Tag

motorcycle

Browsing

For those hardy soles who scoff at cold weather riding, the Seaba Station Route 66 Motorcycle Museum is hosting their annual Cold Butt Ride in Warwick, Oklahoma on January 1, 2107. They are raffling off a motorcycle at 1 pm so arrive at noon and buy a raffle ticket. You don’t HAVE to ride – you can toss the family in a truck and come on out in the warm cab and see the cool motorcycles and visit with other motorcycle enthusiasts.

My wife Kay and I recently attended an “Intro to Observed Trials” school put on by Chris Johnson and his wife Claire at their Buffalo Dream Ranch in Lawton. The class taught us the basics of trials riding, with an emphasis on how those skills transfer to our normal everyday riding on dirt bikes, dual sport and adventure bikes.

I produced a quick podcast interview with Chris where he talks about the school, what skills you will learn, and what gear to bring.

Chris Johnson rides a wheelie past his class motorcycle. There is plenty of room to practice at their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson rides a wheelie past his class motorcycle. There is plenty of room to practice at their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson are wonderful hosts during their intro to observed trials school west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson are wonderful hosts during their intro to observed trials school west of Lawton.
May wife Kay and I attended Chris and Claire Johnson's observed trials school west of Lawton.
May wife Kay and I attended Chris and Claire Johnson’s observed trials school west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson jumps his trials motorcycle over a gap in the dirt at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson jumps his trials motorcycle over a gap in the dirt at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson both ride observed trials motorcycles.
Chris and Claire Johnson both ride observed trials motorcycles.
Chris and Claire Johnson raise belted Galloway beef cattle on their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris and Claire Johnson raise belted Galloway beef cattle on their ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson is an expert level observed trials rider who teaches an intro to trials riding course at his ranch west of Lawton.
Chris Johnson is an expert level observed trials rider who teaches an intro to trials riding course at his ranch west of Lawton.
Claire Johnson cooks awesome food for the trials riding class attendees.
Claire Johnson cooks awesome food for the trials riding class attendees.

The thirteenth annual Clayton Lake Dual Sport Ride is in the books, and what a great weekend.  The weather was darn near perfect except for the dust from dry conditions. Mornings were cool, afternoons were warm, and the skies offered enough clouds to keep the late afternoon sun at bay.

Friday Day 1

Kay and I showed up late Thursday afternoon and set up camp. Several folks were already there and had already been out for a ride. Friday morning we hit the trails around 11 am, riding a very nice loop south out of Nashoba, crossing the Little River at a bridge that has been washed out for years, then looping east and then north for about a 45 mile fun ride. I was on my good friend Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525, since I had left the key of my DRZ-400 in the on position overnight and had drained the battery. Luckily Bill had loaned me his Beta as a backup so I plugged my much loved DRZ into a charger and jumped on Bill’s much more nimble and powerful “Red Devil”. We headed out with Kay on her Honda CRF230L, me on the Beta, our daughter Emily Mathews on her Honda CRF-250L, Connie Hamilton on her Kawasaki KLX-130, and Jim Finley on his Suzuki DR-650.

On our Friday ride We encountered two water crossings. On the first crossing our friend Jim took his girlfriend Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki KLX-130 through the deep part of the crossing. The water washed over the seat and the bike died mid-stream, filling Jim’s boots with water for the remainder of the day. He pushed the little Kawi out of the water and we proceeded to drain the exhaust pipe and intake. Luckily no water had made it into the cylinder or engine cases so after 30 minutes of trailside work we had Connie’s bike running again.

Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton's Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just north of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just south of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.

Once across the small bridge out just south of Nashoba, we meandered south and east into the Honobia wildlife management area. This requires a permit ($10 for 3 days for in-state riders, $80 for an annual pass for out-of-state riders). This area is the size of Rhode Island and crisscrossed with logging trails. Since southeast Oklahoma had been dry since July, I decided to try crossing the Little River at what is termed the “bridge out” waypoint. Little River is a pretty major river that divides this riding area and several bridges span the river. This bridge has been washed out since at least 2002 and probably longer, but during late summers with low water, the river can be crossed – with a bit of difficulty. Riders must travel downstream along the banks of the river, then cross the actual riverbed which is strewn with large boulders. Top level riders on light weight dirt bikes can make the crossing generally without putting a foot down, but it is a challenge. Most riders end up stalling their bike in the boulders or even falling over and need help getting across. This day we all got across with a bit of pushing, shoving, lifting and sweating.

This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
I went first on Bill Dragoo's Beta 525 - made it without putting a foot down - not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
I went first on Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525 – made it without putting a foot down – not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn't get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn’t get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.

The remainder of our Day 1 ride was fairly easy compared to the river crossing. We hit some great trails that had seen very little traffic so the trail was not ground into dust. Some of the trails were very rough and rocky but fun as we dodged tree limbs and clambered up and down craggy washed-out trails. Late in the day we ran across a small pony and his mule sidekick. The pony, which we promptly named “Rusty” was fond of our peanut butter crackers, while his mule friend watched warily from a distance.

My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend "Rusty" who we found along a trail way back in the woods.
My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend “Rusty” who we found along a trail way back in the woods.

Towards the end of our ride we got back on pavement to cross Little River again, this time westbound. The fall colors were just beginning to show and the river crossing was stunningly beautiful. While taking a few pictures a lady in an SUV with a couple of girls stopped to say “hi”. Her girls were interested in riding and we let the sit on our bikes.

The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left - Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left – Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day's ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day’s ride.
My two favorite gals - Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
My two favorite gals – Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie's little Kawasaki for a picture.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie’s little Kawasaki for a picture.

Below is a GPX file of our route. You can download this route and load it into your own GPS and follow our trip.

Nashoba River Run loop

Saturday Day 2

Quite a few people joined us for our second ride of the weekend. After charging overnight, my Suzuki DRZ-400 was ready to roll. Once again we pulled out around 11 am with about 15 riders in the group. Since we had such a fun ride the first day, our plan was to start with our Friday route and see how things ended up. We made the creek crossing at Nashoba without incident and the river crossing at Little River without anyone hurt. In fact we rolled up on another group of riders from camp at the river crossing and we all joined in to get the bikes across.

During a stop on the trail we talked about control position - brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing.
During a stop on the trail we talked about control position – brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing. Here he is straightening Kay’s gear shift lever after it had been bent in the river crossing.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.

Later in the day we stopped at Battiest for lunch and gas. There we met a 14 year old young man on his Honda C-70 moped who joined us in the shade of the store. He inherited his C-70 from his grandpa and used it as transportation around the farm and to town. Connie made friends and asked plenty of questions, which he was willing and eager to answer.

A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.

Kay and I split off on the ride home. I wanted to find a quicker way home from Battiest, since we often end up there late in the day and need a fun yet quick way back to Clayton.

Clayton to Battiest Loop 2015

Day 3 – Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol

On Sunday most riders left early. Kay, Emily, her husband Dirk and I decided to take a short dual sport ride north of Clayton to the Choctaw Nation Capitol in Tuskahoma. Most of our route was paved, with one easy and optional river crossing thrown in. It was interesting to visit the Choctaw Nation Capitol, where they feature a replica Choctaw town from before the Removal.

Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.

Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol Loop

Map of 1910 Grand Boulevard Loop as part of OKC Parks Plan of 1910Many in Oklahoma City are familiar with Grand Boulevard. There is even an exit for it off I-35 between SE 29th and SE 44th street. And they may drive it when touring the opulent homes in Nichols Hills. Or jog along its path in south OKC. Or follow it to Trosper Park in Del City, or Lincoln Park on northeast Oklahoma City.

Wait, what?

How can one road be seen in so many places in Oklahoma City? Doesn’t this cause confusion?

Way back in 1910 – shortly after statehood and only a few years after Oklahoma City was founded – the Oklahoma City Council hired W. H. Dunn, then Superintendent of Parks in Kansas City, to develop the first Oklahoma City Parks Plan. As part of that plan, Dunn developed the Grand Boulevard Loop. It wasn’t until 1930 that the City of OKC incorporated the Grand Boulevard Loop into a formal document – The City Plan for Oklahoma City. Much of the right of way for the boulevard was acquired, and a significant portion of the loop was constructed.

Download original plan here —-> 1910 Oklahoma City Parks Plan by WH Dunn

Download GPS tracks here —-> Grand Boulevard GPS Tracks

This plan from 1910 is the basis for many of the parks we see in Oklahoma City today – Trosper Park, Lincoln Park, and Woodson Park being the most prominent. This “Grand Boulevard” was designed to loop around the outskirts of Oklahoma City and provide a plan for not only parks and a road, but for zoning and long term development of Oklahoma City.

The plan wasn’t formally adopted by the City Council until 1930 and of course by then a few things had changed, but the basics of the plan was still in place. The right-of-way for the loop and parks was acquired and construction began. The loop was never officially completed until the construction of the Interstate system was developed, using much of the right-of-way acquired for the Grand Boulevard loop. That is why you see many of the access roads around I-44 and I-35 labeled “Grand Boulevard”.

I decided to retrace this route with my dual sport bike several years ago. It is a challenge trying to piece the route together without actually driving on the Interstate. My goal was to travel as many roads labeled “Grand Boulevard” as possible while sticking to the original route yet staying off the Interstate. This way I thought the route could be ridden by any motorcycle or even bicycle. Recently I rode this route again and logged it with my GPS so I could share with others. It took me and my daughter Emily Mathews exactly 2 hours to ride the route with a couple of short stops along the way. You have to really pay attention to the route in certain places. For example, near I-44 and Kelly, if you take the wrong turn it can lead you onto the Interstate, while if you turn just 20 yards further, it takes you along the I-44 access road – i.e. Grand Boulevard.

My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.

There are several interesting stops along the way and I only included a few in my GPS file. Tombo Racing, a long time Oklahoma City motorcycle speed shop, is located right on south Grand Boulevard just east of I-35. You will also pass Capitol Hill High School, and of course Trosper Park and Lincoln Park. The Railway Museum is marked near Lincoln Park, and the route takes you right in front of the OKC Zoo and Remington Park.

You can download the route by clicking “download” beneath the map. This will download GPX waypoints, which you can then load into most any GPS unit. Then follow the tracks for a tour around the “Outer Loop” of Oklahoma City!

For those of you without a GPS. you can click the Google Map below and follow the route on your phone:

Below are many beautifully hand drawn maps from the original 1910 plan.

img_dunn1910_005_fullmap

img_dunn1910_002_nepark

img_dunn1910_003_separk-640x683

img_dunn1910_007_riversidepark

img_dunn1910_001_classen1

img_dunn1910_008_shawsheights

img_dunn1910_09_classensection

img_dunn1910_010_westernandsixth

img_dunn1910_011_grandblvdsketch

img_dunn1910_012_grandblvdplan

img_dunn1910_013_grandblvdaerial

img_dunn1910_014_grandblvdsection

img_dunn1910_015_grandblvdbefore

 

Below is a map of Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory. Oklahoma City was nothing more than a stage stop along the route.

Oklahoma map from 1885 when still Indian Territory

Here is an artist rendering of Oklahoma City circa 1890.

Artist rendering of Oklahoma City around 1890

The two images below are from the Oklahoma Historical Society and are scans of a tourist handbill about Oklahoma City.

Grand Boulevard Map 1

Grand Boulevard Map back page

Finally, here are a few newspaper articles from years past you can download to read about Oklahoma City’s “Grand Boulevard”.

Harvard 1911 Municipal Engineering report

How Oklahoma City Secured Its Park and Boulevard System

1909 Story about The Park System of Oklahoma City

 

 

Anyone who has ridden motorcycles long enough has met these dastardly “friends”. Because we are out in the weather and subject to the vagaries of Oklahoma’s fickle weather, we can start a ride in warm sunshine and end the ride with rain, hail, wind and even tornadoes.

Earlier this week I needed to go to Claremore to photograph some electrical utility lineman for Oklahoma Living Magazine. Like many motorcyclists, I prefer to ride than drive if all possible. It seemed like a nice day and I made my first mistake – I didn’t check the weather forecast. April 1 is can still be pretty nippy in the morning, but it looked like sunshine and I expected the weather to warm up quite nicely.

I got to my office and started to fire up my BMW R1200GS but WHAT? The battery was completely dead. No clicks, no lights, no electronics – nothing. I had just ridden it the previous week but looks like I left my key on and the battery was completely drained. I didn’t have time to charge it and I knew a bump start wouldn’t be enough to start and then run a high tech electronic bike like the GS with zero power. Still wanting to ride, I one of my favorite rides, my Suzuki DRZ-400S. It is a dirt bike mostly but I have rigged it for street use with a hand made pannier rack and some soft luggage. I tossed a camera and some lighting strobes in the saddle bags, threw on my helmet and jacket, and away I went.

I rode my Suzuki DRZ 400S to Claremore and back.  It was supposed to be a nice day and get warmer, but it got colder and started raining instead.  No heated grips or vest and no wind protection made for a cold ride.  I went down dirt roads near Cushing to bypass rain.
I rode my Suzuki DRZ 400S to Claremore and back. It was supposed to be a nice day and get warmer, but it got colder and started raining instead. No heated grips or vest and no wind protection made for a cold ride. I went down dirt roads near Cushing to bypass rain.

The weather was a bit cold to start but not bad, plus I expected it to warm up as the sun rose. Not a cloud in the sky – a perfect day for a ride. I like to ride back roads and even dirt roads when I can, so I started out the back way from Edmond along mostly paved but secondary county roads, out through Wellston. Knowing I needed get moving to get to my photo shoot on time, and not wanting to ride the Turner Turnpike with its 75 mph speed limit on a DRZ, I jumped on the always fun Route 66. I have been down that road so many times I know it like the back of my hand. It was an enjoyable ride, even on the DRZ with a board hard dirt bike seat, no wind protection, no heated grips or vest.

About the time I got to Tulsa I noticed the weather had not gotten warmer – it had gotten COLDER! Dang, this was looking less like fun and I wasn’t dressed for cold weather riding. I had a great KLIM Lattitude jacket on but just jeans, boots, gloves and a thin riding shirt on under my jacket. Luckily I had chosen my full faced helmet instead of my open face that I often ride my DRZ with (the better to take pictures without removing your helmet).

I finally made it to Claremore but the temps were now hovering around 55 degrees – about 10 degrees colder than when I started. I got my work done – they were surprised to see a photographer show up on a dirt bike. I was done by 2:30 pm and ran back to Claremore to top off with gas (total fuel usage for entire trip = 6 gallons, about $21 round trip Edmond-Claremore-Edmond) and grab some food. My plan was to enjoy the ride back along dirt and gravel roads, secondary county roads, stop and take pictures along the way, and just enjoy the day riding.

Mr. Cold Weather joins me

But by now my friends had joined me. It seemed the temps were really dropping and the constant wind of 45-55 mph on a bike with zero wind protection was starting to drop my core temps. I stopped at Kohl’s and purchased an oversized fleece jacket on markdown for $5 to go under my riding jacket. That helped tremendously. But after a while your core body temp starts dropping and you get chilled and just can’t get warm again soon. I stopped a few spots along the way and took pictures of things and places that interested me, but now my mind was becoming more focused on how darn cold I was than one how much fun I was having. Those friends were getting close and comfortable now, making my back and neck ache, my body shiver, and carrying the fun away from the party.

Now Mr. Rain tags along

Just east of Cushing on Highway 33 I saw rain clouds ahead. Humm. That was going to suck. I could see clear skies to the south along what looked like the Turner Turnpike corridor. And it was just starting to get dark. So I pointed the DRZ south along a dirt road, bypassing Cushing and hoping to bypass the rain.

No luck. The cold rain caught up with me. Luckily not a downpour, but just steady rain that ranged from light to moderate. Of course on a bike even a light rain can get you wet pretty quick. I didn’t have any rain gear but luckily my KLIM jacket is totally waterproof. It kept my torso dry but my hands and legs go pretty wet.

Now imagine riding a dirt bike at speed at night in 48 degree temps – in the rain, on a dirt road, at dusk.

My friends cold, wet and uncomfortable were in full party mode!

I kept a steady lookout for deer. Those four legged creatures can ruin a nice bike ride real quick. I finally got past the rain and made it to Highway 18, which then led me south to Chandler, where I could catch 66 home to Edmond. By now it was fully good and dark and by the way, the light on a DRZ dirt bike really kind of sucks, especially on low beam. I shivered and shuddered the rest of the way home, mulling over in my brain the age old question they write country songs about – “what was I thinking?”

But still, riding my bike all day was fun. It was a challenge and was not comfortable for much of the day, but that comes with the territory at times when riding a motorcycle. You need to be ready to NOT have fun. But the pleasure and freedom of riding a motorcycle more than makes up for the not fun part.

I eventually made it home safe and sound. It took me a long hot shower and 4 hours under an electric blanket on high power to finally warm up and stop my teeth from chattering. A small price to pay for the freedom and fun of riding a motorcycle.

I was riding my DRZ motorcycle home from a job in Claremore and bypassed south of Cushing to get around a rain storm.  Came upon this drilling rig at sunset with storm clouds in the background.
I was riding my DRZ motorcycle home from a job in Claremore and bypassed south of Cushing to get around a rain storm. Came upon this drilling rig at sunset with storm clouds in the background.
Flying G ranch just west of Sand Springs.
Flying G ranch just west of Sand Springs.
Flowering redbud trees in an empty forest always remind me of spring in Oklahoma.
Flowering redbud trees in an empty forest always remind me of spring in Oklahoma.
I ran across this odd looking house in far west Tulsa.  There is an underground portion below the tower.  Looks like a control tower.  It is up on a hill and has an awesome view of downtown Tulsa about 15 miles away.
I ran across this odd looking house in far west Tulsa. There is an underground portion below the tower. Looks like a control tower. It is up on a hill and has an awesome view of downtown Tulsa about 15 miles away.

A bunch of Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas riders are converging on Eureka Springs, AR for the 10th (?) annual Hillbilly Dual Sport Ride. This is a fun filled weekend of easy dual sport riding down gravel and dirt roads and a fair amount of pavement. Originally put on by “Uncle Dave” out of Kansas, this ride has grown into a big event with over 100 riders showing up for a good time. The host motel is the Ozark Swiss Inn 3601 E Van Buren phone 1-800-833-8450 or 479-253-6688. This is an informal dual sport ride that features everything from awesome paved twisties to fairly gnarly single track.

There are no registration fees, T shirts or BS just a bunch of dual sporters having fun and riding the great trails around Eureka Springs. There is a group get together in the evenings and lots of beer drinking and bench racing will take place. There are excellent restaurants and cafés in the area as well as many unique one of a kind places to eat out on the trail.

GPS Tracks

A front tire gets changed in the hotel parking lot during the 2009 Hillbilly Dual Sport Ride.
A front tire gets changed in the hotel parking lot during the 2009 Hillbilly Dual Sport Ride.


Oklahoma Cross County Racing Association (OCCRA) just announced their 2011 off-road race schedule. Twelve rounds of racing will be held across Oklahoma, starting March 5-6.

2011 Race Schedule/Results

Rd 1 Crosstimbers 3/5-3/6
Rd 2 Sallisaw 3/19-3/20
Rd 3 Thackerville 4/2-4/3
Rd 4 Woodward 4/16-4/17
Rd 5 MPH 4/30-5/1
Rd 6 Skiatook 5/14-5/15
Rd 7 Fry Lake 6/4-6/5
Rd 8 Reynard Raceway 9/3-9/4
Rd 9 Cross Bar Ranch 9/17-9/18
Rd 10 Angel Ridge 10/1-10/2
Rd 11 Ada 10/15-10/16
Rd 12 N. Wellston 10/29-10/30

This is part 2 of Tomo Racing’s Suzuki GSXR-1300 Hayabusa motor rebuild. In this video, master engine builder and multi-time national champion drag racer and crew chief Tommy Bolton shows us how he preps a motor for his “Tombo Touch” rebuild. You can see his attention to detail as he preps the pistons, gaps the rings, and has the camshafts prepared to his demanding specifications. He also explains the head porting, polishing and flow benching process. In a later video he will show how the pistons and cylinder block is installed, the valves installed and timed, and the motor completed and test run.