I was planning to take it easy on the new bike, but I made a bet with Aaron that I would try Gunsight Pass if he put his KLR back together by Sunday (poor thing had been in pieces in the garage for months!) Well, he slapped that bike back together so fast I had to hold up my end of the deal…
Our bikes from left to right – Me, James & Aaron
The three of us set out bright and early and headed down some graded roads towards Gunsight Pass. We took a break at a turn off and Aaron noticed the bolt holding on my exhaust pipe had wiggled loose and disappeared. We determined it was best to detour back towards town and fix it, lest it fall off mid ride. Ace hardware was just opening and we got in, out and back on the road fairly quickly.
The detour was a really fun bit of road with some sand, rocks and ruts. It was excellent practice turf for my new bike. I’m so impressed with its sand manners compared to the KLR.
The road we took back in the direction of Gunsight had some great puddles to splash through and I baptized my bike with mud.
There was a great steep hill we stopped in front of and James told me it was not as bad as it looks, but there was a road around if I wanted to do that. I just trusted in the bike and it popped up and over effortlessly. Just beyond that was a little pond we hung out at for a while.
We took some detours which included riding several washes lengthwise and I was really happy with how the DRZ did. There was one part where we turned off the main road into a wash and I hit with my tire turned a little too much. I fell over, but picked it up and started riding before my buddies came back for me. It’s like it never even happened!
We finally decided to give up looking for the mysterious all dirt route to Gunsight and booked it down hwy 83 to the trail head we knew went up.
The road was generally nice, with some sand and a bit of mud. The view was awesome.
Suddenly James’ bike stopped going. Apparently his bike had turned cannibalistic and the chain decided to eat its own guard. It was really wrapped up in there but Aaron and James eventually pulled it out without completely dislodging the chain.
Aaron and James lead the way up the rocky mountain to the lookout point. If you look very closely you can see them both.
The road is really rocky and fairly steep, I’m glad I’m not on the KLR, but even on the DRZ the last hairpin is tricky and I manage to drop it on the way up and on the way down, in the same place. This bike is actually taller than the KLR and when I try to put a toe down, it finds empty air. I will have to learn to trust myself to make the turn without pivoting on my foot.
We park our bikes and climb up to the ridge. What a phenomenally beautiful place. We hung out for a good long time just sitting up there and talking.
We left our mark and proceeded back down the mountain.
We decide to go down the hard side. We went up the easy side, going up the hard side is the way most people do Gunsight and I can see how it would be exhausting. It was very steep and rocky so we had to be on the breaks like mad the whole time. Going up you would be constantly on the throttle jostling up the rocks.
Aaron led the way and he was keeping things uber slow to show me how to descend a steep, rocky mountain safely. The only bad thing was, when we hit the rocky section, I used some more speed and momentum while he was putting down the last stair I found my front tire about to play bumper cars with his rear. I braked hard and managed not to hit him, but my bike fell to the right on a large rock. The puddle of green blood was a telltale sign something bad had happened.
I cracked the water pump cover badly.
I was honestly so close to buying a better bash plate earlier this week, but decided to hold off since I just dropped a pretty penny ordering a new headlight and a Trial Tech Vapor computer.
Ironically, the same thing had broken on this bike while in the possession of its previous owner and he showed me the broken pump and everything. I should have taken that as a sign and bought the bash plate.
We debate what the best plan of action would be and eventually decide to send James down the mountain to go home and return with a truck while Aaron and I coast down with our bikes off.
I was initially really paranoid about coasting down in neutral without engine power at the ready, but it was much easier than I thought. It made me realize how much I unnecessarily used the throttle in situations where the weight of the bike was more than enough to keep momentum. It was like riding a really big bicycle. We coasted down, braking frequently and then kicking like skateboarders in places where it flattened out. I didn’t dump the bike once through the whole ordeal and actually had fun with it, leaning forward to get more speed, bouncing the suspension and wiggling the handlebars to crawl forward on a flat bit until the next good downhill.
We stopped and Aaron rode off a bit to make sure we were in the correct rendezvous location.
Looking back at the Gunsight.
Waiting for help
Trucking the bike home while Aaron shows off.
Many thanks to my riding buddies for being incredibly awesome and helping me to take on new and daring terrain. I’m feeling much better about steep rocky crap now, but I have a new nemesis, the steep hairpin turn!