I jumped off the bike and ran around the front wheel with a sick feeling already hitting the bottom of my stomach.
Yep. That ain't water!
Of course, I didn't take pictures first. I knelt down and did the only thing I could think of. I stuck my finger in the dike.
The bike was spewing a steady stream of go juice from the broken petcock from the crossover tube at the bottom of the gas tanks.
That rock was thrown up and broke the end completely off. Even though the Safari tanks are aftermarket, the petcocks
are the OEM part and mount in the same location as on stock tanks. Has anyone else ever heard of this happening on KTMs before?
Me neither. In fact, look at the photos of all of the big KTMs (some which travel drastically more rugged terrain)
and the petcocks are just as exposed.
I rip off my helmet, backpack, and jacket. I have to fix this. But how?
I do carry JB Weld and Quicksteel, but surely I can't seal a steady gasoline flow with that stuff and expect it to hold.
Besides, I would have to take my finger off the spigot for a couple minutes to dig it out.
I need something to stop the bleeding. Like a rubber plug. I pull out my knife. While holding fuel in with one finger,
I manage to cut chunks of rubber off the rear passenger peg with my left hand. I made several attempts to shape the
rubber into a suitable wedge by placing it on a flat rock and cutting awkwardly with one hand.
I jammed the rubber into the tube, but it was unable to stop the flow. I abandoned the idea as it was a temporary solution anyway.
I realized the situation could be worse. At least its the right tank draining. The fuel pump is located in the left tank,
so I can still ride with an empty right tank. At least the left is almost full- Oh Shit!
I realized I hadn't done the most important thing.
I hadn't closed the left petcock! Every time my finger left the tube I wasn't draining the right tank,
I was draining BOTH tanks!
I quickly screw it shut and curse myself for being so stupid to not think of closing it early.
Now I have no idea if the left tank even has enough fuel to make it back to town, because I have no idea how long the faucet has been on.
I devise a new plan. The fuel draining out of the right tank needs to get to the left. I have a Nalgene water bottle that is already empty.
I quickly get the bottle out of the pannier knowing every precious second I'm not holding the fuel in, could be another mile of hiking.
The Nalgene bottle clouds up and adds a funny color to the fuel. I'm not sure this is gonna work. I rinse the bottle with gasoline a
couple times until I could see the bottle was not dissolving and the gasoline looked clear.
I have no choice. I use the bottle to transfer a couple gallons to the left tank before it was filled to the brim.
I then sit back and watch helplessly as the rest drains out.
I got about 0.5 miles out of that 5 gallons!
So here I sit 44 miles into the Arizona Strip on the part of the journey I specifically purchased the expensive Safari tanks for and on the very first day I empty half of my fuel load.
My plans are toast. I'm a little upset, but also realized worse things could have happened. I'm not injured. I still have 6 gallons of gas.
My first thought was to get to town to get this fixed. I'm almost as close to St. George as Mesquite and St. George would likely be a better choice to seek help.
I think they even have a KTM dealer. As I calmed down a little I realized it was Sunday. No reason to rush to town today. Hell, I even have more fuel left than the stock tanks.
I might as well enjoy the rest of my day and worry about the problem tomorrow.
So instead of turning around immediately I try to shake off the feeling of doom and point the bike up Nutter Twists Road towards Hidden Canyon.
I posted this one large so you can see the road twisting up the hillside left of the narrow canyon opening.
I reach a gate. As I dismount to open the gate, I realized I had not been successful in shaking the sick and uneasy feeling I had about the situation.
I keep thinking about how survival situations often begin with many small mistakes. Am I accumulating errors by trying to ride this remote
road alone after things have started to go south? I know the road will contain many washouts in a narrow canyon that is likely to be worse than
anything I've done today. The only descriptions of this trail I could find during my research had me worried about the supposedly steep and
rocky climb at the end. Will I fight my way through multiple creek crossings to have to turn around and repeat it all?
I get through the gate and decide to press on. I tried to shove the eerie feelings aside as I make my way across another washout.
This track looks rarely used. As I start up the climb in these loose rocks I begin wishing I had spent more money on my suspension, which is to harsh.
The rear tire skitters around fighting for traction. The front tire just tries to go wherever the rocks tell it to.
I stop mid-hill and make the decision to turn around. Chicken!
I still want to explore this road, but not alone, not on this suspension, not with the washouts, not today.
I re-cross the washout...
and get back through the gate. Now I just have to cross all of the washouts back to Mud Mountain Road.
I felt like a chicken-shit for backing out, but I think I made the right decision.
When I got home I looked at Nutter Twists RD and Hidden Canyon on Google Earth.
I had another 21 miles before Mt Dellenbaugh RD. In those 21 miles I count 44 major wash crossings.
This doesn't count all of the washouts from the smaller tributaries.
With the roads in the current conditions it would have been a pretty rough day.