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?
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.
At some point you just come to terms with your shortcomings. I will never be a confident dirt rider. There is something about the looseness of it that I cannot give myself over to. That and the fact that I don’t do it nearly enough to become good at it.
Riding dirt roads, gravel roads, dirt trails – I’m fine. As soon as I see water and mud? Forget about it. I freeze. When the answer is often to keep your momentum going to carry you through I end up shooting myself in the foot and slowing down to collect my thoughts before tackling whatever sopping mess is in front of me.
When we were riding in Berkshires this spring, things were…. damp. I tentatively putt-putted my way through some big, long puddles.
My dude and fellow unicorn spotter Gary directing me to avoid a big rock under the water.
He must’ve been looking out for me after witnessing me fling both me and my bike down an embankment about 10 minutes earlier. Judging by the look on his face when I came back to Earth and looked at him, it must’ve been quite the spectacular wipeout. Oopsie.
I’ll just keep tagging along on these dual sport rides when I can. If nothing else, the scenery is always great! 🙂
There is a funny thing the happens to the look of terrain in a photo.
– click pix to embiggen –
When you’re standing there in person looking over the edge of a drop, it looks like a cliff. Then when you get home and look at the photos, it seems so much more tame. Photos never seem to do the terrain justice.
This climb was too much for me. The last portion was a vertical wall. I didn’t even contemplate trying it. Instead, Chloe and I were a cheering section for the types with balls.
You can see this particular hill climb in a video posted on StayOnTheGas.com.
I often wonder what it’ll be like for her someday when she thinks back to the time when she first learned to ride a dirtbike as a kid. Will she be a lifelong motorcyclist? Will she always carry that torch in her heart? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, we sure are having a lot of fun riding together as a family. I couldn’t be any more proud of her – on or off the bike.