Monday, May 26, 2014

OHV Mud and a BMW

Late last week, Polar Bear invited me to go play in the mud up at Huckleberry Flats OHV area on Saturday with him and his cub. I wrote about our previous trip, to the lookout and how much I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I couldn't turn down an opportunity to go again.

Saturday morning I woke to a text message stating he was on his way to pick me up, so I jumped out of bed and downed a couple of cups of coffee and a slice of toast. I rushed to get my gear together, wheeled the little XT out of the garage and was brushing my teeth when he pulled up.

We loaded up the XT onto his trailer and with another cup of coffee in hand we were off for a day of riding. The sky was overcast and the temperature a bit cool at 59ºF, but we were headed to higher elevations and hoped to leave the worst of the weather in the valley. We arrived about 10 am, the sun was shining and the temperature was just above 60ºF... perfect! We unloaded the bikes, geared up and Andy fine tuned the cub's little CR60.

I made a couple laps around the warm up loop just to get back into dirt bike mode... loosen up my shoulders, relax my grip on the bars, weight the pegs, lean the bike. That's better! Let's go!

I led the two bears onto the first trail out of the staging area, keeping it on the green, easy trails as not to hurt ourselves early in the day. Little bear cub trotted along as cubs do, slipping and falling on occasion but picked himself up and would poke along some more. I enjoy having cub with us, he keeps us "adults" from making stupid decisions. Riding behind cub can be slow going and difficult to pass as he tends to wander aimlessly back and forth along the trail, but I learned quickly that he avoids puddles so when an opportunity presented itself in the form of a long, shallow puddle I took it. Poor kid, I wish I had a camera, I looked over my shoulder to see the wall of water cascading down, he took it broadside. I laughed out loud in my helmet and admit I felt a bit of remorse, but that soon subsided when we came upon the next puddle and dad did the same thing... to his own son! I knew if Andy was capable of soaking his own kid, I was fair game and I distanced myself from him and any other puddles the rest of the day. We stopped up ahead for a bit and cub laughed while reciting his story of his recent initiation shower, so all was good.

We rode on until we came to a fork in the road, not ready for lunch yet, Polar Bear led the way down the road less travelled. Maps? We don't need no stinking maps! Needless to say, it wasn't long before we went from novice green trails to a bit more difficult blue trails. This should be interesting.

The trails descended down to a creek and bridge, but before getting to the bottom we had to pull cub out of the weeds first. This ended up being a good thing because it gave us a chance to scope out the next portion of the trail on foot and survey the best line to ride down.

I'm not so sure cub would've had made it down safely on his own, so Dad walked his bike down for him then hiked back up to ride his trials bike down. What a beautiful day for a hike in the woods!

This is much steeper than it looks on camera.

Polar Bear made it down unscathed as did I, now all we had to do was climb back up the other side. I went first and made it up without too much trouble. I stopped at the top and started walking back down toward the sound of kick starting two strokes, catching a glimpse of a small front wheel and a small bike looping out. What a beautiful day for a hike in the woods!

Finally, with all three of us at the top, we discussed taking the well groomed gravel road back to the truck for lunch. For some reason cub hadn't had enough punishment yet and tootled off, leading us down a rabbit hole. Alrighty then, the trail again descended down to a creek, this time sans bridge. I squeezed past another one of the bears' impromptu stops, made the small creek crossing and into an immediate "oooh shit", rutted climb up the other side. I caught the rear tire in a rut and up against a tree root, which caused me to stall the bike and lean into the bank. I thumbed the magic starter button, backed out of the rut and proceeded up the hill. I knew that this was going to be much too much for cub but... what a beautiful day for a hike in the woods!

Together again at the top, we took a break and in disbelief watched a half dozen quads come up the trail we just did! These weren't wimpy sport quads however, these were big workhorse rigs with winches on the front that you normally see on farms. I wonder if there is room in the garage....
We were getting hungry, cub was done for the day, so geared up and followed the road back to the staging area for lunch.

Andy and I spent the rest of the afternoon plugging about the rocks near the staging area on his trials bike, and making laps around the warm up loop.

- - -
Cue the BMW!
- - -

The warm up loop was muddy, much more than it had been that morning. After a couple of laps we sat at the exit on our bikes, about ready to call it a day ourselves when this young man showed up on a pristine BMW F650GS, looking like he just stepped out of a BMW brochure and Rev'It gear photo shoot. I swear his uniform still had the tags attached, it was that clean.

He dismounted his Heindenmeow shod steed, made eye contact with us, then sauntered over to strike up a conversation.

One must remember that although Polar Bears look all cute, cuddly, and approachable; they are wild animals and as such can be unpredictable.

Our new friend told us that he was camping just South of Oakridge and that he just finished riding the Aufderheide highway. He followed the signs to the Huckleberry Flats OHV, then sealed his fate by mentioning to us that he had an ATV permit on his bike.

I swear polar bears can smell naivete, because without missing a beat and in a straight out, bold face lie, Andy told our new friend that the warm up loop was an easy trail and he should try it.

I looked at Andy in disbelief, waiting for him to let this poor kid off the hook.

We sat there, on our bikes, covered with mud and in complete, utter amazement that Cisco Kid couldn't put two and two together. I finally mentioned that "there might be some mud in the corners", but that didn't deter him as he walked toward his bike.

I took one last look at Andy as he was scrambling to put his helmet on to follow this poor sap down his own rabbit hole.

He did quite well, standing on the pegs, navigating his 500 pound machine around the small puddles toward the shade of the trees. I came up behind him on a particular tight left hand turn as he slowly and very gently set his brand new SW-Motech crashbars into the muddy bank side. Motioning me to go around him, I declined, assuring him that I was fine and we were there to help if need be. He hefted his bike back up and proceeded over much higher whoops and through deeper water filled ruts before exiting out back to the staging area.

"That was a bit more than I had bargained for"

"Yes, but now your bike looks like a real adventure bike"

Not wanting to stick around and chat, he quickly shook my hand, mounted his bike and rode off toward camp.... or the nearest laundromat.

"Just think of the story we just created for him" Andy said.

I laughed, "You're an asshole!"

- - -

Sunday, May 18, 2014

EZ Oil Drain Valve

I was sitting in the library the other day reading one of the many motorcycle magazines I subscribe, Sport Rider in particular, and came across an article for a simple ball valve to replace your oil pan drain plug called the EZ Oil Drain Valve ($23.95).

Remember my incident a while back of the cracked oil pan? I had to remove the pan, pressure wash and degrease it so it could be welded to repair a couple of hairline cracks that were caused by an overzealous mechanic who took the term "crush washer" from pronoun to verb.

This repair to my oil pan creates an uneasiness whenever I change my oil, for fear of stressing the welds by tightening the drain plug to the recommended torque.

Upon reading the review, my fear shifted to dreams of a one time install of the EZ Oil Drain Valve and each subsequent oil change thereafter... cake.

I jumped online, found a free shipping discount code, placed my order and cleared my schedule for the following Friday to change my oil. 

The valve arrived from California within two days, then it was just a  quick jaunt on the Tiger to Autozone for some oil and a filter. Rotella T6 synthetic was on sale so I bought 2 gallons, 2 filters hoping they would fit in my pannier.

With the oil and filter home, my Tiger warmed, I was ready to get this done. Carefully removing the drain plug and old filter was easy peasy, the installation of the new valve was somewhat unnerving; were the threads tapered and what's with this o-ring? 

I threaded the valve into position by hand, then reached for my Saskatchewan socket set and ever so gently turned the valve until the o-ring seated against the flange of the pan. So far so good. I replaced the filter and buttoned everything up. Now to add the oil, add a little and check for leaks. Add a bit more, no weeps. A little bit more, check again.... then... meh, fill 'er up.

Looks good, but does hang down too low? Not any lower than the exhaust or filter, besides, the center stand hangs lower. Sure, the sidestand bracket will protect it, right? How often do I ride the Rubicon Trail anyway?

But that handle, ohhhh pretty, I'm tempted to touch it. Then visions of my friends being led into temptation flooded my mind; four litres of motor oil pooled under my bike and running down the storm drain at the next bike night are images I cannot get out of my head. So my next stop is the hardware store, the manufacturer recommends using a 5/8" hose clip to secure the valve from "accidental" operation.

That, and if I don't tell them they won't know, right?!?