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Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff

Dirt rider? NOT!!!

By Sean Alexander, Oct. 27, 2003
The bike simply ceased forward motion! One moment it is bounding thru the underbrush at approximately 15 mph (felt like 40 mph) and then it was no longer in forward motion! Damn thing stopped like it had "caught a wire" with the arresting hook on a Navy fighter plane!

-Ok, so Madmotomike likes to use the !!!!!!! a bit much. This is still an entertaining read when the boss is looking the other way, on a Monday afternoon. Enjoy.

Unfortunately, the jolt my body recieved as laws of inertia took hold; WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!!

It was a simple mission. Take the KLR650 out and reconoiter old riding tralls and paths that I used to ride years ago. The purpous was to try and establish a fun dual sport loop with excellent entertainment value..

For the most part, I succeeeded. The entertainment value was EXCELLENT! Only problem, was there was no audience, Just little ole me mess'n up and almost getting killed!!

Did you guys know that a 21" front wheel will not naturally go over a 36 inch log? Do you also know how easy it is, not to see a 36" log, when it is obscurred by thick grass and underbrush that is over 3 feet tall?? Did you know that Kawasaki makes KLR650 fuel tanks out of real steel??!!!!?!!? YEP.....real cold hard unyeilding american steel!!!!!

It has been a long time since I purpously rode off road. I don't count the off-track excursion outside turn 4 at Carolina Motorsport Park and I don't count the late-braking that proved ineffectively late in the Oak Tree turn at VIR's South Course. The curb jumping in the snake esses on VIR North and extracurricular off road section in the "Fish Hook" on VIR South do not count.

My last real off road adventure, was with the TDM, North of J-ville and before that, when Cliff and I froze our brains laughing like lunatics during a dual sport sortie in the middle of feburary, in 22 degree weather, back in 2000.

It has been a long time..

I left the shop and first went to get gas. Silly me, damn tank was half-full. I should have realized that with a seven gallon tank it is impossiable to run out of gas on the big KLR!!

I turned on Ridge Road and looked for my gap in the woods. It was right where I remember. The "no tresspassing" sign was a new addition. Armed with a quiet stealthy kind of bike and a low impact riding style, I was able to follow it down to the river where I reversed course and checked out the other options. The trail had been heavily used by four wheeler traffic and featured some nice berms and double track.

Berms are good! They help keep the bike relatively upright and going in realatively the correct direction....love those hand guards!!

Note to self: MAKE SURE TO PUT BOTH WHEELS IN THE SAME RUT! This is important....!

The bike has decent power, but the bald rear tire made control difficult. You cannot "save the front" The rear has no traction!

You can however, save the front thru herculean testicular strength and commitment; just repeat over and over "must not crash, must not crash, must not crash...etc"

I eventually emerged onto the cul de sac with a gleam in my eye and a new sense of acheivement....

Fortified and encouraged, I headed toward Blue Creek Road and the scene of the great Honda TLR Reflex / madmotomike drowning.

Another note to self: "When emerging from the muddy trails of the woods, remember the tires will be muddy/dirty and will NOT grip on pavement! at least not until the first full-gonzo, full-lock slide of the tires.

It took a moment to find my reference points. The goat farm and the fence around it were almost completely overgrown. This should have tripped something in my brain ...but I am just hard headed. Seems like just yesterday that I was down this path...but reality is that I was last down it before I had Katie (age 6).......yikes!!!

I am not a fast dirt rider and am even slower when exploring by myself, with no cell phone and no one who knows where I am!!

The trail-in was not bad. It was wide and showed signs of usage. Probably by hunters during the season, to get access to the power line. The power line itself was not in good shape. The trail was not easily folllowed and featured tall brush and much cross grain and rutted washout. I knew that the trail end near Pony Farm was blocked by huge logs placed there to keep the 4wd crowd out. I also remember, that the logs were arranged in a clever manner that created a kind of "Beirut gate" at one end. That would provide a path for bikes but appear to be inaccessable.

The problems I had were:
1.) old and tired
2.)bad memory
3.)bald rear tire

When the underbrush got so dense that it was tearing at my elbows and cleaning my feet off the footpegs, I should have had the sense to retreat and take a more studied approach. I'm not that smart. I was so busy dealing with the imediate issue of staying on and keeping moving that I failed to see how near the road I was and subsequently brought wide awake by the impact with the monster log from hell!!

After my head cleared and I quit seeing stars, I instinctively continued to forge forward. This did not work and evolved into a general turn to the left (still in heavy brush) where I hoped to find my "opening " or opprotunity! Neither presented themselves, and I sunk further and further into trouble.

Eventually, I ended up with the bike wedged between two logs that were parallel to each other. Standing with one shoe in what looked to be the ultimate snake habitat in Eastern NC. I WAS NOT A HAPPY CAMPER!! I do not like snakes and I feel that they sense this and conspire to fu*k with me at every opprotunity! NOT HAPPY!

I am however, very strong when motivated!! the KLR650 is no light weight and if I had not been so absolutely committed to getting the hell out of there right now! I might still be stuck in the woods! I kinda got my shoe back on and muscled the KLR backwards to more secure ground, managed to get it fired up and execute a successful RETREAT!!

I stopped briefly, re-installed my shoe and calmed myself down. A 44 year old man hyper ventilating in the woods can scare the hell out of anything within earshot!!!!

Failing in my goals was disappointing. Also disappointing, is the fact that off-road riding was more fun... in my mind!

The reality will get me in shape, but this trip all it did, was show me shortcomings and weaknesses. Thats no fun! I'll have to go back, I believe that the bald tire on the rear was especially significant and made it less fun and more difficult than necessary. I vow to return and be successful!!

Adventure IS out there...but sometimes you get more than you bargained for!!!

MadMotoMike
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Motorcycle.com Staff
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