Sunday, May 07, 2006

Honest Dirt

Mission: Explore the off road capability of the my KLR650 (SwampThing) with an eye toward suspension evaluation and determination of required upgrades if any. Further, evaluate my own off road skills as relates to a heavyweight dualsport.

Modus Operandi: Meet with some fellas from work who are twostroke devotees riding from 100cc to 250cc Japanese twostrokes with a KTM 250 for good measure.


Claude and JACIII (me): Claude was my excellent host for this outing and rides a Suzuki RM250. Good steady rider who occasionally has flights of impulsive behavior like trying to follow Kyle up hills only the soft of head desire to go.

Eddie and his boy Kyle: Eddie hales from Monticello, Ky. and is a Jekyll and Hyde type of rider. Mild mannered and soft spoken off the bike but he changes when strapped to a KDX200. Nuts. The only time you'll see him is at the trail head and back at the truck. Some demon possesses him when he gets on a bike. His boy Kyle, at least, lets ya' know he is crazy from the get go. In the time it took to Claude and me to unload our bikes Kyle had managed to ride and drop all four of the other bikes there. On purpose. Kyle rides a KTM 250 and it's a beast.

Larry and The Kid: Larry is also a coworker and quite a large boy. He has limited motorcycle experience and rode one of Eddie's bikes as his guest. Recipient of the most creative waterhole crossing award. The Kid (don't know his name) showed up on an old Suzuki 100cc four stroke with no knobs in the center of the back tire. A game rooster if ever there was one.

The Tale:
We all met at an OHV area in the Daniel Boone National Forest called “S-Tree”. There are three trails we on the agenda: The Five Miler, The Nine Miler, and The 20 Miler. I don't think that's their appropriate designation, but these boys are from Monticello and Winchester. By God.
All was well and the bikes were unloaded without incident which led to some impromptu ride swapping. The others were dubious about the KLR's ability to negotiate the trails. I figured if ATV's could handle it the SwampThing could too. I chose what I thought was a light loadout of only a tankbag on the mighty SwampThing.

Five Miler:
This is a piece of work. The forest service has actually laid pavers down at water crossings and up some hills to prevent silting and erosion. It's pretty damned tight throughout and I kept worrying about the slime that likes to grow on rocks underwater making the front wash out and flopping me to the ground. I later learned there is enough traffic through there to keep such stuff at bay, but it was in the back of my mind nonetheless. I took the last position in the group so as not to hold anyone up with my behemoth. My biggest extra-trail excursion occurred in a deep left hander that looked to be a safe berm shot when my front tire initially refused to climb the berm wall to let me start my line high. The front then grabbed all at once and shot me straight up the three foot berm into a foot wide tree. Crunch. It took ten minutes to get the bike free and back on the trail. I eventually made it to where the rest of the fellas had stopped for a break when I noticed my temperature gauge pegging. I shut down and commence work to get the fan going again. Eddie and I worked at bending the radiator back into place and getting the fan some turning clearance, but became frustrated so Claude had to do it. It was then that I realized I was still running road pressure in my tires. While Claude was finishing up with the fan I aired the tires down to safe dirt pressures. What a difference! The rest of that trail was uneventful but really fun. Think rollercoaster with your own gas pedal and small jumps every fifty feet!

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