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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TLC for the TW200

Two weeks ago my 2009 TW200 received some much needed attention.  Thank you Troubadour for taking care of the wee beastie.

As you might have read in my previous post (link HERE) the chain came off the rear sprocket the last time I rode it in January.  On its way off it managed to bend a few bolts.

(Bent bolts on the TW200)
With great effort, Hubby was able to remove them.  I think he used a BFH.

(The top two are bent, the bottom one has smooshed threads)
In doing research online, Troubadour discovered that the word on the street forums is that the stock chain is crap and should be tightened after every ride or swapped out for a better quality one.  And, if you were to go from the stock 50 tooth rear sprocket to a 47 tooth, the gearing would be a little better for the highway without losing too much torque down low for the off road bits.

Done.  A chain and sprocket were ordered and delivered within a week.  Ordering the sprocket and chain were easy compared to finding proper bolts locally.  We needed a shorter shoulder on them since the new sprocket was a smidge thinner.  After searching several places we finally ended up at Wilco and bought the correct bolts.

(Left - old rear sprocket - Right - new rear sprocket)

(New chain and new rear sprocket)

(Ta-da, shiny new chain and rear sprocket on a very dirty bike)
Now, I do have to fess up. It was quite chilly the day that Troubadour wanted to work on the TW, so I was a wimp and hung out in the house where the ductless system throws out nice warm air. My time spent inside was not in vain.  I made scones for my mechanic.  If it was summer I'd pay him in cold beer, but for now scones warm from the oven do the trick.

(Lemon blueberry scone)
Now I just need to find some time to take the TW out for another gravel road adventure. Troubadour took it on a short shake down ride for a few miles and filled the tank for me.  Thank you Troubadour.   I am race ready.  Well, as fast as a TW200 can race.

- Au Revoir

"  We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Last Sunday of January Hike

On Sunday January 28th Troubadour and I decided we needed some exercise and hiking sounded like a fine idea.  As usual, the hardest decision was figuring out where to go.  We knew we didn't want to drive too far away and rain was forecast to the south.  We chose to hike in the Oregon State University (OSU) Research Forest, aka McDonald-Dunn Forest.  It is located north of Corvallis and contains nearly 11,250 acres of forest.  We've been up there many times on our mountain bikes and hiking too.  

On this day we chose a gate located off Tampico Rd.  It is one we've not started from before.  We were going hiking in the Dunn Forest starting on Rd 400. The parking area is the 'P' just to the right of center of the photo below.

(Hiking in Dunn Forest)
We have a book called Corvallis Trails: Exploring the Heart of the Valley, that we reference for hikes in and around Corvallis.  It describes this one as moderate and not busy.  We were thinking of one other trail, but it was listed as difficult and we haven't been out walking much lately.

A 1/4 mile up Rd 400 and we turned right on Rd 420 to do the loop counter clockwise.

( A perfect day for a hike in the woods)

(Notice the mist down the left-hand fork)
We took the left fork thinking it was the correct way.  It ended a half mile down.  As we turned around Troubadour noticed a snail shell on the ground.

(Hello Snail)
We walked back to the fork and took the right hand road.  It is all gravel roads in this area and not trails, but they aren't always marked very well.

The mist was on the move and soon we were in the midst of the mist.

(Misty morning on the mountain)
As fast as the mist rolled in, it rolled on past leaving the sunshine to stream through the trees.

(Sunshine lighting up the forest)
The forestry program at OSU does active logging in both the MacDonald and Dunn forests. Certain areas show evidence of past harvests.

(Nature is reclaiming one of its own)
At one point we turned onto Rd 300 and it was along there, I think, that we came upon a drainage pond of sorts.  There were many salamanders in and near the water.  We had to be careful of where we stepped.

(Salamander heading in for a swim)

(Hello Mr. or Mrs. Salamander)

(Even the Woolly Bear Caterpillars were out - odd to see them this time of year)
Along Rd 300 we came to a ridge where we could see all the way across the valley to the Cascade Mountain Range.  At first we could see the Three Sisters to the southeast and then Mount Jefferson came into view when looking a little further north.

(Left - Mount Jefferson / Right- the Three Sisters)

(A zoomed in view of Mt. Jefferson)

(And the Three Sisters)
At this point we were about half way and at another fork in the road.  We stopped for a few minutes and snacked on Lara Bars before turning to go down Rd 400, which would loop us back to the trail head. 

(Troubadour making a wooden cairn)

(A picture of Troubadour taking a picture)

(Had to have at least one selfie - photo by Troubadour)

(Panoramic by Troubadour)
As we started walking down Rd 400 you could see further north and Mount Hood came into view.

(Left - Mt. Hood / Right - Mt. Jefferson)
We'd been steadily climbing since the trail head.  By our estimations we were about half way through the loop and the gravel road started its winding path down the mountain.  This is where we'd wished we'd have brought the trekking poles with us to make it a little easier on the knees. It was quite a steep grade at first but eventually leveled off to an easy walk down.  There were little uphill rises here and there but it was mostly downhill.

We came upon a little stream running through a culvert under the gravel road.

(Winter rains bring rushing water - a look down stream)

(And a look up stream)
The above picture was taken after Troubadour was down by the water.  He'd spotted something bright pink on the stump.

(Treasure?  Out here in the forest?)
Occasionally when hiking we will see a rock someone has written a motivation phrase on or painted brightly for someone to find.  Troubadour found himself a pink elephant.  

(Smile or 5-mile?  Either way we smiled and were about at mile 5 of our hike)
I played around a little in iPhoto, I think I like the black & white version better even though it isn't as vivid.

(Same photo in black and white)
Another push up a hill and back down again.  Last picture of the day was on one of the uphill sections to show the scale of the trees.

(Tall trees in the forest)
We made it back late in the afternoon.  When all was said and done we'd hiked 7.2 miles (11.58 km).  Not bad considering we forgot to warm up or stretch before setting out.  And yes we were a little sore the next day or two, but it is the beginning of the year and the hiking will get easier.

- Au Revoir

" And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul." - John Muir
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Monday, January 29, 2018

Rock the Crash Bars.....

My own take on "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash.  And the song that kept going through my head as we were discussing installing the crash bars on the Versys.

Sometime before Christmas we ordered a T-Rex Racing skid plate and SW Motech Crash Bars for my Versys 300x.  While the skid plate arrived right away, the crash bars didn't arrive until a week or so ago.  Last Saturday after coffee, we finally got around to installing them.

Luckily, Troubadour did an oil change for me a few days prior.  I've now got 1,000 miles (1,609 km) on it  and was a wee overdue for the first oil change.

Please note before you continue reading that the skid plate and crash bars are the cleanest part of the bike.  It hasn't had a bath since.......ever.  No spa days in sight either since it is still winter.


(T-Rex Racing Skid Plate)

(Alternate view of T-Rex Racing skid plate)
It was fairly easy to install - 3 brackets and a few bolts all provided.  The brackets weren't labelled and there were no paper instructions, but there was a video online that we referenced. The lower plastic cover on one side was removed for the oil change, so there wasn't as much prep work.  The skid plate also uses existing mounting points and they provide new bolts.

(Prior to install, nice exposed exhaust and oil filter)

(With skid plate installed)
See.....cleanest part of the bike........

Next up were the crash bars.  Two pieces and a little bag of install necessities.  I must say that I was impressed with how well packaged these were when they arrived.  Inside the box everything was double wrapped in bubble wrap and taped closed.  No way were they even going to get a scratch before arriving.

(SW Motech Crash Bars for Versys 300x)

(All the bolts, nuts and washers required for install)
Luckily the bars came with paper instructions.  The hardest part was breaking loose the main engine bolt.  Even the impact driver didn't want to loosen it.  Luckily Troubadour finally muscled it loose and from there it wasn't hard at all.  Unscrew this, take out old bolt, add a spacer and new bolt/washer..... rinse, repeat.....

(A dirty Versys 300x before the install)

(SW Motech Crash Bars installed)

(Left side before)

(Left side crash bar installed)

(Right side prior to install)

(Right side after install)

(Skid Plate and Crash Bars installed)
And, I couldn't forget to thank my mechanic and handyman extraordinaire.......he prefers scones. This time it was cardamon with crystallized ginger and dates.  Yumm.


Now I just need another nice day to get out and ride.  Alas, it is still winter.

- Au Revoir

" Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat." - Author Unknown
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

January Gravel Road Ride

So far we have lucked out with the recent weather in Oregon.  While it is winter, we haven't had any snow in Corvallis and the days of rain have definitely been less frequent than last year.  We'd been eyeing the weather forecast for this weekend and following three days of pretty good rain were a few days of sunshine.

We made a plan to ride to coffee and then tootle around some gravel roads after and see where the day would take us.

We left the house just after 9 am.  The temperature was 44˚F (6.6˚C) and the fog was thick.  The 5 mile ride to coffee wasn't that pleasant.  I had my yellow lensed glasses on to see better but the condensation on the visor (and my glasses) by the time we got to coffee was not fun.

We sat around and chatted until 11:30 when the fog burned off and the sun came out to play. Four of us were heading off together for a wee adventure:  Andy, aka Polar Bear was on his orange Triumph Tiger, Brad, aka Troubadour was on his Suzuki DRZ 400, his buddy Jeff, aka Lefty, was on his Suzuki DRZ 400. I Trobairitz was on my trusty mostly trusty Yamaha TW200.

(Brad, Andy, and Jeff getting ready to ride)

We took the back roads to Philomath and then headed west to Woods Creek Road.  It is a road we know well and enjoy its gravel and elevation changes. We meander up then down.  I usually worry about the downhill side as it doesn't see a lot of sun and can be quite muddy.  This time it was the uphill climb that was rather muddy, but the downhill side was fine. There were a few large puddles, probably the largest I've ever ridden through.  Nice to know my Sidi Livia Rain boots are still waterproof after all these years.  Jeff found out the hard way that his boots weren't quite sealed.

We made a few turns and stopped at a clearing where we've stopped a few times before.  It gave the guys a chance to water the tree stumps and take a break.  We were on a ridge so we could see the other hills around us.

(My TW 200 with tail bag - the packhorse of the day)

(A view of the coastal mountains)

(The view without the bikes)

(Troubadour's DRZ 400)

(From the left - Polar Bear, Troubadour, and Lefty in the helmet)
While we were here a gentleman rode up on his Triumph Scrambler Street.  Nice looking bike. We chatted for a bit and before he left Lefty asks him to take a group photo of us.


(Troubadour, Polar Bear, Trobairitz, Lefty)
From the clearing we rode into Burnt Woods where we could stop for fuel. Well, Lefty and I needed fuel, Troubadour has a Clark tank on his DRZ and Polar Bear's Tiger is a fuel tanker so they were good.

(Troubadour and Polar Bear)

(Polar Bear basking in the rare winter sunshine)

(Lefty after fueling up his DRZ 400)

At Burt Woods we turned East onto Highway 20 for two miles and then turned North on Clem Road. I was last out this way in May 2016.  In fact it was just after Clem Road when I hit reserve on the TW and was almost out of gas. (Notice I fuelled up at Burnt Woods this time).  I wrote about that ride HERE.  

It was a mile or so up Clem Road when the ride went a little pear shaped.  We were headed uphill after a left hand corner when I heard a loud "bang" and then nothing.  The bike was running but I had no forward momentum.  I called to Troubadour and Lefty on the Sena radios that I was stopped.  Polar Bear rode up behind me and said my chain had come off.  I said "my chain came off?"  Which the other guys heard in their helmets and turned around.  Polar Bear's battery had died on his Sena so they couldn't hear him talking to me.

I was sitting there with my hand on the front break not wanting to lift my foot off the muddy road to use the back brake. Troubadour had to steady the bike while I put the kickstand down and could get off the bike.  Nothing like being stuck uphill on a muddy road between two blind corners and the road doesn't have a shoulder.  I can't think of a safer spot, can you?

(Chain came off the rear sprocket)
While I was unlucky that the chain came off, I was lucky in two things:  1) the chain didn't come off at highway speeds a few short miles before; and 2) it didn't come completely off and kill the bike.  Troubadour has a nice little tool kit on his DRZ so the guys went to work.

(Troubadour and Polar Bear fixing the TW -  Lefty turning off the Go Pro)

(Troubadour working on the muddy TW)

(A view down the hill from where we'd been)

(Troubadour's DRZ and a view up ahead of where we were going)
The guys got my bike race ready - thank you gentlemen and we motored forward.  I couldn't believe in the time we were there not one vehicle came down that road.  Last time we were on it there was quite a bit of traffic.  Luck was on our side.

We linked up more gravel roads and took the back way into Fort Hoskins, where we used the restroom facilities and had a snack.  It was about 2:30 by this time.  Our destination was the Yeasty Beasty pizza place in Monmouth.  You may remember that name from our Polar Bear ride two years ago.  You can read that post HERE. Because of the time of day we decided not to take the longer gravel route, but to take some tarmac into Monmouth.

We arrived and found parking out front.  It was now 3:30 so Polar Bear said his goodbyes. He had a longer ride home and was chasing daylight.  Troubadour, Lefty, and I went in for a bite of pizza. The food was not great, but we were hungry.  

(Mini Greek veggie pizza with no cheese)
While eating we discussed the best way to head home.  We were heading south to Corvallis, but Lefty was heading back to Albany, which is about 11 miles east of Corvallis. We decided to head back the way we came on Helmick Road until it intersected again with Highway 99.  Our goal was to do as little of the highway as possible and in that we succeeded.  After linking with Highway 99 we went about a block south and Lefty turned left onto Suver Road and we turned right onto Airlie Road.  About a mile in we stopped at De Armond Rd (a gravel road of course). We have passed that road a lot of times before, but we weren't sure where it went.  

When stopped Troubadour checked the map on his phone, while I took a few pictures.

(Troubadour checking his phone during the golden hour)

( A selfie with cockeyed glasses, I had to pull them out a bit to keep them from fogging up)

(Last picture of the day was the sun reflecting off a pond in a field while we were stopped)

I am pretty good remembering directions so Troubadour read them off to me - right on Rifle Range Road, right on Coffin Butte Road and left on Tampico Road, which would take us back to Highway 99 just a lot further south and mostly gravel.  Got it.  It was a nice little route that we will take in the future.  We popped out on Hwy 99 and continued to leapfrog side roads all the way into Corvallis.  It was just getting dark when we got to town.

We pulled in the driveway at 5 pm to 50˚F (10˚C).  Almost 8 hours since we'd left the house and yet only about 100 miles (160 km) on the odometer - most of them gravel.  It was a good day.

No one got hurt and everyone made it home safe.  I think everyone might be checking their chain tension today though.

Update:  As linked on Troubadour's blog - Lefty put together a short video montage of part of our ride.  It gives you an idea of some of the terrain.  A link to YouTube HERE.

- Au Revoir

" People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.  Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." - H. Jackson Brown
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