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Old 07-21-2011, 09:52 PM   #37
av_mech OP
Risk Taker
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Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Boise, ID
Oddometer: 1,144
This addition of "Tyson and Hobbes" will be an entertaining one.It will also include some lessons that I learned. Really, they are lessons that I learned in the past but chose to ignore. Enough foreshadowing...

I have been working a ton. To be exact, this was my third day off in July and I've AVERAGED 11 hours per shift. So what do I want to do with my day off? RIDE!

My ride started just like any other to get out of Denver. It sure makes me appreciate my home in Boise because I can be on the dirt in 15 minutes there.
Today I am headed for the 4wd drive roads around Cedar Mountain to the Northwest of Woodland Park. I began heading for the hills on 285 and left the city and smog behind. I turned South on 97 and followed Kennedy Gulch. Nothing to special to report. Just a nice leisurely drive on the pavement.

When I got to Westcreek on 67, I turned off the highway and ventured onto the dirt. I came to the first major intersection an pulled over as it was time to plan the route. I can only plan about three turns ahead before I forget what the plan was. This was actually a few more than that from Denver, so I did well today!

From here the plan was to take CR 68 to FR 360. 360 is labeled 4WD in the Benchmark and is what I always look for to get off the beaten path. I saw the sign for "4WD High Clearance Required" and knew it was the turn off. The road was fantastic and I was in a great mood enjoying my freedom for a day from my indentured servitude.

I've been doing a fair amount of dirt on the Tiger and have been wanting to hit some more challenging terrain. I finally got my wish. There were a few sections like this and the Tiger just claws right up it.

I am at the South end of the Hayman fire burn area. It'll come back some day. It has been a good number of years and the process is slow at high altitude.

The wildflowers were out in full force!

Now it was time to make another decision. I pulled out my map again and looked at what the next turn could be. I see that 221 drops down into the canyon and crosses the South Platte River. It then climbs the other side as 540 and meets up with 211. From there I can jump back on the pavement and head 'er home. I pass through the OPEN gate and take off down 221.

The scenery is spectacular!! I can't hardly ride for a minute with out wanting to stop and take photos. One of the nice things about riding by myself is, I can do just that. Plus it is the first day with my new camera. It reminds me a lot of the road into Artillery Dome in Idaho. It follows a knife edge ridge and is definitely a challenging ride.

There are a number of these ascents and descents on the road. The dirt is interesting. It is broken down granite with no soil to hold it together. Like a bunch a ball bearings. The ass of the bike is all over the place when I get on the gas. Plus, with all the rain we've had, there are plenty of runoff ruts to negotiate.

Ok, the trail is getting pretty tough at this point for a 500lb bike with 93 hp and street tires. Yes, I still have the Death Wings on. The TKCs are sitting in the garage not mounted. Who wants to change two tires after 14 12-hour days in a row? Hmmmm...more foreshadowing perhaps?

Now we're starting to lose some altitude and head to the valley floor.

I'm riding down some of these steep descents thinking, "Man, I'm glad I'm going DOWN this instead of UP cause I don't know if I can get UP this!" Then I come to a 4WD obstacle. It's an off camber chunk of granite. There's no major drop off, just a goofy angled slope. "OK. No problem." And it wasn't.

I continued on my way towards the valley floor for all of 400 yards and..."THE ROAD IS CLOSED?! YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! THE GODDAMN ROAD IS CLOSED!!!" We aren't talking about a friendly sign or plastic road barrier. We're talking metal posts and iron rope with no way around. And even if I could get around, I'm in a burn area where nobody would be traveling down the road to clear the fallen tees! In my brief moment of panic, I neglected to take a picture.

I immediately turn around and head back up the mountain toward the obstacle. My mind is racing. I get back to it and this is what it looks like from where I stand.

I got off and had a walk around. Only one way up. Period. No easy way or bypass. I'm not gonna lie. I set up the camera and took a video. My first attempt was complete amateur hour. I couldn't get traction in the gravel and gained no speed. I should have aborted and taken a bigger run. I will humor you with a still shot of me coming off the bike about halfway through the fall.

Right mirror destroyed. I picked the bike up and turned around. I grabbed the camera cause I was done taking pictures at this point. I had a job to do! This time I got a running start. There wasn't a smooth transition onto the rock and it threw me for a loop. I lost my momentum and had to grab the brake. I kept it upright this time and rolled back off the rock but dropped it at the bottom.

At this point I have another moment of panic set in. "What if I can't get up this? I'm by myself!"

I quickly quashed that thought. I have way too much experience in uncomfortable situations in the great outdoors to panic this early. I got the bike back to the starting line and shut it off. I walked up and kicked the loose gravel into the hole to make a smooth run on. Third times the charm!!

EDIT: I've had some issues posting a video. Click the squished picture of the bike directly below.

You can tell I'm pretty stoked at this point. Hootin' and hollerin' stoked! That would be short lived. Did you notice the climb I have to make it up next when I talking about the rain coming? Yeah, me neither.

I put the back pack on and thought "Shit. Here we go! On the gas and kickin' ass!" I was carrying quite a bit of confidence after making it up that slab of granite. Then, I made my next mistake.

I'm booking it up the hill, but I'm in second. Buzz...too late. Try again. I'm 35 ft from the top and the front tire climbs the wall and I go down again. I'm a bit frustrated. I get the bike vertical and it goes over center and falls the other way. FUCK!!! I drag it around and pick it up again. This is getting old. I tried one time to start going up hill and walk it the rest of the way. ZERO traction. I take back everything I've said previously about the Death Wings being decent off road. They blow and I can't wait for knobbies.

I begin to get the bike pointed down the mountain to make another run. Guess what? Dropped it again. I'm getting tired. I finally get it pointed down hill and ride alllllllll the way back to the bottom.

Now I know where my failure was. The Tiger has a very tall first gear and this is the one time you'd hope for that off road. Rev'd up in first and off we go again! I'm out of breath and my heart is pounding. I can tell I am getting better at horsing the bike around. I'm feeling good. I'm approaching the first crash site and I have my line picked out. Missed it! FAIL. This time the left hand guard splinters into pieces and the clutch lever has a bit of a new shape. A bit of a side note...the Cycra bark busters were in the shopping cart but not bought yet.

I have to pick up the bike three more times because I am completely exhausted at this point. I am going back down to the bottom and I fall in a nasty rut and I just don't have the energy to keep the bike up. We go down again.

Once I finally get back to the flat ground, it's time to take a break. I take off my helmet and turtle suit to cool down. Now the panic is setting in a bit again. The first thing I did was check my cell phone. Service!! All is not lost. Just knowing that made things much better. I also ride with a Spot tracker, so I am never with out a life line. It still didn't change the fact that I have tried and failed twice to get up this monster of a hill climb.

I actually took an inventory of snacks and checked my water level. I may be walking or spending the night. I'm kind of prepared and I won't die. It may not be fun, but I'll make it. I'm 25 miles at the most from civilization.

I laid down for a minute and found my center again. I felt calm. I got up, gathered my things, and put the safety gear back on. I have a good feeling about this. Redlined in first and I'm screaming, "C'mon Hobbes!! We got this!!" We are clawing from one side of the rutted trail to the other and making progress quick. I missed my line for the third time. These tires just won't hold a line in this loose gravel. I jammed my foot into the bank and yelled, "Not this time!" I changed the direction of travel with my foot and WE MADE IT!! I stopped at the top and gave a Hobbes a hug. Easy peasy from here!

Well, not quite. There were two more climbs after that one. Not as steep but a few turns to make and bigger rocks to negotiate. My confidence in my ability to handle this bike is brimming and there's no way we are going down again today.

I came out to 360 and pulled out the map. I'm exhausted, but I hate going back the way I came. I continue on towards Woodland Park. Grateful for some easier terrain at this point of the day.

The next road to the right had this sign. I won't be going down there today! Kinda wish 221 would have had one of these signs.

Here's a great view of Pike's Peak. I've never seen it from this side before.

I got on CR 51 and headed for the pavement. It was the smoothest gravel I've ever been on. Sure wish I had knobbies on. It just rained a bit and the traction was great even with the slicks!

I hit the highway to Woodland Park. Man I miss having mirrors. 67 back to the North to Deckers. A very nice gentleman flashed me and I gave him a thumbs up. I was haulin ass on the pavement. Two turns later...speed trap. People still warn of cops and today it saved my bacon. That's totally what I would have needed to top today off. A fricken speeding ticket. I rolled past doing the speed limit.

I'm not done riding dirt so I take Sugar Creek Road to cut over to Sedalia. Back to people, traffic, and HOME!!!

The total on the day was two mirrors, bent clutch lever, and two destroyed plastic hand guards. I have to say I am VERY impressed with the Happy Trails guards and racks. My first fall today was HARD! Just a few scratches and nothing bent. They completely spared the bike of any damage to things they were designed to protect.

Home sweet home. My thoughts about lessons learned and relearned tomorrow.
2011 Triumph 800 XC
2007 Honda CRF 250X
1994 Kawasaki KLX 650R

THE BACKCOUNTRY PURSUIT- Boise, Idaho's consignment specialist for ADV gear!

av_mech screwed with this post 07-21-2011 at 10:03 PM
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