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About this blog

Discovering off-road riding mid-life.

Entries in this blog

Its time to Unionize off-road-riding! Main reason for..

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.

Husquire

Husquire

Looking to enter your first race?

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!

Husquire

Husquire

 

Trade your way to a better bike!

Tired of your ride and want to try something new? Bike too big or too small and think you need a size adjustment? Here are a few pointers on how to trade what you have now for that perfect bike you’ve been dreaming of at little to no cost! If you are thinking of swapping dirt bikes there are a few strategies that you must be familiar with to be successful.   The first strategy and the hardest part of trading off road motorcycles is getting one in the first place if you do not already have one. Riders do like to swap bikes, however it is uncommon that they want to trade it for something other than another dirt bike. The only people who are usually looking to get out of the sport are those that either have been injured or those who have a new family and no longer have the time to ride. In either case both those types of people are usually looking to maximize their profits to help out with their respective causes. If you do not already have a bike I found that there are two main items people usually swap one for. The first are ATV’s. People who have dirt bikes tend to be hooked to off road riding, though some find dirt bikes too hard to too risky. These are the types of people that want to swap for an ATV. It’s been my experience that most people prefer 4X4 ATV’s instead of the race ATV. I find this I mostly due to again race ATVs being too fast and higher risk. Also some people prefer them because you can have a passenger and is cheaper to ride 2 up on an ATV then have 2 bikes. If you don’t have an ATV to trade the second most popular trade item sought are boats. The most popular boats accepted as trades seem to be bow riders. After contacting a few of these people, it seems that they no longer have the time for both their fishing and biking past times and they chose fishing as their primary activity. Lastly if you have neither an ATV nor boat to trade you can try household items such as riding lawn mowers, snow blowers, hunting equipment etc. I was able to secure a 1984 Honda CR 125 by trading some camping equipment I had just sitting in my basement. I did have to drive over 6 hours but seeing as how I was looking for trades for a few months at that point I jumped at the chance.   The second strategy of trading is if you have a two stroke then trade it for a four stroke or vice versa. We all know the two vs four stroke debate. Some people just prefer to ride the one style vs another. This is your opportunity to profit by finding someone who just rode their buddy’s horse from a different pasture and trading with them. Nobody likes to lose out in a deal but you can turn that feeling of joy they felt in riding the other style bike into value in your bike. What I mean is people will trade their newer bikes for ones a few years older simply because they feel that style is better for them. This may take some convincing by reminding them how great that snappy responsive two stroke is vs their heavy slow four stroke, or how much smoother and more neighbor friendly your four stroke is vs their two stroke. The main point here is find out why are coveting their neighbor’s goods and play on that. Most of the time people are willing to sacrifice to trade for your bike that’s a few model years older to get what they want. The third way to trade up bikes is to trade one in perfect running condition for one that is not. The purpose for this would be to trade from an older model of either stroke to a newer one. For this you will need some mechanical prowess and a few dollars depending on what needs to be done. I wouldn’t really recommend trading a fully functional bike for a nonfunctioning one unless the nonfunctioning one is significantly newer. One of the main points here is that the newer bike should have a greater value when running then your old bike plus the amount of money you’re going to sink into the new one to get it running. This is how I was able to get from my 1984 Honda CR125 to a 2005 Yamaha 250F. The owner could not start it and just wanted a bike that ran. As it turns out all the bike needed was a valve shim (At this point in my riding career I was just starting to work on bikes and made a fatal error in placing the new shim causing a catastrophic failure but none the less the bike was able to start and run. Had I done the work correctly I would have been well ahead but more on this in a later blog) Beware of people who claim it just needs a carb clean, as this is almost never the reason it’s not running. Be prepared to replace the whole valve train. Another way of trading and the fourth on this list is trading from a motocross style bike to a trail riding model or vice versa. Often times a racer will want to give up on the motocross scene and get into the relaxed world of trail riding. This may be your opportunity to trade your slightly older comfortable Cadillac cruising trail bike for their newer high revving beast. On the contrary others may opt to want to get into the fast paced world of mx racing and give up their newer modded trail riding pony for your motocross bike. I personally traded my 2005 Yamaha 250F for a 2004 Yamaha WR250F for the reasons stated above. The race bike was all I could trade for at the time, but it gave me leverage to get into the WR. A fellow in my town build a new mx track so I was able to capitalize on someone trading in their trail bike to get onto the track. Most people are wary to get a bike that has been raced, but if you’ve taken care of it, have a log of the work that’s been done and can show receipts of work you will have a much easier time. I tend to trust racers who know their bikes inside and out more than I do the backyard trail riders who have never checked their shims or cleaned their oil screen. There are however some racers who bag the crap out of their bikes then dump them, and trail riders who meticulously care for their princesses so you have to ask the questions. What have you done, when and how many hours.     Lastly the fifth method of trading is for power. There are plenty of people out there who bite off more than they can chew and are looking to trade their 450 four stroke or 250 two stroke for the next smaller size down. This also works in reverse for people who have outgrown their bikes and are looking to trade up. Many times they are willing to sacrifice a couple of model years to achieve this, or go from a more expensive brand to a less expensive brand to get what they want.   Some other points when it comes to trading are to be patient. Frequent all of the different online used sites. Some people include a willingness to trade in their ad, others don’t, I would ask everyone who has an online ad regardless on if they say they will trade or not as often times they have just never thought of it. Never trust anyone at their word on what the bike needs to be repaired unless it’s backed up by a repair shops written opinion. Be willing to travel and check your neighboring town’s ads as well. Its rare, but you may also benefit by trading your bike for something not necessarily what you wanted, but something that is more trade-able or more desirable then what you have as a mid-step to trade for what you want. Do you have a good trade story? Share it in the comments below!

Husquire

Husquire

 

Getting off the couch and into the game, my first bike at 32.

Eat, sleep, work, and repeat. Sound familiar? This is the hamster wheel we’ve all heard about. It’s hard to see it and even harder to break the cycle when you’re in it. Some say this is the cycle of life and that’s just the way it is. I say I want more. To quote one of the best movies of all times “This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time.” Tyler Durden, Fight Club.  Let’s take a look at one of the best possible ways you can use those valuable minutes. I came into dirt biking at the age of 32. I was not bottle fed as a child out of old Rotella bottles. The only clutch control I had was clutching at my TV remote when my wife tried to steal it from me. I had been very active in the outdoors as a kid growing up, but the last 10 years had seen a move across the country, a new career and a new mortgage. I was, for a while, living only to progress my age. I felt every rung of that wheel as I ran along. It was just over a year ago when I rode my first dirt bike, and my average suburban grind had a fistful of cayenne pepper thrown on it, then lit on fire, then thrown off a cliff. Point is I woke up to a whole new lifestyle and I know I could never go back. I ran into my first obstacle the minute I opened my mouth and spoke the words Dirt Bike around my wife. I got that look of “Oh yeah? At your age” and she spoke to me of not being a kid anymore and what bills we had to pay and that I would just hurt myself and blah yadda yadda yadda. I zoned out. After hearing silence for a few seconds I snapped to and realized by her last inflection of her voice she had asked a question. “Well” I said “you know, if you put things off you want to do throughout your life, eventually you will have a midlife crisis and end up running away with a 20 year old in a new convertible. It’s better to do irresponsible things in small doses throughout your life instead of at one big go when you realize you’ve never done what you wanted and it’s almost too late.” I finished, giving her the most genuine look I could muster. Luckily I have a really great wife who really supports me if I want to do something, and she agreed. The next few months I spent absolutely obsessing over the online used stuff website, I’m sure you know the one. I also read every review, article and watched every youtube video on how to select the proper bike for you. After some long theoretical debates with myself over what type of rider I wanted to be, I determined that the WRF series from Yamaha would best compliment me as a theoretical rider. I then poured over the web looking for the nicest, newest WRF I could find. I ended up with a 1984 Honda CR125 with no front brakes.
You see, there’s one small thing I forgot to mention, as a part of my wife agreeing to me riding, it was that it would not be at the monetary detriment to our family….And seeing as how we had only in the last year bought a new house and had to pay for all the accoutrements that go with it. I was house poor. I ended up getting the Honda by bartering and trading some household items to a man that was an approximately 5 hour drive from me. Beggars can’t be choosers. After watching a few videos on how to strap a bike into a truck, as I had a hard time believing it would stay in with just two straps to the handle bars, I was able to load it up and take it home ready for the new life I was about to have. This was but the first bike in a few I would own over the last year, after having bartered, traded up and sold my soul I now have a 2017 Husqvarna FE350. Stay tuned for my next chapter on how you too can maneuver into the bike of your dreams, and some of the pitfalls to watch out for along the way. Do you guys remember what your first bikes were and what you had to do to get it? Post in comments below. Also don’t forget to follow this blog to get alerts on new entries.  

Husquire

Husquire

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