Sunday, April 6, 2014

Huh? Wha? Is it Spring?

No worries, I didn't miss the first day of Spring. I did manage to ride, although it was just my mundane, uneventful, 22 mile commute along a fairly straight, four lane highway, it was still a ride nonetheless.

Evidently, I seemed to have disappeared from the blogosphere (Trobairitz keeps my updated on everyone) as my job has taken me away from the computer and somewhat off the grid. This is a good thing, I am enjoying my new job and find it hard to believe it has been over a year. I've finally earned some vacation time now and look forward to some rides this summer.

We managed to get out once this year for a couple of covered bridge photos that Trobairitz wrote about, but that is all so far. The weather just seems to be so slow to warm up and the Oregon rain is making the pleasant and dry riding days few and far between.

I've been keeping busy in the garage chasing an electrical gremlin and charging issue in the Tiger by replacing a rectifier, only to discover that the culprit was simply a 30 amp fuse. Fortunately, I was able to return the rectifier and put the old one back in. Who knew the charging system was fused?

Then recently, I  wired both of our bikes up with Hyperlites, because you know, once I get something working fine I can't just leave it well enough alone.

These are great lights and seem to be doing exactly what they are designed to do, waking up inattentive drivers.

Other than a bit of yard work, a few honey do projects here and there, and one weekend teaching, it has been a quiet Spring so far.

I did manage to sneak a solo ride up to Oregon City this weekend for a Team Oregon instructor update presented by our very own Intrepid Commuter.  It was a good day, as I learned a lot and I was able to meet other instructors that I had not met before, and catch up with a few instructors I've either worked with or known prior.

I enjoyed the ride home, pretty much staying dry for most of it, but I realize how out of shape I am for riding. Less than one hundred miles and I was ready to get off the bike. Not only do we need to sharpen our mental focus coming out of hibernation, apparently physical reconditioning is required as well.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Snotgun Creek OHV

According to the Oregonian: Seventy-five percent of the state is in severe drought, with another 24 percent in moderate drought and about 1 percent in extreme drought, according the U.S. Drought Monitor.

I beg to differ, as the mud and slime we experienced yesterday definitely proves otherwise.

Polar Bear offered to haul me and our bikes out to Shotgun Creek OHV area for an afternoon of trail riding. 

 I'd never been to Shotgun Creek and despite hearing conflicting stories of the trails I decided to give it a go.

One of the stories I have heard from a very experienced KLR650 rider and friend is that they call it Snotgun Creek for a reason, it is slicker than snot. I've also heard from coworkers that it is quite technical and I've heard mutterings of a rock garden.  We did not attempt this.

Well then... Never Let Fear and Common Sense Stand in Your Way (NLF&CSSIYW!)

We unloaded the bikes and I proceeded to watch Andy disassemble his bike trying to track down an elusive spark issue. Evidently it was a faulty kill switch button, so with a snip of the wires it wasn't long before we were gearing up and off in search of some trails. 

We parked at the lower Crooked Staging Area under Andy's advisement that it is easier to roll a disabled bike downhill than it is to push it uphill back to the truck. That doesn't bode well, does it? We headed up an easy green run; much like ski mountain runs, offroad trails are designated by levels of difficulty from green to blue to black. Trail 26 starts off green then turns into Trail 22 which is a blue trail or "moderately difficult".

This is not my video, I found it online, but it is of the trail we took from the staging area. 

Thanks and recognition to liv2day00 for the youtube video! 

With a dualsport bike on DOT tires in February, I was definitely "broadening" my experience level.  As the trail transitioned from 26 to 22 and green to blue, the grade also transitioned from an easy climb to a much more challenging endeavor. The mud is a reddish, pottery clay consistency and the trail is heavily rutted which grabs your front wheel preventing you from maintaining any control of your bike whatsoever.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way as my front wheel climbed out of a rut then was pulled right back in, throwing me to the ground in an instant. As I hit the ground on my left side, something in my chest popped. Ahhh yes, that familiar feeling of an old injury from remodeling where I suspect I pulled a chest muscle or ligament. I picked up the XT, took a deep breath, assessed that nothing was broken... with me or the bike and proceeded up the hill to find Andy waiting. With both of us dropping our bikes once more on the way up, we stopped at a clearing to catch our breath. 

That's some slippery shit! Getting old sucks!

Making our way up to the road, we followed it back down to the truck for a bit of a break then decided to take the easy road up to the upper staging area or the new Cascade View OHV Complex. I didn't have my lovely, and photogenic photographer with me to take photos so I found these online.

I did manage to snap a couple of photos of Andy practicing what he learned last weekend from Jordan Szoke.

The sun was dropping so we rode back down to the truck. I did encourage Andy to try something stupid but I suspect he was nearly as sore as I was at the end of the day.


"Thanks for driving Andy!"

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day, Oh Yeah!!!

What to do when you have the day off and it dumps six plus inches of snow and counting?

So much for going for a ride...

Sorry Lucy, no ride today.

But wait! What's this? Hmmmmm.....

Should I? 

Cue maniacal laugh, mwahahahahahahaha...... 

Ho, ho, ho!

Pushing the XT out to the driveway is the easy part, the question is will she start with it so cold outside?

Suited up!

...and she's warming up!

Never let fear and common sense stand in your way.

I should have gone out earlier as I couldn't get any traction where cars had compacted the snow so I rode around the neighborhood on the shoulder. I spun out and dropped it once then decided to come home and play in the front yard instead.

Too much fun!!!

Since I was suited up, I may as well play some more.

Snow Angel by Aerostich

Brrrr, that cold!

Snowball fight?

Why take the car when the bike will do...

Who needs all wheel drive?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Playin' in the Mud

The past few weekends Polarbear and I have been going out and playing in the mud. The first time I rode my bike out to his place and we loaded the XT250 onto his trailer with his CR250 and took off to scout Huckleberry Flats OHV area.

We took it fairly easy as it was my first time on a dirt bike in nearly 30 years. However, it wasn't long before I found myself laughing maniacally in my helmet, racing around the warm up track, catching air and nearly missing turns with Andy right behind me. It was a good thing it was getting late as common sense and self preservation were not prevailing. We had a such a great time that Andy wanted to take his Polar cub out the next weekend to teach him how to use the clutch and gears, who was I to turn down an opportunity to play in the mud?

This time Andy picked me up and loaded the bike next to theirs and we were off to Huckleberry again. We took it much slower this time having the cub with us but that just meant finding more puddles and even more rounds riding through them.

I managed to snap some photos of Andy while he was making laps around the warm up track.

My favorite, reminds me of "On Any Sunday"

We loaded the bikes onto the trailer and took a detour up to a fire lookout tower, although the gate was closed a couple miles short of the tower we did find a beautiful sunset above the foggy valley below.

Needless to say with the sun shining, puddles to splash around and Rogey's song playing in my head.....

 I was hooked.


Of course after playing in the mud one must wash the bike. I learned real quick that this is not like washing a street bike, it's going to need much, much more than just a bucket and sponge. 


dirty, dirty

So on Friday I brought out the big gun, pressure washed it and I was race ready to tear it up again. 

All clean!

Andy rolled up Saturday morning, we loaded the trailer and stopped in at Saturday coffee before heading up to Upper Nestucca OHV for the day.

Of course it didn't take long before we found a puddle to play in.

Such an innocent looking puddle...

I was trying to avoid young cub coming the other way and detoured through the puddle. It was much deeper than I had anticipated, I stalled the bike and quickly filled my right boot with water. Oops! Fortunately I was able to stab the starter button, fire the bike back up and walk it out. I pulled up beside Andy, got off the bike, removed my boot and wrung out my sock. By the way, waterproof boots do work both ways.

For some unknown reason, this wasn't good enough for Andy and he had to see for himself, but it did make for a great photo opportunity.

I told you it was deep.

Andy's bike doesn't have a magic starter button and he wasn't able to kickstart it, so we had to drag it out. 

Keep kicking...

Polar cub rode around while I snapped photos and talked to the Yamhill County Sheriff who stopped by to make sure we were alright.

Me and Polar cub, who says I don't like kids?

Happy Polarbear

He eventually got it started and we made our way back to the trailhead and the truck.

We hope to get a few more rides in before the rains come and makes things too sloppy, but it seems that fear and common sense hasn't stopped us yet.  


 I'm playing in the mud, just playing in the mud.... 
having so much fun

♫  I'm playing in the mud, just playing in the mud.... 
don't tell my mum

Monday, November 11, 2013

Aerostich Roadcrafter Review

A recent visit from a friend and fellow blogger had me extolling the many virtues and nitpicking pans of both my Aerostich suits. I suppose I should offer a review and blog post.

During the Spring of this year, a Team Oregon colleague generously lent me his faded red Roadcrafter suit to test. I wore it back and forth to work for just a wee bit longer than I should have since he had to ask for it back, sorry Pat... but thank you. 

The convenience of the step in, full length zippered, one piece suit had me hooked, I had to have one. No more hopping around on one leg while struggling to get my boot through the other pant leg, all while desperately doing my very best not to fall flat on my ass or go skipping forward for a 10 point, triple salchow into a face plant. No more zipping up my pant fly, or rather forgetting to zip up my pant fly. No longer having to cinch up my belt to keep my pants up, making sure everything is tucked in proper and no more juggling two or more articles of riding gear, unknowingly dragging a sleeve or collar of my jacket through puddles across the parking lot making sure not to drop my helmet and have it bounce and roll down the pavement under foot. 

I now understand why Aerostich commands such a premium. Unfortunately, when I turned my piggy bank upside down and gave it a shake, it was empty...  I'd have to wait.

This past summer we drove up to Portland to visit with Chris from Everyday Riding whom personally recommended the Roadcrafter Light. It's practically waterproof and much lighter than the Roadcrafter. 

Great! Now I was torn between the two, which one did I want? 

I saved my pennies and I eventually went with Chris' recommendation of the more Oregon rain and weather resistant Roadcrafter LightThe 'Light' fit great, felt comfortable and even vented well on warm summer days (as long as I was moving). But I wondered if it would be warm enough come winter, so I turned to ebay and found a slightly used, hi-vis yellow Roadcrafter and bought it just to be sure. 

Now I am able to compare both suits back to back.

Roadcrafter Light
Back to Back

Please note that the used Roadcrafter is a few years old so it may not have the same options available on the newer suits, therefore, I'll start with the Roadcrafter. I do appreciate the heft, it feels well built, durable, safe. The ballistics in the shoulders, elbows and knees are made of a heavy material and I believe would stand up to years of road grime and general abuse.
The Roadcrafter is lined so it can be warm in the summer sun, however the heavier fabric does create a loose weave which may be the reason for the liner, whether for wind protection or rain resistance. The loose weave does seem cooler during my early morning, low temperature, fall commute. The liner holds the armor pockets which does make the suit easier to slip on and off than the Light, however the bulk of the fabric does make the Roadcrafter fit a bit more snug for layering.
The zippers are big and operate easily, I understand that there was a zipper upgrade in 2011 to a more waterproof version so this particular suit does not have that upgrade. Regardless, with a Nik-Wax Tech-Wash and waterproofing I haven't had any issues with water penetrating the zippers on my short 22 mile commute, but an all day ride in the rain may prove otherwise.

The Roadcrafter is a great suit, I do really like it and highly recommend it, but more often than not, the suit I reach for every morning is the "Light".

The Light is, in a word, light. The fabric isn't as heavy but that is not to say I don't feel as safe, I am confident wearing the Light for commuting, freeway riding and bopping along the backroads. If I were to go for a more spirited or aggressive ride in the twisties, or a multiday offroad adventure ride I might opt for the added protection of Roadcrafter instead, but I rarely ride those extremes.

The Light has a tighter weave, heat taped seams and lacks the bulkiness of a liner. The suit itself is waterproof and doesn't require a liner. I have personally tested it in a thunderstorm and torrential downpour on our little Yamaha XT250 (without a windscreen) and Chris was right, not a drop got in. And the Light just seems to fit better, allowing me to layer underneath as much or as little as I like.

The unlined Light

However, without the liner the armor is exposed which does make entry to the suit a bit more difficult as it requires a bit of a 'jump' to get the left shoulder armor to sit atop my shoulder. It isn't much of a problem in the summer when I am not layering but to get it over a sweater and/or jacket takes some finesse. Maybe that is why they're called jumpsuits.

Here you can see how the shoulder armor hinders entry, I may need to add some additional Velcro.
A bit of a struggle, but not too bad.

The Light vents very well, the rear vent and armpit vents open fully without the mesh insert and liner of the Roadcrafter. I do mean fully open, you can pass your hand through the vents.

Another feature I like on the Light is the magnetic collar, Aerostich placed two rare earth magnets in the collar tabs and two more above the breast pockets. This allows the rider to have the collar open for further venting in the summer and keeps the collar at bay and out of your face while riding or off the bike and standing around chatting. However, if you're going to be off the the bike longer than ten minutes or so it is easy to slip out of the suit and drape it over a chair, your bike or wad it up in a corner somewhere.

Magnet in the collar

Magnets...  magnetting.
The only other concern I have with both suits is the zippers run down the inside of both legs where they meet a snap at the bottom.

Snap at the inner leg cuff.

These snaps have a tendency to rub on bike parts, which is fine on an 8 year old,  50K mile Tiger....

Paint rub on cover plate.

However, one must be diligent when borrowing someone else's bike not to scratch the bodywork.

Overall, both suits are very well built. The Roadcrafter is made at the Aerostich factory in Minnesota and can be custom altered to suit your build, size and fulfill all of your desires, as well it can be ordered in an array of colors including contrasting color thread. Whereas the Light is made in Vietnam, limited to standard sizes, colors and cannot be custom altered.

A one piece suit offers the convenience and practicality of quick on and off over your street clothes, but unlike a two piece you do have to hang it, store it or wad it up in a corner as you cannot drape it over the back of a chair in the coffee shop.

I've considered selling the Roadcrafter, but just like I was in acquiring both suits, now I'm torn with letting one go. I think I need to do some more testing, riding, testing and riding. This may take awhile.


Bottom line: If you ride in the rain and want a cooler suit in the summer heat, go toward the Light. Otherwise, if you want the added protection of a heavier fabric or require a custom fit and alteration and prefer made in the USA, the Roadcrafter is the way to go.

Either way, you're not going to go wrong with an Aerostich.