Rally Practice and Ride Like a Pro

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by BasicJim, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. BasicJim

    BasicJim Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2018
    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    NW Ohio
    I have been reading rally ride reports from the likes of @Boondoggle @BkerChuck @Patch and other inmates, I have it in my head that Long Distance Rally is something that I would love to do. Saturday I decided to up my “long distance” game and dissuade myself of that notion! Surely a few hours in the saddle will cure me!

    Saturday at 9 am I needed to be north of Detroit for a RIDE LIKE A PRO class. I set myself up a route that would score me 3 stops on the FB Ride to Eat group and 50 pts in the States of Confusion rally. I discovered that asking BaseCamp to “optimize” my route and asking my dog to optimize my route would yield similar results! After some manual adjustments I found a route that would work!


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    New for this trip, power wired in for the Zumo 396, Cortec magnetic tank bag, printed route sheet, and a printed pre-ride checklist.


    Going by what Base Camp told me, I need to leave by 0525. That would get me to my first stop, Gord’s Bar, in time to get my picture and get down to my training. The ride was interesting. Michigan has some of the worst maintained roads I have ever driven on. I grew up in Alaska and have moved all over with the military. No kidding. Michigan is the worst. It certainly kept me paying attention when there were giant potholes and dead animals in various states of decomposition all over the road.


    This was really the first time I put the VStrom 650 on the slab for any significant time. I noticed that to keep with traffic the ‘Strom was sitting at 6500 in 6th gear. She handled it like a champ and there wasn’t a lot of vibration. She sucked fuel a little faster than normal, but all in all, not too bad of a job.


    Gord’s Bar was closed when I got there at 0722. Marine City was a cute little city on the St. Clair River and Gord’s Bar has a great view of the river and Canada on the other bank. It only took me 4 minutes to get the picture and look around a bit, then I was off again.

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    The next stop was the Ride Like a Pro class. My route had me there at 0830 but I ended up getting there at 0753. I used that extra time to refill the tank on the ‘Strom and get some coffee in MY tank.


    If you haven’t heard of Ride Like a Pro, you should check it out. The course I took in Mi (www.ridelikeapro-gl.com) was phenomenal. The course is modeled after the training that Police motorcycle officers go through. It is almost entirely slow speed maneuvering. The instructors were former police motorcycle cops and have been teaching this course for over 14 years. One of the instructors is a national level competitor. I learned a TON of stuff and feel MUCH better at low speed than I have in the past. I know it’s a skill like anything else that needs practice, so I will stay on that. I will, however, probably retake this class again at the start of each riding season. It’s a great refresher and will help keep the skills sharp.


    The class was 4 hours long with about 30 min not on the bike. I left out of the training at 1325 to continue my “rally training.” People at the RLAP training had heard my next stop, Stingers, and had good stuff to say about it. The traffic was MUCH heavier at 1325 than it was at 0700, but I still made good time and arrived at Stingers in Wixom, MI at 1404, 6 minutes ahead of schedule

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    Stingers looked very busy. I guess biker bars are popular on beautiful Saturdays around lunch time. I elected to move on, stopping at the gas station next door. I used their restroom and bought a bag of smoked almonds, some beef jerky, and a couple water bottles, then hit the road again.


    Next was a 25 pt States of Confusion stop, Vermontville, MI. I got there with 21 minutes in the bank. It was nice being off the big road for a while, but it was slower for sure.

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    On the way to my next stop, another 25 pt SoC stop in Wyoming, MI, I learned that BaseCamp doesn’t know when roads are closed for construction! I pulled over and did a quick google map route to find out the best way around the construction. I ended up making really good time and arrived at Wyoming City Hall at 1631, 31 min ahead of schedule

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    After some fuel I headed back on the interstate to Kalamazoo… I kept singing the Bob Segar song Kathmandu and changing it to Kalamazoo. In retrospect, I might have been starting to get a little tired. It was only supposed to be a 50-mile ride, but this is where time seemed to slow. I was hungry and I was starting to have some serious knee pain. Maybe it’s a product of weight, or age, or years of long distance running, but my knee just can’t handle being in the same position for a long time. I can go out and run 5 miles and not have knee pain, but when I sit in chair for 50 min, my knee starts killing me. I slid back to the pillion seat for a bit and stretched the leg.


    In Kalamazoo I stopped at my last RTE stop for the trip, Bell’s Eccentric Café. I was due there at 1800 but made it at 1724. With 36 mins in the bank and my stomach empty, I decided it was time to eat! Bell’s would have been a great stop for the night as it is a brewery with live music, outdoor beer garden, and a good restaurant. I got a bowl of Beer Cheese soup made with nut brown ale and, to make sure I got my veggies in, I got some hand breaded onion rings. For desert I ate some Aleve. Yummy Naproxen!

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    The next stop was home. This was the longest leg of my trip and I was leaving right on schedule. I had burned up my banked time eating, as I had planned. Now 180 miles until home.


    I took 20 minutes longer than planned to get home. I rode for an hour, then stopped to rest and stretch for 10 min, then back on the bike. During this time, my Zumo started telling me it was shutting down since there was no power. I would let it shut down and then it would turn right back on showing it had power. I don’t know if my power is coming and going or if my Zumo is crazy!


    I ended up getting home alive with a little different perspective on the Rally. I did 567 miles with an actual 8:24 minutes moving. That didn’t count the time I was in the training class, which was very physical. I am not very hopeful for being able to endure a 31-hour rally! Not unless I do something about the ergonomics of the ‘Strom. I am thinking highway pegs and bar risers. I am also considering something to lower my foot peg position. Perhaps I might put a little bigger sprocket up front as well. I think an extra tooth might make the highway a little better. Those being done, I am hopeful I can do more time.

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  2. Patch

    Patch Long timer

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    Nice ride Jim!

    :beer

    It looks like it was a great day on the bike! Adding in the class really ups the intensity and fatigue I'm sure. Thats a lot of physicality and to add to the mental elements of a rally ride.

    You would easily be up to a sprint rally as you just did one! The longer ones just add in a few more miles the next day... and though the rest bonus can be anywhere from 4-6 hrs for points you can easily make them as long as you want. 2018s RnR I was quite down with a nasty headcold and I stayed snugged up in my rest bonus hotel for almost 9 hrs. Sure I scored poorly but getting that extra time (at the expense of my planned route/bonii) allowed me to still finish and enjoy the rest of the trip.

    By the way, you're really cleaning up on SoC!! I've got to come back out there and snag some!!
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  3. BasicJim

    BasicJim Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2018
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    Location:
    NW Ohio
    Thanks!

    I am trying to convince myself that a 'finish' would be an okay result. I have this competitive streak and I don't want to be last. At this point I am still on the fence between 10 hour and 31 hour.


    Please do! And let me know when your going to be in the area! We can grab lunch or something!!


    Thanks for the words of encouragement and advice, Patch!!

    Jim
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  4. BkerChuck

    BkerChuck Been here awhile

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    Nice write up Jim! I looked at your Spot track last night after Dianne and I got home and we wondered how your day had gone. Setting up a bike for LD or rally riding does take some investments in both time and money. Highway pegs to allow you to stretch your legs or just have another option of seating position can be a real blessing. Bar risers helped me a lot on the FJR. Sprocket changes are pretty simple and not horribly expensive so that is a definite option. I'd bet you expended far more energy in that 4 hour class than you realize! Consider your actual mileage/moving time exceeds Saddlesore pace that made for a very full days adventure.

    Don't let that competitive streak get in the way of making smart decisions. Chance are on your very first rally you will make some mistakes but don't sweat them. Consider your first one to be like the practice run you just did. Difference will be sitting down at scoring and finding out in real time what you goofed up. Trust me, every one of us has goofed up! Transposed letters or numbers on a score sheet, an incorrect odo reading, GPS acting up, any number of variables can hit you. Where you finish is less important that the simple act of finishing. In last year's Void Rally there was another 2-up couple that Dianne and I ran into several times right after the start. I knew the rider from previous events and this was my first time meeting his g/f. Unfortunately for him his g/f interpreted a 6-hour rest break as meaning she could sleep for a full 6 hours. LOL. His plan sank like the Titanic after they stopped for ice. They finished and both had a good time which in the end is what we all should be after anyway. Nothing in the rules says you can't take a break when you need one.
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  5. BasicJim

    BasicJim Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks Chuck! I looked into it and the bar risers are going to involve me getting a new front brake line. PITA, but I am starting to think it might be worth it! If I win the lottery, I am just going to go buy a FJR instead!

    I'll try to keep the rally in perspective! You had a great point about a 31 hour rally having more time to recover from an error than a 10 hour!
    #5
  6. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Keep in mind that changing your bar position (risers) can also affect your wind protection - by placing you more upright in the saddle. Also, sitting more upright in the saddle can change your seat comfort for the worse - by shifting more of your weight back onto your butt and/or tailbone.

    I'm not intimately familiar with the ergonomics of the V-Strom, so I'm speaking universally and these are just some things to think about, as there are so many factors involved with different people and machines.

    Why do you think you might need risers ? Are your hands hurting from the forward pressure that your exerting on them ?

    I've personally found that a slight forward lean (as long as your hands and arms are not hurting as a consequence) is best for long-distance riding since it alleviates pressure from your butt and keeps your head down in the cleaner air envelope.
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  7. BasicJim

    BasicJim Been here awhile Supporter

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    Location:
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    So far so good with the factory seat and a "sit & fly" seat cover! I haven't had any issues with sit or tail bones! I sit pretty upright and move my butt from the back of the seat to almost up on the tank in order to get different angles for my knee.

    I have a Givi Airflow windscreen that is adjustable on the fly. Even with it pretty low I am getting no buffeting and 95% of the bugs in the state of Michigan are plastered to my windscreen, not my visor.

    I am thinking risers because I never really get to relax my arms. I have to reach forward to hold the bars and I find myself locking my elbows, whick makes the shoulders hunch and consequently back and neck get sore. I think if I had a 2" rox riser to come up and back, I would be able to just relax !y arms and have a natural hang to the elbows and not hunchback the shoulders.
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  8. jeff t.

    jeff t. n00b

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    I added the 2 inch rox risers to my 08 for exactly that reason. tool a lot of stress off of my shoulders. didn't change any cables but i did take them out of the wire brackets near the steering stem. added a peg lowering kit from SV racing, really neat piece of kit. for many thousands of miles we used airhawk pads, recently went with a terry's custom seat. going one up & two down on the sprockets really made a difference, the strom can easily handle this change. there are so many changes you can make to the strom to make it better but that belongs in another forum. this rally thing sounds really interesting. may have to check it out. stay safe.
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  9. BasicJim

    BasicJim Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2018
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    Location:
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    Yeah, the 17-19 require new brake lines for the 2" risers assuming you have ABS. I am okay with it as I wouldn't mind getting the braided stainless lines anyway. I'll look at the peg lowering kit! Between that and highway pegs, I should be doing great!

    Sadly, there isn't a lot available in the way of aftermarket seats for the 17-19. The ones I have seen require you to mail in your current seat and they redo it for you. I don't want to go without riding for that long, so maybe this winter.....

    I am not going to be a pusher and get you hooked on something like Rallys... like SOME people around here, but you should SO DO IT! Damn it's fun!

    Start out with the FB RTE X USA. Free to do and gets you started.. You even have some good locations close to you! Near Littleton, CO is Piper Inn, The Little Bear in Evergreen, And Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs.

    Then I would recommend the Team Strange States of Confusion. 1. Because that is what I am doing and I am having a blast and 2. because it's a super open time frame.

    If you have any questions about Rallys and stuff, there are TONS of experienced people here who are super willing to share! And if you haven't read the Rally Noob thread, check it out!

    Jim
    #9