Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer of freedom begins ... NOW!

It's the solstice, the official beginning of the summer. Funny, I don't feel any free-er. I feel like I should be working on my thesis instead of procrastinating with this silly blog. In light of the rescheduled trip, I probably should rename this thing the "Fall of Freedom" blog, but that sounds far too ominous.

Returning to work ... NOW!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Back down to a one-bike stable now: just me and the 1150. I'll miss having the lighter dirt bike, but the money will certainly help finance my trip. And the bike definitely went to a good home.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Super mega update!

I am neck-deep in thesis writing, which is why I haven't put up anything on here in a while. That said, I've gotten in some incredibly fun riding in the past month! Here are some pics.

April 21-22: BMW XPLOR Rally in the NJ Pine Barrens


MAN! what an awesome couple days of riding. On Friday through Sunday, I attended an off-road rally and lessons sponsored by BMW's XPLOR program. It was epic.

Friday, I rode down to Hammonton, NJ, with my friend Miriam and Brad (aka Beez) and Buck (aka BuckRider) from ADVrider. (All Pine Barrens photos shamelessly stolen from Beez, unless otherwise noted.) We got there in time for the registration and a discussion about the trails and riding itinerary for the next two days. It was an uneventful ride down. Or so I thought.

On Saturday morning around 8 am, we were getting ready to head out for the ride.

I was airing down the tires on my 1150 when another rider pointed out oil all over my left front brake caliper. Oh crap. Turns out my left fork seal had blown on the way down. Oh double crap. The bike was certainly not ridable in its condition. But before I could even get to the "what the hell am I gonna do now?" panic stage, a BMW rep walked up to me and gave me the keys to a brand spankin' new X-Challenge to ride all Saturday. 17 miles on the odometer.

I was bummed.

OK, not really.

This bike ROCKED. I'd never ridden in deep sand before, so I needed all the help I could get, and the smooth suspension and engine on the X-Challenge was truly confidence inspiring. I want one.

I was in the beginner group, so we were first up for lessons. I volunteered to be an example (of how not to do it, as often as not) for Jimmy Lewis. Here he is, giving some pointers.

And then off to riding!

The Pine Barrens are intense. I'm not at all used to sand, and the sand there is ... well, the locals call it "sugar sand" because it's so fine-grained. I went down a number of times (sorry BMW!) before starting to get the hang of it. But once I did, it was the most exhilarating riding I've ever done. I'm afraid my camera battery was dead that day, so no pics, but Miriam, Buck, and Brad took some good ones. One of the many highlights was riding on single-lane roads with cranberry bogs on either side.

Don't lose it on the sand and swerve! I enjoyed many, many "holy crap did I just make it through that?!?" moments with other riders.

The next day, I was back on my 1150. DeSimone Motorcycles of NJ replaced my fork seal overnight ... and charged me only $20, the cost of the parts. DAMN. Mad, mad props to them for their support of this event. Riding the 500 lb 1150 through the sand was a wee bit more nerve-racking than the 300 lb X-Challenge. Still, another great morning of riding with some fun water crossings ...
(photo courtesy of Gary5410)
... before heading back to Boston. It was a great weekend with great people. Here's my riding buddies Miriam, Buck, and Brad on the way back.

May 18: New suit!

The leather jacket and unvented pants weren't the most comfortable (HOT) at the Pine Barrens rally, so they certainly weren't going to do it for a long summer ride. So I bought a Rev'it Off-track jacket and matching Dakar pants. This is one sweet suit.

(And hey, parents! -- it features high-quality armor out the wazoo!)

May 20: Central MA dual-sport ride

Compared to the sandy mayhem of the Pine Barrens, I enjoyed a relaxed ride on the dirt roads of western MA in this organized dual-sport ride.

It was pouring that morning, but it turned out to be a beautiful day.