|11-15-2013, 03:31 PM||#1|
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: BC Canada
BC Caribou by KLR, September 2013
The Caribou By KLR
The dark and rainy morning did not dampen our enthusiasm as we began our Adventure Bike Trip to the Caribou Region of British Columbia early on the 29th of August 2013. Heavy rains and traffic marked our trans-urban Vancouver start to the 525 km of secondary and tertiary tarmac roads that would take Brene and I to Timothy Lake, near Lac La Hache, BC. We took the Whistler/Pemberton route.
My own steed, “Rowdy, The Mighty KLR”, was shorn with 50/50 tires and loaded down with tank panniers, tank bag, saddle bags and a large tail bag with camping and other equipment. Brene also rode a KLR 650. I wore urban road-bike motorcycling protective gear while Brene wore a full set of body armor. My bike and equipment are suitable for moderately paced back roads exploring in reasonably dry conditions; not the riding conditions on Day One of dirt riding. This is what I remember of Day One.
Brene and I arrived at Timothy Lake early in the evening before Day One during a lull in the rainstorm. I hurriedly set up my tent while Brene dried and warmed his bits over a beer in his cabin. I hustled to join the other eleven riders for dinner because I had been warned that dinner was served at “7 p.m. sharp” and, while I’m not known for punctuality, I try not to be late for dinner.
Over dinner the leaders asked about my dirt bike riding experience. “As a dirt bike rider, I’m a fine dancer. And, I can’t dance.” I honestly replied. So, I was given some good advice, which I followed as best I could.
1. Ride you own pace.
2. Do not ride faster than you are comfortable riding.
3. Leave the bags in camp.
4. Carry only camera, food, water, tools and spare tubes in a small tail pack on top of the bike.
5. Stand on the pegs whenever the bike feels squirmy. (I learned that would be the prevailing feeling).
6. Weight the outside peg to turn corners in loose conditions. Do not rely on front wheel traction to make the turn.
7. Ride around water holes, not through them. (Easier said than done on narrow trails bordered by dense forest.)
Several jaws dropped when I mentioned that I did not bring spare tubes. I pointed out that I had ridden to the area loaded down with wet weather riding and camping gear on the very same bike that I intended to ride along the dirt roads. (Tactfully avoiding any disparaging remarks about the posers who trailered their bikes to Timothy Lake.)
Privately, I recalled attending a Sturgis Rally and being surrounded by thousands of Harley Davidsons lounging in the beds of pick-up trucks or strapped to trailers. I was soon to learn that, unlike some Sturgis Harleys, these big dirt bikes were not Trailer Queens.
As for the missing spare tubes, I explained that I had been forewarned that the meals would be excellent, but there would be no wine to be had in the area. Forewarned is forearmed. I then discovered the cost of a helicopter cache drop was prohibitive. Further, when packing for the trip it became clear that compromise was required. Spare tubes were jettisoned in favor of four bottles of wine to accompany the four fine dinners planned. This common sense solution was met with good-natured derision.
My new riding companions were hard-core dirt bike riders, except Brene who is an aspiring hard-core dirt bike rider. I am almost a Dirt Bike Virgin. The others had trailered their dirt bikes to the area. Have I mentioned that already? I figure an adventure ride starts in my driveway. Go figure.
On the morning of Day One the others showed up wearing 15” armored boots and strap-on hard body armor. Their big dirt bikes sported aggressive knobby tires and carried no bags. The riders wore backpacks containing only essential tools, (for example, spare tubes), food and water.
Rowdy The Mighty KLR ain’t no city slicker. However, his skills and equipment best befit the “Adventure Lite” category. Moreover, I am inclined to explore gravel roads just to see where they go and possibly have a nap in the sun by a mountain lake. That is hard-core Adventure Lite exploring in my book.
On Day One the gravel and dirt roads varied only by degree of slipperiness due to earlier torrential rains and showers during the day. Road conditions that normally clog air filters with fine silt were today akin to boiler-plate ski conditions with occasional muddy quagmires.
These gravel road conditions offer great fun for dirt bike riders who love to stand on the pegs and power slide all day long and then later regale all about the turns they missed, careening into the woods and barely missing that big Cedar, ha, ha, ha. Pausing semi-soberly to acknowledge “Poor ‘so and so‘, who went over the cliff and totaled his bike. Oh well, he’ll be OK in a few weeks (or months). How will he explain that to the missus?”
These road conditions compelled me to engage in 7.5 hours of intense negotiations with the God of Traction while in a state of high anxiety relieved only by one hour of stark terror.
That terrifying hour began at the beginning of a 2.5 km stretch of dirt road where we were cautioned, “It’s going to be very greasy for this next stretch due to the heavy rains. So, stand up on your pegs, go slow but not too slow and keep up your momentum. Soft hands on the bars.”
I entered the muddy quagmire near the back of the pack and instantly felt the pull of clinging, greasy 4 inches of goo hiding deep, irregular ruts and bumps on the hardpan below. Within a few meters I came upon a scene reminiscent of a Keystone Cops silent movie: the cops are flailing about on an ice rink wearing leather soled boots while chasing the bad guy who is on skates but can’t skate.
Bikes slid into the muck, other riders stopped to help, put their feet down, lost their footing and from a standstill dropped their own bikes. Some riders righted their bikes, mounted, let out the clutch and slipped straight back into the muck.
I surveyed the swamp and counseled myself, “Momentum, momentum, momentum. Soft hands”. Venturing into the fray I slithered along the slippery trench trying to discover just the right amount of momentum. Within a few meters, I was thinking that I might actually be a better muck rider than I thought, or luckier, when suddenly I was aimed sideways, yet still moving forward(ish). “Momentum, momentum. Soft hands.”
Hours later, (possibly seconds) in a heartbeat I was going down, sliding along and shedding that courageously (Believe it!) built up momentum. This prolonged slide came to an abrupt end with Rowdy the Mighty KLR pointing backwards and silent in the ditch, wheels braced up against the far wall. I had a clear view of the overcast sky from my vantage point in the muck.
With assistance, Rowdy and I slid back into the fray. I paddled slowly through the muck, feathering clutch and throttle, slip-slidin’ along, almost as if I could indeed dance. I made some forward progress until again I was dragged across my forward line into the left ditch. Maintaining forward momentum, I rode askew, inexorably into the left ditch. There, rather adroitly I thought at the time, I rode along that water and muck filled ditch searching for a way out. After an hour or so of this (possibly 20 seconds) I spotted a potentially negotiable ledge back into the road. Gingerly, I coaxed Rowdy up that ledge and into the road again. No time to congratulate myself because the muck dragged Rowdy diagonally across the road towards the right ditch. In this fashion forward(ish) progress was made until I lost all front wheel traction. Down I went. This time more gently, but no less certain that mud riding is best left to those other mudders.
I negotiated the rest of the 2.5 km of quagmire in a trance of concentration and trepidation. Once through it, I was able to relax back into a state of high anxiety and rode along slippery but firm gravel and dirt roads during a light rain for the rest of Day One.
Back in camp an inspection disclosed a few bumps and bruises on me but no tears. There is no crying in dirt bike riding. Rowdy, however was bent and twisted. This gave me an opportunity to present a 2 hour seminar on how to dissemble, re-bend and re-assemble Rowdy’s “grass guards”, formerly known as “crash guards”, to the other riders while they enjoyed their cold beer.
Dinner followed with a toast to the spare tubes not missed on Day One. The weather was fine so things were looking up for Day Two.
|11-15-2013, 04:12 PM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
Well this sounds like fun!
Excellent writing, but did you jettison the camera to make space for wine as well?
(Not saying I wouldn't do the same)
|11-15-2013, 04:24 PM||#3|
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Mid South Indiana
I love the opening, nice visuals and great first post Shredder1............
Let the story proceed with pictures please.
oh, Welcome to the asylum
|11-17-2013, 04:11 PM||#4|
Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Ft St John, BC Canada
Uhhhhh...not to be negative....but its cariBOO....not caribou. Don't ask me why....its a north central bc thing
2008 DR 650
We can handle it....We're Canadian
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