24 June 2010

Last night's ride

I had a good ride last night. The weather was great and we mostly avoided the rainstorms. I got a little wet, but nothing serious. Here are some videos, I got my helmetcam mic sorted out finally. Next time I go out, I'll have to go on a more difficult ride. I think we were stopping too often for my liking. I don;t have much to say, I liked my tires and was happy I had case guards and rad guards, but I only hit a small tree all night. Enjoy the videos, the camera doesn't show slope very well, the hills were steeper, but not that serious.

22 June 2010

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday!!!

We have a moderate forecast for Wednesday. This is a guided ride night. My bike is ready to go, and so am I! I swear this has been the wettest spring on record. I've struggled with getting the mic on my helmet cam set up right. Well, I think I may have it, look forward to the footage.

19 June 2010

Sore Buttocks!

Well the training was much more pleasant than I expected. The morning was a little slow, but that's because they were teaching people who had never even sat on a bike how to use the controls, start the bike, etc. At the very beginning I was scouting out a bike to ride. They didn't want me to ride mine, so I had decided that the KLX250SF had the highest seat height, so that'd be the one I would prefer. Thankfully, Trevor, the head instructor, must have surmised the same thing and assigned it to me. The instructors were good, although their acting skills could improve, and were very friendly. Thanks Rob, Rene, and Trevor.

Most of the morning, we practiced launching the bike. They equated the experience to a bow and arrow. You have to get the bike under tension then release the brake and your gone. Now this was very foreign to me. I assumed the clutching technique should avoid dragging the clutch at all times, which is true for a car, but they taught me that a wet clutch is completely different. You can drag the clutch all day long and never have to worry about glazing or any of that. I would say this was the biggest thing I learned today. My clutching technique was great for a car, but was inappropriate for a bike. Rene showed me how to essentially ride the clutch and manage my speed with the back brake, which I hardly ever used previously. After today's lesson, I can ride at the speed of someone walking with both feet up for nearly an indefinite amount of time. Very handy!

In the afternoon we got into the more fun stuff. We actually used the pylons, and tried to maneuver around them at low speeds. I was initially pretty cocky, as I have ridden off road recently. Rooty trails, steep hills, log crossings, and boulders littered my path, so I was expecting pylons to be pretty low on the skills list. Now generally, this was the case. The instructors assured me that I was doing well, and challenged me to more difficult procedures like braking to increase cornering in the slalom, and clutching to a stop and not touch down and get moving again.  The big thing I got out of the afternoon was looking 20 seconds ahead. I was riding like I was in traffic and was watching all over the place. Rene told me to "trust the bike less, and trust your eyes more." This solidified to me what I needed to improve. I was taking a lot of corners blind, because I trusted too much in my surroundings.

All in all, I'd say it was a good day. My buttocks may be chafed from that skinny seat on that bike, but I learned some good things that I will take with me every ride from now on. I was really trying to smooth up my riding in the slaloms like Rob told me, but it was hard to fight my naturally aggressive style. Here is a video of some of the instructing and the kind of stuff we were doing. (crank the volume, my mic test was a fail)

15 minutes could save you 15% or more...

Or how about 20 hours of instruction on a motorbike. Today I am going out to my motorcycle training course. My insurance costs will be 20% of my current insurance when I complete the course.

I'm not exactly excited that I get to ride a cruiser around a parking lot all day, but hey if it's to save like $800 a year, I guess it'll be worth it. Plus I will hopefully pick something up on being a more defensive driver (rider) in the process. I'm still doing some mic tests on my helmet cam, so maybe you can see some of what I'm doing.

09 June 2010

So much rain.

I was planning on going out on the guided ride tonight, but it got canceled. The RMDRA is a off-roaders club with a land advocacy focus. They felt that riding on the trails with it being so wet would definitely hurt the environment. Too bad, I really wanted to get out and ride.

Next week, I can't make it out with them either, however, there is a "dual sport" club in the area that regularly goes out on Thursday nights, and since I'll finally be done my contracted work on Thursdays it looks like I'll be able to go out next Thursday. The reason I need to go out with others is that I have no idea where to go out there. There are so many trails and even if I have excellent navigation skills I'd still get lost.

On another note, I found a skid plate for the bike. It's a no parking sign. I may get to installing it sometime this week, and I'll update when I get it finished.

06 June 2010

I'm so tired out.

Like my last post foreshadowed, I have a tale to tell about my tires. I decided to get some real offroad tires, and that meant getting rid of my old ones. I ordered a set online and they delivered in a few days along with my other parts. They looked like great tires, nice and meaty and ready to be put on the rims.

I had only changed one tire on my bike previously and before that I hadn't changed a tire in probably 25 years. Remember back to your childhood, do you remember changing tires on your bmx bike? My brother and I did it all the time, so many times in fact that on some of our bikes we had stripped the the axle bolts quite badly. That was 25 years ago...

I've read quite a few ride reports of people going on international adventures and having to change their tires out on the road. Quite often they pinch their tube with the levers required to remove the tire from the rim. I didn't really think much of it, because they were in the middle of nowhere and had inferior tools, so occasionally one would expect this to happen. Well, I had a garage and all the proper tools with me so that would never happen to me right? Well it did happen, twice.

I started changing my front tire and had a heck of a time pulling the rubber over the bead seat on the rim. I tried multiple times to grab the inside of the rubber and finally succeeded. Then I had to do it three more times. I did get it done in a reasonable amount of time, pressured up the tire and mounted it on the bike, but I knew the rear was going to be tougher.

The rear tire was a mess. It is much heavier than the front and rubber removal is very difficult unless you get the tire deep in the indent in the center of the rim. I struggled with it for probably 45 minutes. I got it all ready to air up and struggled to seat the bead in the rim. Finally I got the tire ready to mount. I took a small rest and discovered that the tire was flat. AARGH! I was filled with rage and knew exactly what I had done pinching the tube while trying to pry the rubber back over the rim. Knowing I had done this, and it being late in the evening I knew I was going to have to come back and check the other tire in the morning before going to the dealer to get a new tube for the rear. (and the front since it was flat in the morning)

The next time around I was sure not to make the same mistake. I was very cautious prying the rubber back over the rims, and successfully completed the job. In order to seat the beads on the rim, you must put a lot of pressure in the tires, somewhere around 60-80PSI, luckily I have a small compressor in my garage. Unfortunately for me, my car is in the body shop right now with my tire pressure indicator in the glovebox. I don't want to ride on these tires without having them properly pressurized, since they are offroad tires they will heat up on the pavement quickly if they are under inflated and they will wear quickly if they are over inflated, and apparently need to be "broken in" before I can ride hard on them.

This post was probably more dramatic than it needed to be but what's a story without a little drama. I can't wait to try my new tires on Wednesday night. This time I'll make sure I have batteries in the camera.

04 June 2010

The parts are installed!

Well, after my last (and only) adventure at McLean Creek, I decided to get some stuff added to my bike to make my life a little more fun. A few months ago I had written that mods should only be for a purpose, not just to show off all your sparkly things to each other. Well, I bought some sparkly things to show off, but don't worry, they are purposeful.

Item #1 - CFC Case Guards

Rumour around town is that when a DR-Z tips over, it has a tendency to fall on rocks that push the shifter and/or the brake lever into the engine case. These little guards are applied with silicon adhesive, and between the silicon as padding and the guards themselves, they dramatically increase the structural integrity of the engine case. Really? We'll see. (but I will never let my bike fall down, right?)

Item #2 - Unabiker Rad Guards

One downfall of having a liquid cooled bike is that the downfall itself is quite dangerous. With an aircooled engine, like my VW Bug, the cooling fins just need to be clear of mud and you should be okay. With a liquid cooled engine, you have to protect the radiator(s). A fall may run the radiator into a rock and bang! Your coolant is spilled all over the ground, and you have to drag your bike back to civilization. These rad guards are supposed to assist in protecting the radiators, much better then the OEM solution, plastic fins.

Item #3 - Kenda Trakmaster II Tires

The eternal struggle of a dual sport bike is selecting a good tire for both purposes of the bike. Now, I've been scouring the web for months trying to find the best tire I could. These were on the list but not the top. The best setup I've read about is a Pirelli Scorpion Pro up front and a Dunlop D606 on the back. Now that is all fine and good, but they are expensive! I opted to go for a decent tire that was rated for 80% dirt and 20% road. They were only around $50 a piece. They won't be great on the pavement, but if I go through a set or two every season, it won't kill my wallet. Plus, they can be mounted either way on the rim so I will double the wear.

Well, that's all I have to say about the products, but the installation was something else entirely. The rad guards and case guards were easy enough to install. I did them both in less that an hour, but the tires... Stay tuned for the tale. Here are some pics in the mean time.

Internet explorer is antiquated!

My new layout doesn't look good in any version of Internet Explorer! Looks like I have to go back to the old drawing board. I hope there is a solution, or better yet, UPDATE YOUR BROWSER to something more modern. You could use Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or even Opera.

I think I can code it so IE renders the most basic of designs, that way I can encourage you to get something modern by offering something nicer on ALL THE OTHERS.

P.S. Wake up Microsoft.

03 June 2010

Welcome to the new layout!

Well, I'm kind of a nerd. I spent the last three nights staying up late to redesign the blog. I learned CSS and XHTML. Well, I never really learned it, I just learned to modify it.

I hope you like the new layout. I think I have to mess with the colors a bit. I'll update with an actual blog post again when I have something to say. For now I must go get a peanut butter sandwich.