Monday, August 31, 2009

NEMM round 4

Holy cow, what a good race day. Perfect weather, small entry list but the people that raced made up for whoever didn't show. The practice sessions went well, my XR100 ran flawlessly. Bill was having some minor issues but got through them by the time the heats started.

The Sport Cup heat was great, I can't remember the details except that Bill won, and I think I came in 3rd. He's been upgrading since the last race, and that bike is the business now...

note the fresh low pipe and that stonkin' silencer, and a couple BBR stickers...I think he doubled his BHP, but he's also riding better, a tough package to beat.

The XR100 Cup heat race was a surprise too, after a red flag on the first start, I had a decent re-start and was running in 3rd behind JD and Donald (I think). They crashed at some point and I held the lead till the end. At least I think that's what happened, anyway I started on the pole for that feature.

The Sport Cup feature went pretty well, I had a good start from the second row and was in 3rd behind Donald Newbegin and Ron Phinney (who was actually racing in another class, so really I was in second). I couldn't gain any ground on them, and I heard bikes right behind me but they weren't able to show me a wheel so we finished in that order, which gave me a 2nd place.

Next was XR100 Cup Feature, I had a crappy start, wheelied it, and JD and Rob Opiela (Unga Wunga) took the lead with me in 3rd, squandering my pole position! Once again I wasn't able to improve on the leaders but nobody was able to shove me out of the way and I wound up 3rd, which I was kind of proud of because this is a tough class. One mistake can send you back a couple places easily, and I've made some mistakes that I've paid for, but I got a decent podium finish this time.

I'll skip the Premium Cup 'cause I didn't race in it.

But I did race in the Enduro, this time with Rob Opiela and we rode Ron Phinney's KX85. The Enduro is a team race, two riders share a bike. The format is a 40 minute race divided into two 20 minute sessions for each rider. I wanted to try it on one of the "Premier" bikes and Ron Phinney generously offered his KX up since he would be teamed with his brother on the CR85.

Rob went out in the first group and managed to build a 3 lap lead in his 20 minutes. There was quite a bit of confusion at the rider change, not all the riders changing on the same lap etc. Anyway, I got on and tried to get up to speed without doing anything stupid (like crashing) and Aaron pretty quickly caught me and passed me, so now he was only two laps down. I got into a fairly good routine after that, figuring which gear to be in at the critical sections. Rob had told me 1st gear over the jump when we did the rider change and I agreed with that. Since Aaron was in front of me I could watch his progress pretty well and I was able to get into a pace that I thought might work out for a 2nd place overall. I got the 10 minute sign and was still feeling OK, about a lap later the red flag came out. Aaron and JD had tangled bars on the front straight, trying to pass Bill, and had a helluva wreck.

Click the photo

That ended the race right there, so Rob and I won the Enduro.

One of the highlights for me was trying to pass Bill, who was racing the NHF XR115, teamed with Steve Baker. Bill was running a real consistent line around the race track, which happened to be the same line I liked to use. I had to follow him for a bit to see where I could show him a wheel. That didn't work so I decided to use the 2 stroke power to my advantage, coming out of the "carousel" I down shifted to get the engine on the pipe and we had a drag race to turn 1, which I was pretty confidant the KX would win.

It did, but the whole thing was cool, I'm not used to having that much time to think about race strategies during a race.

I'm sure more photos will become available on the NEMM facebook page. All the racing photos of me are courtesy of Johnny Branson, the crash photo was taken by Sonja and lifted from caferacer.net.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday night moto at Fred's

Good moto day today. I started with some work on the KTM, which actually didn't go too well but I'll deal with it later. To make up for that I finished up with the brake on the XT500 and roosted that around 69 Bixby Hill and environs. That's got to be a neighborhood pleaser.

Then I met up with Allen Martin and we went to Shelburne Museum for their motorcycle feature exhibit in the Round Barn. There were some very cool race bikes on display as well as some vintage stuff and some custom bikes (yawn). Actually, I must admit that I did want to see two of the customs, Roland Sands' build using one of Kenny Roberts' 5 cylinder MotoGP engines, and the Goldhamer boardtrack bike were there and I respect those guys, so it was cool to see those bikes.

Got home from that, made the requisite phone calls and got an evening ride in at Fred's moto track. I got to borrow Fred's CRF250R for the evening, that was a highlight that I'll replay in my mind for the next few nights. Light, fast, handling is very intuitive, it knows what you wanted to do and takes care of it. Thanks Fred!
So anyway it was Hannah, Seamus, Scott O and Jason, and me.

Here's Hannah coming into one of the nice 180% bermed sweepers.

Seamus and Hannah hitting the lower table-top into the two 90's and the two kickers on the back straight. This is one of the most fun, and fast, sections of the track.

Here Jay and Seamus are going through one of the 180 degree bowls.

And here Seamus is doing the transition from the upper section to the lower section with the nice uphill exit to the left.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Well I was hoping to post some sweet shots of me and Scott O. on the home track yesterday. We had a good session in the woods, opened up some new sections and had some good laps. I'll get some pics and vids next time.
Unfortunately, on our last lap I took a downhill section a little too fast, got a little crossed up on the trail and hit a tree trunk. The bike stopped but I kept going. I tried to hang on to the bike as it was going down, but momentum was having it's way with me so I could only listen as the bike fell, and I heard an expensive thunk when it hit the ground. It's funny, I knew that it would be expensive without having a clue about what actually broke.
Here's the damage.

The FMF "Gnarly" pipe and EE carbon fiber guard held up pretty well, but transferred the energy of the impact through the pipe mounting flange on the cylinder. The flange broke.

Side view

Front view

These are what clued me in. I found them on the ground, couldn't identify them at first, but figured it out quickly enough.

Once again I've found great information on ktmtalk.com about how to go about repairing this. The flange can be repaired to better than new, so I'm taking it off and sending it to Cali. This could be the right time for me to do some other upgrades...radiator guards etc.

Monday, August 17, 2009

XR200R brakes

The front brake has been an ordeal on the XR200R. I've ordered several sets of shoes that haven't been close. I was determined to have the bike rideable by Sunday, so I held on to a set of shoes from an XL250 that were the right size but didn't have the correct pivot ends, I figured I could machine them in some way.

I wound up modifying the brake plate instead.

This is the brake hub with the pivot pin.

Here are the pivot ends of the shoes that came off.

My first attempt. I welded the little angle iron brackets slightly offset from top to bottom to prevent the shoes from working around the pivot point when applied. What I didn't account for was that they'd also move in the opposite direction when the brake was applied going backward. When I tried them on the bike I could spin the wheel forward, but not backwards. I had to take them off and add another shim;

Seamus did a little catalog research and determined that the steering head bearings must have been replaced, and that there was a good chance the triple tree was not original, which would explain why the steering stops aren't correct. We think the whole front end is probably from a mid eighties CR model.

I still need a new brake cable for the brakes to feel strong, the old cable has a kink in it that stretches out when the brake lever is pulled tight.

We didn't ride Sunday 'cause it was too damn hot. Figures...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday ride at Matt's

We had a great ride at Matt's place in Milton this Sunday. It hadn't rained in several days, so the trail had dried out quite a bit. Seamus and Scott O. and I had the trail to ourselves for the first loop. Then Matt's brother Jean-Paul and his buddy Randy showed up and came around for a loop with us. They're both fast riders, Jean-Paul has raced the Baja 500, it's not a good idea for me to try to keep up with him.
Anyway, it was nice of 'em to ride with us, they finished the loop and did another but we never saw 'em after they left us.
We did one more loop as well, and a few laps on the moto track and called it a day.
Here are some vids I shot. As usual, they don't give a good sense of the elevation change or degree of difficulty, but believe me, this stuff is harder than it looks.

This is Seamus dropping down to the "mud bridge". I just thought of that name, the bridge is really just some long narrow boards built on a frame that has been sunk into the surrounding bog. If you can manage to hit the bridge with your front wheel as you come off the steep hill, you'll probably get across just fine...Seamus makes it look easy.

Here's Scott doing it.

This is Sand Hill, we normally go up this hill but it's getting tougher to make it because of the deep ruts. I haven't ridden up it cleanly in a while. This time we decided to try it going down. Once again, the video doesn't capture the steepness, or the depth of those ruts. The top of the hill is probably another 50 yards and 30 feet above and beyond the trees where we enter here. Steep.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Golf anyone?

Grandma Christa drove up from N.J. for a short visit. She got here Sunday just as it started to rain, so we hung out on the porch for awhile and then watched some of the Buick Open. Just as Tiger was pulling ahead of the pack for good, it stopped raining, so we went to the driving range for a warm-up for our game on Monday.

I don't know whether this is good form or not, I've never seen my swing from this angle.

Christa still "got game".

Hannah with a light touch around the practice green.

Christa and I played on Monday at The Links at Lang Farm. We both had a mediocre front nine, she wasn't hitting 'em like she had at the range on Sunday and it was my first round of the year. I woke up on the back nine though, with several pars and a couple bogey saves. The course is great, the greens are fast and the gardens have never looked so good since they hired the new gardener!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tennis anyone?...

This photo was taken 2 days ago, on what used to be a tennis court about 40 years ago.

Janet, Robert, Jim and Imogene, on the (once upon a time) clay court of the Echo Lake summer retreat of the Mills Family.

Catching up on the XR200R

So as I mentioned in the last post, I've been working on the brakes and front end. It turns out that the front brakes on this bike are somewhat of a mystery. All the aftermarket listings show the same brake shoes front and rear, but this bike has considerably larger front brakes. Here's why they need to be replaced...

After several attempts at ordering shoes, I'm down to a couple possibilities, shoes for an XL model of similar vintage, or the OEM shoes from Honda. We'll know about the XL variant tomorrow.

I pulled the rear wheel back off to see if in fact the rear shoes were the same as the front, and discovered that they're not. In fact, I discovered that they're the same shoes as I have for my XL600 and various other old Hondas...the 200R shoes on the right.

I've also been concerned about the wiring, most notably because of the lack of a kill switch, but also because there was a mysterious "ground" wire running from the harness to the front of the cylinder head. I feared there would be some other modifications that could leave the bike and rider stranded in the woods, so I "took the plunge" and removed the tank to expose the wiring loom nightmare. While I was in there, I re-routed the throttle cable through the frame so that it wouldn't bind at full lock.

I hate electrical.

I removed the seat cover and cut the front of the seat down. It really needs new foam and vinyl, but for now it will allow Hannah to get her toes on the ground.

Here's the steering lock after I put it back together. I should have taken more material off. I will next time I have it apart, there's plenty of clearance between the tank and the forks at full lock.

More on the brakes and other stuff as it comes...