A while back I purchased a 2004 Kawasaki KLR650. I set out late last year to ride part of this route and the bike started sputtering out on me. Some of this area closes over the winter months so I had to wait until spring to try again. I used the winter to do a few mods and farkles and get it running reliably. In the mean time, my friend Stretch was shopping around for a dual sport bike. He finally found a good deal on a 2009 Suzuki DR650 and pulled the trigger!
With a couple noobs on a dual sport ride, how can you not have fun? We met up at the intersection of hwy 11 and 178 with a plan to ride the Jim Timmerman Jocassee Gorges area and see where that would lead us.
Most of the gorges area is gravel roads and I use the term road loosely. Our pace was fairly slow as we got the feel of the gravel under our tires. As we got used to the feeling of our bikes sliding around underneath us we started to pick up the pace a little.
There are a lot of small trails and roads that shoot off of the main road through this area. I tried to map what I could remember, but when we reached a dead end we just turned around and took the turn we didn't take before. Exploring on these dual sport bikes was a lot of fun. Most of the time we really had no idea where we were and occasionally we would figure it out and then get lost again.
One thing we both wanted to do was a water crossing. We had been told there was a place to cross a creek and we finally found it! There is a small wooden bridge next to the water crossing. We actually went through two times each so we could get some good pics and have a fun way to cool off. My first crossing is actually the first time I tipped over. My front tire rode over a good size rock and when it rolled out from under me I took a tumble. Oh well, pick it up and ride some more!
As we continued on we came to a couple of overlooks of Lake Jocassee. One of them was called Jumping off Rock and the views were great!
As we navigated further down the gravel roads we took a turn that put us on a road to a couple of boat ramps. There was a great view of Devil's Fork State Park , Jocassee Dam, and "The Wall" (popular for scuba diving).
The road leading to the boat ramps was pretty sketchy going down. There were big humps in the road and you had to be careful to control your speed since it was all down hill. However, coming back up that road was a ton of fun. Those big humps were just right for catching a little air!
After the boat ramps we headed out the other side of the gorges area. We took a short break and went to a local pizza place. After lunch, we headed out for our second leg of adventure.
Taking some great paved twisties to the next road was a nice break and good way to get the adrenaline pumping again. I had no idea DOT knobby tires would allow me to drag toes and hard parts on a KLR....but they do!
We turned off of 215 onto a gravel road and just a little way down this road we had another water crossing! This was actually a great gravel road. It was very smooth. Our ride eventually leads us to Wolf Mountain Road and this was more a two track trail. The first part of the road wasn't too bad, but by the time you make it to the top of the mountain there are large ruts and rocks to dodge and it was actually a lot of fun to ride. If you look at the map at location "I" you can see a rock face. We stopped there and walked out onto the side of the mountian. We took a break and some pictures before getting ready to leave.
Just as we were getting our gear on, four motorcycles pulled up. They were all sport bikes and three of them were riding two up. I have no idea how they negotiated that trail, but they made it. We talked bikes with those guys for a little bit and then headed on down the trail. It continued to deteriorate. There were now ruts and mud holes to go along with the big rocks.
Just as we came to the end of the road we looked back and saw this half overgrown trail going up the mountain. Now this little trail was slick with leaves and fairly technical for a couple of new riders. We gave it a go and come out on the other side onto another gravel road. We took a left and ran into a steel gate. Oh well, private property we thought. We turned around and ended up in a Christmas tree farm. We tried to ride the tractor roads to find a way out and it just made a big circle and we were returned to the gate.
Now we had a dillema. The trail we came up on was pretty much a one way thing. We would be sliding down that mountain in all the leaves. We tried to find a safe way to get through the trees and back to the original road below, but that was sketchy at best. Eventually, we decided to go over the cables that secured the gate. We moved some trees out of the way and carefully walked the bikes over the cable and got around the gate!
I think it gave us a good experience and definitely made an interesting story to tell. It was getting late in the afternoon so we hit the pavement all the way back home, but we had a great dual sport ride and I think we both learned a little about riding offroad. We had about 200 miles and 12 hours of dual sporting under our belts now. Looking forward to the next ride Stretch!
What I Learned:
- 200 miles of dual sport riding is more exhausting than 500 miles street riding.
- Be careful what trails you take. Some of them could get you in trouble.
1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
When we got stuck behind that gate it was a bit of a challenge to find a way out. If we had not agreed on a plan and helped each other get around that gate we would have had a much harder time getting out and it would have required more risk. When we work together to get though a challenge we can do more than if we acted alone.
More dual sport motorcycle adventure: Adventure Is Not Always Puppy Dogs and Moonbeams