My face is very sore today because I've been smiling since I left the house this morning. I haven't been able to stop smiling all day. The ride was amazingly fun! I am really impressed how well the Yamaha WR250R handled today. It did everything I asked it to do, but, unfortunately, my skills as a rider are not equal to the performance of the bike. It can do so much more than I can make it do. I fell many times and stalled it even more, but I had so much fun! It was also a great learning experience. I'm also impressed with the fuel efficiency of the WR250R. Most of the day I was getting about 75MPG with the sprint along I35 coming in at 50MPG.
I met up with some other riders from the the TC_Dualsport list at the Freedom gas station in White Bear Lake along 61 and 96. The ride was organized by Paul Streeter, and he took us on some fantastic roads! He took us (Paul, Steve, Mark, and Dale) up toward Marine on St. Croix on some gravel roads northeast of White Bear Lake. Then we crossed over into Wisconsin near Osceola, rode north of St.Croix Falls on 87, and then on to River Road. We stopped for lunch at the Wolf Creek Bar. Then we rode into the pine barrens area and then to the Crex Meadows wildlife preserve north of Grantsberg, WI. It was mostly two tracks and gravel roads, but we did manage to find a couple fire roads. It's a very fun place to ride, and I look forward to going back again soon. A crude map is here. I didn't get the chance to take as many pictures as I wanted, but the ones I did take are here on Flickr.
For the ride home, Steve took Paul and me on some back gravel roads and a very muddy two track near the river. It was also very exciting! Of course, I fell just after making it across a giant mud puddle. Fortunately, a couple trees slowed me down and helped cushion my fall. We ended up near North Branch and took I35 south back to the cities. I think Paul and Steve were impressed the little WR250R could keep up with them so well on the highway.
I am completely exhausted now after the ride (268.5 miles roundtrip), but am looking forward to the chance to ride with Paul and Steve again. They are both great riders and guides. Both of them were very patient with my newness today and gave me some useful tips. I am very thankful for Paul's patience as he waited at every intersection for me to catch up. Thanks Paul! If you get a chance to go on one of Paul's rides, I strongly recommend you take the opportunity.
I'm very happy I finally finished installing the skidplate, handguards, and radiator guard. They did a fine job protecting the bike. I will post the installation on the hand and radiator guards soon.
BTW: I took the Yamaha to Waldoch on Saturday and they solved the leaky oil problem. There was dirt in between the crush washer and the case. Their tech Murray replaced the washer for free along with an oil change of 10W40. Things are working great now.