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Old 07-10-2008, 02:17 AM   #1
Skippii OP
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Misadventure riding with Miss Adventure: Reddish Knob Fiasco

I made it until I was 25 before I ever got taken home in a cop car.
But that's getting ahead quite a bit. The important part is that I made it home.

Being broke and cheap, unable to afford the luxuray of satilite directions, my usual methods of navigation generally followed one of two forms:Either I'd duct tape direction from MapQuest to my gas tank, or I'd drive in circles for hundreds of miles until I found where I was supposed to be. More often than not, it was actually a combination of the two.

I decided to put an end to all that. Last week, GPS systems went on sale, and I went home with one of them, a Garmin Nuvi 200.

Eager to try it out, I looked up some local coordinates, and input them into the GPS. Yesterday, I rather spontanously call up a local friend I've not seen in a few months, and suggest we go out for a picnic at one of my new Waypoints (Reddish Knob, the highest mountain peak in the area--a popular picnic spot.)

The GPS shows about 4 roads to Reddish Knob. I've been told that at least one of them is a new, paved road, while some are dirt or gravel.
When I'm out in the woods like this, I actually prefer the dirt roads--less traffic, more interesting, and you can stop at any time in the middle of the road to take pictures or whatever without holding anyone up. So I pick one at random and set the GPS.

I pack up an extra riding jacket and helmet for the girl, pick her up, and we leave her place around 4:45. Up to the Forest, I've got the GPS set to "Fastest Route", so I was rather surprised when it started suggesting some very sketchy dirt and gravel roads. At this point, we're only 15 minutes from my house, so I know exactly how to get the the forest, but just for the hell of it we follow the GPS's recommendations and plow through the middle of a cornfield. Well, not quite, but pretty close. I wouldn't have tried that in my car. After a mile or so of playing around in the dirt, we finally emerge back onto the road off of which we'd originally come. I have no idea what the benefit of that little excursion was--perhaps it is indeed a few seconds faster assuming you take the dirt road at a suicidal 55mph?

Anyway, a bit later, we enter the National Forest, and come to a fork in the road. The sign says "Reddish Knob: RIGHT". Looking at the road, it's quite obvious that is the new road I'd instructed my GPS to avoid, and te GPS says left, so left we go, onto some hard gravel (the nice kind, not the really lose stuff).
A few miles down the road, the GPS says to turn right, so I slow down. Then it says to turn around, because I missed it. Missed WHAT???
After a bit of searching through the bushes, I finally see it: there is indeed a small path leading to the right up a hill.
So up we go.

I'll mention at this point that my friend Melissa has no real motorcycle experience whatsoever. Actually, she can't even drive, having wrecked the instuctor's vehicle into a parked car during her Driver's Test. So obviously, she had absolutely no idea what we were getting into.
Then again, neither did I.

Despite being only 98 pounds or so, I was only a matter of feet into the path before I had to ask Melissa to get off the bike for a moment. A rather sharply pointed hill meant my bike was resting on the engine rather than the wheels, and I needed to unload the suspension a bit. She hopped off, I rolled a bit forward, and she hopped back on. Just the first of many such hills, but I certainly wasn't going to stop for each and every one of them. Pretty soon I was getting the hang of taking these high bumps fast enough that the wheels wouldn't come down until I was well over the other side of the bump. Quite an exciting experience.

Did I mention that I'm on a Kawasaki Ninja? And I'm still running the tires from the track day last weekend--not the greatest for off-roading.

So this continues for a while, taking small jumps over hills, plowing through a shallow stream or two, and navigating various rocks and stumps lying in the path. The after landing another small jump, I noticed I was no longer accelerating.

We got off, enjoying the opportunity to get out of our helmets, gloves, and jackets, while I managed to burn my hands several times on the hot muffler fumbling to put the chain back on the sprocket. Immediately after succeeding in this, it occured to me how much easier that would have been had I left my leather gloves on.

Continues......
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:46 AM   #2
Skippii OP
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Part II

Back on the path, still heading up, the road seems to get a little better, then worse again, then better. It's a really steep hill up which we are going, though, and I'm starting to feel the clutch slipping at times. Well, it's sort of understandable, riding 2-up with full side cases on a really steep uphill. Could just be the clutch cable is a bit tight--I've had that happen before, and I losen the cable a touch and it's all back to normal.
But soon I forget all about that an instead focus on the tree that has fallen down across the path.
I can't get around it.
It's either over the tree, or back the way we came.
Before you criticize me too much for my decision, remember what tires I'm riding. I had serious questions about my ability to regulate my speed down a hill that steep with a passenger on dirt.
So I lifted my bike over the tree and we continued.
Yeah, I'm actually serious about that. I put it in neutral, Melissa held the bike upright while I grabbed the front tire, and lifted the wheel up and over the tree, resting the engine on the tree. Then lifted up the back tire, moved that over, and we were on our way again.
Well...almost. Melissa didn't quite succeed with her task as I dropped the back tire back down to the ground. But no sweat there, no damage at all.
Just some flooded carbs, making the engine really hard to start.
Which tends to drain the battery really quickly.
Eventually, though, I did manage get it going, using the starter while bumping it forward.
And on we went.
For maybe 1,000 feet before getting to an identical situation.
Another tree down.
This time, now that we've got the technique down, it's easier.
But by now both my clutch and battery are starting to give me some major concerns. I unplug the headlight to save some juice.
Speaking of juice, Melissa and I take a moment to have a drink at this point, since it's stupidly hot outside.

Further along the path, it changes from dirt to rocky, and then to grassy, and then to dirt again. The whole time, one thought keeps running through my head:
This is not a fucking road!

Significantly higher up the mountain now, we come to a third tree down. This time, however, there's a way around, just to the left.
Despite only going about 5mph, we still slide out trying to go a bit to the left. Crap, but no harm done to us or the bike. Soft ground is nice.

Pick up the bike. Carbs are flooded again. Battery is pretty much dead. And the clutch isn't working well enough for me to be sure I can bump-start it.
Anyway, do I bump start it down the side of the cliff, uphill, or back down the hill where I'd have to try to make it past that downed tree again?

Continuing....
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:18 AM   #3
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I try for a while to get it started, with no luck. I've certianly cranked it enough that the carbs should be cleared out by now, but it's still not catching.
Finally, after much pushing and praying, it comes alive. Breifly, at least. It revs high, and then slows down. Any movement of the throttle at all seems to kill the engine.
And it rather concerns me that it's doing all this reving stopped in gear with the clutch engaged.
The bike ran for maybe 5 or 6 seconds, then died. Couldn't get it started again. But it did run, so the float bowls should me clear now. But why was it acting so strange?
At this point it begins to rain.
Don't know where the hell that came from---it was nothing but clear blue skies when we left.
This is when I called Adrian. Things weren't looking too good right now, and I don't think I was really impressing Melissa.
I called Adrian to ask if he wanted to do a dual-sport ride to where I was (I gave him GPS coordinates) and maybe help me out. More importantly, though I just wanted someone to know that I was out here, because I'd not told anyone before I left.
Melissa and I had actually mentioned our plans to her roommate. But as he didn't ever make eye contact, never once glancing up from his game of World Of Warcraft, I didn't have the greatest confidance in his ability to remember what we'd said.
Or, for that matter, his ability to notice that we were missing anytime in the next few weeks.
So I spoke to Adrian. He was at work, but said ...well, actually, I don't know what he said, because this is when the cell phone cut out. But I did hear some static, so he definately said something.
And the mosquitos are out in force in this part of the woods.
I know that besides warmth, the main benefit of a campfire is that mosquitos stay away, so purely in the interest of avoiding bug bites, we make a tiny fire at the end of a paper tube filled with tobacco. Just to keep the bugs away.
Afterwards, having established beyond any doubt that there are no more sparks, I prepare to drain the float bowls. Just in case. But first I'll give it a few more tries with bumpstarting.
Amazingly, it actually starts after a minute or two of trying. I kick it in neutral, get off, and walk away. I'm not touching anything untill I'm sure it's still running.
After we'd loaded our stuff back into the side cases and mounted them on the bike and it was still running, we decided to head out again, figuring we were about 5 miles from Reddish Knob. So I called Adrian again and told him our plans, saying that we would call as soon as we arrived.

Going up hills now meant Melissa had to get off or the clutch just wouldn't grip. Luckily the hills weren't so bad now, and the path was actually no longer dirt, but very long grass--a good two feet high or so.
Not really a problem, but it really made me wonder when the last time this "Road" was traveled.

Coming up one hill, with Melissa walking next to me, I was trying to maintain a constant speed to keep the clutch from slipping. But then I realized that I had in fact just swapped positions with my motorcycle. It was now on top of me, while my face was in the dirt.

There was another tree down in the path.
The tree was maybe a foot or so in diameter
The grass was about two feet higher than the tree.
Never could have seen that one.

My side cases are getting a little bent by this point, but nothing too bad, and no damage to the front wheel
.
I hope Melissa at least enjoyed the view of that one.

Continues.
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:43 AM   #4
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So yeah, Melissa.
I've known her for almost 2 years now, I think, but we've never really hung out too much. One of those things where we keep meaning to, but never get around to it.

I've got to say, I'm extremely impressed with her so far. Most girls I know (most guys I know, too) would have been screaming after the first stream crossing, let alone the second or third faceplant.
But she's completely calm and seemingly in a good mood.
And so am I.
I don't get upset about stuff, especially mechanical problems. I don't stress about it, and I don't worry about it. I figure, I've got a GPS, a day's supply of food and drink, and hell--I could probably walk home from here within 2 or 3 days.
Something I've noticed about former girlfriends: the hate that. They hate it when I'm calm. They want me to be freaking out. I don't understand it. They don't get upside because I nearly accidentally killed them. They get upset because I'm not freaking out, so they think I don't care about them. Because if I really cared about them, I'd be freaking out. I don't get it.
This is why I haven't had a girlfriend in 4 years.

Anyway....
We continue riding together, although she does have to get off a bit for the steeper hills. It starts to get dark, so I plug the headlight back in and hope for the best with my battery.
The GPS indicates that the "road" we are on now soon ends onto a larger road. The whole time I've been hoping that this larger road is significantly easier than the one were were one.
It is.
Slightly.
It's almost 6 feet wide, and covered in grass.
Then it goes up, and down, and up, and down, and turns to dirt and mud.

Finally, it straightens out into a relatively flat grassy road going around the mountain, with a steep incline to the left, and a sharp drop to the right.
And a tree straight across the road. No way around, under, or over this one.

To be continued.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:05 AM   #5
Thylex
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Who ever said you had to go far to have an adventure? Loving the report, hope she will still talk to you after you get home :)
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:08 AM   #6
Bronco638
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Congrats, it sounds like you found a new g/f. I have to giggle while I'm reading this (sorry), because we've all been in situations like this. So far, nicely done!
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:26 AM   #7
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Yeah, and I hope he buys a dual sport sometime soon, hell even an old XT250 would work.
On the flip side, he will appreciate a bike with knobbies more than any man on earth when he finally gets one.
Keep it up and stay safe.

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Originally Posted by Thylex
Who ever said you had to go far to have an adventure? Loving the report, hope she will still talk to you after you get home :)
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:47 AM   #8
chiba
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Please post the GPS coordinates of the beginning of this "road"!!!!

--chiba
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:21 AM   #9
dentedvw
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Aha, I followed a road like this using GPS and laptop topo navigation once, and eventually we fell through a bridge. Luckily, we were in my old Jeep, so we all survived, though the jeep nearly didn't.
Watching this one with interest...
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:37 PM   #10
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I once went on a date with a girl named Melissa. She had only been on a motorcycle once in her life. Our first date turned into a three day ride around upstate NY. Second date she flew into Loretto down in Baja and we rode around there off roading two up. Fifth date, we were both invited to the same wedding in Italy. We rented a Ducati and did three seventeen hour days in the saddle in a row with plenty of snow, rain and reckless 140 MPH riding. That's when I knew it was love.

We were married a year and a half ago in Antigua, Guatemala.

Not that I'm saying anything like that will happen here
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:34 PM   #11
Skippii OP
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Continued...

I tell Melissa it's her choice what we do next.
It's starting to drizzel again.

We can try to pick up the bike and lift it over this tree like the last ones, but I'm not sure how well that will work this time. And with no idea what the road is like up ahead, there's no guarentee the same thing won't happen 100 feet down the road.

We can turn around and go back the we we came, but in all honesty, I do not know if my bike and its clutch will be able to get up the rather steep hill we'd just descended.

Or, we can lock the helmets in the cases, stuff the food in our pockets, and use the GPS to hike up to Reddish Knob, where would be the closest place where we might be able to find someone to get a ride home.

She chose hiking.

Before we set off on foot, we wanted to make someone aware of our plans, hopefully assuring that were would be someone at Reddish Knob to pick us up.

We tried calling Adrian, roommates, and other people, but we couldn't get through to anyone. It would almost work, but then when it was connecting, every time the signal would drop and the call would fail.

I figured if there was one number that would actually work, it would be the emergency number. It took a few tries, but eventually I got through to the 911 operator. I told her where we were, explained that we were heading out on foot, and gave her Adrian's phone number. She put me on hold, called Adrian, and came back to tell me she'd told him of our plans.

She told me to keep the phone on, and she'd periodically call back to make sure we were okay, and that Adrian was trying to see if he could get someone to meet us as Reddish Knob.
I was a little nervous about leaving my phone on, since if we were hiking, I can't charge it from the bike, but I did what she said.

I saved the location in my GPS, took all the food, finished off the drink, locked up the helmets, and we set off down the path.
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:49 PM   #12
Belgian Waffles
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Awesome adventure. You seem like a cool guy to do that kind of "ride" with since you keep your cool. I wish I had a buddy like that to go adventuring with around here...cant wait to read the rest. Did you have a camera on you at all for this thing?

BW
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:59 PM   #13
longrider999
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Photo

skippii,got a photo of melissa?if you dont have one of her ALONE one with you in would also be ok.GREAT REPORT.hope you get out before you run out of ass wipe.................
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:07 PM   #14
Skippii OP
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If the moon was in the sky, we didn't know about it.
The forest cover was dense, and the thick clouds above were denser.

Without the benefit of my Ninja's 100-watt headlight, illumination was provided only by the faint glow of the GPS screen.
Approaching 9:00pm, we were hoping to be able to average at least two miles per hour, which would allow us to cover the 3 miles to Reddish Knob before it was too absurdly late.

Walking up the mountain at that speed, while tiresome, wasn't too much of an issue. Staying on the path in the darkness, however, was. With various forks leading nowhere, we frequently found ourselves face to face with impassable brush or even a sheer drop. The accuracy of the GPS impressed me here. By zooming in, we often found we were only 10 feet East or West of the actual path, although from looking around you might have thought we were deep into the Amazon Basin.
Several times we were forced to crawl through the growth and under trees, trying to rejoin the path that had seemingly simultaneously disappeared from both in front of and behind us.
And sometimes, while ducking under low-hanging branches, we were surprised to find that we were, in fact, still on the path. Had we been on the motorcycle, we certainly would have been clotheslined. Well, assuming we'd somehow been able to make it this far.

Eventually, we came to a small clearing.
The reason for this clearing was obvious: the ground was nothing but a hill of very large, loose rocks. An interesting formation, but more interesting was that there didn't seem to be a reasonable way down from the hill. Was this part of the path? We didn't know. Throwing a few rocks to the sides and waiting to see how long they took to hit the ground didn't exactly inspire much confidance in finding an easy path forward. We backed up to confirm we hadn't missed yet another fork, and after a while of searching, ended up back in the same spot. Scouting the area thoroughly eventually led to our discovery of a small pass back down to the dirt ground. Success! We were still on the path. On we went.

Eventually, we the trail ended onto yet another trail, but I seemed to have a difficult time working out which way to go: if you're not moving, the GPS doesn't really know which way you're actually facing. We went left.
The left path seemed to be quite nice, as it soon led slightly downhill--a welcome relief, even if I had a feeling that we were in fact supposed to he heading uphill. We didn't go very far down this path though, as once the GPS started saying we were getting farther from our destination rather than closer, we knew we were supposed to have gone right. So, another quick break to eat some oranges, and we turned around and headed back up.

My feet, and especially one toe on my left foot were starting to become quite painful at this point. During one of the faceplants, I might have hurt my toe a bit. Or maybe it was just a blister. I was, after all, wearing my Teknic Chicane boots. The ones for motorcycle racing. The ones designed to keep your ankle straight, and not let it flex. The ones that make it really hard to walk down a road, let alone go hiking up a mountain.

Continues....
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:43 PM   #15
FKaiser
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This could be a movie thriller!

Great adventure in your own backyard. The suspense is killing me.., nice write-up.
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