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

 

Monday
Jan022017

Husky/Yamaha...the Experiment Continues!

Huskyyama part 3

Since my last article I’ve spent a little more time working on the setup for the Yamaha front end. Nothing big or special just playing with the clickers, the one big thing I did was install a Pro Circuit rear shock link. From what I’ve read the newer KTM’s rear end offers sort of a dead feel, it works fine but isn’t really noticeable or you don’t or aren’t supposed to notice it. I don’t know if this feel is in response to the fact a lot of expert and Pro level riders steer more with the front end these days. Gone are a lot of the cut and thrust riders of old, mostly borne out of the way two strokes were ridden. I never was a cut and thrust rider however I’ve become a brake sliding rider in the woods. Anyway Pro Circuit says their link brings back the feel of the rear end working with the front end, so I installed one. The real big difference is in the length of the three legged knuckle the part that attaches to the shock was about 5mm shorter than the stock one. Turns out that’s a lot, I had to slow the rebound quite a bit. The new linkage didn’t change the sag but Pro Circuit calls for an increase of two sizes on the shock spring. My first ride with the new linkage was at Est. I could immediately tell a difference the rear felt like it was now moving with the front end. I had to increase the compression to maximum to keep from bottoming out.

Since then I’ve installed a #52 rear spring and rode it at the Sierra Old Timers MC ride day at Prairie City MX on the 30th of December. The track conditions were very good except for the deep ruts that developed. I again played with the clickers but the biggest thing was three other riders put some laps on it and offered me some feedback.

One of the riders is a two stoke guy and not only rode my bike that day but a 2017 KTM 350SXF and a 2015 350SXF. The 2017 is basically stock; the 2015 has had the suspension done. Interesting all of us had different opinions about which bike had more or better power. The 2015 and my 2016 both have Rekluse’s and feel like they may lose a little off the bottom compared to the 2017, (That’s no doubt why I ride mine in the advanced ignition mode) they all had great power for a 350.

They all liked the front end on my bike. The 2017 KTM rider who is a very fast 50 Master liked my suspension (Better than his) until he picked up his speed then felt it was comparable to his stock air forked 2017. When I rode the 2017 I felt the forks were harsh at slower speeds and within two laps my right hand started cramping again just like it did on my 4CS forks. I didn’t ride the 2015 and wished I had, I’ll get another chance to do so at some point.

All the riders had their own critiques of my bike (As I did of the 2017) all no doubt a product of our own individual feel for preferences. Like I’ve said before I’m setting this bike up for me.

Interestingly enough I didn’t notice the back end on my bike or the one on the 2017 for that matter at Praire City MX. On the 2017 I was noticing how uncomfortable the forks were at slower speeds. To be fair the guy who rides the 2017 isn’t known for his suspension tuning abilities, he is fast enough to overcome most all of those short comings. (I hope he doesn’t read this if he does I probably won’t get a deal on furniture anymore.)

Went to Est. on the very first day of the New Year, the track conditions were perfect not many riders so it didn’t get out of hand rough. Turned the clickers in a couple added a little air to the tires and just rode, the bike worked well.

I’ve assigned a new tag to describe my riding expertise; I’m going to begin referring to myself as a TTOT (tot) rider, which stands for Totally Tapped Out Talent. Something about this just cracks me up.

Doug 21J

Your TOT rider

 

Thursday
Dec152016

Chasing the Last Checkered Flag!

Art and I have for the last few years tried to find ways to define how we older athletes are living and thriving like no other time in our history. I’ve written articles trying to explain in some way how and why we are doing the things we are doing.

Art sent me the article you are about to read for two reasons, one it touches me in two areas, I am an older athlete and I’m also a Hospice volunteer. I’ve been a Hospice volunteer for ten years now and I can tell you one of the many misconceptions about Hospice is that it’s a death sentence. Yes in order to be eligible for Hospice care you must have been diagnosed by an MD to have six months or less to live. You must also have reached a point where you are no longer trying to cure the illness. Sadly a lot of physicians (For lots of reasons) do not recommend Hospice until the very end when it becomes a scramble just to make the patient comfortable.

Hospice is about comfort care, making the patient comfortable by managing their symptoms. Comfort care is about making the patient as comfortable as possible allowing them to live life to the fullest extent they can. Statistics show that people who go on Hospice tend to live longer. (Longer than six months many times)

In the article Wally has been told there is nothing more they can do for him and when he becomes a Hospice patient he discovers a whole new way to live out the rest of his life.

There are lessons for all of us in this article.

Doug 21J

 

Hospice Racing Is an End-Of-Life Celebration

When lifelong cyclist Wally Ghia found himself in hospice care, he embraced the time he had left in the saddle to inspire others in his situation

By ian dille November 1, 2016

 

The letter from the hospital read, “There is no longer anything we can do for you.” 

The words read like a death sentence to Flavio “Wally” Ghia, 74. An avid cyclist, he’d been a masters state mountain bike champion in Arizona, and had managed regional bike racing teams sponsored by bike companies like Diamondback and Ritchey.

And he’d battled major health issues through it all: necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria that nearly took his leg; a fall from a mule, resulting in a debilitating head injury and nerve damage; and congestive heart failure that required him to intermittently use an oxygen tank to breathe. He wasn’t ready to stop living. But when Ghia was introduced to hospice care through Durango, Colorado’s Mercy Hospital, his perspective shifted.

“They told me, ‘We can take the pain away,’” says Ghia, who felt like hospice had saved his life. 

For Ghia, hospice care wasn’t just about waiting for the inevitable, but about embracing the time before it. To that end, Ghia—who spent 57 years employed in product marketing—is working to start and promote a new cycling team named Hospice Racing that helps hospice residents live meaningfully.

"My honest belief is that if I raced, there are others out there who might just say, 'Hey, I think I could walk a 5K.' I’m not that terminally unique."

In September, Ghia competed in Salida, Colorado’s Banana Belt mountain bike race—relying heavily on painkillers and knowing he had little time left—for his new team. Bicycling spoke with Ghia about his life, Hospice Racing, and what it means to live. 

BICYCLING: What led you to the start line with Hospice Racing?
Wally Ghia
: It started as a dark joke, a way to lighten the mood after I went into hospice care. My friends Joan and Peter picked me up from the hospital and said, “Hey, you could race for Hospice Racing.” We made up a snarky tag line, “Burying the Competition,” and I had some stickers printed up. We gave them out at the hospital, and people loved them. I thought, maybe I should actually do a race. 

I called my friend Shawn Gillis, who owns Absolute Bikes in Salida, and he said, “This isn’t a bad idea.” At that point we changed the tag line to “A Happier Ending,” which is how I really feel in my heart. 

How did the race go?

I made sure that I was about two hours into the morphine before the race. That was for pain management, and was on top of some of the other things that I take.  I had two people holding me up on the start line, one in front, and one on my left side, in case I fell over a little bit. Well, I ended up on my ass. So Shawn ran and got this old beat up beach cruiser tandem. He said, “Get on the back, stick your feet out, and don’t pedal.” We went about three miles that way. 

After the race, the winner, Nick Gould, a professional racer from Durango, he came up and asked to take a photo with me. At that point, I had my oxygen tank and mask back on to help me breathe.