Tyler Valentik: This was actually my first Harley, a 2000 XL883 hugger. I bought it when I was nineteen or twenty years old. It had a shorter stance and broke down all of the time, but I rode it everywhere for years. I started working with it a little more after my other Sportster chopper was finished. At the time, I didn’t have a dirt bike, so I figured I’d be that idiot who rode his Harley through the woods. I was super influenced by the Rusty Butcher and Virus Moto dudes out west. I would see them riding in the desert or going through creek crossings on Sportsters, and I wanted to do something like that. You just don’t see people jumping gaps on a Harley too often.
TV: I started with the suspension by buying a front end off of one of my buddies. It was a Sportster XL1200S front end that came with adjustable rebound and dampening from the factory, perfect for what I was doing. I’m running heavy-duty fluid, but nothing too special. For the rear, I picked up 14-inch Fox Racing piggyback shocks from Rusty Butcher. I’m using a stock 13-spoke front mag with an old AMF 18-inch rear. Once I had the roller figured out, I took it out to a buddy of mine, Kevin Perry. He’s a technician at Steel City Harley-Davidson and does all of the performance builds. Everything was entirely redone, bumping it up to 1200cc with aftermarket cams, high-compression pistons, new valve and valve springs, and some other fancy racing stuff. He pretty much made all my stupid ideas come together perfectly haha.
TV: I’m using a TrackerDie sprocket cover that I picked up in an emergency situation during my last visit to California. The powder coating was done by Eric at FM Powder Coating in Washington, PA. Almost everything was redone from the frame, swingarm, engine cases, and covers. I’m using a Baja Designs headlight that I’m super hyped about. I’ve always had issues with other headlights, but this works great! The handlebars are Rusty Butcher, and the risers are Hard Case Performance. Tyler Elliott of TE Customs did the paintwork. I told him that I wanted it to look a little vintage and roughed up, and he nailed it. I’m also using a Biltwell tail light and cafe seat with a Lowbrow Customs Tsunami rear fender.
TV: I’m using a Biltwell Whiskey throttle setup, got rid of all electronics on the handlebars, and switched to a one-finger clutch lever. TrackerDie sells them, and you can literally use one finger.
TV: I took both the chopper and this down to Daytona. It was wild this year. The people were cooped up from the pandemic and just let loose. At one point I lost my license plate and got a ticket. The past few years were adding up, and they finally got me this time.
TV: I rode this in the desert last time I was out west, and it was super tough but fun. It was like one giant party with people in trophy trucks, buggies, and dirtbikes. Later on, I saw the post about the Biltwell 100 but missed the signups. Luckily, my buddy Cliff, who was also racing the event, sent a video of mine from the previous desert trip to the guys at Biltwell, and they opened up some more spots that allowed me to get in.
TV: I’ll have a few guys with me and will probably leave shortly after Easter. The race is on the morning of April 10. I have no expectations, I just want to finish. I did a GNCC race last year on a dirtbike, so I have an idea of what it’s like. I’m going to have a Camelback and a gas reservoir on my backpack, so if I run out I’ll have a backup. It’s four laps in 25-mile loops, so I’m thinking maybe two laps, pit, then two more laps.
TV: The race was wild, to say the least. Starting off, my buddy Cliff got some wicked speed wobbles and dished it. Up went a big cloud of dust, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw another rider bump-jump Cliff’s bike, sending him and his bike flying. After that, I had to put my nerves to the side and start hauling ass. I felt good on the first lap, just trying to get used to the terrain and get a feel for the bike. The course was set up super rad. There were markers every mile and course flags, so you wouldn’t get completely lost.
After counting down the miles, the first lap was done, and I pulled through the pits to fill up on fuel. Thankfully, I saw Cliff. He was all good after his crash and said to keep rippin. The second lap felt great. I kept a good pace and nothing too wild happened. I stopped at the pits in about the same exact lap time as before, then kept hauling. The third lap is where I definitely started to feel fatigued about midway through. By mile fifteen, my hands were dead, cramping to the bars. It was getting super hard to pull the clutch and brake. When pulling back into the pits, the crew knew I was hurting. I needed to cool down and get some energy. Every pit stop, my dawg Tosh pretty much shoved bananas down my throat, Jason kept my gas tank filled, and Logan kept me cool and filled my water. Our whole SCVM and NOBODY crew were all hollering and kept my spirits high! The last lap was a straight-up survival lap. It took everything I had to hold on to that 500-pound machine for another twenty-five miles through whoops and washed-out turns. I was just in my own head telling myself to get it fucking done.
TV: I actually lost my oil cap on the first lap, and oil went everywhere. I noticed it at about the 10-mile mark, took one of my gloves off, and shoved it in the filler hole so I wouldn’t lose anymore. I did, however, lose a lot of oil and somehow didn’t blow my bike up. With how whooped out and rocky a few of the sections of the course were, my oil tank/battery tray isolators all broke and were pretty much bouncing off of the top of my primary. Other than that, I kept the bike upright the whole time but did dent up my exhaust a little on the rocky downhill section. That was pretty wicked!
TV: Honestly, coming over the hill and seeing the 25-mile marker was surreal. I was running off of so much adrenaline but was so physically exhausted that it felt weird. Pulling into the pits, I could barely hold onto my bike, but the SCVM and NOBODY crew went fucking nuts. It felt like a movie, haha. I sat my ass down in a camp chair and got three sips into a cold Pacifico before realizing I needed water badly. It felt like I was going to pass out, throw up, or both. About an hour after the race, I finally felt better and enjoyed my time in the middle of the Dirt Diggers Spangler Hills of California, hanging out at the awards with all of my buddies. My dad even flew out to party. Winning first place in my class was wild for sure, but the whole experience was amazing, and I’m stoked that my friends and I got to be a part of it!
TV: Thanks to Steel City Harley-Davidson, Thunder Roads Magazine, Crazy Horse Coffee, and Marty Rubio who owns a machine shop that helped me out. Also thanks to Biltwell for hosting a kick-ass event!