Tag Archives: klim

The Tour of Idaho: Initial Bike Prep for 2018

In my opinion, bike preparation must be the easiest part of getting ready for the Tour of Idaho. Lots of other folks have done their homework and shared their successes accordingly. Martin has some invaluable info on his site and other finishers have offered their thoughts and guidance as well. Its my feeling that mental and physical readiness are more difficult to achieve and for some, navigation will be a big issue.

I’m not really worried about the navigation aspect (I’m a Cartographer!) and physically, I’ll likely be just fine. Basically, it is the mental part that freaks me out more than anything! I waiver between being very excited and down right terrified on a weekly basis. Randy and Jeff have both reassured me that everything will be just fine but my roller coaster ride of emotions has continued.

With all that being said, I’ll jump into what I’ve done to the WR450 thus far. I’ve studied pictures of Randy’s bike and have watched the Jimmy Lewis video on multiple occasions. Their setups are very similar and being as though they both finished, I suspect their path of prep is a good one to follow. And the rundown on Martin’s site of essential items is not be ignored.

New Exhaust, LED Tail Light & License Plate Holder
New Exhaust, LED Tail Light & License Plate Holder

As with all my bikes, I immediately installed an FMF Q exhaust. I don’t need or want any additional power but I do love a quiet bike. Loud motorcycles piss me off. The license plate holder (yes, I got it plated here in Kentucky) is mounted to a Baja Designs LED Dual Sport conversion tail light. They make good stuff. Tucked behind the side panel is the GYTR ECU. I don’t have the tuner yet, but that is forthcoming.

The Tour of Idaho has a day where no gas is available. If I remember correctly, there was a 230 mile stretch during the later days of the tour this year. My options were the 3-gallon IMS or the 4.1-gallon Safari tanks.The Safari is quite pricey but I felt the extra 1.1 gallons of capacity would be crucial. I also plan to carry a 1-gallon Giant Loop Gas bag. If that doesn’t cover it I can get some from Jeff’s 6-gallon tanker!

Safari Gas Tank
Safari Gas Tank

Mounting the tank was easy, however the wiring harness would not reach the fuel pump. The quality of the tank, and the hardware that came with it, are great, but the lack of a harness “extension” was not cool. I was able to get all the stuff I needed to fashion an extension from CycleTerminal.com. They had the exact connectors that Yamaha uses so it was fairly easy to create once I had all the components in-hand. Having the correct crimping tool and the ability to solder small components was helpful.

My next focus was the seat. Jeff recommended Fisher Seats. I’d never heard of them. He said Harvey used them too. I reached out to Harvey and evidently he has 4 or 5 them. I trust both of these guys so I shipped my seat to Eagle, Idaho so they could work their magic. You have to fill out a form for them before they’ll do the work and it’s almost like filling out a form at the Doctor’s office! When the seat got back to the house, I was shocked at the width. But, after riding it I can see that it will likely work well. The workmanship is outstanding! Honda style vinyl on the top (I don’t like a grippy seat), carbon-fiber style vinyl on the sides, and Yamaha blue stitching make for an awesome looking seat.

Fisher Seat & Safari Tank
Fisher Seat & Safari Tank

There is also one upgrade that is “invisible” but has made a big difference. I’d only ridden the thing once when I noticed the overly soft forks. It would dive going down hills and during braking. Not good. I just happened to have a set of KYB SSS forks in the garage from a YZ250. The spring rate in the YZ forks is a bit firmer and the valving is different two. I rode the bike last weekend with the YZ forks  and was very pleased with that upgrade. They are staying on the bike.

Some smaller items are the Double Take Mirror and a Baja Designs combination switch that combines a Hi/Lo/Off for the headlight and a kill switch. I have horn but its not wired up yet but I did put on my standard full-waffle Scott grips. GYTR-radiator braces provide some protection for the radiators and a TM Designworks skid plate protects the frame and engine. The skid plate wasn’t an exact fit. It was like it was “sprung” outward a bit. A lift stand, some C-clamps, and a drill were needed to get it into place. Hopefully, it will retain that shape when I take it off. If not, I’m getting one from Flatland Racing.

Double Take Mirror
Double Take Mirror

There was a lightly used Scott’s steering damper in the garage, as well as the top handlebar mount. Once I got a Steering Stabilizer Tower I was in business. I feel it’s an essential upgrade for any off-road rider. Can’t imagine owning a bike and not putting one on it.

Below is a listing of the items I’ve installed thus far. The list is still growing but not as quickly now. A tank bag, front fender bag, saddle bags and so forth are the next items to be acquired. I’m good on gear, it’s almost all Klim. It is the best gear I’ve ever purchased in terms of durability. Period. Plus they use topo lines as a design element. Any cartographer would be a sucker for that stuff!

Yamaha GYTR Competition Programmable ECU
Baja Designs Dual Sport Taillight
Baja Designs License Plate Holder
Solid Rear Rotor
Cycra Yamaha ProBend Hand Guards
Scott Full Waffle Grips
FMF Q4 Hex Exhaust
YZ250 KYB SSS Forks
Yamaha GYTR Radiator Braces
Universal 12 Volt Horn (Black 2.25”)
Mirror Mount for Clutch Perch
Safari Gas Tank
Double Take Enduro Mirror & Mount
TM Designworks Skidplate (Blue)
Scotts Performance Steering Stabilizer Tower
Power Tender Battery Charger
Power Tender USB Adaptor
Fisher Custom Seat
DID 520 X-Ring Chain
Sunstar Front Sprocket (14)
Sunstar Steel Rear Sprocket (52)

Additional bike upgrades, GPS and navigation, and all other preparation efforts will be detailed in coming blog posts. I realize it is  11 months away, but I can’t help but plan. Just my nature.

See you on the trail!

Riding in the Snow!

When I was young, we’d ride each time it snowed. Sometimes it was just on a small plot of land next to our house, but we’d ride. I can remember my Father, my Uncle and me going around and around a large figure 8. Once you got the hang of it, you could drift around the corners. Good practice!

Sometime in the early 70’s we got a really big snow that shut down things for days. My Father rode his Suzuki TM-250 to a factory in town where he worked in Maintenance. I’d say he was one of the few people to show up for work!

Basically, riding in the snow teaches you a lot about traction, momentum, and weight distribution. Anyone that rides a dirt bike should try it at least once! Like David said after riding last week, “That was mucho fun!” He’d never ridden in the snow before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Single Track in the Snow at David's Place
Single Track in the Snow at David’s Place

I’m nearly 50 and at this point, I’ve probably ridden in the snow less than two dozen times. Sure, we get snow in Kentucky, but its occurrence is rare and in most instances there isn’t enough on the ground to justify loading up and heading out.

Out West, now that is a totally different story. Their riding season is so short that they take to the snow in the winter. They talk about snowmobiles with turbos, throttles on both side of the handlebars, and “boondocking” in the back country. Dwayne, out near Tahoe has a KTM fitted with a Timbersled and Gary in South Dakota has knobbies with spikes that are just plain gnarly. Obviously, the snow doesn’t keep them inside over the winter!

Gary's Studded Rear Tire
Gary’s Studded Rear Tire

To this day, one of my most memorable snow riding experiences occurred down near Duganville (bet you don’t know where that is). It was in the early-90s and I had a 1991 Honda XR600. There must have been 18″ or more on the ground and I went down to my friend Bob’s to ride. We had an established loop that was about 7 miles long around his three properties. Well I made the whole loop. I put that XR600 in fourth gear and held it at about 3/4 throttle and went everywhere. Up and down every hill, across every creek, and through each “cedar tunnel” . . . it was a blast! The snow was so deep in most places that I could just step off the bike and it would stand up in the snow with no support. I have yet to ride another bike in the snow that was better than that XR. Period.

The XR600
The XR600

Finally it happened. We got some snow a little over a week ago. Actually, we got a lot for Central Kentucky. There was about 12″ at the house with larger drifts here and there. At the end of the road, the drifts were over 2 feet deep. That was on Friday, and on Sunday, Jesse and I went to ride down in Casey County.

For some reason I expected there to be less snow on the ground down that way but when I hit the Lincoln-Casey line the road went to hell. I was driving the Motovan and it was not in 4WD so I eased on down the road noticing that everything “covered” with snow. I’d say there was 17″-19″ of snow on the ground where we parked. Never a dull moment!

Motovan in the Snow
Motovan in the Snow

I had spent 50 minutes or so putting sheet metal screws in my tires on Saturday evening and it paid some dividends. Regardless, forward motion was slow at times and a bit hard on the bike. A big-bore . . . that is a big-bore four-stroke would probably be the best for “big snow” riding but the YZ went ever place I pointed it.

On the Ridge
On the Ridge

We only covered about 4 miles and 50% of that was just logging roads. Towards the end of the ride, we came down this one hill and the snow was piled up almost 3 feet deep! I almost went over the bars getting to the bottom of that one.

Taking a Break
Taking a Break

The next Friday evening was spent removing the screws I’d installed the weekend before. It was going to be in the mid-50’s on Saturday and at our house, the snow was 95% gone. Mistake. Should have left the screws intact. Every North-North West slope was still covered with at least 6″ of snow. In most places it was more. Totally unexpected. Luckily it was heavier and not as light and fluffy as the previous weekend. We got around well but it was tricky and a bit tiring (see video below).

Bottom line. If you own a dirt bike and it snows at least 6 inches where you live, get out and ride in it. You don’t need to go far, just get out. Don’t be a “fair-weather” rider. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn and fun will be had in the process!

See you on the trail!

Riding in the Front

I had the opportunity to ride with three great guys this past weekend. It is interesting how the family of off road riders is intertwined. Through a random set of associations, Michael contacted me about riding in Kentucky. I’d hinted that waiting until later in the Fall would be ideal as the place was really grown up and there were lots of trees down from the Spring storms. So that was the plan, wait until October or maybe after a frost.

However, he and his riding partners had some plans fall through and wanted to know if this past weekend (8-29-15) would work. Sure! But I reminded Michael about how grown up things would be, especially the blackberry briars. They are long, strong, and brutal this time of year. I’d planned on clearing trail all weekend so it was fine with me. They could help me beat down the vegetation that is engulfing the landscape.

Large Oak at the Staging Area
Large Oak at the Staging Area (click to enlarge)

They were in route by late afternoon on Friday and planned to stay in Jamie’s Bus at the Wal-Mart in Danville. Yes, he has a red International school bus that has been converted into a toy hauler (see photo above). Ryan was on his way from West Virginia whereas Michael and Jamie were coming down from the Indy area. I met them at about 7:30 am in Danville on Saturday and we headed south and parked in the back staging area under the massive oak that dominates the field (see photo above).

Since they were driving a great distance, I had to make sure their trip was worthwhile. I wanted to include some loops with the best single track but I knew that many included sections that were grown over with tall weeds and briars. Oh well, that was the only way it was going to work and like I mentioned before, it gave us a good first pass  at beating it down with 4 riders coming through. The bad part about this plan . . . I was the one that would be riding in the front . . . the whole time. Argh!

As anyone that frequents the woods in Kentucky this time of year knows, there are spider webs everywhere, especially earlier in the day. I’m not particularly fond of spiders but if I have all my gear on I can plough through some webs. I just don’t like to see a spider crawling around on my goggles. Distracting at the very least. Look at all the webs on my brake line below. My helmet looks even worse.

Mileage & Spider Webs
Mileage & Spider Webs (click to enlarge)

The crew took off and hit a part of the old course that I hadn’t ridden since late winter. About 1/4 mile in we came to a downed tree and had to duck out through the brush and up to the field to get around. Unfortunately, we had to do that several times throughout the day. I told Jesse, there were several places we’d need his big saw. Regardless, we were able to quickly get around, up, over or under most things but turning around was the only option in a couple instances.

In one case, the alternate route was definitely the coolest. We dropped off an established trail that was blocked by a massive downed tree onto some very old single track that hadn’t been ridden in at least 3 years. There were lots of face slappers but we made it through and dropped into this deep black shale drainage feature. A little shale waterfall is situated above our point of entry and from there it runs down and around a very slick corner and into a tall bank. I looked back and Jamie was “surfing” around that corner with only the slightest control of his bike! He pulled it off quite well though and came to a safe stop. Michael paused for a photo-op with his KTM 200 propped against the bank (see photo below).

Black Shale Creek Bed
Black Shale Creek Bed (click to enlarge)

I told them there were some nice elevation change on this property and several times we were able to navigate trails that went from one extreme to the other. We hit Cat Cave Hill, the Goat Trail, came down and off the recently cleared Pencil Ridge, and took our first break at the overlook that is at least two hundred feet above the Green River Valley. As with everywhere else in the woods, the vegetation was obscuring the best views but you could still tell it was a long way down to the valley (see photo below).

Scenic Overlook
Scenic Overlook (click to enlarge)

The riding was going well and there was 13+ miles of some great trail behind us before it was time to take a break for lunch. Michael and Ryan ran into town to Subway and Jamie stayed behind to re-jet his Husky (Nick Fahringer’s 2014 race bike) as he’d not done it since returning from out West. My “good bike” was pinging (lean) too so I got my other one out of the trailer, pulled the chainsaw mount off, and strapped on a front headlight assembly. I’d ridden it the past three weekends since re-jetting from Idaho and it was doing fine.

After lunch we went to the “new” side of the property where it is really, really grown up with briars and massively tall weeds. You can slowly move through the stuff and knock down the weeds but the briars love to latch on. I’ll have to say, the most awesome jersey for this type of “thrasher” riding is the Klim Dakar Pro. It is truly like wearing armor. That jersey with a wicking under shirt as a bottom layer and you’re set for pushing through the nasty stuff.

At this point it is getting warmer and the vegetation is very thick but we push on. Just like all day long, I’m leading the crew and taking the initial hit. The branches, leaves, briars, weeds, and spider webs were a challenge in most all places unless we’d cleared it within the past three weeks. I reminded them, that I was riding in the front and taking the brunt of it on their behalf!

On the Trail
On the Trail (click to enlarge)

We started off the afternoon by dropping onto the cool switchback trail that works its way down the north slope of Moore’s Branch ridge. Jesse did a great job scoping out this trail over the winter. It is really shady, covered with small rocks, and blanketed with massive ferns this time of year. The trail ends at the banks of Moore’s Branch and wiggles through some tight trees and up the creek bed a bit. This whole area is still a work in progress but I was able to give the group a good sampling of the landscape and what we have to work with.

The rest of day included pieces of the old KORHS course(s) and as much pure single track as I could weave into the loop. In the end, I only missed a few trails that were nice to ride, but they can “experience” those sections next time they venture down to Kentucky for some riding.

I checked my odometer as we rolled back into the staging area and noted we had 31.45 miles logged for the day.  That is not bad when you consider the size of the area we have access to for our adventures. It is the generosity of a few families that allows us to develop a nice trail system. Special thanks to them!

It was around 3:30pm, my bike and I were covered with spider webs, my nose was cut, I was itching all over, and drenched in sweat. Felt like an appropriate time to call it a day, especially since these guys were heading up to Louisville to ride mountain bikes in the Mega Caverns on Sunday. Everyone was tired, but no one was injured and all of our bikes were intact. Success!

It was certainly a good time and I always enjoy taking folks on a little tour of the Kentucky woods. When you’re the host, riding in the front is always a necessity but in last weekend’s conditions, it was certainly a challenge. I now have a nice mixture of bites from chiggers and deer tick larvae to remind me of our little adventure. I sure hope they enjoyed the trails. I did!

See you on the trail!

My First Dual-Sport Event

Honestly, I was very apprehensive about this “Dual-Sport” thing as I am not comfortable at all riding on the road.  It scares me. I’ve laid it down going 50+ on a dirt road and can’t imagine hitting the pavement at any speed. But . . . I had been told that this event was closer to an Enduro than any other Dual-Sport event. So with that knowledge we made plans to attend.

The event was staged at Lake Linville in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, the County seat of Rockcastle County. It was a beautiful morning and the forecast called for perfect conditions. There was very little rain the week before so I figured the trails would be relatively dry for the first Saturday in May (Derby Day).

Unloading at Lake Linville
Unloading at Lake Linville

Unfortunately, we missed the Rider’s Meeting as we were trying to get our act together for the day. I had laid out what I thought was the perfect riding gear combo consisting of some Klim Dakar pants, a vented Klim Mojave jersey with my awesome Klim Dakar Pro Jersey layered on top. That Dakar Pro Jersey is so cool. It may be the most bullet-proof garment I’ve ever owned. This was topped off with some Klim Adventure gloves, Gaerne boots, and my trusty Arai VX-Pro 3 with the classic solid white color scheme. Onward!

At about 8:40, riders started leaving the staging area so we followed accordingly. I had my route sheet, the odometer was reset, and my GPS trip log was reset. Ready to go!

Well the first 6.9 miles were asphalt . . . hmmm . . . I’m thinking “What did I get myself into?” Then, we turned onto a gravel road. The gravel quickly deteriorated and at its end was a left onto some single track trail. Very nice. This section was laid out well along the contours of the hillside and emerged at the top of a hill on a gravel road. The last section was certainly more enjoyable than the first 6.9 miles.

There was a “Key” provided on the route sheet that provided two characters codes for each surface type (i.e., BT – Blacktop, DR – Dirt Road, TR – Trail, etc.) which proved to be useful. However, the variance in what was to be considered a Gravel Road was VERY wide. It might be fresh, 1.5″ deep gravel (very sketchy), well-packed gravel, or some washed-out road bed where gravel once existed many years ago. The later actually turned into a little single track trail as riders consistently picked the line of least resistance.

Point of Interest
Point of Interest

There were also “Advanced Sections” scattered here and there. Those were designated with a green Moose arrow rather than the standard issue orange. Those were the best trails we rode all day. If you took the wrong bike on those trails you’d be miserable for sure. Travis rode his DRZ-400’s’ decked out with gnarly knobby tires (IRC VE-33 on the rear) and showed up quite a few guys on pure dirt bikes!

In each of the advanced sections there were places where a bottle neck would develop. Some guy would “fail” at negotiating a hill or creek crossing and a bit of a backup would slow the pace. In most instances we waited very little or creeped around and up through the carnage. The smell of antifreeze (the smell of KTM’s) lingered at the top of every challenging hill as riders struggled and their buddies reached out to help their fallen comrades. Seriously, (most) everyone was very nice and courteous. Certainly a great group of riders!

None of us had any problems at all with the “obstacles” as Jesse employed his Rekluse and displacement to crawl up and over and Travis just attacked each one on that DRZ as it was his only option! Definitely glad I had my “WR” 250 one those sections.

On the Trail
On the Trail

So all of sudden, my odometer is saying that I’m going much faster than I am. Something is up. I slide my Trail Tech odometer out of the holder and back in real quickly. Still reading the same. When we finally come to a stop I see that it has switched to Km/hr and the battery light is flashing. Geez . . . I picked up the older of the odometers. Oh well. So I get a reading from Travis and start tracking it on my GPS. Now I’m doing math on the fly. I’m not an old school enduro rider, nor am I Bryan Bunch. A few stops, turns and so forth on the route sheet and I was done with keeping track of that info.

At one point we emerged on a familiar looking road. Travis asked if I knew where we were . . . Ah hah! We were on the road that goes back to the main trailhead for S-Tree! We continue along that road for a bit and arrive at the Sandgap Community Park. We’ve driven past here a dozen times over the years when riding at S-Tree. There were nearly 100 bikes there when we arrived and they were still rolling in. Lunch was provided as a part of the entry fee but the local Fire Department took donations in a fireman’s boot at the beginning of the lunch line. Good idea for the locals and the event promoter.

Lunch at Sandgap
Lunch at Sandgap

While heading to the end of lunch line, I came across Charlie Williams from Indy. He was pulling in on his GasGas as we wandered towards the shelter house. We chatted a bit and moved forward for some deserved nourishment and bench racing.

Travis was complaining about a certain rider that had left us behind on a trail ride a couple years ago and Jesse said, “Well he doesn’t have anything on Ross!” Charlie chimed in immediately and concurred, “Ross will do the same and he has the right tools to do it with!” If you’d ridden with Ross you would understand!

We saw several riders at lunch that were once KORHS racers. Many asked what had happened with the series. It is obvious that many folks appreciated what we did, but continuing at a loss is just not the way to go. I appreciated hearing all the good comments. I said farewell to Charlie and we headed on down the road to get some gas.

The gas station was a hoot! There were 45+ bikes there at any given moment for I’d say 20-25 minutes. Jeff was topping off the RMX, Travis fed the DRZ and Jesse’s WR300 had sucked down nearly 3 gallons so far! I saw just as many people there as I did at lunch.

The trails during the afternoon were just as good and from looking at the GPS I could see that we were starting to loop back around towards the staging area. The trail traversed some properties that we’d used for racing in the past and it was neat to suddenly realize that we were at that location!

At various points during the day I turned on my helmet camera. I tried to only use it on the best of trails but ended up getting some footage of paved and gravel roads. The plan was to get several 3-5 minute clips out on YouTube and I’m making progress with 4 posted for viewing thus far. Below is the first of the bunch. Make sure to click on the gear and watch it in HD.

Below are the links to the other 3 in this series:


The afternoon trails provided more great scenery, had some tricky creek beds, and were laid out to wrap up the event in a good way. The promotors did a great job for sure! At the end of the day, Travis’ odometer said 116 miles and my calculations using the GPS and my odometer reading before it gave out was also right at 116 miles. Other folks said they got 125 miles so I’m not sure if we missed a section or what. Regardless, it was a good time!

My regret at this point is that  I did not go back on Sunday. I hadn’t made plans to do so but will next year for sure! Marty said the percentage of trail vs. gravel vs. road is about the same but it is only 80 rather than 125 miles. Jeff said it was well worth the time and highly-recommended by many of the riders that had gone with him in the past.

My plan is to go again next year! Who’s going with me?

See you on the trail!

Just before Spring had Sprung . . .

About two weekends before the leaves fully emerged, some friends came down from Indiana for some non-flat land riding in the Kentucky woods. They picked the perfect day as the weather was awesome. The sky was blue, the temps were cool, and the ground conditions were unseasonably dry for April in the Commonwealth.

Ready to Ride!
Ready to Ride!

We arrived at our riding venue around 9:15 and were on the trail shortly thereafter. The ride began with a nice 12+ mile loop that included a lot of our well maintained single track and provided good opportunities for some rest stops with nice views. Things were just starting to green up and the Dogwoods and Red Buds were in full display.

A Spring View from the Overlook
A Spring View from the Overlook Trail

Some new acreage was appended to our riding area recently and we’d been busy cutting new trails all winter long. We knew that once Spring had sprung, the briars would be too much to deal with. The results of our efforts included a nice new switchback hill, some winding trails along and down off a knob, fresh single track through a new growth area, and a sketchy goat trail that requires caution if the conditions are wet. Our visitors were treated with getting to ride all of the above!

Great Spring Riding Conditions
Great Spring Riding Conditions

The afternoon riding included much of our older established trails and in order to make a good loop we did ride a bit of the morning loop backwards. But like someone said, “Riding it backwards is like riding another trail!”

On the Trail
On the Trail

Everyone was having a great time as we kept things moving and covered as much ground as possible. In the end, we’d clocked over 30 miles of classic Kentucky woods riding. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride where we do. It is not something that should be taken for granted.

See you on the trail!

Motoz Mountain Hybrid: Test #1

Well there seems to be lots of buzz surrounding the new MotoZ Mountain Hybrid tire. The sales guy at bike show promises wonderful traction in all conditions, notes the DOT rating, and the 18″ form factor with some nice rim protection. Slavens has a good video on it as well but I haven’t seen any test results.

At just under $100 per tire, the MotoZ appears to be a great deal. Most good trials tires will run you $130+ . . . however . . . when you consider the milage you’ll get it is certainly worth it. So, I ordered one from Slavens and had just over a week from when I placed the order. Not bad considering it was coming from Colorado.

For the first time that I’ve seen, my tire was delivered in a box. Yes, a big flat cardboard box. It also had the paper work shrink wrapped around the tire but that was in the box with the receipt and so forth. Nice box.

One thing I noted is that the box was heavy. After opening it up I was shocked at how wide it really was. And rounded, not flat in terms of its profile. It is definitely as heavy as my IRC VE-33 and the carcass is very tough. Also, I think the knobs are just as tall as the VE-33 but rectangular and distributed across the tire in a trials tire-like pattern.

Motoz Mountain Hybrid
Motoz Mountain Hybrid (far right)

The next evening I spooned it onto a spare rim and for the first time in over 5 years I installed a tube, not Tire Balls, in my tire. It was a relatively quick process that I did just before dinner. When airing it up it literally “popped” onto the rim. That sounded good! You could see the excellent rim protection. But, it seemed really “hard” when compared to the other trials tires in the garage. So, I set the air pressure at 8psi and called it a night.

The weekend rolls around and I am anxious to give it a try. Mid-20s the night before means the ground will be frozen until about 11am or so. After that, the ground conditions will get just plain muddy and nasty. That should be a good test as we typically remove our trials tires after the first good freeze and run a knobby until June or so.

I was the first to get suited up the day of our ride so I headed out for a short loop. It was a still a bit hard and didn’t squat like I wanted it to but considering the frozen ground, it performed no worse than a knobby. After about 1 mile I headed back and let a little air out of the tire. Probably down to 6psi at this point.

Shortly thereafter we all left the truck for a good loop. The Motoz Mountain Hybrid was doing good on most everything that was not totally frozen. The knobs were staying clean and it hooked up in some muddy ruts where I expected it would struggle. Most of the rocks and roots were slick with a fine layer of ice or they were just plain wet. Surprisingly, it did well in those situations.

At about 5.1 miles into the ride we came to a frozen and rocky uphill where there was not a good way to carry your speed past halfway up. Unfortunately, I slid over into the rut and had to crawl up hill over rocks and roots and some frozen ground. Not too stylish, but I made it up. Now waiting on the rest of the crew.

The interesting thing is that all 3 Yamaha YZ’s ended up making it to the top, but not the KTM 250XC . . . The orange bike made it on the fourth attempt as we joked about putting some Yamaha stickers on this bike. More to come on this . . .

While waiting at the top I noticed the tire as low. It was now squatting and an 8″ section was off the bead. Not good! I got the little hand pump out of my Klim Nac Pac and grabbed the valve stem. Hmmm . . . it was loose, spinning in the rim. Obviously torn from the tube. Actually, not all is lost . . .

I’d thrown another wheel in the bed of the truck that morning, complete with a barely worn IRC VE-33 loaded full of Tire Balls at about 8psi. The rest of the crew forged onward to complete a good loop and I headed back down the hill and took the path of least resistance back to the truck. Some tools from the backpack (and the stand I now require to be able to step up into the truck without ripping the crotch out of my pants) were all I needed to complete a wheel-swap in less than 4 minutes.

After waiting around for a bit, the crew arrived back at the barn. Everyone ate lunch and we grabbed some more water. During that timeframe, Jesse applied a Yamaha Sticker to the back of Kyle’s helmet . . . you know, the KTM rider that didn’t make it up the first gnarly uphill? Well both Smith and Dean were having a ball getting photos of Kyle’s helmet and specifically the Yamaha sticker. Their tag-team approach acquired some good photos and video!! See below!

Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider's Helmet (1)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider’s Helmet (1)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider's Helmet (2)
Yamaha Sticker on KTM Rider’s Helmet (2)

So at the end of the day we’d netted about 23 miles of good riding, enjoyed the great mid-winter weather, and had some good times! Better than sitting on the couch all day!

I know it is cold and nasty, but you need to get out and ride!

See you on the trail!


A Fall Tour of the Ky Woods

A young man from Northern Indiana came down to ride with us this past weekend. It’s already getting cold and nasty in his neck of the woods so riding down here in Kentucky was a treat with some warmer weather and great fall colors on display. Below is a photo taken the previous weekend from an overlook we ride past.

Fall Colors in Kentucky
Fall Colors in Kentucky

Currently, all the trails are covered with leaves that easily hide all the rocks, roots, and smaller logs. All those things that will grab your front wheel in a deliberate fashion and remind you to take it easy and pay attention. It is good practice and a perfect time to seek out new trails as the leaves are mostly gone and you can see through the woods a decent distance for a change.

Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail
Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail

On Saturday, four us were able to ride together. With two KTMs and two Yamahas in the group the jesting was continuous. Never a dull moment with Jesse and Bo are trading jabs! Our guest didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into but he took it all in stride. The good thing was that we all were riding quiet 2-Strokes as it was the opening day of Deer Hunting Season. Stealth riding with little impact was the goal as we traversed several areas.

The Riding Crew
The Riding Crew
Dropping of a Rock Ledge
Dropping of a Rock Ledge

Red Bird Crest Trail Ride Report (05-25-14)

Well for the first time, Philip tagged along with us to do the Red Bird Crest Trail. He’d ridden a couple portions of it back in 2007 but that was over by the Begley Trailhead and we only hit a few miles of it back then. He’d never done the entire 70+ mile loop.

The crew consisted of Bo, Jesse, Philip, and I. We had intentions of leaving the trailhead @ 10am but after getting our trail passes and so forth it was closer to 10:20 when we pulled onto the trail. This concerned me a bit but I knew that we’d have plenty of daylight if we kept moving and didn’t spend too much time at the store having lunch.

Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead
Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead

There had been a very windy storm a few days before and I’d heard that schools were closed down that way due to flooding and wind damage. Well I should have considered that before planning our trip. About 1 mile into the trail we came across some LARGE trees on the ground but they’d been recently cut and cleared from the trail. There was fresh sawdust on the ground so I figured the Forest Service had been working hard getting the trail opened up for the Holiday weekend. We made our way onward and each time we’d come to a downed tree it was obvious that someone had been busy clearing the trail.

We’ll that all came to an end just after the Sugar Creek trailhead. We fought our way under a large tree, climbed up the ridge and were greeted with some monster trees blocking the trail. Hmmm . . . maybe we should have ridden somewhere closer to home? Jesse had his hand saw but neither of us brought our little Stihls. Cutting these trees with the hand saw would take hours. So, we started lifting . . . the hard way.

The Hard Way
The Hard Way

So, reluctantly, we moved onward hoping we’d not find many more situations like that one. Things were “Ok” but not great. We didn’t have to do any more “team lifting” across logs but there were dozens of trips up or down the hill from the trail that were necessary to keep us moving forward. If all else failed, we’d get to the store and then ride the road back to the trailhead.

We finally made it to the store and it was about 2PM. If we could maintain the same pace we’d make it around the whole loop but I was still unsure. The owner of the store said that there had been lots of damage along KY66 and ridges above so things could get interesting as the crew pressed forward.

It was certainly good to have some lunch and re-hydrate. As we topped the bikes off with gas, a crew we’d passed early arrived at the store. They said our tracks gave them hope that they too could make it to the store. I chatted with them a bit and learned they were from Indy and were down for the entire weekend. A couple of them knew Trail Rider Charlie which was cool. Jesse took a photo of them at lunch and sent it to Charlie this morning. He said, “They are all too old for me to know them!” Gotta love it. He commented on my cool “Ride or Die” jersey from the High Sierra Motorcycle Club which I have adorned on my last two Red Bird outings.

Lunch at Collett's Store
Lunch at Collett’s Store

My favorite parts of the loop are after the store so the plan was to forge onward until we just couldn’t go any further. It always amazes me how little traffic this portion of the loop actually gets. There are places where it is quad width but essentially it is just one beat down single track path. Few riders make it that far and the rocky ascents and descents keep many of the locals at bay. Philip was bored with the trail before the store but was really enjoying the last sections.

One view I always enjoy seeing the is the power line cut on a ridge that is on the extreme southern portion of the loop. You can see for miles in three directions! Philip was glad we stopped for photos as was Bo. The panoramic view would be even more awesome if those darned power line polls weren’t in the way, however, there wouldn’t be a view at all if the power line cut didn’t exist!

Power Line View
Power Line View

The next stop was where you cross KY66 by the Bear Creek Trailhead. Jesse was ready to bail on us but we talked him into to forging onward to the next bailout point. We were still finding some downed trees but there was always a way around, or at least we made one! There is about 3 miles of gravel and 4 miles of road in this portion of the loop but everyone was a bit tired and welcomed the rest.

I stopped when we arrived at the turn down the hill to the goat trail to see if Jesse was good to go or if he wanted to continue. He stuck with us and was then committed to completing the entire loop. He’d only done that once before so I was glad for him. Plus, he had a hand saw, so I was glad for us!!

I really like these last sections of the loop. They see very little traffic and I like the nice single track sidehill trails. There were a few BIG trees down once again but we found ways up and around each one without eating too much time. Forward progress was essential but based on the timing of things I knew we’d make it around.

We came down the trail to Section 21 and there was a massive tree down right across the entry. It had smashed the trail marker and there was no apparent way around. I sat there for a minute and decided to just take the fire road down to Big Double and back to the trailhead. It was the wise thing to do. About 10 minutes later we arrived back at the Peabody trailhead with no broken bikes or riders. Bo’s odometer showed exactly 73 miles and mine was at 70.53. I explained that was because my Yamaha’s front wheel was off the ground so much more than his KTM.

Another successful and hard fought loop was completed. Not everyone can do it in one day so I feel that it is a worthy accomplishment. Give it try someday if you haven’t made the entire loop. Get some good maps and take along a good guide. It is worth the effort.

See you on the trail!



What’s in your tool bag?

For years I’ve carried the bare essential tools with me on every ride. In the early days that nice tool pouch on the XR’s rear fender did the trick. Those bikes didn’t break so all you needed were some basic tools for “adjustments” and so forth.

As time progressed and my desire for longer rides set in and wisdom dictated that I pack more in the tool bag than in times past. The farther you plan to be from the truck, the more prepared you should be. Everyone should pack a set of tools specifically for their bike. There is a good chance that many of the tools can also assist other riders (that forgot or decided not to bring any tools).

Klim Tool Bag
Klim Tool Bag

The content of my current covers a broad range of needs. I have all the basic wrenches, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, pliers and so forth. There are also some specialized tools included such as a Motion Pro chain breaker, spark plug wrench, and a nice combo wrench for both axles. If you look closely you’ll see some safety wire, gas line, spare lengths of chain, two master links, spark plugs and the ever trustworthy zip ties. All good stuff for my bike!

But what about me? We’ll I’ve got that covered too. The yellow container is a snake bit kit and there some aspirin stashed away somewhere too. There are a couple of those shrunk down hand towels that come to life with a drop of water as well as my contact information, and motorcycle insurance card. Of course there is some Klim lip balm, my trusty NOAA compass and light, and two flashlights.

Honestly, the thing is quite hefty. Philip picked it up before and couldn’t believe I was wearing that on my back. Oh well, if something happens I’ll probably be better off than the next guy that has nothing at all. I couple all this with my Klim Stowaway Jacket, spare batteries, maps and some bottles of water and my Klim Nac Pak is full.

Once again, the farther you plan to be from the truck the more prepared you must be!

See you on the trail!


Review of the Klim Dakar Pro Jersey

It may seem crazy to pay the same for a jersey that you’d normally pay for a pair of pants but once again, you get what you pay for. Jesse and I had been eyeing those new Klim Dakar Pro Jerseys for a while now and we finally broke down and got one. They only offer a gray and a black version, so I got the gray, and of course Jesse got the black. The fit is spot on and it has lots of little nice touches just like all their gear . . . the attention to detail is apparent.

Klim Dakar Pro Jersey
Klim Dakar Pro Jersey

I wore the jersey last weekend, but under the Klim Traverse jacket. That was a great pairing for a day that didn’t get above freezing. I felt very bullet proof with that setup. On thing to note is that air flows through this jersey just like a vented one. It is not designed to keep you warm. About mid-morning I had Philip open up my back vent on the Traverse jacket and I unzipped the vents under the arms. Riding in comfort is always a great thing. Like someone told me once, “It’s all about the gear.”

This weekend the temps edged on up to around 50 in the sun. I started out with an Under Armor short sleeve summer shirt, a black Klim Revolt Jersey (Yamaha branded) and my new Dakar Pro on top of it all. We took off around 9:45am and it was still in the mid-30s but I was comfortable.

We headed out an old logging road that is littered with black berry briars. The place is eat up with this stuff as it was logged in the recent past and you will not escape unscathed. Or at least that is what I thought. Most jerseys get ripped to shreds in this setting. But let me tell you, the sleeves on this jersey are like iron. If you ride gnarly single track and push through the underbrush like you find east of the big river, well this is the jersey for you! It is more like a jacket in some ways and it delivers as advertised.


On the cliff in Klim
On the cliff in Klim

The day only got better. The weather was perfect, the ground conditions were great (where the sun had hit the ground), and we plowed through some major thickets to open up some stuff we hadn’t ridden since last winter. That Dakar Pro Jersey, my Chinook pants, Adventure Pro Gloves, and Klim backpack emerged from the thorny ride no worse for the wear. Tough stuff. Just like the gear I bought back in 2009, this new jersey will last for years.

Bring it on! I’m ready for the thorny ride now! It may be getting cold, but this is a great time of year to ride. Don’t sit at home! Get out and ride!

See you on the Trail!