Monthly Archives: April 2010

KTM 950 Overnight Camping Shakedown cruise (17 april 2010)

Depart­ed home slight­ly after sched­uled time, sit­u­a­tion nor­mal, right? Stopped in mon­roe for fuel and to meet any­one who might have decid­ed to come along and not told me. There is no one there, so about 12:40, I head­ed east towards stevens pass. light driz­zle, but noth­ing bad. As I get clos­er to the pass, how­ev­er, it’s com­ing down hard­er and hard­er. pret­ty soon I’ve fold­ed: out with the glove cov­ers, put the show­er caps on the tank and tail bags, and I’ve got the suit lin­er cranked up to about ‘7’. I stop at the top long enough to shoot a pic­ture, and then boo­gie. About 10 – 15 miles down the oth­er side, the road is dry,

me and my turbo giraffe

stopped off at a scenic turnout, just east of stevens pass

and I’m start­ing to think I need to dump the heavy gloves and the neck tri­an­gle. By the time I get to wenatchee, it’s about 65 and humid, I ditch the heat­ed lin­er in a star­bucks park­ing lot and the long johns in their mens room. ah, much bet­ter. Along the way, my brain has been cat­a­loging the things I’ve for­got­ten: so far I’m up to a cup, a spoon, cof­fee, and my flask full of good scotch. the first three are eas­i­ly remi­died with the help of a safe­way and an ACE hard­ware in chelan. A quick ride out to Lake Chelan State Park, and I find a nice camp­site, right on the lake.
be it ever so humble...

my camp­site along the shores of Lake Chelan

I pitch camp, and con­struct my exper­i­men­tal din­ner; one of these freeze dried back­pack­er meals. I don’t intend to sur­vive on these on my trip, but know­ing if they are edi­ble seems like a good bit of knowl­edge. boil­ing water, a lit­tle pack­et of oil, and 13 min­utes lat­er: vio­la, black bean chili pie (there were a few tor­tilla chips, too). not too bad, a lit­tle ‘thin’, but good spice. From this I con­clude: in a pinch, they will do. How­ev­er, now that I’ve had din­ner, i think of anoth­er thing that has been for­got­ten: I could use a cup of tea. oh well, not out here.

well, off for a bit of a walk and some pic­tures before it gets dark. 

return­ing to camp, I tidy up, and pre­pare to hit the rack. Next up on the test list, a lit­tle inflat­able pil­low. It comes un a pack­age the size of a juice can, but it works real­ly well. What doesn’t work so well any more is the old Ther­marest sleep­ing pad. Admit­ted­ly, it’s about 15 years old, but I sup­sect that it’s the age of the back, not the pad! I toss and turn most of the night. final­ly drop off about 4am, wake up at 7 with both arms numb and trapped under­neath my tor­so. yukko. OK, that’s some­thing that will need fix­ing.

be vewy, vewy quiet....

A beau­ti­ful spring morn­ing on Lake Chelan


Get up and about, and try to fig­ure out how to make cof­fee with my new-fan­gled stove/french press. Mechan­i­cal­ly, this is easy, its a french press right? but it’s been dogs years since I’ve used one. How much cof­fee goes in? how long do I let it sit for. Oh My God, I’ve for­got­ten the recipe for cof­fee! But I mud­dle through, get some­thing most­ly drink­able, if a bit weak, out of it, and set about pack­ing my stuff up. Sur­pris­ing­ly, it all goes back pret­ty much where it came from, and I head into town to score some break­fast. The Apple Cup cafe in Chelan gets a pass­ing grade: good food and fast, friend­ly ser­vice.
all i could think of was: i wonder if those 2 rocks are for sale?

an inter­est­ing view of Lake Enti­at


As I’m gear­ing up to head out, I can’t find the exten­sion con­nec­tion for my heat­ed jack­et lin­er. I paw through all the lug­gage, no lit­tle coiled cord. Oh well, I throw on anoth­er shirt and head up the pass. I have a beau­ti­ful ride back over the pass, includ­ing the moment just as I approached the top, a group of rid­ers passed going the oth­er way, giv­ing me the uni­ver­sal ‘law enforce­ment ahead’ sign. Sure enough, the state patrol is at the top, giv­ing our tick­ets to those who can’t read speed lim­it signs. Not me, today. 🙂

So, all in all, a suc­cess­ful shake­down. The bike is com­fy and very capa­ble, near­ly all of my lug­gage and camp­ing gear works great, and the elec­tri­cal stuff on the bike (heat­ed vest con­nec­tion, and charg­ing port) all work great. If I can fill in the few gaps in my check­list and fix the sleep­ing pad prob­lem, I’m per­fect­ly set.

See ya on the road!

black­dog on board the Great Pump­klin (aka the Tur­bo Giraffe)…
shiny side up, y’all!

Event Report: April Fool’s Trial, 11 April 2010, Walker Valley

Check­ing the weath­er fore­cast on sat­ur­day con­vince me to take the chance and leave my portable shel­ter at home: 10% chance of pre­cip­i­ta­tion, highs in the upper 50s. If that actu­al­ly held up, it would be one of the nicest rid­ing days we’ve had in quite a while.

Sun­day dawns way too ear­ly, and chilly: about 36 degrees at Black Dog Farm. Break­fast, cof­fee, put the last few things in the car (lunch cool­er, wal­let, phone, etc.) except for the water bot­tles to fit in my fan­ny pack. This omis­sion will be impor­tant lat­er.

Cinch the tie-downs on the bike down, and boo­gie north­ward. Only about 10 min­utes behind planned depar­ture time, should put me there right after 8 AM. Get up to the turn-off, expect­ing anoth­er 3 miles of dirt road, and whoa, here’s the whole gang, just parked right here in front of the gate. I park and ask why we’re down here and not up at our pre­vi­ous loca­tion, and I’m told that they don’t want street-licensed vehi­cles past the gate. Oh well. 

I unload, check the bike over, and gear-up for a lit­tle warm up. There’s not much at the gate, so I head up the road a bit, find­ing a turn-out with some downed logs in it, and warm up. Sec­ond attempt over a 20″ log, the front end digs in and over the bars I go! and onto my back­side on the sog­gy ground, to add sog­gi­ness to cha­grin. Well, hope­ful­ly I’ve got­ten *that* out of my sys­tem for the day! But no, 3 min­utes lat­er, drop the front wheel into the same hole, and over I go. Well, this is either good, in that I’m get­ting this out of my sys­tem, or this day is doomed to be a com­e­dy rou­tine from start to fin­ish. I ride over the log a few more times, just to teach it a thing or two, and head back to the truck to get ready.

I get my punch, pack a hat, good­ies, tools, etc. into my day-pack. Water, I should take some water.… Shit, where are my water bot­tles? at home, on the laun­dry room floor… oh well, I’ll deal with that lat­er. Head up the road a cou­ple of miles, and fol­low the rugged loop trail into the deep woods to Sec­tion #6. It’s right next to 5, so I have anoth­er observ­er to chat with when things are slow. Pret­ty straight-for­ward sec­tion, a climb and descent, fol­lowed by a cou­ple of tight, tricky cor­ners to the exit.
Most Novice and Inter­me­di­ate com­peti­tors do well in my sec­tion, i punch lots of cleans, and only a few fives, a cou­ple of folks lost the front end and sam­pled the dirt, and one gen­tle­man for­got where the sec­tion went and end­ed up rid­ing part of it back­wards. oops, I hate it when that hap­pens!

Around noon we’re done, head back to the pits to get ready for my turn. Now I must deal with the fact that my water bot­tles, which fit so nice­ly into my fan­ny-pack, were I also car­ry a few tools and spare levers, are sit­ting at home on the laun­dry room floor. Well, I decide i’ll just put my fan­ny pack and my gal­lon-sized water cool­er in my day-pack, car­ry it up to sec­tion 1 and leave it there until I’m fin­ished, and the retrieve it for the ride back down. Ok, that’s a plan, not a great one though: it means only hav­ing access to water once per loop, not opti­mal hydra­tion.

Off to the rid­ers meet­ing, get a quick run-down of where the sec­tions are, and we’re off. Grab my pack and up to Sec­tion 1. A tricky sec­tion with a rock step, and a cou­ple of diag­o­nal log cross­ings near the end, depend­ing on how you tack­led it. I get into the sec­tion, and my per­cep­tion is all off, I’m way behind the bike, and end up with a 3. Much of the first loop was like that, I only real­ly start­ed get­ting in the groove on the sec­ond loop. By the time the third loop start­ed, I was feel­ing pret­ty con­fi­dent and had real­ly start­ed to ride up to my abil­i­ties. My judge­ment how­ev­er, remained at it’s his­tor­i­cal­ly low­ish lev­els. I enter sec­tion 1 the third time, resolv­ing to clean it this time: around the tree, over the rock, so far so good, up the chute, hey feel­in’ good, right turn here and out.… front wheel starts to slide and instead of just tak­ing the dab and escap­ing with my 1, I chase it with the throt­tle and wind up on my head! Cost me a 5, some bruis­es, a smashed fin­ger, and (i would lat­er find out) 3rd place! stoopid. 

Over­all, it was a well done event: good, well-marked, and chal­leng­ing loop trail. Good sec­tions with­ouit too many dan­ger­ous obsta­cles. Wish my rid­ing had been up to the chal­lenge. It seems obvi­ous from look­ing at the scores that my prob­lem is prac­tice and being ready to ride. As I get ‘back in the groove’, my scores go down every loop. Seems clear that I need more prac­tice. Now to devel­op the dis­ci­pline to do it!

On an admin­is­tra­tive note, this is the last event report you’ll be see­ing here for a while. In cel­e­bra­tion of achiev­ing ‘a cer­tain age’, I have tak­ing 4 weeks off in May and trav­el­ling around the west­ern states on my KTM 950. I’ll be using this space to chron­i­cle my prepa­ra­tions and progress as I go. Uni­verse will­ing, I should be able to make at least one day of the PST round of the PNTA cham­pi­onship, in ear­ly June. Watch this space!

keep those feet up!
black­dog

Preparing to go ‘walkabout’

As some you already know, your obe­di­ent scribe is plan­ning a trip, what my wife and I refer to as ‘going walk­a­bout’ after the aus­tralian tra­di­tion of ‘see­ing what’s out there’. In this case, I’ll be using a KTM 950 adven­ture for trans­porta­tion, and ‘out there’ is shap­ing up to mean­ing most states west of the Mis­souri riv­er; cur­rent the rough­ly plot­ted course doesn’t include kansas, okla­homa, neva­da, north dako­ta or mon­tana.

Grand plan is a rough rec­tan­gle, with seat­tle, san diego, austin, and des moines form­ing the cor­ners. I have friends and/or fam­i­ly in all those places. The only hard date in the 4 week adven­ture is that I and 3 bud­dies have tick­ets to the World Super­bike races at Miller Motor­sports Park in Utah on memo­r­i­al day week­end.

So with this in mind, I sold my BMW F650 (a nice sin­gle, but cross­ing texas on a 650 sin­gle didn’t appeal) and acquired a low-mileage KTM 950 adven­ture and set about set­ting it up for trav­el­ling like I like. This meant replac­ing the bald back tire, chang­ing the oil, adding con­trols for the heat­ed grips (instead of the sim­ple switch) and for con­trol­ling a heat­ed jack­et lin­er Warm-n-Safe makes these great con­trollers . It also includes a GPS mount­ed some­where easy to reach and easy for 50-year-old eyes to read. Pics in the next install­ment.

All of this is pow­ered from a ded­i­cat­ed, fused cir­cuit that is run from the bat­tery in the skid plate, up to the under-seat tray, and then dis­trib­uted to the var­i­ous acces­sories from there. also includ­ed is a relay to insure that I can’t walk away from the bike with the grips turned on.

The bike already had a lot of what I think I’ll need: fac­to­ry pan­niers, tank bag, rear bag, hand pro­tec­tors, crash bars, after­mar­ket seat from Renaz­co Rac­ing, and the fac­to­ry ‘tour­ing wind­screen’. What it didn’t have was decent lights. A lit­tle read­ing turned up the answer: the USA head­light is but a pale imi­ta­tion of it’s euro­pean coun­ter­part. Soon, a box arrived at the house with a euro head­light and switch, and an H7 low-beam HID con­ver­sion. Install hap­pen­ing soon. Read about it in the next install­ment of ‘prepar­ing to go walk­a­bout’.

Right now, I have to get ready for the April Fool’s Tri­al! see ya there!

black­dog