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Old 12-18-2012, 03:29 PM   #1
633squadron OP
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Silicon Valley
Oddometer: 5
Laugh Crazy Day in California

Short but sweet:

My plan was to ride through Carmel Valley out to the Central Valley, intersect 101 at Greenville, and then head home. I took a quick glance at my GPS maps and decided to add a bit of fun via Cachagua Road instead of straight on Monterey CO G16.

I finally reached the intersection of Cachagua and Tassajara Roads, which was a problem since neither of my GPS units (phone or Zumo 550) showed those two roads intersecting! I decided that I'd be adventurous and try Tassajara. This road runs through Los Padres National Forest, north of Big Sur, to the Tassajara Zen Center.

Mind you, I already knew that Tassajara is a dirt road, 16 miles one way to the Center. Still, I was on my magnificent steed, a 2011 R1200GS Adventure. Nothing can stand in its way! I said to myself, "If I run into trouble, I'll just turn back."

Sure enough, the road went from asphalt to dirt after 4 miles. For a while, the dirt was wet but manageable. The road was a bit gnarly, but I've been riding mountain bikes for more years than I care to remember, in places like Moab and Oregon. No problem, right?

Hmmm. Did I mention that this was the first time I'd been off-road on the bike?:eek

The ascent went gradually into the clouds, and as it did, the trail grew wetter and wetter and wetter until...


At this point, I said to myself "I can't stop here. How can I go back and tell people that I went 8 miles and then turned around without reaching the end?" I wonder if Mallory felt the same way...

I made it through the first and second patches of clay-like goop. The third patch sent me skidding into a side ditch, and the bike fell over.

Did I mention I was on my own? Hmmm. I must have erased that out of my memory. Fortunately, I know how to lift up a motorcycle, even an R1200, and I'm a big guy (6'1", 250lb and yes most of it is muscle, thank you very much).

The second crash wasn't that bad, either.

Now I was descending. The R's massive engine braking came in handy; I hardly had to touch the brakes. Alas, the road was getting less road-like. Still, I didn't panic. I wasn't on anything that I hadn't done many times before on a mountain bike.

After what seemed like days, I arrived at the Zen Center. It was closed, which didn't surprise me that much. I hadn't expected to see anything; it was the road I was interested in. I did find it odd that a mountain biker arrived from out of nowhere, shortly after I did, and a woman left the Center while I was sitting there and began walking up the road.

It was now 3 PM, so I cut short my stay and started back the way I had come.

Then came the third crash. This was the monster. The bike slid completely off the main part of the road/path/slip-and-slide and came to rest with the right side lower than the left, both wheels in the air. To get the bike back on the sidestand, I had to lift it past the vertical. This proved to be impossible. I removed everything from the bike except the muffler, but still no happy.

Finally, in a mixture of desperation and pure anger, I dragged the bike downhill into the ditch. Only after I did this did I see that the lower part of the ditch was more flat. With the bike down here, I was able to get it back on the side stand.

I was sweating, exhausted, and thoroughly convinced that if the bike fell again, I'd be out there for the night. Not a happy thought at all.

Only then did it occur to me to lower the pressure in my tires.

Some readers will find it hard to believe that I carry an electric tire pump (CyclePump from BestRest) and tire gauge with me everywhere. And after this, I am not going to change that habit! I let 10 lbs. out of each tire, and went on my way.

Did this help? I don't know. Perhaps it gave me a psychological edge; all I know is that for the rest of the ascent and the entire descent to civilization, I never worried about sliding or crashing. Eventually I reached flat ground and re-inflated my tires.

I would like to say that I basked in my victory and pounded my chest like Tarzan over a fresh kill, but I was too tired to do anything except ride. When I stopped for dinner in Salinas, it took me 5 minutes for me to crawl off the bike.

Let's face it, this trip was dumb. I could have really whacked myself several times, with little or no chance of immediate rescue. It's a commonplace that people feel strong or self-confident or awed after an adventure like this; all I feel is tired.

On the other hand, I always wondered if I'd like to ride off-road. I answered that question for sure:

I can't wait for the next ride!

I clearly need to prepare better for such a trip. Here are some thoughts:
  • The stock mirrors are history. They've come loose once too often.
  • I'm putting guards around everything that isn't already guarded.
  • I'm taking off the stuff that comes loose too easily.
  • I now understand off-road boots and helmets (but I still don't understand white boots. Wha?)
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:48 PM   #2
Tosh Togo
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Nov 2010
Oddometer: 1,594
Nope...not dumb; just too much fun.

Did you have the time to grab any snaps during your adventure?.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #3
High Country Herb
Adventure Connoiseur
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Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Western Sierras
Oddometer: 9,391
You know you are having a good adventure when you have that moment of dread, and think to yourself "WTF have I gotten myself into?"

Did you see any wild pigs? I spent 3 days there last month following tracks, and the damn things eluded me. When I left, they were 20 of them standing in a farmer's field (private property) in brood daylight. Smart little buggers... I should have left the rifle at home and taken the bike instead.
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