And as with many of our adventures, this one began with mechanical problems. First, Trevor's bike wouldn't fire up at camp. Cranking slow, we chalked it up to the cool mountain weather and the fact that it had sat for over a month - a little push start and we were off!
Unfortunately we only made it about 10 miles down the road, to our first gas stop, when more problems showed up. His bike started randomly leaking fuel out of the float bowl drain. I've never seen anything like it. It would dump out... then stop occasionally, then start dumping fuel out again. We checked to make sure the drain screw was in all the way - it was...
Andy and I ran over to the local Napa and picked up some hose clamps and vacuum caps to seal off the drain. Problem solved? Curious if anyone here has had this problem - even after taking the carb apart - we can't figure out how it was leaking - and it was definitely coming out of the drain, not running down the side of the carb.
The bike was still cranking slower than any of us liked, so we decided to run over to walmart to install a new battery while we were still close to civilization. By the time Trevor and I had paid for the new one, Matt and Andy had yanked the old one. They made quick work of installing the new battery in the Walmart parking lot.
The skies were looking dark as we rolled out of town, and soon after we were getting rained on. Not a heavy rain, just a steady, soaking rain. We found ourselves on the highway to hell - turns out it's gravel.
...and that is where Trevor's bike decided to act up, again. Are we noticing a theme here yet?
I think Trevor was more mad about it than any of us, but we had also plotted a fairly ambitious route for the day. Since we swapped camp sites, we were going to be riding an extra 50 miles or so. And when a lot of that is singletrack - well, that can take a while.
This time, instead of leaking out of the drain (which we had plugged), his float was now sticking (or something was clogging the valve), and his bike was flooding out and leaking gas out of the carb vent tube. Unfortunately we didn't have a good stubby screwdriver to drop the float bowl, so we drained it, blew threw the vent, tapped on the carb, and got the leak stopped (for now...)
Wet gravel roads, and more rain were in our future.
We rode for nearly 2 hours through the rain. Only Andy and myself had any kind of semi-waterproof gear. Poor Trevor and Matt were as soaked as you can possibly get. With temps in the 60's, we were all a bit chilly.
Trevor dumped about 1/2 a gallon out of each boot.
After quite an eventful morning - we finally rolled into Damascus around 2pm - a few hours later than we were originally hoping. We gassed up quick and ran across the street for a quick bite at Subway. Not our first choice but we knew that with potentially more bike problems and plenty of off-road ahead, we better get a move on.
From here we were in a constant state of struggle. Either with the trail, or with, you guessed it, Trevor's bike. Poor Trevor wanted to kick the pig down the side of the mountain.
We just kept nursing it along.
I don't think any of us quite knew what to expect with the Iron Mountain trail. We had heard plenty of people say it was tough, but we has also heard about this Rave guy who did it on a GS - so it can't be THAT bad, right?
Wish I had gotten more pictures of the obstacles - but pretty much right off the bat you are bounced off some rocks, across a stream, and up some very tight, rough singletrack. Eventually the trail broke out into this little meadow, and we were all happy that we had made it this far - especially Andy.
Apparently I couldn't believe what we had gotten ourselves into
After riding through tight woods for a while, it was nice to break out into a little clearing. Not really sure how little clearings like this form - but it was a nice spot full of butterflies.
Unfortunately we were so rushed trying to survive the trail, keep Trevor's bike going, and get back before dark - we really didn't get a ton of pictures of the obstacles on day 1. We just rode over them as fast as we possibly could.
When we were finally out of the singletrack, we passed this overlook and decided we should finally stop and take a look at something. After a full day of riding, hiking up these stairs was fun.
and the view from the top was WELL worth the hike. 360 degree views like this? Yes please!
We disturbed some buzzards who were roosting at the overlook, and they circled around us for a while. I guess we were invading their space.
What I want to know is - who hauled up all the rocks and the concrete?!
Trevor finally got to relax a little. His bike had made it this far - we were going to make it back to camp.
The shadows were getting long and the temps were dipping again. We snapped a few more pics and hopped back on the bikes.
Once we got back into Wytheville, we gassed up the bikes, and headed straight back for camp. Final stats for the day:
We made it back around 8:30 with just about no light left in the sky. Just so happens Matt is a chef when he isn't riding, and he cooked up some AMAZING steaks, mashed potatoes, and collards over the fire that evening. No pics of the food - but MAN was it delicious!