GETTING ON THE ROAD
The plan was to ride three days towards Cedar City, Utah to meet a group of riders from LA (one of which was a good friend from DC, Marie) and then follow them for a 4th day into Moab, Utah. Setting out was a bit of a rush unfortunately. I completed a lot of last minute tasks and just threw gear into my bike without any organization or consideration of true need. I figured I would organize and identify things on the road. I was already three hours behind and needed to leave.
Starting off I could notice a wobble in the handling of the bike. I assumed this was due to the added weight and that it wasn’t properly balanced. The bike was manageable to control still, so off I went. Traveling into west Texas was no surprise as to what the terrain would look like and the possibility of wind. – – As I write this I can hear coyotes / wolves (are they in the Rockies? must be coyotes) howling all around me. I will admit it to be a mix of awe and a fearful chill. – – As the sun was getting low I started to look for some places to duck off of the road and camp (wild camping). I saw many opportunities of dirt roads leading into trees or dilapidated farm houses. I didn’t stop however as I noticed them a bit too late to stop safely and I wanted to squeeze in a few more miles. In hindsight I wish I had made one of those stops, but I didn’t. I decided to go a few more miles and turn right onto a dirt road that I could see well in advance. Looked perfect.
I DID IT WRONG
Turning onto the road was perfect. It was poorly maintained dirt road and had trees on both sides. Easy to hide the bike and camp in peace. Even better, some water had puddled up in the tracks from other cars. Splash – I hit it perfectly and a V of dirty water went everywhere. It was what this bike was built for and lucky me that there was a smaller one ahead. Splas-heei-no-smash – Well the second one didn’t go so well. I managed to get thrown over the front right side of the bike as it got tossed into the ditch. And of course it lands on my bad ankle, but that was the least of my concern as I wanted to make sure the bike was okay. The bike appeared to be fine but it was resting in the mud in a bad angle. I couldn’t lift it up immediately due to the weight. I was alone on some dirt road that doesn’t appear to be traveled often. Everything happened so quickly that I wasn’t too sure what happened. The bike was not going anywhere so I reviewed the tracks in the dirt and discovered that my rear wheel, which has a lot of weight on it, had left the ground for about 4 feet. This would indicated that I grabbed the front brake causing the weight to shift forward. The tracks indicated that I didn’t do that stupid move until the bike had jolted out of the rut heading straight for the ditch. My conclusion, even days later, was that the added weight plus the large gas tank with fluid sloshing back and forth caused me to lose stability in the front end. It jerked me out and I applied the wrong brake. All in all, it was all my fault.
With that realization, there was nothing to do other than to get to work. I placed my jacket on the road and started to transfer items out of the cases to reduce the weight. I also removed the right side panier as it was causing issue as well. I was about to attempt to lift the bike when a lady drove up next to me. She obviously couldn’t help me physically and I was really about to lift it up and get out. So I just smiled as she pulled alongside me and stated that I did it wrong. She was glad I was okay and was on her way after I assured her that I was good.
Using my little shovel and hands, I dug out the right side of the bike in order to lay it back down. That then allowed me to clear the chain of all the smelly goop. I then used my machete to cut off some branches. I filled the tire hole with some logs and branches and then layered the rest of the ditch with more branches. I WILL have traction dang it. With a bit of a struggle here or there, it worked and I had moved the bike onto the dry patch of the ditch. Unfortunately only the surface was dry and I could feel the bike starting to sink again. I wasn’t playing this game anymore. The bike was now high enough up the ditch that I just laid it back down and pulled it up onto the road. Nearly 2 hours and 20 feet later, the bike was out. Just in time too as it was 9PM and there was no light left.
I packed up the gear and hopped back onto the muddy machine. I was done with this side road and was aware that a rest area was just a few miles up to road. I could drive there and fix my bike up. Insult to injury, the bike fell back over once I arrived at the rest stop as I was just too exhausted to catch it. I sat there for a few minutes and just smiled. Some luck. Over the next few hours I would toss a few things that I didn’t need and properly balance the bike. Around 1AM I was finally able to lay down on the cement and go to sleep. It was only 3 hours of bad sleep, but sleep nonetheless. All I left to do was to clean the thick mud off the bike before it turns rock hard. In the next town I found a self-service car wash and spent 10$ meticulously cleaning the bike and what mud I could reach on my gear. What an adventure, and I was only into day one of my gear check ride. What could the sunrise bring me on day 2.
Goodnight bike, we’re done here.