Last weekend I did my first solo riding in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey on the KTM. Up to that point, my riding in the Pines had always been with friends. But when you’re a boat anchor, you have to know when to cut the tether and let everyone else float away. It’s no fun to feel like you’re holding people up and it’s no fun for them to be held up. That’s how I found myself moseyin’ around in the forest on my own.
The games that we play with ourselves to deal with feeling unsure are funny. I happily ride alone most of the time. But I reasoned that if I was going to be in the forest, I needed to keep myself in places where I could easily relay my location if I needed help. It sounds funny now when I type it out – I wasn’t in Siberia or anything. But the mind works in mysterious ways sometimes.
Following the easy extraction plan meant keeping mostly to roads that had names that I could read on my Zumo 660 GPS. It has only road maps loaded.
When you’re in Wharton State Forest (if you are unfamiliar with the area) you might be surprised what constitutes a road. It can often be a sandy 2-track affair, covered in pine needles, encroaching branches and looks like nothing has traveled on it for years. And yet, glancing at the GPS you’ll find yourself Traveling on X Road.
Granted, in more rural areas than south Jersey maybe you’re used to 2 track forest roads. Not quite as common here in congestion-land.
All in all my first ride alone in the forest was pretty awesome. I got to stop and take pictures, lollygag while looking at trees and streams and the light filtering through – it was exactly what I love about road riding alone. I can hardly wait find myself there amongst the pines again.
Every time that I ride the 690, I am acutely aware of what a great decision it was to buy it. Why did I wait so long?
On Saturday afternoon while doing the Meteor dualsport in south Jersey, we stopped at about the half-way point of the ride to get gas at a small gas station. When Gary and I pulled in there were probably 20 other motorcycles already there filling up.
Because New Jersey doesn’t allow you to pump your own gas (technically) you have some type of interaction with a pump attendant. In my case, he pushed the button, handed me the nozzle and then took my money at the end. I was one of dozens of motorcyclists that passed through the station that day.
Hours later after packing up my bike and shedding my stormtrooper gear I washed my face, put on my baseball hat and pointed the Ridgeline towards home. My first stop before hitting the highway was filling up the truck. The first available gas station? The one I’d stopped at with my bike.
I pulled up to the pump, the (same) guy walks up to my window to take my card and says something like “Oh, you’re back. You were here earlier.”
Now… I have a way better chance of recognizing the same guy, in the same clothes, at the same gas station than he did me. But he recognized me out of a helmet, different clothes, in a baseball hat, in a car. How? I saw dozens of other riders throughout the day and I don’t think I’d know a single one without a helmet on.
What is it that allows us to really “see” and recognize people? Is it really the eyes?
Time – the most precious commodity there is.
When you find a person who willingly shares such a precious resource with you – it’s a great feeling. I have a friend, Gary who has taken me under his wing and has gone out of his way to help me along with my dirt riding. He has a manner and patience that seems to be helping to turn my mindset around.
He’s just a good dude.
The last few times we’ve gone out riding, Kenny gets to zip off and run with the gazelles while Gary babysits me and coaxes me in to relaxing. Not by doing anything in particular but rather just being his natural laid back self. The result has been a boost in my confidence and pace.
When Kenny and I drove home from riding in the Pine Barrens last weekend I couldn’t help but remark that it was the best day of dirt riding that I’d ever had. For the first time I felt like I’m actually getting better. Can you believe it?
It seems like with Gary’s encouragement and patient tutelage I’m finally chilling the fuck out. I’m just so glad to be feeling good.
On Sunday we spent the afternoon dirt riding in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Our friend Jeff took us to one of the firetowers that are out in the woods. Being the chicken that I am, I didn’t make it more than two levels up before I decided that I was better suited to being on the ground.
Though I was safely back on the ground, I still had to worry about Kenny taking a header down the stairs. Then who would’ve helped me load my bike back in the truck? 😉
The view from up there:
Once again with a hat tip to seeing signs – this was scribbled on the gate we passed to get to the tower:
I try to be a good human but sometimes I stumble. It was a good reminder for me to see that sign.
On Sunday Kenny and I packed our little dirty bikes into the truck and set of for the pine barrens in New Jersey.
Our destination was Wharton State Forest. But not before stopping by Might Joe’s for a quick picture. I’d been there once before but it was after dark and I couldn’t get a good look at the big monkey. He’s pretty awesome.
It’s always fun to ride with my favorite fellow unicorn hunters 🙂
For people not familiar with New Jersey and it’s diverse natural areas, I bet this isn’t what you think of:
The pine barrens are super sugar sandy and yet, as the name implies are a pine forest. It is a pretty interesting landscape.
Mixed in with the sandy roads are also some giganto puddles. What lies beneath is often nasty stuff that might suction your bike in.
This pic of our friend from a couple years ago illustrates that quite nicely 🙂
This motorcycle girl goes ’round the outside, ’round the outside, ’round the outside…Say whaaaaaat?