Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Hooch

The 2017 Hooch Recreational Dual Sport Rally is in the books. Three days of outstanding dual sport riding, after getting in early for a great 90 mile warm up!

See my Facility Rating of Two Wheels of Suches.

Overall, we encountered dirt roads such as in the next photo, very rough, rutted (washed) dirt roads, thick gravel covered roads and red clay that was very slippery, especially when it was wet. There were only a couple very simple water crossings on Sunday, although I caught a couple riders making it hard (see photos later in this post). The Saturday route included about 4-5 miles of the Wisenhunt recreational OHV area. That was single track and as you'd expect that was quite gnarly back in there. I got terribly lost taking a bad turn after my ride group totally abandoned me. Another guy did the same thing and we ultimately worked our way out. On sunday there was a hairy-scary jeep trail that had many steep inclines/declines and wicked water rutting...adventure bikes were asked to bypass. It wasn't as bad as the OHV single track but I wouldn't have wanted to do it on my 600 pound Super10. There are a lot of ways to go down, even for experienced riders. Assume you're going to fall and then think about your ability to get the bike back up in unlevel, rutty, soft situations.

My friend Howard Alexander from Lauderdale...left...who I met on the rally circuit a year ago. He just told me he was 69 years old. I need to be riding these rallies in 11 years (and beyond) too.

Torch, far right on the WR, lost it on gravel about 5 miles into the Saturday ride and ended up getting an ambulance ride to the Gainsville, Georgia hospital with six broken ribs, busted up shoulder and a bruised lung. As of this writing, he's still there.

Didn't see it happen, don't know exactly what happened. These things can be dangerous...they need 100% of your concentration! There were other broken bone level injuries on this rally...a total of three got ambulance rides to a hospital.

Lunch Saturday. On Sunday we were back at TWS for lunch before heading back out for the rest of the day.

I blew out my right AlpineStar Scout at Devils Creek back in March and then the left side here at the Hooch! I was carrying my shit-kicker wellingtons so those carried me through. Otherwise, I'da been riding with my sneekers.

I fixed the right with JBWeld, worked good so I'll use that on the left side.

Next two photos...

Okay, sitting there at second Sunday river crossing. A CRF230 seeming to be making a pass attempt on a BMW G450X right in the river bounces off the left side of the beemer and down the creek bed. Turns out dad was on the BMW and his young daughter was on the Honda. I'm sure they had some discussions later in the day.

More crossings...

This photo does not do justice to how steep that embankment is (like 110 feet) and how precariously hanging the jeep is. We couldn't see what was holding it up.

It was a great event. Hosted by Gartra, Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association.

Two-Wheels of Suches (Facility Rating)

Overall Rally Facility Rating: B

I'm just back for the two day Hooch Rally (short for Chattahoochee National Forest) up in the North Georgia Mountains. It was a two day weekend rally on June 10 and 11, but I rolled in a day early on June 8 and got a great 90 mile warm up in with some good guys on Friday. I checked out on Monday, June 12.

The Hooch was based at the Two Wheels of Suches Campground and Lodge in Suches, Georgia ("TWS"). TWS offers primitive camping, connected camping, cabins and a few lodge rooms. See the linked website for more details and a map.

I had my toy hauler set up for primitive camping at $15/day.

While I called well in advance, they advised that I would not need to make reservations unless I was staying in a supported camp site, cabin or lodge.

The overall facility is quite large, but unorganized particularly for those who have never been there before (and this includes having the campsite map in hand). When I arrived Thursday, late afternoon, the lodge was closed and there was no one to give me any guidance on where to park and set up. There were two entrances...wasn't sure which one to use and some of the camping areas were only accessible by foot or motorcycle. I parked in the trailer parking area which really wasn't where I would have liked to be...but it worked okay.

The campgrounds have a quite time of 10 PM. The area roads did not contribute enough noise to wake me in the middle of the night. The hooligan level for this rally was pretty low.

One of the most important amenities that I consider at rally facilities is the bathroom and shower. I like to take a hot shower every day and I do not like to either walk a long way or stand in line to use a bathroom. A short wait for shower use is reasonable considering that the whole rally group is rolling in off the trails at about the same time.

TWS had an outstanding shower and bathroom facility. Very clean. There were also two bathrooms at the lodge so bathroom facilities were reasonably spread out. Half a dozen shower stalls and each shower was private. That was nice!

Another important amenity is access to food...seriously. TWS has a restaurant, but it's neither open all the time nor does it offer a complete menu. The restaurant was not open the Thursday night that I arrived or my last night Sunday night. It was open for breakfast, including on Monday morning. It provided the Saturday night group dinner (spaghetti) but nothing else.

Rallies do not generally offer every meal to the participants. No problem...go someplace else. Well, easier said than done in the North Georgia mountains. If you need to go find food, get ready to drive a long way. There is just nothing in the mountains unless you like gas station pizza and microwave things that they try and pass off as burgers.

I'll be better prepared next time I go back to TWS, I'll be taking a cooler of stuff to supplant the rally meal schedule. Suches does have ice and firewood!

Overall, TWS is probably the best place I've ever stayed during a rally. It was the first time I got to use my toy hauler as a camper and that really worked out great. I gave the facility an overall ranking of B. TWS bathhouse facilities are positively off the chart! The lodge is large and extremely comfortable. My only frustrations were being hungry and not have a place to get (decent) food...yes, I did eat one of those pizzas from that joint across the road on Thursday night...and I would have liked to set up some place better than the trailer parking area and enjoy such a beautiful landscape.

Suzuki DR650

Why do you own a DR650?

Here's my answer broken down by area:

Size: In my old age I've become uninterested in the smaller dual sports. I've also become uninterested in the larger adventure class bikes. Been there as to both...done that as to both. I also currently have a KLR650...the DR650 is a step down in size and weight. It's a nice fit for me.

Price: I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I planned to beat the snot out of. When buying a dually in Florida, you're gonna need different tires, of course. Naturally, you're going to need some accessories. I didn't want to buy a bike that needs too much stuff. Currently running D606 tires. I purchased a tail rack and a bash plate. My son gave me a fat bar pipe...didn't really need it, but it is a nice bend on the DR.

Rallies: If you're a fast gravel/dirt/mud/sand rider and you like the rally circuit, you want a bike that is fast enough not to let you fall behind on the pavement between trails. All those inexperienced riders on their big-ass adventure-class bikes in your rally group will be moving up to the front of the group on the pavement between trails and then you're stuck behind these slow pokes when you get to the forest road.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Roll Chart Holder

Issue: I have a couple Moose Roll Chart Holders for dual sport rallies. They're designed to attach to the handlebar at the crossbar with a hose clamp. However, the new ProTaper bar that I installed doesn't have a crossbar. So I set up one of the chart holders for a Ram Mount.

Solution: I have a lot of left over Ram Mount stuff that I've collected over the years. I bolted a Ram 1" Ball to the chart holder and then put a ball on the bar. Viola!

When's my next rally?

The Hooch in June!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fat Bar Mod

My son and I purchased a new bar for our 2016 KLR650 after the stock bar got bent on a fall at Devils Creek. We picked out a ProTaper Contour Bar with a fat bar mount, but upon installation we really just didn't like it on the KLR, so we need to find something else.

As for the ProTaper, I moved it over to the DR650 and we really, really like it on that rig!

Bar: ProTaper Contour, Henry/Reed Bend, P/N 027925 ($67)
Bend: (inches/mm) Width=31.5/800, Height=3.6/92, Rise=2.4/61, Pull=2.2/57
           (OEM Bend Width=32/812, Height=3.1/79, Pull=2.3/58)
Mount Surface: 1 1/8", adapter required.
Control Surface: 7/8", stock controls fit.

The design of the Contour retains 7/8" control surfaces so none of the controls had to be replaced.

The installation required a bar clamp conversion. For that we used a ProTaper Universal Solid Mount Bar Clamp Adapter. The conversion clamp results in 3/4" of additional rise. ($36.00)

I was previously using universal risers on the stock bar so the height is just about the same when all is done. However, the stock height was 3.1 inches. The height of the contour bar is 3.6 inches + the adapter 0.75 inches = 4.35 inches. So overall, this set up is increasing bar height by 1.25 inches.

Installation is easy. I had to dremel away two placement nipples on the switch boxes. My Trackside hand guards obviously no longer fit.

After getting the bar installed, I decided to replace the grips and found that the throttle side grip was glued to the throttle tube such that there was no freaking way to get it off!

The OEM replacement part is a grip glued to the throttle tube as well. I purchased an aftermarket Motion Pro tube off eBay for around $10. See the part number for this tube in the photo.


Discovery Rally

Wrapped up the inaugural Southern Discovery Rally, March 31-April 1, based in Hohenwald, Tennessee. It was a 750 mile trip up to the Rally, but worth it.

This was the second use of the toy hauler (my converted utility trailer). Between now and my next rally I'm going to see if I can re-purpose it for toy hauling and camping.

The Rally was based at the Fall Hallow Campgrounds.

The campground was literally right across the road from one of the northern entrance points to the Historic Natchez Trace Parkway.

Primitive camping was $20 a night. Somewhat of a pain was that the place had only 2 bathrooms in one place on site for all campers. The bathrooms were a long walk from the private tent camp area. Also, while they had hot showers, they were in the 2 bathrooms!

On a positive note, the primitive camping area was very nice and I was able to set up right next to a river. I sat on the bank watching for fish; didn't see any. They said that the river had lots of bass and bluegill.

When I got back to Tampa on Tuesday. I heard that one of our riders had his motorcycle stolen at the campsite. Apparently it was a rare KTM so pretty big loss. I guess I (and everyone) needs to think more about the security of our equipment at these rallys. It's too bad that we just can't get away from this king of thing, even in most rural Tennessee.

Rider's Meeting...

There looked to be about 60-65 riders. Three groups set off on the same tracks each day. This particular club included a lot of supermotos; maybe a full quarter of all the bikes. There were only two large adventure bikes (both KTMs), one V-Strom with 2-up.

The terrains were largely what I call hard-pan; pretty much a clay/dirt surface, lots of gravel. No sand at all. As you may expect there was a good degree of elevation changes and the typical turns and switchbacks.

Three groups, same track, faster riders in the front. It was a very fast track. At one point the lead and I kicked our pigs and I was looking at 85 mph at one point.

The first day was about 106 miles and that is kind of long for this old man at those speeds. I kept up but I felt it the next morning.

After lunch, back on the trails. There was another event going on in the area called "Mule Days." We only encountered horses and mules once but apparently this was a really big event in the area.

On Saturday there were many river crossings. One river, we just kept going back and forth across it. It was mostly a rocky bottom, but one spot was a stretch of flatrock with super slippery moss and seaweed on top. About 25 riders...including me...went down in that hole. Fortunately it was only about 4-5 inches deep.

This guy had a new and super clean Africa Twin...splash.

Both the KTM Adventure bikes and the 2-up Strom...splash.

This hole caught everyone off guard, even those that made it. I know this kind of crossing and experienced it alot in the Texas Hill Country the couple times I've been there. It happens when water flows over a shallow flat surface. A normal rocky bottom crossing is feathering the throttle up and down accordingly through the rocks allowing the bike to bounce side to side. This flat, slippery crossing is a controlled straight line with more speed (actually momentum). Two degrees off on the front tire and it will wash every time. No, I did not walk the hole like I know I should have. I rolled up on the hole, the two in front of me made it and I assumed it was just another rocky bottom. My bad!

More water on Saturday...

The scenery was really quite spectacular. When we slowed down or stopped for a break it became clear that it was a really cool place to be riding.

This rally was the inaugural Discovery Rally. I heard that they were going to also have a Fall Rally. I'll definitely be going to those rallys. I hope Fall Hallow gets another couple bathrooms and showers installed before then!