Joined: Jul 2008
The Fun Had Just Begun
When I was down in the little gift shop at the bottom I talked to Ranger Rick, he happened to be on an ATV so I figured he would give me the straight story. He said yep, 100% it is legal to ride, and that was good enough for me. I also figured that if my bike happened to fall 20 feet below the trail he would be able drag my fat pig back up if needed too. You always need to consider your outs, especially when riding by yourself.
So with that I headed up, and up, and up. There are a few houses at first and the trail is fine, but then it turns to an ATV trail and gets better. Well most people would probably use a word more like worse, rockier, steeper, nastier, gnarlier, etc., but I still say better.
It was a bit annoying having all the hikers in the way but they seem to know who will win, so they were good at getting out of my way. Actually I am just joking, if you ever decided to try this, first drop your panniers because you won’t want them, but second and most importantly, be courteous to the hikers. For some reason they don’t usually like bikers and they like to wine like little babies and are good at getting our trails shut down. SO PLEASE IF YOU TRY THIS (or any time you encounter them), KISS THEIR ASS, SLOW DOWN, WAVE AND SMILE.
It was good riding, probably the best of the entire trip as far as I’m concerned, the trail just kept climbing and climbing. I usually try to get to the end then explore the side-tracks on the way back. So I kept climbing until I ran into a nasty shelf trail with nothing but watermelon sized rocks the last half mile or so to the mine, then sat there and thought long and hard about trying it. After 18k miles the handlebars hadn’t yet touched the ground and I didn’t want to start there. The inside line was significantly more jagged and if I made a mistake on the outside line my fat pig would be real tough to get back up on the trail, impossible by myself.
So I decided to turn around. I thought about hiking it but I was just having too much fun riding.
I had passed a few turnoffs on the way up so I obviously had to investigate.
That one didn’t go too far, but on the way up I saw an overgrown path off to the right. I then went over to it and had to think about it for a few moments. It looked pretty sketchy. It was mostly off chamber and the wet undergrowth had mostly reclaimed the narrow 2-track. My mirror got smacked and started spinning right off the bat and I was a little concerned about the mud. I have to say, my radiator shrouds did a good job of pushing the brush away, and I talked myself into continuing on.
I was a little too busy trying to keep the pig moving down the trail to take too many pictures, at one point I almost didn’t make it. I was on the outside line romping it over the giggle-bushes through a particularly overgrown section and almost got bounced off the downhill side, I barely was able to hang on. But I made it to the old mining buildings.
I was kind of sweating making it back out, riding the KLR through the rough stuff is different. The power isn’t a problem, sure you can’t really lift the front but you can un-weight it enough to get by. The biggest problem is the weight vs. the suspension. Maybe if I dumped a grand into suspension it would be different but mine is stock and so is my other, however the bigger problem is really just the sheer mass. It is a lot to stop. One time an inmate tried to tell me that the ‘07 and prior are better than the new gen ‘08+. Mine doesn’t have enough suspension or breaks even with the one mm bigger front forks and bigger calipers, and I don’t care how flimsy the plastic looks. Just don’t drop it hard. Really, the key to riding the pig is to keep it smooth. Dirt biking is all about momentum…mo-mo-mentum. But you have to be extremely careful to not beat the fat pig to death and to make sure you can stop in time. You just need to keep moving that mass down the trail as smoothly as possible, kind of like margarine.
After I made it out, I headed back down.
But I had so much fun on the climb up to the shelf I had to do it again.
There is nothing like a good hill-climb.
On my way back down I ran into a nice looking couple in their late 50’s walking their dog. I slowed down and waved like I always do, but this one waved me over. I should have just ignored him but in a whiny voice with granola breath, he started shaking his finger and telling me I am breaking the law. I should have just said sorry and ridden off, but I said “Look Sir.” “You have it all wrong.” “I talked to Ranger Rick and he said it is my right to ride, just like it is yours to live here in my Park” (maybe not exactly).
He said, “Oh you did, did you”
I said “Yes I did”
Then he whipped out his pen and paper and proceeded to whine; “who did you talk to, what did he say.” I politely said he was wrong, after a bit of sniffling and a bit more whining, he then admitted it, it was all a lie and just his wishes.
I told him I appreciated where he was coming from but we really are not bad people, then wished him a good day as I started my bike and putted downhill.
I still had another turnoff to explore.
I saw a yellow Forrest Service post signaling the end of motorized access so I promptly turned around. The hiking trail looked cool, but that was not what I was there for.
On my way back the whiny granola-breath was huffing and puffing down the path hopping to catch me past Ranger Rick’s line. I simply smiled and waved as I putted past. He signaled me over again but I kept rolling.
After one more shot at the bottom, I headed back over the discriminatory bridge and blasted back down the road.
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