[WLF] PRO-FILES: Overkill Andy - 24
RIDER: OVERKILL ANDY
RESIDENCE: GLENDALE HEIGHTS, ILLINOIS
GARAGEMAHAL: 2021 YAMAHA TENERE 700, 2020 HUSQVARNA FE501, 2020 HUSQVARNA TE150, 2018 HUQVARANA TE250
RIDING TYPE: HEAVY ENDURO// OFFROAD // ENDURO
BLAST FROM OVERKILLS PAST:
From a young age I was enthralled by anything and everything mechanical, taking things apart and analyzing each component. When something in the house would break and my mother would throw it away, I would sneakily pull it out of the garbage to see what failed. Why did it fail? Could I fix it or perhaps repurpose it into something else? I would keep things that most would deem useless out of sheer curiosity and hope that I could use it for a project later. That curiosity led me to learn so much about how different components cross over from so many different industries and taught me how one trade could be adapted and utilized in another. This foundation would become the key to my future.
Early on I was my fathers professional wrench fetcher or dropped screw chaser, “eagle eye” as he called me because he always dropped things in our overcrowded garage and could never find them. “Hey Eagle eye” was a common phrase I became used to. I’m sure you know the feeling. Installing a piston circlip and having it spring out of position, rocketing across the room at warp speed as you listen for all 15 tings and tangs, all the while mumbling profanities knowing it’s 2am and you’re about to crawl around the shop floor, praying you’ll find that stupid clip and finish the bike for tomorrow’s ride. In that crowded garage however, I learned from my father and grandfather that anything was possible, we just had to try. At times, I would get frustrated, feeling as if they were holding my creativity back by just being the tool fetcher. But, all their lessons instilled in me a persistence to continue trying after failing and an independence to figure things out on my own. That even the smallest role of fetching a tool or finding a lost part that the engine requires for assembly is an important role.
Despite hours on end in the garage, the facts remained, I grew up in the midwest where there was little besides street riding and since I started riding later than many of my friends I was behind the ball in the skill department. This became apparent very quickly when visiting my cousins. A couple times a year my family made the journey from Chicago to New Mexico where I got to spend time with my cousins and their toys. They had all sorts of dirtbikes and quads. Since we did not have any vehicles there I would borrow their Honda Odyssey. I know I know, It’s not what you’re thinking, this was no soccer-mom minivan. This beast was an off-road go-kart with a full roll cage and real engine. Not the go-kart engine that your best friend snagged from your dad's lawn mower. It was quick and nimble, until it would randomly lose spark, leaving me stranded in the middle of the desert... We would ride out of the garage and straight into the New Mexico dunes, taking seemingly desolate trails to nowhere that would suddenly turn to reveal an oasis of trails as far as the eye could see. There were even enormous motocross tracks that seemed to just grow out of the desert where you would never expect. I used to just sit there in awe watching local riders fly around, hitting massive jumps and I wanted so badly to ride with them. However I lacked both the skills and the means. Even so watching my cousins ride ignited a fire in me that could not easily be put out. I knew I had to find a way to fuel that passion.
Back home, in the darkest corner of my parents' garage hid my future. A hand brush-painted, army green beast waiting to be reawoken from a very long slumber. For as long as I can remember, it lay in pieces, covered in dust and mouse droppings, panels and parts scattered across the floor, on tables and on an old Military Jeep in similar condition. After years of begging, my father finally relented, and handed me a dusty old box as he made me a deal: “If you can get it running, you can ride it.” Atop that dusty box was an old Clymer manual, pages ripped and water damaged, but it was all there. You know, one of those book things, do you remember those? Everything I needed to get the ole girl running again. It had been decades since that bike had seen daylight, but it was finally free, out of the depths of the gagare in all its disgusting glory, and it was all mine. After months of reading and research, in the time before google… Yes kids there was a time when we had to read actual books for information not just search it on our phones… I learned about timing and engine cycles, tuning and synching carburetors, setting points and finding electrical faults from mouse chewed wires. With a bit of help from my dad and some JB weld on the cylinder head and many hard lessons, she finally ran! Once that 1971 Honda SL350 fired up, that engine vibrated my very soul to its core. There was no turning back now. I was hooked forever.
Fast forward a few years and a few more antique bikes later, I had been honing my skills with some local riding. Out of nowhere my dad surprised me with a beautiful shiny used 1993 honda cr250. It was the last thing I expected, it was a big sacrifice for my parents as we did not have a lot of money, making me cherish that bike even more. I grew to know every inch of it, stripping it to the frame every winter to maintain it. I rode every opportunity I could and relished every minute in the trails. As time went on, so did life and college and real jobs with weekend hours that got in the way of dirtbiking. Friends moved on from the sport and the lack of trails in Illinois made it challenging to stay motivated.
Despite seeing my friends pick up sportbikes, I relented to my Harley-loving dad and got a Sportster 883 with the caveat that I would be able turn it into a fire breathing monster. That little Sportster got Buell heads, cams and pistons, ignition, and exhaust. The works. I dipped into fabrication and chopped the entire subframe off and made a seat pan, swapped the suspension and stretched the swingarm 2.5 inches. The torque of that V-twin reminded me of my two-stroke dirt bike. The work I put into that bike earned me a bit of a reputation, and I began working on other people’s bikes, doing custom fabrication and engine work. This work even landed me a part time job at a hot rod shop, building custom cars.
Between the hot rods shop, fabricating in my own garage and maintaining a full-time job, I didn’t have enough time to dirtbike and sadly sold the CR250. However, I was finally able to get that sportbike I always wanted. I picked up a CBR1000 and quickly learned this was an entirely different animal. The power was so insanely smooth and linear, the suspension and brakes were unlike anything I had been on before. Problem was before I knew it, I was doing 100mph in second gear. I did a few track days, but mostly learned that the bike was a bit of a cop magnet and track days were too rich for my blood.
After some years on the sport bike while still being involved in the custom scene, I was ready for a change. I was ready to get back into the dirt; getting back to the outdoors and escaping the suburbs. I was ready for an adventure bike! A go anywhere, do anything bike to take me places no other bike could. Enter the 2010 Ducati Multistrada! It was everything I was looking for; a torquey V-Twin coupled with Ohlins sportbike style suspension with extra travel for off road and powerful Brembo brakes. I waited a few years to find one used, purchasing one with low miles and all the extras I wanted. The more I rode and looked for people to ride with, the more amazing friendly people I found. Not only was adventure riding phenomenal, it was so refreshing to meet inclusive, supportive riders. I eventually ended up with the next generation Multistrada Enduro which would be the bike that set me apart in the community. While everyone else was on a KTM1190 or GS1200, the Multi was the odd bike out and I loved it. The bike got noticed for going where it wasn’t expected, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to rides all over the country. I could not believe the warm welcomes and invites I was getting from not just the US but all over the world. I ended up taking that bike all over the country and even racing a rally in South Carolina and one in Canada.
In steps the WLF crew and Heavy Enduro. Together they embodied everything I loved about riding. The slogan “Further Together” really spoke to me. Growing up, it was hard finding people to ride with off road. Generally, faster riders were racers and didn't want to ride with you or just left you in the dust. It was hard getting riding tips so I had to learn a lot through trial and error on my own. As I got older and traveled more, I appreciated finding not just people to ride with but riders that I could rely on and trust to help me on especially gnarly trails. This community has given me so much, I can’t help but want to give back, helping others searching for knowledge and places to ride, grow and learn without having to drive all over the country.
LOOK AT US NOW
Then came Susan. The missing puzzle piece to my life I never knew I needed. Susan came into my life when I was completely content on living the rest of my days single. However we ended up being a complete yin and yang couple, both with a mildly unhealthy obsession for motorcycles. I brought dirt into her life and she reintroduced track into mine. Susan balances out my creative anxiety and helps bring my ideas to life. As a team we have come so far so quickly and we’re ready to take on more. Together, we dove head first into Heavy Enduro. I have been very passionate about the brand since its inception by Rich and Trevor with support from WLF in 2018. In October 2020, Trevor contacted me, asking If I would take over the company.
Knowing the brand and being passionate about it, I was extremely humbled and honored that they would even ask. After a few days mulling it over and worrying I wouldn’t be able to do the name justice, I was able to see Heavy Enduro for what it could be. It was my opportunity to give back to the motorcycle community that had given me so much. I had this idea noodling around for over a year; I would love to train people how to ride big bikes off road. I see so many people buy big bikes not knowing how to ride them, get frustrated and just sell them before experiencing adventure. I knew a few skills would help these folks go further, but I was worried I didn’t have the credentials to teach anyone.
With no permanent training facilities within easy driving distance from Chicago, I got over my fears and let my passion for the sport drive me forward. I didn’t want others struggling as I did to learn. So, with Susan’s support and experience opening and running businesses, we accepted! Since then, we have taken the brand to a new level, opening a training facility and holding classes at The Cliffs Insane Terrain in Marseilles Illinois. We even partnered with Moto Corsa in Portland, bringing Heavy Enduro training to the PNW. With Susan managing the administration and me continuing to push big bikes to their limits, the business continues to grow. Our most recent Heavy Enduro build is the 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 which we just rode LAB2V on finishing all the hard sections!
I’ve been wanting to do the infamous LA to Barstow to Vegas ride for years. Logistically and financially it just never worked out. This year the stars aligned and everything came together!
My buddy Todd was in town picking up a new ktm 500 for the event and convinced me to go so finally I bit the bullet and went! I only had two days to get the bike ready for Todd to pick up. Throw some new tires on it and give it a full once over to make sure it would make the grueling two days and 425 miles of desert terrain. Of course being me I didn't do it on a dirt bike like a normal human… I took my Yamaha Tenere 700. I had just installed a full Andreani suspension from Fastbike Industries as well and had only ridden it locally so I was not sure how it would handle in all the sandy desert terrain. My goal was to ride all of the hard sections but I won’t lie. I was super nervous. Sand on a big bike can be challenging and I heard there were some tough rock steps to ride up along with A LOT of whoops. But it was something I really wanted to push myself and the bike to see if we could do.
Day one was 175 miles. Mostly straightforward with only one fork in the road to the hard section. That made the navigation pretty simple. None of the “hard” sections really seemed that much more challenging than the main trail. Just longer stretches of sand and a few more windy hill climbs but overall day one was smooth sailing. We left at around 7:15 am and our group of four quickly split into two groups realizing that some of us wanted to do the hard routes and others didn’t. Our group was a pretty hodge podge group of guys thrown together at the last minute but it was pretty cool to see us work together really well and communicate well enough to be able to split while keeping everyone happy. Todd and I finished day one around 1:15 completing all the hard sections.
Day two was a bit of a doozy. The navigation was much more involved. The trail forked at least a dozen times on the roadbook so you really had to pay attention to make sure you were headed in the right direction and on the trail you wanted to be on. There were sections that had some pretty large boulders and ascents. Calico was the first. Calico wound through a cool ravine leading you to what appeared to be a dry waterfall bed with loose boulders ranging from footballs to the size of truck tires. Since we left Barstow at 6am there were not a lot of riders there yet, maybe a dozen. Todd bounced up the rock section no problem. I waited for a guy on an 890 rally to go and a few other stuck bikes to clear before I went. I navigated my way through the mess of boulders and to the top with relative ease and minor dabbing. Only to lose my balance just after getting to the flatter portion and stumbling on a few larger rocks. A low speed tip over in Calico would be my only fall in the entire 425 mile ride. Which I am still pretty stoked about.
After getting through what I was told was the most challenging part of the ride I was feeling pretty confident that I cleared it so effortlessly. The next challenge was the seemingly endless sand whoops. They were relentless. Just when you thought they were over and you could pick up the pace you'd come flying up on another section. Better riders than I, and riders on actual dirtbikes could easily ride the top of those whoops. I on the other hand am not that good. The risk is too high on a ride that long and a bike that big so slowing down was my best bet. A few times I came in a little too hot and almost lost it, back end of the bike bucking side to side after bottoming the suspension. But each time I got lucky and saved it. I definitely will say had I been on the stock suspension I would have bottomed hundreds of times and likely been ejected from the bike. I am SOOOO glad I installed that new Andreani suspension, it literally saved my ass. It soaked up whoops and washouts the stock stuff definitely would not have. The hydraulic bump stops progressively resist bottoming. To break that down. The stock suspension just slams into the bump stop abruptly. Like a steel hammer hitting a steel table and bouncing back up. All of the weight of the bike and rider suddenly hit hard and then all of that energy is sent back into the bike and rider throwing the bike off trajectory and the rider likely off the bike. But with a hydraulic stop the stop is gradual. Instead of a hard immediate slam, the suspension absorbs the impact with varying resistance without transferring the energy back into the bike or rider. Like taking that same hammer and hitting a bean bag. Impact absorption vs impact transfer back into the bike and rider. The shit works.
By 11:45 am we had nearly made it to the extra gas stop on the hard route just before lunch. We were making really good time. Todd had taken a hard fall and turned his nav tower into a modern art piece. So we spent about half an hour zip tying and lashing that secure and tightening up his hand guards. Even after that we saw hardly any bike tracks ahead of us and with 450 total riders this year we had to be pretty far in front of the pack when disaster struck…. The trail had gotten so rocky I had to slow down my pace. Even slowing down I could still feel and hear the rocks hammering my rim. I was very concerned about a pinch flat… And then, it happened! A dreaded pinch flat! Even with Uber heavy duty tubes and 20psi I still pinched the tube. I was pretty devastated because I knew to be able to ride the last hard route at Red Rocks they told us we needed to leave lunch by 2pm. So I had to fix a flat and then ride cautiously worrying about the tube again… I had a new tube but it was much thinner so I opted to patch the thicker tube with how bad the rocks were. Then bump the pressure to 25psi. Initially we got the tube repaired and the wheel back on the bike in 45 min. But just as I was about to get back on the bike I checked it and it had a slow leak… We took it back apart and there was a second hole. By then I knew we wouldn't make my goal of doing all the hard routes. Either way it had to be fixed so we got to it. Todd was tropper helping me out and being patient about the issue. All in all we lost 1.5 hours fixing my flat putting us back on the trail chasing the dozen or so riders that passed us by 1:15pm
I slowly krept my speed up, checking the tire at each stop thinking surely it would be flat again. But it kept holding so I kept bringing my speed up until we were going about the same pace we were before. We made it to a deep sand section where at least a dozen riders were stuck and and we just pinned it through the sand literally flying into lunch. We made up so much time and passed almost all the riders that passed us while fixing my tire. By that time it was around 2:30. Knowing we missed the cut off time but hopeful we could still make all the hard options I asked the organizers if there was still time. They said, “if you leave now you may make it, That's where we are headed now, But you've gotta be fast they'll close the gate and turn you away” So I ran to Todd, Inhaled lunch and checked my tire. It was still holding! “Lets go!” I kept yelling at Todd. He must have hated me. But I was not going to miss tackling my goal.
Todd and I hit the next two hard routes. The one just before Red Rocks was super silty loose sand and the course was windy almost like a hard enduro course which was a lot of work on the Tenere but also a lot of fun. The navigation was very challenging. But we made it through pushing to make it to Red Rocks before the gate closed. As we finally rode up to Red Rocks I saw a lady with a sign that I couldn't read. I assumed she would shew me away. But to my surprise it said “HARD” and she pointed to a man who at that point looked like Santa Clause to me. He looked at me, smiled and picked up the rope blocking the course and waved me through! WE MADE IT!!!! I was so ecstatic. I was screaming in my helmet. Red Rocks had a really cool rock garden and then this beautiful winding switchback that led back down into a valley. At that point I was finally able to slow down and take it all in. They could not have picked a better exit ride. I mean knowing you made it to the final hard section and having the time pressure off. That was the perfect spot to slow down and take in the sun coming down on an amazing two days of riding. I still cannot believe we made it with the troubles we had on the bike I took. I am not 100% sure. But I am pretty sure I was the only adv bike to make the entire ride and all of the hard routes at LAB2V 2021. Which is really cool. Next year I think I’ll take Jordan Graham's Advice and throw a mousse on at least the front so I can pick up the pace even more. Maybe even upgrade that front rim because I'm pretty sure it’s square now…. Hey Woodys… I need a front wheel….
IF I AIN’T DEAD
We intend to continue growing Heavy Enduro, training more riders with the confidence to go “further together.” WLF was one of my early supporters, sharing my crazy antics on a huge bike in completely inappropriate places. This year Susan and I got a chance to ride with them during the Big Bear Barstow to Ridgecrest event and not only were they great to ride with, but they were super humble and just genuinely nice people. I've watched them support events all over the states and I have to say it’s very refreshing to see the amount of support they bring to the community.