Sunday, March 23, 2014

What a great F*ing Day!

Holy shit whata great fucking day.
Matt plowed a nice sized oval and road course on Arrowhead Lake, ostensibly to test his new tire, but he didn't mind sharing it with us. I picked up Fred and we met up with Rees, Aaron, Charlie and Randy and proceeded to tear around both the tracks to our hearts content. The ice was great, 'cause it was still freakishly cold out, but it was also pretty rough because we were crossing over some old car tracks that Matt's plow couldn't clean. So it was pretty hard work to go fast and be smooth, but it was still so much fun to be riding on another crystal clear winter/spring day.
There were lot's of great little episodes of epic slides and tank slappers and near crashes going on. At one point we were joined by a snowmobiler on the road course, who thought he'd be able to keep up with the bikes. He couldn't.

Fred and Aaron chatting. Charlie never took his helmet off.

L to  R, Charlie, Rees, some kinda weird Miltonian that just wanted to hang with us, and Randy.
Anyway, after riding for a few hours, Fred suggested that we go back to his place and ride the Browns River, which happens to be in his back yard. He had walked down to it yesterday and deemed it to be rideable. For many years now, he and Rees have been telling me tales of how epic that ride is,  and now seemed to be the time to see if it was all true. Well, OMf*ingG were they right. This was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced on a motorcycle. This is a rather small and narrow river, as rivers go, with high banks that often conceal what's around the bend, so flying along on the motorcycles, you get the full range of pucker factor from entering a turn in 5th gear or 2nd gear and not knowing exactly what's coming. One of the most exhilarating things I've ever done.
We ran a few sections near Fred's farm several times in both directions, then we went as far south as we could go until we ran into some open pools, turned around and went north for several miles until we didn't dare go much further, turned around and ripped at high speed back to Fred's. Everyone was so amped up, we had to go inside and watch the GoPro footage immediately, augmented with some beers.

Aaron, Rees, Fred and Randy....and my KTM.

Same crew, with Charlie joining.

There were many bridges to duck under.

Group photo.

Group photo 2

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Black Hole Sun

This is the shorter road course that we plowed last weekend. Rees is leading with the GoPro set-up.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Why We Ride

It's still cold here in Vermont! We had a recent warm spell, followed by a pretty good Nor'easter that dropped about a foot of snow on us, along with some arctic temperatures. There was still enough interest in ice riding among the hard core, so Aaron Gibson went out on the resident tractor and started plowing a new track. It was tough going at first, he started Saturday afternoon and the snow was still dense and wet, with slush underneath. Overnight, the temperature dropped to the low teens, and Sunday the plowing was a little easier, but still a big job. I was following behind with the 6 wheeler atv plow, trying to get down to clean ice with the help of Randy, who was acting as front end ballast and plow actuator. Ultimately we were able to scrape out a shorter road course, and 5 of us, Rees, Aaron, Chuck, Charlie and I raced around for a few hours, Randy hadn't brought his bike.

Charlie, about to get some helmet-cam vid.

This is Chuck giving his son a taste of ice riding.

Aaron, getting faster.

Charlie, getting faster too.

We learned (from Randy) that Roadside Motorsports was hosting a preview showing of the new documentary movie "Why We Ride", at one of the local multiplex's. So after riding a bunch of laps, we loaded up and headed to the theater. Charlie missed it due to time constraints...

Once we were in our seats at the theater, Roadside held a little raffle and I won this copy of the movie we were about to see.

They had also invited one of their customers to speak about "Why We Ride", I didn't catch his name. He said that after some thought about the topic he supposed that it was because of (or for) the "freedom" of it. That theme was echoed in the documentary a couple times. I just have to say, I don't know what that means. I don't think of myself as being more free when I'm on a motorcycle. I guess I have the freedom to pop a wheelie on the street, and if I get caught I'll have the opportunity to explain my freedom to the cop and ultimately the traffic court judge.
I can think of lot's of reasons why I ride, but freedom ain't one. No offense to the guest speaker, or anyone who does understand the freedom part.
Anyway, the movie. Why We Ride starts with motorcycling scenes from just about all segments of the sport, and sort of morphs into the typical format of a narrator introducing some of the great concepts of riding and racing motorcycles, with vignettes of interesting people explaining why they ride/race. Some of these vignettes are pretty funny, some a little more serious. There were a few things that I haven't seen or didn't know much about, so I saw some new stuff.
I won't say more, I'll let you decide. You can borrow my copy anytime or see it on the big screen at The Palace 9 Theatre on Shelburne Rd. or a theater near you.
Incidentally, I was the only guy to show up at the theater with a dirtbike in the back of my truck...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lake Iroquois Ice Day

This past Sunday was a great ice riding day on Lake Iroquois. The weather was perfect, mid 20's but bright and sunny, the ice was still rock hard. We had to modify our road course, ice fishermen had drilled holes on our back straight and water had flooded that portion of the track, making it a little too dangerous for the plow to clear, so Rees plowed a detour to the return loop. It was still a fun and fast road course and we spent most of the day riding it. There were 11 bikes running, with well over 20 people taking turns riding.
After about 45 minutes of open road course riding, we took a break and rode the oval. The road course actually starts and finishes on the oval, so it was deemed too dangerous to have mixed use. Riding the oval is great practice for racing dirt ovals, and for a lot of riders it's their only chance to try it.

Rees on the oval, preparing for a right turn onto the road course

The back section of the road course

Charlie turning onto the road course

Rees turning onto the road course, view from the inside of the oval


Joe (I think)...

Rees entering the road course, view from standing on the oval

Charlie on the road course


Aaron, Amanda and Charlie on his KTM

This is Neil riding my bike


Aaron, Matt & Neil

Parking in the center of the Oval

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lake Iroquois

Here we are in March, in Vermont. It's still cold...like 20 inch thick ice on the lake cold. Perfect for another day of riding. Fred and I met up with Tanner and Brad. It was Brad's first time out on the ice, and as usual for these things, he thought he'd just screw some "ice racing" screws into his knobby tires and come out and have fun on his CR250 2-stroke motocrosser. Well, he had some fun, but it really started when he got on Tanner's 450 with real ice racing tires.

Anyway, here's Tanner, Fred and Brad. Fred looking cold.

 Fred reinstalling his header pipe after I rode his bike so hard it spit the header pipe off in protest.
 Gassing up.
 End of the session, bikes loaded.
We've done some riding on this lake in years past, but I don't have photos to prove it. This year we have access to the lake via private property, and Rees has done a superb job of plowing out a long road course linked to a good size oval. More to come.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Honda XR/XL600 Streettracker redux

Wow. It's been a long time since I've written anything, if this blog can be considered writing. I guess I've gotten a little sidetracked by facebook. I also haven't raced much, the last race was a disaster that I chose not to put in the blog. Still paying E.R. fees on that one.
Ice season is upon us here in the Northeast, but with the ice last week came a Polar Vortex, and seemingly now the son of Polar Vortex is upon us... it was -18 degrees when I woke up this morning! I'm not going to put gear on and race around in a motorcycle induced wind chill of -50.

But on to different things, as hinted by the title. I recently repurchased the '86 Honda XL600 from Seamus's dad. I had sold it to him a few years ago, he wanted something to ride on the ice, and I needed some cash to fund the up coming racing season, plus I had decided it was time to let a few bikes go. In the end, he never did get the bike on the ice, but he did spend some time taking it apart and then letting it sit in his garage. It was a little worse for the experience from when I last saw it, but I was able to determine that it was still complete, so I bought it back.

I have a few concerns, the fuel tank hadn't been drained, so there was some nasty old gas in the tank and carbs. I can clean the carbs, and I'm hoping that the fiberglass tank doesn't leak. Beyond that, I just hope the rings haven't siezed and I still have decent compression. I think I'll need to freshen it up a bit, new chain, tires, some paint etc.

The idea behind buying it back was to get it back into shape as a streettracker, with the 19" wheels, lights and license plate back on, bring it down to Brooklyn and see if Scott can get somebody to pay lot's of money to own it.
Here's what it looked like last time it was on the ice, I'm guessing about 7-8 years ago...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Birding Lake Champain

On Sunday, I took a birding trip on Lake Champlain that was offered by UVM teacher Allan Strong, on the UVM research boat Melosira.

The idea was that we might get some better looks at species that would be difficult to see from land. Some of the rarer pelagic migrants that come down the lake don't hang around long, and often don't come close to either shore, so it sounded like a promising trip.

We left Thompson's Point at 7:00 am and motored north up the center of the lake to the "four brothers" islands, which are just south of the Burlington Waterfront. From there we turned south and followed the NY coast back down and then crossed back to our departure point by noon.

Right off the bat we started counting impressive numbers of common loons, with over 40 spotted in the first hour, mostly flying, though some were in the water. The really rare birds eluded us, but it was still cool to be out on the lake on a beautiful day, and I was able to add several species to my year list, which is shamefully low.

Here is a small flock of brant geese heading south down the lake.

No birding trip on or near the lake is complete without a look at a bald eagle. This one was remarkably tolerant of us motoring up for a closer view.                                                                                                                     

This is a map of the route with pinpoints for time and location on route..

Photos courtesy of Allan Strong and the crew of Melosira