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Old 11-07-2010, 05:27 PM   #1
HickOnACrick OP
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Utarded in Big Bend

I recently moved to West Texas, so I decided to explore Big Bend National Park.

I made it down late, and pitched camp at one of the primitive campsites. I came in after everything shut down.



Awoke the next morning, geared up and rode to the Ranger Station to pay my fees. A sign on entering the park said if you arrive after 5PM, then you need to self register. I couldn't find anywhere to self-register at the primitive site I wanted to camp...so since the campsite was vacant, and you can't reserve the spots more than 24 hrs in advance, I reasoned the site was open.

When I told the Park Ranger what I had done, she said I broke the rules and could be fined. I apologized, assuring her I meant no harm, and I was there to pay for my entrance and the camping fee...you should have seen her reaction...this clearly was outside the Standard Operating Procedure. She needed to get her supervisor to deal with the problem.

Long story short, I had to move my camp to another site.

It was a late start, but I rode the Ole Ore Road:


I finished the ore road, and started on the east river road. As I was riding along, I felt something wrong with the bike, like the front wheel was grinding against something. Before I could get stopped, the front wheel locked up and sent me top side ass over tea-kettle.

My helmet:

My helmet skid mark:


What is wrong with these pictures?




Turns out that when I re-installed the forks recently, I neglected to lock-tite the bolts that connect the front brake caliper to the forks. One of the bolts had completely rattled out, and the other was about 50% out. The result was locking up the front wheel. I was grateful it happened on dirt at 30 mph versus highway at 50 mph.

I couldn't find the missing bolt, so I borrowed from Peter to pay Paul:

Take a bolt from the passenger peg:



And use it as the missing bolt for the caliper:


My wrist took a beating in the wreck, and by the time I got the bike straightened out, it was throbbing. I always carry a first aid kit with manly colored first aid supplies:


I was hurting pretty bad, felt a bit nauseated, and I didn't have any vitamin I (ibuprofen). I went to turn the bike around, and noticed my front wheel was now skeewumpus. I loosened up the forks so I could straighten out the wheel, and the triple clamp dropped down onto the forks.

Motherscratcher! I am alone, I am hurt, and now I need to jack this bitch up so I can lift the triple clamps back to their appropriate height.

I got it done but it took about 30 minutes, a few logs, some rocks, and lots of cussing. My right wrist was screaming by the time I got geared up and back on the bike.

"I'm done," I thought. I turned her around and started heading back to camp. But once I got up on the pegs, and took the first few hits on the wrist, it started feeling better.

Since I didn't feel like puking anymore, and I still had lots of gas, I turned around to finish my ride:


Made it back to my new camp, set up camp...again, and ate some dinner washed down with a handful of Vitamin I.

The next day, I wrapped my wrist properly with sports tape and headed for the Black Gap - unfortunately I forgot my camera . The wrist was still hurting pretty bad, and the route I had planned for the day only took a few hours, so I was back to camp by early afternoon sucking down ibuprofen, whoppers and energy drinks while reading in the tent . Spent the evening at the Hot Spring looking at boobies and scorpions...I wasn't very quick getting pictures, and the boobies really weren't worth photographing:


Final day:

Black Gap was a riot, so I taped my wrist, remembered my camera, loaded up with lunch and hiking shoes, and headed out.


There are a bunch of warning signs about Black Gap, but even solo, on a 400 lb bike, I really think there is only one place worthy of mention:


This little step is about 3-4 feet high. The approach is in the sand, but once you get over the step, the park service has laid concrete down...so the recovery is easy.

Steeper than it looks, blah, blah, blah:


The newly revalved suspension from Super Plush ate it up like a chocolate-covered eclair. As a frame of reference, I tried to run up a similar step in Lockhart Basin before I had my suspension done...The result was a bent shift lever. I told James that the thing I hated most about the stock suspension on the SE was the way it bucked me off when climbing technical, loose rocky terrain...problem apparently solved

After the step:


The rest of the ride was just fun and fast. Lots of fun pea gravel and sandy washes, long wide open stretches, great turns for drifting, fantastic views.

I rode to Santa Elena Canyon and hiked up the river, then rode the Old Maverick Road to Terlingua Ghost Town, then found the backway into the park near Terlingua ranch. All fun roads, nothing technical, and I will finish with just showing pictures.

























One last word...I am originally from the mountain west, but have lived all over America. The lack of public lands outside of Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado is an absolute travesty. There were so many beautiful areas near Big Bend that are completely inaccessible to the public. Pretty damn sad in my opinion.
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:52 PM   #2
AustinJake
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Wish I could have made it there Hick, I got my business done Friday and then it was too late to ride out there. Great pics, sorry ya got hurt. I'm gonna try to ride out there with TNC on Dec 2-4 if you wanna come back down then.
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeKV
I'm gonna try to ride out there with TNC on Dec 2-4 if you wanna come back down then.
Yeah, sorry you didn't make it.

I may be able to make it down that week. I am not on call.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:07 PM   #4
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Beautiful pics. Glad the biff wasn't worse. That could have been bad, but you know that. This is enough to make me want to strategerize another BiBe trip with the little DR350.

John
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:32 PM   #5
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Well, well, well...

It's good to see that you're still up to your old tricks! Good thing you took that doctorin class.

Missed you at Moab. We found a good block long scree field that would have been perfect for testing the Superplush setup. My 990 bottomed several times...I run it soft.

BTW...there is NO public land in Bob Wills country, is there?...outside of a park.

Hurry back. Kev has a new headlite.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:44 PM   #6
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Hick, that attitude that they have in the park about camping at one of the primitive spots before checking in the next AM is pretty darned silly overall. You really shouldn't have told me them anything. They've got that anal, bureaucratic thing going on. Coming in late and camping in a vacant primitive site after business hours shouldn't be a big deal. You weren't beating them out of any money, didn't inconvenience another camper, or causing any problem, but they make it a federal offense...literally.

Man, sorry to hear about your crash and injury. Glad it didn't end your trip. Where did you end up staying?...and what site were you poaching?

Great pics. Looked like you had fun.

Hey Jake...Have I talked to you before? Where do you plan on staying? If you like, we can share info on a PM and maybe coordinate riding days. I'm camping at one of the primitive sites, and we could probably coordinate that if you're interested. If you're staying elsewhere, that's fine too, but it would be great if we could coordinate riding if you want.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:58 PM   #7
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Ouch.

At least the picture finger seems to be fine.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:14 PM   #8
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Looks great. Glad you were able to get away from work for a few days. See you on the mountain for a some skiing in a couple of months?
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:33 PM   #9
HickOnACrick OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC
Where did you end up staying?...and what site were you poaching?
The first night I tried to stay at one of the Paint Gap sites. The Ranger said the site was reserved for the night I stayed there as well as the rest of the week. There was one other camper there, who turns out was poaching as well, because I looked at the ledger, and his name and vehicle were not the one on the reservation.

What was weird to me was they said the site was reserved, yet nobody was there. They got totally pissed at me for offering to pay for my site, but don't seem to care that people are reserving campsites, but never occupying them.

They also told me the ONLY site available that weekend was on Grapevine Road. The site was right next to the road; busy, noisy, and dusty. As I toured around the park that weekend, I saw almost no primitive sites occupied, nor were any reserved with a backcountry permit on the campsite sign.

I also got a completely different vibe from the rangers when I was hiking, versus when I was geared up for a ride. I had a ranger come by my campsite while I was riding and leave a threatening note about how it is illegal to ride ATVs in the park and that it's illegal to dump "grey-water."

I guess he saw my loading ramps and assumed I had an ATV. As far as the grey-water goes??? The only thing I can figure is the two granola hikers in the camper next to me (20 yards away) dumped their grey water and he assumed it was mine. The only water I dumped was the melted ice from my ice chest.

As a final insult, as I was leaving the park this morning, one of the rangers pulled me over to check me. He wanted to assure I had paid to get in, then I got pulled over by Border Patrol who lectured me about riding dirt bikes in the park. When I told him it was "plated", he didn't know what that meant.

I understand why National Parks are so regulated, and I would never try and ride through National Parks anywhere else; I don't want to be there (on my bike) and they don't want me there (on my bike). It's just that with so little public land in Texas...we are left with damned few places to ride. Even the idea of jumping the border and riding in Mexico is pretty iffy now that the only border crossings in Texas drop you into the lap of the drug cartels.
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:02 PM   #10
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Great pics and rr. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:51 PM   #11
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Wow, Hick. Even though I know how anal they are about those campsite reservation issues, I've hardly ever even run into one checking on the paved or dirt roads for anything. Sounds like someone crapped in their mess kit recently. And that Border Patrol warning is downright silly. Oh well. Maybe I'll see you if you make it down during the first part of December.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:23 AM   #12
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Weird

how the Big Bend Rangers are so hot to enforce rules that they don't even understand. Couple of years ago myself and one other bike asked for an annual pass as described on the official website which allows two bikes to enter on one annual pass. Our Ranger refused and would not budge from what he thought the rules were. Later in the year at Yellowstone, the ranger there knew the rules exactly and two bikes entered practically every park in the west on one one annual pass.

Big Bend is really nice but pretty far away from any other areas I want to ride, so I don't know when I'll get back.

The pic are great. Too bad about losing a bolt and busting a wrist.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:57 AM   #13
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True, aldntn. You'd expect better and more uniform rules knowledge in some of these NP situations. Granted, state law issues can vary in some parks and change some issues, but camping, entry, and other issues are pretty darned uniform. And some of the attitudes of some of these rangers is kind of crappy. Hick's situation of camping at a vacant spot upon entering the park after hours and then getting a bit of criminal treatment for his outrageous behavior kind of pisses you off. What happened to common sense and looking at the big picture on the part of the park rangers in a case like this? They're dealing with folks who for the most part are not out to cause trouble or trying to "beat the system" out of a couple of bucks. And frankly when I've seen issues they should address like extremely noisy campers in the established camping areas and spoiling everyone's peace, the rangers are no where to be found.

All that said, I've had little trouble with rangers in BB, though I can't say that about some other NP's. But even in BB, they have a real nazi attitude about little things like the camping deal that Hick got into. I mean, c'mon...big freakin' deal. With their minutia obsession with the extreme rules applied to these outback, primitive sites, you'd think they were dealing with hoards of folks like Yellowstone or Yosemite. BBNP is a lightly visited park in the hinterlands, so lighten up...please.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:29 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC
True, aldntn. You'd expect better and more uniform rules knowledge in some of these NP situations. Granted, state law issues can vary in some parks and change some issues, but camping, entry, and other issues are pretty darned uniform. And some of the attitudes of some of these rangers is kind of crappy. Hick's situation of camping at a vacant spot upon entering the park after hours and then getting a bit of criminal treatment for his outrageous behavior kind of pisses you off. What happened to common sense and looking at the big picture on the part of the park rangers in a case like this? They're dealing with folks who for the most part are not out to cause trouble or trying to "beat the system" out of a couple of bucks. And frankly when I've seen issues they should address like extremely noisy campers in the established camping areas and spoiling everyone's peace, the rangers are no where to be found.

All that said, I've had little trouble with rangers in BB, though I can't say that about some other NP's. But even in BB, they have a real nazi attitude about little things like the camping deal that Hick got into. I mean, c'mon...big freakin' deal. With their minutia obsession with the extreme rules applied to these outback, primitive sites, you'd think they were dealing with hoards of folks like Yellowstone or Yosemite. BBNP is a lightly visited park in the hinterlands, so lighten up...please.
I suspect there's also the reality that they get hassled by Border Patrol and Homeland Security regularly, due to proximity. That, and good people still have bad days.

My experience with BiBe rangers has been uniformly (pun intended) good.

It impresses me just how far off the beaten-path that place is.

John
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:45 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by scarysharkface
I suspect there's also the reality that they get hassled by Border Patrol and Homeland Security regularly, due to proximity. That, and good people still have bad days.

My experience with BiBe rangers has been uniformly (pun intended) good.

It impresses me just how far off the beaten-path that place is.

John
I think they would have been much more pleasant had I not walked into the visitor center looking like a reject from a Mad Max movie. My gear is pieced together, looks like battle armor, and smells like a gym locker. That being said, I was never anything but polite to them...lots of "yes ma'am, no ma'am, whatever you say" kinda words spilling from my mouth.
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