If you plan to attend the Desert 100 this year you are probably already packing and thinking about what you need to take, what does your bike still need done, etc. If you have never been to this event it can be a little difficult to anticipate what you are going to need so here are some suggestions to keep the bike running smoothly and your blood pressure at a reasonable level.
One of the biggest issues I have seen is tires. If you are new to desert riding you may not realize how brutal the terran can be on tires, particularly if you are running a fairly soft tire for good traction. Pinch flats seem to be the king of problems. The simplest thing you can do to avoid pinch flats is to increase your tire pressure. If you are running a standard tube and a regular MX tire you should increase your tire pressure to as much as 14 PSI. Of course the down side to this is you are going to lose handling. You may want to take some time on Friday using the little loop track near caamp to play with your tire pressures. You should also consider getting and having at least one extra tube per wheel, and be sure to get an ultra-heavy duty. With the heavier tube you can get away with running at lower pressure, but don't be fooled, even ultra heavy duty tubes will get pinch flats. The ideal is to run a heavy tube with a desert tire like the Maxxis Desert IT or the Kenda Parker, or even better a Tubliss system. Whatever way you choose to go be sure to have plenty of zip ties in your pack so if you do get a flat and are not able to fix it on the trail you can at least keep your tire more or less in place and protect your rim while you limp back to camp.
Air filters is another big issue for the weekend. We might get lucky and avoid the really bad dust this year but don't hold your breath. You will be money ahead by having a second or even third filter ready to throw in when needed. I had to change filters in the pit one year because the dust was so thick and my bike would only run at wide open because the filter was so plugged. Keep mind, trying to save $30.00 on filter can end up costing you a $1500+ for a top end rebuild.
Gas, gas and more gas! Over the years I seen lots of folks pushing their bikes the last few miles because they ran out of gas. Don't be that guy! This is where you should have a good idea how far your bike can go on a tank of gas. And then subtract several miles. You will go through much more gas doing the poker run and the race than you do on normal trail riding. If you are unsure, carry extra fuel bottles. Yes it is a pain, yes it is a bunch of extra weight, but you can dump them in the tank (and keep the empty bottle in your pack). I guarantee that your bike will feel much heavier if you have to push it than those fuel bottles.
Tires, air filters and fuel are probably the most common mechanical issues. But don't neglect the rest of your bike. Make sure your spokes are all tight and if they need to be tightened just get them snug, if you tighten them too much your will put a bend in your rim. Be sure you have a fresh oil and filter for the weekend. Just because you are running the latest and greatest synthetic doesn't mean the oil can go forever. The Desert 100 terrain can be very rough on an engine. Make sure your coolant is full, overheating your engine can end your day quicker than you think. Check your chain, sprockets and wheel bearings. A bearing that is "borderline" at the home will turn into a major problem on the course.
Keep in mind, being prepared for the weekend will save you lots of headache. But, even the most prepared can forget or have things happen that you can't predict. There are lots of vendors and people that more than willing to help. So if you do find yourself in a pinch it won't automatically be the end of your weekend.
As warm weather approaches (assuming it ever stops snowing here in sunny Central Washington) you may be thinking about getting your equipment ready to go for the season. Most people know that you need to change the oil, but there are other things that often get neglected that can end up being very important to your wallet. Here are some things to consider depending on what you are working on. Preventative maintenance is the key to a long and healthy relationship with your equipment.
In addition to engine oil, it is a good idea to have your transmission oil changed. Many bikes and quads don't have separate oil for the transmission, but many do. Depending on your mower, there is a good chance that your hydrostatic drive might be due for service as well. If you don't know you should probably find out, there is a chance you have been neglecting your transmission.
Differentials/Final Drive; this is probably the most neglected component I see here in the shop, they are easy to ignore and many people don't even realize they need to be serviced. Even if the fluid looks okay, if you haven't changed it in a while there is no time like the present. Since there is no filtration system the debris that accumulates over time just stays there until the oil is drained. Worse than that, differentials can get filled with water via the vent tube and you wouldn't even realize it until there is a major failure of some sort.
Valve adjustments are important for easy starting and good performance. Some engines don't require adjustment, but by and large most do. So, if you can't remember the last time your valve lash was inspected now is the perfect opportunity.
Cables are another component that is easy to forget until they break or seize, a little lubrication goes along way.
If your machine has belts check them from cracks and other signs of wear, a broken belt usually is not the end of the world, but if it decides to get wrapped up in a pulley it can really ruin your day trying to get it out.
Chains and sprockets; once upon a time, you know when I was young and broke, I would run a chain and sprocket until it simply wouldn't work any longer. However, the problem with that approach is that you tend to cost yourself more money in the long run. When chain breaks it is not uncommon for it to try and take an engine case with it or get wrapped in the rear wheel and take you with it. If you sprockets are starting to "hook" (they start looking like a shark's dorsal fin) or the teeth are getting sharp at the points it's time for a change. Also make sure to look at all the teeth, sometimes you will only have a few teeth that are getting sharp and if they are covered by the chain when you do your inspection you might miss it.
Inspect your brakes, if you have 2 mm or less of pad left change them right away. Don't wait until you hear that lovely grinding sound. Trying to get down a big hill with bad brakes can end very badly for you and your ride. While you are at it, take a good look at your brake discs. It is not uncommon for the discs to warp due to heat. If your brake disc is starting to look like a dinner plate, toss it and get a new one. Putting new pads on a warped disc is right up there with throwing money down a rat hole.
Wheel bearings should be inspected at least twice a year, lift the machine so that the wheel is off the ground and not under pressure and wiggle it side to side if there is any play you may have a wheel bearing going out. But before you order bearings make sure the play is not in the spokes or steering. While you are at it, check the steering. On a motorcycle, with the front end off the ground and you standing in front of the bike (I would have have someone else hold the bike so it doesn't fall over) push and pull on the fork tubes, if the stem bearing is getting loose you will feel some play.
This is not a comprehensive list, but it is enough to get you started. Remember the sooner you address a problem and fix it, the cheaper it will be. I can't tell you how many machines have come through the shop for something relatively minor and ended up being a much bigger bill just because the problem was ignored or the machine was parked and forgotten about for too long.