Thursday, December 4, 2008

Down on the river.

I went on a half-day ride up at Tahuya yesterday with "Joe the neighbor". We left my place around 8am and were on the trails by 9. Joe was on his Honda TRX quad and I, of course, was on my WR. I was initially concerned that the two different types of machines would'nt really be compatible in terms of speed and capabilities, etc... but after a while it became evident that it worked out just fine. The WR wasn't really suited for the big 'ol mud bog but I was able to skirt around the edges and keep from getting sucked into the deep goop. Joe's quad basically blasted right through all the guck due to the large balloon tires. Once we finished with that mess, we headed back to the truck for a quick water break.
Joe at the bog

Down by the river

We headed back out and this time I took us over by where I found Lola last April. We ended up exploring a bunch of new trails (to us) and our exploration took us to the river. We took a few photos and then headed back out on the trails. We found a large, muddy area with some deep "whoops". It was actually quite fun to traverse this section and I grabbed a few photos of Joe doing so.

Joe riding the whoops

We got back to the truck, loaded up and headed home.

It was a nice day to ride, but then again, most any day is a good day to ride.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blasphemy! (sort of)

I just received my latest issue of Trail Rider Magazine, (yes, the one that published my Sparkplug story) and inside it has a riders review of the WR250R. Since I own that bike I thought it would be interesting to see what the professional riders (writers?) had to say about the bike I enjoy.

The first paragraph contains the following words:

"This is not the kind of bike you're going to ride in the average bike-killing NETRA turkey run, or definitely not in an enduro. The WR250R is not made for that kind of riding."

They do back-off that comment a little by stating: "At least it's not made for it right out of the box."

I know that my Sparkplug Enduro experience wasn't very successful but it had almost entirely to do with my lack of conditioning and skill as opposed to the WR's capabilities. The mere fact that I finished The Black Bear Enduro on a mostly stock, (the only mods I've done are add accessories like handguards, etc...), WR250R tells me that this bike is more than capable of riding in these events. Just imagine if I was an "A" or "B" class rider and had put a trials bike tire on the back and a decent front tire on. I'll bet the results would've surprised a lot of people.

I wouldn't argue that it's as good as the KTMs or Huskys or the other bikes that are specifically designed for that type of riding, but in my opinion the WR is more than capable for riding these types of rides and doing so without a bunch of modifications.

If any WR250R owners out there ever read this, let me know what your thoughts are. I'd love to see if I'm the only one who feels this way. Shoot me an email if you like.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fistfulls of fur!

That's what it takes to ride a bear. Well that, and some large, brass cajones and possibly a screw or two loose.
In order to ride the "Black Bear Enduro" however, all you need is a motorcycle, some riding gear, and possibly a screw or two loose.
Oh yeah, and $45.
The "2008 Black Bear Enduro" event is hosted by the Cascade Family Motorcycle Club and was held on November 2nd at the Tahuya State Forest ORV park near Belfair, WA.
I actually hadn't planned on riding any organized events the rest of this year but when I realized last week that I actually had a weekend off, I thought I'd look at the NMA events calendar to see if there was anything going on. I noticed that the Black Bear Enduro was being held and for some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to sign up and give it a try... and subject myself to another day of torture. If you are wondering what I mean by "another day of torture", you should read my post from last April that described my experience riding my first ever enduro event. I'll wait until you're done reading it...

...ok, now that you're up to date on my past fiasco, let's get to my lastest attempt at riding an enduro.
There were a few important lessons I learned from riding the "Sparkplug Enduro", and from those valuable lessons I was much better prepared for "The Black Bear".
First off, since April I have acquired a motorcycle trailer, (thanks Dad), that tows nicely behind my SUV. This is a VAST improvement from loading the WR into the back of my '75 F100 (that I paid $500 for) with a slippery 2X6 as a ramp. While I love my old truck, it's loud and has no heater, and worst of all it has no radio of any kind. So Sunday morning at 6am I'm leaving my house in Gig Harbor and heading northward toward Tahuya. I'm caffeinated, warm and surrounded by sounds from the Tragically Hip, provided nicely by the CD player in the afore-mentioned SUV. The drive to Tahuya is only 30-40 minutes from my place so before too long I'm pulling into the staging area and looking for a place to park. I found a spot and started unloading. I felt a bit like I did the last time I tried an enduro and was a bit nervous, but this time I had some idea of what to expect so it was a little less stressful. I knew exactly ZERO people there so I had no-one to share thoughts with or bounce ideas off of, but that's basically what I expected anyway so I guess I can't complain.
I headed on down to the covered area to register and get my time card. I asked the cute gals there to put me in the slowest/crappiest class available and asked if they had something like a "sportsman" class. I also asked to be put on the very last minute available because from my past experience, I really didn't want to hold up anyone behind me by going too slow. I also planned on crashing plenty and on the extremely narrow trails, there's no place for other riders to get around you. At first they looked at me like I had a third nostril... then they decided that they did in fact have a "sportsman" class and I was summarily handed a time card with the start minute of "8:47" and "sportsman" written on the top of it. I noticed that I wasn't put at the back of the pack as I had hoped but I figured there were only about a dozen or so riders that would have to pass me or use me as traction to get by... so I didn't say anything more about it. I paid my $45 and was on my way back to the truck.
I noticed a couple guys parked nearby that looked as if they'd done this a lot, (hell, they were drinking beer for breakfast, they must've known what the hell was going on), and asked them if they had some duct tape (or "Duck" tape if you prefer). I used the borrowed tape to adhere the time card to my front fender and returned the rest of the roll. They barely even looked at me.
I had a while to wait until my start time so I got all "gussied up" and took a quick little ride to see how everything felt. This was the first time I rode with a "Camelbak" hydration pack and I wanted to see if it caused any imbalance while riding. After a short jaunt, I determined that it worked well. (Why didn't I use it during the Sparkplug????). I got back to the truck and shortly before I headed down to the starting gate, I made an impulsive decision. I decided to grab a few wrenches and an allen wrench set and toss them into my pack. I find out later that this decision turns out to be a valuable one.

As before, I had a few goals in mind for this ride, they are as follows...

1. Don't get significantly injured

2. Try to complete the entire short course

3. Try not to "hour out"

4. If I do "hour out", try to make it past the 4th checkpoint before doing so.

5. Relax and have fun.

Let's see how well I did with these goals.
8:47: As with the Sparkplug ride a few months ago, the start is from a dead stop with engines off. I still am somewhat baffled as to why this is important. The short course, (55 miles or so), takes a few hours to complete, so why does starting with a dead engine make any difference? It literally takes me .83 seconds to push the magic button and start the engine. Some of the more adventurous folks have to actually use manual labor and kick start the motor to life but even then it's anywhere from 1 to 2 seconds to make it go zoom. I'm here to tell you that I wasted more time just picking my ass up out of the brush and mud during the course of the ride so it can't be about the time wasted starting the motor. It must be done in case you can't actually get your bike started. If that's the case, you're just better off heading back to the truck and finishing off the rest of your half-rack of "breakfast" and calling it a day.

Myself and some other dude that I've never met, started our machines and headed off mere seconds after 8:47am. I let him go first since I was convinced that I'd never see him again as soon as we got into the single track. It wasn't 45 seconds into the ride and he stalled his bike and waved me by. I chuckled to myself thinking that I'd be seeing him soon as he flew by.

Interestingly enough, the first 10-15 minutes went by and I was feeling better and more confident then last time. I didn't have riders chomping at the bit to get by me and I was cruising along nicely. The first checkpoint came into view before I expected it and I stopped while one of the checkpoint workers called out "8:48" and the other one wrote "8:48" on my time card. I was fairly amazed at the fact that I arrived at Checkpoint 1 only ONE minute behind the prescribed pace. If I remember correctly, I was 9 minutes behind the pace at Checkpoint 1 during the Sparkplug so this was already an improvement. I also was feeling pretty skippy that I hadn't crashed yet either. I did my best to not get overconfident but I couldn't help feeling better about staying upright on the bike considering how slimey and slippery the conditions were.

I want to take a second and say that the volunteers that worked at all the checkpoints and fuel stops, etc... were absolutely awesome and really made the ride go smoothly. If not for them, I'm sure the event wouldn't even be possible. A big "thank you" to all those who worked the event.

So after about 12 miles went by, I started feeling a bit fatigued. I was somewhat unhappy with this new development because I didn't think I had been working all that hard yet and I knew that I still had a long way to go. A few doubts started creeping into my head about the possibility of completing the ride. My only previous experience ended with me not able to finish the course so I was starting to think that it was just going to be a repeat of last time. But I trudged on.

One thing I've noticed about riding these events is that nothing makes you more tired then having to pick up your bike after crashing. Now even though I techincally hadn't crashed yet, (by my definition), I did have a few instances where I had come to a stop after bouncing and sliding around and then just kinda tipped over. I'm not a big guy so picking up my 300lb WR was a bit of a task for me. I only had a few "tip overs" but they started to take a small toll on my energy reserves.

The next most tiring thing while riding this kind of ride is being just barely on the edge of crashing, but using all your extraordinary skills and superhuman efforts to prevent the crash. I found myself in this position often. I was repeatedly in a state of semi-control where I basically was just along for the ride. For example, let's just say there was a large, slippery tree root blocking the narrow, muddy trail. (I know that this NEVER was the case but for argument's sake, let's just say this may have happened a few dozen times.) So the only option I saw was to gas it, hang on and see how it turned out. I feel like I was successful in surviving this scenario more often than not, but it was one of the most tiring things to have to do and it seemed like I had to do it repeatedly. At one point I was convinced that the course just looped back around to the same crappy tree roots over and over but it turned out to just be an evil trick my mind was playing on me.

Checkpoint 2 showed up and I had lost a bit more time. I don't have my times in front of me but I think I was at :58 so I was 11 minutes behind the pace. If this trend were to continue, I figured I would probably "hour-out" by Checkpoint 5 or 6. Since I only made it to Checkpoint 3 during the Sparkplug, I guess this would be a small victory in my mind. I was still a bit bummed though. I really felt like I was doing well enough to complete the course without "houring-out" but maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

One thing I forgot to mention was that I am pretty sure I was the only rider who didn't have a "Jart chart" This basically tells you what the pace is supposed to be between various mile markers and also shows you where "resets" are, etc... Since I didn't have a chart holder for my bike, I basically took the chart that they gave me and threw it in the back of the SUV. I figured I'd never even be close to keeping pace so the chart really meant nothing to me anyway. Maybe someday I'll actually need the chart? We'll see.

As my trip meter kept clicking away the distance, I was increasingly surprised by how I wasn't getting fatigued at a more rapid pace. Don't get me wrong, I was tired as hell, but considering that I seemed to plateau in terms of overall fatigue, I was starting to feel more confident about finishing the course. I may still "hour out" but I should be able to finish at least.

I don't remember at what point this next scene took place but I'm going to say it was somewhere after Checkpoint 3. I was chugging along at my typically slow pace when I come upon about 6 riders stopped in a traffic jam. My first thought was that someone must've lost an arm or something. I pulled up behind them all and over to one side. My second thought was that if there wasn't physical carnage, there must be one hell of an obstacle in the way and if the good riders are having trouble getting by it, there's no way I'll make it. I decided to shut off the bike, hike into the woods a bit, and take a leak. After the important stuff was taken care of, I walked back to where the log jam was and checked it out. It turns out that there was a massive tree root protruding across the trail and it was located such that you had to make a hard right turn just before it. The handful of riders that I watched tackle this obstacle were very brave. Every one had to dismount and basically man-handle the bike over said tree root. I was in no mood to partake in such an endeavor... really, I wasn't. So instead, I decided to help one of the current brave souls with getting his bike over. I grabbed ahold of the rear frame and gave a what little effort I had left to help him past this mess. And for my kind gesture, he kicked me in the face. This sounds more dramatic and painful then it was, but it's true. It was obviously an accident. He was just swinging his leg back over the saddle and my head was still in the way. That'll teach me. He apologized, and off he went. No harm, no foul as far as I'm concerned... I actually just thought it was kinda funny. What wasn't so funny though was the fact that I still had to get by this thing in one piece. As I walked back to my bike, I noticed one of the smarter riders took a slight detour around the beast and I thought that looked like a grand idea... so that's what I did. It turns out that the detour wasn't super easy either, but I still think it was better than the alternative of tackling the monster tree root. As I got back on the trail, I thought for sure that this long delay would ruin any chance I had at finishing the course without houring out.

Somewhere after the major delay, the trail opened up and next thing I know I'm doing 45 mph on a dirt road. This goes on for a bit and shortly after heading back into the tight trails, there's another checkpoint. It turns out that the open section really allowed me to make up a bunch of time. I even think I was back to the :58 minute mark so I was within 11 minutes of the prescribed pace. I realized later that if I had been one of the good riders and had been close to the correct times, that fast section could really bite you in the ass by getting to the checkpoint too early and losing even more points than if you were late. Fortunately for me, I was so late that going fast just allowed me to make up some lost time. Maybe I'll make it after all?

Halfway done (roughly) at the Fuel stop. Initially I wasn't even planning on bringing extra fuel. At the last minute I decided to throw a small can in the truck. Later, at the staging area, I really didn't plan on putting the small gas can in the little trailer that was to be used for the short course fuel stop, but at the last minute I decided to do it. My thinking was that my bike gets about 65 mpg and if the course is only 55 miles, no sweat. Even though I knew that this kind of riding burns more gas, I thought that it couldn't be that much more. Even so, I put the gas can in there anyway, just in case. I'm glad I did... At the stop I opened my tank and there was definitely less than half a tank left. I really didn't want to be stuck out in the woods with no fuel so I happily poured the fuel in to my tank and headed back out on the trail.

Here's a picture of me taken by one of the CFMC members during the 2008 Black Bear Enduro

At this point I'm going to skip past a few miles for the sake of time... just imagine a lot of slippery rocks and tree roots, mud, water and anything else you might imagine that you wouldn't want to see while riding a dirt bike.

Mile 42ish: Less than a minute after I leave Checkpoint 8, I just started to get a second wind and was feeling more and more confident about my ability to finish this ride and not hour out... when "Oh $*^!"...... I either wasn't paying attention or just misread the trail but I found myself topping a small crest that then had a descending right hand turn. If you failed to make the turn, you would find yourself running head-on into a large tree. This is essentially what happened to me. I knew immediately that there was no way I was going to avoid hitting the tree and I also knew for sure that this one was going to hurt, a lot. I hit it hard and found myself airborne and then tumbling down the trail. I was able to get up fairly quickly and about the only pain I felt was that my left wrist was throbbing a bit. I figured it was probably a sprain and if it didn't get worse in the next couple minutes, I should be ok. I made my way up to my bike and I could hear riders approaching. I was concerned that they wouldn't see me or my bike that was laying halfway on the trail because of the blind corner. I got up to the bike and was able to wave my arms to warn the upcoming rider and he stopped. He didn't ask if I needed help but he did say 'sorry' as he rode by. I really wasn't sure if I needed help or not yet but it seemed to be something I could handle without assistance. Then I saw my bike. I drug it back onto the trail and then rolled it off to one side to assess the damage. The first thing I noticed was that both of my Zeta handguards were pointed nearly straight up. After closer inspection, it became apparent that the handlebars actually rotated inside the clamps about 60 degrees. Maybe that's why my wrists were now so sore? It seemed to be nearly impossible to operate the clutch or the brake lever. I attempted to rotate the bars back to the original position but the combination of sore wrists, general fatigue and the factory tightened bar clamps, I was unable to budge the bars at all. This is where the wrenches I talked about earlier come into play. I removed my helmet, gloves and backpack. I dug out the 10mm and got to work. Before too long I had the bars back to a usable condition and the Zeta handguards were back to the guarding position. I did a quick overall check of the rest of the bike and it appeared to not be in too bad of shape. The forks seemed straight and the fender was still in one piece. I thought I'd see if it still ran and amazingly enough, it fired up right away. I got all my wet crap back on and got back on the horse.

After that crash, I definitely felt a bit more tentative. I wasn't as concerned about the pain of an injury as I was about missing work. With the upcoming layoffs at my airline, I really need to work while I can until I can find another job. So I was taking it a bit easier at this point. One thing about this though is that I find if you ride scared, I think you're actually more apt to crash again. You have to have a certain amount of an aggressive attitude toward certain obstacles to successfully traverse them. If you try to "pansy" your way over them, you're just going to crash again. It's a fine line.

As the minutes zipped by my confidence was returning. I had no idea where I stood as far as the pace but I was pretty sure I was more than an hour late to the next checkpoint. At least I knew I could finish the course though.

Somewhere near the end of the ride there was probably the most dangerous section of the entire course. It was not even really a trail. It was a very steep descent through a bunch of trees but it was very soft ground and no place to really stop if you needed to. If you were to lose control you'd defintely be careening headlong down the 30% grade until you smashed into tree. The difficulty of the section wasn't too terribly bad but since it was getting toward the end of the ride, the fatigue factor played a huge part in whether or not one would make it or not. I actually found that if I shut the motor off and just let the compression act as a brake, it worked better and I was able to reach the bottom without dying. Crisis averted.

A few more miles go by and eventually I get to another checkpoint, the guy tells me that it's the last one and to just take it easy and follow the arrows back to the staging area. I don't recall the time that was written down but I do believe that is was less than an hour late. I couldn't believe it, I actually finished the course without "houring out". It wasn't pretty but with two major delays, including a fairly big crash, I was surprised to have actually done it. This was a big accomplishment for me personally and no matter what the times were, I was happy to have just survived the ordeal in one piece.

After getting to the "end", I still had a few miles to go just to make it back to the truck. I followed the trail with a sense of satisfaction and I just putt-putted along at a slow pace. I was a little dismayed, however, at the difficulty of some of the trail that was left. While it wasn't any more difficult then any of the stuff I'd just been through, I was mentally "done" with it all. I just wanted it to be over and I wondered why they didn't just pave a nice freeway back to the staging area?

I finally made it back to the parking area and as I got there, there was a final "checkpoint" where they took your time card and said "congrats". As the guy removed my card he noticed that it said "Sportsman" and he indicated to me that this was the hardest class, NOT the easiest like I had requested. He said that I should've been in one of the "C" classes and I asked that if it could be changed. He said "no"... so I left. I wasn't really upset because I was still pretty satisfied about just finishing and I really didn't have any delusions about finishing high in the daily rankings. I still don't have my final times/scores but just finishing was my goal so I'm happy.

(Update: I got some clarification on the classes and the sportsman class is actually NEITHER the hardest, or the easiest. It's just a recreational class where any level rider can enter and just ride it for fun. There were 9 riders in the sportsman class this race and it appears from the scores posted that 2 of them were excellent riders and the rest were closer to my skill level.)

I got back to the SUV & trailer, I took off all the soaking wet gear and put on some dry clothes. I ate a sandwich, drank a Rockstar coffee drink and generally just plopped down in the back of the SUV. I eventually mustered up enough energy to load the bike on the trailer and get everthing else loaded up in the car and headed toward home. I remembered to grab my small, half empty gas can from the staging area and got on the road.

On my way home I called my wife to give her a quick run-down of my day and to make sure that there was plenty of hot water available for a long soak...

(As I type this, it's now been 4 days since the event. I was very sore all over until this morning. My muscles seem to have mostly recovered but I've now got a constant sharp pain in one of my wrists. I am getting xrays later today so maybe I'll find out what it's all about.)

Update: Just got back from the doctor's office and after performing the well known "Finklestein's test", the doctor determined that I have not broken any bones in my wrist but instead have what is called "de Quervain's disease". Basically it's a fancy way of saying that one of the tendons in my wrist is strained and needs to rest for a few days and should be fine. This is good news as far as I'm concerned.

I hope you all enjoyed this ride report.

Another update... The CFMC just posted the results for the event. I finished 4th out of 9 riders in my class. I had 176 points which isn't very good, but I didn't get a DNF so I'm happy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to where it all started.

With all the negative things happening in the airline world recently and my impending lay-off from United Airlines, I've been fairly obsessed with finding a new job/career. This new obsession has prevented me from getting much riding done and due to the lack of flying jobs, it hasn't been very conducive to a positive outlook on my life. So a couple days ago I just made up my mind that I needed to go out and just ride for a bit to clear my mind of all the negativity.

I had to haul a few things out to my friend Tony's house in Enumclaw so I hitched up the motorcycle trailer to my old pickup and off I went. After dropping off the items at Tony's, I unloaded the WR and headed off toward my old stomping grounds.


My family moved to Enumclaw when I was in the 2nd grade. My dad had purchased a 1974 Honda XR75 about that same time and as a young boy, I thought that it was too big for me to ride. I tried it but after crashing it once, I was afraid of it, so it sat buried in our basement for quite some time.

I don't remember how old I was but sometime in the next few years, I was inspired by our neighbor, Jerry, who was (is) the coolest guy I ever met. Jerry had an old Honda 100 and rode it around our neighborhood, (we lived on a dirt road). I distinctly remember that as I watched him ride past our house one day that I thought that I should be riding a motorcycle... and then I remembered that in fact we already had a motorcycle.

I proceeded to uncover the old XR from the piles of crap in the basement, (a feat in of itself), and eventually got it out in the driveway. I'd like to say that it fired right up on the first kick but I honestly don't remember. I do remember that once I got it running, (probably with help from Dad), that I started out VERY slowly. I remember that I would ride up and down the dirt road in front of our house in FIRST GEAR. I was afraid of going faster. This lasted for at least a day or two. I finally got the balls to actually shift into SECOND GEAR and I was progressively getting bolder and bolder. I don't know how long it took but I eventually was able to actually use ALL the gears and at some point in the following months I actually was wanting a bike that would go faster than the XR was capable of. My brother started riding as well and we would take turns on the little gray bike until Dad decided that we needed another one. We went and bought a brand new 1979 XR80... it was red... and it was cool. It also had a 5th gear which was one more than the old 75 had. Dale and I rode these bikes every chance we got and spent many an hour in the trails and dirt roads in the hills near our house.

Fast forward nearly 30 years (holy crap!!!, am I really that old???)... I turned on to the old neighborhood road (it's still dirt) and as I left the pavement I remembered the time I was spinning a doughnut in the gravel when the neighbor, Gary, drove up on his way home from work and he scolded me for tearing up the road that he had just fixed. I also remembered all the dips and mudpuddles from those many years ago, even though they had changed a thousand times over, I could see them in my mind. Actually, aside from a few trees that were missing, the old neighborhood hadn't changed all that much.

I rode slowly up and down the entire length of the old dirt road and just took my mind back to a time where jobs and stresses of adult life were non-existent. I was 9 years old again, even if it was only for a few minutes, and just living each moment to ride my motorcycle.

Here's what our old house looks like today.

It was a nice diversion and it did take my mind off of the negative stuff that is going on in my life. I'm glad I made the journey and hopefully I won't wait until another 30 years go by before I swing by again.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Flashback... Quad style

As you may have noticed, it's been a while since I've posted any ride reports. That has a lot to do with the number of rides I've been on since July... exactly ZERO. I can come up with a bunch of excuses ranging from getting ready for the 2008 Burris Drags or spending in inordinate amount of time searching for a new job, but they'd end up just being excuses just the same. So instead of that lets just say I've dropped the ball when it came to getting off my butt and going riding.

My lack of riding came to an end yesterday, sort-of. My neighbor, Joe, came over yesterday morning in a bit of a huff. It seems that he had loaded up his truck and trailer with 2 quads and his buddy called at the last minute to cancel. Now it seems that Joe was pretty determined to go riding but didn't want to go alone, which is smart since the ride site is vast and wooded and a bad crash might leave you stranded until you died... alone. He had made a few calls to see if any of his other buddies wanted to go but to no avail. He then came over to see if I wanted to go. Initially, I really wasn't that interested since I had, (and still have), tons of things to do around the house but after a bit of arm twisting, I conceded. I got all my riding crap together and within 30 minutes, we were on the road.

We got to Tahuya, (the same place I found our dog Lola), and proceeded to unload the 4-wheeled machines. I used to own a 1991 Honda TRX-250X and I really enjoyed riding it many years ago but I honestly hadn't ridden a quad in probably 16 years. Joe was letting me ride his Honda TRX-300EX (nice to have electric start!). I was not sure how quickly I'd pick it back up but I figured it wouldn't be too tough. I turned out to be almost immediate. I took to it like the proverbial duck to water and within a couple minutes I was ripping through the trails as quickly as I'd dare without being stupid. It was pretty enjoyable and at that point I was glad I'd agreed to go.

After a 45 minute ride or so we took a break near the truck, grabbed a snack and headed back out for more. The second half of the ride was awesome as instead of riding in the open areas we rode on a bunch of narrower, technical trails which is my favorite type of riding.

We ended up not riding all day as Joe had to go to work that evening but the half-day ride was just what I needed to get out in the beautiful weather and get some time in the saddle.

I still prefer the 2-wheeled bikes but it was kinda fun to "turn back the clock" and ride the quads like I used to.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Big Time"

ok, so it's only a relatively unknown motorcycle magazine that you probably wouldn't find at any magazine rack at your local book store, but it's a start.

If you have been reading my stories on here then you might remember my experience at the 2008 Sparkplug Enduro. Well, I submitted that story to a few motorcycle rags to see if anyone would be interested in a story about a newbie attempting to ride an organized Enduro event. I got a couple replies but the only one who actually was interested in publishing my story was Trailrider Magazine. It's in the July 2008 issue. It's been editied down a bit and I think it did take away from some of the humor I attempted but overall it is intact and I'm proud to have it in there. I realize it's a small feat but it's the first time I've ever even submitted anything so to have it actually in print form I think is kinda cool.

Thanks to MACE and Trailrider Magazine!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Always use protection!

I've always leaned more toward the daring and risky endeavours such as riding dirt bikes, flying ultralight aircraft, and walking through "5 points" near Birmingham, Alabama at night on a layover. It's usually a calculated risk though and not the "throw all caution to the wind" kind of deal. I also like to have some form of protection whether it's a helmet to keep my melon intact or a parachute to keep the "splat" sounds to a minimum.

So because Yamaha "cheaped out" and didn't put a skidplate on the WR from the factory, I thought in order to prevent smashing the crankcase on a rock or tree root, I'd install an aftermarket plate.

I read a few forum posts and looked at a few photos of the limited selection of skidplates to choose from and I settled on the one from It is reasonably priced and looks like it'll do the job well.

It was an extremely easy install. Anyone with the ability to locate and use an 8mm and a 10mm wrench could do the job.

The before & after photos of the install (and my dirty bike) are below.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Low.. Ri... Der

ok, so it's only 3/4 inch lower but every bit helps. I don't have any updated photos yet but last night I lowered the WR using the shock mount adjuster and was able to get it a little lower for my short legs. I think I may get the aftermarket lowering link when it becomes available. I'll post pictures of that when it happens.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No more uglies

I finally got rid of the last of the ugly looking lights on my WR. I installed the Zeta handguards that have flashers integrated into the plastic part of the guards. They look great and are MUCH nicer than the old stock flashers. My only issue with the new flashers is I couldn't figure out how to make the running lights work in addition to the flashers. I just have the flasher part working. If I find out a way to make them both work I'll hook it up, otherwise I'll leave it as is.

Here's the latest photo of the WR with the new mods!

Monday, April 21, 2008

No luck at the Wet Duck.

Well, at least when it came to the hand I was dealt. Since this ride was the "Wet Duck Poker Run", everyone selected cards at various checkpoints in order to complete a poker hand. I started out smokin' with an ACE of Hearts! I hadn't even been on the course yet and I was already kicking butt!

I decided to ride the short/easy course since I really didn't know what to expect on the long/hard course. The short course was 18 miles so I figured even if it was difficult, it wouldn't take me all flippin' day.

After paying my $25 and collecting my first card, I headed down the trail. I started around 9:40 so I was somewhere toward the back of the pack I think. I used some of the lessons learned from my Sparkplug experience so I ended up with a very enjoyable ride! One thing I did was wear my new Alpinestars Tech 3 boots (pictured below) and it was excellent for ankle/shin protection. It also helped keep my feet much drier than wearing the crappy work boots I wore last ride.

The down side was shifting. The boots are so stiff that I might as well have been wearing skiboots. I couldn't flex my ankle much at all so I often had to move my entire leg to shift up. I do believe that over time it will get easier as the boot softens up, until then I'll just have to do the best I can. Maybe I should wear them everywhere to break 'em in? My wife would love that.

After about 5 miles on the trail I came upon a lady riding with one kid on the back of her Suzuki and another kid riding in front of her on a little 80cc bike (possibly even smaller). She was doing great! The trail was easy but I'm not too sure how I would've done with someone on the back of my bike. I was impressed and I thought it was cool that they were out having fun. She let me by as I was a bit faster. I wasn't in a hurry but it was a nice gesture. A mile or less down the trail I was passed by a guy and his wife/girlfriend who were both good riders. Shortly after that the girl crashed on a corner. I stopped in order to not hit her and make sure everyone was ok. While I was pulled over, the mom and her kids came up and just rode on by, which was totally fine. The funny thing was I heard her say to her kids, "see, sometimes slower is faster". I just about crapped my pants. If you read my Sparkplug experience you'll remember that I was using that same theory during much of my ride. It was just really funny to me at the time hearing her tell her kids that.

The rest of the ride included fun trails that were hilly and muddy but nothing too difficult. In fact, I didn't crash once! I'd like to tell you that it's because I've become a much better rider in 2 weeks but the reality is the trail was just much less challenging. I have to say I never encountered a tree root that rivaled the many I ran into during the Sparkplug. I was actually kind of hoping to find ONE so I could stop a take a photo to include here in the blog but I only came upon easy ones. Maybe next time?

I came upon the first checkpoint, which basically is just a place to pick up another card for the poker hand. I selected a KING of Clubs and was thinking a couple things. 1. I've got a good start to a promising poker hand and 2. Why is the first checkpoint nearly 14 miles into an 18 mile course? Don't we have to get 5 cards?

The next checkpoint was just a few minutes away and this is where things started going to hell. I drew a THREE of Diamonds. That definitely didn't help my hand at all.

On the last couple miles of the trail I started to recognize a few things. I realized that I was riding very near where I found the abandoned puppy (Lola). I briefly thought about how little and dirty she was and how difficult is was for her to breathe. I remembered tucking her under my sweatshirt and riding back to the truck. I then thought about how absolutely freakin' crazy she is now, and big. She's a ball of energy and just wants to play constantly until it's time to just drop. It's a bunch of work for us but considering how she's almost fully recovered and she seems very happy, it's worth it.

I pulled into the "Finish line" and realized I only had 3 cards. I thought that maybe I'd missed a checkpoint. Not really sure if I did or not. The dude said to pick 2 cards so I did. I selected a SEVEN of Hearts and a FIVE of Clubs. After starting out so well, my poker hand turned sour. I felt like I was in Vegas.

I decided I'd had enough and decided I wasn't going to wait 3+ hours for the awards ceremony. I loaded up and headed home.

I had a great time and was happy about the entire day. I ate better and brought water. I still didn't use my Camelback but I didn't ride long enough to need it. I've decided that it's mandatory that I lower the bike. I had multiple occasions where I nearly crashed because I had a hard time reaching the ground. That will be my next modification to the WR.

Had fun and didn't get injured... and NO tree roots! Woo Hoo!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Taillight swaperooo

I intentionally rode the Sparkplug Enduro a couple weeks ago with a completely stock bike. One of the reasons I did was just to see if I could, (I should've but couldn't), and another reason was that if I started modifying the WR before I ever really rode the thing, I'd never really know if the changes made were better or worse than stock.

So now that I've ridden the heavy machine over some pretty tough terrain, I've decided to change some stuff on it. The first modification shouldn't really alter the performance in any way other than a possible slight reduction in weight, (which is something I should try for myself). I decided to get rid of the big & bulky taillight/turn signal unit that hangs below the rear fender and replace it with a much smaller and very clean looking unit.

Since they don't actually make a smaller unit for the WR, I had to get a universal license plate holder that had turn signals & plate light and do some customization. First thing was to get a small taillight to integrate into this smaller unit. I was at Tacoma Motorsports and the kid behind the counter, Derek, searched through a catalog and he found the perfect light for this application. It's an LED light made by Bluhm Enterprises located in River Falls, WI. (Don't know where River Falls is you say? Never fear, Google maps is here!)

View Larger Map
I got all the stuff home and started to disassemble the old taillight setup. Probably the biggest downside to waiting until AFTER I rode the bike stock is all the Tahuya mud from the Sparkplug still packed in the crevices that I couldn't get to with the hose. In spite of the mud I was able to take the ugly taillight unit off. It required the clipping of some wires and I had to pause a few seconds before cutting my brand new bike... I had a few flashbacks to my past where a customization of something I owned turned out poorly and I was hoping that this wouldn't turn out to be one of those. A 1979 Chevy Monza comes to mind where as a 17-18 year old punk kid I decided after I blew up the V6 that it needed a V8. Suffice it to say I learned a ton of things with that car, mainly that my parents had patience that I never knew existed. (I think there still may be a transmission fluid stain on my dad's old garage floor from that).
Another one was a go-kart that my buddy Tony & I built. We adapted a motor from a Quicksilver Ultralight and smoked the hydraulic clutch on the first test drive... it never ran again. I cut the wires with only a slight cringe and now I was committed.

The picture above shows the old, ugly taillight.

I removed the unit and started to figure out how this new one was going to fit. To my amazement, it basically bolted right on with no drilling, cutting, banging, welding or swearing. ok, maybe SOME swearing, but that was just because it made me feel better.

The one issue was how to mount the LED taillight to the license plate bracket. I went down to ACE Harware and found some angled aluminum material and a couple hex head bolts. Now that I had everything I needed, I did some fabrication. I cut the aluminum to the right length and drilled a few mounting holes.

Once the bracket was built, it was simply a matter of bolting it all together.

Now comes the wiring...

Naturally there isn't any wiring diagram in the WR owner's manual so I had to guess which wire does what. I guess they really don't want me to do any wiring. Maybe they were on to something since no sooner did I strip the ends of the wires for the taillight, I spread them apart and turned on the key to find out which wire did what, and I bumped them into each other. ZAP, POW! Nice job Sparky! Blown fuse for sure. The positive side of this action was now I know where the fuse box is and how to get to it. Better in my garage then out in the woods for sure!

30 minutes later I now have it all wired up, and it's bitchin'.

Now I only hope all my future mods go this well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sparkplug 2008!

I meant to post this a while ago but I've only recently been able to recall the ride without curling up on the floor in the fetal position and crying.

If you've read my earlier posts you may remember me saying I was interested in competing in Enduros. My reasoning for this interest is due to the concept of racing against time and not directly against other riders, handlebar to handlebar as it were. I (mistakenly) thought that this type of competition would be more mentally challenging and less physically challenging compared to something like motocross. I still believe that it is more of a "mental game" than other racing but to say it isn't that physical is just not true.

I got my bike roughly one month ago and I've been able to ride it on some trails once since I brought it home. I looked at the NW Motorcycle Association's website on the events schedule for the Washington rides and noticed there was an Enduro scheduled for April 6th and it was going to be held at the Tahuya State Forest, not too far from my home. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to ride my bike at an organized competition and get a chance to see how the WR would do on some singletrack.

Having grown up in Enumclaw and living on a dirt road, my brother Dale & I used to ride our Honda XRs almost every day after school and on the weekends up in the foothills near our house. When you ride as much as we did, you can't help but develop a reasonable skill level of riding. We mainly rode trails through the woods and clearcuts. I fully understand that this was many years ago but when you learn something as a kid you usually have that skillset for your entire life.

I went into this Enduro with relatively low expectations. My main goals were:

1: Don't get injured

2: Have fun

3: Try to complete the course

4: Try not to "hour out"

I showed up to the staging area and parked across the street from the main parking because there was no room anywhere else. I backed the truck up to a mound of dirt that allowed me to basically ride the bike out of the truck on a level plane, (this comes in handy later). I unloaded the WR and rode it to the registration area. I paid my $45 and got a few questions answered like where the start area was, etc... I hung around for the riders' meeting and signed the release form saying that it's my own fault if I smash my melon. After the meeting I went and had my bike tested for excessive exhaust noise. Being that my bike is completely stock, it basically whispered it's way through the sound test.

They had started @ 9:00am with the first group of riders and I wasn't scheduled to start until 9:54am so I had a little time to kill. (They launch 3 riders per minute and I was in the second to last group). I went back to the truck and struck up a conversation with a couple guys on KTMs. I'm not sure I remember their names correctly but I believe it was Kevin & Rod. (Rob maybe?). Anyway, they had a few good tips and stories about what the ride was like. For some reason, I hadn't realized that the "short course" (the one I was riding) was 55 miles long and when Kevin told me that I thought to myself, "so much for getting done by 2pm".

Kevin and Rod/Rob were starting the minute before me so they told me that since they were keeping time and following the roll chart that I shouldn't pass them in order to not "burn" a checkpoint. (getting there too early). I kinda laughed and said, "that won't be a problem". (In fact, after they started @ 9:53, I never saw them again.)

As I waited for the starter to launch us, I thought it was weird that I wasn't more nervous than I was. I also thought it was strange that they require us to start with a dead engine. It's an endurance race that lasts many hours and the 2-5 seconds it takes to start the bike really means nothing in the whole scheme of things. Maybe it's just tradition?

9:54... The starter says "go". So I pushed the little button and let out the clutch and off I went. I waited for the other two riders to leave before me so I didn't slow them down. The trail started off easy and after a couple minutes I was getting the feel of the bike. I wasn't in too much of a hurry as I just wanted to ride safely and not really care about the times. It wasn't too far down the trail and I started hearing the riders behind me catching up. The next wide spot in the trail I pulled over and let them by. Since I started in the second to last group, there weren't any more riders to come up behind me. I was happy about this fact because I really didn't want someone on my ass all day. I knew that I was going to be slow and I was pretty sure I was going to crash a few times so I was glad I didn't have to feel like I was slowing down other riders who were serious about making good times.

Mile 2: Crash! My front tire slides out in a muddy turn and down I go. The bike runs for a few seconds then stops. I get off the ground and lift the bike back up. I thought, "ok, first crash is over and it didn't hurt too bad, now I don't have to worry about the crashing". I pushed the starter button and the bike just cranked and cranked. No putt putt sounds. What The Hell??? The bike is brand new and has 26 total miles on it and the first crash causes it to not run anymore??? POS! At this point I was already thankful (even more thankful later) that I had an electric starter. If I had been kicking this 4 stroke all day... I'd have had 4 strokes of my own. I turned the key off and tried to think of a reason why it wouldn't start. I was very glad there wasn't anyone behind me because there was absolutely no room for anyone to go around me as I sat there befuddled. I decided to "cranky cranky" some more so I turned the key back on. I heard a high pitched motor running... ...a light bulb fizzled and sparked and finally lit inside my brain. I had been so stoked about buying a Fuel Injected bike to eliminate having to re-jet the carb and all that but it didn't dawn on me until just that moment that the fuel pump needed to recharge the system after dumping the bike. It fired immediately upon hitting the starter. First lesson learned.

Back on the trail again and things were going well for a half-hour or so until I came to a semi-steep hill. I got a good run at it but the ground was loose and I really couldn't get much momentum going. I got nearly to the top and a big 'ol tree root reared its ugly head. I gunned it to see if I could get more speed but it actually lost traction a little bit and the root proved to be too tall for me to clear at that speed. I was stuck just before the top of the hill. I tried to walk the bike while spinning the rear tire but I just couldn't get it moving. The only option at this point was to back down the hill (hopefully without careening out of control off the edge) and give it another try. Somehow I managed to accomplish the backward descent without any problems. The next attempt up the hill went a little better as I basically just "gave 'er the onion" and I was able to bounce and hop my way over the tree root with a modicum of control. This particular scene was ultimately replayed multiple times throughout the day. I lost count of the tree root encounters and nearly every time I cleared one, I was on the edge of losing grip or flying off the edge of the trail. The bike was very capable of clearing each obstacle, I was just not fit enough to handle the constant jerking and lurching and after a while I became so fatigued that getting over these "roadblocks" became a daunting task that would've probably been very comical to watch from the gallery. Fortunately for me there was no gallery to point and laugh.

1st Checkpoint: I stopped at the first checkpoint and found out I was 9 minutes behind the pace. I thought to myself, hey only 9 minutes, not too bad. The stop lasted only a few seconds and then I was off again. I don't know what I was expecting but the checkpoint was a little anti-climactic. Maybe if there was an espresso stand and a hot-tub available at each checkpoint it might be more exciting?

More riding, more tree roots, more mud. I actually was enjoying it all, except for maybe the tree roots. I crashed a few times, nothing too serious. I had a few struggles with getting past the roots and that ate up a bunch of time. I found myself narrowly avoiding a couple potential big crashes and I decided this wasn't worth bustin' my ass over so I started a quiet mantra... "slower is faster" over and over in my head. My theory was that if I went slower, I'd crash less, if I crashed less, I'd actually make it through the course faster overall. While I still think that thought process has some merit, it turns out that slower was, in fact, just slower.

Checkpoint 2: 26 minutes off the pace. OK, I lost another 17 minutes but I should be able to not lose too much more if the trail isn't as rough as the first part. HA!

More mud, more trees, and yes, more tree roots. I was extremely tired at this point and I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to catch up to the pace. In fact, I was going into survival mode. All I wanted to do was get through this without crashing hard. I had visions of missing one of the countless slippery, muddy, hairpin corners and flying off into the wilderness where I'd be lying in a crumpled pile hoping that the sweep riders would find me before nightfall, or before I bled to death, preferably both.

Checkpoint 3: The guy tells me I'm 6 minutes from "houring out" and I am not surprised.

More stumps, more mud, more water holes... oh yeah, tree roots too.

I am now riding with rubber legs and arms. I'm thirsty and hungry. (Kevin had asked me earlier if I had any water to take with me... now I know why.) I probably should have eaten a better breakfast as well. I had a bowl of cereal at around 6:30am and it was now after noon. Not too smart on my part. Another lesson learned.

I am surprised when I come to a small clearing and I see a rider on a DRZ250 stopped there. My first thought was that it might be a rescue rider who's looking for the idiot who's stumbling through the short course at mind-numbingly slow speeds and extricate him from the woods. It turns out it was a girl who was just taking a breather. I decided it would be a great time for me to take a little rest as well. Any excuse would've been good enough for me. We talked briefly and then we decided to get going. She asked if I wanted to go first and I said 'no, you can go ahead'. I was thinking, this will be a good distraction for me... I can just follow her and watch her go over the obstacles before I have to. After about 30 seconds on the trail... she was gone. She was kicking my ass and I was now even more humiliated then I might've already been. 20 minutes later I saw her again. She had crashed on a blind corner and I nearly ran into her but was heroically able to avoid it by crashing myself. It was the least I could do. She struggled to get her bike running and we talked a little while she periodically cranked the starter. She said it was only 6 miles to the fuel stop. FUEL STOP??? I didn't realize there even was a fuel stop. I was alternately pleased and dismayed. Because I had somehow jacked-up my computer / trip-meter somewhere around mile 15, I actually had no idea how far I had gone. I was under the impression that I had traveled at least 200 miles by now and I should be getting close to the end, not just HALFWAY! (Nevermind that I've only been through 3 checkpoints.) I had decided then and there that I'd just get to the fuel stop, which was basically where we started, and just call it a day. She got her Zuki started and again was off with a splash of mud. I rode along and tried not to think about the 5 or 6 miles to go. I just kept riding. I saw her again at the 4th checkpoint, where we had both more than "houred out", and she took off just as I was getting there. I asked the dude at the stop if there was a short cut to the fuel stop and he actually said 'yes'. He said to ride 100 yards on the trail and I'd come to a dirt road that would lead me to a paved road. The paved road would lead me to the parking area. (As my late Grandfather would say "all roads lead home"). I decided that to continue on the trail was just tempting fate. I was so exhausted that it would be increasingly dangerous for me to stay on the course so I opted for the easy way out. I know that's the chicken sh*t way out but considering my state of mind, I didn't care.

I made it to where my truck was parked and I had mixed feelings. I was relieved to be done for the day but I was a little disappointed in myself for not being better prepared and at least completing the course. I parked the WR behind the truck and I smiled internally, (because smiling externally would've required too much energy), that I had parked the truck level with the mound of dirt so I didn't have to push or ride the bike up a ramp. Honestly I probably would've had to ask for help because I was way too wiped out to do it alone. Maybe I could have waited for that girl to finish and ask her to help load it? Man, would that have sucked! As I sat in the cab of the truck taking off my wet gear, I noticed a few riders periodically riding past the area where I was parked. I initially thought that there were a bunch of recreational riders out on a sunday but in a couple minutes I realized that these were riders who were actually finishing the entire course. Other than being covered in mud, they all looked like they had just pulled the bikes off the trailer. Zipping around the corner, riding wheelies (ok, slight exaggeration) and just looking like they'd barely broken a sweat. I came to the realization that maybe this just wasn't for me. If I can't even make it halfway without nearly collapsing from exhaustion and everyone else just cruised through like we were on Interstate 5, I may need to just stick to the kiddy trails.

After loading up and getting dry clothes on, I drove toward home. I stopped to get some food and fluids but basically I just needed a hot bath and a nap.

As I drove home I thought about the ride. I actually started feeling better about the whole thing since I really hadn't been riding for 15+ years. I was riding a dual sport bike that was completely stock and relatively heavy for a small guy like me. I think under the circumstances it didn't turn out too bad. I met 2 of my 4 goals by not getting injured (seriously) and by having fun. I really did enjoy the majority of the ride, it was challenging but fun.

I am looking forward to trying a few other rides this summer. Who knows, I may even try the Sparkplug again next year?

Lessons learned:
1. Fuel pump thing after crashing.
2. Hydration & nutrition... must have it!
3. Be fit... or at least more so than I was.
4. Ride a few easier rides first!
5. Wear better protective boots.
6. Learn to love tree roots!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The masses have spoken!

ok, only 6 people actually voted but the result is what counts. Lola is the name of our new family member. She seems to care less about what you call her as long as you play with her.

She is getting bigger and healthier as the days go by and as soon as she's allowed to play outside more, she'll be even happier.

My camera decided to stop working so I'll post updated photos as soon as I get a decent camera.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A new beginning, in more ways than one

OK, I meant to post this last week but with all that's happened it just didn't get done. So I'm now just able to sit down and finally get this all down on "screen" for you to read.

As you should know by now, I've recently purchased a new WR250R and I've been excited about getting out and riding some trails, forest service roads & anything else I can find. So last saturday, (the 22nd), the weather was nice so I loaded up the WR into the back of the pickup and hauled it the 40 miles to the Tahuya National Forest where they have an ORV park with roughly 35+ miles of trails through the woods. I drove through the staging are where maybe a hundred people were loading, unloading, riding, camping & whatever else and as I dodged everyone I found a good spot to park and unload the bike. After unloading it without dropping it on it's side, I got all my crap on and fired it up. It felt a bit awkward at first since I haven't seriously ridden a dirt bike since probably 1984. After about 15 minutes and one small crash, I started gaining confidence. The ability to anticipate things, recover from hitting a rock or whatever and just maintain balance, started to come back to me. It felt great to be out in the woods, riding on trails and just enjoying the freedom that riding provides.

I rode for about 2 hours and it was a great first ride. But as I was out deep in the woods and I decided it was time to head back to the truck, for some reason that escapes me I took less direct route back to the staging area and found myself exploring yet another trail on my way back to the truck. A few minutes into this new trail I came upon a lake and thought it'd be a good place to stop and take in the scenery before I turned around. As I dismounted, something caught my attention off to the right. As I saw it, it took a few seconds for me to process what I was seeing. It was a little black puppy, crouched low and looking at me. She was wagging her tail but was obviously a little scared. The reason I was a little confused is the fact that I was a LONG way from any civilization and this little puppy was, in my opinion, not capable of getting here by herself. I agree that anything is possible, but after a few minutes I came to the conclusion that someone had dumped her here a few days earlier and she wouldn't survive too many more cold nights out in the woods. She already had trouble breathing and I decided that I wouldn't feel right if I just left her there to die. The next problem I was presented with was how to get her back to the truck. It turned out to be easier than I thought. I tucked her under my sweatshirt and she actually was quite still once she was there. I got back on the bike and hit the "magic button" and started off back down the trail. It was slow going but since she didn't squirm too badly, I was able to get to the truck after just a few minutes of riding in 1st & 2nd gear. After getting back to the truck, I asked around to see if anyone knew of a lost puppy all I got were "sorry, no"s.

It was now almost 4:30 on a saturday and I figured that if I was going to stick with this I needed to get her to a vet to get her checked out. I called my wife Kim as soon as I had cell phone coverage and relayed the story to her. Since she and I both had to fly trips the next day we had limited options. Our regular vet was closing @ 5pm and I was able to get there just before they closed. However they only had time to scan her for an RFID chip, which she had none. They referred me to a vet in Tacoma that was open until 11pm (even the night before Easter!). Kim and I ended up taking here there and they gave us the option of leaving her there and they'd give her to the Humane Society on Monday... OR, they'd treat her if we took responsibility for her. Being raised as a responsible person, I opted to not send her to the Humane Society and to pay for the vet bill myself. My intention was primarily to make sure the animal was well taken care of and I really didn't like the idea of her sitting indefinitely in a pen with very little human contact in hopes to be adopted. So I thought we might be able to find a good home for her on our own. The vet suspected, (and later confirmed), that she had pneumonia so we needed to x-ray her lungs ($200) along with a bunch of other stuff. Also, since we both had to work the next day, we needed somewhere to keep her and the vet really was our only option ($70 per night x3 nights). The vet bill ended up being about $850. While I wasn't happy about having to spend a bunch of money for someone else's irresponsibility, I also felt that it was the right thing to do.

I posted this story on a forum at Adventure Rider ( and I received quite a few responses. Included in these responses were people interested in donating $ to the vet bill for the rescued puppy. I was / am very grateful for the generosity of the riding community, especially those who helped out with the vet bill. As of this writing, the contributions have totaled roughly $240.

Last night Kim and I made another decision. We realized that after the amount of time we've spent with her that it'd be too difficult to give her to someone else. So in spite of the cats' cries of disapproval, we now have a new addition to the family. We have yet to name her. There were suggestions of Lola and Amelia. I personally like Amelia (as in Amelia Earhart), but Kim prefers Lola. We're at an impasse trying to decide what to call her. Maybe I should put it up for a vote? Look for one on the sidebar in the near future.

So, to solve the problem regarding our work schedules that require us to be gone for extended periods of time, we looked into pet boarding, doggie daycare, etc... Ultimately we found the perfect (albeit expensive) solution. We were referred to Jennifer, a great young lady who runs her own business called "Hounds Around Town" On the days we need her to, she'll come and pick up our little mutt in the morning and lug her around all day while she completes her other obligations and then drop her off in the evening. As I mentioned, it's not cheap, but we feel that considering Jennifer's extensive experience with dogs and her terrific personality/attitude, our puppy will become a more well mannered, lovable dog in the long run.

It's been an interesting week and I'm sure this puppy will change a lot of things about our lives but we love her and she seems very happy here so I hold out high hopes for a great future.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blue, Red & Green

March 12th was a good day! I woke up that morning in the "Tilton Hilton" at the Denver Airport and made my way out to gate B47 where a 757 was sitting there waiting to take me home to Seattle. After arriving in Seattle I made my way south on I-5 until I connected to westbound Hwy 16. A few minutes later I found myself at Tacoma Motorsports and staring at the bike I've been waiting since September for. After some paperwork and whatnot, I was the proud owner of a new, blue 2008 Yamaha WR250R! I was driving my little Mazda so I had to zip home to get the ol' pickup in order to bring the bike home.

When I got home my parents were there after just buying their brand new red Toyota Prius, which in a way is also "green"... (pictures soon). I hung out with them a bit and checked out their new car but then had to be on my way if I was to get back to the bike shop before closing. I cruised over the bridge again and loaded up the new toy. Erik, the sales dude helped me out with loading and also gave me a set of tiedowns as well.

After getting the bike home I unloaded it and proceeded to tear up the property a bit just to see how it handled. It wasn't much in terms of riding but it was a total blast and I can't wait to get out on some real trails and enjoy the new adventures that await!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Normally I hate Chicago...

...but this evening as we were sitting in the O'Hare "penalty box" waiting for our gate to open up, I turned my phone on and noticed I had a voice mail waiting. So while I was monitoring the radios waiting to hear our gate open up, I checked to see what the message was. Lo and behold, it was Erik from Tacoma Motorsports just letting me know that my bike is in and I can come down to take 'er home anytime!! I was kind of shocked considering it'd been quite a while ago they were telling me "any day now". Well, any day has arrived and I can't wait to get home and ride the thing.

Pictures and more words to follow...

Ride on!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stringin' me along

I called the dealer yesterday to inquire about the whereabouts of my new WR250R and after a couple phone calls to his distributor, the dealer told me that it was at the warehouse and should be on the truck and in the showroom in about a week. I am not optimistic that this time frame will hold true but what other option do I have other than to just wait? Patience my son...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sometimes being rowdy can be fun

This is a post that isn't really directly related to motorcycles or riding, but more about someone who has many interests, including riding motorcycles.

I was reading a few posts on a forum at Thumper Talk (dot com) and one of the posts was from a guy in San Diego. He recently bought the WR250X which is the supermoto version of the bike that I want. I noticed that he had a blog so I decided to check it out. After reading his various posts about a myriad of subjects, I decided that he seems like a cool dude. Therefore I am officially recommending that you check it out for yourself and see what a positive mental outlook on life can do for you. If you're interested in reading about a guy who is dealing with a debilitating disease yet is able to ride motorcycles, surf, and do just about anything, not to mention the fact that he's very successful in his career as well. Just move the little cursor with your mouse to HERE and press the left button. I am also going to include a link to his blog on my "links" section. Enjoy.

On a more personal note... I still haven't heard from the friendly folks down at Tacoma Motorsports. I put a deposit down on the WR250R and they said they'd call me as soon as it's in. This was a couple weeks ago now. Here it is March already! I'm beginning to wonder if it'll ever get to the showroom. I'd like to ride it a bit before some of the organized rides are held this spring. Maybe I'll have to do a nationwide search and have it shipped to me???

Friday, February 1, 2008

A $10 head deserves a $10 helmet.

Since I was unable to ride home the other day on my new Yamaha, I decided I'd possibly pick up some needed equipment for riding. I braved the weather and traffic and ventured over to the other side... of the Narrows Bridge. My destination was Cycle Gear, and as I sauntered in I was determined to not just buy something for the sake of buying something. After a bit of browsing I found myself in front of the helmet racks. I tried on a few and I settled on the one that felt the best. I know from wearing aviation headsets that if there are any pressure points when you try it on, they'll be very painful after wearing it for a while. I found this one (pictured above) and I liked the way it looked and felt. I even got it on a clearance price of $60!! I actually felt that the retail price was reasonable but I'm always happy to save $40. Either way it was a great deal considering I only have a $10 head.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pulling the trigger...

As I may have mentioned in the past, I have decided on getting the Yamaha WR250R for my riding adventures. I have been patiently waiting for the right time to head on down to the local Yamaha dealer to purchase said bike and I think I've done pretty well at fighting the Burris inclination and not just rushing out and spending the $6k immediately. I had visitied Tacoma Motorsports just before the end of last year and the kid working there told me that the WR should be on the showroom floor by the end of January.

Fast forward to today...

So this morning I get up and shortly after my wife left for her 4-day trip I was faced with the question: "what am I going to do today?". My answer came out of nowhere but I heard myself blurt out "I'm going to get my motorcycle today". It was almost like someone else had said it but I thought it seemed like good advice just the same. So I called my dad to shoot the breeze and among other things I mentioned my decision to get the bike today. After a little discussion we determined that dad should drive down and bring his motorcycle trailer to help haul the WR home.

The wheels had been set in motion and nothing could stop me from getting my bike today... unless of course the bike hadn't been put in the showroom floors of america's Yamaha dealers yet. Doh! Yep, I walked through the doors of the bike shop and immediately had a feeling that something was missing. I did a quick scan of the showroom floor and noticed there wasn't a WR250R anywhere in sight. I asked the salesman dude about it and after a few minutes of phone calls and keyboard clicking, he told me that the factory hasn't actually released them to the dealers to be sold yet. I'm not exactly sure why it's not "released" yet but bottom line is, no bike. I called dad to make sure he didn't drive all the way out here for nothing and I headed home.

You might say I "pulled the trigger"

...but it was a dud.