First day of the Klim Rally and I am excited to go on the guided rides in the area, since I showed up late I never signed up for a ride. I find Mark who works for Klim and seems to be the ringleader of this summit. He ask what I am riding, I say a WR250R, “Ok I will put you with the single track guys” Ok sounds good to me, should be fun in the rain.
We all eat a huge breakfast courtesy of Black Dog Cycle Works( Great owners and wonderful people, GIVE EM YOUR BUSINESS :)
Ok time to go, I follow some of the Klim guys up to the trail head. I look round at all the KTM 450, 550, and basically pure bad ass dirt bikes. I also notice that most of the guys are wearing racing shirts. Ummmm I think I might be over my head here, maybe just maybe these guys have been riding for more than two months. All of them are really nice and seem pretty cool so I pull one of the guys to the side and test the waters “You know I have been only riding two months, I don't want to hold you guys up, i think i might be past my skill set.” The response was “hey no worries no one is trying to win a race here you will be fine”. Let me also add that I am on a worn out dual sport tire with almost no knobs left and stock gearing on my 250.
We start off and everyone is going like a bat out of hell flying up the trail at speeds I would have never attempted. I don't want to be “that guy” so well looks like everyone rides standing up around here so lets blow up my 250 engine and try and keep up. I actually do pretty respectable and stay with them up to the top of the “hard part”. At the top I take a few pics and admire the views, I think everyone else here is ready to ride, not take pics.
They decide to break up in A and B group. Excuse me please put me in the slowest easiest group. That group consisted of me and two others. The guy in front of me on his KTM 550 cant get up the hill so him and his buddy leave so now I am the “B” group. There are two Klim guys who are great and we go for a while, Holy shit these are not trails, is this single track? these are goat trails. One of the Klim guys says i need to lower my tire pressure, maybe that will help.
Yes it must be my tire pressure, thats it. Lower that a few PSI and I will be riding like you guys who have been riding like bad ass’s since age 7. I am pretty proud of myself actually since I am going places I would have never tried at speeds no sane man should. Then at the top of a hill my rear tire slides out and I go down a cliff ( I say cliff but actually a really steep wooded hill might be more accurate, for purposes of the story I will say cliff since it sounds more dangerous). I go first off into the abyss and land on my face then I feel my motorcycle on top my head as it skips across my brand new Arai XD4 helmet. Ouch!! I look up and the Klim guy who was following me races ahead to get his partner. I look down and luckily the bike was kept from plummeting further down the hill by a fallen tree. Thanks you dear lord and dirt bike Jesus!
I am sorry for forgetting their names but the Kilm guys were awesome, never once did they make me feel like an ass and dove right in to get my bike out. I am very lucky these guys were there and were able to get the bike out. I told them I had just started riding and they thought I was joking. We proceed to get the bike out slowly, One on the front running the bike and me and the other guy pushing down on the rear to grab some traction and pushing forward. We manage to get it to move a foot at a time but it is super steep ( I say cliff) and I cant even get a foot hold. As I am pushing on the bike staring at a spinning dirt bike tire inches from my face I think, perhaps I should put my helmet back on.
We get the bike as close the top as we can but it is no use, a few other guys in the group who happen to be fire fighters head up the hill with some rope and together we get the WR back on the trail. Looks like everything works , thank you Highway Dirt Bike hand guards, seriously these things take a beating. I am now a Klim consumer for life, first purchase will be a recovery strap.
Ok back on the trail and I am exhausted but I have to get the bike out of here, F’in Awesome. I make my way down this goat trail and tell them to get me out of here please and apologize for ruining his ride making everyone wait but I don't get any dirty looks from anyone; great group. I make my way out wrecking several more times since now every wobble is a crash and basic skills seem difficult, very frustrating.
At one point they volunteer to ride my bike over something called a stair step. Holy crap I cant even walk over this vertical surface with carved out steps into the side of a mountain. WOW these guys are unreal, I was told later this was Class A single track and some of the most difficult around. I don’t know if this was true or just said to make me feel better but either way a lesson was learned.
Finally I get out and am directed to an easy road along the river back to the camp but I am given bad directions and end up back into the mountains, which allowed me about 6 water crossings, something I had never done but loving it. I realize I am way off course and head back finally to arrive back at camp after a really nice wreck free ride.
I seem to be in one piece with but with a purple foot that looks nasty but doesn't hurt. The guy from Motum magazine said politely “I ran out of talent quickly”. Yes sir that would be correct. It poured down rain all day and the Black Dog Cycle Works folks let us hang out in their tent and stay dry.
Klim put on a really great dinner to wrap up the weekend and It was time for the door prizes and awards, apparently they have a toilet seat that everyone signed at the rally and it goes to what I assume has the best crash. A dubious award but an award never the less. Mark from Klim took a vote and said that I drove my “mini bike” from Portland, hit a cow, and had to have my bike recovered. It was no contest I had the lest powerful bike and least amount of talent there. The award goes to me.
Then in a weird twist of fate Jimmy Lewis gave away 1/2 off coupons for his adventure bike classes and guess who won, the guy who apparently needs it the most ME.
Off to bed and tomorrow head to yellowstone. Everyone at the Klim summit was incredible from all the riders, vendors and Klim folks. I shall return and will avoid the single track course :)