Tuesday
Jun132017

2017 Sierra Motocross Classic

 

Held on June 10th and 11th at the Prairie City national track (AKA Hangtown) outside Sacramento CA. Once upon a time the Sierra Old Timers annual race was called the “Hangtown Hangover” and put on I believe the following week or weeks after “The” Hangtown National MX with the help of the Dirt Diggers club. Who are still the only motorcycle club to put on an AMA national MX event as far as I know and have been for years? 

The weather was surprisingly good; it was cool over cast most of the time and a little windy sometimes, it could have been downright ugly but was almost perfect weather to race in. 

The rider turnout was a little lower than was expected. There was no shortage of theories as to way. But for those who did come, some traveling from as far away as Canada were treated to an outstanding event. Armstrong Racing who operate the facility are real professionals so the track prep and race program were handled in a top notch way.

Saturday evening a BBQ dinner was served to a full house of 150 people. Following dinner the raffle prizes were handed out. The club has become known for outstanding prizes including this year’s grand prize of an Evo Fat tire bike. In fact the club has been gaining the reputation of putting on one the best events of the series which includes clubs from all around the Western States and Canada.

I only talked to one rider who didn’t like the track and for him it probably had more to do with his ridding abilities on that particular day. (We all have those days)

Everywhere I stood  eavesdropping on other riders conversations I heard one of the things that keeps us all doing this and that’s the bench racing it’s a very important part of the whole thing. I invited Scott a friend of mine who is an excellent woods rider but hasn’t raced moto cross for fifteen years to come out and give it a try. It turned out he and Derek who ended up parked next to each other and me were in the same class spent the weekend passing each other laughing and yelling, then spent the time between moto’s talking about it. I’m sure this kind of conversation was repeated throughout the pits.

In fact my overall observation was I saw a lot of smiling faces of people engaged in conversation over the weekend. I talked with four support riders who were all under thirty who were still on their bikes and their helmets on talking about the great time they just had racing each other. And as I’ve said before that kind of camaraderie is what it’s really all about, especially the older we get.

 

Doug 21J

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr252017

2017 At Fernley IOTMX

I have a friend I’ve known since we were in our thirties, which means decades. The vast majority of the times we’ve seen each other have been connected with riding or racing dirt bikes. I’m sure a lot of you have friends like this.

We’ve raced each other throughout these decades in either cross country races or moto cross, he always faster than me in moto cross. We’ve obviously changed over these years most of it physically (Well maybe a lot physically) not so much mentally in that we still have a passion for riding dirt bikes.

One of the features that seemed to have never changed with him is his hair. I’ve always remembered it being grey, long and for the most part unruly looking, that primarily due to helmet head. I’m sure he could point out any number of perceived short comings on my part.

He’s always been a good rider especially moto cross, not a dam good rider but a good rider. There are always dam good riders you race against and over the years they seem to always stay dam good riders especially against you.

Well he reached the end of one decade and just started a new one. For those of us who have continued to race throughout the decades find ourselves looking forward to the next decade so we can hopefully be the fast new guy for a year then slowly and inexpertly descend into an also ran. There are those exception of course, you know the dam good riders.

This weekend in Fernley, NV was the International Old Timers Moto Cross race round number two of eight this year to be held all over in the western states. This marked the return to racing for my long time friend who has used a boat load of excuses these past few years and was literally running out of believable ones.

His bike was pimped out, he sported new riding gear he’d been training, and he was ready (Sort of). He was in a new class and as we know being in a new decade, a new class and a being good rider meant he was going to kick some ass.

I have another friend who is also a good rider in a new decade a new class and has a brand new bike; this was his second race in his new class but the first on his new bike and he is always arrogant enough to think he’s going to kick some ass. It didn’t work out so well in round one in Arizona, but this was his home state and his local track.

So how it work out for these two? Well first of all before we find out I have to insert myself into this equation, I’m also a good rider I’ve been in my current decade for five years now and as a result I start on the second gate drop while they start on the first gate drop. The second gate drop always varies in time after the first gate drop because if anyone failed to make it through the first half dozen turns, they don’t want a pack of wild out of control old dirt bike racers running over some poor schmuck from the first gate. So as a result the gap the first gate has varies from start to start.

My entire focus is to see if I can catch any of the riders from the first gate, the more I can catch the better my race is. I have quite a few friends who are on the first gate so if I can catch and pass any of them it makes my day. Obviously it doesn’t work out every time.

This weekend was no different except my unruly haired friend was returning and was hoping the new decade and the new class thinking would work in his favor.

The track in Fernley is 100% sand and while the track was tame jump wise it gets sand track rough. The Nevada Old Timers club which I’m told consists of seven or eight members did an outstanding job of track preparation and running the race program. The weather for the weekend was ok, could have been windier than it was but thankfully it wasn’t. They had a good turnout and I would say this weekend the sixty and seventy year old riders were out in great numbers. Usually the Fifty classes are the largest.

Ok so how did I and my friends do? The friend with the new bike won all four motos over the two days of racing. There’ll be no living with his increased arrogance. My unruly haired friend had a rude awakening and to compound his new realization, yours truly caught and passed him in the first moto on Sunday. I will have to ad he was part of the hold up for the second gate drop when a rider fell in front of him in the first turn and he became stuck in the fallen rider’s bike. That meant he was at the back of pack and made it easier to catch him. However at the end of the second moto on Sunday I was literally thirty feet behind him at the checkered flag. Of course he tells me that catching him was one thing passing him would have been another thing. I don’t think that made his weekend but it certainly made mine.

It doesn’t get any better than to spend a weekend with good friends doing the things we all love.

Doug 21J 

 

Wednesday
Mar222017

You Show Me Yours...I'll Show You Mine

Has this ever happened to you?

Since this site is primarily focused on us older riders I’m sure what I’m about to tell you will strike a familiar cord with more than a few of you. I’m talking about the dumb stuff we do while working on our bikes. 

The other day I spent 6 hrs working on my KTM 500EXC. The tail light quit working so I had to separate the brake light, turn signals,  license bracket from the fender to get to the wiring to check the connections etc. When I’d get it working I’d put it all back together only to find out it quit working again. I think I know, but I’m still not quite sure what did to finally fix it, but it works now. 

My work area for my bikes is not that all that big, but I lose parts and tools in that small space all the time. I’ve used an 8mm socket laid it down right where I know I can find it and when I turned to pick it up again it wasn’t there. What’s really frustrating is spending who knows how much time finding it again. Or how many times I’ve dropped a bolt, nut, whatever on the floor and never find it again. I’ve gotten parts almost off or on and had them fall off into the bike, they never hit the floor and I never, ever find them, again. How many of you have left a bolt, nut, screw loose or just plain forgot to put one back on? We all know people who have lost their seat or muffler, forgot to mix the oil in the gas, or just plain forgot to put the oil back in. Shit like this has happened to all of us, or at the very least we know someone it’s happened to. Maybe we even tell stories about what happened to some else because we don’t want to admit it really happened to us.

What prompted this little story was I was talking with a friend of mine who just bought a new KTM 300XC and he was putting the old bark busters on the new bike and was struggling to fit the right hand one on. After many attempts (No he wasn’t trying to put the left hand side on the right side, that’s what I was thinking while he’s telling me this story) and after bending it a few times trying to get it to fit he noticed the set up on the new bike was throttle, start button, front brake with way to much space between them. He moved the front brake next to the throttle and the start button on the outside of the brake (Like he had it on his old KTM 350 and it worked) of course he had to re bend the bracket back to where it was originally in order for it to fit. He also lost a small part on the floor and finally and after spending time on his hands and knees found it in a crack in the cement. He started babbling about maybe we should paint the floors white so parts will stand out instead of blending in.

Anyway I could go on and on telling stories about my adventures, but I’d like to hear about yours; I know you all have stories to tell. So after you read this click on the post a comment and send us a story or two.

Doug 21J

Wednesday
Mar082017

How I became a snow bird for the weekend.

 

Very simple I loaded up my bike and gear and drove to Arizona for the first International Old Timer race of the year, held in a pit behind the back of an Arizona State prison near Buckeye which is near Phoenix Arizona.

I, like a lot of us was both grateful and now sick and tired of all the rain we’ve been having. I had some mold starting to grow on places that don’t see the sun, so off to Arizona for lots of sunshine, or so I thought.

I stopped by Havasu to spend a day trail riding in the desert with Eric #33. We rode on Thursday with Mark. Because I was going to practice at the track on Friday then race Saturday and Sunday. Eric took it easy on me and we only did 68 miles. His normal rides are a 95 mile and 120 mile ride. This was my first time riding in the Havasu desert area and I can tell you its kind of shitty. There are some great views just not the best of trails to get to them. But I will say that I enjoyed the ride and would mostly consider it a place to train, in that you would get to practice you’re riding skills.

If you look at one of the photos you can see I was not very successful in avoiding brush and branches on the inside corners. I couldn’t make myself move to the outside of those corners to avoid the brush and branches. (More practice needed) Friday morning I was off to the track about a three hour drive from Eric’s. 

I spent Friday afternoon practicing on the Vet track. Arizona Cycle Park has two main tracks the so called National track and the Vet track. Which in reality would make a good vintage track, (See the pictures) all the jumps were safe and the whoops tame. The track didn’t get real rough and became hard packed as the day went on, but it was fun. It was a fairly short layout and we ended up doing  9-10 lap motos.

After about two laps of Saturday morning’s practice before the first race my 350 Husky made a very large sound when landing off a jump. I limped back to the pits and discovered the rear shock had failed allowing the spring to become loose. Fortunately I had my 500 EXC with me, I pulled it out the trailer took the mirror off and went back out and finished practice. Before my race I put the old fashion pie plates on it, reset the suspension, checked the tire pressure etc. and rolled to the line. It actually worked very well and I enjoyed riding it. On Saturday anyway by Sunday the fun factor had worn off and I wanted my Husky back. Fortunately as I said the track didn’t get real rough if it had the fun factor would have left on Saturday. I did honk the horn a few times just for giggles and on Sunday a friend gave me a buck to ride the last moto with the right turn signal on, half way I changed it to the left turn signal.

A couple of friends of mine who were parked next to each other and were riding in the same class had a chance to test that friendship. One of them (Duane) had won the first two motos on Saturday and found himself behind his friend (Kerry) in moto one on Sunday, feeling a little pressure to get around him because the guy who had finished second to him on Saturday was in a couple of riders ahead of him, he picked a not so good place to try and pass Kerry and as a result they touched and Duane went down effectively losing any chance to win the moto. So in the heat of the moment he of course blamed his friend for knocking him down. His friend on the other hand didn’t know he was behind him and only felt a little bump and was unaware he had knocked Duane down. He of course found out when he got back to the pits. Friendship prevailed and he (Duane) still had a chance to win the overall if he won the final moto. Luck can be fleeting and as luck would have it in the last moto of the day Duane stalled his bike just as the gate dropped ending any chance of winning the overall. He finished third overall for the weekend.

The weather for the weekend was good, a thin cloud layer kept the sun’s rays at bay keeping the temperature cool. The club did a good job, they had a good turnout of about 100 riders. No doubt partly because of all the rain everywhere else and the fact they advertised the race would be held on the vet track. I was there a couple of years ago when the race was held on the national track (which was for the most part very good) but had a few places that turned out to be dangerous for us old guys and they got quite a few riders hurt. They had Mexican food for dinner, a nice raffle and they showed the supercross on Saturday night.

Just as the last races were starting the wind came up and started blowing dust. It was time to pack up and head home. Going home for me was the 10 to San Bernardino via the 215 to the 15 to hwy 395 to hwy 58 to the 99. About forty five miles from Riverside a traffic alert said heavy traffic ahead expect delays. After fighting the wind all the way the traffic came to a virtual halt just as the rain started and it took me over two hours to go those forty five miles. When I reached the Tehachapi Mountains it started snowing and only got worse the further up I went. It started blowing snow across the freeway and was starting to stick even on the road. Me, my pickup and camper pulling my trailer got behind a big rig and made it over to Bakersfield where it was dry. It took me fifteen and a half hours to get home. Speaking of my trailer while driving to Havasu Wednesday night I stopped for fuel and decided to eat so I drove around the station looking for a place to park. I turned down a parking lot looking for a place or a way out so I could continue looking somewhere else. Well I went about two hundred feet then turned right for another hundred feet only to discover there wasn’t a way out nor a way to turn around. Which meant I had to back my trailer out and in doing so I jack knifed the trailer into the corner of the camper putting a nice crease, dent and hole into the front of the trailer, shit, of course I didn’t discover this until I was at the track unhooking the trailer, shit.

All in all it was a good trip and I’m glad I went. Next race will be at Fernley in April.

Doug 21J

 

Tuesday
Jan102017

Yamaha YZ250FX Part 10

This weekend marks the opening round of the 2017 AMA Dist 36 Cross Country series and the AMA National Western Hare Scrambles Championship all being held at the Prairie City OHV Park (Home of the Hangtown National Motocross) outside of Sacramento CA

Prairie City is the site of nineteenth century gold mining using dredges that left piles of rocks behind. It was also a site where Aero Jet tested rocket engines used in the going to the moon projects. On the best of days the park is rock piles with a little dirt scattered in.

One year I was almost disqualified because I was riding at the edge of the 25 foot wide markers that mark the course when I was accidently kicked outside a marker because I hit some rocks. On the other side of that marker were more rocks and some star thistle that I ran over. The park rangers didn’t like that, I guess they thought I was going to harm the rocks and star thistle.

This year we’ve had a lot of rain and the course could be very slippery (wet rocks tend to do that) lots of mud and water holes. With rain expected to continue it will be interesting to see if the rangers allow the race to go on. After all there are rocks and star thistle to protect, oh and bushes too.

But if it does end up going on my trusty Yamaha YZ250/290FX will be ready. Since my last report I’ve only put a handful of hours on it, been working on my Huskyama. I did race it in the fall race at Prairie City and had some issues, the motor would just quit in the tight stuff. I ended up having to pull the clutch in the tight corners a real pain in the ass. I had Roseville Yamaha check the valves, install a new plug, clean the injector and reset the TPS to a little richer setting. That seems to have cleared up the problem.

I’ve noticed the last year or so there are a lot more blue bikes at the races. A lot more Yamaha 250FX’s the new 250 wide ratio two stroke and some 450FX’s. There are also a lot of Husky’s now so it’s not completely the sea of orange it used to be. 

21J

 

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