side of the mountain I see no possible way to get a dirt bike up it because of the steepness so I sit back in silence and disagree with him. At the top there is a speck, its a fire watch tower from the early 1900s and I realize if a person was standing up there you couldn't make them out. So this peak is up there. I posted pictures ta the end to give you a sense of how climbing this thing would be.
If you have never ridden a 500cc two stroke dirt bike then I suggest you do that as soon as possible. Beg someone to let you ride theirs if you have to. I thought my 2017 Kato 450 was a monster... nah! The 1991 KTM 500MX that Austin had bought and got running was a real monster. We had just made gaskets for the top end and got the cooling system sealed up the night before to this would be our first day on the bike. It screams, the front end has no desire to stay on the ground. The geometry sucks, the suspension is not up to par, but the fun is real. Your legs don't naturally go to the thinnest part of the bike when standing, and the handlebars are too close to your body so its a real art to ride it fast. Once those of us brave enough to ride it got a turn we loaded it back in the trailer and got back to getting ready to actually go out for the day.
We had driven around to the north side of the mountain which doesn't look nearly as crazy to get up so I started to have a glimmer of hope abut reaching the summit. We mostly took double track forest roads to the trail up to the summit. Started in Clark County Road 413 to 414 to 418 which are all just hard pack and dusty with some rocks and wash breaks thrown in. Good fast riding to get the blood flowing and enough dust to choke down an elephant. It didn't take long to ride the 2 and a half miles to the trail that we would take up the mountain. I would like to note that when riding in a group a 8 riders ranging from A level racers to absolute beginners it is important to stop and make sure everyone takes the correct forks in the road. The new guys don't always know to look for tracks and signs of tire tracks. The dust also made us run pretty wide distances between riders. So we had to turn around at one point and go get the last 3 riders in the group. We got back to the trail head, wish I could remember the name of it. The first 50 to 75 yards of the trail was like someone just dumped a load of rocks on it and was pretty tough to maintain any speed but after that it was smooth sailing up to about 10k feet. The trail just zig zagged up the mountain and was pretty straightforward, same dusty hard pack with switchbacks just single track instead of double. We encountered more hikers and they were totally rude and wanted nothing to do with pleasantries even though we slowed to a respectful pace to pass them. One by one we reached a plateau on the north side. The last 2 guys never showed up but we decided to try for the summit anyhow. We would later find them at the trail head because they never made it through the first rocky section. Remember though, one is green and the other doesn't ride very often and was on a new to him 250 two stroke that's down on power.
I had ridden my 450 up the trail and knew I'd never get to the top on it with MX gearing, stiff suspension and OEM clutch. Chase finally caught up on my 300 and didn't feel comfortable taking it up to the peak so the challenge was about to get going. My 300 has a rekluse and obviously is set up for off-road so I had no fears with it. The top 500-750 feet of elevation on Hahn's Peak is covered in loose igneous rock usually about a feet deep. They are big chunks, around the size of a slice of pie and just slide down when you walk or ride on them. It was hard to get traction walking up this thing much less riding. Its steep enough that if you ever do get traction the bike just wants to come over backwards on you. There is a defined path up top that hikers use but with the conditions it switches back and forth too much to make for a useful bike trail. You start at the plateau and just hit it wide open and go ahead and use your momentum to launch you up as far as you can go and then the real work starts. If you ever stop it gets bad. Everyone stops. We tried over and over to go straight up hitting it full speed and it just wasn't working so we all dug in for the fight to come. Austin made it up first because he is an insane Graham Jarvis type rider. He's done it so many times that his technique is great. I probably made it halfway up before my momentum stalled. I stopped and got going again very slowly just creeping up trying not to fall. I made it to another semi flat spot and took a rest. The thin air was getting that much worse and I was breathing as hard as I could to get oxygen in. I start up again and get stuck on the slope up to this little straight piece of trail I want to use to run up the next steep spot. The method that works best is to dig the rear tire through the rocks to real soil and rock the bike back then launch forward up out of the hole, thus moving you up about 15 feet and if you're lucky you keep a little momentum on up. After another stop I made it onto this straight piece of trail and was able to use speed to blast my way up further and then managed to stall momentum again. The next however long, minutes or hours, I'm not sure how long it took to get up, were the most excruciating moments of my life and I brought it all upon myself. It was a cycle of digging the rear tire down and rocking the bike up out of the hole and stopping 20 feet later. The elevation was taking its toll on me and the bike. I was so determined though, stopping crossed my mind but I knew I would hate myself later if I didn't get up this thing. There is just no traction up there and I dropped the bike over so picking it up about suffocated me. Finally I made it to another stopping point and there were 3 obvious routes up and 2 looked straight but steep the 3rd looked like if you screw up you're down the mountain but not quite as steep. I took the 3rd way and by some miracle didn't stall and hopped right up on the ridge line of the peak.
I have never been so excited about accomplishing something in my life. I was ecstatic, jubilant, going out of my mind at what I just did. Once on the ridge line its flat enough that the traction doesn't matter and you just cruise to the fire watch tower. I yelled all the way too the tower, revved the shit out of my bike a few times and was taking in the view. You never notice the view going up so it is beyond rewarding when you get up there and stop to stare. I just can't put into words how happy I was in that moment and I'm still proud of that and forever will be, my first mountain on a dirt bike. Chase and James had already hiked to the top and had cheered me on and given me encouragement on the way up. They were just as excited to see me get up there. Austin had gone back down to help Noah and his brother Chris finish the climb. It was also remarkable that I beat both of those guys up because they are much better riders than I am.
As I reflect on it he experience now, its all amazing that it came to be. 2 years prior to this trip I had never owned a dirt bike and only ridden a friends 1986 Honda XR200 briefly at his grandfather's ranch in Montana. 2 years prior I knew only one of these young men because we went to high school together and I never thought we'd be riding dirt bikes together in Colorado. Even after I got a bike I never thought I would get to ride one out west. Even after I met these guys I thought they'd never like me enough and I'd never be skilled enough as a rider to make the trip out and ride with them. Just 1 year ago when they went out to ride I still thought it would be impossible for me to ever do that. but in this last year of riding I have come so far. I've really gained a treasure trove of experience from just going and riding when I get the chance. In the 2 years I've been riding I have logged a conservative 350 hours of ride time on my bikes. All this to say that anyone can do this stuff, I'm just a regular guy from Alabama with a new found passion for the sport. If I can do this, you can too. It just took meeting few people in the riding community and off I went on this journey that I hope never ends. Anyhow, I should get back to the day.
Eventually the other 3 of us that gave it a shot made it to the top and had a beer for good measure standing up on the fire watch tower. We got the token summit pictures sitting on the bikes. And then I realized the only real fear I had felt on the trip. Going back down this thing. Man was it steep and those ricks just slide when you sue the brakes so I fell a couple times but mostly made it down uneventfully to the trail that we had used to get up to the first plateau. We all hopped on our bikes and headed back down. It was slow going for me because I was now worn out from that climb and Professional Down Hill Cyclist Chase blew by me. That kid got fast on a dirt bike real quick. We came back to the double track road to find our 2 stragglers. One with a a welded clutch in his CR from trying to get through the rocks but after it cooled it was fine. We took off further down the double track until we cam to a trail head diving off in some dense woods. That was the most flowing trail I have ever ridden, the bike just floated along and weaved back and forth so easily. I could ride it for hours on a loop if I had the time. The soil was perfectly moist and dark. The trees were so green in here and there was green undergrowth. It was such a beautiful trail. The 450 rode it great. not much elevation change with lots of bermed up turns. That trail spit us out on the paved highway where we crossed over to County Road 486. Here I switched bikes with Chase to get on my 300 because we were about to dive into some long trails and I wanted to be smooth because I was feeling that climb from earlier.
This set of trails would take us all the way around nipple peak and back to the trucks. Its six miles from peak to peak between Hahn's and Nipple so this resulted in about a 20 mile loop for us. This trail started in woods and was rocky and dusty again but then it opened up into beautiful meadows and a bit thinner trees. Through the meadows the trail is literally about 2 tire widths and it is surprisingly hard to stay in that little groove. Once I got the hang of it though I was flying. Then it would hit me again where I am and what it took to get here and I would slow down and take it all in. I loved riding through these fields, you could see so much and the sun had begun to get low so there was a beautiful glow on everything. I had just ridden through a field and the trail made a wide 180 so you could see back a ways and I saw James coming up the trail and absolutely eat it by a tree, like a bad wash out. He just laid there so I started yelling and I'm sure he couldn't here me but Chase rode up on him and I saw him begin to get up. The last thing we need is an injury on the first big day. We all met up at a rode crossing and made sure everyone was making it fine and continued onward. We ran out of fields and the trees got pretty thick. The trail got rougher and started to go up and down and we had some crazy off camber spots where if you dump it down hill you're going a long way down.
We came to another trail head about 2 miles south of Nipple Peak and 2 of our riders decided they were too worn out to make the rest of the journey so they took the county road back to the truck as we moved on. Chris hadn't really slept and the climb up Hahn's drained him, and Josh is just so new to riding that it saps all of his energy pretty quickly. We were in dense woods for a very long time. Lots of twisting through the trees and avoiding dead falls. We had to make our own path a few times around fallen trees. This ride was probably the most challenging because we were all just tired form lack of sleep and hitting the big mountain right out of the gate. By the tie we got around to the west side of Nipple Peak we all stopped on a little ridge with a valley falling down below. Patrick was complaining about the lack of power on his bike and of spooge running from the top of the cylinder. After a bit of investigation it was determined that his spark plug had worked loose and was causing his problems. We got the seat and the tank off the bike and tightened the plug back down by hitting each side of it at the same time with wrenches and rock chunks because we didn't have a wrench big enough to fit it. It was a pretty decent trail fix and the bike really came to life. At this point the sun is getting pretty darn low so we don't waste time getting going again.
The ride back to the truck from the back side of the mountain felt like it took forever. It was the roughest trail we rode. Rocks, boulders, roots, washed out sections. There was one very fast section that offered some relief. Got a little air conditioning going and let you relax and just cruise for about a mile. Then the trail ducked back into tight trees and I rode up on the faster riders at the front stopped and staring off the trail. They had just ridden up on a bull moose that did not have any fear of dirt bikes, apparently. He was about 20 yards off the trail and turning back towards us. I quickly suggested we get going before he decided he wanted to take a joy ride. Moose are cool from a distance but they are massive creatures, bigger than most horses and much much wilder. Not to mention that giant set of antlers they are wielding. Needless to say, I was scared to be that close to him. About the time we took off the slower 2 riders caught up and put a hop in their step too, so to speak. Not much farther past the moose encounter we popped out on another county road and all stopped to game plan. The sun had gotten very low, behind all the trees and it was getting dim; this is another reason I was a bit more afraid of the moose than normal maybe. We talked about just following the big road out to the truck but Austin assured us that the end of the trail was only 2 miles away and we had just enough light to make it. So we all skeptically started down the trail again.
By this point I am beyond tired of being on the bike. That mountain climb to start the day just took it all out of me. I had no riding form, was pretty much done standing to ride and was all over the place. I had no desire to be out there anymore and just wanted a beer. So it is worth nothing that I am the only rider with a working headlight on my bike out of the 6 of us that are still on the trail. I am also the only guy with a trailtech and a watch and a GPS. I knew I could get out of there in the dark but could I even find all the other guys once we got spread out again. It was only 2 miles though right? WRONG, Austin is such a fast rider that he has a bad sense of distance. I look down when I think it should've been 2 miles and its been nearly 3 and we are still int he thick of it. It is dark. A little worry hits me but I just pull off and shut the bike down. Can't hear anyone so I pull out my phone and find myself on the map, still a few miles out but not too far from the truck, but we are well past any big roads. There are 2 guys in front of me and 3 behind. No one ever caught me while I was stopped, but I started moving again. The headlight is ony doing so much and I can't really see what my front tire is hitting just where the trail goes. So I had slowed a lot. The next time I look down I see 5 miles on the tach. I eventually rode up on one of the guys in front of me and he had gotten worried about leaving us all. We waited for a minute and never heard anyone and decided it would be best t go back to the truck and regroup with the guys that stopped earlier in the afternoon and the other rider that was leading the group out. No sense in use turning back and getting lost looking for the last 3 guys. Besides Austin had hung back with them. So we kept going. I started leading him with my light and now I'm seeing things because I hate being in the forest in an unknown place in the dark. Finally, after 8 miles from where Austin said we had 2 to go we came out of the county road right beside the lot where our trucks were parked. Thank the Lord we had made it out of there.
Once back at the truck we decided to wait 20 minutes before heading out to look for the last 3 riders, and luckily they showed up before we had to go back out there. That was such a relief and capped a really great day right up until the ending there. Sp let this be a lesson to you. No, nothing bad happened, but it easily could have. There were sections where running off the trail meant tumbling down a 20 foot slope and everyone would've ridden right by. You'd never get the bike out alone in the dark. What if you got hurt? It just gave me a greater sense of mortality that we riders forget sometimes. I asked Austin where would be headed the next few days and that night I studied satellite imagery of the areas, trail maps, and topo maps so that I would be clued in to where we were and how to get out just in case. I saved several maps to my phone and relied on my good memory of routes and landscapes. Always have a game plan where riding off in the unknown like that. At least 2 people in the group should be familiar with the area and have means of leading everyone out. You always hear the horror stories and think it cant happen to you, and most likely it wont but I'll be prepared for anything from now on.
None-the-less, it was an awesome day of riding. We ended up doing 29 miles that day. It was some of the roughest terrain of the trip and I can't wait to go back and do it again. I would highly recommend the Hahn's Peak and Nipple Peak areas. They are close to Steamboat so its an easy treck to the trails. You get to see some amazing scenery and ride some of the best mountain trails around.
You wouldn't believe the excitement I woke up with on the first day we woke up in CO. I laid there for a moment to check my phone and call my Dad to tell him we had made it without trial. I got up and threw some clothes on and quickly went up the stairs. At the top of the stairs I experienced something that I've never felt in my short 25 years, shortness of breath from a flight of stairs. Steamboat Springs, CO sits at about 6,700 feet of elevation. I just drove here in a couple days from sea level and there was no time for my body to adjust. The rest of the day and some of the week I would be plagued with this problem over and over. Anyhow, I made my coffee and had a bite to eat while everyone else rolled out of bed and got ready to start the day.
This day was all about prep for the week. We had to move trailers around and stuff 8 bikes into one trailer and a hitch rack. The apartment complex was not keen on us wrenching right there in the parking lot and we got a complaint the very first day. Some people just don't want you to have any fun. We had already made the decision not to start a bike there and we never did, but what can you do? I digress. We managed to get everything loaded up into the trailer and another truck and headed up a mountain range to go jet and get warmed up for the week to come.
The destination was just outside of town, I know, crazy, a mountain just outside of town. We went halfway up Buffalo Pass to a parking area where we had plenty of room and freedom to test and tune the bikes. At this point we are up to about 8,000 feet and the thin air is killing me. I stood up from squatting to put on a skid plate and nearly passed out. The first bike I get on is my 450 SX-F. I was thinking the fuel injection would just pick right up and be great. WRONG! It would not lug around at all and wouldn't rev out for about 20 minutes until it adjusted to the atmosphere. Once it got running correctly I was well on my way to annoying all the mountain bikers with my loud FMF exhaust and power wheelies through the parking lot. after a little play time the real work began. We had 5 carbureted bikes to jet. Luckily Austin already had a baseline with his 2012 300 that he had been riding out there for several months. I started with my 300, a 2012 model as well. I went form a 38 pilot from Florida to a 42 pilot to get the 1/4 throttle spot good. That has to be the most counter-intuitive jetting situation I've ever encountered. Less oxygen + more fuel + less air pressure/vacuum = a very crisp throttle crack at 8000 feet of elevation. Then on the main i went from the 162 I run in Florida summer to a 158 because at that point the air pressure doesn't matter and the engine is just sucking well enough on its own. After a little air screw adjustment the bike ran better than it does at sea level; I attribute this to the lack of humidity and heat.
The jetting trend continued for the other 2 stroke bikes, all but one was a KTM. The 1994 Honda CR250R didn't need the same amount of adjustment. The pilot in it was fine but it needed a little less fuel at WOT. I couldn't tell you what we did to the 250 four stroke that we had. I just know that no matter what jets were in it, it was a dog. Don't take a 2008 KTM 250f to Colorado. You won't be impressed. We also had a 2009 KTM 250 smoker that we couldn't quite figure out, that bike gave us fits for a couple of days actually. The five of us that were there geared up and hopped on the bikes to head the rest of the way up the mountain.
We got out on the county road, dirt and baby heads, that continued Buffalo Pass up to the continental divide trail. I started on my 450 and Chase was on my 300 because Chase doesn't currently own a dirt bike but wanted to come along and the 300 isn't quite as overwhelming to start on as a 450 can be. I would never recommend letting an inexperienced rider borrow your bike for a week, or anyone really, but in this case Chase is a professional down hill mountain biker and knows his way around 2 wheels. That 450 was a blast heading up the pass. You could just let it eat as long as you avoid the big rocks and holes in the road. It was about 5 miles of winding road to the top and let me tell you I have never seen such a great view before. I immediately got nostalgic. This isn't something just anyone gets to do, or has the opportunity to do. I recognize the moment for what it means to me. At the top we start on the continental divide trail and head south. The section of trail we were on started very flowy. It would dip into woods and then pop you out in a field and dip back in. Then you'd slow up for a rocky section and nail the throttle again. It had just rained an hour before and the soil was perfect up there. Everything just stuck. I couldn't believe how well the trail section flowed and how much fun it was, but I've also been riding in Florida for a year at this point with nothing but sand trails and whoops. That first day I just kept getting caught up in the beauty of my surroundings and a surreal feeling that I was actually there riding some of the best terrain in the country.
We came to a pond ad stopped for a break and to talk about how the bikes were doing and how much arm pump we all had. At this point we are about 10 miles in and the CR250 has already lost the rear brake lever from impact with a rock and would remain broken all week. Josh was not ready for Colorado. His bike wasn't ready and the week just got tougher. I let some air out of the forks on my bike to soften it up a little but was surprised at how well the front was taking the rocks. The rear wasn't but I couldn't do much about that. Patrick's 2009 250xc was down on power a lot and my 300 was running excellent. I have no doubt the slavens head mod helped it a ton out there.
We turned back to get back to the truck before it got too late so we could get home and meet the other 3 guys that would be arriving that evening. The trail ride back was slower because we stopped to check out the scenery and different features and to wait on the 2 slower riders. Austin found a massive tree that had fallen and had to ride over it. The top of the trunk was about 3.5 to 4 feet off the ground at its base, he managed to get over it 3 times. I didn't have the balls to try it the first day and risk breaking my arm. Then he proceeded to ride up the trunk and launch off the root ball. I did try this but I don't have the balance yet to ride up a tree trunk like that. I'll add video below if I can find it.
If you've never ridden on trails that also have hikers I would suggest being as respectful as possible. Always slow down and crawl past them. Every hiker we encountered did get off the trail for us and we slowed down to idle past but most were VERY upset to see us. One or two were friendly and cheered us on but that was not usually the case. We got yelled at with several profanities and middle fingers. You can only do so much to make people happy but those measures should be taken even if their reaction is negative.
We made it back to the truck and loaded up to go back to the apartment uneventfully. The last 3 riders showed up late that evening. Beers were had, pleasantries exchanged and off to bed to rest up for the day ahead. I would definitely like to ride more of the divide trail in the future. I had an absolute blast on it. It is mostly double track in the area around Steamboat but has many single track off shoots to explore.
I didn't sleep the night of August 1st, too much anticipation, too much energy, all pent up like a kid waiting for St. Nick to slide down the chimney and drop off gifts to be played with in the morning. I got out of bed early, there was no sense in delaying it any longer. I went through my routine of brewing coffee, frying a couple eggs and having breakfast as hurriedly as ever. After breakfast I checked my bags for, probably, the 100th time to make sure I had all the gear I could stuff in them and that I hadn't left anything out because I would need it all for the next week. I checked every drawer and under the bed and in the washer and dryer to make sure nothing remained. When I was sure the bags were good to go I made my way down to the garage to begin to load my truck before I had to leave for work. First, I got both bikes in the bed of the truck. I took my 2012 KTM 300XC and 2017 450 SX-F(never take a SX bike to ride CO single track, more on that later). Then came all manner of spare parts, fluids, lubricants, cleaners, tools, anything you can think of that you might need to keep a bike running properly. Off I go to work.
I don't have a clue what happened at work that day. All I know is at 5 o'clock I'm leaving and heading to the Airbnb I booked in south GA. It was a hot day and I had been hot all day at work hopped in the truck to leave and about an hour down the road had to pull off at a rest stop and puke, not the best start to my trip, but between the heat and my excitement to get going I got queezy. I got back on the road and had an uneventful rest of the trip to Lake Park. Got in at about 10 and went to bed pretty quickly as I needed to be up early the next day.
5 a.m. came soon enough but I was still rearing to go. I got dressed, had my coffee and headed out before daylight on my way to Columbus, GA. Halfway there I stopped in Tifton, GA to get on Highway 82 and grab some Chick-Fil-A breakfast at exit 62 off I75. Nothing else would suffice. By the time 11 rolled around I made it to a U-haul location and picked up the 6x12 enclosed trailer that we had reserved for the trip because I don't own an enclosed trailer, no one else driving out did and I couldn't find anyone to lend me one. At $30 a day, though, I wasn't really worried about it. *Props to U-Haul btw, that trailer pulled great and had all kinds of tie down points. I would not hesitate to get one again.* After picking up the trailer my next stop for most of the day was Tallassee, AL where I picked up my first comrade and took a driving break to work on bikes.
My 450 is a track bike and it typically stays in tip top shape because the track is not the place to have a failure of any sort because it always happens up the face of a jump or in the air. So it didn't need anything at all. My 300 was having clutch issues. To try to remedy this I bought a master cylinder rebuild kit and installed it to no avail, it actually got worse so I put the stock components back in. After I put the rebuild kit in it I COULD NOT get the clutch to take fluid when the lever was actuated so I ended up back bleeding it completely full and it somehow worked. Right then I went online to Rocky Mountain and ordered a new complete clutch master and had it sent to our accommodations in CO. This would prove to be a damn good decision.
My friend, Josh, was taking his ragged 1994 Honda CR250R... I had zero faith in that bike. Before we could leave it needed new tubes and tires, and a new clutch pack. I also decided that we should put grease in every place that would take grease to be safe. This guy had been riding about 6 months, never on a motorcycle of any kind before, at the time so I gave him a crash course in how to change tires and tubes. I wasn't sure any of this work would be worth it. If you can imagine the most clapped out 1994 CR250 that actually still runs and moves under its own power; this is that bike, 100 percent. Suspension just feels like its only working on the springs, clutch is on/off, brakes are very much absent, no power band just on or off(later discovered the power valve assembly was stuck open), so so so loud with smoke pouring out of the head pipe connection to the cylinder, EVERYTHING rattles, the kicker only catches 1/3 of the time, but alas the bike works well enough for this particular rider.
Anyhow, we clean up and get everything back together and load up in the trailer. Next was to swap trucks with my father for the remainder of the trip. I love my '96 Z71 but I don't love it enough to drive it to Colorado from Alabama, South FL to AL was quite enough. I can't thank him enough for letting us take his truck. That kept us from needing another rental. Hard to believe that out of the 6 riders travelling from Alabama to Colorado none of us have a full size truck or SUV that is cross country worthy. By now, with just the 2 of us, the truck and trailer are loaded down with enough supplies for an army of riders and mechanics. At 7 P.M. we roll out of Tallassee and head to Guntersville, AL for the last leg of the day to meet up with the rest of the guys going with us. We stopped in Birmingham to pick up the 4th bike going in the trailer and roll up to Guntersville around 11 P.M. to meet the last 3 riders. Once there we elect not to put another bike in the trailer and the last 2 will ride in the bed of the 2nd truck going to CO. I can't tell you how great it felt to be back with all the boys, everyone together again. We all met in college at Auburn and have since moved off to Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee. After catching up over a few beers it was time to head to bed for the night and get a few hours sleep before rolling out early Saturday morning.
The next 20 hours of my life are some of the least exciting times I have ever lived through. The three of us riding in my truck, being young and bold, decided that driving straight through the entire day and night to get there before the next morning was the best course of action so off we went leaving the other three riders asleep in the house. Nashville to Paducah and on up to St. Louis and past the great arch. We encountered a classic Lamborghini Countach on the west side of St. Louis; trying to catch up to it loaded down with bikes and gear in a half ton truck was pretty comical. It didn't work. We traveled onward to Columbia then hit KC before sundown. We stopped only for gas, and you basically don't drink because making special stops to take a leak wastes too much time on a trip that long. Once on the west side of KC you have reached the absolute worst part of the trip: Kansas. Nothing about Kansas is cool, at least on I70. I had been awake long enough so it was time for me to pass out so that I would be prepared to co-pilot in case the drive dosed off or I needed to drive the last leg of the trip. I was in and out of sleep through Kansas and I remember sleepily waving to the "Welcome to Colorado" Sign. I came to just before Denver as we were stopping for gas and the current driver was done for the night. Driver number three takes over heading into Denver. We make it through the Mile High City unscathed and up we go over the mountains. I now find out the driver 3 has never driven in the mountains. It's after midnight, and he is pulling a trailer. I can't describe how painfully slow he was driving at this point. Somewhere just after the Eisenhower tunnel we got our first head nod from him so I am wide-ass awake now. After another few miles it happened again and I reached over and took the wheel from the passenger seat and shook him really hard. We pulled over very quickly and I took over. That was one of the scarier points in life.
I was wide awake with fear, mostly, at this point. I got us on to Silverthorne fairly quickly and off I70 onto CO Highway 9. We reached Kremmling almost instantly or so it felt. Then I hopped on US 40 to take us into Steamboat Springs. Both of my friends were passed out so I had no choice but to be on point driving and not feel an ounce of tiredness. I was scared to even yawn or sneeze. It's a real shame that we were driving through CO at night, Josh had never seen it, Patrick hadn't been in over a year, and I hadn't seen it since January but that made the morning that much more special. We uneventfully pulled up to Promontory Condominiums about 3 A.M on Sunday August 5th, where two of the riders who live in CO were waiting on us. We unceremoniously went straight to bed. It took me 58 hours to go 2,300 miles from Fort Myers, FL to Steamboat. Not bad!
News team assemble! The reason it’s time we all unionize.
Most municipal governments, depending on what country you live in, have an urbanization action plan. An urbanization action plan involves the moving rural residents into a more densely populated area. The reason for this is to reduce the cost of having a sprawling population. It is more expensive to maintain utilities and emergency services in a less densely populated area then a more dense one. Not only is the service area larger, but there is less income per km/mile squared. A municipality, in the face of rising labor and resource costs, therefor must either raise municipal taxes (at potentially the cost of an election or re-election) or promote more people to move into residential developments to increase the tax revenue received. What does this have to do with us? Well, there is only a certain amount of riding space available, and the more residential developments that are built in a municipality, the more in demand real estate becomes. Now all of a sudden the riding area we have enjoyed so much becomes a very high priced commodity and the return on investment for having this area as a recreational area no longer becomes feasible. There are certain protected pieces of land that probably will not become a residential development, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe from having off-road motorcycles yanked out of it. As residents start living closer and closer, the potential for complaints about noise, speed and destruction of property also increase in proportion. In fact, a lot of residential developments have boards, committees and meetings. The public has unionized, and so must we!
A loose collection of riders has no face. No voice. No reason to be there. A well-organized association of riders with respected members of the municipality on it has a well-known face, a loud voice and can present a business case as to why the municipality should keep, nay, expand the riding area! Before getting into the world of off-road riding, I had assumed that I would be riding with groups mostly in their teens and 20’s. I did not expect that at 33 I would be one of the youngest riders at most of the events I have attended. I think it’s widely assumed by most lay persons that dirt biking is done by mostly teens and young adults, and to be honest, city councilors and municipal leaders don’t care about them as much. They have entry level jobs so they do not pay a lot of income tax, they do not own property so they do not pay property tax and they do not have a lot of disposable income to spend in the community. So why would they sacrifice a quick cash injection of selling off land, or the use/licensing of the land, for a bunch of people that cannot make a return on the investment of a riding area? They won’t.
The off-road association I am a member of in my area has over 200 members. The average age of the members that I have come across is 35-50. This association has well respected members of the community who go to city council meetings and give voice to our members. They inform the council that our members own property in the area, pay into the municipal coffers and have disposable income which is spent at the local dealerships, garages, restaurants and gas stations. They connect with the local business owners and provide information on who our members are, and how often we come to their establishments to spend money. They get momentum from local business and provide the municipal councils with a sound business case on how it is in their best interest to have us around. Government officials love business cases. There are two things that rev the motors of a politician, and that is getting votes and making money. Without the solid, well presented hard evidence of the number of votes and the dollar figure spent by the off-road community and riding association, they have nothing to justify to the public the reason for keeping riding areas open to us.
I have noticed that the demographic in my area is missing riders in their teens and twenties. If you are reading this and you fit into that category, do us all a favor and join your local riding association. Yes, it may be a bit of money and I know it can be tough to pay for all these passes and memberships at the same time as keeping your bike on the trail, maybe ask for it as a Christmas, birthday, and bris present? I guess you can only get a bris present once though, unless you really are willing to sacrifice for the cause….But if you wish to keep on riding in the future, it is a very necessary thing. It’s not just paying for a membership, its having you counted, and we need every +1 we can get. If you’re already a part of an association then I urge you to get involved with volunteering and getting involved with the Board of your association. Right now it seems that the baby boomers are taking care of us. It is easy to take this for granted. Once they are no longer able to ride, they will leave it to us. If we have not gained the skills required to go in and persuade the municipalities to keep our riding areas, then we will lose them in short order.
The couch sitters, the TV zombies and the indoor enthusiasts have unionized. And so must we. Rise up and be counted.
My new old 2013 XR650L!
Like many others, I too can tend to get caught up in the endless race to have the latest and greatest techno gadget, bike, firearm or whatever. But, many years and dollars later, I have realized that the race is futile and the satisfaction of obtaining the object of our desire is ephemeral. The new wears off quick, but the payments seem to go on forever!
It was not that long ago, that I would have scoffed at the idea of not having modern inverted, fully adjustable cartridge forks, fuel injection, at least 50 HP and feather light weight on a motorcycle that goes off-road.
Also, I have pursued the elusive unicorn of a bike that can “do it all”. It does not exist. No bike can do everything well; so, unless you have the means to have a bike for every mission, you will be riding a bike that is a conglomeration of compromises.
The loved but gone KLR650
My last, and recently sold, old tech bike was my 2013 KLR650. I took a lot of time to tweak it to my satisfaction, and I really hated to sell it. But, for most of the dual sport riding that I do locally, I am in deep sand, mud, occasional whoops, brush and tight spaces. The big girl weighed about 445 lbs. (as I had built her), and she just wasn’t built for that mission. So, I had to say goodbye. But, she found a new home with Barry, who purchased her to do the Trans America Trail. That is what I built her for!
I pondered many replacement choices, such as the modern KTM 690 Enduro R and Husqvarna 701 Enduro, as well as the KTM 500EXC and the new 2019 Honda CRF450L. I also thought hard about the old school Suzuki DR650S and DRZ400. I considered older KTM and Husqvarna big bore thumpers too. All of them could have worked for me, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses.
In the end, I decided to go old school and purchase a used bike to keep cost down. I also wanted to have a simple bike, that is easy to work on. I liked the idea of screw & locknut verses shim over bucket or shim under bucket valves. The ability to do a valve adjustment with just a wrench and screwdriver, in under 30 minutes, was very appealing to me. I also liked the idea of an air-cooled engine. I certainly know that these features don’t allow for the most precise tolerances and high performance, but that was not what this bike was to be about for me. I have other modern bikes that fill that niche. Also, OEM and aftermarket parts availability were a primary concern.
Other requirements were long travel suspension that could be made to work well off-road, a high ground clearance, 350 lbs. max weight, a torque rich motor and the ability to carry moderately loaded soft luggage for long trips. I required a bike that handles single track reasonably well, but also can comfortably run at 70 mph all day and be reasonably comfortable for 300 miles of pavement on out of state dual-sport rides. My local dual-sport rides are typically about 90 miles of pavement (round trip) and 20-30 miles of trails.
Lastly, one of the non-quantifiable and intangible requirements for this bike was to take me back to a simpler time, to my early teens. A time when I was in the garage tinkering with my 1973 Honda CT70H, or my Bultaco Pursang 175, while listening to Led Zeppelin or Heart. It was a time when the only news I got was delivered by Walter Cronkite and the only correspondence was via the US Mail. I would happily surrender my Android, computer, internet and 60” flat screen to go back to a time when people actually talked to each other. A time that we only had 3 TV channels to watch, but somehow it was more than enough.
I ultimately bought a 2013 Honda XR650L. It fit the above requirements better than anything else I could come up with. As a bonus, red is my favorite color!
Maiden voyage of the BRP. With @Bryan Bosch at the Historic Richloam Gen Store (Est. 1921)
Bryan Bosch standing next to the orange rocket and the BRP. This was the BRP's maiden voyage to Richloam. This photo is in front of the historic Richloam General Store. If you like to see cool, old things, go check this place out. One of the interesting things on display is an old 1902? Sears Roebuck catalog. In it, you can see listings for items such as a Marlin lever action rifle for $12.00. This ride is the typical mission that I wanted the BRP for. I am not in a hurry or trying to set the world's fastest pace. I want to slow down and travel back to a simpler time!
Today was a double bonus for me, as I got to ride my BRP for the first time, and I got to try out my new USWE Ranger 9 Hydration Pack. I love the pack for its innovative features and comfort. The biggest plus for the USWE is that it does not shift and bounce around on your back. See the @Bryan Bosch full review of it which will be forthcoming.
USWE Ranger 9 "No Dancing Monkey"
My new (to me) BRP is my current project. I am building it with the following objectives:
Improve suspension performance to accommodate my weight (200lbs.) and riding style (aggressive).
Improve engine performance without sacrificing reliability or the ability to run on regular, low octane gas.
Increase fuel range.
Tailor ergonomics for me (6’2”, 34-inch inseam).
Streamline and de-clutter unnecessary hardware.
Reinforce rear subframe to handle heavier cargo loads.
Upgrade lighting to high output LED’s.
Upgrade handguards to something more trail-worthy than the OEM guards.
Install Garmin Amps Rugged Mount with connection to battery.
Install battery tender lead that also powers my Antigravity Batteries Micro-Start Mini Tire Inflator
Replace OEM mirrors with mirrors that swing out of the way (without tools) for trail use.
Over twenty years ago, shortly after getting out of the military, I had an XR600R that I used for trail riding and hare scrambles. I raced it at a couple of MX races (for fun) even though I also had a YZ250 at the time. Thus, I had a general idea of what I would be getting into with the XR650L.
This photo of me on my XR600R was taken at the Reddick Hare Scrambles in 1996. Man, that Supertrapp was LOUD! It did make passing a little easier, because the noise usually scared the rider in front out of the way. I loved that bike (once I got it started).
@xmxvet racing a BRP
You meet the nicest people (or puppies) on a dual-sport! @Bryan Bosch with a sweet little dog that was either lost or abandoned deep in Richloam. She was hot and dehydrated. Bryan skillfully carried her on his KTM 690 Enduro R back to civilization where we were able to find a nice family to take her in.
BRP mods have commenced!
The first thing I am doing to the XR650L is to reduce weight by removing unnecessary parts and clutter. The first two pounds were simple. I removed the passenger foot pegs. The next item to go was the AIS (Air Injection System) or Smog Pump. This not only removes two pounds, but also cleans up the clutter on left side of the motor and gets rid of the lean deceleration pop. Some have reported that it can slightly improve throttle response as well. I haven't had a chance to evaluate the performance aspect yet. Removal of the AIS requires the use of an inexpensive smog block off kit.
Here's a before and after photo:
On the scale. 2 pounds gone!
Next, I removed the seat strap which was unnecessary for my purposes and uncomfortable. I also removed the front reflectors. This bike will rarely be ridden at night.
Today, I installed a set of Renthal 971-08 7/8" handlebars. These are the OEM bars on my 2017 KX450F. I like the bend of the bars a lot. Additionally, I prefer 7/8" bars over 1 1/8" bars for the slightly softer (more flex) feel. I have arthritis in all of my joints, and hard impacts like roots, square edged braking bumps or slap down landings off of jumps can take a toll on my wrists. Fat bars feel harsher to me. An additional benefit is the crossbar which I like because it is a place to mount my Giant Loop handlebar bag. I have also found that the crossbar is a very convenient and comfortable place to rest my hand while making inputs into my Garmin Montana 680T.
The Renthal 971-08 bars are about 7 oz. lighter than the OEM bars, and have a lot less sweep. The sweep on the OEM bars felt like it placed my hands in my lap, and my wrists were bent at an uncomfortable angle. The 971's are a huge improvement over the OEM bars!
Renthal 971-08 (top) vs OEM (bottom). The 971-08's have much less sweep, but have about the same rise. Even though I am tall, I prefer lower bars, as I feel more connected to the front of the bike with lower bars. Tall bars make a bike's steering feel sort of vague to me, instead of precise. Plus, the "attack" position feels more natural with lower bars, as it naturally pulls you more over the front wheel of the bike.
I got to try out these handlebars last weekend and they are a huge improvement over the stock bars. I had a minor "duel-sport" collision with @bryan bosch on his KTM 690 Enduro R. This leads me to my next mod which is my Doubletake "Enduro" Mirrors. Bryan has the Doubletake "Adventure" mirrors on his 690. In the collision, his right mirror pivoted around and was completely unscathed, performing as designed! The mirror design not only prevents the mirror itself from getting damaged, but also protects the front brake and clutch perches from breaking.
Here's some pics of the mirrors I just installed:
Retracted for trail riding
I love the mirrors! The optical clarity seems even better than the OEM Honda mirrors, as the rear view images seem sharper. And, they do not add any weight to the bike.
This is a quote from their website: "We will warranty the mirror body for the life of the product, but for obvious reasons cannot extend the same protection to the glass insert. We do sell the glass separately if you manage to break it. We also have a satisfaction guarantee—if you receive your mirror and aren't happy with it for any reason, you can return it for a refund."
All of the components are replaceable, and use Ram Mounts, which are also of very high quality.
The mirrors are made in the USA! FIVE BIG STARS!
Next on the list of upgrades was an IMS 4.0 Gallon Fuel Tank. But. before installing that, I figured it was a good time to remove the airbox snorkel and the welch plug that Honda installs to block access to the fuel mixture screw. The latter mod I had to do to my KLR650 as well.
For the airbox snorkel, I used a cable tie and masking tape to hold the wiring harness out of the way of the 3/64" bit used to drill out the rivets.
Note: It is not necessary to drill all the way through the rivet. As the pictures show, you only need to drill far enough for the head of the rivet to pop off. I left the body of the rivets in to plug the holes.
Next up was the carburetor fuel mixture screw access. It is blocked from the factory by a brass welch plug. I used a 3/32" bit to drill a hole through the plug, taking my time to drill slowly and just barely break through the plug. I then screwed a wood screw into the brass plug, and then used pliers to grab the screw and pull the welch plug out.
Now that I had access to the D-shaped mixture screw, I found that my Motion-Pro D-shaped bit was too short to reach the screw when attached to my driver. So, I used a Dremel with a cutting wheel to cut off only about 3mm of the housing to allow my bit to snap firmly onto the mixture screw.
I used a file to chamfer the sharp edges left by the cutting wheel.
Now that I could adjust the mixture, I determined that it was set at about 1 1/4 turns (counter-clockwise) out, which is too lean. I set it at 2 1/8 turns out. Another point worth mentioning is the jetting. My bike came from the previous owner with the Pro Circuit T4s installed. However, he did not change the OEM jetting, so the bike ran very lean. Before my first ride, I swapped the OEM 152 main and 50 pilot for a 160 main and 58 pilot. That was much better, but slightly rich for our hot, humid summers. I am leaving the jetting as is though, because cooler, drier weather is finally arriving! Next summer, I will try a 158 main and 55 pilot. With all of the carb work finished, I could put the carb back on the bike and start on the IMS Fuel Tank installation.
Installation of the IMS tank was a breeze, with no fitment issues. I have read comments by posters online, that they had to modify the L-Brackets to make the tank fit. I can't say for sure, but I suspect that perhaps the instructions weren't followed to the T. The instructions state what I learned over forty years ago when working at a Honda dealership assembling new bikes. When installing a component with multiple attachment points, simply get all the bolts or screws started loosely. Only after all the hardware is installed do you start to tighten everything down.
The tank is OEM quality, fits perfectly and allows plenty of clearance between the petcock and the engine cylinder.
In my normal brain fog from lack of sleep, I forgot to weigh the OEM and IMS tanks for comparison. I do however recall a detailed listing of XR650L parts weights that indicated the stock tank with shrouds weighs about nine pounds. I estimate the IMS tank weighs about five pounds for a savings of about four pounds. I like the new look of the BRP. I may have to change that to BWP!
I am very happy with the IMS 4.0 Gallon Fuel Tank. Great quality and a perfect fit. I remember IMS Products hitting the market back in 1976 with their high quality pegs, tanks and shift levers. I'm a big fan of their stuff. I also have their IMS Pro-Series Footpegs on my bike.
More to come.........................
I thought it would be interesting to do a write up about getting a particular shot. Seems pretty narrow of a topic, but let me put some perspective to it so you can understand what goes into making a film ready for the screen. The video below is the result of what took place in the story that follows it:
Sometimes the camera grabs the right thing
I want to tell my story in a way that entertains, inspires, and just makes any person on the planet want to go out and ride a dirtbike. The story includes many of my passions. Dirt Biking, exploring, cinematography, and thrill seeking via whatever comes across my path.
In my attempts to bring the story to the screen, I have taken thousands of video clips, sound bites, and photos. I have seen a progression of quality over the course of the film project. I feel a lot more capable of going out and producing something more visually pleasing than when I first started.
I don’t want to spill all the beans, but on a recent film shoot, I went out with an idea to get a particular shot. I wanted a majestic “top of the world” shot that would blow minds. I wanted it to include a motorcycle and a man. My hope was to make the shot tell a specific story. The story was to include reaching a goal, risking much to do so, and receiving an award for the hard work. That’s where I started.
In prep the night before the film shoot, I gathered all the equipment needed. Drone batteries charged and firmware all updated. Extra cords and propellers in case something goes wrong. SD card formatted, ND filter kit cleaned up, fuel tank topped off, and the chain lubed. I check the tire pressures and fluids on the Honda CRF 450x. It’s my favorite steed. It always gets me there and back.
Sorry for the view!
An early morning rise will allow me to reach the film site when the sun is coming up. My hope is that there will be some clouds. I cannot control that, but based on the last few mornings, it looks like it should be good.
My head hits the pillow as I go back through my memory bank of perfect picture places. Pachatusan is the location. It’s a huge mountain, 16000ft that sits just behind my house. There are two rock points that I have in mind. I can put my bike on these points, although it’s not an easy ride, but it’s worth the shot.
Five in the morning brings first light. I get up, gear up, and head out in short order. I ride smooth and fast for 30 minutes from my house to reach the spot. Yup, it’s pretty. I get all giddy because of the way the scenery holds the colors, the silhouettes, and overwhelming views that just don’t seem real.
I begin to set up the drone. My plan is to do a point of interest shot which places the camera on a center area, while the drone does a circle around the point of interest. If I set the angles just right, I capture the portion of the ride up to the rocky point. I prepare the drone for flight, start the camera, and fly it over the point of interest to set the drone flight pattern. I set the camera exposure, shooting in 4k, with a 4mph circling speed. Now it’s time to get the shot.
I set the controller on the ground, hop on my bike, and get ready for the drone to pass a spot on its circle. Once it reaches the right spot, I begin to ride up the gnarly rock to reach the point. It’s scary, but I have done it before and know what I am up against. My first attempt was foiled as my impatience and hurry somehow broke my concentration as I crashed out before reaching the top.
The batteries are limited and I used a bunch of the time to set up the shot. In the first case, I had to go back and replace the battery and set up the shot again because of my crash. Second times a charm.
On the second attempt, I set it all up much faster. This time, I patiently do it right. I ride up the rocky point flawlessly and place my tires on the rock outcropping. It drops off hundreds of feet. I feel a queasy sensation as I look down into the canyon.
It’s funny, but the thoughts of my clutch cable snapping at the moment that I roll my tire up to the edge of the cliff give me the heeby jeebies. Dirtbikes are such a mind game. I stay there for a moment, I look around in awe, then I shake my head in disbelief that I can actually exist in a place like that. I forget that I am filming because I am so blown away at what’s in front of me. Regardless, I get the shot.
It’s not over. I still have to get back and edit the footage. Opening the file for the first time to watch the raw scene, is always a thrill. It’s like a kid opening a Christmas present.
Just a little screenshot!
Once I review the whole scene, then I put the raw footage into my editing software and clip and cut it to exactly what I want. I tweak the color if need be and add an effect or size it up to fit like I want.
There is something magical when it all comes together. I know its film, but it gives me the same feeling as when I am facing an impossible hill climb. I decide to give it my best and most aggressive shot and I rip all the way to the top. Surprised and thrilled at the same moment, I scream and raise my fist in celebration to the guys down below.
Yeah, that is the thrill that has pushed me to reach the end of this film project. I am hoping to have the film released for video on demand after the film festivals. There is always the chance that it might get picked up by a media buyer as well. Not sure where this thing is going to go, but I can sleep well at night knowing that I reached my goal. I finished.
Make sure to stay tuned right here as I will keep you TT peeps up to speed on the film. I also will be keeping the official film page on Facebook up to date. It’s called Never Ride Alone Film. Make sure to give it a like and share the heck out of it. I am pretty sure the moto community has never seen a film project quite like this one... A solo movie experience completely created by one hard enduro guy who loves dirtbikes as much as anybody on ThumperTalk. Thanks for following along, but if you're note, tap that "follow" button up top to be notified of when I post new stories.
Whenever purchasing a used dirt bike, no matter how well inspected, there is always an element of chance involved. The possibility of an engine failure is what worries everyone the most and is a costly disaster to deal with. For those mechanically inclined, seeking a blown up bike can be alluring because it allows the new owner a fresh start. While this may seem like an ideal situation how often does it financially make sense and how do you decide to make the purchase?
At DIY Moto Fix we just picked up a 2006 Honda CRF250R “Project” over the weekend, and I want to share the financial reasoning that went into the purchase as well as discuss the critical inspections we made which led me to pull the trigger. Over the next several months we’ll see if I made a good decision!
The criteria I intend on using to determine if my purchase was justified or not will depend on a couple things. First, if I sell the bike will I net more money than I have into it, or at the least, break even? Second, could I have spent an equivalent amount of money elsewhere and gotten a bike that has a freshly rebuilt engine, which to me, equates to a machine that will provide countless hours of trouble-free riding?
The bike will also be the subject of several blog posts and perhaps videos. However, these uses will not be factored into the valuation of the decision. No corners will be cut throughout the rebuild, and the end result will be a robust bike that I would be proud to keep, should I choose to. That said, let’s take a look at what I picked up!
I found the bike listed on Craigslist for $1000. There wasn’t much detail behind the ad, and it consisted of a couple of sentences. In summary, the ad basically said everything was there, a new crankshaft and main bearings were included as well as a new top end. A half dozen pictures were presented and the engine was neatly laid out.
I contacted the seller and inquired if any engine components were missing or needed replacement. I was reassured the only things missing were the valve keepers! While it would be great to think the engine could easily be reassembled, I had my doubts. I needed to investigate in person.
If you’re ever in a situation where you need to collect an engine in pieces, don’t rush and forget to come prepared. Some engine components shouldn’t get mixed around or interchanged and it’s incredibly helpful to keep the hardware separated by subsystems. Here’s a list of the storage aids I brought with:
Plastic part bins
The Real Story
When I arrived, I was greeted by an avid rider who was friendly and had four seemingly well-kept bikes in his garage plus a bunch of moto-related parts, not a bad start. He showed me the 250R he was selling and I began my inspections.
In most cases the engine internals aren’t accessible when looking at used bikes for sale, so as funny as it may sound, it can be really easy to get caught up in the excitement of the potential sale and forget to look at a lot of critical parts. Each major engine component that gets overlooked can be a several hundred dollar mistake and make or break the profitability of the purchase. I want to cover the engine internals I carefully inspect to estimate the cost of the rebuild.
I’m a practical person and highly recommend ensuring the VIN number is unmolested and the seller’s “sale story” remains consistent throughout the sale. Don’t bother inspecting anything else if the VIN number has been tampered with. On some bikes, such as this one, cable chafing wore through part of the VIN number. This type of wear is easily discernible from intentional tampering.
Crankcases are one of the most expensive parts on an engine to replace, so look carefully for cracks and other damage. Scrutinize bearing bores, seal bores, threaded holes, cam chain guide slots, gearbox features, and mating surfaces.
In this particular case, both the left and right case halves were damaged. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to try and bring these back. We’ll discuss welding crankcases in an upcoming post!
Check the crankshaft to ensure it is at the very least serviceable. Look for surface damage, worn or broken gear teeth, and pitting. I recommend always assuming the crankshaft will require a rebuild even if it feels okay. Fortunately for me, this bike came with a new Wiseco crank assembly.
All the engine bearings should be checked for notchiness. Any bearings that are gritty or bind when rotated should be replaced. For this particular engine, I’m planning on replacing them all.
I recommend installing a new rod in conjunction with servicing the crankshaft. However, if you’re considering using the crank assembly, inspect the rod small end and feel how the big end rotates. Look for pitting and signs of distress in the small end. Notchiness in the big end warrants further investigation.
Inspect the cylinder walls for damage. Any defects you can catch your fingernail in should be cause for concern. The cylinder that came with this engine will either be replated or replaced.
The condition of the piston and rings can help determine what may have led the engine to be sold in pieces, however, reusing it isn’t something I’d recommend. Get in the habit of automatically budgeting for a new piston assembly anytime you come across a project bike.
The cylinder head is an expensive assembly to replace. While you always want it to be okay, I’ve found that by the time the bike reaches “project” status many of the internals, including the cylinder head, are in need of major TLC. Occasionally the valve seats can provide insight, however, I prefer to look at the valves themselves. Inspect the combustion chamber, head gasket sealing surface, and threaded holes in the cylinder head. Stripped fastener holes in the cylinder head can be very challenging to fix.
On this engine, the valve seats will need to be recut or replaced, at a minimum.
Take a look at the valve faces for signs of recession and damage. Severely worn valves will be visible to the naked eye. This is the case with my new acquisition.
Inspect the cam lobes and any associated bearings for damage. Any pitting present on the cam lobes will warrant replacement. I’ll be installing a new cam in this engine.
The gearbox shafts and gears should be inspected carefully for damage. On machines that don’t shift well and pop out of gear, damage to at least two mating gears will preside. Look at the gear dogs for excessive rounding as well as the mating slot. On this 250R the gearbox is in great shape.
The clutch is an easy component to inspect visually. Look for basket and hub grooving which signifies a worn out clutch. In my case, this was easy to spot.
I’m not going to deep dive into the bike inspections since we’ve discussed this in a previous post and put together a comprehensive guide on the subject, which you can find here. In this particular situation, based on the amount of distress the radiators displayed I have to assume they will need to be replaced. The rest of the bike was in okay shape and luckily for me, the seller had some spare plastics, spare seat, and new tank plastics, which helped sweeten the pot.
Replacement parts for different makes and models vary, but I tend to make rough estimates based on the table shown below.
The table is presented in a la carte style so cost estimates can be determined depending on what components must be replaced. The next table details the components I’m expecting to replace on the Honda.
In this particular case, I’m estimating I’ll have $1630 into the resurrection of the bike and engine. I bought the bike for $800, so I’ll have a total of $2430 into the machine if my estimate is correct. Keep in mind this excludes monetary consideration for my labor. Since I’m going to use the bike for multiple projects, accurately tracking my labor will be challenging. If you’re looking to turn a profit fixing project bikes though, it’s essential to have a handle on the labor associated with each project.
I did a quick search on Craigslist to see what 2004-2007 Honda CRF250R’s were going for. I found a smattering of list prices and reasoned that I could sell this bike for at least $2000. Now, going by the numbers that put me out $430, again excluding labor.
Was it worth it?
As you can see from a financial standpoint this project probably wasn’t worth taking on, or was it? Apart from picking up a broken low-value machine and then completely rebuilding it, is there any other way to pick up a used bike that undergoes transformation and starts its life in your hands with a completely rebuilt engine? I highly value understanding the condition of my machines before I entrust them to carry me at high speeds past trees or over jumps so assessing the heart of the machine whenever practical is valuable to me. I also get incredible satisfaction from working in my shop and resurrecting a machine that may have otherwise been slated for the parts section of eBay.
What about you? What is your take on project bikes?
If you’re looking to expand your arsenal of skills when it comes to wrenching so you can take on more challenging projects, take a look at our two and four-stroke dirt bike engine building handbooks! The dirt bike engine building handbooks are nearly 300 pages apiece and share a wealth of knowledge you won’t find in your service manual when it comes time to rebuild your engine. Check them out on our website or on Amazon .
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
During this Coach Robb Podcast I shed some insight into how the Ketogenic Diet (a.k.a. Keto Diet) originated and how this suggested way of eating has some immediate benefits, but also long-term consequences. I also discussed the similarities of the Keto Diet and past “popular diets and systems” that focus on one element of nutrition, take it out of context, and market that element as a brand new idea that is revolutionizing the way humans should eat to shed body fat and improve performance. As they say, everything old becomes new again, and after listening, you will see how there is a much simpler and sustainable way to eat to drop those unwanted pounds of body fat without sacrificing your foundation of health and wellness.
During the second half of the podcast, I explain what intermittent fasting is and how the body adjusts and adapts to short periods of complete fasting (eating no calories at all). In addition to the pros and cons of intermittent fasting, I explain that if you implement fasting, of any duration, at the wrong time, the consequences could be quite substantial. If you have read about fasting and wondered if this process is good for you, grab a piece of paper and jot down some notes. The decision to fast has many implications beyond what it does to the body during the fast. You also need to understand the timing of the fasting process to avoid detrimental long-term results.
Listeners questions include:
What do I do if eating prior to exercise and/or racing makes me sick to my stomach?
Why does training in the heat makes it difficult to drop body fat?
How does a warm-up and cool down improve performance?
What are the hierarchy of needs relevant to overall health and performance?
What can I do to reduce cholesterol levels naturally?
Follow Coach Robb on his way to Loretta's and learn about the history associated with the most successful amateur development program in the history of motocross.
Watch MotoE riders Triangle Yamaha's Logan Best ripping on the new YZ65 to a pair of seconds (including some holeshots!); Dylan Greer and Josh Guffey in the Pro-Sport classes; Curtis Biorn in the C class; Bud Guthrie in the 40+ class and Colton Eigenmann in the 250B class where he landed on the podium in the last moto and went 4th overall.
Coach Robb has had the privilege of working with riders such as Ryan Dungey, Adam C, Jeremy & Alex Martin, Jordan Bailey, Isaac Teasdale, Ian Trettel, Ashley Fiolek, Broc Tickle and many more as they have developed into national amateur champions and into professional stars.
If you would like more information about Coach Robb's MotoE Performance and Nutritional Programs, please visit CompleteRacingSolutions.com.
Exercise is a great habit to have within your daily life; however, when it becomes an obsession it can actually become counter-productive to your overall health. Excessive training (in the form of volume and/or intensity) without adequate rest causes the body to become "numb" to external indicators of over training such as mood swings, simple sugar cravings, interrupted sleep, loss of sex drive, loss of body weight, suppressed appetite and an elevated resting heart rate.
Research indicates that after 12 weeks of consistent training, Cytochome C (a mitochondrial enzyme involved in the production of energy at a cellular level), reaches a peak and then beings to decline. In addition to Cytochrome C levels, so does your maximum oxygen uptake (also known as your VO2 Max.). At this point, the body must be allowed to rest and re-group for continued progress.
Give it a rest!
Training creates adaptations within the body's various systems (muscular, cardio-pulmonary, lymphatic, nervous and connective) and needs to be supported with rest and food for positive adaptations. Inadequate amounts (and quality) of sleep and food set the body up for a physical break down which leads to negative effects on the body (i.e. suppressed immune system and muscles with less power and endurance).
In addition to adaptations within the body's systems, training causes changes at a cellular level - cell mitochondria swell, metabolic wastes accumulate, essential nutrients (particularly electrolytes and stored glycogen) deplete, and muscle tissue is torn. This tearing is known as microtrauma of the cells, and torn muscle tissue doesn't work efficiently. As popularly noted, it takes 48 hours for the body to recover from this micro-trauma and has to be supported with rest and food for proper recovery and improved overall health.
If the body doesn't get the opportunity to rebuild from the "work phase" of training, overall health and associated performance begin to slow down (and in extreme circumstances, cease all together).
The concept of hard training days followed with easy-active recovery days incorporated into your weekly training schedule establishes the balance necessary for maximum improvements in your overall health and ultimately your performance. Consistent training without physical or mental setbacks provides the foundation for your body absorb your training volumes. The larger the foundation (i.e. quality of overall health) the quicker you will recover from workouts and the quicker your body will progress to new levels of performance.
The key to overcoming your fear of taking time off is to understand how much it will help, rather than hinder, your performance. Think about it this way, if you are not fresh, you will not have the energy (or desire) to push to the next level of performance. If your body doesn't experience the next level, you will begin to stagnate within your performance cycles. So, the next time you see a recovery workout on your schedule, don't ignore it! Remember, that rest allows your body to recover, rebuild, and ultimately become stronger.
Have a great holiday weekend and don't forget to tap that "follow" button!
In this training video, I talk about and demonstrate the fundamental riding skills & techniques necessary to effectively and safely tackle the jumps you'll encounter on the MX track. It's geared toward developing riders, so if you're scrubbing the 120' step-up triple at your local track, this video isn't for you. 🤜🤛
Garrahan Off-Road Training http://garrahanoffroadtraining.com/
Well, here goes my latest ride…I must say it was one of my favorites. Granted, when I started I was dreading it. I was coming off a knee injury that has kept me off a bike for about three months. In addition, I was arriving from the US to Cusco (11000 ft elevation) on the day the tour started. It was a bit different than a normal tour, as the guys were from the southern part of Peru. In fact, one of the riders was training for the 2019 Dakar that will take place in Peru next January. The fellas knew I would be arriving and had planned on me not being there for the first day.
Cusco Peru - Home Sweet Home!
I hit the ground in Cusco and started feeling the urge to ride, then decided to go for it. The 20 some odd hours of flight that led up to me gearing up and heading out was tough, but I wanted to ride so bad.
Looks like a commercial for Husqvarna 2-strokes, huh?
I connected with the fellas and told them I was in and would meet up as soon as I could gear up. They put me in charge of the guiding job as we were in my backyard. I knew exactly what they wanted.
We hit some legendary trails. I got in three of the finest days of hard enduro that one can imagine.
I am gonna let the pictures do the talking. When it was all said and done, we had hit every type of weather from sun to snow, altitudes from 8000ft to almost 16000ft and back all in the same day, got stopped with waist deep snow just 200 yds from the top of the pass, broke a few parts on the bikes, and snapped a million pictures. It was just another reminder as to why I love this sport!
Riding in this place has been a privilege. I have filled my memory bank with some of the most incredible rides, scenery, and experiences that one can imagine. Enjoy the pictures!
On Another Note…
Many of you have been following along with the Never Ride Alone film documentary project that I have been working on over the past few years. I am happy to announce that the film is complete and ready to show. The next step in the process is to enter into the film festival arena before the typical video on demand or DVD sales are available. The reason for this is that most film festivals will not allow you in if you have previously distributed the film. So, just hang in there a bit longer and then it will be available for purchase through various distribution options. Also, if you have not followed the official film page on Facebook, make sure to follow at Never Ride Alone Film. There you will be kept up to speed on the happenings, release dates, and film festival showings. There might just be one in your area. Check out the trailer below to get you excited for the movie.
I am super excited about this new series captured by Treehouse Creative Designs (TreehouseCreativeDesigns.com)!
The vision of the series is to learn more about my background, my training methods, and my perspective on the motocross industry. In this first segment, I was asked "Who is your favorite rider you have worked with and why?"
If you have a question on your mind, email us at Contact@CoachRobb.com and we will incorporate it into our next video series. #MotoE
Podcast #21 POST-RACE DEPRESSION – HOW TO AVOID THE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS OF OVER TRAINING
Over the last 34 years of coaching, I have has seen countless cases of post-race depression. This is not a subject that I take lightly and in this podcast I explain why it happens, as well as providing some very important steps you can take to help offset the symptoms. **Note: if you are dealing with depression, I strongly urges you to seek professional help immediately! **
I also outline what over training is, how to identify if you are on the path to over training, along with four specific questions you must answer to keep it from happening again. Grab a piece of paper and jot down the blueprint as I walk you the necessary steps to elevate your health, wellness and performance without having any future performance setbacks.
Listeners questions include: What is the difference between electrolytes and calories in a sports drink; When should I resume training after muscle soreness, Tips to keeping Energy Fuel cold during long workouts, Can you drink Energy Fuel with dinner, and the fine line between being too technical and not technical enough.
If you have any questions or frustrations, please post them below and we will address them directly here on TT! Thanks for listening.
Thinking of entering your first race? Have no idea what you’re doing and don’t know where to start? Great! I have learned a few things that may help you prepare and enter your first race.
The first step is gathering information on what you can expect. Second step is to get a dirt bike, third step is to learn to ride it really well so you don’t embarrass yourself,….At least, that’s what your probably thinking. I urge you to ignore step three, step one is a good idea and step two is kind on non-negotiable unless you want to make a statement by showing up at the line riding a pedal bike, though I think you may end up timing out and camping in the woods for the night. I just started riding dirt bikes last year and earlier this spring I went to my first Enduro race. I will tell you that entering a race is one of the best ways to up your game in very short amount of time. You may be confused on how it’s organized, you may fall, you may get beat by 12 year olds, you will have to get over yourself.
Once you have it in your mind that you would like to enter a race, you better get your body and bike race ready. There are a lot of youtube videos out there to show you some great exercises to get in shape, and riding itself is a great way to become physically prepared. If you are entering as a novice there is most likely a shortened course. The shortened course can be anywhere from 2-4 hours of riding. It’s a good idea to ride 4-5 hours each practice standing the whole time in preparation. I don’t want to get into too much detail on the physical and mechanical prep as there is a ton of info on Thumpertalk and various videos already. Very good idea! Make sure you bring gas, tools etc in case of last minute adjustments. Do not be that guy who sits there revving his engine in the prep area a hundred times to dial in the carb. Do this at home.
Next you have to figure out what race is right for you. There are many styles of racing, and I will not detail each one as there are plenty of resources out there doing just this. I will tell you to choose one close to home, because you will be sore for the drive home. It’s also a good idea to look on youtube, there are plenty of people who post their gopro footage of the race. This will give you an idea of what the terrain and course looks like. Also check out the area for camp sites, hotels or other places if you are spending the night. I spent the night in the prep area sleeping in the back of my car. I folded down the back seat and spend the rest of the night ensuring that I found every single metal bracket in the back of the seat with my back. Once I was sure I had the brackets fairly well mapped out I was able to get some sleep. In the morning a fellow racer told me he puts down a small piece of plywood in the back of his car for just this reason.
Once you get to the race location you must sign in/sign up. Bring cash! Some locations require extra money on site for various fees, entry sign ins, race monitoring devices etc. Not everywhere is covered with cell signal so bring cash in case their machines do not receive signal to accept debit/credit cards. Once you have signed in and got your transponders (in enduro) you then go to the noise check station. This would be the guy who looks like he’s checking out guy’s butts as they rev their engine. No he is not some moto perv, well actually, he may be, but he is also checking to make sure your bike isn’t too damned loud to be on the course. This person has an actual decimeter, and is not using a phone app. I have tested these phone apps and they can be way off, do not rely on them. After the noise check you then have a while to wait before the pre-start meeting. Quite a few guys do not gear fully up until after the pre-start meeting as it can be a few hours from the start of sign ins to the pre-start meeting. After the meeting where they thank sponsors and lay out the rules for the gas stops etc then they start lining up for the race. Do not line up too early and congest the start area, hold back a bit and talk to other riders to see what line they are in and adjust yourself accordingly.
There are a few things to take note of when starting the race. First is what position you want to start in. The lower the number the earlier you start. An earlier start can mean better trail conditions, however it also means that more people are behind you to pass you. It was my experience that I lost most of my time from moving out of the way to let other riders pass. The later the start the less people there are to pass you, however the track may not be in a very good condition. Remember when you looked for youtube videos from previous racers? See if they commented on what row they were and look at the track conditions. I started at row 30 out of 50 and found that to be perfect. Race pace is also very important, and there are a variety of resources online that speak about this as well. Basically you do not want to go too fast you burn yourself out.
When I was racing I had to move over quite a few times. If you practice your balance you will be able to ride slow on the side of the trail allowing others to pass. If you don’t have very good balance you may have to stop and put a foot down, loosing quite a bit of time.
In reality the first race will be a race against yourself. This is the time where you need to figure out the process of entry and dynamics of how the race structure works. Don’t be hard on yourself if you place last, just work on learning how to race and its an accomplishment just to finish. If you can, buddy up with someone when you get there who has done a few races and get them to show you the ropes. The guys we have in the off road community are usually great and don’t mind helping out someone new.
One of the most important things to remember is not to take yourself too seriously. If you are afraid to enter because you’re afraid to come last or look like you don’t know what you are doing, you’re missing out on a huge part of off road riding!
Manitoulin Island is a beautiful place to ride, unfortunately, the entire thing is privately owned, this means as dirt riders we are stuck to the roads, which means we are driving an unregistered vehicle illegally or on trails we are trespassing on private property. Riding gravel roads is a good time, some fun wide open stretches, although my almost stock CRF230F falls flat on its face at high rpm, it is still fun to push the limits on this little bike. Luckily we did find snowmobile trails that did not have any no trespassing signs posted, how can we know it's trespassing without a sign, right? Manitoulin has a lot of rocky terrain, much like what you see around Muskoka and along highway 400, just a little more flat. If you look hard enough you'll find trails consisting of flat rock and patches of sand and clumps of grass, great for faster riding. If you want the more technical stuff, it is not a hard task to find some rocky hills (although they won't be too long), all you need to do is ride in a ditch for about a kilometre and you're almost guaranteed to hit something.
I would not call this a destination for off-road riders, dual-sport riders, on the other hand, would love this, dirt road after dirt road. The scenery is amazing and you will likely enjoy just cruising through the countryside and maybe finding some rougher road allowances. In our case we have bikes that are not even green plated as of our time on the island, we weren't worried about getting stopped though, whenever we saw anybody we just wave at them, not that the residents know the difference of a plated bike, but everyone seemed to respond with a friendly wave.
After searching google maps' satellite view, we went to check out what looked like a trail, we end up at a "no exit" road with a fairly wide, but bumpy, trail going straight back into the woods. Following this rail fence all the way back until a fork in the trail, with a cottage and no trespassing signs on our left, we gladly took a right, the direction of a major road we were looking to get to. Being fairly new to trail riding, and having never been on the trail before we proceeded quickly but cautiously. Zipping along the packed ATV trail with hunting stands passing by on our left and the same rail fence on our right, we figured we were right on the property line of two lots. Suddenly the packed dirt turned to cracked uneven rocks, working hard not to let my tire slip into a deep crevasse, I hit a steep hill, with some pretty tall rock steps. Not to worry the one thing the 230 can do reasonably well is low-end torque, trying hard to pop up that front tire and jump the ledges. A few more hills like this and we popped out on the road that connected us to our cousin's cottage on the other side of Lake Manitou. Not only was it the road we wanted, but the snowmobile trail we were on continued alongside this road, perfect. Fearing a gas shortage we turned the other way and made our way to the closest gas station.
A couple days later we decide to take that awesome trail once more and pay a visit to the other side of the lake, we made our way through the same section as before without any problems, finally, we popped out on the road and were ready to test the new section. A variety of technical, rocky and flat, open trail, it was a lot of fun. We made it there without any problems, cooled off in the lake and chilled there for a few hours. Ready to make the trek back, we fire up the bikes as I turn my bike around I feel it break traction, didn't think much of it cause I was on the grass making a sharp pivot. Every turn I made after that I could feel my tire slipping. Finally, I recognized my tire was flat, we stopped and looked at it but we couldn't do much considering we had no tools or anything to fix this. The only option was to ride home on it, going slow as not to destroy my tire (although it is toast but I'm too cheap to replace it) and save my rim. Instead of 25 minutes, it took closer to an hour and 15 minutes.
This is where it comes to mind that maybe an Emergency/Repair Kit wouldn't be such a bad idea, not only can we avoid unnecessarily long trips in the future but changing a tire on the side of the road might even be a fun experience/story to tell. We quickly hopped on Fortnine (formerly the Canadian Motorcycle Co.) and started adding things to the cart, referencing the Fortnine youtube channel and Frickin Jim as well, both of whose opinions we trust. Our Kit now consists of:
1 80/100/21 STI Heavy Duty Tube
1 100/100/18 STI Heavy Duty Tube
1 Stop and Go, Patch Kit
3 Tire spoons we already owned
1 handheld air pump we already owned
1 Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight Kit 0.3
And we didn't have a small bag or a small container so, for the time being, we threw a litre of conventional oil in there, which will probably be reduced to 500mls or less.
Tubes obviously as a backup, patch kit was cheap and is extra insurance. Spoons to actually make a tube change possible, pump to pump it up although it will take a while. Med Kit in case of an emergency on the trail, and Oil for topping up the bike if need be, or lubing a chain, or some cables, possibilities are endless.
watch part of this Manitoulin Dirt Biking Adventure Below
The seat bounce is a fundamental MX jumping technique and in this video I cover how to seat bounce, when, and why. Are you using the seat bounce? How's your technique? Struggling with anything? Hit me up in the comments section below! I'm here to help you improve your riding skills so you can be a more effective racer or simply have more fun & ride more safely.
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Garrahan Off-Road Training http://garrahanoffroadtraining.com/