Tonight’s PitPass Radio featured Dan Kleen, president of NOHVCC – the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council. Dan did a good job of explaining some of the organization’s functions. Specifically, he was on to discuss a legislative victory in Iowa that got the State to return ATV fees that the legislature had confiscated for the past six years. It’s a good segment. It’s a small victory but an important one that shows we can be successful if we just organize ourselves and take the time to be heard. He’s the first guest starting at about the 15-minute mark.

According to this press release from the AMA Washington State governor Christine Gregoire vetoed a portion of the state’s annual budget that included a last-minute rider to ban all new ORV trail construction until 2009.

The AMA today praised Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire’s line-item veto of a measure that would have banned all construction of new trails or facilities for off-road motorized recreation for at least a year.

The measure, which had been inserted in the state budget in a last-minute maneuver, without the opportunity for public debate, would have prohibited the state’s Department of Natural Resources from building or expanding trails or facilities for off-road recreational vehicles until July, 2009. It was one of seven sections of the proposed capital budget that Gov. Gregoire vetoed.

The AMA attributes the veto to activist participation, and credits the 500 members who used the AMA’s Rapid Response Center with having an impact on the outcome.

Maybe so. But 500 people – just 500 people – using this simple, easy tool from the AMA is pathetic. There are thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of off-road motorcyclists in Washington State. And only 500 used the system. This is wrong on so many levels. It speaks to the incredibly poor job the AMA has done in serving the off road community. It speaks to the weak nature of the AMA’s media reach. And it speaks to a certain amount of apathy on the part of off road riders in Washington.

No doubt many riders used some other method for contacting their state representatives, or the bill would not have been defeated. Then again, maybe it was the snowmobilers and 4×4 guys who did all the work. I don’t know. But in any case you would think the AMA should muster more than a measly 500. Maybe it’s just me, but we have to do better than this if we’re ever going to have a prayer of beating the eco-Nazis at their own game.

flip-out-tableTwo cool links today. First is another nice trailer conversion site I found while researching some RV awnings. I don’t know the owner’s name, but he’s done some really nice stuff inside his 7’x14′ tandem axle trailer. I especially this idea for a flip-out table that attaches to the E-Track cargo strips along the wall. He can move the table anywhere in the trailer. He’s also done some really nice stuff with heating, A/C, cabinetry, etc. Pulls the thing with a Toyota Tacoma with a 3.4L V-6. Says he uses it as support for his grandson who races 50cc and 65cc bikes. Cool. A great source of ideas.

Next up is my friend Tommy Montgomery, who has posted some good pictures from Diamond Don’s over at flickr. Nice job, Tommy!

2420830399_9f3d9347c5_mI’m not much of a camper. In fact, I haven’t camped at all since about 1982 or so. I’m just not into it, at least not as a lifestyle thing. My compulsion about hygiene and taking showers kinda keeps me in hotel rooms.

But with gas prices climbing to European levels, and the mileage in my old Dodge truck hovering just under the 10mpg mark, I can no longer afford to be so picky. If I’m going to make any vintage races this year I’m going to have to be able to camp at least one night because I just can’t afford gas plus a hotel in my race budget. Over the winter I began collecting a little camping gear with the idea that I would camp all weekend at the 6th Annual Diamond Don’s Riverport AHRMA National. Here’s a picture of my campsite.

On the left is my old Dodge 4×4 with a Sportz Truck Tent ($150 from Tenst on Trucks) setup in the bed. This worked great. I hate the idea of camping on the ground in rainy conditions. The truck bed keeps everything well above ground, and the tent overlaps all three sides of the bed to ensure that water doesn’t get underneath the tent. I set the tent up once at home to be sure I had all the pieces.

Once I got to the track and setup the tent I rolled out my air mattress. It’s a nice pillow-top full-size unit I got from Overstock.com for about $80 a couple of years ago and it just fits between the wheelwells. Before I left I wired a Xantrex 700w XPower inverter (from Amazon for $43) to my truck battery and used that to pump up the mattress. I also used it to run an electric drill so I could fit new number plates to my 250 before the race. All-in-all it worked just fine.

2421645040_e2757e818c_mWhat you see here is a shot of the campsite from the front, with my 10’x10′ pop-up canopy. That’s a Tipke Fold-It aluminum cart ($199 at Northern Tool)in the foreground. They’re pretty cool. I saw them in the pits at an AMA roadrace at Road Atlanta last year. It folds almost flat for transport, weighs very little, and can carry up to 300lbs. In this photo it’s loaded with buckets of water – something that was in short supply at DD’s this year. On the table is a little two-burner stove, a Mr Heater Portable Buddy heater ($99 at Northern Tool,) and a couple of gas lanterns. I had to take all this stuff out of the box at DD’s. I never used any of it before.

I can say that it all worked just fine. Except for when I went stumbling into the trailer, in the dark, Friday night carrying only a flashlight. I have a couple of aluminum cabinets mounted on the trailer walls and I forgot and left one of the doors open (sharp corners). While fumbling around to find whatever it was I was looking for (I don’t remember) I raised up and slammed my head into the corner of the open door. Ouch! My right eyebrow was sliced open and bled like a stuck pig for about 30 minutes. Everyone said I looked like a pirate the next day, with my eye bandaged and my do-rag on.

2420832969_dcbee57c1c_mThis was the first outing for the Mean Lady, the Sportsman-class 250 I bought from PSL in Canada last Fall. It was in storage and I picked it us just before the race. I wasn’t at all sure I would ride her, because I hadn’t done anything at all to get her ready. But Texan John Putkey, who with his wife Laura put me up Wednesday and Thursday nites in Houston, cajoled me into working on her and then pitched in several hours of his own labor to help get her ready. Here you see the aftermath of the first, muddy moto. What a mess. She ran great in the first moto and, had I not stalled the rear wheel in a corner on the third lap I would have finished quite high. As it was, I finished 6th in Moto 1. But in Moto 2 she died in staging, re-fired after about 25-30 kicks, then died again about 2/3 through the first lap. Leaving me with a long push back to the pits. A little work on waterproofing should help me do better next time.

2420834127_2da825ef74_mThis pic is Lil’ Red, a “new” 1972 CZ 125 I picked up from Weedhopper Joey Poole of Arkansas. Joey made a special trip down to Jefferson, TX just to deliver the bike. A close friend of Joey’s died unexpectedly the day before and he had to cancel his plans for the event. But he brought Lil’ Red down for me anyway. Thanks Joey.

There are a few more pictures in my flickr photostream, including a few of a really cool custom tow vehicle a guy made from two 1950’s C600 Ford truck cabs. Just click on any of the pics to go there.

Update: Tommy Montgomery has posted more (and better) pics of the DD’s event over at his flickr page. Check them out.

As noted the other day, I spent last weekend at the Diamond Don’s Riverport AHRMA national. What a mudfest! I’d like to say that I had a great race and finished in the top three in my class, but that was not to be. I was running well in the first moto of Sportsman 250 Novice when I stalled the bike in a corner. Getting restarted cost me several positions and I ended the moto in 6th. When I went to the line for the 2nd moto the bike died in staging, re-fired after 20-30 kicks, and died on me about 2/3 of the way into the first lap leaving me to push it home. So that didn’t go all that well.

But even with that I still put in about 10 good laps wearing the Leatt brace for the first time. I mean it was the very first time, I had not even fitted it onto my neck prior to doing my first lap of practice at DD’s.

So, how did it feel? It felt like nothing, really. I didn’t even notice it was there. Previously I wore a rather bulky set of hockey-style shoulder pads. These pads offer great protection if you’re a hockey player, and they offer good body protection. But the giant shoulder cups always interfered with my head movement, really limiting my ability for left-right rotation. It was always really annoying.

With the Leatt I had absolutely no interference with normal head movement. It was actually a great improvement over the hockey pads. In fact, the Leatt was less restrictive in head movement than even the CE-approved shoulder armor in my street riding jackets. My big complaint about those jackets is just that – I can’t rotate my head enough to safely see over my shoulder when I need to.

Given that the Leatt was way less restrictive than any of my previous riding gear I guess it’s small wonder that I didn’t notice it at all. I felt more comfortable on the bike than I have in a long time. The downside, of course, is that I have less protection for the shoulders. I did wear a smaller, modern chest protector from EVS, and I have an RXR Protect flak jacket-style protector to try. But neither does much for the shoulder area.

Still, that’s a trade-off I will make for better neck protection, less restriction, and raising my survivability ratio in the event of a major header.

Just a brief update since I haven’t posted here in a while. I just got back from a week-long trip to Texas where, with a good deal of help from Texan John Putkey, I race-prepped my CZ 250 – the Mean Lady – and competed in my first VMX since 2006. I had a great time. The bike has some teething problems and seems to need some ignition work, but when it ran, it ran great and the handling was excellent in the mud. More on this event to follow in the next few days.

The other thing that’s happening is I’m switching the Muddy Waters site to a new web system – WordPress – so I’ve been holding off on adding new material til the new site is ready. The domain and everything will be the same, just the system behind the site will change. I think this will make it easier for users and will let me give comments a little more exposure. Please bear with the slow updates while I get the new site online.