March 1, 2014 Ride Report
Reserve the Date – April 19th – Next ride!
What is an 'adventure'? Do we really have to go to the ends of the earth to be able to call it an adventure ride? Does it only count if you get somewhere that you don't speak the language? Do you have to show your passport for your journey to be properly classified as an adventure? Merriam-Webster's online dictionary says that an adventure is 'an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks' or 'an exciting or remarkable experience'. That just about describes every ride I take! Now, please don't assume that I am some crazy idiot wheelie-ing down the road, dodging in and out of traffic left and right scaring pedestrians off the sidewalks. (Well, not often anyway.) All you really need to do is ride in traffic to have an 'undertaking involving danger or unknown risks'. Folks these days are too busy eating, talking, texting or putting on makeup to drive, and they give every ride a thrill at some point. That is a tirade for another day.
So, can an adventure be something as simple as an afternoon ride with some friends with nothing but a great destination in mind? No groceries or extra fuel. No sleeping bags or tents. No weeks of planning and scheming. Is that still an adventure? Some of my most adventurous rides have been like that! With the bike loaded for an extended trip you tend to be more careful as a crash could be expensive and possibly terminate a big event. A day ride with the gang tends to be a looser kind of ride, but no less adventurous that is for sure.
This is part of a monthly ride I coordinate where a general invitation is emailed to a little over 20 fellow dual-sport riders here in this area that have requested to be on 'the list'. The invite gives a time and location to meet and after that, exactly who is going to show up is always a surprise. There are regulars and then there are a few riders we only see a couple times a year as there are too many scheduling conflicts to make more than that. Some of you we have not seen in quite some time though and hope to see you soon! Want to join us for an adventure? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on 'the list' too. The next ride will be April 19th. Yes, I know that is a ways out, but it is the first day in April that fits the schedule.
This day we were off to visit an out of the way pub that is dedicated to, and decorated with, vintage motorcycles and assorted motorcycle memorabilia. Doesn't that sound like the perfect destination for a day ride? Can it get much better than that? Out of the entire group that showed up this dreary morning, none had actually visited this little piece of motor mania heaven except our fearless Ride Leader (no, not me for this trip). Some of us had looked it up online or talked to somebody else that had been there, but that was it. Our appetites were whetted though and we were anxious to get on the road.
On this particular day there were six of us that showed up, all on DR650s, despite the fairly steady downpour in progress. We met at a coffee shop and all sat inside and chatted about the weather, hoping we saw more of the 'scattered' than the 'showers' that were forecast for the day. Ride Leader suggested we go more to the west in search of dryer conditions, but the rest of us squelched that idea as we really wanted to see the permanent motorcycle show. Of the six of us, five were quite experienced with a ton of racing and riding of various kinds between us. The sixth was a Newbie, through and through. She had recently purchased her DR650 from an Australian mate who had flown over here, purchased this DR from an enthusiast friend in New Mexico, and then rode the complete Trans-America Trail on it. When he got to the West Coast he did a bit more exploring and then sold the bike to her.
This was Newbie's first real ride on this big of a motorcycle, her previous experience being a couple of hundred miles on an XT225 and then one ride on the DR getting it home one afternoon. Lowering links and lowered forks gave her the clearance she needed to be able to touch the ground and get the comfort she needed. She was attired in a new full-coverage helmet, jacket, pants and boots to keep her safe, warm and dry.
After a quick orientation talk about waiting at junctions, correct hand signals and such, we departed our meet-up spot and headed out into the weather, all of us suited up in our finest rain and waterproof type gear in hopes of not getting soaked and freezing to death before lunch at the pub. When we arrived at the junction taking us into the first dirt section, Newbie and I stuck to the pavement as Ride Leader felt a couple of the obstacles in this section of trail could be tough on her. Not wanting to stress her out this early in the ride, we split off and rode on to the rendezvous point where the dirt worthy portion would join back up with us.
Waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive, she shared how her new gear was keeping her quite warm and dry, which was good news as a cold wet ride was no fun for anybody. I on the other hand, was already cold and wet. The boots I had spent considerable time bragging about to a friend recently, had leaked for the first time and my left foot was swimming and my right was not dry either. My old jacket was also not prepared for the constant barrage of raindrops and was losing the battle. My cuffs were wet and cold spots in several other locations indicated that water had infiltrated the first lines of defense and was advancing on several fronts.
The rest of the squad soon showed up and it was confirmed among most that we were wet somewhere. We laughed and joked about where we had leaks and how bad they were. It was a great group as there was nary a complaint, merely a statement of our condition usually followed by a chuckle. Not once did anybody mention, joking or seriously, turning around or cutting the ride short. We all saddled up and headed off into the hills and into the continued downpour. There is something fun about riding in the rain and the strange looks you get from cadgers, like you're crazy or something.
One of my favorite sayings is, 'Attitude – the difference between ordeal and adventure.' It is only too true. Get stuck with even one whiner and it is enough to ruin any ride in any condition. These are the times you just put your head down and ride on and stick it out. Here is where you earn the admiration or contempt of your peers. Smile and laugh and keep a positive attitude and your company will be appreciated regardless of your speed or skill. Whine and complain and regardless of your trail proficiency, you are liable not to be invited to future rides, regardless of the weather.
Most of the group standing in the rain waving like the fools they are! But all with a good attitude!
After heading east for a bit, we came across a road sign that warned of traction tires or chains required 30 miles further up the road. I wondered if Shinko 705s were going to be considered traction tires to any State Patrol officer that might be checking. Somehow, I did not think so, but I was prepared to show him the M+S stamp (for Mud + Snow) on the sidewall of the tire! (They really do have one!) Turned out not to be a worry as we turned off that road very soon, headed back west again and wound our way around a beautiful lake.
Ride Leader stopped at one point and shared a story about a friend of his (who was not with us this ride) that had tried to climb the hill off to our left. Ride Leader laughed when he described how said friend had flipped his DR650 completely upside down about three-quarters of the way to the top. Ride Leader simply motored past his overturned pal and went on to the summit. He was kind enough to stop on the descent and give his pal a hand righting his overturned DR before heading all the way back down. Isn't he a great guy! We all chuckled at this story and the images it created of the poor guy waiting patiently to flip his DR and get off the dang hill.
Somebody asked if Ride Leader was going to try and climb the hill today in the rain, but before he could answer the question, one of our group, Ice Pick, rocked his DR to life and took off up the trail. He squirreled and spun and ceased forward momentum just about the same spot that our absent friend had previously flipped. Ride Leader snicked his DR into gear and took off looking to circumvent another downed rider and again bag the summit humiliating another ride buddy. It was not to be this rainy day though as he lost a bit of control going around Ice Pick, nicked him and crashed, just about turning his bike upside down like the friend he made fun of before the attack! Back down with the group, we all laughed and joked and made fun of him that he did not make it either. The laughter momentarily took our minds off the cold. Ice Pick stated that if anybody really wanted to warm up, try the hill!
Ice Pick again took off and negotiated the tricky section and disappeared around the back of the knob and arrived gloriously on the top. Ride Leader was quick on his tire tracks and after a near miss at the flip spot, he safely arrived at the top as well. They were met with congratulations all around when they arrived back at the road.
Ice Pick stops the talk and heads up the hill. (Sorry for the not so great images, but wet conditions made it tough!)
Ride Leader takes off after Ice Pick! (Yes, that is a Moose tail trunk on that DR with a properly placed ProCycle sticker!)
When asked, how far we had to go as several in the group were getting hungry, Ride Leader said something to the effect that as the bird flew it was probably only about 10 miles, but that it was at least 25 or 30 to ride. A rally cry of 'let's go' was raised and we all fell in behind Ride Leader as he scooted on down the single lane blacktopped road. And a beautiful road it was. We were now above the lake and riding along the pure and clear river. With all the rain that was falling, it was surprising that there was not more muddy runoff clouding the water, but it was crystal clear allowing you to see right down to the various colored rocks at the bottom. One section had a long piece of some kind of very light colored rock that stood out through the emerald green water like florescent paint.
Soon Ride Leader stopped at a junction and said that his trusty GPS unit showed that we could save some mileage if we went up this gravel road. The group voiced their support for this shortcut and off we went. A few miles up the road, I saw what appeared to be a mess of Styrofoam trash in the woods off to the right and was verbally bashing the clowns that had left it when I looked to the left and saw more and realized it was small patches of snow. Yikes! Soon we came to a corner that was entirely white. Cautiously I slid my way across the short stretch and waited for Newbie to arrive. She stopped and with that deer in the headlights kind of look, uttered something like, 'are you kidding me?'
I walked over to her, made a couple of small suggestions on how to handle it, and told her I would walk right behind her with my hand on the rack to be sure she would remain upright. About halfway across, she started to slide and chopped the throttle a little too quickly, stalling the shortened DR. I suggested she just steer where she wanted to go and let the back slide a bit and she would make it fine as she was almost across the treacherous patch. She expertly finished off the final section. I congratulated her and got on my bike. There was no way that was going to be our only snow experience as the road did nothing but climb for the next mile or so. Surely Newbie was panicked over the prospect of another crossing, but she hid it well and kept motoring up the mountain.
Soon the next island of white was in front of me and I quickly worked my way through it, parked and ran back just in time to stop her as she arrived. Again with the big-eyed deer look she stared at me. Assuring her that it was easier this time, I asked her to keep her feet out like little skies, drop into the rut created by our preceding trail mates, and just keep the back tire digging and spinning a bit. Again, I would follow and make sure she did not tip over. That look was still in her eyes, but something made her trust me and off she went. (Silly Newbie!)
She successfully negotiated her second winter debris crossing with nothing but a stall or two. No crashing! We had her halfway across her third snow island when Ride Leader and team came back down the hill to us. Conditions ahead worsened until it was determined that nothing but a full retreat was going to work.
The group on the way back down out of the snow.
Again, there was not a complaint to be heard, just grins and giggles that we had found snow, played in it and nobody crashed or was hurt. This was a fantastic group of riders to be with. All were fun, had great attitudes and had fun. Even Newby was having fun! Nobody ever said a thing about having to wait a few extra minutes here and there for her, they appreciated her efforts, her perseverance and her attitude.
So, back out we went, backtracking all the way into civilization again. Ride Leader had no idea, and really no way of knowing, that the storm from the previous week had dumped snow quite so low and that the pass we had to get through would still be covered, and that was a good thing. In this digital age of checking this, looking here, this website says that, this one something else, sometimes you have to just hit the road and find out what is there. After all, that is what makes an adventure, right?
It was getting later in the afternoon and we were all hungry and getting pretty cold, so we stopped at this nice little restaurant that let us put our soaking wet, dripping gear at one table and then sit at another to eat. Service was great as the waitress had been a backseat rider a time or two and understood what we were feeling. Food was excellent and conversation was fun as we all relived what we had been through so far.
I asked Newby why she was so much faster coming back out on the paved road than she was going in, and she admitted that after the dirt roads, snow and everything else, the pavement was pretty easy. A toast was hoisted to her and we all agreed that she could ride with us anytime she wanted. The entire group was supportive and proud of what she had accomplished.
We never did get to the pub that was our target, but that was fine with all of us, it just meant an adventure for another day! We will get there and it was be another adventure you can bet your boots. Hopefully though, those boots will be dry ones!
That really takes us back to the beginning, what is an adventure? I think you have to agree there can be long and short adventures. Ours was short for sure, but it was still an adventure, for everybody, from the minute we went Kickstands Up (KU) until we put the kickstands back down for good much later in our respective garages. Best of all, we left the best part of the adventure for another day! Stay tuned because we will get to that pub soon!