I now possess one of the baddest all-around motorcycles ever forged by man, capable of feats Iíve yet to dream of let alone understand. I guess I should learn to use it! Everyone else is working, sooooooo...
If things wouldíve gone according to plan I would have upgraded my motorcycle later this year and hopefully enrolled in a dual-sporting clinic like Neduroís or Jimmy Stewartís to help get me acclimated (since I didnít grow up riding a dirt bike, or any motorcycle for that matter! I was an adult beginner). Well, I guess ďthe planĒ was not to be, and here I am in Utah with a KTM 990 Adventure. Gaw-Lee!
The KTM decides to take me into Hyrum Canyon, the Blacksmith Fork area near Logan. Here we go...
It starts out easy enough.
Iíve never done ďoff-roading,Ē but Iíve been down plenty of gravel roads, and lately Iíve been taking my street bike places it probably isnít appropriate. I got Neduroís DSR DVD and have been devouring literature about ďadventure styleĒ riding, so academically I understand whatís supposed to happen under my two wheels, but Iíve yet to experience these things myself. Scary fun!
Hmmm, getting more interesting:
Damn, Iím slow, I wish I had one gear lower. I suppose that 16 tooth front sprocket I hear so much about is in my future.
This hill had cool looking red dirt which reminds me of Oklahoma (the dirt, not the hill
There were some Jeeps rolling around here and there, but I was pretty much by myself. Being new to this type of thing I brought a few items I hope I donít need: Tie-down straps, tire irons, tire kit, first aid kit, snacks, water, and my new snazzy red gas jug (which I seriously doubt Iíll need, but like I said, Iím a beginner). The soft luggage is a real PITA to remove, so I pile everything inside and figure that theyíll help pad a tip-over if it comes to that. I very much want to avoid crashing alone, so Iím being uber cautious.
Iím also operating without a map. I couldnít find one online anywhere and daylight was burning, so off I go armed only with my sense of direction and memory. Hoo-boy... Sometimes there are ďtrail headĒ kiosks that have a large map printed on them, in which case I usually snap a few pictures to refer to if necessary, but no such luck this time. I do photograph any signs I come across, just in case I get turned around. Might help...
Iím not in tune with how time and distance passes riding like this. Usually when Iím hiking I can kinda gauge how far Iíve come and how long it will take to get back, and the same goes for when Iím sport-touring. My viola practice is similar too in that I can pace my session with my internal clock to achieve my daily goals. I donít have any idea how to do this riding off pavement! A learning experience for sure... Iím concentrating and working so hard I have a hard time keeping track of how long Iíve been out and how far Iíve come. The bike clock is still on Pacific time (and itís that annoying military time too) so thatís no help, Ďcause I suck at math, especially whilst operating heavy machinery. Iíd like to see this Mount Logan/Logan Peak, but I get the willies and turn around at this sign, having gained quite a bit of elevation. Iíd really like to come back with a proper map, and maybe a friend!
How come down is scarier than up? I think for going up I know that I can stop anytime I want, the brakes and gravity combined will end the panic quickly, whereas descents are trickier (at least to me). Braking wonít necessarily stop me! I need to work on this.
I make it down back to the gravel ďintersectionĒ and take a break. A few Jeep Rubicons roll past and I feel kinda bad-ass knowing Iím hanging with specialized off-road equipment. Yes, I know this is pretty damn tame riding, but Iím breaking new personal ground here! Itís exciting! Share in my joy...
I turn right and head to Left Hand Fork, which is even represented on my AAA map as an ďunpavedĒ road. This should be fun!
And it is:
Whoooo! Itís beautiful, and no traffic, no cops, no speed limit (like itíd even matter, Iím S-L-O-W...). I can see why guys get addicted to this, and Iím almost there. The air feels and smells good. Iím hot, but not too uncomfortable with all my vents open, although I wish I was comfortable going a little faster for some extra air flow. With my new bike I can finally stand up and ride like everyone suggests, even though I think bar risers for my 6í3Ē bad self are on the short list too.
Did I mention the suspension on this thing? There are a couple sections where I have to turn around to ride again just because it feels good to compress the forks. Iíve got about double the suspension travel Iíve ever had on a bike before, so I keep having to pinch myself to see if I dreamt that last whoop, hole, or rock that crossed beneath me. Oh man, Iím in love...
I know how to get ďoutĒ to Hyrum Canyon, but now Iím feeling confident and have plenty of gas and daylight left, so up another trail I go, and this one has ominous signs:
Iím huffing and puffing, sweating and grunting as I scrape my way onward. All the tutorials Iíve been reading and watching say to stay loose, relaxed and poised on the handlebars, but itís hard to implement as I donít know what to expect from me or my machine. Iím also starting to see why off-roaders wear the things they do: goggles (as my face gets scratched from another tree branch, again), jerseyís (hot in my jacket), MX gloves (thereís not a lot of room for my armored knuckles under the clutch lever), and boots (for obvious reasons, Iím trying to be really careful in my combat-style boots). A whole other world of motorcycling! Iím so into this. I guess I have to buy more gear, darn. Guess what color!!!
Itís getting pretty rocky, but I press on. Iím appreciating the brush guards and wind screen which are moving the branches out of the way for me.
Satisfied that Iíve gone farther than is recommended for passenger cars (whoo-hoo!) I turn around and take a little Clif-bar break next to the stream. These whacky tires are still a mystery to me... So much to learn...
Damn, somebody laid down brand new pavement for me, looks like this very morning! Iíve never seen such a black road and such vivid painted lines. It might be partly my perspective after coming off jeep trails...
I head on up to Hardware Ranch just because, and low and behold, a OHV trail system parking area! Awesome! Iím out of time for today (and energy), but I take pics of the maps for later (hopefully!).
Okay, thatís enough for today, Iím tired, hungry and excited about my first real dirt test with my ridiculous orange monster. I'd guess about fifty miles off pavement and another fifty or so back on road. Success! And no ďnapsĒ either. I must be doing something right...
The night is for fragging my friends with plasma rifles and rocket launchers... and with style!
Show me yer WAR FACE!!!