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Old 06-13-2013, 08:17 AM   #1
Cpt. Ron OP
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Stuck, Hurt or Lost--Lessons Learned

Well there has been quite a reaction and debate about a 1200GS that was abandoned in an OHV park when the rider couldn't get the bike up and out:

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=894577

Funny enough, I was in the same boat just a couple of weeks prior not too far away from the rider in that thread. After discussing my situation with my riding buddies and family, a few lessons were learned. I'm sure the above mentioned post will have some learning points as well. Thus, this thread. I would like to discuss these issues as a way for others to learn from our mistakes. So, have you gotten yourself stuck someplace you couldn't ride the bike out? Did your bike fail you out in the middle of nowhere? Did you crash and get hurt and couldn't ride? What were your preparations before your incident? What went right and wrong in your "rescue"? What would you do differently next time?


"If you remember that the difference between a learning experience and a mistake is that a mistake is a repeated learning experience, all shall be well."------Pin-it-Dad!!
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:25 AM   #2
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Never yet been in a situation where I have not managed to self-extract, but am subscribing because....you never know.
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:33 AM   #3
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I was out solo on a Saturday doing some pre-riding for an upcoming group ride. I've ridden a lot of the Mendocino National Forest, so am quite familiar with the roads and trails. I spent hours combing over various maps to look for new trails and/or loops to entertain my small crew. I had my gps programmed with many prospective tracks, and I figured I'd just explore what I could with the time I had to work with. I started early, hitting the road by 0730 on my plated XR650R. I had 2L water/powerade in my hydration pack, plus another liter stashed on the bike. A few granola bars was all the food I took with me. I told my parents (who stayed back to watch my son) that I'd be back mid-afternoon, 1600 being the latest. And of course, I had my SPOT. Being that I had the SPOT, I did not share my route with anyone before departure.

One key decision point was a gas stop at about 1100. I topped off the tank (6-gallon Acerbis) and bought a liter of water. Instead of buying extra and re-filling my hydration bladder, I just drank what I bought and rode on. Most of the riding was on well-known forest service roads. But I did find some "other" stuff that took a lot of time and energy to get through. Single track (thankfully downhill), that doesn't show on any map. I didn't even know if it connected through to where I wanted/needed to go. Amazingly, it did. And my confidence was boosted.

By now, I was on Twin Valley Road, heading to home base. I stopped for 'lunch' and ate a granola bar and finished off the stash of powerade/water mix that was stashed on my bike. If I stayed on the road, I was no more than an hour from home base. But I didn't. I found that "just one more..." side trail that had to be explored. Up a steep climb to the ridge, the turn right and follow the ridgeline downhill. The track was only wide enough for an ATV, and at times not even that wide. The vegetation was all shrubs, mostly manzanita. No trees for shade. By the time the end of the trail was in sight, I realized that it was quite a steep drop...and long too. I remember thinking, can I ride back up this thing? By then, it was too late, I was committed to going to the bottom and trying my luck from there. It was about 1330.
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Old 06-13-2013, 11:28 AM   #4
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I've read the other thread, and your comments.

"...I realized that it was quite a steep drop...and long too. I remember thinking, can I ride back up this thing? By then, it was too late, I was committed to going to the bottom and trying my luck from there..."

That right there is the only reason I'm posting. I wouldn't have committed. I actually would have stopped there on the top, and walked down to decide. Why buy trouble needlessly? This doesn't mean I don't get in jams. But why get into one that you could see coming? I'll ride a trail I can't turn around on, but only if I know I can turn around up ahead.

I'm old enough to remember when we didn't have cell phones and SPOT and the like. Technology is a wonderfull thing, but it does bring its own problems. Today, many are comparatively fearless and thoughtless about adventuring forth ill prepared, because they have confidence in their ability to call AAA and have themselves rescued.

Many folk are in serious trouble if their bike/car/boat quits running. In part because of the complexity of modern machines, but also because they don't know how to do it, and aren't carrying the equipment or tools. Why bother when you've got a cell phone and a AAA card? Same for their own bodies. When was the last time you saw a blanket in the trunk of a car?

In a nut shell, I think the old Boy Scout moto says it best, and briefest. Be Prepared.

P.S. (because I couldn't figure out a good way to include it above) You had a heck of a time with that situation after you got into at the bottom in no small measure because of the size of the bike you were on. So did the guy in the other thread. Think of how much easier it would have been for either of you with something like an 80 cc bike. You can almost pick up and carry a bike of that size. Sure, it's not as fast or as cool as a big bike is. But for serious outback exploration, littler and lighter is often times a better choice than bigger and heavier.
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Old 06-13-2013, 11:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxtrapper View Post

I'm old enough to remember when we didn't have cell phones and SPOT and the like. Technology is a wonderfull thing, but it does bring its own problems. Today, many are comparatively fearless and thoughtless about adventuring forth ill prepared, because they have confidence in their ability to call AAA and have themselves rescued.

In a nut shell, I think the old Boy Scout moto says it best, and briefest. Be Prepared.

P.S. (because I couldn't figure out a good way to include it above) You had a heck of a time with that situation after you got into at the bottom in no small measure because of the size of the bike you were on. So did the guy in the other thread. Think of how much easier it would have been for either of you with something like an 80 cc bike. You can almost pick up and carry a bike of that size. Sure, it's not as fast or as cool as a big bike is. But for serious outback exploration, littler and lighter is often times a better choice than bigger and heavier.
This much is absolutely true. Just because Ewan and Charlie went across Siberia, with chase vehicles and 25 crew guys, doesn't mean that 550+lb bike is a good choice to go on the Rubicon Trail with. I've actually considered getting a GS or 990 Adv, but I imagine myself lying underneath one out there, and decide, nope that won't work, so I ride 250s and 450s. Even the XRL650 I owned was too large for tight trail work, or going on the especially small pig trails I like to ride on.

Whatever you like. Right now it's my 950 SM, in the next 2 or 3 weeks, probably a KX250 2 stroke, just for fun.
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:10 PM   #6
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Stupid mistake...

I don't have a dirt machine yet, so I'm stuck riding more civilized roads. However, here in Montana even civilized roads can get you in trouble because you're still a ways away from help. Yesterday I left work on my Katana 600. I have a set of soft saddle bags I keep on the bike regularly because I haven't finished fabricating my hard bag mounts yet. When I leave work, I'm two miles on dirt before reaching pavement, then another two or three miles to "civilization". About half way down the dirt road I feel something shift on the back of my bike. The dirt road was facing slightly down hill at this point and was rutted. I stop the bike, shut it off, and put the kickstand down and get off the bike (kickstand up higher than the tires because of the poor road conditions). I wasn't off the bike 10 seconds, just getting my helmet off and cussing myself for not checking the bags before I left work... The bike falls over facing downhill . At first I panicked, what damage had been done? I knew I could get help easily enough (I had cell service), but I hate calling people to come "rescue" me (they were 40 minutes away at least), especially for something so stupid. Seeing gas leaking out of the bike, I knew I needed to get it upright quickly. I went to the downhill side and tried to pick it up. CRAP, didn't realize it was that heavy. It weighs well over 500lbs with fluids and my bags on it. Couldn't get the bags off because one was trapped under the bike. First attempt to lift the bike and I was surprised. Second attempt I got it half way up before I started loosing my grip. Finally, on the third try I managed to lift it up and get it back on it's kickstand. Broke off the mirror, turn signal, bent brake lever, cracked fairing, scuffed plastics, messed up bar end, and a small amount of damage to the exhaust on that side because I didn't check my bags before I left work and failed to park in a place that would give me the correct angle for my kickstand to be effective .

I felt like a dumbass, still do, and feel that way sharing it here. But last night I got to thinking about it more after I had gotten over being pissed and embarrassed. I wasn't in any real danger, but I learned the hard way to:

1) Check the bike over no matter how much of a rush I'm in
2) Park the bike in an appropriate location even if I'm only getting off the bike for a moment to check something
3) The bike weighs a lot more than you think it does, especially when you have to lift it past 90 degrees because it's facing downhill

Not life threatening, or even being stuck in the woods like most people have shared here, but information that could save me from a disaster when I am out in the woods on a different bike at a later point in time. I missed a couple simple steps (I can hear my MSF instructor in my head telling me to check the bike before I ride), which would have only cost me 30 seconds, and now my bike is messed up and I'm going to be out a couple hundred bucks not counting the body work. Relatively cheap lesson, but still sucked...
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:58 PM   #7
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12 volt winches are neat (unless you've a 6 volt bike), but they pull a lot of amps. Doubt many dirt bike batteries could power them.

Deer winches might be a far better idea. 700-1000 lb compound pulling power, and typically upwards of 100' of cord on them.

Added: Here's an example. At that price, I might quit looking for my lost one, even if the lost one is a wee bit smaller.

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/c...aspx?a=1116882

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Old 03-02-2014, 05:42 PM   #8
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Only time I've really needed to go for rescue was one fine afternoon on my 1986 XL250R. I was following some ATV tire tracks around Goose Island.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Go...baed56bde8a91c

I was riding along the banks, and saw a spot where the tracks went across some sorta-dry looking mud. Not being that experienced a rider, I decided to take it nice and slow. And managed to get it buried up to the cylinder head. My 5'10" 130 pound self couldn't get it out of the mud, try as I might. No cell phone, no spot, but thankfully, this was not a plated road-legal bike - I tried to remove the bike until it started getting dark, but every time I pulled on part of it, I'd sink in mud up to my thighs. Ended up deciding to walk back to the truck. Dear old Dad and my brother and I loaded up and went back out there, with some ropes and flashlights. This is when I learned the trick called "Lay the bike down, drag it sideways, and see if you can get it out." Standing on tree limbs thrown into the mud helped too.

Now of course, I know that I should give it a bit more gas when seeing something like that. Or better yet, ride around it.
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:43 AM   #9
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Came close one time on my KLR....was exploring Class VI roads (unmaintained) in he area...the map showed a really short one about 1/4 mile,long....decided it was worth a look. the beginning seemed fine....dry grass covered double track....the road turned left and went up a slight grade...the ground started getting softer the next thing I know the rear wheel is sunk up to the swing arm....after about 20 minutes of fighting the bike I got it up on the right side out of the muddy track. There wasn't much shoulder as it dropped off...if the bike went down there I was screwed....slowly walked to a point where the ground firmed up.....I was close to leaving it and walking out and calling a buddy to help get it out....Luckily I wasn't to far from civilization....

I won't ride alone off-road anymore
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:49 AM   #10
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Did I mention that it was quite warm? Not blazing hot, but with no shade and physical exertion, I was sweating profusely. Thinking that indecision and contemplation can be the worst thing for tackling hill climbs, I immediately turned around and charged the hill. OK, charged isn't exactly accurate. I didn't want to hurt me or the bike, so I tried the BRP chug method. Didn't get far. Back down to do it again. Got a lot farther with more entry speed, but still not enough. The dog-leg at the bottom of the hill really hampers the approach, and oh yeah, I'm getting hot. So is the bike. Back at the bottom, I take a break to reevaluate my situation. Strip off the gear and start looking at my surroundings and gps to see if there's another way out. I remember telling myself, do not panic. I knew I wasn't going to die out here, unless I did something stupid. So don't be rash and just think. Another 10-minutes isn't going to change anything now.

Besides where I came down to this plateau, everything around me was downhill. And no trails, just bushes. So back to attacking this hill. Out of the total length of 200-240 feet, I get within about 80-feet of the top. Everytime, the bike loses momentum and the back tire starts spinning. Unless it grabs some solid rock, then the bike tries to loop. Even trying to walk the running bike up doesn't work. The rear just doesn't grab well in the loose rock and gravel on the trail. The hill is steep enough to allow the bike to roll backwards even when in gear. Flopping the bike to find a rock to wedge under the back tire is the only way to stop it. Or just sit on it with the rear brake applied. But you can't kickstart it then.....

I'm starting to feel VERY stuck about now.....
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"I don't know what you do, but I know what I do, and I don't do that." --Uncle Doug, R.I.P.
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:05 AM   #11
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And hot. And tired. I contemplate taking the bike apart to carry it up the last 80-ft. I figure the frame/engine combo would still be too heavy for the slope. I think about just removing the front end, letting the bike balance on the skid plate and rear wheel, hoping I could drag the pig up. But time was wasting. If I started down the path of piece-by-piece, I'd be out there for another two hours at least. If I press the 'Help' button on the SPOT, I know that my Dad is at least two hours away from me. And we all had plans to go play miniature golf that evening.

At 14:50, I hit the 'Help' button.




I secured the bike, checked the bags for anything I may need for the walk, and potential night, out of there. I left my body armor, but did take my helmet, tool bag and riding jacket. Best case was I was going to get a ride back in to retrieve the bike with some help, so I'd need riding gear. Walking up the last of steep part of the hill, I finish off the hydration bladder. It took me about an hour to walk out the 1 1/2 miles of ATV trail uphill to get back to Twin Valley Road. I did this for three reasons. One, nobody in a car/truck could get to where I was at. Two, I wasn't about to just sit in the sun and turn in to jerky. At least there was shade back at the road. Three, I wanted my support people watching at home to know I was OK by continuing to move. And just maybe, I can catch a ride with someone just going my direction...

Once at Twin Valley Road (and familiar territory), I stop to take a breather. After 10-minutes or so, I say fuck it, and start walking again. It gives me something to focus on. I continue to play with the gps as I trudge along in my gear. The helmet, jacket and tool bag got too heavy and awkward to carry, so I just wore them. At around 17:30, with Bartlett Springs Road in sight, I see my Dad's pickup coming up the road to find me
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"I don't know what you do, but I know what I do, and I don't do that." --Uncle Doug, R.I.P.
"Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible"--Reinhold Messner

Cpt. Ron screwed with this post 06-13-2013 at 09:36 AM
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:12 AM   #12
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Recovery

I won't go into a lot of details, but the next day, my brother rode his 950 SE out to the ATV trail while my father and I drove the truck. He stayed with the truck while the two of us rode in to the bike (with 70-ft of rope and a lot of tie-downs). Once the bike was started and the rope secured to the forks, a simple tug of the rope was enough to get the bike going again. If it wasn't for the rope getting caught in the wheels, it would have been a one-shot deal to get to rideable (for me) terrain.

What a relief. Back at the truck and victory beers, it was a nice ride back to base camp.
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:29 AM   #13
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Lessons and stuff for 'Next Time'....

I was mostly prepared to handle the situation I got myself in to. I had tools and such to work on the bike. I had a gps (plus years of riding knowledge of the area), so I never was worried about being lost. I had enough fuel to ride the bike where I planned plus a lot of extra, just in case. I had food and enough riding gear to stay alive if I had to spend the night. And most importantly, I had my SPOT and a network of family/friends willing to help if I needed it. It was the SPOT that made the whole thing very tolerable for me (if not inconvenient for my loved ones). Not that I was totally reliant on SPOT to get me out of there. I could have taken a lot more time to self rescue, but being gone for that long would have put a lot of worry into those who were expecting me home. That's why I got the SPOT. Looking at my options at the time, that seemed the most logical choice. And up until this point (three years of ownership/use?), I have only used it for tracking and OK messages. I finally got my money's worth.....

But I didn't have enough water or a hat for the sun. And while my riding friends at home knew the area and could picture exactly where I was at, my rescue party (Dad) did not. And he didn't have a gps, smart phone or internet access to get himself oriented. He had to go with verbal direction over the phone. It got sticky when the road names and numbers given over the phone (from online sources) don't match the signs in the field.

So what would I change? Firstly, I'd ride a little more conservatively in unknown terrain. I got lucky earlier in the day, leading to a false sense of security in my abilities. Especially at the end of the day when you're more tired and not riding as strong as earlier. I pretty much knew that the trail I got stuck on was a dead end, I should have taken a little more time to think about what I was getting myself in to. I would also either carry more fluids (which of course has a physical limitation on quantity) or something to treat water. On my walk out along Twin Valley Road, I passed a creek a couple of times. It sure looked tasty.....And lastly, I'd consider my rescuers should they be needed. If all they get is a text with me asking for help, would they have the information needed to do so?
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:35 AM   #14
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So that's MY story. Questions? Feedback? Got a story of your own you want to share?










P.S. Oh yeah, I've laid out a challenge with my incident and decided to make it a game:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=894072
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:49 AM   #15
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Bring everything you already brought, then add a trash bag for shelter and a way to make fire.
Oh, and next time don't pass on the extra water.

There, now you are OK waiting several days after you press the oh-shit button on your SPOT.

Sorry, I have no rescue stories of my own.
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