The elusive Silver Rekluse…

…OK, it’s not a spider: but it is a way to have more fun on a dirtbike: less time messing around with the clutch! My Rekluse z-Start Pro arrived in the mail from Bike Bone Yard in the States:



I’m not looking forward to installing it… mostly because it’s still a bit chilly and messing around with metal parts when it’s 5 degrees outside is never fun. But, riding season is starting soon… I should just get off my butt and do it. Perhaps this weekend.

Kashaga Lodge 2010

Yes, yes, I did just get back from vacation last week. But I still took last Friday off to head out to Kashaga Lodge with BJ and Wayne… to ride the great trails around Gooderham! I was itching to get out again, after fixing the blowout of the cam cover gasket (puking oil all over itself and my leg)…



…and putting on the replacement rear rotor…



…and switching to a nice new clean NoToil air filter:



The ride up was long, mostly because of traffic trying to get out of Toronto on a Friday afternoon, but we had BJ’s collection of Ricky Gervais podcasts to keep us occupied, and 2 GPS’s to steer us in the right direction. Plus an energetic dog: Jasper: to keep us all awake:



Finally, we arrived!:





It was a nice little cabin! Propane for the hot water and a couple lights, and a generator to run the water pump, lights, TV, microwave, and anything else we needed to plug in. We didn’t use the TV or microwave at all, and the propane lights and oil lamps provided more than enough light in the evenings… meaning we hardly started the generator at all. Toilet was an outhouse out back, but that’s no big deal for a few guys. Lots of room: bunk beds in both bedrooms and a fold-out couch, plus a screened in porch, deck, and BBQ!





…and lots of wood for a fire if you want one:



The cabin had a direct connection to the local trails, so we didn’t need to take the roads to get to them. Threw our gear inside, and went for a quick exploration ride Friday evening… after putting some air in Waynes back tire 🙂



Saturday had us up bright and early: picked up some food at the local general store, and breakfast at the truck stop. Saw a flash of 3 deer crossing the road, but didn’t get the camera out soon enough to snap all of them:



Finally we filled up our tanks and headed out. Here Wayne is about to down a shot of premix (he lost a bet 🙂 ):



Trails were wide but rocky, and you couldn’t go more than 30 seconds without plowing through some sort of puddle. Though “puddles” in Gooderham are perhaps larger than us folk from the GTA are used to (but I only got stuck once, hooray!):





Wayne’s bike was built back in 1974 (it’s older then I am!) and had less clearance than the rides BJ and I were on… and the rocks took their toll. Mostly on the pegs, shifter, and rear brake. If they were slight bent they were kicked back into place. If they were more bent they we got out the wrenches….



…but if they were really bent, we got out the axe! 🙂





(we actually didn’t chop any wood with the axe, it was strictly for percussive maintenance)

Wayne also had a problem with his throttle. And by “problem” I mean “it was an on/off switch” (that seemed to prefer the “on” position). After a couple near-misses with him hurtling down the trail WFO we worked on the throttle:







…until it at least looked OK again:



But during the ride after lunch…



…riding through more water and sand, it finally gave up. We tore it down on the trail and found it infused with mud:







We got it fixed, but if we hadn’t had the tools we still would have been OK, as a couple of quads came by while we were playing mechanic (I think we only saw 3 quads all weekend?)



Evenings found us sampling beverages, reviewing our rides from the GPS and helmetcam files, and even watching some Russel Peters on BJs laptop. Oh, and playing with toys you can buy at the gas station for a couple bucks 🙂 . Sunday we packed up early: which worked up well, because after breakfast and a trip to the general store for a clamp to reattach Waynes air filter:





…the heavens opened up and poured for the next couple hours: it was raining all the way back to Toronto. We had time to visit Ken Hoeverman (OFTR President) to say hi, chat about the area, and oogle his tire tree and spare bike collection…





…before making our way home. I had a great time! Cabin was comfortable, BJ and Wayne were excellent, funny riding partners, and there were more trails than we had time to ride.

Special thanks to Ken McPhail and his staff at Kashaga Lodge for making us feel at home, and helping make sure we got settled in!



Finally, moving pictures! In colour! With sound!

Mini Pine 2010

This past Sunday I was out in Ganaraska forest again… but not for a regular ride: this time it was a club event: the Mini Pine 2010!

Getting out of bed before 6 and on the road by 6:30 had me rolling in to Sandraska Park at around 8:15am:



I thought I was a bit early… but the lot was already over half full, and filling up fast!







I had never seen so many bikes in one place before!






And trailers kept rolling in with more: from golden oldies to bikes that looked like they were fresh out of the crate:




In addition to the OFTR trailer there were some vendors present as well: KTM, Yamaha, Husaberg and Gas Gas… some with bikes for sale…





… as well as some private owners with sale signs on their bikes, big and small:



I saw some people I knew…



…and met others while chatting in line… which didn’t start to shorten until close to 10am:



Finally everyone mobbed together for the kickoff meeting: to learn how the enduro guys would launch, how the trails were flagged, safety stuff etc…



…then everyone headed back to their bikes to suit up.




There were 44 groups of enduro riders (up to 4 in a group), all launched one minute apart from each other (so that’s at least 150+ bikes right there) before the trail riders could head out. Soon the low numbered bikes started to line up for the 10:15 start:



The trickle of bikes lining up soon turned to a flood…





…with the most popular brand being KTM by a wide margin. I’d guess the second most popular brand I saw was Yamaha… but maybe that’s just what I wanted to see (because I ride one 🙂 )




Finally the launches started… taking 45 minutes to get all the enduro guys out into the field.



Most of the trail riders just watched, though a few were queued up at the start area to get a jump on things. Lots of kids on smaller bikes with their parents!



Half way through was a gas stop. Anyone who couldn’t make the whole loop in one tank put their jerry cans on a large trailer… and while the riders were making their way through the first section the trailer was towed to the gas stop for them. I should have been able to ride the whole day on one tank but:

a) the gas station I normally use didn’t open until 10 on Sundays… so I was still riding on the same tank that brought me from Toronto

b) I had also sprung a leak: one of my 2 fuel lines was dripping gas fairly quickly. Every time I pulled over I fiddled with it to make it stop… but as soon as I started the bike up again the vibration would cause the leak to come back.

But, since I’m street-legal… I just rode to the gas station while the others used their jerry cans 🙂




Then we were off again:



I think I only fell off once in the first loop… but 3 more times in the second stage (I was getting tired)… but finally bikes started to cross the finish line:



…the same time as the local fire department fired up their grills and started to offer burgers and hot dogs!




Not long after I parked some strangers popped out of the forest as well: a group of horse riders must have been dodging bikes all day.. and ended up coming out at the finish line. After thinking about it for a sec they crossed under the same canopy where the enduro riders checked in… to great applause from the huge lineup at the BBQ 🙂





Finally, here’s some YouTube footage of the event from my camera and helmetcam:

I had a great time… though I was tired and sore by the time I rolled back into Toronto around 5pm. I can’t wait until next year! Since the enduro portion is nothing too serious… maybe I’ll give it a go!

Aren’t those things illegal?…

…to steal the phrase from the 3WheelerWorld forum. May 1st was the first 2010 meetup of the Southern Ontario Trikers (SOT) at Ganaraska forest… organized by my friend BJ (Xhumeka).

Got over to BJ’s early in the morning to help get the trailer sorted. Normally he could take up to 3 bikes…



…but fitting an ATC in there too required a bit of out-of-the-box thinking… and a slab of dead tree:



BJ’s friend Paul soon arrived and we were on our way. Although Paul rode street, it was his first time on a dirtbike: way to get thrown in the deep end! 🙂

Soon enough we were out at the Ganny, greeted by an assortment of trikes, quads and bikes:













…and here’s Paul all ready to go!:



Due to a couple of errors on my part, first taking the “back road” to our first destination… and secondly mishearing BJ’s next destination after he found us… I was in “group 2” for the day. 3 quads and 2 bikes meandering the forest and never quite meeting up with the main group until lunch. Which is too bad, because it would have been nice for everyone to make it to the Forest Center and stream at some point… but we still put on some miles… and taught Paul how to kickstart a dirtbike:

Or after it wore it him out… how I could kick it.

And how when I got tired some of the quad guys could kick it 🙂 (thanks to everyone on their quads who kept us dirtbikers moving!) Note to self: never buy anything that doesn’t come with working electric start!

We did make it to The Lookout first thing, before we kinda lost track of each other for awhile 🙂









We made it back to the parking lot about 20 minutes ahead of the main team, just before lunch, … and just as it started to rain. Paul was just happy to be off the bike for awhile:



I had only brought a couple snack bars for the day, so I borrowed Pauls backpack and burned down the road to the nearest burger shack (hooray blue plate!), and returned with a bag full of fries and bacon-cheesburgers. And one of the SOT guys had a big box of chocolate-chip cookies for desert: sweet!

The rest of the day went off without a hitch: giving my group a chance to see some of the local hillclimbs that we missed in the morning. Then it was time to pack up. A little bit of excitement as we had a why-is-the-trailer-moving-oh-shit-it’s-not-attached! moment…



..but other than that it was just getting the bikes all lined up to fit the trike back on BJ’s trailer:



…and a quick stop at Tim Hortons on the way home.



Thanks to everyone who helped make 2010’s first SOT meetup a success, and special thanks to BJ for organizing it. Congrats to Paul for sticking with it the entire day… right to the final fall in the parking lot just as we returned from the last run 🙂

Now for the YouTube: several hours of boring helmetcam footage trimmed down to just the interesting bits:

Now with 100% less kicking!!!

First, a little background…

I fed a couple aftermarket and OEM batteries to my dirtbike before clueing in that it wasn’t the batteries that were the problem… it was the charging system cooking them (oh, and now it makes sense why new headlights would burn out 5 minutes after installing them 🙂 ). But happily a new regulator got that sorted, and I rode all last season with the cheapest battery Ebay would send me. Hooray!

But, although I dutifully kept that cheap battery topped off all winter… when it came time to inflate my new tires this spring I took the easy way out… and instead of inflating them with my manual air pump… I just clipped my 12v air compressor to the battery and had both tires full in minutes. Which ran down the battery.

But I didn’t charge it up again.

And 2 months later when I actually wanted to start the bike… it would no longer take a charge. And the top 2 rules for lead-acid tech batteries seem to be 1) don’t discharge them too deeply, and 2) don’t let them sit around discharged. Crap.

OEM Yuasa batteries may be what the bike came with, but they’re stupid expensive (I swear, every time I check the prices seems to have magically gone up $10). And these days lead-acid (or AGM) isn’t the only game in town: lithium-ion batteries have pretty much taken over the consumer electronics market. So I decided to go double-or-nothing… and get an even more expensive lithium battery: sold by TurnTech and E-Batt.

Which one to buy? Well E-Batt was cheaper on their web site, but wanted way too much for shipping to Canada (more than making up the price difference) and TurnTech came in a sturdy looking plastic case with nice thick metal tabs to connect the power wires to. Sold! I ordered it April 11th and it was at my door on the 27th. Sent one email to the owner to make sure my PayPal went through and he responded the same day saying it had, and giving me the USPS tracking number.

The old battery was easy to get at: the WR has an allen bolt at the back of both sides of the seat, in my case it’s also the front mount for the rack:



30 seconds later and I had the top off…



…and 30 seconds later the paperweight had been removed.



Here’s the old battery on the left, and the TurnTech on the right. It’s around 3cm shorter than the original, and a bit lighter:



Lets put it in! Should be a no brainer… I was wondering how I’d have to pad the battery to keep it from moving around under the seat with all that extra space! Wait! What the…???



Dammit! The TurnTech is wider than the original: actually it seems to have a slight taper so it’s wider at the top… and it won’t fit between the frame rails! Here it is again beside the original:



Lovely. Yes, the plastic case on the TurnTech may make it a bit sturdier… but I bet the heatshrink cover on the E-Batt doesn’t have clearance issues. Do I have to return this thing? Well, no, first I had a “Oh… duh.” moment and realized I can drop the batttery through the rails sideways (never had to do it with the original battery)…



…but then the battery was still too wide to fit in the plastic tray. But if I pull out the foam guides from both side of the tray…



… and push down ever so gently: Success!



And after that the bike spun over quickly and started with the first stab at the magic button! That’s going to be nice to have for this weekend! And since it’s a dualsport bike… it’s also nice to not have to kickstart it when it occasionally stalls at stoplights. I need to turn up the idle just a little bit…

Haven’t used the battery for more than a couple minutes so far, but:

— lighter than stock (but I don’t really care)
— will hopefully survive charge/discharge abuse better than my last victims
— started the bike 🙂

— 50%-100% more than an OEM battery
— wide top made it hard to fit
— terminals you screw the wires to stick up from the battery (not recessed like OEM) meaning the wires stick up about 1cm higher than stock. It barely clears the bottom of my seat (E-Batt only provides wires out of their battery, so it may not have this problem)
— unproven durability: a dirtbike is basically a paintshaker on wheels: if it’s sensitive to long-term vibration there’s gonna be problems…

Oh, I forgot to weigh the TurnTech before installation, but the old battery weighed 1957 grams…



…which compared to the web site weight from TurnTech (1.9lbs) saves you just over a kilogram (1095 grams by my scale).

Hopefully this TurnTech will last a few years (comes with a 6-month warranty, which will get me through this season). If anything goes wrong I’ll be sure to post about it!

Bethany 2010

Yesterday I attended my first club ride of the season: the Bethany 2010! Fortunately I did a lot better than last year: in that I didn’t spend all day mudwrestling.

I arrived at BJ’s place around 7am, and we loaded up the bikes…



…then it was off for breakfast with the gang at Haugens… and ride the bikes to the launch point. Most of my group is in this shot (except BJ): from left-to-right: Derek, Rob, and Ken. And the bikes from front-to-back: Ken’s WR400, BJs TE450, Robs DRZ400SM, my WR450, and Dereks brand-new DRZ400S



There were many other bikes as well: I didn’t get a count… but at least as many (or more) than last year:



And David Vans bike (the organizer) where we all signed up and slipped him some cash 🙂



Then a short safety briefing, and we were off!



We went out in groups of 3-5 staggered a few minutes apart. Most of my pictures are in the helmetcam coverage (I chopped out all the highway/gravel-road footage to fit into YouTubes 10-minute limit)… but I did get some at the main obsticle of the day. Surprisingly it wasn’t a mudhole or water crossing… but trees that had been cut down intentionally to block a road:



After clearing a way to get the bikes around the trees, the next stop was for a quick break (and gas) at Heaven on Seven:



Then a few more roads and trails… and we were back at Haugens around 3pm. Load up the bikes… get a bite to eat… then haul back down the 401 to Toronto.



I had a blast this year, I can’t wait ’till the next event. Special thanks to David Van for organizing things, Haugens for putting up with our noise and muddy clothes, ODSC preriders and our sweep Daryl (sp?). And of course, my riding team: BJ, Rob, Ken and Derek!

Oh and an extra photo of BJ because he deserves it: not only did I get a ride on his trailer… but he was making the extra effort to see the cops had no reason to pull us over 🙂



Finally the video!

Tag, you’re it…

Finally, a warm holiday to get out of the house, and put on some miles!

I had hoped to get the GTA and Ontario pictures needed for the Photo Tag threads I’ve been following: I got the Ontario: but I was too late for the Toronto picture.

Oh well, you can’t win them all: I have all season to get more tags! I ended up with more new tag pics than I could use: here’s one from a trailer park! I know, I know, I go to all the cool places….

Lets try this again…

My friend BJ let me know the 2010 Bethany Dual-Sport ride was coming up soon. We were one month from the ride date, so if our bikes were still winterized we better do what we had to to get them on the road!

I “attended” the 2009 version of this ride. Notice I didn’t say I “rode” at that event. Well I did ride. For a few minutes. Then had a few hours to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. (but I did get out in the end). So I’m ready for a rematch! I just need minor maintenance on the bike… you know… tighten the chain, a little WD40 squirted here and there… the usual…

Well, maybe I had bigger plans. First, clean+lube the rear suspension, then try to balance and remount the rear wheel:

By next weekend I should have also received some fork oil in the mail: and I can rip off the front end and get it sorted as well!

Here’s hoping it all goes back together without extra screws left over…

Rain, rain, go away…

Today my friend BJ organized a trip back out to Ganaraska for the dualsport guys on the ODSC and GTAM websites. The forecast mentioned a decent chance of rain, but we were hopeful things would stay dry while we were out and about. We were wrong 🙂

Not too many pictures today, just the normal ones of the crew at the parking lot:

…the Lookout…

…and the TrailTours guys we seem to see often.

A light rain started when we were unloading the bikes… but by the time we had made it through the first few sections of single track it was coming down harder. And not long after getting to Thorpe Hill it started to really get us wet.

The damp and miserable weather cut the day short, though it was starting to look better when BJ and I headed out. Not only did the rain cut down on the trails we rode, but it played havoc with visibility. The overcast skies made the trails dark, goggles were misty and covered with water blurring the trails, and those with glasses under their goggles had them fog up almost immediately after putting them on. I was “using the force” to ride half of the time… hoping I wouldn’t hit a stray stump, root, or tree and fall off. Some were not so lucky 🙂 :

It also fogged up the internals of my helmet cam… causing things to come out at a much lower quality than usual. Still, I did get some footage of the first couple trails and our runs at Thorpe Hill. I got skunked: after about 3 tries I never made it up, bah! I did make it up the sand hill later… but by that time I had abandoned my goggles and the camera to see where I was going (so no pics). My ego was only mildly bruised… since many others didn’t make all the hillclimbs either:

Here’s a few minutes of YouTube footage from the day: note I screwed up somewhere editing it… and sounds are 1-2 seconds behind when they actually occurred… oops… figure that one out later:

Thanks to BJ for the invite, organization and spot on his trailer. Met a few new people today and hope to ride with them again! (and lots of WRs in the group today, go Yamaha! 🙂 )

Crash Boom Bang

Today BJ found room for me on his trailer, and we drove up to Barrie to visit his old friend Curtis…and to meet a new friend from the ODSC site, named Ross. The idea was to roam the trails around Barrie then stop for a BBQ lunch at Curtis’s house. Ross lead most of the day and didn’t disappoint!

Here we are loading up…

And here’s the gang unloading: Ross is on the left with his Honda CRF 250X, BJ is on the right in the white top, and Curtis is in the black, with a very nice Suzuki DRZ400SM (with the stock street tires still on it)!

Better look at Curtis’s bike…

Better look at Ross’s bike…

Everyone was blue-plate, meaning we were street legal, so we could drive from Curtis’s house to the trails:

Amazingly Curtis rode very well on his street tires, even through mud puddles and sand… with one minor get-off:

Our first rest stop was atop a cliff overlooking a river:

The next was after some tighter trails, when we decided what the plans were for lunch…

…and it just so happened when we stopped at the intersection we had people walking their dogs coming from 2 different directions… and soon we were overrun! Release the hounds!

After a few more trails Curtis took off to warm up the grill, and we stopped to get our bearings:

The last pictures I took were at a tiny oval track under some power lines, where BJ got bit by a soft sandy corner..

…and where we stopped to film Ross taking a “leisurely” ride down the trail:

Actually… lets take a better look at that one. Ye-haw! 🙂

And, finally, we get to the title of this post. After a day of staying upright, not falling over once… at the last intersection before Curtis’s house I ran into Ross, yikes! Totally my fault! As we were approaching the intersection we had to switch lanes to the left to go through, and just as we were coming up on it the light turned yellow. Seeing that BJ went through… I did a shoulder-check to my left to lane change, and when I looked forward again Ross had decided to stop for the light… I could see him hard on the brakes and the back locked up. I managed to grab a handful of brakes as well, and started to turn to the left of him… but was still moving too fast and not far enough over…. the right side of my bike hit his left rear and pushed him a few feet forward… then I fell over. I picked up my bike (and my pride), sat with Ross through the red light… made sure he was OK… and after the light turned green 30 seconds later we were back in Curtis’s driveway.

Here’s his plate and mount at the beginning of the ride…

…and here it is again after I plowed into him.

Looking back on it… I should have tried to stop for that yellow, instead of trying to switch lanes to keep up with everyone. BJ would have waited for us, and I would have kept my eyes forward… with plenty of time to see Ross slowing down… time to stop safely… and I wouldn’t be sitting here feeling like shit. Ross, if you’re reading this… I’m really sorry I hit you. I can’t apologize enough.

By the time we got back, Curtis had started his massive grill and had burgers and pop for everyone. Then it was time to load up and head home. Thanks Curtis for your tasty meat and hospitality! (um, that came out wrong).

Here’s a video of the ride: