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August 9th was another early morning for us, mostly because we stayed up late having drinks and hanging out at the pool the night before. Luckily the days are long in Colorado during summer. It was the 5th day of riding so everyone is starting to get tired and really feel the miles we have covered. No worries though, I still felt like a kid on Christmas morning at this point.Ready to go take on the next location. The previous day had given us enough free time to load everything up and prepare for the next day without needing to do anything in the morning but climb into a truck and go. So we made a quick breakfast and stopped by the grocery for lunch food, then hit the gas station for fuel and off we went back in the same direction as Walden.
We passed by Rabbit Ears once again and cut the highway short of Walden to drive about 10 miles of dirt road over to the next highway, and our driver thought it would be hilarious to drift his truck and see if he could get some air off a little ridge. all the while my 300 is on the hitch rack in the rear. Real comforting stuff. This put us in Rand, Colorado which has a post office and not much else. From there we cruised south for about 10 miles to the parking area that is nearly 3.5 miles north of Parkview mountain. The guys begin to get unloaded nad prepped for the ride ahead and our host, Austin, is messing around flying down the dirt road and comes skidding into the lot and high sides into another bike for the most hilarious get off I have seen in my life. What a way to start the day! After everyone is finished rolling laughing we hop on the bikes and get going down the road.
Our first trail is about 4 miles of single track that starts out in what looks like a cut over but I cant really tell because it was so grown over, if not then there were a ton of deadfalls. The trail would snake its way into a stand of pines and then back out into the open, but it was such rough terrain you had to really maintain the trail or risk getting booted from your mount by a hole or a log. It started off as a very fast trail but also pretty dusty so we had to space out a bit. There were a few trees over the track so that introduced another element of fun or danger depending on how you feel about crossing logs. The trail continues like this in and out of heavy woods back into the open. The thing about Colorado trails is that they only cut enough tree off to get a bike through when they have a tree fall in the way. This makes it really important to stay centered. I managed to whack the tip of a log laying beside the trail and it kicked me off in the rough and I just held it wide open and managed to stay upright somehow. There is no telling what all I ran over, 15 minutes into the day, so I went ahead and got my heart rate up and all the fear out right then. The end of the trail brought us back out to the main dirt road that skirts the area.
We all met up in a lot just across the road to get our breath back and regroup. My buddy Josh on the CR250 had a rough time with that trail but decided to soldier on. From the lot we had to use a short piece of road to hit the next trailhead. I thought it would be a fun thing to pull a fast wheelie down the open road except it had a sharp curve and I ran off the road and into a tree in the ditch like a total goon. Came out okay and received quite a few laughs. This time the trail starts out in a very open field but soon dips into the woods. This mountain is a totally different terrain than Hahn's. It is really open in the trees and much more even terrain, no huge drop offs or boulders to contend with. This trail was shorter at bout 2 miles and dumped us out onto the main road again, but this time the view is spectacular. We were in a valley with a stream running through totally surrounded by peaks on every side. As we looked up to the south there was a bare spot on the mountain that Austin said we would reach later.
This is where we were: https://goo.gl/maps/3tgam62Mtr62
As we left that point the trail headed out across this bare valley and was 5th and 6th gear speed and up beside the trees until we got to the single track that slowed us down and started to switch back and forth. I always loved getting to open the bike up after being on tighter trails for a while. This was definitely the most fun set of trail we rode. The elevation change was constant. The trails were tight and challenging but then they would get straight for a little seed run. The whole time branches are in your face or you're having to duck if standing. There weren't too many rocks to contend with. It was just a very flowy single track set. Periodically the faster guys would stop to wait on everyone to catch up as this piece of trail snaked up and down the ridges several times and ended up being about 10 miles long. We did eventually reach that bare spot on the ridge and it was covered with rocks. I'm not sure if it is natural or man made, but someone had brought in granite to shore up the trail at this point so it wouldn't wash away. Again, the view was great. You could see the whole valley that we had just come out of and I will have pictures of this below. The climb up to this spot was a little gnarly but it was so fun. As long as you held on the throttle you were fin but it was rocky enough to throw off your balance if the wrong line was chosen. Everyone got up it without incident though and it gave the less experienced guys some much needed confidence. We used this spot to take a long break and get pictures, have a snack and drink a morning beer just because we could. I remember the awe of the moment, my bikes, my friends, me all together in this amazing place and the freedom to do so. That is something that will never leave me.
We decide it was time to move on and took the remaining part of the trail back down to the valley and the main road to figure out where to go for the remainder of the day. Josh was having trouble with the forks on the CR at this point and decided to the the main road back to the truck which at this point was 8 miles back around the north side of the mountain. Its great how long the trails are there to not be that far from the truck. We decided to head back in the direction of the truck to get to some slower more technical riding on the mountain since we had plenty of daylight left as opposed to just taking faster trails all the way around the mountain but being basically unreachable if something were to happen. We started off on single track but soon came out onto fire roads that snaked through the ridges. These were a blast. They were fast and had water breaks in them that made great jumps for a bike. They were covered with loose rocks making for an interesting feel at speed. It was similar to sand but shakey. These took us around to the very north side of Parkview just down below the tree line.
The trails here are like nothing I have ever seen. There was not much undergrowth because the trees made it so dark. The soil was moist even though it had not rained in a week and the ground was covered with leaves and needles from the trees. The rocks were slick as well as the roots. It was tight and slow going as the trail wound up and down, back and forth. There were rock sections with jagged edges all sticking up and there were ledges that had to be hopped up. nothing here was washed out or too muddy. The trail would get steep and then turn off camber and dive back down into another corner. This bit of trail got everyone pretty tired. I managed to smash my right foot between a stump and my footpeg for the most painful event of my trip and later it turned some ugly colors. Turns out riding bots are not indestructible! I couldn't estimate how long the trail was. It seemed like it took forever tho get through but it was a blast! We all popped out on top of a low ridge overlooked by Parkview. The ridge had been used as a camp and a logging location in the past. Looking up at the mountain it looked fairly easy to get up on one side and I so wanted to ride up it to the top like we did Hahn's. While we were resting I pulled out my hone to look for the best way up and it turns out the continental divide trail runs the top ridge and it was just a couple miles of fire road over to it. I just couldn't convince the other guys that was the way to go. They wanted a more direct route through the trees. So we tried to use an old logging road but there were just too many down trees for everyone to pass. We spent nearly an hour trying to go this way before someone decided that we didn't need to get too far and get caught in the dark for a second time in one week. We turned around and went back to the logging spot. At this point it really was late enough in the day to be getting back to the truck.
I was desperately disappointed in our attempt to get to the top, we didn't even get close and I know if we had just followed a good trail we could've reached the summit in time. I was mad that the guys would listen to me, I mean we had a satellite map right there to look at for reference. I'm still grumbling about it typing this 5 months later (LOL)! I guess this just means I have something new to look forward to when we go back this year. We hopped on more single track going back to the truck and it was mostly down hill and easy enough to manage. Everyone was fairly tired though and I didn't have the energy to put towards riding it fast anymore so I was just cruising enjoying the scenery. The trail began to widen a little and open us up to some nasty cliffs and dangerous sections that required care to stay on top of. We crossed over the main road a few different times and finally came to a stop to rest. Austin gave us the option to continue or just take the road out and we were split about half and half. So Austin and 2 other guys kept riding trail as the rest of us took the road out. I swapped bikes with one of the guys so he could have my 300 for the trails and I took my 450 SX bike back for the open roads. Honestly, I was having a blast ripping the big thumper on the mountain roads. Maybe more fun than I would have on the trails at that point. We all got to race a little bit coming out of there and were just having a good time riding. The dirt spit us out onto the paved county road and at that point there was no other option. So we all got in a line and headed north up the paved road. I had never ridden my bike on a paved road before, I was not aware how much fun it really is. I wouldn't do it again for the obvious legality of the situation unless faced with a similar circumstance. I knew I could hold a wheelie well on dirt but man is it easy on pavement, especially with the big 450. My buddy used his trailtech to measure the distance of my longest at 0.78 miles. That was fun. No doubt, I don't need a street bike. The big sweeping turns were fun too and luckily we never passed any vehicles before we made it to the parking lot.
We found Josh safe with the trucks and trailers. Once again we had a successful day out of the trail and were ready for food and bed. On the drive home I was again struck by how good it felt to be there and doing what I love. It is all hard to put into words. I cannot think of a happier time in my life.
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Watch this short video and learn why you cramp and what you can do to keep them from coming back!
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Put your hands in the air!
I’ll start with the backstory. I had sold a 2016 Husqvarna TE300 to a local fell named Eduardo. He liked it so much that he wanted to buy my other one that I was selling. He was a bit more of a beginner than I had originally thought, but was set on those particular bikes. He had cash, and was ready to make the deal.
Living in Peru, you become accustomed to doing certain things without any thought. Take speeding for instance…You can fly by a police car with no issue, pass on a double yellow, cut people off whenever you feel like it, and stop signs are optional. It becomes the norm.
Eduardo wanted to test drive the other bike before he bought it. He showed up to my house on the first Husky that he bought. His plan was to buy the other one, do the paperwork, and drop one bike off at his house and return to pick up the other via taxi. Simple plan.
Just behind my house are millions of trails and dirt roads. It was there I figured would be a good place to have Eduardo run through the gears. We ran up behind the house, ripped around for a few minutes while I showed off some of the capabilities of the motorcycle. He was a beginner and had no idea what he would be able to do once he hopped on. It’s like me when I watch Graham Jarvis. I think, dude, that bike is awesome…I bet I could do that. The next time I ride, I realize that it has a lot less to do with the bike and more about the rider. Regardless, I am pretty sure it helped sell the bike, even though it was nothing special.
After Eduardo realized that he would become the same rider as I just by purchasing the bike, we discussed the terms, and headed back toward the house.
About four blocks from the house as I came down the nasty dirt road where a cop with no headlights was coming toward me as it bounced through the potholes. As I approached the car, the blue and red flashing lights and sirens started. I thought it was just a simple warning that they were there and had nothing to do with me. I began to move over to the right to get past and return home when the cop car veered into my path rather abruptly and forced me to stop.
First of all, I was a bit ticked off at the fact that I had to stop or at minimum change my direction. There was plenty of room for all. They certainly wanted to talk with me. Normally that spells trouble. My initial thought was to bail over the side of the road, rip through the field and be lost in a heartbeat. It would have worked as there would be no way to identify me. This wasn’t a highly trained group of officers. Besides, I would be in my house before they could get turned around.
My problem was Eduardo. He was an amateur. I was not sure he could cross the ditch without tipping the bike over. Any stop, would potentially harm me as the police would certainly hold him hostage with the bike that was still in my name. I decided to do the correct thing. I stopped and tried to talk my way through.
There are a couple of things at play…The law and the interpretation of the law. These are not street legal motos in the US. They have headlights, but no blinkers. They have license plates and insurance, but they are not legal to drive on the roads. Many police don’t care. In fact, the public busses rarely have tail lights and most speed through red lights on a daily basis. Certainly they wouldn’t have a problem with me.
The four policemen in the car exited and proceeded to surround me as Eduardo pulled up behind. They radio’d for backup and shortly, a couple more police cars showed up. I didn’t have any of the documents for the bikes because we were just doing a quick test drive. They were at the house, just a few blocks away. I would hardly ever take papers anyways. It’s never needed. This time, the policemen needed more.
I told them it was a dirtbike and for motocross and that I never needed to have papers. I explained that I was showing Eduardo the bike as he wanted to buy it. I also stated that I have the papers, but they were not with me.
After a long ordeal, threats to impound the bikes and take me to the police station if by force if they had to, I negotiated a deal. I would meet them at the police station. I told them that nobody was going to take my bike without my hand being the one to turn the throttle. I have no confidence in the police and figured that once I let go of the bike, it would be gone forever. They wouldn’t let me go by myself and offered an officer to ride on the back. I explained that there were no footpegs and was not for passengers, but that doesn’t work for Peruvians. They could care less about footpegs.
A set of footpegs for each passenger is not required in Peru
One of the officers hopped on the back and I took it as an opportunity to make it as uncomfortable as it could be. Just my sarcastic nature. I ripped off the line as if going for the holeshot.
The officer about ripped the skin off my ribs as he gripped on for life. I went through the gears as he began screaming at me to be careful. I explained that it was a motorcycle for racing and that is why I don’t have a license plate on it. It’s for competition. And it’s fast. Shut up and deal with it. You caused this in the first place.
Behind us was a motorcade of police cars, and motorcycles. I led the pack with the officer explaining where to go, even though I knew where the police station was. We had about 5 minutes to reach the station. Once we got on the pavement, I turned it down a bit because of traffic. As the officer began asking me questions about what I was doing in Peru, he got an earful.
I explained that I was a missionary. I figured the term would put the fear of God into him. Then I told him about how I run dirtbike tours and we use the profits to help the poor and destitute kids in the neighborhood. Certainly it would help if he knew that. Then he asked me a strange question.
“Eres el famoso Scott?” He asked if I was the Famous Scott.
I wasn’t sure about his question. Was it a good thing to be The Famous Scott? By the way he raised his excitement level as he asked the question, I figured it was a good piece of capital to actually be The Famous One.
I concurred that it was in fact The Famous Scott that he was hugging as we headed to the police station. It all changed at that moment.
With the new celebrity status, the rest of the night went a lot smoother. I was still miffed about having to spend so much time at the police station. Nothing transpired but a lot of wasted time. I had to share motorcycle stories to the numbers of curious officers while they scrolled through my Youtube channel to see the Famous One in action.
When it was all said and done, I left with a mixed batch of feelings. I was tired and cold, missed out on a couple of hours with my family, and had a lot less respect for the system in Peru. On the other hand, I added another crazy Peru story to the mix and made a bunch of lifelong friends as I gratuitously accepted a number of Facebook friend requests from a number of the officers. Maybe next time, they will just let me be.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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:
- Sharpie marker
- Ziplock bags
- 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!
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
Hello ThumperTalk readers! Been a while, I’m going to go ahead and bring you up to speed on where I’ve been and where I am headed.
After numerous crashes and a bit of luck I managed to gain my Road To Supercross points by making the main events at both the Greensboro and Florence Pro Arenacross races in both the AX and AX Lites classes, as well as top 5 finishes in the 250A class at the Tampa and Atlanta Amateur Supercross rounds, winning the Atlanta round. I have to say that my experience with Arenacross was a bit different than the first time I had jumped into it. While I really only had about a week’s worth of prep in total for my Arenacross races, I at least had a good idea of what the entire day is like and what to expect as far as the track goes, the racing, and the strategy. I definitely was able to be more deliberate about my actions on the track and that allowed me to advance into the main events. Whether it was knowing the spot to get aggressive in an LCQ, or knowing that the two guys in front of me were going to take each other out and where it was going to happen in order to set myself up to pass both of them when they hit. Moral of the story for Arenacross racing, was that I had to be calculated and smart to achieve the outcome that I wanted consistently.
Loretta Lynn's Regional Championship at WW Ranch, photo by Maine Event Photography (MEPMX)
Since getting my Road to Supercross points, the focus has been going through the process of qualifying for Loretta’s… which is something I am way too familiar with at this point! Both of my area qualifiers had something interesting in store for me. For my Southeast region, I had the chance to race against Tony Archer! It was definitely a cool experience, even though I managed to screw up my lead on the last lap by overshooting the inside line with my front tire by just enough to go down and then not being able to catch back up. Definitely learned a bit about being confident in my speed and staying forward-focused to keep me in front of someone that has a lot of experience and a lot of speed. It’s definitely different having someone behind you that is very well-versed with racing at the highest level and has the ability to read someone and their next choices like a book, compared to most amateurs (myself included) that still have a bit of that gusto to just try to use brute force or drag racing someone to the inside line. My Mideast qualifier… well that was a bit muddy to say the least, starting the weekend with a backhoe pulling us into a spot to pit. Having less than an hour of ride time on my 350, as well as about 20-30 minutes of ride time on my Twisted Development 250 created a little bit of uncertainty, but also excitement in the race! I’ll have a review on the performance of my Twisted Development motor up soon.
2018 Loretta Lynn's Regional Championship at Redbud MX, photo by Diffysmooth
Then came the regionals. Feeling like I had a point to prove a point, along with the next level of confidence of being on some very competitive equipment… it didn’t exactly mesh well for me for the conditions of the track. While there was some back luck I could not control in terms of other riders and a freak cross-rut on one of the faster jumps, I was in the positions to qualify, but my problem was that I did not want to settle and could not put my bravado of believing in myself aside to just do what needed to be done. When Redbud came around, however, the mindset had changed. While it rained every single day and at some points it would’ve been better to have a jet ski on the track… I relied on my knowledge of putting myself in a good position and being more mindful of my ability and what the track conditions allowed me to do. Until it was all set and done, I had finished 11-2-2 for 4th overall in Open Pro Sport and 5-3-11 in 250A for 5th overall, both positions that get tickets to the big show! Definitely not going to talk about both of my 11th place finishes… let’s just say it was the kick in the rear I needed to get a set of acorns and not be intimidated by the mud (which also came from a talk from mom).
2018 Loretta Lynn's Regional Championship at WW Ranch, photo by David Lando
From there, it’s on to Loretta’s! From Loretta’s, we’ll see how things shape up. Until next time, keep the dirt churned up. I’ll see you out there. Thanks for reading!
Huge thanks to everyone who sticks behind me. Husqvarna, Xtreme Powersports, Race Tech, MPR Suspension, Boyesen, Fly, X Brand, RoostMX, Acerbis, Dunlop, Twisted Development, Twin Air, Mika Metals, Wiseco, EVS, Tamer Holeshot Hookup
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Sure, it's fun to put some laps in on a motocross track. But, you'll fall short of your potential if you're not using this key practice law of practicing important techniques separately. This is true for motocross cornering skills as well as motocross jumping skills. Did you know that riding really well requires mastering as many as 55 separate techniques, all laced seamlessly together? Find them all in the popular Motocross Practice Manual!
If you'd like more of my riding tips, browse my blog here on ThumperTalk or my website. If you'd like to be notified when I post new riding tips, subscribe by clicking the "follow" button (upper right).
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