Weekday Hooky

Wednesday was too beautiful a day to stay cooped up. I took a long lunch and burned laps at Ride Organic.

Author and his Husqvarna

Beautiful day for a ride, had to sneak out and burn some laps



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.

Mighty Little Man

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.

Henry alternately mean mugs me and enjoys a snack

Henry alternately mean mugs me and enjoys a snack

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 had to straddle his bike on the trailer before we could eat our dinner

Henry had to straddle his bike on the trailer before we could eat our dinner

Zipping Fifties

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, hoppingĀ back up and continuing like it was no big deal. He’s getting more proficient and more adventurous each time we go ride.

How could you not?

Sixty four degrees in the first week of January. Saddle up the Z1000 and feel the warmth of the sun while you can!

Kawasaki Z1000 in the sun on a January afternoon

Have to ride when you get weather like this

Trail blazers

Brother John, buddy Walter, and I all took the Monday off and rode our play bikes at Briggs’ offroad riding area. The proprietor, Russ Briggs e-mailed me a couple weeks ago to suggest that I might come ride his new trails to help “burn them in” before Sept 18. It seems he’s hosting a big off road event that day, with Husqvarna demo rides and a poker run through his wooded trails.

I thought it was a great idea, so I rounded up as many knuckle heads as I could to go ride – turns out I am only influential with John and Walter.

motion shot in the woods

speeding through the woods

Walter ducks under a fallen tree

watch your head

The trails were great, as always. We rode for over three hours, making ourselves plenty tired in the process. We capped off the trip with “two by fours” of malt liquor on the porch of the grocery store in Richwoods. Couldn’t ask for a better day.

John at a pause on the trail

brother John

Walter at a break in the ride

buddy Walter

Tree Huggers

Helen and I went to Coyote Trails near Coulterville, Illinois this evening. We rode both on the practice track, and in the woods. It was Helen’s first time in the woods. She was fantastic. I could see the apprehension on her face when we approached the first creek crossing. Helen had never ridden across a creek before. But she watched me do it, then she followed, and she made it across cleanly. Each 2.5 mile lap of the woods has four creek crossings. By Helen’s third lap, she was leading me through the woods, and hitting the creeks at a run with her feet up. She is one brave little girl. Helen handled the steep hills very well too. I had a heck of a time getting her off the bike at 7:30 pm. On the ride home, she told me that she liked the creek crossings the best.

Helen rides the practice track

Beautiful weather for a trail ride

Helen on the practice track

Helen climbs a hill on the practice track

Helen, foot out on the practice track

Foot out!

Helen's first crash on the practice track

Wipe out!

Helen struggles from under her bike


Helen gets back up from a crash

Dust yourself off

Helen starts her bike after a crash

Start it back up

Helen gets going after a crash

Take off, eh?

Helen starts taking pictures with the helmet cam

Let's head into the woods

Helen admires the pond

Helen really liked this pond, and craned her neck to get a shot of it.

Helen and Bill wait for an ATV rider to clear off

Helen consults her dad

Helen and her dad about to set off

Is there a better view anywhere in the world?

Helen crosses a rocky creek


Helen about to cross the creek


Helen rides a winding trail in the woods

The winding trails in the woods

Helen follows her dad up a hill

Follow the leader