Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stupid bike tricks

So I got the Garmin talking to me again by unplugging the Chatterbox charger - I guess it was generating too much electrical noise which kinda bugs me since they make such a big deal about it being filtered.

Anyway, I made a route to Minooka from Montgomery and set out around noon today. The route turned out to be about 1/3 dirt roads - lots of those in Autauga and Chilton Counties. The DR is made for this type of riding - farms roads, fire roads, broken pavement, even twisties are fun on this bike and it just gobbles that stuff up.

I got to Minooka and paid my $15. There was no sign of Ryan and Stan so I headed out onto the Red Trail which basically goes around the perimeter. I was moving slow but getting through it all and remembering to gas it when in doubt. Part way through a guy on a four wheeler stops me and asks if I lost my wallet - I hadn't and he says that they have a wallet for Stan. I told him that was great 'cause I was looking for those guys - now I knew they were in the park at least. Then the guy tells me that the b# trails would have cut the pretty dang hard uphill switchbacks I had just come through...

I caught up with Stan at the gate and then we found Ryan. We've been on the trail for a few minutes and we're coming up on the tough uphill switchbacks - I've been *trying* to at least come close to matching Ryan's pace when I lose the front and the bike goes down kinda hard. I figured it was just a matter of picking it up and continuing on but after Stan and I pick it up we discover that the clutch lever is broken at the perch. My bike still had all the interlocks so we fool with it to get started and I have a ways to go to get out of the woods. Well, I bale on the hard uphill going down an unmarked little piece of single track where I promptly stall the bike. I walk the bike down the hill but when I get to the uphill portion I am too weak and the bike is too big so I fool with it to get started again - then I stall again (this is getting old quick.)

I look up behind me on the trail proper just in time to see a DRZ topple over followed by its rider who rolls a bit but is surprising quick to get back up and pick the bike up - it's Stan. I watch him go for it up the hard hill and a short time later he comes down the other side and stops to help me get going.

Having had more than plenty of the stalling thing I just go and I decide to take the easier turnoff at every choice. This seems like a good idea except that the b# trails just go back and forth from one part of the Red to another. Gas it or die takes on a new meaning when riding a heavy bike with no clutch in the woods. I ride maybe half an hour with no clutch and no stalls before coming to a 90 degree in each direction choice - my momentary confusion is just enough for me to stall the bike straight up hill. I put my feet down and there is nothing under them - crap! Down we go, wheels on the uphill side of course. So now I'm trying to drag the bike down the hill a bit where I might be able to get it picked up when Ryan comes blasting up to me. A bit of relative youth and strength added to my feeble efforts and we have the bike right side up in no time - then I slipped and dropped the bike on my leg. It didn't hurt but I would have been in trouble if I were by myself.

After finally getting the bike to some level ground Ryan offers to swap with me and ride the DR out of the woods. By this time my ticker is pumping pretty hard and I quickly say yes before he has time to think about it. A couple of observations here; Ryan has not done a lot of off road riding but he is already very skilled there was one particularly difficult section and I watched as Ryan just nailed the throttle, got up over the tank, and went for it. The DRZ 400e is like a bicycle compared to the DR 650se but they're both tractors and very forgiving engine-wise.

When we finally get out a few minutes later I am relieved. I decided to head for Clanton in hopes of getting there before Action closes. Ryan pulled the shift lever out to where I could shift gears and I take off. I see them gesturing to ask if I want to add air to the tires but I am rolling now so that will have to wait.

The trip to Clanton was only 12 miles but it was an adventure onto itself. There are probably 8 lights between Minooka and Action I was stopped at all but one. I would roll up and find neutral and then when the light changed I would push off a bit, rev it up, drop into first, and wheelie away - small wheelies. The same girl was beside me for several of these lights and I'm sure she's telling somebody about the stupid guy on a dirt bike trying to show off.

I get to Action right after closing time but they take mercy on me and look for a lever - no luck. No OEM, no aftermarket that will work. I looked around for awhile and decided that I could make the dirt bike perch assembly for Yamaha work so I hand over the ten bucks and set to work in the parking lot. With a bit of work I get it together and finally head home. So right now I am that special sort of tired that comes from a good day riding and a few challenges.

I have decided to use the DR for what the DR is good for and leave the woods alone unless and until I get a woods bike. The DR is too heavy for me to pick up in the places I am most likely to drop it and while the bike is capable it requires a lot of work for a guy of my limited skills to ride in the tight areas.

Thanks for reading - Mike

No comments: