Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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Thank You for Following Dad’s Adventures

Posted by desflurane on May 9, 2016

Brandon Allen
Brandon Samuel Allen began his 48-year love affair with life in San Diego, CA, on September 8, 1968. He is the son of Stuart and Gladys Price Allen with one brother, Clayton Allen, and two sisters, Darci Allen and Melinda Allen White. Brandon came to this earth well equipped with a kind and mild temperament, a tender heart, a fine-tuned sense of humor, and an inquisitive mind that never stopped exploring. We so adored him! Brandon’s early childhood was spent in an idyllic little world in Idaho Falls, ID, across the street from his grandparents who were the parents of 10 children and had 65 grandchildren. There was never a lack of fun, and Brandon was a loved cousin and ring leader.
From first grade it was evident that Brandon was intellectually gifted and would do well in medical school someday! He had an engaging vocabulary and a grasp of much interesting information. He never stopped reading and learning. Brandon served an honorable mission in the Arizona Phoenix LDS Mission. He graduated from the University of Utah Medical School with an MD and completed his anesthesia residency at OHSU in Portland, OR. 
Brandon was a man of many talents and interests, among which was his love for enduro motorcycle competition. He was a skilled off-road motorcyclist and had been training vigorously for his second competition in Sibiu, Romania. He worked with an amazing group of people at Sierra Anesthesia; he loved and appreciated all those in the medical community with whom he served over the last 13 years. 
Brandon married the love of his life, Traci Bevilacqua, in the Salt Lake Temple on September 2,1995. They are the parents of two daughters, Tjaden Eyre (19), Reagan Vittoria (11), and a son, Jamie Brandon (8). He was an amazing father—gentle, caring and loving. The family resides in Spanish Springs, NV.
Brandon suffered a heart attack while riding his dirt bike on April 18. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. We will love him always.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 2955 Rock Blvd, Sparks, NV 89431. Flowers can be sent to Walton’s Sparks Funeral Home in Sparks, NV.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Apr. 22 to Apr. 23, 2016

– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/rgj/obituary.aspx?pid=179704081#sthash.PN9bcoLF.dpuf

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Time for a bit of an overhaul 

Posted by desflurane on March 30, 2016

I’ve bemoaned the deplorable condition of my stock exhaust for a while now. Not willing to sit idly by and complain, I have taken definitive corrective action!

The first move was to haul my bike down to Chester at the KTM shop to seek his expert opinion on its state and (most importantly) the chances of salvaging it. He looked the pipe over and said that it could really go either way. He could very likely straighten out the dents and get it to fit back on the bike, but couldn’t guarantee that the header would mate up properly with the opening in the cylinder. Furthermore, there is an increased chance of the pipe cracking in that header region after being worked over so extensively. 

After pondering this difficult choice for about three seconds, I decided to get a fresh pipe. 

The new skid plate/pipe guard should give my delicate expansion chamber a good deal more protection than I’ve ever had before – so it should last longer than ever before, so it makes a little sense to mount up the pipe I really want to have. Right?

Regardless, I turned hastily to the Internet, seeking the most cost-effective means of getting an FMF Gnarly into my hands as soon as possible. The skid/pipe guard is supposed to arrive any day now, and I’d like to get it all put together in one go. 

I ended up rolling the dice and ordering a pipe from a vendor on Amazon. The price couldn’t be improved upon ($202 – shipped), but I had never heard of this particular vendor before – Powesports911 – and I knew it would be a bit of a wild card – would I get the pipe? On time? In new condition, as listed?

My trepidation proved to be wholly unfounded as the pipe arrived two days later, the right model, ahead of the expected time. Nicely done Powersports911!

So I went from this:

  
To this:

   
 
And believe it or not, the bike runs better now! What a shock! (Not…)

Along with the skid/pipe guard I ordered a new Slavens linkage skid as well. Here is why:

   
 
If you look closely you will see that the skid has torn apart where it wraps around the “dog bone” part of the linkage and the whole thing is sitting askew on there. 

It didn’t last very long but it withstood a lot of abuse. I’ll give Slavens another try. I’m still way ahead cost-wise compared to the Fastway option and I like the idea of a “disposable” guard protecting the linkage from harm rather that the linkage component itself being the “guard.”

More to follow when a big box appears on my doorstep…

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Why I hate Go Pro Studio

Posted by desflurane on March 17, 2016

At first I kind of liked the free application that Go Pro offers. It allows you to manage, edit and publish your videos, it’s free. It is available for download right on the Go Pro website – and it’s free.

As so often turns out to be the case – you get what you pay for…

The interface is a bit clunky, and the application happily throws away all the footage I didn’t select to be “converted” when proceeding from Step 1 to Step 2. Perhaps I could change settings to prevent this from happening, but really? Just delete all the additional video I shot just because I didn’t use it this time around – without so much as a warning? Very lame!

Editing tools are rudimentary at best. Crossfades are the only option for transitions between clips. Options for titles and captions are woefully absent. Adjusting audio levels was difficult and seems only to allow changes to be made to the entire clip all together – I couldn’t turn the volume up and down to suit the action at hand.

After editing one video using good old iMovie, there was no going back. The versatility that Apple’s software offers is vastly superior. I immediately gave up on Go Pro Studio.

Unfortunately, I had checked the box to “Automatically Import Video From A Go Pro” and forgot to uncheck it.

Today I returned home from a good training ride during which I had shot a few video clips that I thought would turn out nicely. I plugged my Go Pro’s micro SD card into the computer. That was my big mistake.

The crappy Go Pro application immediately began siphoning my video files off the SD card. Moments later it had deleted said files from said card – and crashed rather suddenly.

Guess what had vanished into smoke during this charming little process?

Did you say “all that new video footage?” If so – You Are Exactly Right! In the blink of an eye, it was all GONE!

I didn’t even get the chance to look at any of it.

So that’s it – I’m done with Go Pro Studio.

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My poor, poor pipe…

Posted by desflurane on March 10, 2016

 I think I made it fairly clear that I was going to no particular excesses in protecting the stock expansion chamber on my TE 300 – and I haven’t. I also haven’t avoided riding over (and sometimes directly into) rocks, ledges, concrete pipes, etc. , etc. and these various objects have left their fingerprints on the thin metal. 

As a result, my pipe now looks like this:

 
   
  

It has been pushed backward to the point that it contacts the plastic skid plate, and is actually melting it a little bit. 

 

This doesn’t worry me much, I consider the stock pipe and skid to be “consumables” that will eventually require replacement. But pipes are fairly expensive items and I don’t want to have to shell out $250 more frequently than absolutely necessary.  So I have ordered a very nice aluminum skid plate/pipe guard combo being imported by Slavens Racing. I believe these are made in Poland. 

   
   
That should effectively preserve whatever pipe I install beneath that bad boy! I think I’ll see if old Chester at the local KTM shop can massage my factory pipe back into working order. He is quite skilled at the task and this plan will only set me back about $80 rather than paying full ticket price for a brand new pipe. 

I know this seems like a rather extreme solution, but I have tried other pipe guards (P3 carbon fiber as well as my current aluminum P.O.S.) and I believe that any guard fastened only to the pipe itself will result in a ruined pipe. They don’t prevent the header portion of the pipe from being kinked in the event of a severe hit. The part beneath the guard is protected nicely, but the remainder of the pipe has to absorb all the energy. This led to the demise of two expensive Gnarly pipes on my old KTM. Both were significantly bent in that vulnerable header region while the rest of the metal remained in fine condition behind its protective composite cocoon. 

In theory at least the combo skid/pipe guard arrangement should transfer the energy of a big hit into the bike’s frame rather than the sheet metal of the pipe. All skid plates do precisely the same thing every time they get bashed on – and it seems to work out just fine. 

According to slavens, the item should arrive somewhere past the middle of this month. I’ll try to limp along with my crunched up exhaust until then. 

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More training rides!

Posted by desflurane on March 10, 2016

I got the opportunity to show Ben Barnes my new riding area today. The day was overcast without any rain but the wind was howling over the hilltops, which made for an interesting experience!

The loop out there is up to twenty miles in length, and I think it is rather fun to ride! There are a good number of fun and challenging sections along with some good hillclimbs, a couple of motocross-like pit areas and a few other spots where you can just “mess around” on various rocks, ledges, and jumps.

The only downer of the day was that I left my Go Pro’s 64 GB micro SD card plugged in to our desktop computer at home!

No Go Pro footage for today!

Fortunately Ben stepped up and filled the void with some handheld iPhone videos.

This first one is of me conquering that damn rock that almost looped me out a while back. This time I noticed the little “kicker” rock sticking out of the ground, just the correct distance away from the rock’s face. Suddenly it was child’s play.

Ben shot it again – but this time in Portrait rather than Landscape! (Exciting!!)

This next little clip illustrates why I am loving my Stilwell Performance suspension. I jump down from the top of that rock, a drop of maybe three feet – and its a total non-event. The suspension just soaks it up and I continue on. I’m used to bottoming out rather spectacularly when I would try that sort of trick on my old KTM – which was NOT sprung correctly for me. This is much, much better!

And finally, here is a clip of me taking the more exposed alternate line up the rock pile I lovingly refer to as “6 Plus.” I call it that because I crashed during one of my early attempts to master it, and nearly broke my iPhone 6 Plus which was in the outer pocket of my Camelbak. This other line is actually easier, but requires riding much closer to the edge of the rock. High siding up there would be an awful mess… There are a few transitions between several abutting rocks, but these are really quite smooth. Of course the video doesn’t give you any perception of how exposed you feel riding this line. I guess this one would be called “7 Plus”? Remember that Ben is standing upright next to the base of these rocks, so I end up eight or nine feet above the rocky ground  below… and I stall the bike…

There you go! It was another great day of riding. Much appreciation to Ben for coming out to ride and being kind enough to shoot some shots!

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Workout ride

Posted by desflurane on March 5, 2016

There is really something magical that happens the moment I switch on the Go Pro to record a cool moment out on the trail – suddenly I become one of the least interesting riders the world has ever known!

I’ll clean a section with a tad of panache, turn around to take another run – to get it on video – and its like Homer Simpson has hijacked my bike until the camera is switched off…

So anyway, I realize that the bits of video I’ve been putting up are not what you might call “spine-tingling” but I hope it illustrates the fact that I’m getting out to ride quite often and I’m trying to hone my skills as much as I can.

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The single track project

Posted by desflurane on March 2, 2016

Weather has been fine here in Northern Nevada for the past few weeks and I’ve been getting out for fairly regular training rides. Some good progress has been made with creating some good single track to ride in my new training area. All told, I have about twenty miles scoped out for inclusion in a nice loop. So far only a portion of that has an actual trail…

The main problem is creating an actual, visible trail that can be found and subsequently followed. The track left behind by a single dirt bike is often woefully inadequate. So I spend quite a bit of time riding slowly, scanning the ground ahead, struggling to see where my trail is going, so I can ride over the same path again.

As before, I have been shooting Go Pro video. This has been really fun and the results are fairly good. For this video I switched from the Go Pro Studio to regular old iMovie and the flexibility is much, much greater. So forgive me for screwing around a little bit with the video production options…

I eased up a bit on the gimmicks for the second part.

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A little video

Posted by desflurane on February 20, 2016

Here is a video! So you can see my action in, uh… Action…

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Snow – it’s not just for breakfast anymore…

Posted by desflurane on January 25, 2016

Ben Rieff and I rode Peavine this afternoon.  


On the lower slopes of the mountain, the dirt was just phenomenal! Wet, not muddy – beautiful!
We climbed a bit higher and (predictably) ran into snow. It was heavy, wet, and partially melted with gooey mud underneath, making it very challenging to ride through. It was banana-peel slick yet firm enough that escaping the single rut left by a previous rider was near impossible. If you did manage to break free it was sort of like stepping over the line at a bowling alley onto the smooth, oiled boards just beyond – where suddenly ending up on your head becomes a distinct possibility. 

We pressed on for a mile or two before turning aside and returning to the ample traction to be found lower down. 

The photo was taken about at the midpoint between no snow and where we finally cried uncle.

I’m enjoying my new suspension more and more! Added to ultra-low pressures in my tires and epic-quality soil to churn, the combination is really a winner! I find myself riding quicker, cornering harder and accelerating more than I did before. I tried dialing in a couple clicks more compression damping on the fork, but couldn’t really appreciate a difference, the conditions weren’t great for that kind of testing – I’ll try it again soon. 

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Update otherwise…

Posted by desflurane on January 24, 2016

As far as logistical Romaniacs preparations go – progress has been made!

Before riding yesterday, I spent about an hour at the bank wiring money to Romania to pay for my bike and service package over there. The exchange rate is reasonably good at the moment, but it still cost me $3100 bucks! Riding Romaniacs definitely isn’t cheap! But at least that issue is put to bed – a TE 300 will be waiting for me in Sibiu!

I will definitely take my new suspension with me over there. I asked Angelo if swapping in my stuff for the event would be a problem, he said it was no big deal. 

How is that sparkling new bunch of tubes and springs, you ask?

I have save one true ride logged on the new bouncers thus far, but my enthusiasm is complete! I REALLY LIKE what Stillwell Performance did for me.  The plushness of my suspension is amazing. It easily soaks up all but the biggest chunks of trail trash making the bike very easy to ride with confidence. I found myself charging into rocks and ruts with far more commitment that I would have before.

Technical stuff is easier to ride thru because the big hits get absorbed without the bike pitching to one side expectedly or bucking like a wild stallion. I find it much easier to ride right through the rock gardens, G-Force Jarvis style, rather than dabbing and halting to regain my balance. 

This is not to say that I won’t twiddle the clickers a bit to tweak things a bit. I think I could use just a shade more compression damping to hold things up a little higher in the stroke when landing from drop-offs or jumps. The base settings they provided are pretty good though. 

I now have TuBliss systems installed front and rear. I can’t discount the contribution that this is making to the quality of my ride. I have a Sedona MX 887 in back with zero PSI and the factory Dunlop up front running 6 PSI. Traction is not a problem!

Obviously I’m pretty stoked with things right now. Time will tell how much I like my suspension long-term. I can’t help but think that I’ll only like it more and more as time goes on 

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