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Old 10-01-2010, 11:18 PM   #1
NigelH OP
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Location: Canberra, Australia
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Kowen Forest, Canberra, Australia

The day started at an early 6.45am as Fizz dropped by Nasty's house to trailer the bikes to Kowen Forest, near Canberra, for a day of four-stroke fun.

After the TTR250 was loaded alongside the Husaberg FE390, we headed for Kowen. We met fellow dirt dude Marcus promptly at 7.30am as arranged and proceeded to the camp site to prepare for the ride. After donning our protective gear, we headed off to find some single track challenges.

The ground was firm and dusty but there was enough slippery wet stuff in the valleys to keep us on our toes. The temperature was perfect, just warm enough for the relative comfort of armour and jerseys, without freezing our sprockets off like previous weekends.

We decided to hit the single track to the north west of the forest and Nasty discovered that the stiffer fork settings and new front Dunlop D606 was worth every cent. The bike was a veritable animal and every corner was silky smooth as the tyres bit into rock, mud and dirt with ease. If only the TTR had more horsepower, lower gearing, race-inspired suspension and European heritage, it would have eaten Fizz's Berg! Well, in Nasty's dreams anyway.

After a brief few brief minutes to catch our breath, we headed further south in search of the Molonglo River. Blue Tiles picnic area was perfect for a second breather and a bite to eat, before we headed down the dusty road in search of the water crossing.

We had successfully forded the Molonglo a few months earlier, before the recent heavy rains. So we were unsure how deep it would be this time. We were soon to find out the hard way.

The river was definitely higher but that didn't stop Fizz and the Berg from heading straight across with the finesse of a startled Gazelle. Nasty was next on the Yamaha. The motor almost died mid-stream but the bike faithfully reached the other side without mishap, despite the water almost reaching the seat bottom. This was one small negative of the otherwise brilliant Kouba link. Note to self - reroute those carby breather hoses.

Finally, it was Marcus on the DRZ 400. He was making good progress until a submerged rock turned the canary-coloured Suzuki into a yellow submarine. A quick flick of the kill switch was not enough to stop the exhaust and snorkel-less air box from taking in a bucket load of brown water and sediment.

Undeterred, Marcus dragged the silent beast from the depths single-handedly, only to find the exhaust and air box had filled with water and sludge. Following correct protocol for drowned machines, we up-ended the bike so liquid could could drain from each orifice - of the bike, that is. A few turns of the engine had water ejecting from the spark plug hole like a burst water main. Still, Marcus persisted with bike first aid in the best traditions of the ADV rider.

After an hour of stripping, drying and reassembling, the DRZ burst into life with barely a moment's hesitation. However, a careful ride back to the parking area confirmed that all was not perfect. So Marcus decided to call it quits and head home for an oil change or three and a detailed inspection. The attached pics reveal sludge and even a pine needle in the drained oil - not a good sign.

After a bite to eat, Nasty and Fizz decided to put in a few more hours, this time exploring some new single track and the eastern-most parts of Kowen - avoiding anything deeper than a mud puddle!

With a bit of luck and some tender care (plus maybe some additional waterproofing), Marcus will soon be back out on the DRZ, tackling some of Canberra's finest trails with Nasty and Fizz. As for the Molonglo, maybe another time...



Blue Tiles Picnic Area, Kowen Forest...




Up-ending the bike...




Draining the water...




Stripping down the bike...




More stripping down the bike...




Back at the garage...




Mmm, that oil doesn't look so good...




The morning's ride (by Motion X on the iPhone)...




The afternoon's ride (without Marcus)...
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Old 10-02-2010, 02:58 AM   #2
Fizz
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That river crossing has taunted me for months - I had to walk it on a prior trip (water depth at knee) on the Husky 'cos of its low air intake - on that trip we were told a DRZ had drowned in it, and then on this trip (water depth just below hip), another DRZ takes a swim with one of our group.

It was a great day - great riding buddies and acres of finely carved single track and flowing trails. Now the DRZ has been ressurected - I can't wait for our next s/t ADVenture.


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Old 10-03-2010, 02:04 AM   #3
Double_Supercool
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I thought Kowen was completely closed these days?
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:13 AM   #4
NigelH OP
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Not if you have legitimate access, having paid your park access fee. There have been other riders there each time we've been, including DSMRA.

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Old 10-03-2010, 03:46 PM   #5
Double_Supercool
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Sweet. I thought you could pay for permits and access but it wasn't clear from the ACT gov's website if and how you could do it.

Unfortunately I can say with certainty that my old xt600 will barf a lung trying to cross that creek :\
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