Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feeling Better

This week has been a good week for me. My RA flare is 90% over now, I got to visit with my parents and I spent a day with my daughter. Not bad.

I went up to my parents house, about 80 miles north of us, and helped my dad finish trimming trees, cutting and hauling off the limbs and brush and repairing part of a fence. They were hit by a devastating ice storm in late January. I have been up there 5 days out of the last 4 weeks, I had to skip last week due to my flare, to help with the clean up around their 4 acres. Glad that job is done.

I spent most of the day today, after having a tooth filled this morning, with my daughter. I don't get to see her as much as I would like but I understand. She is overloaded this semester at college so between her school work and my weird work schedule, we talk by phone and email a lot. Today was a nice change.

Didn't get to do any riding this week, but have a good ride plan for next weekend. Below are a few pictures from some of our recent rides this year.


Overlook from one of the mountains.


Old bridge on one of our rides. Pick your line wisely, just enough room for a front tire to drop in between the boards!


Randall and Race riding an old logging road up in the mountains.


Race (in front) and I riding some good wide single track trail.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moderately Bummed

Last week I was living in the grasp of a moderately intense flare up of my RA. I had hoped it would ease up by the weekend so I could go ride, but no such luck. I ran across some old racing photos and must of spent 2 hours looking through them. I was remembering, laughing and wishing I was able to race again. Below is a picture from 1984 with me riding a 1983 KDX200 (look at all that smoke behind - HA).



I will post some more old racing photos from time to time so follow my blog and laugh at the past with me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Living In The Grips Of Arthritis

I tend not to focus on my pain I have, but instead try to have a good time, laugh and enjoy life to the best of my ability. I am not going to let pain have that much control over me. That is until I have a flare up.

I began hurting about half way through my shift at work Monday night. I work 12 hour shifts on concrete operating a printing press that has 3 different levels (3 stories tall if you wish to call them that). We had a lot of problems with paper breaks so I was up and down stairs all night as well as crawling around in the floor webbing the press back together. This combined with really cold temperatures that rolled in Monday afternoon, a change in humidity and riding 120 miles off road over the weekend I believe all attributed to my hurting. By the time I got off work at 7am I could hardly walk. My hands, feet, ankles, knees and right shoulder were all fully under the control of the flare up by this time. I crawled in bed and slept all day, rolled back out of bed to a hot shower, shave and back to work. Tuesday night was no better and by the time I got off work Wednesday morning it had moved up into my neck. This is a new area for me and I don't like it. I am usually laughing and having a pretty good time at work but everyone knew I was hurting and just left me alone. They understand I am not mad at any of them ... I just want to be left alone until I start feeling better.

By the time I got off work Wednesday morning I was hurting so badly I felt like I was going to throw up. A flare doesn't usually hit me this hard, so this one even had me concerned. This is my fourth day into this flare up and the pain is starting to subside. My shoulder, hands and feet still hurt, just not as bad as they did. Anyone with chronic pain knows what I am talking about, you take note of all changes in your pain level, good or bad.

Hopefully this flare is on the down hill side and won't last more than 2-3 more days. The weekend is almost here and I need to ride!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Lesson Learned (the hard way)

After riding on Friday the 13th and hurting my buddy Dozer (see previous post) I headed out with Randall on Sunday. We had both worked Saturday night (Randall worked 14 hours and I worked 13) and got off at 7am Sunday morning. We did not have to work Sunday night for President's Day so we decided a ride was in order after 3-4 hours of sleep. I arrived at Randall's about 1 pm and we loaded up and headed off to the woods.



We had an excellent day riding, found some new (at least to me) trail that was incredibly fast (40-55 mph) without a rock in it. We also missed a turn and rode some of it twice which was fine because the 525's were made for this type of trail. We got caught on one of our favorite trails late in the afternoon. The ice storm that had come through 3 weeks earlier had left a lot of downed trees and we were riding 200 yards, getting off of the bikes and moving tree branches, limbs, and brush. In most places the woods were so dense that you could not ride around the fallen debris. It was getting late and we were running out of daylight quick. We finally made it out of the woods, lit the 525's up and arrived back at the truck just at dark.



We thought our excitement was over. Boy were we wrong! Randall has a heavy duty lock on the back of his HiPoint trailer and the numbers are not highlighted with paint, they are stamped out of the metal. Randall and I both have excellent vision ... far off ... one foot in front of our face, we're both blind as a bat. We started my bike and aimed the light at the lock, Randall tried, I took a turn at it, we took Randall's cell phone and tried to use the light off of it to see better. All to no avail and by now it is dark, foggy and cold. We both had our reading glasses locked safely inside the trailer ... the one with the lock on it that we can't read. A bit of sadistic irony here but a lesson learned. Even on short trips when we're not taking maps, pack your glasses in your fanny pack! After 20 minutes of this I broke out into laughter while trying to read the numbers and yanking on the lock to no avail, Randall walked around the side of the trailer. I hear a muffled "I'll be damned" and I feel the trailer move. My first thought is "Great, the trailer has a flat tire also".

But instead of more bad news, it was some much welcomed good news. Randall had not locked the side door (something I still can't believe for Randall) which worked out great for us on this particular day. Once inside he found his glasses and opened the lock. It was well after dark by the time we loaded up and once again we have another story to laugh about.

My Buddy Dozer

It was 10:30 am Friday the 13th, I know what you're thinking, "What are you going riding for on Friday the 13th anyway-are you stupid?". Turns out ... yes I am. I have been telling one of my friends from work that I was going to take him riding in the woods but we could just never hook up on the same days off. That day finally arrived on Friday the 13th. The temperature was in the mid 50's with a slight breeze from the north as we headed out at the crack of noon.



Dozer is one of my new best friends that I met at work. I know a lot of people but I don't take lightly the task of bestowing "Best Friend" status to someone. Dozer is 6'5", weighs 310 lbs and rides a Harley. He is at first glance a bit overwhelming, you don't know whether to run from him or just stand still hoping that maybe he won't notice you. First impressions aren't always correct. Dozer is a "Family Guy" (but not as screwed up as the show by the same title) with 2 daughters and 2 step daughters. He enjoys camping, kayaking and of course motorcycles. He is the kind of friend that would help you out however he can. We like to go downtown on Thursday nights and listen to live music. My daughter told me that she was out with some friends last summer and they were listening to the band and talking when he walks up behind her and stands over her while she is seated at the table. She said the table just went quite and everyone of the girls was looking up over her head. About that time he grabbed her shoulder and she looked up and said "Oh hi Dozer", to which a collective "whew" was heard over the band playing.

We dropped off of the mountain we parked on rather slowly letting him adjust to the bike. A 225 lb two stroke dirt bike is a world apart from a 800 lb Harley dresser, but he was doing excellent with the transition. We rode some dirt roads, asphalt and logging roads before hitting the first single track trail of the day. At this time we switched and I let him take the KTM 525 and I jumped on the nimble little two stroke. We rode up a steep long hill with switchbacks and a couple of limbs at face level (just ask Dozer - I think he found both of them) before leveling out on top of Walker Mountain. From there we rode a faster more open trail ... that has several trees down across it ... BIG TREES. Dozer negotiated the fast little obstacle course with little or no problems. In fact his only real problem seemed to be arm pump, a common side effect of off road riding when you are not used to it. He was doing really great for the first time out, but after the single track, I tried to ride some easier stuff so he wouldn't hate me so much.

We had about 43 miles in when the Friday the 13th curse hit. We were almost back to the truck and were scooting along at a fair pace, I cross over a low water bridge pin the throttle, hit an intersection and turn around to check for Dozer. No Dozer, ok just wait a little bit. Still no Dozer, shut my bike off and listen ... no engine noise can be heard. Not a good sign. I start my bike up, turn around and start back tracking and as I turn the corner by the low water bridge, I see him ... laid out on the ground in pain. He tells me he's pretty sure he broke his foot. After some time he gets up and walks ... well ok hobbles around. I tell him I will ride back and get the truck but he assures me he is able to ride back to the truck. He rode the 8 miles back to the truck, and after going to the doctor discovered he had in fact fractured 3 bones on the top of his foot just in front of his toes. I feel really bad about dragging him out there to ride, well ok, the real reason is I'm afraid he is going to punch me once he heals up but for now I can run circles around him!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Best Friend Randall

Randall is my absolute best friend. He would do anything for you and has helped me out many times. We have ridden and raced together as well as being roomates for about a year. If anyone needs a friend, they would want a friend like Randall has been to me.
It's kinda funny, we first met through our ex-wives. We had seen each other around town, usually with a dirt bike in the back of our truck, but it our ex's actually had a class together and introduced us. We hit it off and started riding together on weekends. Soon we were both divorced (about a year apart) and we wound up working at the same place about 80 miles south of where we had met. Randall had told me about this place he was working for that paid really good and worked 4 days on then you had 4 days off. I said that sounded good and he actually got me an interview with the place. At this time he was racing quads and I was racing enduros. We had a duplex and our garage was amazing. Wall to wall toys and tools! There was one race that Mike and I were going to at John Zink Ranch and since Randall was not racing his quad that weekend, he went with us. We got to the race Saturday afternoon, Mike and I got our rider packet and set our computers and made a reset sheet to tape to our handlebars. We then went back to town and got a hotel room. We had brought my mountain bike for Randall to ride around on and take pictures. The hotel was quickly filling up with fellow racers and there was a crowd that was gathered up on the balcony around the second floor. I don't remember how it started, all I remember is Randall saying "I think I can ride the mountain bike down the stairway". Mike and I did what any self respecting friends would do at this point... "I know you can!" Well, he made it ok down the first part of the stairs to the landing and turned the bike for the final descent down the stairway. The other racers were cheering him on and call it peer pressure, call it sheer stupidity, Randall attacked the final runners of the metal stairway the only way he knew how... wide open. He almost made it to. Mike and I raced the next day and returned without a scratch on us while Randall, who had just gone with us to spectate, came home missing skin and bruised!
Randall and I have been through a lot, he is a cancer survivor, I have RA and for the most part am doing ok with it. I can't imagine not having Randall and Mike to ride, laugh and do stupid things with.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Best Friend Mike

We all have aquaintenances that we work with, go to school or church with but it is rare to find people that share a passion for hobbies so much that a simple ride turns into a long lasting friendship. I have had this happen with a few of my best friends and would like to share a couple of them with you.
Mike is one of my two best friends that I have. We first met by chance when we were both 18. He was supposed to meet some other guys to ride with, but they didn't show and I passed him in my truck with my dirt bike in the back. He followed me and asked if he could ride with me. He was new to the area, moving from the middle part of Kansas and knew no one in Arkansas that rode dirt bikes. We started riding together and hit it off really quickly. I had started to venture into motocross racing but he introduced me to enduros and harescrambles. I immediately loved cross country racing, but I required a lot of improvement. Over the next 13 years we raced on the Black Jack Enduro Circuit, Arkansas Hare Scrambles, Missouri Hare Scrambles and OCCRA series as well as a couple of SERA events, a couple of National Enduros, 1 National Hare Scramble and some ISDE Qualifiers. We were in each others weddings, have watched our kids grow up and still have the same love for riding that we had when we first met 33 years ago.
With family responsibilities and careers, we don't get to see each other like we used to but when we do, it is like we have never been apart. My wife once told me that she envied me having a friendship like that because her and her girlfriends do not have that connection.
I had not ridden with Mike since a large group of us went to Colorado in August 2007. He came down on Thanksgiving weekend 2008 and we rode all day (120 miles). But more than the ride, we just enjoyed seeing each other again and along the ride we stopped at a small town and had a cheeseburger and caught up on family stuff and relived some past racing memories.
I don't have to worry about Mike's friendship. I know we will be friends and continue to talk on the phone (we now live in different states) and ride together when we can until one of us passes on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maintenance Log

I am a firm believer that you should keep a maintenance for your dirt bike. I have done this for many years dating all the way back to when I was racing. I now have an Excel sheet set up that keeps track of the mileage at which I do oil changes, spoke adjustments, valve inspections, tires replacement/wear, coolant flushes, fuel screw adjustments...basic stuff like that. I also keep up with what type of riding I was doing such as dual sport or hardcore single track. I have just started a log for my new bike and will share part of it with you.

Every ride after cleaning.

• Check chain tension and lube.
• Check your air filter, clean it every other ride.
• Give it a general going over to check for loose bolts, spokes, lube folding footpegs, shift, brake levers and kick start lever and check that everything is where it should be.
• Check all controls for smooth operation, inspect grips, cables for fraying etc.
• Check chain and sprockets for wear.
• Check radiators for damage and leaks, also check coolant level.
• Check tire pressures and inspect.

Periodically throughout the season.
• Inspect wheel bearings for wear and replace if required.
• Inspect swingarm and headstem bearings for wear, clean and repack with grease or if they're too worn replace.


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If anyone is interested in my Excel maintenance log, email me and I will send it to you to use or modify for your use.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dual Sport Christmas

I am new to dual sport riding, but what we (my buddies in the picture above the blog archive) do is more geared towards the woods than real dual sport riding.  If someone tried to take a BMW 650 or even a Honda XR650L with us, they wouldn't be very happy with most of the ride.  Three days before christmas 08, Randall, Darel and myself headed out.  We unloaded to what was a perfect morning, temp was already in the 50's, sunny and we were on our way.  Darel is a great guide and knows more trails than I would ever be able to ride.  Not to mention he knows EVERYONE ANYWHERE we go, which has come in handy more than once.  We dropped off of a long treacherous mountain with twists, turns and big damn rocks everywhere.  Once at the bottom we picked up the pace quickly and scooted across a river, rode a section (about 2/10 of a mile) of train tracks and were starring at a little slice of heaven in front of us.  We hit the woods again and rode the next 6-8 miles at a brisk pace.  That is when we came to what is now dubbed "Terry's Hill".  Oh well, at least I didn't have to die to get something named after me.  I had just bought a 07 KTM 525 XCW and the guy rode it (all 1000 miles) on asphalt roads where he lived (out in the country) so the rear tire was basically a slick and I didn't have the money to replace it yet.  The rains we had received combined with all of the tree roots and leaves that had dropped off of the trees made for very slick riding through this one part.  The hill, well ok, it wasn't really a hill, more about the slope of your average driveway combined with the wet slick leaves rendered the hill unpassable for my bike.  My cohorts were doing what any good buddies would do at this point... laughing their ass off at me! I literally was off of my bike and letting out on the clutch and the Terraflex racing slick was spinning but the bike was not moving an inch.  Darel, after he finally stopped laughing, came down and we had to actually push my bike up the 50 foot hill.  
After that we rode some incredibly fast, tight trail and dropped off of the mountain we were on to about 3 miles of asphalt.  Back to some more open really fast trail and about 3pm we ran on to a small town that we stop at on our rides.  They have a small store/restaurant that makes the best cheeseburger you have ever eaten.  After 90 miles we were definitely ready for one and after eating, started back towards the truck.  We hit a hill (real hill this time) that was over 1 mile long, that was steep with 2 sharp turns, ruts and large rocks strewn up and down it.  The 525's were made for this and I remember thinking just before we hit the top "I'm sure glad I'm not on my 2 stroke".  We ventured on, missed a turn, got lost and Randall had a flat rear tire he had to change before returning to the truck.  
All in all, a great day to be in the woods.