2018 had many ups and downs for me personally. Due to knee surgery late in 2017 (which involved harvesting cartilage from my knee, growing it in a petri dish via stem cells, and gashing my knee wide open and gluing the new cartilage back in place), 2018 was the first year I was on a strict no off-road motorcycle diet. I didn’t think not riding my bike would be too impactful, however, in hindsight I was wrong.
What I quickly realized is that I lost one of the few meditative outlets I had (and found effective). To make matters worse my day job as an engineering director turned into an all-day, everyday job from March to July because of a ridiculous deadline we were supposed to meet. By mid-year, I was stressed and drained like never before.
DIY Moto Fix
Publishing new content and exploring new ideas was a challenge in 2018 due to my riding hiatus and commitments to my full-time job. Perhaps the most exciting thing I did was pick up a 2005 Honda CRF250R project bike which I wrote about here. Behind the scenes, I also fixed my lathe and tooled up my equipment which will pay off in the future.
2018 Goals Recap
To recap, my goals for 2018 are shown below. Let’s see how I did!
1. Write and post to DIY Moto Fix monthly to keep quality content coming for you guys.
I batted 50 percent on this one and released six blog posts last year.
2. Fully rehab from knee surgery and in turn, come back to racing stronger than before.
I’ve been working away at getting stronger, improving flexibility, and stamina. I switched to a gym that has a pool and more equipment which has been a good change.
3. Build the standing desk I've been designing the last few months to make working on the computer a lot more enjoyable and comfortable.
I finished the desk, and it was promptly put in service by my fiance. She’s happy, so I’ll call this a win.
4. Learn how to become reasonably good at machining so that I can be more self-sufficient in the garage and execute my own designs.
My prized accomplishment this year was making a splined shaft to fix my lathe. I learned how to use a dividing head to do this and was ecstatic when the gear fit on the shaft. I also made all the parts for my standing desk using my machines.
The pic below shows a setup shaft I made out of aluminum.
I’m going to obsolete this one for the time being because I have many new ideas and need to regroup on the best way to incorporate them.
6. Prep the bike for the 2019 racing season.
I refrained from touching my dirt bike in 2018 and will act on this one shortly.
7. Read six books.
I’m reasonably sure I read six or fewer books last year due to my crazy schedule. At this time, I could only name a handful of titles if I tried.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately, and before I get into goals, I want to take a minute to share and reiterate why I started DIY Moto Fix and why it remains important to me to be part of the motorsport community. I hope these reasons resonate with you.
Dirt Biking Makes Us Happy
I’m the kind of person who has a tough time turning my mind off, but when I get on a bike my "monkey mind" stops almost immediately. As long as I can remember, dirt biking has brought me this sense of clarity that I couldn’t find with things like meditation. I’ve read a few books on how important meditation is for mental health and I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t giving me the great results I saw it gave others. Then after my knee surgery, I didn’t ride for over a year, and let me tell you it was a hard year. Then this last Christmas I got out on my future father-in-law’s ice bike and ripped around a frozen lake for a few hours. I felt like a new man - clear headed with a deep sense of peace. Then it hit me. Dirt biking is my form of meditation. I can’t think of anything else while I’m doing it, it concentrates all my energy on one particular thing. Ultimately, it makes me happy. Being able to give other riders the tools so they can get back to riding, so they can get back to “happy” is a huge part of why I do what I do.
The Grit It Takes To Be A Dirtbiker
Motorsports offers an opportunity and platform for people to develop and learn new skills. The rush of adrenaline I got when I finished my first iron man was par none. I know there are other riders out there with stories and feelings like this. I love the idea of pairing man and machine to overcome obstacles whether it’s a race or a back-country adventure. This applies not only to what happens out on the track or trail, but what happens in the workshop too. When I started learning how to rebuild my engines successfully, I gained a new level of respect for dirt biking. Understanding the machine not just as a rider, but as a caretaker too, was the ultimate test of grit. In teaching what I’ve learned about engine care, I hope to ease the frustration that a rebuild can bring and give you the tools to understand your bike on a deeper level.
Even for an introvert like myself sharing riding experiences with friends and family is incredible.
As more scrutiny is put on the environment and as we look at resources differently it will be important for the sport to value sustainability.
I want to see off-road riding grow and for it to do so it has to be accessible. Not only from a land access standpoint but also from a cost and information standpoint. A big reason I advocate and teach people how to rebuild engines and share technical information is to reduce the amount it costs to play.
Dirt biking is an excellent way to stay in shape and improve both physically and mentally. I weigh less now than I did in high school. Enough said.
What’s in Store for 2019?
For 2019 I’m actually not going to set any firm goals. I’ve set goals in the past and in many cases they’ve stressed me out. Instead, I’m going to talk about a handful of things I’m excited about and hoping to share with you.
Snow bike project - I have some friends that ride snow bikes and Snowhawks out in the mountains. Every year I go out West to snowmobile, my friends and I kick around ideas on how to make single ski machines better. This year I’m going to start noodling on a custom snow bike design. I’m thinking an 800cc two-stroke with a gearbox (custom crankcases!), custom chassis, and a little different twist on the design of the skid. We’ll see what transpires.
Casting Furnace - A friend of mine has known of my interest in casting for a few years, and his business no longer needs their casting furnace. He’s graciously gifted it to me, and I’m going to pick it up very soon. I can’t wait to expand my knowledge of metal casting and melt stuff.
Instrument Rating - I’ve been working with a flight instructor for the past few months and have been working away at completing all the necessary training required to obtain an instrument rating. This rating basically allows me to fly in poor visibility.
2005 Honda CRF250R Project - We’ll be doing a complete engine overhaul and sharing the ups and downs that are bound to come with this project. You can read about the acquisition here.
Comprehensive engine or suspension course? - I’ve been tossing around the idea of putting together a super detailed video course that covers all aspects of engine building or suspension tuning. I’m not sure yet, so if you guys have any ideas or input, let me know!
I hope you’re fired up for this year and what I’ve got in store. If you’ve got ambitious goals or just want to share your thoughts with me, leave a comment or send me an email. I respond to just about everyone.