Wednesday
Jun212017

What's Your Brain Worth?

Helmets

How good is yours?

A long time ago I remember seeing a Bell helmet advertisement that said, “if you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet”, or something very similar.

That ad was run more years ago than I care to remember; But it stuck with me so obviously it was a well thought out ad. Boy have times changed, with helmets now ranging in price from a cheap $79 to approaching $750 for the latest and greatest in quality and technology that also doubles as a fashion statement as they have literally become works of art!

I see some absolutely beautiful helmets these days on the road, at the tracks and in the desert. But since I spend so much time on a bike, in so many different locations and types of riding I also see some very scary looking things on peoples’ heads. If I were independently wealthy I would carry around high quality helmets to trade people when I see them. Sometimes I cringe when I see such so called protective gear.

I have destroyed several helmets and suffered more concussions than I care to remember, uh, maybe I can’t remember! Lol.  So I am speaking from experience while I stand on my soapbox here and rant. What spurred me to write this tirade was a recent week long off road trip with a group of riders that ended on a sour note.

Our group had ridden several hundred miles over about 5 days and was on the last 40 or so miles before arriving at our motel for the night. We were all looking forward to a shower and a nice meal with the daily B.S. session where we all could tell how fast we went and how high we flew! Unfortunately, just before we reached the pavement to ride into our motel, one of our riders named Jeff crashed and took a serious blow to the head. He was knocked unconscious and would not regain consciousness until sometime the next day. It turned into quite the ordeal to stabilize, monitor, extract and transport him to medical facilities.

It has been almost 2 months now and Jeff is doing better at home but is not back to being himself yet. This is one of the most scary, long term serious head injuries I have seen.

It was purely coincidental that some of us on this trip had been discussing helmets, quality, cost, protection and age just the day before the incident. Someone had questioned why a helmet with all the certifications like SNELL and DOT stickers and only cost $99 was not as good as one that sells for $600 with exactly the same certifications.

While cost alone is NOT a rating for a good helmet, you generally get what you pay for in the helmet arena to a point. Now here I go on my soap box. I have worn decent helmets and VERY hi quality helmets in my 48 years of riding. I have also crashed on both types and whacked my noggin hard enough to destroy more than one helmet! Both the decent and the hi quality ones. So I am speaking from experience when I tell you I can tell the difference in energy transfer and dissipation when channeled through the hi quality helmet. It is noticeable and worth every penny when it finally happens and rest assured if you ride enough it will happen. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

I recently put it to one of our doubting Thomas types that was concerned with over spending on a helmet this way. I buy a top of the line helmet for around $600. I can wear that helmet safely for 5 or so years if I take care of it and barring any big crashes. That breaks down to maybe $125 a year to give myself the best odds possible to keep participating in my favorite sport.  I wish my auto insurance was that cheap!

Just food for thought, how good was your helmet when you bought it, how has it been treated, how old is it and what is your head worth? We can fix bones, stitch gashes and even repair joints most of the time. But unfortunately no doctor has been able to fix a head/brain injury yet. A good helmet is our best line of defense for participating in the sport we have chosen because it is our passion.

I hope if you read this it made you think, I am really glad you can, probably because you have a good helmet!  Ride safe.

#33

‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first, and the lesson later’

Tuesday
Jun062017

Who Won Only Score Knows...Maybe?

2017 Baja 500 Win……..Maybe?

Having just completed the Class 50 Baja 500 race was a great feeling. Especially when we were told we had won!  Only to find out, Maybe not.

The race had been a knock down drag out battle between two teams, ours, the #549 Kawasaki and the Honda entry #510.   For 500 miles and about 12 hours we battled back and forth distancing ourselves from all other entries in the Class 50 division by approximately 2 hours!  Our team had been leading by up to 10 minutes only to have the #510 Honda rally and close that gap, overtake us and proceed to go up 10 minutes!  Our boyz put their heads down charged and made the time back up! Not only did we catch up we managed to stretch out about a 4-minute lead!

It was truly a see-saw battle with no one willing to give an inch. We rolled into a pit in the lead for fuel at about the 410-mile mark. The #510 Honda was due in within a minute or two! When our rider tried to restart the bike it would not fire! Our #549 Kawi was in that pit for 10-1/2 minutes before getting restarted and back on the course. So now we find ourselves chasing again by about 10 minutes.

With only about 90 miles left to the finish it was looking grim for our team. They chased and held their own but could not make up the time we lost in the pit. So we crossed the line physically in 2nd place. Now you have to remember we all start at intervals of 30 seconds per bike at the beginning of the race so it is possible to beat someone on corrected time even while being behind them crossing the finish line. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of minutes in our favor on corrected time, so we did indeed finish in 2nd place, or did we?

We were informed the other team had gotten on a paved road that paralleled the race course, which was discussed at the riders meeting as a NO-NO and was grounds for disqualification. The race official told our team that the #510 was Disqualified! That made us the Winners! Or did it?  Later we find out the SCORE officials changed their decision and handed out a time penalty of 15 minutes instead of a disqualification.  After the quick calculations, once again we were declared the Winners!  High Fives all around and we are disappointed the decision was changed but relieved we had secured the win. Or did we?

The following day we see results posted with the #510 listed as the class winners, while we, the #549 entry is bumped back to 2nd place. WHAT?!  Our Team representative contacted SCORE to find out if this was a misprint of some sort and was informed the decision had been changed AGAIN and that there was no penalty being assessed on the #510 bike, which alters the final finishing positions again!

Just as a side note, there was another team that was assessed a 1-hour penalty for pitting their bike on the paved road. This concerns me that the rules are applied arbitrarily and leaves me questioning the SCORE officials’ neutrality and decision making.

So as it stands our final placing is in question until we get confirmation that this is the FINAL decision after whatever discussion and appeal process takes place. I will do my best to keep the MX43 readers posted.

#33

“Oops, Did I roll my eyes out loud?”

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar232017

Baja Bound...But I Need A Bike!

Project Bike

I recently had a Project Bike dropped in my lap and am very near completing the process.

During a conversation with a Canadian OTMX racing buddy (Don Tocher) he relayed that he would like to go to Baja one more time before he died!  This stopped me in my tracks and made me think, wow, I go ride with people down in Baja on a semi regular basis and seem to take it for granted. It made such an impact on me that I encouraged Don to not wait until it was too late. Let’s get on with making it happen and he asked me if I would look around my area for a decent used bike that he could purchase and turn into a dependable Baja bike.

Since everyone and their brother seems to use the Honda CRF 450X as a platform for racing, pre running and trail riding down there I figured it would be the best choice. Considering availability and other people with spares, etc. Also Don seems to have a preference for Hondas.

I searched ads, asked buddies and kept my eyes open for a Honda 450X. Another buddy, Montana John, dropped a contact number on me for a Honda that he said seemed to be in pretty good shape and was within our budget. We were shopping in the $3000 to $3500 range. Great!!!   Then I called the guy and found out he was about an hour and a half away, doh!!!  So I made a date to come look at his bike and made the trek. It was not the ideal time because I had to go in the evening and it was dark by the time I got there. So I bust out the flashlight and do my very best to look for all the problem areas I know of on the Honda 450x model. I really didn’t find any and it seemed to be in much better than average condition for the year model. The engine cases, frame, plastics, chain and sprockets all looked clean and/or original. This was good news. It was not a makeover and appeared to have been parked for quite some time in a garage somewhere.

 

So I attempted to fire it up, listen to the engine and take it for a test ride, to check gearbox, clutch, motor performance, etc. It was not easy to get started and when I checked the gas in the tank, it really didn’t smell much like gas anymore, so I figured ok the gas is bad and the jets are probably plugged up too.  I finally got it running and of course it didn’t want to stay running or idle, but after a warm up I took it down the road and was pleasantly surprised at how tight the motor, gearbox and clutch were even though it didn’t pull worth a crap on the bottom end due to carb plugged and bad gas. But once I got it rolling and on the pipe it pulled very well and sounded good!

So I made the deal and loaded up and was on my way, fingers crossed that I had not missed anything while looking with a flashlight in the drive way. I know what you are thinking…..No he did not have a garage.

Once back at the ghetto/repair facility (my garage) I began work the next day. Draining gas, checking for issues in the daylight and making a list of things it would need to be Baja worthy. It already had a Yoshimura pipe, Oversize tank, Skid plate and Fat Bars with risers as well as Moose radiator guards.

On closer inspection I found several small areas that needed to be addressed and set to work. It has now been a week with a few half days of wrenching, adjusting, replacing and putting together a parts list. The bike is in pretty good shape now and I finished just in time to take it on my normal Monday Taco ride, which is a loop that covers about 95 miles with tacos and a soda midway. The bike performed without a hiccup but needs a bit of suspension adjusting. Considering my normal ride is a 500 KTM XCW with SBB suspension just about any bike would require adjusting to make me happy!

So the second ride was quite impressive after adjusting the fork oil, rebound and compression. I then moved on to the shock which seemed to be soft and sluggish in bigger bumps. The feeling led me to believe the nitrogen was probably depleted. After recharging the shock to the proper nitrogen pressure it reacted much better. A bit of adjusting compression and rebound resulted in a much better ride. It was now fun to ride, kinda like a Honda! Imagine that.

So now it comes down to my Canadian buddy, Mr. Tocher. Will he make the trip down to ride Baja this spring or will he let another year slip away………………..Stay tuned, as we all wait to see what happens.

#33

‘Don’t be afraid of death, be afraid of an unlived life’

Tuesday
Mar072017

2017 World Champ Tour!

Touring Baja

Having just completed a ride in Baja with Charlie Marshall, Kerry Barnes, Jimmy Sones and myself I had to give it a name.  Jimmy was the unofficial point man with the rest of us following into many new areas we had never ridden. We saw some spectacular new areas and some less fun stuff that included about 10 miles of mud that stopped front wheels from rolling and destroyed fork seals!  In our 4 days of riding we covered about 500 miles from the Gulf to the Coast and back, a wide variety of terrain.  We even spotted a Mountain lion on the coastal run!

Now back to the name, ‘World Champ Tour’!  It seems Kerry, aka “el Guapo” likes to remind anyone who will listen that he has earned a World Championship title, lol. I think he told me it was in the WORCS series, over 60 class back in 1945 or something like that!  Of course you get a few geezers sitting down to dinner after a ride each day and the stories flow freely. So Charlie let’s Kerry know he also has a WORCS ‘world champ’ title. But his is in the 50 class, so now el Guapo has been one upped in age bracket. I was thoroughly entertained and kept quiet for a few more dinners. Then I let it fly that I had Two World Champ titles, Score Off Road World Champion (1980) and 4-Stroke World Champion (1982). Jimmy chimed in on the SCORE race and said, “that was You?” “I remember that race I was there that day!” So el Guapo got quiet for a minute, well maybe not a full minute but at least 7 seconds! It was a nice 7 seconds, lol!

I think maybe Jimmy was a little bummed because he couldn’t lay a World Champ title on the dinner table. So he shared his accomplishment of winning the Baja 1000 Ironman class! That means SOLO!!!  I pretty much shut up, but el Guapo seemed to miss the SOLO reference, so he soldiered on with his entertaining little stories and we all nodded and smiled.  I had ridden on a TEAM and rode 230 miles during a Baja 1000 and my butt was whooped when I was done!

We had a GREAT time, riding some obscure areas with almost no tracks, beautiful views in remote areas and very little in the way of problems. I was the only real hindrance one day when my countershaft bolt backed out and the sprocket came off. We searched the trail but never found the bolt. But since we had just started our 3rd day we were only 10 miles or so out. Jimmy and Charlie rode back and luckily located a KTM to rob the parts and we were back on the trail. Saved my butt! I tried an aftermarket washer for the first time and it did not do the job. I will be using the stock bolt and washer now!

On our muddy excursion day el Guapo had to beg for gas on the trail when his bike went on reserve with about 40 miles to go. It wasn’t his fault though, you will have to ask him why. He started to tell me but I just put my bike in gear and rode away! Then we spent the next hour or so in the mud and el Guapo must have picked his bike up about half a dozen times after tipping over. It looked like his bike must have weighed 500 pounds by the way he had to pick it up! I was going to help him but didn’t want to insult a former World Champ so I just waited patiently, and took pictures!

In Catavina we met 3 youngsters that were exploring new rides themselves. Jimmy allowed them to ride with us the following day as long as they didn’t pass the geezers on the trail and they agreed. I was the sweep rider the whole trip so I got a front row seat and got quite a chuckle in the first 10 miles. These guys rode just fine, but they were no match for our Geezer World Champs! Charlie and el Guapo had to wait for these kids! It was not a bad thing because it allowed our group to rest on occasion while waiting for the Monster Energy/Red Bull/RockStar generation. When we came to the more difficult sections of rock climbs and tight singletrack el Guapo would run away from the kids. The trail that day was one of the best we rode all week. I hope the kids appreciated Jimmy showing them the way.

We had a GREAT week and saw lots of new stuff, I hope I can go back to see it again before too long or I will forget. Since I am not a GPS guy. Maybe someday, just not ready yet. Besides, Jimmy lost one on the trail and me being a poor broke down retired moto dude on a fixed income that lives in the ghetto, I can’t afford to do that!

#33

Look back at life and say “I can’t believe I did that”, instead of saying, “I wish I had done that!”

 

Wednesday
Jan252017

The Wall

#33, Recon and Big Ed Build a Wall

Since it was the first Monday after the Presidential Inauguration and it fell on a Taco Monday ride, we decided to honor Trump.  So we built a wall!!

A crew of riders usually rides each Monday to a small restaurant/bar about 45 miles away through the desert to have tacos, drinks or whatever each rider likes for lunch.  Well this was the new President’s first official work day in office so we finished our ride to lunch and back, then got started on a symbolic wall build.  Actually it was a property line demarcation that got rid of a slippery slope and provided more footing and usable space.

But since it fell on the first Monday of Trump in office we dedicated it to him, lol.

Incredibly, we did not even get back from the ride until somewhere around 3pm.  We got started and quit only when it was necessary to use flashlights to read the tape measure. None of us could believe we had completed more than ¾ of a 65ft, two tier high wall.

Big Ed was the brains since he was the one with experience, so he did most of the leveling and placement, plus it was his bat, glove and ball, I mean leveling tools.  Recon provided the muscle moving a lot of heavy cinder blocks and shoveling dirt.  #33 filled in as the helper and did whatever he was told!

Now remember these two rode 95 miles in about 4 or 5 hours and then busted out most of this project!  Trump would have been proud!  If anyone needs a good construction crew (2 man) let me know and I can hook you up.  #33 may come along in a supervisory role…………………………...

#33

‘Ability is what you’re capable of doing, Motivation determines what you do, Attitude determines how well you do it’