Roadmap for a new rider?

Discussion in 'Pacific Northwet - Where it's green. And wet.' started by Chickenmunga, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. HellsAlien

    HellsAlien a has-been that never-was

    Nov 16, 2004
    Baja Sur winter. PDX summer (that's like 6 wks!)
    ck, good to see you are soaking this up, you are getting some good tips in your thread. I will tell you a true story about compression braking...

    One year ago yesterday, a rider showed up at our track day with a really nice Ducati that he had just bought on a fly/drive. He wanted to do a track day then ride it back to Ohio. Since he was far from home/friends I told him to pit near me and use my stuff/tools/shade.

    He talked about riding the hills around Columbus, OH, and about how he would ride all day through those hills and control the speed of the bike with just the throttle and never using the brake. He was very proud of this technique, even had a name for it.

    I listened, but didn't realize what this really meant until later when he came up fast on some slower riders on the straight then grabbed 4 fingers full of Brembo dual disk front brake. He and the Ducati crashed on perfect pavement on a sunny day due to a complete lack of ability to use the front brake (and judge closing rate, also difficult.). Yeah, he was going fast, but that's not the point.

    The point is he didn't know how to slow down a motorcycle with the front brake, maybe he was afraid of it, but I don't think so. My point in my earlier post is that you can't learn to be good with the front brake soon enough because that skill can save your butt!

    Learn both: the moderate/balanced braking and then practice some slow/med/hard stops. The forward weight transfer of a hard stop renders the rear brake near useless. Work up to it, and deliberately learn to modulate/release the front brake lever because sooner or later you will hear that noise that a sliding front makes on various surfaces, and that is when you need to ease off. Same sound as a sliding rear, but a sliding front is potentially more trouble! Have fun, these things are amazing what they can do with some practice!
  2. MasterChief

    MasterChief Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2006
    Whidbey Island
    Just get out and ride. You can buy more gear and fix up your bike as you go. Get out into Capital Forest or whatever dirt is close to you and ride. Ride to work, ride to the store, ride some more dirt.
  3. Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga Been here awhile

    Jul 14, 2014
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    Thanks everyone for the continued support.

    MadDaddy went above and beyond and met with me this weekend to give me some coaching. It's pretty amazing to sit down with a guy that looks like he came straight out of an adventure movie and is willing to offer you some time.
    I tried remembering everything he said, and I'll share it here in the hopes that whoever comes after me will stumble here with the same questions.

    • Upgrade in order of what makes you comfortable and safe. Being able to have correct posture, survive a fall, and withstand riding for prolonged amounts of time is your primary concern.
    • Street riding is the part we put up with between stretches of "the good stuff". Adjust the bike accordingly
      • Get bar risers. You will be standing most of the time offroad, and having bars that are too far down limits your control. To measure bar risers, stand on the bike in an attack position (imagine catching a football) with hands out Where your hands are is where the bar needs to be raised to.
      • Adjust the brake and clutch levers so they angle more downwards. This makes them easier to operate in a standing position. PROTIP: On many bikes, the mirrors are mounted to the brake and clutch controls. Loosen the control mounts just enough that they can be adjusted by gripping the mirror stalk and rotating the controls. This is also helpful if you fall and the levers get shifted inwards - now you can pull them back out!
      • Get wider foot pegs. Stock footpegs are like standing on the short end of a 2x4 piece of wood. Relieve those feet!
      • Adjust the shift peg upwards so that it is slightly higher than the foot peg. This makes it easier to shift, rather than having to duck your foot under.
    • Getting handguards sooner than later is probably good, since it does offer hand protection.
    • You only use the first two fingers of your hand to work a lever. Notice how short upgraded levers are. You could get upgraded clutch and brake levers that are all nice and short, but a workable shortcut is to use a hacksaw on those immensely long levers. It's an easy measure twice cut once, but if you are bad at DIY, just be ready to buy new levers :rofl
    • Work on storage and so on later. They may limit what sorts of rides you can do in terms of distance and multi-day trips... but what good are these upgrades if you are uncomfortable and in danger? (Although he didn't outright say it, the underlying message here is to go on trips that you and your bike are presently capable of. Chances are, you need practice at your current level of gear capability!)
      • When it comes time to get storage, you want the weight to be low on the bike, otherwise it becomes top heavy and wiggly! Don't forget to evenly distribute the weight
    • Reading other rider's build threads are more important than you think. They can sometimes tell you what doesn't work or what does.
    • As always, going slower is harder than going faster. If you have nothing better to do, go out and do the sharpest corners you can at the slowest speeds you can. It's probably the BEST thing you can do.

    Considering I was in a bit of sleep deprivation when we were talking about all this, I think I got MOST of it out here in writing. Again, thanks MadDaddy for the extra help! :clap
  4. PDXPapaBear

    PDXPapaBear Been here awhile

    Oct 11, 2014
    Portland... Gateway
    Bump, cause its very much in line with the knowledge I seek.

    and a good read on a rainy day.

    Looks like I will be headed to the garage to shift levers around.
  5. 1911fan

    1911fan Master of the Obvious

    Aug 13, 2007
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Main thing is get some time on your bike. It's ok to be a gear whore, too- ask my wife, she says I'm one. I'm turning her into one too. Try on as much gear as possible, or buy from places that have a good return policy.
    Ride whatever dirt you can. Parts of the WABDR will be a blast, especially if you can talk the truck guys into carying your gear. Parts of leg two, I think, you might not like as a beginner.
    If you've got a truck, and can't carry the WR in it, look for a trailer. All your gear, and you can ride the bike around unencumbered.
    Might also want to look in the PNW forum for the 2015 Wallowa Valley Adventure Jamboree, mid June. Riders of all levels, ages, and equipment types will be there, and we typically have n00b rides as well. You'd have a blast.

    If you get over towards Leavenworth/Cashmere this summer, PM me and I'll show you some fun easy rides.

  6. RestlessRider

    RestlessRider Been here awhile

    Dec 2, 2009
    Thanks for jotting down the important points for posterity. It is good to have a checklist even if one is not a new-to-dirt rider. One of my riding buddies and I, did the PSSOR Offroad 101 and 102 class in spring this year. We had done one season of off-road/adventure riding before we attended the class, but we both learnt a lot and had a lot of fun. It definitely pushed my limits and helped me lose fear of things that I would normally be apprehensive of trying, for example, climbing a steep rutted hill or coming down a steep descent.

    Thanks to all the experienced riders for sharing their tips on this thread.
  7. Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga Been here awhile

    Jul 14, 2014
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    I've had a few more chances to learn since the last time I posted in this thread, so I'll add a few things I've learned. I will copy the info back to the first thread for ease in reading... tonight? No promises on my organization skills!

    • Before logging miles, learn how to maintain your chain Chain cleaning is needed every 300 miles, or after a ride when moisture contacts your bike. It's an easy process, but there's some tools you need (do you have a bike stand?) and chemicals to get. At every 300 miles, you need to check chain tension. This can be intimidating, so spend a lot of time with YouTube. There's some really bad info, and some really good info. The two tools I use is a ruler with 1/64ths measurements (which is overkill), which I place on the swingarm to check chain tension, and a set of digital calipers, which I use to check rear wheel alignment. There's better tools, but these were probably $20-$30 total.
    • Take offroad courses first. Trying to generalize, I would do the following order:
      • Intro to offroad: this style of class should be for people who have never touched a bike, and over the course of the class, you will have learned enough basic skills to be ready for the beginner on-road course. I suggest that even if you only want to ride a Gold Wing, this class will begin giving you a mastery that comes slowly to an on-road-only student. Bumps on the ground, throwing bike weight around, going creepingly slow... it will all apply and be easy once it comes to take a test for your license later on.
      • Offroad 101 style course: even though you could take the beginner on-road course now, I would still suggest taking this beforehand. Now that things are no longer an introduction, this course reinforces your skills and makes you prepared for a great deal of road conditions, body posture, and speed control.
      • Beginner on-road course with testing to get street licensed: This course will feel stressful because there's a test, but if you've taken at least one offroad course, the pressure really comes down, and now you only have to pay attention to road rules, refinement in some body posture, and staying in some painted lines.
    • Have a way to get your bike home. Without going into a long story, I managed to hurt myself during a training course, and I had not pre-planned a way to get my bike home while I went to the hospital. I lucked out and found someone who could ride it home. Next time I will either
      • have ramps and a truck
      • have a hitch mount carrier and a tow rig
      • be able to use or rent a trailer, and have a tow rig
      • have a friend on standby who can drive the 'tow rig' to come get me!
      • have a motorcycle friend who can come ride the bike home
    • Buy protection before you need it, and don't be afraid to buy the good stuff. A pair of high end adventure boots costs $450. A custom made pair of boots from Italy costs $850. A walking cast and crutches cost me $1,180 after insurance (I luckily paid it all with my HSA :eek1).
    • You may have more than one protective jacket: I have an Olympia Airglide jacket, and even with it being partially mesh, it gets hot as blazes in the dirt going slow. It also gets really dirty, so if you believe in hi-viz, it starts turning brown! If you are on an adventure trip, you might have to compromise, but if you are capable of bringing more than one jacket, having purpose-built gear can be a godsend. Conversely, a plastic padded offroad jersey is going to explode in a pile of fail and agony when it comes to pavement.
    • You will have more than one pair of gloves. I already have two.
    • You will most likely have more than one helmet. A road helmet is freaking hot in the dirt.
    • Full face helmets FOR THE WIN! I've headbutted the dirt at about 15mph, and my first thought was, "Yeah! I just kicked the Earth's ass!." I had no injuries to my head or chin. I can only wonder about open face helmets.
    • Handguards help deflect wind, keeping your hands warmer. Notice I didn't say warm. If it's that cold, you probably should be worrying about ice, which means 4 wheels might be a good idea.
    • If you have you gear 'done', your bike outfitted, and you are planning for that camping trip, now is the perfect time to get new camping gear. Ultra lite camping is not just for yuppies and hippies. There's been a huge advancement in camping tech. New gear is lighter, packs smaller, keeps you dry, and keeps you warm. When rolled up, my old sleeping bag is the traditional big bulky thing you remember from Boy Scouting or hunting back in the day. My new sleeping bag is about the size of two stacked coffee cups. To avoid the high cost of ultra lite gear, try checking out videos by 'preppers' who create bug-out-bags; they typically try to get inexpensive stuff, or come up with an unconventional alternative.
    • Invest in clothes that keep you dry and happy. This goes double for the camping folks. I used to have clothes like Randy Parker. Big thick stuff made of cotton which made me hot, got wet, and stayed wet. Now I wear thin poly or wool shirts in layers with a eVent or Gore-Tex rain jacket. Nylon pants with zip off legs (so you can convert to pants) work well as almost 3 season clothing, dry better, and pack better than jeans. I'm still working on finding good pants.
      • PRO TIP 1: Despite the release of Smart Wool and fancy synthetics, this is hardly new tech. Remember your grandpa and your dad wearing those wool, plaid, button-up shirts? They work the same as the new stuff.
      • PRO TIP 2: Value Village has tons of ugly wool sweaters and cast offs. Make sure they say 100% wool on the tag, and after that it's cutting edge sportswear on the cheap.