Yeah, yeah. So I may have gotten my bike slightly stuck in a mud hole on Saturday during the Hammer Run in Jersey.
The trails were dry with a few small spots of water scattered throughout. But, when 500 guys have already been through the soup before you it can get pretty nasty.
This particular mud hole was thick and goopy. I rode in and only made it halfway across before my momentum slowed and I began to sink in. I got off the bike to try to start working it out and my boots got stuck because the slime created immediate suction. Thankfully Kenny and someone else on the trail helped to pry my bike loose and get me going forward again.
I sprayed muddy pinwheels into Kenny’s face as a reward for his patient help. His skin looks absolutely fabulous this morning. You’re welcome, dear.
Dual sport rides are really a great exercise in problem solving, patience and camaraderie. There are always people willing to give you a hand (and laugh with you when you do something stupid).
Oh, and – apparently my bike liked the mud. See? My tailbag is smiling:
It was actually my first time eating there so I ordered what so many have recommended – Chicken Fried Steak. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the chicken fried steak at Denny’s is better.
But… the fact that you can buy a Gumby, a brick of peanut brittle or a sweatshirt with a pig in roller skates on it in the Barrel might give the place a leg up. Oh, but then again, Denny’s sells something called Moons over my Hammy. Even though I’ve never ordered it, I really like saying it. So naturally, I’m torn on where to spend my future chicken fried dollars.
And while we’re on the subject of chicken fried steak – Isn’t it totally a road trip food? The only time I eat it is when I’m away from home. I find that it’s best to not think too deeply about what it or that white gravy is. Though it can be difficult to contemplate such things over the din of your hardening arteries anyway.
Last Saturday, I signed up to do a trail riding event with Long Island Trail Riding Conservancy (LIRTC) the following morning. They hold fund raising events where motorcyclists can come and enjoy a day of safe, legal trail riding. Being able to legally ride in the woods here on Long Island is a near impossibility, so I was excited to get my feet wet without having to head off of the Island.
Kenny was busy doing a construction project at our house. That meant he needed our cargo van. That also meant if I wanted to go to this event, I had to ride there.
When I left the house on Sunday morning, it was 44 degrees and slightly overcast. I was dressed in a wicking shirt, a t-shirt and a lightweight vest underneath my Marsee textile jacket. I also had on a pair of Marsee textile pants, my off-road helmet and my Sidi Crossfire boots.
Lonely Loser – Party of One
As I rolled into the parking area I felt acutely alone. You know that nerd at a party who looks like they don’t know what to do with their hands as they stand around looking awkward? That was me.
As families and groups of friends milled around the parking area, I parked the DRZ and headed towards the sign-in table. Having ridden to the event, I had no place to stow some of my riding gear. The gear that was far too heavy and hot for this event.
I’m Going In
After the riders meeting, I mustered up a little squeak of courage and headed in to the trails. As I entered the trail head and rolled about 10 feet past the trail boss he shouted, “hey, hey wait!” I thought to myself, oh man. Now what did I do? “Hey, your tailpack is open!”
Ugh, I am a complete knob.
I rode into the trail alone. At the time, I felt good about that because I didn’t have to worry about having to get myself out of anyone’s way and I could just concentrate on getting through the ride.
This being my first time, I had no idea what to really expect. I supposed I thought I would be doing something a little more lazy and meandering. Instead it was what I’d look for on a tarmac road – small and serpentine, winding it’s way through the trees. I putt-putted along moving more slowly than was probably called for. I didn’t feel scared, I just didn’t feel confident. Within the first 5 minutes the inevitable happened. I grabbed the front brake and bang, I dumped my bike in a left hand turn.
After the Fall
I got myself up and looked around. Still alone and feeling like an ass, I squatted down and tried to get a good spot to lift the bike up. The first couple shoves were unsuccessful. I managed to get myself in a good position and lifted the bike up off it’s side. I got it started and got moving again. So that was it. I popped my cherry. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But, being completely overdressed for the occasion, I found myself sweating.
I wobbled my way through the trail only falling once more on that loop. I came out and shed my vest, drank a Gatorade and went back through the trails a few more times. I didn’t feel like I made any progress with each loop. Each time I hit the deck, I left a little more of my confidence behind. I found myself wishing Kenny was there to give me a little pep talk. I needed a hug and an ‘atta girl’.
My last trip through I did a proper faceplant on a downward facing slope. I slingshotted my way to the ground and wound up with my wheels angled up the banking, front wheel facing down the slope and with my right foot firmly wedged between the gas tank and a berm. Have I told you I love my new Sidi boots?
I wriggled myself out from under the bike but I just could not pick it up alone that time. A nice man on a quad helped me pick up the black devil that was clearly trying to kill me. He muttered something like “…big bike for you.”
I rode on and found a nice open, flat spot and took a photo and drank some water. I took a minute or two and tried to collect my thoughts. I felt sweaty, overheated and useless. I would be lying if I said I didn’t come away from my experience feeling defeated and low. I tried my best but,.. I sucked! I was totally discouraged.
What I Learned
The whole ride home I tried to think about all of the things I did wrong and how I would need to work towards correcting them for next time.
Dressing properly is of the utmost importance. ATGATT also means the right gear for the situation.
The tire pressure you ride in on isn’t the right pressure for the trails – but I don’t know what is!
Having a home base or vehicle at the event would’ve been a smarter way to go.
Having a buddy probably helps morale.
Hydration is key.
Keep those eyes up!
EASY on the front brake!
Moving too slow can work against you.
I’m hoping that next time I do more things right than wrong. ::crosses fingers::
Long Island. It’s an island and it’s long. It is also pretty flat. We don’t have any mountains so that means we don’t have any wonderful valley roads. We don’t have any big, long rivers. That means we don’t have miles and miles of serpentine tarmac that snakes along them either. Long Island has beaches, small sandy lanes, great lighthouses and… people. Lots and lots of people. Uncluttered and wide open space can be hard to come by.
Do people in cars wander?
Motorcycling has always provided me with an escape. It has taken me to places on this island that I probably wouldn’t have known about if I spent the rest of my life only driving a car. There is something about getting around on a motorcycle that leads me to find what I consider to be hidden gems.
As I sit at my desk daydreaming, lately my thoughts have been peppered with visions of looking out over a ridge, watching a valley unfold below. This blue sky daydream world is mostly quiet save for the sounds of a few birds chattering in the trees. One thing my thoughts don’t have… people.
On Sunday Kenny and I went for a ride. We retraced some of my steps through the wet and sandy roadways I’d been on with the kids from ADVrider. This time things were a little different, though. The unknown was now known. When my wheels left the tarmac I went in without fear.
After reflecting on the white knuckled terror that was my first foray into the dirt, I realized that it would never feel that way again. You can never go back to just holding hands.
Kenny was on the big bomber GS with street tires. He seemed confident riding on the packed sand and in a little water. But, some of the very wet sections just weren’t a good idea for him. He turned around to meet me on the other end of the road as I went forward into the puddles.
The last time I went through here, I had one thought: Keep moving forward! This time my approach was more of a relaxed leapfrogging to the drier spots. I tried to spot the sections of the puddles that seemed like they would be least likely to swallow me whole like they did that KTM a few weeks back.
As I came up on the big mama puddle that I had previously avoided altogether, I glanced back to see Kenny watching me. I felt some sort of comfort in knowing that if I needed a life preserver he wasn’t far behind. So… in I went.
It didn’t look that deep but the water drained in over the top of my boots. I just kept thinking stay on the gas, keep your eyes up and keep going forward! Amazingly enough, I did just that and rode out of the puddle.
You never really know what’s in store for you under the water until you’re in it.
I met up with Kenny again at the other end of the road. I was thoroughly proud of my muck and seaweed covered bike. He laughed and said he thought I was going to sink. It probably sounds funny, but I saw that little puddle crossing as a small victory. It was one more good experience to put in my pocket.
Someday I hope to look back at these blog entries and laugh, while saying “remember when…”