The day started out with glorious plans. I found this road on Google maps that looked like it went on forever through the wilderness. It was a very doable distance for a day trip and it would take us through some great gravel and twisty pavement to get there. I was also pumped because I had a new helmet to try out! (Here’s the review Arai XD4)
You can download the tracks here: LINK
Just before this trip I installed a new chain and sprocket set. As I pulled out of the driveway I noticed the bike was acting a little sluggish. I pulled over to check the chain and make sure I hadn’t left it too tight. The slack was good so I decided to push on. When I got out on the road and started to wind the engine up it just wouldn’t wind up. I have had this problem before, but at higher RPMs. I have been asking advice on this issue in the forums and groups and one troubleshooting tip is to see if the choke makes it run better. Sure enough, pulling the choke on allowed it to spin right up and I was on my way. I rode like that for about 4-5 miles. Turning the choke off when I came to a stop and turning it back on when I got underway. It seemed to work itself out once everything warmed up and I didn't have another issue the rest of the day! Now, at least I know it’s a carb problem and not electrical.
I met up with Stretch and enjoyed a gas station biscuit before rolling out. We had some nice gravel and pavement to get to our forest service road. The very first thing we saw as we rolled into our destination road is a creek crossing! We thought this looked promising. We pulled over and aired our tires down. While we were stopped we saw a few cars, which is kind of unusual for these out of the way forest service roads. We did end up behind a truck with hunting dogs, but they were cool and let us pass. The gravel road was great. It wound back and forth through the hills constantly changing altitude. When we got to the end of the main road we were hoping the smaller two track would start, but unfortunately we encountered the dreaded gate. Just when it was going to get good our plans got blasted. There was a trail to the right that looked pretty challenging. We took it and rode through a very tight triple whoopdy-doo and then the trail ended. I managed to get the KLR through the whoopdy-doos going in, but coming back out I got stuck on the second one and down I went! First fall of the day.
We started heading back down off the gravel road and we stopped several times to take in the scenery. It was a great fall day with huge mountain vistas. We also saw a couple of concrete fords to cross creeks. It made the crossing as easy as riding a paved road, but it still maintained the cool factor of riding through water.
It was getting to be late afternoon and since it was a Sunday and I have to work on Monday we started heading back towards home. We were on the lookout for trails and interesting roads as we returned. We found a few, but the best one was off of Cruso Road. It looked kind of like a driveway. There was a pull off a few yards ahead so Stretch and I pulled over and walked back to check it out. This one started off interesting right as you come off the pavement. There was a bunch of large rocks buried in leaves. These rocks were large enough to roll underneath you, but the leaves kept them hidden so there was no way to know what you were really riding over. We carefully got through the large rocks and then we had a long hill climb. It was steep with switchback turns as you meander your way to the top of the ridge.
The hill climb was really fun! I had to get over a medium size tree that had fallen. Stretch tried to kick it out of the way as he rode by, but it popped back down after he passed, plus I just wanted to see if I could do it. I got the front wheel popped over the tree fine, but then when my back tire started trying to get over the tree, the back end started sliding sideways. I did get over it, but I bounced against the dirt bank and couple of times before I regained composure. I managed to get over that tree without dropping it!
When we reached the top we were right at the ridgeline of the mountain. The camera didn’t really capture the view very well because of all the trees, but it was a great view from the top. We took a break and enjoyed the quiet fall serenity for a few minutes before loading back up. When we loaded up there was a bit of comedy on my part. I tried swinging my leg over my bike, which barely fits anyway. I got my leg about 3/4 over the saddle and I felt the rock I was using under my kickstand give way. I pushed really hard with my one grounded leg and I just barely managed to keep the bike from tipping. That’s great! However, now I am stuck with one leg over the saddle and no way to maneuver back off of it without dropping it. I would love to tell you I pulled some ninja stuff and rode away. I have no idea how I got back off the bike without it falling, but I did. I re-positioned the rock and mounted up from the other side. I should have tried to mount up on the high side anyway, but I didn't.
We coasted down the mountain and made our way back to the pavement. The descent wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. It was steep, but traction was good so controlling speed wasn’t too hard. Once we hit pavement we took another break and then headed back. The section of twisties around Cruso Road is one of my favorites. It’s kind of short, but great curves to ride. One of them is a decreasing radius and we took it at a brisk pace. I routinely ride my tires to the edge, but this time as the curve was getting tighter I was a little too fast. I felt my back tire step out a little and I actually had to cross up the handlebars for just a second to regain control. All this happened without any conscious thought and then afterwards I realized what had happened. Thank goodness the brain is fast! The rest of the trip was uneventful, just a great ride home with fall colors and the nirvana of helmet time.
What I Learned:
- I learned what Michelin T63 tires feel like when they give you a warning.
- I learned what it feels like to cross over a downed tree.
Spirit Strike: Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”
I can definitely attest to this. My skills riding off road are still developing, but I am improving. With my noob riding skills I quite literally have to use a lot more strength as I pick my bike up over and over. Heck, even my riding buddies pitch in some of their strength most of the time! As I get more experience my skills are increasing and I would consider my rides becoming more successful. When I fall less, I get more enjoyment and I am less exhausted by the end of the day.
It’s important for us to constantly be learning and adding to our personal level of wisdom and skill set. There are many ways to grow. We can grow through our leisure activities, professionally, emotionally, etc. In order for us to become the people we are supposed to be, constant improvement and growth are essential. SpiritStrike.com has been a great way for me to pause and reflect. It has helped me learn a lot and I am still figuring things out.
What do you do to grow and improve? I would love to hear your stories.