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Old 06-20-2011, 11:11 AM   #1
jckid OP
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A leisurely ride in the woods...well it was supposed to be!

So before I began, I should tell you about the riders. First, is my better half. He doesn’t have a screen name, so I’ll call him “DC”. At 73 years old, he’s MUCH older than me, but only in years. He didn’t learn to ride until he was in his 60’s. He prefers pavement riding on his BMW, but has a Honda 230L to humor me. I’m jckid. I’ve been riding since I was 6, but am certainly no expert rider. I ride a KLX250s, which weighs 3X as much as me, so in some situations, it can be a handful. I prefer dirt riding, but I do love to ride my Husky SM610 as well.

The ride:
So I wanted to ride some dirt this weekend, and DC said ok. It would be a simple day ride--a leisurely 73-mile loop on 50% dirt forest road and 50% pavement in the Sequoia National Forest. We’d ridden it several times before.

The first section was dirt, and I was having a blast trying to slide around every corner. The scenery was great, and I was in the groove. Then I came around a corner and saw a mud hole in front of me, with no way around. I stopped, and DC stopped beside me. He got off his bike to check it out, but didn’t realize that his bike was on too much of a slope and his kickstand gave out, causing his bike fell into mine. I was still on my bike and holding up both bikes with only my left leg, and I was tippy-toed. I figured I would either end up between the bikes or under mine. Finally DC uprighted his bike and saved me. We were mainly concerned about the mud hole, because not making it would mean landing in the goo, and it wasn’t just mud—about ½ of it was cow crap! Well I picked my line and gunned it, and I made it through. DC followed. He doesn’t have a real good track record with mud crossing, but he made it as well. Here he is:


In retrospect, it wasn't that big of a deal, but we thought it would be our only little challenge for the day. Little did we know…

We stopped for lunch along a creek:



Then we hit a stretch of pavement to the top of a pass. When we reached the next dirt section, we were met with a locked gate. Quite a while back, an OHV Ranger in the area told me that as long as there’s no sign that says “road closed”, motorcycles can go around locked gates. So I was ready to do it. DC, being the more cautious one, wasn’t so sure, but in the end he relented. So around the locked gate we went. I suppose this was the first decision, in a chain of several that, well….you’ll see….

Once around the gate it quickly became evident why it was locked.…deadfall and boulders. Small trees were down everywhere, and huge boulders blocked the road. A few of the larger trees had been cleared with chainsaws, but only a motorcycle could weave it’s way through. We were a bit nervous, but soon the road opened up, and we could actually see vehicle tracks. We finally arrived at a familiar meadow:



We had a snack, and then made yet another decision. There were two ways to go. Both were dirt. Both led to the paved road, but one was a short cut that would eliminate about 5 miles of pavement. All of the vehicle tire tracks led the long way around. Only a couple of motorcycle tracks led toward the short cut. Now I probably should have gave this some thought. Because farther back, I had noticed a single motorcycle track, but now I was seeing two. But nope, I didn’t think about it, I just headed for the short cut.

There was a gate with a “road closed” sign, but the sign was halfway open. I thought maybe the other riders had opened it. We rode through, but within a mile we came to this:



I knew my bike was a bit too tall to pass under, but I figured we could lean it enough to get through. But leaning it that far, and then pushing it up the slight grade was harder than we though. So DC got out a wrench, loosened my mirror and swung it around. (Future mod---folding mirrors!) That worked, and we got it through. The Honda was a cinch, since it’s not as tall. After that, we didn’t see any more motorcycle tracks. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t two riders at all. It was one, and he had turned around. But what did we do? Of course, we continued on.
Less than a ½ mile farther, and we came upon this:



Did we turn around? No, because I had seen a guy’s ride report on ADV where he had made kind of a ramp to get over a log. I thought it was brilliant. So we started stacking limbs. We quickly ran out of limbs, and the ramp wasn’t high enough, so I stepped on the log to get to the other side where there were more limbs. I was surprised that the massive log moved, enough that I nearly fell off of it. It was like a light bulb went off in both of our brains at the same time, and we thought maybe we could actually move it enough to get around it. There was a gentle slope, and we figured that would help. So I pushed with all my might, DC pulled, and it was actually moving quite a bit. But then it didn’t want to budge. I told DC to come around to my side and push, but he said no to give it one more try. So on the count of three, we gave it all we had. And then, like slow motion, I could see what was about to happen. I couldn’t yell quick enough. The tree was actually rolling, and a large limb (about 4” in diameter) was heading straight for DC’s, uh…groin. But before it caused him to lose his manhood (as he called it later!), a longer limb (just as big) slammed into his chest and knocked in flat on his back. Thank goodness he still had on his chest protector and his helmet. He ended up with some scratches and welts on his chest, but was otherwise ok, although he did say it felt like someone hit him with a baseball bat. And remember, even though he thinks he’s my age, he is 73.

So wouldn’t you think we just say screw it and turn around? DC’s usually super cautious, so that fall must have done something to his head, because he got up off the ground and was quite proud that we’d managed to move the tree enough to access the ditch beside it. The ditch was kind of like a bathtub. There was just enough room for a bike in the bottom of it. So he told me that we should put my bike in the ditch, and then I could ride out of it. I said ok, but that I’d ride the Honda first, since it’s lower, smaller, and generally less intimidating. We cleared a path, dropped the Honda down into the ditch. In retrospect, we realized that was kind of dumb, because at that point, I had no choice but to ride it out—we wouldn’t have been able to push it back out. I revved that thing up, DC got behind me and pushed, and with a little struggle I made it. Next was my KLX. It was actually easier, since I had already broken a trail. I’m not sure if DC even pushed that time.

So on our way again, we rode about a quarter of mile, before we came to this:



Here’s another picture looking back from the other side (you can barely see the Honda):



There was no way we were going to get through that. Once again, you’d think we would have just turned around, but nope, we started hunting around for a place to go around. There only seemed to be one option. It would mean crossing over a small log, going through a patch of snow, then up an off-camber hill, circling the debris, then dropping off an embankment to the road. It looked tricky, but doable.

So this time I took my KLX first. Getting over the log was tricky. I suppose an expert rider would just blast over it, but again, I’m not an expert. So after a couple of tries, some tire spinning, and DC helping, I made it. I made it through the patch of snow, but what we didn’t realize was that the forest floor was soft. It was blanketed with small twigs and branches, and beneath the surface it was wet and soft. Duh! The snow had just melted. So as I started up the hill, my rear tire wanted to dig down. I’d stop, back up, rev it to the moon, dig even deeper, and nearly topple over. Poor DC was pushing from behind as I coated him with mud and dirt. On maybe the third try, I could feel the bike leaning toward the right—the downhill side of the slope. I had saved it on the previous attempt, but this time I knew I couldn’t. The bike went down the slope, I went up the slope, and I think I actually landed on my feet briefly before hitting the ground. I was actually quite pleased, thinking how well I had fallen. I’ve had the KLX for a year, and it was the first time I’d dropped it, so of course a picture was in order!



Well being practically upside down, the bike was flooded when we got it upright. It took probably 6 or 7 tries, but it finally fired to life. I gave it all I had, and I made it on the next try. I got hung up on a log and nearly went down again, and probably looked like a complete dork, but I made it, and I was proud! I do love a good challenge.

Well then it was time to get DC’s bike through the mess. It was pretty much a given that I’d ride it through too. Technical riding is not his forte, plus it made more sense for him to be the one pushing from behind, because he’s stronger. And I think he may have dug down deeper in the soft dirt, being heavier. The Honda has a lower seat height, so I found it much less intimidating, but the gearing is not as low, so I had to keep it revved up. Again, I’m sure I looked like a complete spastic, but I made it, this time without incident.

Here are the bikes on the other side:



We still had a couple of miles to go to get to the pavement, and by this point, we were actually worried. It was getting late, and backtracking now would be real pain. We hoped and prayed for the best. We encountered this snowdrift across the road as we climbed higher, but made our way through. Then there were two more down trees. One we could ride under, and the other had a break in the middle. And then, we arrived at the pavement! I felt like jumping for joy!



But then our worry quickly returned. We could see that the Forest Service had been hard at work clearing deadfall and boulders, but then there were some extreme washouts. It was bit unnerving, not knowing if the road was solid under us. And then we thought, what if they hadn’t had time to clear the entire road. Fuel is limited in the area, and we had no extra gas with us.



Finally, we arrived as the final dirt section, only to find a locked gate. We were about 17 miles from our truck. Going down the pavement would mean more like a 45-mile ride. That would be cutting it awfully close on the KLX. We went around the gate.

Within a mile we were thrilled when we saw vehicles at a hiking trailhead. That meant the gate was open at the other end. It was smooth sailing back to the highway, and then down the mountain to our truck.

In retrospect, we realize that in the future, we should probably take the safer option and consider our decisions and the possible consequences a little more. I think we just got kind of caught up in the challenge and were determined to beat the obstacles in our path. But the decisions we made put us in a bit over our heads, and above our skill level. But then again, it was one of our most memorable rides, a challenge we conquered, and a true adventure, and really, that’s the kind of stuff I live for. But the next time we encounter a locked gate, I have a feeling my more cautious counterpart will remind me that taking the long way around, could indeed be the fastest and safest way around.
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:30 AM   #2
Bill_Z
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I know exactly how you feel. As I read your report I remembered my last creek crossing that left me completed "flooded" in a different way. I should have listen to that small voice inside my helmet but I felt a little bolder and ended up pushing my bike for 1/2 mile.

Good job on overcoming your obstacles! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:46 PM   #3
PinkPillion
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Looks just like that up here in Lassen County. Carrying a chainsaw is just a little too much sometimes! Not like you would cut any National Forest trees of course. Looks like a great adventure. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:05 PM   #4
Dragonflylily
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Thanks for sharing your determination, idea's & photographs of your backyard.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:29 PM   #5
jsonder
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My Saturday got interesting. It was actually as hard on my knee and harder on the camera than the shift lever below:





I had a spare shift lever in the tool bag, so I waited until I got the 230L home and the front wheel tweaked back to straight between the forks before straightening this lever.
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:10 PM   #6
jckid OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsonder View Post
My Saturday got interesting. It was actually as hard on my knee and harder on the camera than the shift lever below:

I had a spare shift lever in the tool bag, so I waited until I got the 230L home and the front wheel tweaked back to straight between the forks before straightening this lever.
Link to ride report?
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:10 AM   #7
Barterer
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Great job! I sure do envy that riding area.. still has snow on the ground in June? I'd be all over a park like that if it was anywhere close.

A Husky would've made that trip perfect... a Husky chainsaw, that is.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:09 AM   #8
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Great Story

Enjoyed your story. I have made every error, twice. Your tires are good but did you lower tire pressure (20psi)? Puddles "look" worse than they are. Ride a track "normal"....ignor it, don't gun it much. The island may be drier but one can slip off. Sometimes 2 can lift the front tire over logs onto the skid plate. Your "off camber" bike drop is common the first few times...one must lean more uphill. When de-flooding, wide open throttle (for air). His bike and the boxes, are too big...I use a soft expandable cooler bag. Add bark-busters for protection AND handlebar strength. Get a SPOT.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:54 AM   #9
jckid OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barterer View Post
Great job! I sure do envy that riding area.. still has snow on the ground in June? I'd be all over a park like that if it was anywhere close.

A Husky would've made that trip perfect... a Husky chainsaw, that is.
It is a great place to ride, and the scenery was especially good going so early in the season. The snow in June surprised me too. The highest point was around 7,500ft. Usually by now, all snow would be gone, but I think the mountains had a higher than normal snowpack this year.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:03 AM   #10
leejosepho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jckid View Post
... I think we just got kind of caught up in the challenge and were determined to beat the obstacles in our path. But the decisions we made put us in a bit over our heads, and above our skill level. But then again, it was one of our most memorable rides, a challenge we conquered, and a true adventure, and really, that’s the kind of stuff I live for. But the next time we encounter a locked gate, I have a feeling my more cautious counterpart will remind me that taking the long way around, could indeed be the fastest and safest way around.
Maybe, but now you also know how to get over, under and around some pretty tough stuff!
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:17 AM   #11
jckid OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uhaul View Post
Enjoyed your story. I have made every error, twice. Your tires are good but did you lower tire pressure (20psi)? Puddles "look" worse than they are. Ride a track "normal"....ignor it, don't gun it much. The island may be drier but one can slip off. Sometimes 2 can lift the front tire over logs onto the skid plate. Your "off camber" bike drop is common the first few times...one must lean more uphill. When de-flooding, wide open throttle (for air). His bike and the boxes, are too big...I use a soft expandable cooler bag. Add bark-busters for protection AND handlebar strength. Get a SPOT.
First off, thanks! It's always nice to know that people enjoy reading a ride report, since it does take some time to put even a short one like this together.

Now, to provide more detail...

Before the ride I set the tires on both bikes to 16 lbs., knowing that we'd be in the dirt a lot and that the paved portions wouldn't be high-speed. As for the mud hole, we didn't try to ride through on the driest mud. There were 3 tracks filled with water. We rode straight through the center one.

As far revving the bike, I found that I had to in order to have enough power to get up the steep grade. I will keep your idea in mind, about keeping the rev's lower, but even revved out, a KLX doesn't put out that much power (and the Honda even less). After flooding the bike, I did know to do wide open throttle, but it still took about 6 tries before it started--pretty typical for a KLX. We thought about lifting the bikes over the one tree, but it was too high. I have back and knee issues from being hit by a car while running, and DC has a shoulder issue, so even combined, we're not that strong. And the tree was bigger than it looks from the angle the pic was taken.

The tailbag on his bike isn't that big. Might be distorted in the pics taken from behind it. Total weight of DC's bag and contents was only about 8 lbs., as it was half empty. My small bag actually had just as much or more weight in it.

And , yes, we do have a Spot, and we always take it with us when we ride.
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Old 06-21-2011, 10:17 AM   #12
metalorleather
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Awsome report. I got to get a camera for that.

Last month I went to the SLAP ride in Arkansas. I rode three rides and each looked like this lovely ride with down trees washed out dirt roads etc only problem was too much mud and rain for my bike. Its great on dirt and gravel. Its too heavy and low-V-strom 650 for mud expecially with my skill level.

This is a great report! RIDE SAFE and send us more of this stuff. We do not have to die to have fun but a little adrenalin never hurt any one.
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