Today’s weather was incredible – high sixties and breezy at the halfway point in November, with lots of moisture in the dirt from the previous week’s rains. I made the most of this gift by taking my Husqvarna to Ride Organic for a splendid afternoon of dirt riding.
I got to rip around the GP track and relax in the November sunshine.
My brother moved recently and needed a place to store his motorcycles while his family was between houses. One of his bikes is a 1978 Yamaha XS400 2E done up like a street tracker. It suffered a maintenance mishap at our hands a couple years ago – when trying to replace the oil filter, we snapped the bolt that holds the oil filter cover. We tried a bolt extractor with no luck. At the end of that day, we just kinda gave up, and the bike sat in his garage for years.
When I picked up John’s bikes in preparation for his move, I offered to try to fix it. I ended up snapping the bolt extractor. That sucker was really stuck. The good folks at Elli’s Cycles saved my bacon by welding another bolt to the stuck one and freeing the now shredded fastener.
But the bike had deteriorated while it was dormant. It needed a new battery and it needed thorough carb cleaning. I took on both tasks – the battery replacement was actually pretty hard – the entire tail section of the bike had been modified to accept the dirt tracker seat, and getting the old battery out was like solving a Chinese puzzle. Somehow I figured it all out, replaced the battery and got the seat and subframe re-assembled.
Next was the carb work – one of the carbs was so gummed that the throttle wouldn’t even return. I pulled it apart, and the emulsion tube was mummified. Additionally, one of the constant velocity slides was gummed pretty bad and would stick and hang. I replaced the needle valves, cleaned everything up, and was satisfied to have it fire up within the first few kicks.
Today I took it out for a ride around the neighborhood. It had three problems: 1) the idle is too low after it warms up. 2) it backfires through the carbs at low RPMs. 3) The kick starter apparently only engages in my driveway, NOT when I stall it in traffic. For a few minutes I thought it was going to be a long push back home, but I found a hill and got it bump-started, and got to ride around the neighborhood for a bit. It accelerated crisply, ran surprisingly quiet (mechanically – not counting the obnoxious reverse megaphone “mufflers”) and was actually kind of fun. Also, apparently during that ancient oil change, some oil got on the exhaust wrap on the left header – it smoked like a poker party when it got hot.
It’s not a perfect bike yet, but it’s got potential.
Henry and I spent Saturday morning riding our dirt bikes. Henry brought both the 2-stroke PW50 (which he learned on, and loves) and the bigger 4-stroke TT-R 50 which he is learning to operate. Henry rode the PW50 for about 4 minutes before switching to the bigger bike. He stuck with it for the rest of the day and made big strides in in his shifting and braking on the more complicated machine.
I got to ride a little on my bike, but spent most of the day tagging along behind Henry. He’s really building his confidence, and his initial reaction to most tricky situations seems to usually be the right one.
Henry had a challenging day of riding. Wednesday night was his first time out on a three speed dirt bike. It’s hard to get the hang of shifting with one foot and braking with the other. He loves the bigger bike, and it fits him well, but the extra coordination it requires sapped enough of his concentration that he crashed twice.
He didn’t let it get him down though. Henry dusted himself off both times and jumped right back on the bike. He’s my mighty little man.
We retired to a well deserved and much anticipated dinner at Arby’s. But before we could go eat, Henry had to sit on his bike for a minute in the parking lot.
Henry got to ride with his buddy Jayden yesterday after school. They zipped all over the place, riding on the flat track, the pit bike track, and even taking a lap of the GP track. Henry had a great time despite a minor crash on the flat track, hopping back up and continuing like it was no big deal. He’s getting more proficient and more adventurous each time we go ride.
I had a special treat this morning. I got to ride with Jo Wottowa, a friend and competitor from “back in the day” when supermoto was a thing. It’s been twelve years since I last rode with this guy. We met up at Ride Organic, Jo on his sharp and zippy KTM 350, me on my Be Em Husky-You.
Jo and his buddy JJ showed me the way around the Ride Organic GP track. JJ is fine throttle jockey, ripping through the woods like his hair is on fire. Jo and I agree that a more stately pace is the dignified way to go – we prefer to savor those fine moments on the trail when the temperature is a perfect 70 degrees. To keep things interesting, Jo devised a challenge for JJ – try to lap Jo and Bill more than once in 10 laps of the GP track. JJ was all over it, and ripped off into the woods in a cloud of dust and fine four stroke noise. In truth, when JJ passed me, I was pretty happy about it – my throttle arm had “pumped” to the point where I was accelerating unintendedly at unfortunate moments. JJ claimed he was experiencing the same thing, but I suspect he was just being a good boy and humoring an elder.
Before our morning was over, we made plans to ride together again. Reconnecting with an old friend and finding you still have all those things in common leaves you with a really happy feeling.
Wednesday after school Henry and I went riding. The weather was perfect, 70 degrees and dry. We rode until after sunset. Henry tried lots of of new tricks, riding one handed, standing up on the pegs, and looking far through the corners and down the straights.
I got some laps in on the pro MX track, really laying my Husky over in some of the rutted corners and concentrating on body position over the whoops.
Henry and I turned a bunch of laps on the flat track together. He was fast. He really likes the flat track even though it was extraordinarily dusty today.
After riding, we hit Arby’s on the way home and got ourselves a little dinner.
Henry was pretty pleased with our day of riding. So was I.