Friday, May 29, 2009

Sweet Smell of Premix in the Morning

After a few close calls of my 250F, and my increasingly smaller and smaller paychecks, I am considering making the jump to a 250 2-stroke. I love 4-stroke Motocross bikes, and I think they are here to stay, and for good reason. I think people who carry on the two vs. four debate are wasting their time. Both bikes are great in their own regards.

See, they used to ride 250 2-strokes once upon a time. If you know this guy, you also know that they went pretty damn fast.

I'm a budget racer, and a college student. $600 dollars to rebuild my top-end was fun enough the first time. Selling my 250F's may prove to be harder than buying a 250 smoker, but I am determined. I don't believe that 2-strokes are dead. Hopefully I am right, and not just stubborn or naive, but I see a 2-stroke "revival" in the near future. I use the term "revival" loosely because I don't think they are going to be the preferred choice by most racers. But to the weekend warriors, PPR's (Pro Practice Riders) and budget racers, and even those who prefer fun over results, 2-stroke's will be the weapon of choice.

Here's my opinion on the Plus and Minuses of a 250F and a gold old fashioned 250


+ Smooth Power - The Powerband on a 250F is very smooth and can be ridden tough. See Ryan Villopoto 250F.

+ Power Vs. Weight - A Modern stock 250F makes good power for it's size, making it a fast bike that can be ridden hard for a long time. Once again, see Ryan Villopoto 250F

+ Handling - The lightweight of a 250F makes it great in the tight technical stuff, and also, if setup right, stable in the higher speed elements of riding as well.

+ Traction Traction Traction - The 4-stroke powerband and tractability can wreak havoc on the loamiest of motocross tracks, and even manage to hook up in the slick stuff pretty well.

- Maintenance and resale - A 250F requires meticulous maintenance to keep it running, or at least running good. And even if you have taken good care of it, and put the time and money in, a 250F really is a ticking time bomb, and can be tough to sell to anyone who understands the inner workings of a high revving, high temp 250F

- Sound - Like all thumpers, they are noisy, and if you don't re-pack your silencer very often, if at all, the sound will only get nastier.

Big Jump - It'll handle the big gaps fine but that's not what I'm talking about. Most parents don't want their kids going straight from a CR85 to a heavy, 35+ hp CRF250. And with the lack of 125's on the market right now, this is a growing trend


+ Power - While not as smooth of delivery as the 250F, the 250's make great power. As they should considering there's one revolution in half the time.

+ Sound - Not only is the sound of a finely tuned 250 enough to get me in the mood, to ride and/or shag, but it is far more quiet than it's 4-stroke counterpart.

+ Weight - Not too much heavier than a 250F, and what it loses in extra weight, it gains in pure scary power.

+ Maintenance - Besides the "grueling" task of mixing gas, top end re-builds are cheap, and can be done in most any riders garage. No need to bother with complicated valves and timing chains.

+ Cost - Full FMF or PC hook-up for less than the price of a 4-stroke header alone!? I'm sold

- Traction? - In the soft loamy stuff, you're set. But at the end of the, when the track is dry and dusty, you might break loose more often than Houdini.

- Outcast - You can't race it in the 250 class. A good rider will almost always be faster on a 450 than a 250. The ideal place to ride would be in the 250 class. But let's remember less than 10 years ago, we had a 125 class and a 250 class. The 250 class was the premiere class, where the best of the best rode, and the 125 class was the support class, for kids to get their feet wet with the big dogs of tomorrow. Now we have $70,000 250f's, turning un-godly amounts of horses, built top to bottom by Mitch Payton and his crew. That's fine and all, but maybe we should look to starting a new support class.

I'm rambling now. If you have read this far, thanks. Hopefully you'll be reading a nice story about my first ride on a new YZ250 very soon. Braap Braaap!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's On!!

Today is May 24, 2009, and it has been 24 hours since the start of the 2009 AMA National Motocross season. I haven't stopped smiling since. Basically, I'm just going to let out all my thoughts on a great day of racing. Try to keep up...

The 450's were great. I wasn't at Glen Helen, but I don't think it's a bad idea to have the 450's first. As a fan of the sport, for as long as I can remember, I am used to it being little, big, little, big. The racing was exciting to say the least. Who'd a thunk that Mike Alessi would score 2 holeshots on the day? Well I did. But I did not expect Mike Brown to be half a lenghth behind him. I actually didn't know Mike Brown would be racing Glen Helen, but it sure was cool as hell to see him out there. He's the old school, badass type of guy this sport loves.

The track was gnarly! Ruts and bumps and huge jumps everywhere. The ruts got so big that they actually swallowed Mike Alessie's RMZ in the first moto, costing him the early lead that he had so rightfully earned. Some riders complained about it a little, but that was more of a layout gripe. Real men love a rough track like that.

How about the combo of Weigandt and Bailey on SPEED? I about jumped out of my computer chair when I read that those two would be doing all the talking this summer. Bailey's insight is second to none, and Weege is just the Shiz. Too bad they can't fit Ping in there somewhere...

My home region of the country (the pacific Northwest) made a good showing on Saturday (that still feels wierd to say). Ryan Villopoto rode like a man possessed, and went 1-1 in his first ever big bike national. I'm telling you, the comparisons between him, and that GOAT guy, keep piling up every race. But unfortunately, Josh Hill did not fair so well. He hasn't done good at GH yet, and it is a long season. But it did bum me out to see him dropping back as the motos went on. Keep it up Josh and good luck.

Ryan Dungey sure did silence his critics, and the Euro boys. At least for now... Like I said before it's a long season. But it was nice to see a Red White and Blue rider top the field in the midst of all the hype of Pourcel, Rattray, Searle, and Antsie.

Chad Reed: Thank you for showing up this summer. Seeing the #22 lined up again felt good. I know he will find the speed as the series moves on. Anyone that thinks that Speedy Reedy isn't going to impact the series, needs to get to the nearest head doctor asap. Yes Chad, it is 1 down 4 up, and the throttle is on the right side. I think he demonstrated that he can handle a dirtbike just as good as the rest of them.

The question I have after round 1 is will he be able to mix it up with Ryan Villopoto and Mike Alessi? I think he can. That was his first outdoor in a long, and he just got done with a heated SX championship fight. Just do not, whatever you do, do not count Skippy out after round 1.

4 motos down, 44 to go!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cold slap to the face

On Saturday, May 9th, I went up to Mountain View, in Sandy Oregon, to help a friend out, as my bike is still MIA. We went up and had a good time, he rode great, and I even did a practice moto on his 450 (which I hated by the way. 450's are not my gig) but it was still a blast nonetheless.

On our way home, I got a text from my dad saying that he heard from a friend in Albany that someone was being air-lifted off the track. We were passing by the track anyway, but all I saw was one lone ambulance. I texted my good friend who was racing that day, and he said 2 riders collided over a jump, and one of them was in bad shape. The rider on the other end walked away with a broken arm. But Stephen was not doing so well and had to be life-flighted to a hospital ASAP. He is now in a coma. His family and friends are waiting eagerly, hoping his condition will improve. He has been in all of our thoughts and prayers since the incident.

Another rider, by the name of Wes Hare, who runs the website, broke his femur on Saturday also. I'm not sure if it was bad track conditions or what, but Saturday was one of those days that opens your eyes to what a dangerous sport we all participate in, week in and week out. Of course we all accept the risk, as motocross is what we love. But when things like this happen, you realize that life changing injuries can happen to anyone. Neither Stephen or Wes were pro's or up and coming B riders. No disrespect, as I have been on the track with both of them, and both are talented riders. But this just goes to show that you don't have to be a blazing fast A contender to end up in a hospital bed, with a fate undecided.

Albany Motocross lost Jay Hewett back in 2007. I wrote a piece for him after it happened. In 2008, Washougal lost Rocky Genser. From what I have gathered, Stephen should not be an addition to this horrible horrible list. But I have not stopped wishing him well and praying for him since saturday. There is always that chance that things can take a turn for the worst, and that's what this whole long story is about.

Don't take any moment with friends or family for granted. Don't hang your head after a bad moto, even if you finished in dead last for that matter. You got to do what you love, and whether you want to admit or not because you lost, you know you had a good time. Enjoy it all, because things can change in the blink of an eye.

Good luck

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Past Present and Future

Supercross 2009 is now the past. The last 3 rounds saw amazing action, unbelievable turn of events, and surprise winners. Seattle saw Ryan Villopoto take his first 450 win in front of his home crowd, and Chad Reed have his first and only finish off the podium the whole season. WOW.

Next weekend, things got even more insane as Kyle Chisolm stepped in and effected the championship in ways NO ONE would have predicted. That topic seems to be controversial, and get some people pretty heated, and old so I'm not going to go there. I know what I think.

Vegas was the end all be all of vegas finales. All the racing from all 4 heats, both LCQ's and both mains were exciting. Congratulations to Christophe Pourcel for winning the 250 East Title and the Vegas shootout, Ryan Dungey for winning the 250 West title, and riding like a champ in LV. Congrats to James Stewart on his second SX title and coming back from pretty far down, and battling tooth and nail with Chad all season. Huge props to Northwest hero Ryan Villopoto on another win in Las Vegas. And finally big props to Chad for getting out there and riding like he deserved that number 1 plate from 2008, and making this season exciting. Thanks to everyone. The fans loved it!

Now there's 2 weeks off. Time to get out and ride and enjoy the newfound sunny weather, as the season changes. Unless you live in Oregon with me. Then you can enjoy the pouring rain. My good friend and his brother bought "6" old Honda CT 90's. I put quotations around the number 6 because those "6" little bikes are going to be an end result of 3 bikes total. It's definitely going to be a summer project, but I will try to put some before and after pics up sometime later.

The future consists of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Nationals. What a bright future it is. New sponsor, new management, new day, new riders, and a new 450 Champ!! I cannot express to you through this computer written text how excited I am for the nationals to start. Normally, once the supercross season heads east, I am bored already. Supercross doesn't have that badass allure that makes motocross so great. No big ruts and bumps. No 35 minute motos, let alone 2 of them. It's just a whole different ball game, and the real men will rise to the top.
Will Chad Reed be riding the Nationals? There have been hints at it, and it sounds like he wants to, but it also sounds like it's not up to him. What kind of world do we live in where it's not up to the riders? I'm sure it's more complicated than that, and I'm sounding like a dumbass right now, but it seems ridiculous to me that a rider can't line up at Glen Helen if he doesn't want to. I know there is insane amounts of money involved, but come on. Chad is their star rider. He deserves to mix it up out there if he chooses to. But either way, if Chad is there or not, it is going to be a great outdoor season in both classes. They are both so stacked with talent, bit is not inconceivable to think that every weekend is going to be an all-out crapshoot.

Both images were copied from the fine folks at Racer X, as I am not a real journalist or anything cool like that, and don't have media passes to the races, or secret underground photos of Chad Reeds national bike straight from Suzuki.