Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just Call Me Puddles

"Oh Mother of God. What the hell...ooowwwww jeez. Is there any place that doesn't friggin hurt??"  If it's this painful just soaping up my knees, screw my toes.  They aren't getting washed today.

We haven't had the chance to ride much lately.  A quick trip to Cycle Gear.  Dinner with the Adventure Riders.  40 miles here or there.  Knowing we could get on the bikes this weekend was exciting.  The rain was finally surrounding the weekend...not ruining it.

Dinner at Zuffy's a couple nights back.  The proof that RichardM requested.

Since it had been so long since we have really ridden, I was thinking a nice, leisurely ride to get back into the groove and just take things easy.  Oilburner was thinking it was time to hit the dirt.  It wasn't exactly my ideal ride, I didn't want to have to "think" while riding.  But it was going to make him happy.  I still get the luxury liner GS and he has dibs on the Honda.  he he.

Friday was a late night.  We had been drooling over possible routes to the IMBC2012 in Eastern Oregon.  When we actually drug ourselves out of the house it was nearly lunchtime.  I proposed an old stand-by in the mountains that we used to visit while four-wheelin' in the Jeep.  The idea was enthusiastically accepted.  So I was thinking the jaunt to lunch, a spin around a mountain or two and then home, neat as you please.  We didn't "have" to touch dirt if we didn't want to.

Yeah.  Right.  Like that was really gonna happen.

We did make it to our lunch spot.  Nothing special.  Just Moe's ("Welcome to Moe's").  But we haven't eaten here in over a year.  We sat there enjoying the sun, realizing the day was just too perfect to content ourselves with a small run.

We started thinking of our beloved mountain trails.  Mountains and dirt roads and hiking trails that we had abandoned four years ago when I began obsessing about motorbikes.  What better time to reacquaint ourselves with some old haunts on two most capable bikes?  So yes.  We headed into the land of dirt, gravel, and trees at 2:00 pm, still an hour and a half from home.

At one point in time Oilburner offered to trade bikes while on asphalt.  I told him I would, if I could kick start the darn thing.  I hadn't had any luck in the past, but was game to try again.  No such luck...  I was sweating in my helmet and jacket.  Panting like a dog sitting in 100F heat.  Nope.  No Honda for me just yet.

I was true to my word and handed over the GS to more experienced hands.  I took over the Honda as soon as we hit the dirt.  Be damned that I couldn't turn the kick start over.  I would rather take a tumble from the light weight baby Honda than the might, heavy GS.

OK.  I can do this.  My first foray into dirt.  (for this is what I do consider my first.  I do not count the afternoon spent on Oilburners mid-80's Honda on the sandy washboard roads on California BLM land in a time before helmet laws.) Oh if only I had a helmet then...  Where I could be now??

Well manicured gravel.

So...this isn't so bad.  Yeah, there is ALOT of loose gravel and very little dirt.  And when I say loose?  Very loose, deep, not compacted at all, recently laid type of loose gravel.  Yeah, the bike was skating around a little.  I tell myself to keep my speed down, kept the weight on the pegs, steer with my feet, don't pull the handlebars, and [darn it] don't use the front brake.

That's just way too much rolling back and forth in my head!!

We finally traverse the scariest 2.5 miles of my recent life and approach a crossroad:  Cooper's Gap.

Great.  Just what I need, having to make a hard turn, on dirt, with an audience of 15 Appalachian Trail thru-hikers milling about.  I look left: where most of the hikers are congregated.  I look right: downhill.  Oh hell no!  I would rather face the laughter and applause that would result when I dump myself and my bike in front of hikers than ride downhill!

I toddled along at my normal 20 mph rate just getting comfortable with all these new thoughts and experiences.  Until I encountered another twisty downhill on ball bearings.  My thighs were clamped to that gas tank so tightly I'm surprised I didn't find "Honda" tattooed on them.  I finessed my way with the rear brake...and lived to tell the tale.  By now I was starting to have a little fun.  I still wasn't looking around and enjoying any scenery, but fun none the less.

I remember when I was first learning to ride.  You remember...when 35 mph was like screaming down the lane with your hair on fire?  The world consisted of handlebars, front tire, and the road in front of me for the next 250 feet.  (If the road was straight.)  I conceived of obstacles only when I had to assess how much damage they could do to me if I hit it.  When Oilburner would ask if I was having fun, my standard answer was "Of course not!  I'm learning to ride dammit!  I don't have time to look at the scenery!  Now stop bugging me!"

Yeah, he got that answer again in the forest.  :)  Only this time it wasn't the road 250 feet ahead, it was only 50 feet.  How can I see where the rocks and holes are in the road, distinguishing them through all of the off again on again lanky shadows of trees?

So do you see my problem?

Once I finally realized that it is actually okay to hit most of those rocks and holes things started getting better.  Such a strange, and difficult, thing to overcome.  I mean, learning to ride on the street we are told gravel and rocks are the enemy; avoid at all costs!  Potholes are bad! But on a dirt bike?  No problem!

Hickory Flats Cemetery and Campground.  I kid you not.

Once my sense of self preservation shifted I actually did begin to enjoy myself.  Yes, I am still wussing out on the "manicured" forest service roads.  So we decide to head up to the cemetery, on a slightly less well maintained road.  This road has less loose grave, less traveled.

Here the fun starts in earnest.  Once I learned rocks can't hurt me I veered to hit every single one I could, that wasn't the equivalent of climbing a rock face.  I prefaced my intentions by yelling "ROCK!" in my helmet, then proceeded to giggle like a school girl when that nerdy boy trips over the chalk line of the football field.

There was a constant litany of "Rock!  he he he haw he" over Oilburners speakers.  A veritable laugh track from He-Haw.

But boy-oh-boy...add the water puddles!!  I am now in hog heaven!

I love water puddles.  I can't tell you just how much I love water puddles.  (Oilburner will be nodding his head vigorously as he reads this.)

I'm that girl that enjoys walking in the rain.  I will go out of my way across a parking lot to jump, planting both feet, into any puddle I can find.  I don't care if my shoes and pant legs get soaked.  I'll be laughing.  And heaven help you if you are anywhere nearby.  You are going to get wet, so watch out.

In Southern California, the land of no rain with torrential 5-minute downpours that fill up the drainage system so quickly that the street drains can't hope to catch up, blocking the outside lane of the streets kind of deluge.  I drove a 4x4 Blazer and had no fear of that lane. While people were crawling along in the inside lanes, I was flying through 8 inch deep rivers in the outside lanes, kick up SHEETS of water.  I discovered the cost of my glee in the grinding of a rusted out starter much later.  Meh...what's the cost of a starter compared to that fun?

Yeeaaahhh...there were puddles on this road...

My new war cry became "Rock!!  he he he... Puddle! (insert evil laughter here)."

It was only on the way back out that I conceived of maybe stopping with my rear tire in the puddle to attempt creating a rooster tail of mud to tag Oilburner with.  (And no, I didn't care if it also hit my bike.)  But I wasn't yet sure enough of my proverbial footing to attempt a "burnout" on the throttle.  I contented myself with making as much mess as I could for my abilities now.  The rest will come in time.  (BBbbbwwwwaaahahahahaha.)

Super Man!

As soon as we reached paved road again I was stopped and insisting on getting the GS back.  Only 30 miles of dirt, but it was a great time.

Time to change back to my GS...  :)

The overall trip was tempered by the erratic, undependable kick start on the Honda.  Sometimes it would start within the first couple kicks (for Oilburner).  Sometimes it took a couple minutes of trying.  I was reluctant to stop for photographs fearing it might stop for good in the middle of the forest.

The forest was fine.  The problem occurred on the way home.  We were on the highway to speed things along for a couple miles knowing we would need to fuel the Honda soon.  We just didn't realize how soon with the toll the highway speed was taking.  We made it to the top of the off-ramp where we actually were going to exit, when the Honda suddenly went quiet.  No warning even??  Flipping over to reserve, and no amount of kicking or swearing would alleviate the quietness of that engine.  The good news?  There is a gas station, on the right, on the other side of the overpass.  Exactly opposite where we were. And hey, it was mostly dowhill-ish to it.  The bad news?  Gonna have to push...  My multiple sclerosis training came in very handy as I was able to run behind him, flashers blinking.

We fueled up, it started up.  I didn't want to tempt fate by turning it off.  I just wanted to continue home.  We were still 45 minutes from home.  After the grunt labor Oilburner wanted to take a breather.  Yeah...that "breather" lasted about half an hour as he wailed and wailed on that kick start to no avail.  He thought he was tired and thirsty after pushing the machine for 300 yds?  He was plum worn out and breathless after trying to start it.

We eventually made it home, well after dark, and very grumpy with the machine and a few near misses with cars on the way home.  Since then Oilburner has replaced the chain, sprockets, chain guides, pulse generator (for that pesky kick starter), stator, and a couple other parts I can't remember.  The inside of the engine is very clean and has been well maintained in the past.  The new pulse generator means it usually starts on the third kick...for him.  I haven't yet tried my luck at it again.

Look how clean its guts are!

Pulse Generator

As for those 30 miles and thigh tight death grip?  Oh my goodness I was damn sore the next morning!!!  The toes did not get washed.

Basking in the sun of the day.

Sparkling dust.  If only it were solid gold.

Dirty, sandy, grimy, gritting chain.


  1. BeemerGirl:

    It would appear you had a great day. of course any day you get to ride is great. I have no dirt experience so I stay away from it. My bike it too heavy anyway

    I know you mentioned it twice, so if you need your toes washed, I'll be right over . . .

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. While that is a mighty kind offer, Oilburner was quite accommodating with his husbandly responsibilities. Laughing his A$$ off, but useful. Isn't that the proper use of the toilet bowl brush??

  2. Welcome to the world of dirt! addictive ah!?

    Youa re gonna have a lot of fun with that bike...just take a can of fuel next time..hehehhe.

    1. Unfortunately I can see it becoming extremely addictive... As you saw, it opens up a whole new world of roads...

  3. "Of course not! I'm learning to ride dammit! I don't have time to look at the scenery! Now stop bugging me!"
    lol - I so get this statement!

    You make the dirt riding sound so fun though, being off the main roads, in the quiet woods. The picture of you riding along the dirt road looks so good! I love the thought of exploring dirt roads that snake off to adventures.

    Why is it an audience is always at the ready when you need to do some manuever? They're never around when you do something brilliant!

    Awesome write up! Love this stuff :)

    1. I so well remember the days of learning to ride. And I remember Oilburner extremely puzzled why I wasn't having fun. "Just look around and see the scenery!!". Yeah. Right. As if. Hehehe

      The dilemma between bicycle or motorcycle on those roads must be difficult. The bicycle allows you to hear the birds and wind in the trees. The motorcycle would allow you to go farther and get to hidden spots. I equate it to water craft levels. Kayakers looked down on jet skiers typed thing.

      I'm glad you liked the adventure. I had so much fun and really wanted to share.

  4. Looks like an absolute ball. I've had my GS for a couple of seasons and never really understood what it was there for until it was parked on the farm. Now I'm obsessed with getting the damned thing on a trail, but I think I need some friends to show me how it's done or I'll kill myself. Yeesh. I'm looking forward to when I can finally get to it, though.

    Behind Bars

    1. I would think that your 650 is going to be an absolute BLAST! I was thinking that the Trans American Trail (TAT) might be something for you to explore, but it is in Oklahoma. Can you say vacation? I've been trying to look up some nearby riding groups, but not much success yet. I have a feeling you can go hang out at the local dealers and mechanics and find a good group of guys to ride with. ;) You're just gonna have to take it slow and have some fun. Always the MSF offload course...

  5. Awesome ride report. I can just picture you riding through the puddles hollaring in your helmet and laughing.

    I can only imagine how sore you were. and I feel for you. Our ride was only on paved roads and we were both sore the next day. The price we pay for only short rides all winter. You'll be bounced back and ready for another round in no time.

    Was Oilburner sore from all of that kick starting and pushing? Well and the laughing, that can be exercise too........

    1. Isn't that the truth? These short rides are not good for keeping muscle tone. Hehe. I think you are I are just gonna have to bite the bullet and take some longer adventures in the near future. Build that endurance back up.

      Yes, Oilburner was just as sore. The house almost sounded like a nursing home with all of the groans and reluctance to put socks on.

  6. Kick=starting a 600cc is more work than I'd like to do on a good day. And, it does sound like a good day....

    The little details about running out of gas, pushing the "machine" 500 miles to a gas station, getting home afterdark, etc. I suspect will become laughable memories soon enough....if not already.

    The last post was about sex and now this one all about getting down, dirty and wet. Am I noticing a theme here?

    1. Circle blue, I am agreeing with you on the kick start issue. However, I do think Oilburner has that resolved with the new stator. He says it has been starting on the second or third kick each time.

      As for the "all in good time"...i was finding it amusing at the time. ;) Just kidding. Yes, we look better on it now. The 3 near misses we had in the way home made the rest if the day seem like a stroll through the forest.

      Theme? Hmmmm...mayhap. Spring is in the air after all. Good thing I cleaned up the name of this post. It was almost such much worse. ;)

  7. Oh, the poor toes. ;)

    Glad to see you having "fun," at least.

    1. Dirty toes so much better than stubbed toes. ;) Thank you. It was fun going over some of the old roads.

  8. I chuckled (sympathetically of course) through this whole post, dirt riding can be a challenge and completely opposite to street riding. I was fortunate to learn in the dirt then progress to street which is much easier to do than the other way around. I still have to think about the transition to and from gravel forestry roads on the Tiger and back to paved roads.
    I was surprised how sore we were after a 100 mile ride last weekend, proving winter truly does suck.

    1. Sympathetically?? Should I believe that? Hehe. You do have an advantage starting on dirt. It gives one a much better sense of what different road conditions feel like. A little sand a gravel on pavement is approached so much differently depending on where you started learning. Oilburner also learned as a dirt rider and did have fun laughing with me. But at least your Tiger is built for those transitions. Yes...winter is rough...but think of the fun you will have increasing your endurance. :)

  9. ROCK!!!!!!!! PUDDLE!!!!!!! ROCK!!!!!!!! lol I laughed, usually what I scream in my helmet is 'Holy Crap!' I haven't ridden in dirt, but I di like puddles! We get some pretty heavy rains and I take great pleasure riding through puddles when I am driving the Westy Van. When I was learning to ride last year I wasn't paying any attention to the scenery, now I chill out and enjoy the beauty around me more. We have a finicky Honda too, the hub's bike isn't very happy right now and I had to push start his bike a few times today. We need to figure out what's up with his beast & fix it.


    1. Hi Dar! Yes...I have screamed holy crap plenty of times. Especially when my street bike, with street tires found the gravel roads unintentionally. Just keep it slow and driving on ice. ;)

      I'm glad that you are feeling more comfortable on the bike and enjoying the scenery, it just gets better with time and practice. Like we really need another excuse to get out and ride... Hehe

      I can't believe you pushed his beast!!! I admire you for that one. I would have pointed Oilburner down the sloping driveway. You are dedicated. But I hope it is fixed soon so you won't be doing that again!

  10. I'd say you have a ripping good time- often.

    1. You are completely correct! The smile on my face said it all. Funny how scary things an quickly turn into good times! Thanks for visiting!

  11. OK then Lori, your wish is my command - from henceforth I will call you Puddles.

    All the best from Little Puddlington, N

    1. sweet. Mrs. Nikos has taught obedience. ;). Puddles is better than Piddles any day of the week.

      And we should be able to call you Puddles too with all the water hopping you have been doing! :)

  12. A great ride report to serve as my initial intro to your blog....very nice...I like your writing style and perspective. Crashing through water is a lot of fun, isn't it?


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    1. Hi Dom! Thank you for the wonderful compliment! I'm glad to share puddles in common. I can imagine driving a sidecar through them and washing up bigger sheets!!