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Old 10-10-2012, 07:58 AM   #16
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Look on the bright side: at least you didn't have to saw off your pinned arm to free it from underneath a boulder.

Then again, in that case, they at least make a movie and get a handsome guy to play your part. So maybe it isn't a bright side.

Anyway: as noted above, always file a "flight plan," buy a SPOT or similar, think about a lighter bike for crazy fun, and make some more riding friends so you don't go out alone.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:12 AM   #17
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Good Lord. That is a hell of a story.

As I read it, one things kept creeping into my mind. With all your errors, you still would have been fine if you had a $100 hand-held ham radio. Even in remote areas, there are always repeaters and some dude monitoring. If you're interested, I'll post details on how you get a license and what you would need to do. If you ride in remote areas, even with others, you have a MUCH better chance of rescue if you can talk to somebody.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:15 AM   #18
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That sucks, but it made for a great story!

I've had bunches of GS's, but mine never saw much more than well-packed dirt or gravel; probably 98% street riding for me. Even on that kind of stuff I've always felt like I'd be better off on a smaller, lighter machine, and I've never understood the appeal of the GS Adventure over a standard GS or even an F800GS for guys who do true dual-sport riding.

In any case, it's good that you're okay, since that could have very easily ended badly.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:22 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by cliffy109 View Post
Good Lord. That is a hell of a story.

As I read it, one things kept creeping into my mind. With all your errors, you still would have been fine if you had a $100 hand-held ham radio. Even in remote areas, there are always repeaters and some dude monitoring. If you're interested, I'll post details on how you get a license and what you would need to do. If you ride in remote areas, even with others, you have a MUCH better chance of rescue if you can talk to somebody.
What good would a ham do? So he manages to contact some listener in Idaho. What would that listener do?
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:02 AM   #20
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Well, if you can talk to somebody, anybody, you can send a message "I'm stuck, not hurt, but running out of water, at these exact GPS coordinates, please send help" then whoever is listening can look up where that is, call the cops, and they'll send someone. Simple.

I prefer the Delorme PN-60w with SPOT, where you can send text messages from anywhere. That way you can call for help, call for emergency help, or just simply let people know you're ok and hiking out and not to call the rescue services yet. Not only that, but it sends out a location signal every 10 minutes, so even if you crash and become unable to use the spot, a loved one can look up online where you've been and send rescue to that general location.

Having watched "127 Hours" I was thinking the same thing, if he had one of those spot trackers on, it would not have worked in the deep canyon, but loved ones could have seen the signal dissappear at the beginning of that canyon and the rescuers would have easily figured out Aron was stuck down there...
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:08 AM   #21
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Aint a big pig fun in a world meant for little toys?

I remember one trip long ago where I was quite exhausted. Fell over gassing up the vastly overloaded Magna. Had to unload it to get it up. Heaved until my eyeballs were popping, only to drop it over on the other side. Think I cried a little at that point. It's one of the reasons I have an old XL500, I can pick that bike up all day long if I have to.

Seriously, a few things do come to mind reading your story.

The bike is too big and heavy for you and the conditions. Someone else may well have been comfortable on it, but you weren't. So for you and the conditions, it was too much.

Listen to your instincts. They were warning the heck out of you throughout your story thread, but you weren't paying attention. You kept answering your own concerns with a two word answer, and that answer frequently doesn't bode well.

Stop. Sometimes just stopping and sitting still for half an hour to recoup your breath and energy will help things tremendously.

Walking off rather blindly frequently doesn't work well. Use a compass (no batteries or sats required!), use the suns location, use the stars, use ground lights, etc.

And yes, I agree, a paper map is a wonderful thing to have. Again, no batteries.

So go do the ride again, alone, but better armed now. Nose into some of those trails, think, and really decide if you should venture further, or back out and stay on a milder journey. And there's nothing wrong with going milder. I'd rather cover 50 miles pleasurably than 5 miles horribly.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:10 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by slide View Post
What good would a ham do? So he manages to contact some listener in Idaho. What would that listener do?
First of all, with a portable radio, you are not going to talk to somebody 1000 miles away. That requires a long wire antenna and a more sophisticated radio. With a hand-held 2 meter radio, you can hit local "repeaters". Repeaters are used for local communications which is normally nothing more than a bunch of old guys recounting their glory days or commuters sharing traffic info. It can also be used for civil emergency drills or emergencies just like this.

I hunt alone and in areas with no cell service. Four years ago, I fell out of my tree stand and was hurt. I pulled out my hand-held radio and called "Mayday!" Within seconds, I had a guy on who had just been monitoring. He called 911 who put him in touch with the EMS dispatch nearest to my location. I didn't have a GPS but was able to describe my location. He stayed on the phone with EMS and on the radio with me and within 30 minutes, I had a unit on the scene.

There are lists of repeater sites and I would be surprised if there were a place in the US that wouldn't have at least 1 repeater within range of a high point.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:54 AM   #23
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What a story

Really glad you were just worn out and not hurt. I could see myself having a hard time swallowing my pride and walking away from the bike - definitely a lesson in there somewhere.

And as I'm in the market for a dual sport, these kind of stories have me looking at smaller and smaller bikes.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #24
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Some real Bear Grylls shit in here. "Let me find something disgusting and then consume it." Any one of those dozens of falls could have been a broken ankle or worse.. glad you made it out.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:24 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by NitroRoo View Post

And as I'm in the market for a dual sport, these kind of stories have me looking at smaller and smaller bikes.
Yes, after 33 years of riding I can say with absolute confidence that the WR250R is the most reliable and easy to use dual sport machine in the world. Fuel injected, comfy, quiet, high mpg, powerful. Love it, love it, love it...
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:11 PM   #26
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Thanks for the replies guys. I was waiting for enough responses to gather an idea of the most commonly repeated things. Then I would make a long post. I don't take it personally, I was dumb, please don't take anything I respond with as offense, even if I poke some fun at thumpers. I used to have a thumper!

1. You would have been fucked with a broken leg / been injured.

Fact. I am lucky that my gear worked out for me, and I didn't get hurt beyond dehydration/blisters. This is part luck, part not pushing it. I was not traveling quickly, less than 30 mph in the woods. I was 'trying' to stick to marked, named, roads, in reasonable repair (Failed). I was trying to ride within my sight line, which mean slowing down on descents and turns, and I was not going to do anything too hairy. Further more, I do have some basic first aid skills. If I had a broken leg or arm, I had zip ties, bungy straps, cloth, and there was plenty of wood around. I 'could' have possibly made a splint or sling and (painfully) made it out of there with a slight fracture.

More than one fracture? Compound fracture? Back Injury? Eviscerated? No, I would probably have been dead, or at least very upset for a couple of days alone. Let me add that the main highway also had no cellphone signal for 40 miles in either direction around Pinon (found that out later), and almost no traffic. If I had hit an elk, or had some other impact that would have possibly hidden me from view on the highway? Might have similar results, especially if I was miles outside of a town. Granted, they would have found me sooner on the highway than the forest if they were looking, but it's still dangerous.

2. You should never ride alone!

I agree, that if you have a buddy to ride with. You should ride with him, on the highways or in the woods. Sadly, the world is not a perfect place. People have different schedules. I'm relatively new the region. Sometimes I don't want to deal with another person. Sometimes there's a difference in riding ability and/or bikes that is annoying. I wouldn't want to ride on the highway all the time with someone with a 250 Dual Sport, that would probably piss me off. Conversely, he wouldn't want to ride in the woods with me, I'm slow, methodical, trying to avoid falls, while he can blast through and it doesn't matter.

3. Your bike is too big / too big for you!

Listen, I'll agree, it's not great for off highway usage. However, I spend 98% of my time on highway. No offense to DRs, DRZs, KLRs, XTs, and WRs, but you're slow and that's okay. I live in Texas, not NJ, not MA. It was a 100+ mile drive on a 70 mph highway just to get to an area where I 'could' get lost. I 'like' to drive (in one long stretch) between El Paso, Houston, and DFW to visit family quite a bit. If I had to ride on a highway that has a 80mph speed limit on a bike that barely registers 80mph on the speedometer, I would be very, very sad.

I just 'occasionally' want to ride on some well maintained gravel, dirt, or what have you roads, in a scenic location, that hopefully to get some place interesting. I'm not interested in hopping logs, or single track, or blazing my own trail. It was unfortunate that FR5543 ended the way that it did. I plan to go back to the section where it ends, and post a sign that warns that the end is neigh.

As for the bike being to big for me personally, and better in somebody else's hands? Perhaps, there is always a more skilled ride than you. However, let me remind you that I did have several hours of decent back roads riding without drops or incident, before my... problems. And it is a heavy bike, no doubt! Its 600#s, it's 600#s for anyone, it's heavy, I picked it up multiple times trying to maneuver it out of it's rocky bike trap. I lifted that weight as well anyone I know could have, and I eventually got it to an area where I could recover it later. There was no way I could have recovered from that first trap, I had to mow down saplings, and winch the truck through that damn pit to cross it, it was a lot easier going the other direction though.

Further more, I'm not yet in a position where I can buy a bike for every occasion, I live in a nice apartment in a city I plan on spending 'maybe' a few of years in, I cant grow the fleet yet. Right now I just need a single bike that is decent at several things. It was doing great on dirt roads before I fucked it up, and it has had 9000 miles of problem free long range trips, commutes, and errand running since it replaced the Versys. Let me tell you this: gravel roads? A million time better on the GSA than the Versys was.

4. You are incompetent off road and probably other things!

True, I am not a dirt rider, and it is an acquired skilled. I'm better at not tearing up my truck off road at this point than my bike. I will say that I learned a lot from the experience, in fact, many things I learned on my first stretch, such as how the bike responds when turning with low traction. On the second track: that boulders may not be seen until their heard. It's interesting and when my bike is back, and my muscles are healed, I look forward to another attempt, hopefully without the walk.

5. You should get a portable radio.

You know what? I actually hadn't really thought about this. I know their are a lot of repeaters up there, either police or otherwise. I also noticed in my FJ that people were talking on the CB in the area. I used to have a handheld CB, but never had a lot of luck with it. I'll do some research on the matter to be sure. Thanks!

6. You should have used a compass and a map.

I should have had one with me, that's for sure. I will say though I was practicing conservation on the GPS and the iPhone battery wise. The iphone does have a magnetic compass sensor in it, and I have some good apps for it. But it is true that I should have had a manual compass, also more batteries for my flashlight.

Did I mention it was pitch black out there? Yeah, no artificial lights outside of aircraft and spacecraft, stars emit shitty light, and the moon didn't rise until late. I've taken a geologic field methods class, the brunton compass, the topo map, and me have all met, and I can shoot a bearing. It would have been difficult with out 'some kind of battery powered device. Flashlight, GPS, or otherwise. Oh, but what about a tritium compass? Oh, bite me, lol.

I did actually take a look at the forest map later, that road is marked as open. So it's possible I still could have chosen to take it for some reason, and had the same result. But it would've been cooler if I had fucked myself over with a map!

7. You've learned nothing from the experience you moron! Your list sucks!

I really don't know what to say to this. I covered better communicating with those who care. Sat coms. 'Trying' not to ride alone. Better planning so I don't ride into ravines. Water/Gear and other shit. And there many are other things I also learned. BELIEVE ME, I may seem nonchalant about it right now and that "it's funny". It's not really funny, I'm just really happy to be here. It was a scary experience and I was scared. I do not wish to repeat it. I got a good story out of it, and I think I'm wiser for the experience.

I'm always up for constructive solutions though.

8. Those bags are stupid!

Those bags not only prevented more damage to my bike than I got, but they were also the only reason I was able to pick the bike up as many times as I did. After I crushed the right pannier in a bit, it was MUCH hard to pick up. Plus I was 140 miles from home. Those panniers had rain gear, cold gear, and tools. It could have been a lot colder or wetter at night than it was. Also, my flashlight from the tool kit was a great benefit. If I had to cut barbed wire off my leg, or carve some shavings off a logs for fire tender, the multitool would have came in handy. Also, there were items to fix a flat, add oil, stuff to make a splint and etc etc.... If I had water and food I would've been all set. If I had carried a bunch of stuff on my body instead, I think I would have been more wore out or more injured.

9. On sat phones/GPS tracker/SAT Alert Devices.

I've been researching them this week, I haven't decided which one I want to go with. Not that they are THAT expensive, but it seems like the companies have very levels of shadiness. I've heard people say Spot is the devil, delorme is a wallet rapist, and then there are devices that seem like some people have never bought nor used. So I haven't decided yet. Sat phones are probably prohibitively expensive though. Two-way texting seems awesome, but probably not necessary I guess, it might even detract from the adventure.

10. It's hard to walk away from the bike.

Yeah, absolutely. I recall a recent Les Stroud episode, where he was in a winter scenario in a car. He said something to the effect that it's hard to walk away from your vehicle and the comforts it provides. It's true.

Lets discuss the motorcycle though. Mine is a big, red blob. If a helicopter was dispatched, which was going to happen in the morning, they would have found my bike relatively quick. Now me personally, I was dressed in red and white and was also high vis, but I'm not a bike. Actually, my bike had red high vis logos pointed to the sky, I'm sure it would have stood out. Then my bike had clothing, tools, a battery (easy to start a fire with), and many other things that could have helped in a survival situation. It might have been better to stay with it.

If I had walked to the Gentry complex to the east, and found water in that frac tank, I may have returned to my bike to grab a dry bag, and used it to store water. Then I could have made a bonfire in the clearing I was in (using oil, gas, and the battery; fire danger was allegedly low). If I had tossed some green plant matter on that fire it would have signaled every forest ranger in the area.

However, there was no water I could find at Gentry, I was reasonably sure in my ability to walk 10 miles before day break, and I wasn't particularly interested in causing a scene. I'm not saying my plan was the best plan, but it's southern New Mexico. There are black bears, not grizzlies (that I know of). There are coyotes, not wolves. Mountain Lions are few and far between. I was wearing thick shin-high boots, and armored gear, I wasn't THAT concerned about snakes. I was relatively sure I could make it out and self rescue. If I was more hurt, I might have just (or had to) stay put.

I knew there were campers, I knew there were cows (which need water), I knew there were ranches, and I knew there was some kind of town to the east. It was just a matter of finding something in the inky blackness before the cavalry was sent for real and things got expensive.

11. Any of those falls could have been a broken ankle or worse.

It was 3 falls, and a dozen drops/pickup. It was a stopped fall/drop when I stopped in some rocks, it was an in motion ejection (bad) when I contacted a boulder, and then it was a drop in soft dirt. Most of the other pickups/drop were a result of the first drop and getting it out of the rocky ravine/gully area. Granted I could have been hurt in any of them, but I did have some hard plastic motorcross boots. I'm not saying a broken ankle is impossible, but it would have been a neat trick. The reason it was dropped/picked up some many times is because I was off the bike, pushing it over stones trying to get it up a hill/out of a pit. It was difficult to do anything while sitting on it, because of the soft/unlevel terrain.

Believe me when I say, for the most part I did try to prevent injury. Motorcycling is inherently dangerous, but so is driving a car, stepping out of the shower, or cooking in the kitchen. I'll do my best to avoid risk to a point, but you can have problems doing anything, it's just important to try to be prepared.

12. Amoeba

I was really worried about that water, so worried I went to the hospital when my throat started hurting. This kind of water kills people, in particular I've heard of lots of cases of lethal stagnant water in Louisiana. I guess it was either cleaner than I thought, I'm sturdier than I thought, or I lucked out. I tried to filter it, the cows were drinking it, people used to drink after livestock, blah blah blah. I don't know, I usually carry iodine pills in my hydration pack and will continue to do so, and I will remember to bring it next time. Not just brain eating amoeba, but any one of hundreds of things that'll give you the walking shits, vomitaganzas, or otherwise incapacitate you.

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Snarky screwed with this post 10-10-2012 at 02:33 PM
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:59 PM   #27
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Snarky, that was a good response. It clarifies a lot of things too. For example, you really just want to ride that big bike on groomed dirt roads. I think that is great, and I use my bikes much the same way. So that is the limit of what you should attempt!

The learning is about recognizing when you are in trouble. 600 pound motorcycles are not Jeeps. Neither are 300 pound or 200 pound motorcycles. Because we have to balance and keep momentum up to achieve balance, no motorcycle is a Jeep. I repeat, off-roading on a motorcycle is an acquired skill.

I encourage you to keep acquiring the skills. You see ads picturing 600 pound motorcycles strafing the outback. They don't. It's all staged. Dakar has only 450cc limits. Why is that? Because the big bikes were too dangerous to field.

Thanks for the great story, though. We all loved it.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:58 PM   #28
Unbunch yer panties!
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Hoo boy! This:

Oh, and if a particular route isn't working out, it isn't likely to START working out later on.


reminds me of more than one dumb thing I've done....

When in doubt, PIN IT! It may not help, but it'll sure end the suspense...
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:21 PM   #29
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First off, glad you made it out ok. I've very nearly been in a similar situation and its pretty sobering when you realize that any number of things could've happened differently and resulted in no one finding your body for weeks.

I have a couple suggestions. One, make sure you leave some sort of map of the general area for a loved one and point out where you'll be and your expected return time. I know you said your fiance called for a search party, but it's not clear if she (or you for that matter) knew the rough location.

While its not always wise to leave the area, sometimes it is our best option. Especially when we're in an area where it's unlikely we'll be found. In that event, leave a note in an obvious place on the bike with information about your situation, direction you're heading and emergency contact information. You mentioned earlier that if someone were looking, they'd likely find the "red blob" of a motorcycle first. This is absolutely true. I know if I found it, I'd immediately look for a rider. It would dramatically improve your chances of being found if I knew where to look.

FWIW, I did search and rescue and EMS for several years.
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:07 PM   #30
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You say the road was marked on the map? Which road was this, number or name. The Lincoln National Forest just redid their maps within the last year or so and I don't know of any true roads that are on the map that also are restricted to vehicle width, which is how you described it.

Just curious which road you actually think you were on. I am pretty positive you were on an old closed road.
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