Somehow the stars aligned and I got a three day weekend off of work -and- school! It’s a miracle! I’m going to ride my butt off! I asked my ADV friends to find a ride that will kick my ass. I usually only have one day off a week and so I try to take it relatively easy, but now that I had recovery days at my dispense, I was going to take full advantage.
Raven suggests Sibley Mansion Click for sweet pics of trucks attempting the trail, Thomas and Jeremy agree it sounds like fun and we head out Sunday morning in high spirits.
The weather and scenery were fantastic!
The trail started off with lots and lots of loose rock, but it’s fairly flat and we powered through it, standing on the pegs, without much trouble.
Eventually the road smooths back out and there are some cool mining remnants to look at. We’re moving at a relaxed pace, taking pictures and taking lots of breaks to chat and hang out.
Raven on her NX250
The first real obstacle appears on the road, with a rocky face on one side and a steep drop on the other. The road is wide enough for a car, but it’s just big, sharp, bumpy rocks sticking up everywhere…except a wheel width path right near the ledge. It wasn’t difficult so much as it was paranoia inducing. You’d try to pick a line and then visualize yourself bouncing wrong and off the cliff. Or see yourself putting up the line near the ledge and tipping right off. As we are standing around contemplating the best plan of action, Rich appears, surprised we hadn’t made it further and joins us for the rest of the ride. We opted for a line over some of the lesser rocks just in from the ledge (the rocks got worse the further from the ledge you got) and sort of paddle over them.
Rich takes on the rocks (pictures never do justice to these sorts of things)
Jeremy and Thomas zip off to try an alternate route, they return stating it is much worse and we continue on our way. It’s nice moderate road with some curves and rocks, but nothing too bad. We chatted up some ATV riders with cute dogs and Raven decides to head back. The trail is looking rougher and her knees aren’t up to it today. I briefly consider heading back with her, but decide to go on. I wanted a hard ride, I’m sticking it out! If I’d only known…
We rode on a little further…
Then the trail goes to hell. Steep. Rocky. Mountains.
The first set of up and downs is not that bad. Loose, but not too large of rocks, so you can hold a decent line. But I’m having trouble keeping my speed up, my bike doesn’t like plugging uphill so slowly, it wants to stall, even in first gear.
Then there’s a way steep uphill. Jeremy and Thomas plug up on their smaller bikes and I try to hold a line and charge up on my Beast. The rocks are bouncing me off course and I end up next to a dirt and rock wall, trying to keep my tire on the smoother area right next to it. No good. I bounce and veer just enough to the right, that the bike stops and tips over into the soft loose dirt of the hillside. The boys run down and help me pull my bike up. Thomas offers to take my bike the rest of the way to the top and I am more than happy to let him. I hike up the last bit and we all rest at the top. He explains to me my bike isn’t really geared for that stuff and teaches me how to slip the clutch to avoid stalling.
I’m a little shaken up from the challenging terrain and it’s getting late. We discuss how much further it is to the mansion and decide we took our time a little too much today and may not make it out before sundown if we don’t turn back now. (I later find out we were almost there…d’oh)
Now here’s another newbie hint, if you just dumped your bike and your adrenaline is spiking at all time highs, don’t get right back on the bike and try to go down. Sit and rest until you recover and can think coherently.
So Rich goes down the mountain first and waits at the bottom, so he can help me if I need it near the end, while Jeremy and Thomas watch from the top. I debate for a long time if I should turn the bike off and use the clutch to control my speed, but opt for on in favor of engine power at the ready if I get stuck on a rock. So I start down in first gear, but I give it a little too much gas. I start panicking and I’m sure I must have pulled in the clutch because my bike starts flying down at an insane speed. Now my eyes are as big as saucers, I have a death grip on the handlebars and I’m just trying to keep some semblance of control and turn right with the curve of the road. I’m bouncing off of rocks so hard my bike is catching air and I am catching air out of my seat. I land a little off center and the bike goes down hard on a rock.
Rich took some pics of my high speed descent, but nicely stopped photographing when he realized this was probably going to end badly. It makes for a cool action series though and I kind of wish I had the grand finale included.
Yeah that was a scary moment. Everyone’s running over expecting serious carnage but I’m standing next to my bike dusting off. Jeremy points out a razor sharp rock just next to where I went down and tells me I was damn lucky.
We break for a while to assess the damages. I have a bruise on my right thigh, a tiny scrape on my right wrist and the bike’s right radiator shroud is obliterated. (Thomas retrieves these bits for me on his next ride up there and returns them to me at a meet up. Now every time anyone finds bits of plastic on a trail, they ask if I’ve been there first… )
We head back up the next hill, and I sit looking down at the steep rocky descent home. I opt to turn off the bike and roll down using the clutch. I still fall over once, but at least it’s at very low speed.
My mind is not in the right place, I can’t think straight and on the next uphill, I pick a bad line and dump it in the loose rock. Thomas helps me lift the bike again and offers to ride his bike back to the parking lot and return with his truck for me. That just feels like giving up. I tell him if I dump it one more time, we can do that.
I keep it vertical after that.
At the trailhead there’s some great piles of sand where ATVs were playing. Thomas and Jeremy play around on their smaller bikes.
Rich and I hang out for a bit and then head home as the sun sets
I think I got my asskicking alright!