Posted: 08/09/2006 10:02:04 AM
Sunday August 6, 2006
Randy, Koyote, dave_cl (Dave)
Location: Tug Hill Area, Tug Hill Plateau, near barnes Corners NY.
Randy, Koyote, and I met up at Tuggers Bar and Grill at about 10am, Randy on the DRZ 400 TriSport (SuperMoto, Street,Off-road), Koyote on his KTM625 (2nd ride on it), and I on my XR650L. We hit the road, and then after about a mile the guys had to wait for me as I returned to the truck for my knapsack/camelback (thanks for waiting for me guys- not that I couldn't have followed the dust!).
We zorched around a bit looking for trails (the area has dirt roads, nasty dirt roads, nasty rocky dirt roads, truck trails, quad trails, and snowmobile trails), and we spotted trail #1.
Trail1 had a good start to it, but it just looped back up to the road in about 75 feet (what the heck?).
2nd trail we found went a bit further- it went a few hundred feet down a hill, and stopped at a swamp. Maybe we could make it through the rest of the trail, maybe not, but I chimed in it might be nice to get some riding in before we had to test our extrication skills. I don't think the guys minded too much.
Trail 3 was fairly tight (about as tight as a quad trail gets) and had a nice twisty, closed-in, dry-and-wet aspect to it. One big puddle had some invisible bottom ruts (all big puddles had hidden ruts, rocks, roots), Randy got crossed up and took a semi-bath, as did the Z. A little cranking with the throttle wide open, and he was good to go. This trail had a good sized log across it (and the inevitable quad go-around so they can avoid anything interesting), and everyone always needs log-crossing practice, which was proven as the seat gave me a fair boot as the rear wheel went over the log- I didn't get it quite right, I didn't keep the power on enough to keep the front end up. Unfortunately, the sight of my getting kicked up in the air was enough to dissuade Randy or Koyote from giving it a try. Trail 3 didn't *end* at the swamp, but the trail just waded in like a boat ramp... if the bottom was firm and the way clear it might have been do-able, but the water looked to be about 3 feet deep, muddy as heck, and had fallen trees across the trail both above and below the water. There was not going to be enough traction to loft the front wheel over those trees, so we begged off. We tried a go-around trail, but it ended at a swamp. Just a note for those riding in the Adirondacks and the surrounding areas- work on those narrow trail turn-around skills, you're going to be doing that a lot!
4th trail- Somewhere between a truck trail and a quad trail, typical combination of dry and wet sections. 50-foot waterhole with a drain-pipe across the middle, surprise! Other side of the pipe is a bit deeper. This trail had the long waterhole we got the pics at, and we turned back at a waterhole a coupla-hundred-feet long. I think we might have tried it if we had more folks to help free a stuck bike- the bottom didn't look too bad, but we could only see a small portion of this beastie. It didn't build my confidence that we could hear a coupla quads in the distance that easily could have been struggling to free themselves from the other side.
Trail number 5 had its own particular charms- a tight turn with a small downhill led to a nasty looking half-buried pipe down in a ditch, not difficult to cross but if you came up on it quick, you'd be a hurtin' unit. This trail of course ended at a quick downhill into a swamp (there's a pattern here...), we reversed course (Adirondack turnaround skills are a must) and tried a side-branch off the trail. This petered out, I wooly-boogered a bit further and found the trail ended at a soft area that the teraflex might have been able to churn through, but looked like it would eat a lesser tire for lunch. While Randy and Koyote spent some time referring to the semi-useful map, I romped around the little hills and obstacles at the end of the trail. It was just thin enough to be able to pick a line and have some fun with no trail.
Trail 6 ended in a backyard in about 75'- yet another opportunity to practice turning around.
Next we hit a truck trail (really rough narrow road) that ended at another road that had a bridge out. While backtracking around that on some pavement, I was leading and Randy found out the hard way my brake-light was stuck on (sorry, dude.) Minor thing, my handguard was pressing against my bent-up brake lever, but a good working brake light is a must if you're going to be doing pavement. Its way too easy to be able to stop quick enough that without warning, smacko. This problem was sson to take care of itself, however.
We did some road scooting (paved and dirt) getting around that damn bridge, eventually we were checking the map when a utility quad came out of a truck trail and told us it was 'a little muddy'. Well, that was a siren song of misadventure to us, so we had to hit it. It wasn't too muddy, but it did have nice little tight turns and large whoops/small hills. We regrouped at a spot on the trail, and I saw a small hill I wanted to try. The trail was about 15 feet below the edge of the hill, and it was all mossy broken ledgerock covered in some leaves and sticks. I headed up it, and right at the top a stick jabbed the shifter (just as the rear tire was clearing the last large rock)which did 3 things:
- Slammed the bike into 2nd, taking away any go-power. (and bent the shifter a bit. again. 3rd time for this shifter, 1st time was in Arkansas.)
- Killed my momentum
- Turned me parallel to the hill
We did some more dashing about, looking for trails, and wending our way towards a gas stop at the Flat Rock Inn. This place was located at the top of the plateau, had a coupla dogs to pet, was surrounded by generating windmills (big and cool to watch), the inside smelled like bacon, and had 93 octane for a trifling $4 a gallon. Had some thoughts here as the quads streamed in to get gas (behind us, so no wait for us!), I think I need to put some thoughts together on the cult of the quad, why it seems the only fun things to do on a quad are kick the rear end out, whip shitties, or wallow in a mud hole (based on observation, mind you), and quads and the illusion of skill.
Next notable was some fast cruising down some fairly nasty back roads, some cool small rolling hills that're like big whoops, and a really rocky, nasty rutted road that was perfect for practicing look-ahead skills. I tend to ride alone, so I tend to ride slow, so I couldn't pass up a chance to really wick it up a bit and see how far 'ahead' I could look and still miss the rocks and ditches. Dusted Randy and Koyote a bit (if it's not wet, it's dusty on the roads), but I figured it was their turn, they'd been guiding and so I'd been tail-end Charlie for a bit. A bit farther on, we found another nice min-quad-width trail that had some nice turns, decent water-holes and mud-holes, and some decent elevation changes. Randy was leading, and just barely got across a deep muck-hole. All water/mud holes up there seem to have a nasty rut in 'em that crosses you up no matter what line you take, and this one was no different. While Randy took a break on the far side (doing his best 2-stroke impression), I tractored through and checked out the trail beyond. Turns out the muck-hole was actually the go-around for a vast mud pit about 100' long, and about 40' wide. For some reason, Koyote decided to wait to cross the slime until Randy checked the trail ahead. The trail hadn't been used in awhile, and surely terminated shortly in a swamp, so we decided to turn around. Was a good chance for a photo op, as the nasty underwater ruts are sure to cause you to get crossed up (and they did), but the cheap digital camera I have decides when it wants to take the pic, so as usual there is no shot of the deepest part. This mud hole was about up to the fenders, but seemed to have a fairly firm base.
Post-mudhole (and looking our best) it was back to Tuggers for lunch. Good burgers, good beer, good company. That's as good as it ever gets.
Randy had to head home (this was about 4, so none of you think he was bailing early), but Koyote and I felt like we could do a bit more mellow riding.
More cruising down some more mellow roads, a truck trail or 2, and a cool trail that wound through the woods and around a creek. Some slick stuff to be sure, the front and back end sliding about on mossy roots and slimy stream-bed ledge rock. Down in here the KTM clutch begins acting like a KTM clutch (harder than hell to pull), but hey, it's a KTM. That's what they do. Shooting down the next road we hit (only about 45 probably, but on these roads, that's a good clip) in search of some waterholes Koyote remembers, he gets caught in a rain-rut near the edge of the road. Damn, I thought, its his 2nd ride since getting the thing and he's going down! He hung in there though, and knew not to wail the brakes or try to fight his way out. he just rode it out and waited until the rut petered out. We found the 'wet' road, the wettest to date, also pretty gnarly for something labeled 'road'. There were 2 waterholes where we stopped and thought a bit before going on, as the road dipped down a bit and it could be anywhere from a foot deep to anything. Both of these were only about 3 feet deep, though, just deep enough that you can here the airbox gurgle a bit. End of that trail, it was time to call it quits- calling it a rough road doesn't do it justice, the ruts and rocks and mud holes demand a fair bit of concentration at speed. We zipped down a few paved roads, one nice straight tempted me to do a top-speed run (with the T-flex, 14-48 gearing, jetting a bit rich for predictability, tractability, and torque, topped at 85 indicated), got back to Tuggers, and I loaded up for the 130-mile trip back down 81. Ride total- about 85 miles.
I have to say a few things about the area;
- I had a blast, not every ride *has* to be tight, technical, and demanding. The riding worked skills that are going to be used in any slick/fast riding environment, so from a pragmatic standpoint, there's plenty of tough stuff that rates as practice.
- Every water/mud hole, you get crossed up in a hidden quad rut. Lots hidden rocks that mostly only I find, as well.
- It's a great area if you have a map and a compass (or GPS) and you want to go to the end of a trail, 'get lost' and see if you can find your way out (any takers for a ride like that in the dry season, in the fall?)
- There were many trails we passed and didn't try, and we only dorked around in one little corner of this place.
Reply by b_king on 08/09/2006 3:17:59 PM
Sounds like a great day of riding! Quite muddy, was it raining recently before the ride? Good mix of bikes, that 625 looks like fun!
Reply by dave_cl on 08/09/2006 3:22:10 PM
Hadn't rained for a fair number of days before hand, I believe. Not sustained, anyway. The DRZ and the 625 both did well, despite being geared a bit high for the tight stuff. D
Reply by 4Putter on 08/10/2006 07:41:40 AM
Dave--Great account of a good, hard day of riding. The area around me here in NJ is similar conditions with the long mud puddles and varying width of trails. The difference is we know these puddles and can cook through them. (rutless.) While I do love trail riding, there are times after a long ride on tight trails that I long for a motocross track or the open hills I used to ride in So-Cal. I got this same longing after reading your post of tight u-turns and rocky, rutty going. I guess you cant have everything...and I dont think my big R would love a motocross track...I'd love to give it a try, though. Nicely written post, Dave. Enjoyed it.
Reply by cracked junior on 08/10/2006 9:03:00 PM
first off. seems you had a good riding day. second that is way to much writing effort
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