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?
During my Christmas break, I was able to spend a lot of time doing whatever the hell I wanted. As you might imagine, riding motorcycles factored highly in to whatever the hell I wanted.
A few days after picking up the KTM, I took a trip down to south Jersey to ride the sandy Pine Barrens with my most excellent friend Gary.
Gary and me – summer 2014
When we stopped at the fire tower at Apple Pie Hill, there was some graffiti painted on one of the barriers that just called my name. The always looking for signs part of me immediately felt that I was supposed to see it. And maybe I was.
“The positive will outweigh the negative.”
Every. Damn. Day.
This is just a silly little video clip from a ride I did in the pine barrens of south Jersey with my friend Gary last week.
Because of the way that video seems to flatten everything out, you don’t really see what the terrain was like. The profile of this particular sand road is something along the line of the inside of an egg carton or the edges a lasagna noodle. They call ’em whoop-di-dos or whoops. You can get some idea of what they’re like by watching Gary’s front fender bobbing up and down.
Though Gary is a zippy singletrack rider, he also takes time out to ride with slugs like me. We call these slow rides our “unicorn hunting” rides. Hell, we’ll even stop and take pictures sometimes. He is incredibly patient with my silliness.
When we ride together, we link up on our Sena headsets and chit-chat all day. That seems to help keep me from thinking about riding. Plus, he lets me know if Bigfoot is in the road up ahead or anything. The GoPro seems to pick up our conversations very well…
Ride it, baby. Ride it. Giddyup!
Words to live by.
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.