So today I went for a ride, the first one since our daughter was born. For the last week we have been cooped up inside the house not going much of anywhere for any length of time and I was feeling it. So today, my wife and her sister went to the park, taking my niece and our oldest daughter along with the newborn. This gave me a few precious hours to hit the trails. So I threw on my riding gear (blue Moose jersey and pants, Answer boots, and a GMAX helmet, just in case anybody wants to know what I wear) and hopped on the XR and took off.
Now from my house to where I usually ride is only about a 5-10 minute ride. Today though I had some extra time so I decided to go a little further before hitting a different trail that connected to a huge network of other trails, my first mistake. You see, after 20 minutes of twisty mountain road I came to the trail head, and BAM there was a “Road Closed” sign. Not a big deal, the road workers here have a tendency to leave the signs up even after they are done. Not this time. Next to the sign were two workers and a cop. Further down the road was a HazMat truck and some more people. That was a major bummer as I had already wasted over 20 minutes of riding time just getting to a trail. I knew where another trail was, the problem was that I have only ever exited the trail where it ran into the paved road, never started the trail from that point. Because of this I missed the trail, by a good mile or more. I had to pull over, take out my phone, and look at a Map App to see where I was and the place I wanted to be. I finally found the trail head and took off.
After 40 minutes of road riding I had finally hit dirt. This turned out to be my second mistake. You see I had ridden the trail I was now on many times, and it is actually one of my favorite local trails. The problem was that I was now riding it backwards. What was usually a slightly up hill trail with twisty left and right hand bends, was now a slightly down hill trail with twisty right and left hand bends. It is really weird for my brain to know that I was on a trail I can ride but to be doing everything backwards. So what would have taken no time at all, now took twice as long and was not very fun. To top it off, during the last rain storm the trail had become extremely muddy and the 4×4 truck guys took advantage of this to go mudding. I have absolutely nothing against that, the trail is open to all street legal vehicles so bring it on. If I had a big truck I would be out there too, the problem is the ruts are still there when the mud dries. The ground is rock hard, with ruts everywhere, and I am going the opposite direction. All in all this was not a very good trail riding day. When I got to the end of the trail I saw this:
Yes, apparently I had just ridden down an active crime scene. That might help explain all of the cops I had seen on the way up. As I stood there confused as to why the tape was only on this end of the trail as well as trying to figure out a way to get around it without breaking the tape, I saw a big white van heading down the paved road that this trail ended at. On the side of the van it said San Bernardino Fire Department. As I was mentally preparing my flight or fight response, the driver of the van looked at me, and waved, and then kept on going. I quickly got around the tape and took off going the opposite direction of the van. As I headed back I saw HazMat trucks and tankers at various places on the road and was actually kind of glad that I hadn’t spent that much time in the dirt, since I had no idea what was going on. When I got home I used good old faithful Google to find out what had happened. Turns out a tanker truck carrying over 4,600 gallons of fuel had crashed and dumped most of its payload on to the road. (http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_23139067/highway-38-reopens-cleanup-goes)
Now this totally sucks, not because my riding areas have been shrunk, but because of the environmental damage. I hope that they get it cleaned up fast and not too much gets into the Santa Ana River. In the mean time I had better get used to riding some of my favorite trails backwards.
Yes, we get snow in southern california. Now it isn’t much and it isn’t often and it isn’t at the beach, but still we get some. Where most of the riding that I do is around 2,500+ foot elevation and the snow doesn’t really start till about 3,500 foot elevation it makes for some disappointing rides, where it starts off with nice tacky dirt and then after about a mile of great riding, BAM, snow and ice. So after a few months of this kind of riding, it finally cleared up so that I can get in a good ride. So off I went last Saturday to get in a quick ride. With my wife 38 weeks pregnant and a 2 year old at home I couldn’t be gone long but still in the end any ride is a good ride.
Now if you are a fan of our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IMSproducts you will notice that most of the pictures are of a very specific bike, a 2003 XR650R. Now the reason for this is that this is the only bike that I own. We plan on including more bikes and locations in future entries but for now this is what we got to work with.
Now the bike is awesome, 680 big bore, HRC cam, derestricted intake and exhaust, Precision Concepts suspension, 3.2 gallon IMS dry break tank, BRP triple clamps, and Kenda Trackmaster II front tire and Kenda 270 rear tire with heavy duty tubes provided by MTA. And the best part is the bike is street legal. With these modification and my amateur riding level there is more then enough power and performance to get me into and out of trouble, and I love it.
Most of the trials around where I ride are in the Angelus Oaks/Big Bear area, if you have done the annual Big Bear Run then you know the stuff I am talking about. Today’s ride was a shorter more local ride but after not being able to ride for a while and with all the snow and melting snow the landscape was completely different. It could best be summed up in one word, ROCKS. Man they were everywhere, from marble size to bowling balls, I didn’t know there were even that many rocks period and they just got worse. I had decreased my normal riding pressure for dual sporting from 22 psi front and rear to 16 psi because the tires just wouldn’t grip. I know in rocks you want to run a little higher to avoid flats (and since I didn’t have any of my tools with me I should have left it) but the 270 is more of a street biased tire and the low psi helped. After dropping to the 16psi the bike was a different animal completely instead of sliding and slipping around the bike would grip, yes the street biased 270 was like a trials tire and in a straight line even with all the power I had on hand in the 680 motor it had a hard time breaking traction, it would even pull the front end up. I normally have a Trackmaster II on the rear as well, but I have been doing a lot more street commuting and I felt bad wearing out such an amazing tire on the asphalt. Plus anyone who has ridden a hot XR650R knows they go through rear tires like no bodies business. But the tubes supplied by MTA were awesome not only did it make it through 11 miles of rocks but they got me home doing 65mph+ on the street with out feeling like I was on a half flat tire.
Even though IMS offers two other tanks for the XR650R, both which are bigger at 4.6 and 7 gallons, I prefer the 3.2 for off road work since it is slimmer at the knees and when full doesn’t upset the balance of the bike. Back when I was commuting a lot more during the summer months I was running the bigger 4.6 gallon tank and when I do long dual sport rides I use that tank as well, but for sorter off road riding I prefer the smaller tank.
With all the changes that IMS is going to be making in the next few months in the social media arena I hope that those of you who read these blogs can get something out of them and the jumbled process that is my writing style. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions and keep your eyes peeled, there is much more exciting things to come.