Topic: Savior Ride Report - CT (long)
Posted: 09/22/2003 9:26:47 PM
I'll call it Savior, because that may have been what happened. The fellow Dean in this story had been bummed for awhile, and hasn't ridden in 10 months. This was his first day out since last November, and has been in the dumps personally (long story, but we've all been there at some point). "Dave" is out very own member Dave_cl. Absorb the healing power that is riding a dirtbike...
I hate starting a ride report because there always has to be some kind of "intro" to set up the whole excursion, and this is no exception. I guess I'd have to begin by meeting a local dewd here in CT that had never been to Thomaston Dam, CT but wanted to. I offered last week to show him around on Sunday, and he accepted. Although his weapon of choice was the venerable "BRP" (XR650L), most guys I know that ride these can handle pretty much anything, so I had no issues with his ability at the time (and didn't need to, evidently). After the promise to Big Dave, I got around to seeing who else I knew could go. After several "wife won't let me" and "got other plans" excuses, I decided to call Dean. A while back I wrote to see how things were, and he mentioned he needed to get out sometime. I agreed. I was glad when I called that he said he was "90% sure" he would go. Good enough for me.
Sunday rolls around and I get my sorry butt up at 7am to drive an hour to my cousin's, then another 40min to Lake Zoar in W. CT to go waterskiing. Surprisingly, the morning was absolutely perfect for the Near-Equinox, the water warm, and the skiing smooth as glass. From there, it was a short 15 minutes to the Dam, my arms already feeling like a Jell-o mold from hell, thanks to the Ski Nautique boat w/ a friggin Ford V-8 under the hood pulling my arms out of the sockets for a few hours. I pull in around 2:30, and as I drive across the Dam, I remembered how Dave described himself:
"I'll be on a XR650L, brown bomber jacket, and black full-face street helmet." I picked him out of the 20 other Power Ranger look-alikes in about 2 seconds from 100 yards away. No one could have stood out more in a crowd than this guy! Shaking my head at his jeans & work-boots, I couldn't help but think this guy is probably pretty good anyway, and didn't think I'd have to worry about him a bit. We introduced and BS'ed as I geared up in my new pants, jersey, and helmet (all BADLY NEEDED), and felt like all the friggin' posers I laugh at when they show up with new, clean gear. At least my boots were still muddy from The Bog. Before heading out, I needed to call Dean to see if he somehow found another 10% between Friday night and today to make it. He answered his phone as 2 guys on noisy 2-strokes went flying by. I think he knew who it was. "I'm on my way, about ½-hour out!" he yelled. "SWEET! We'll head out on a short loop and meet you at my truck!"
Set, ready to ride, and stoked to see Dean, Dave turns left to loop around the parking lot as I let the XR4 warm up a few seconds. I shift into first and can hear the BRP behind me. I gun it, but 10' later, Dave comes flying by on my left, almost clipping my bars and power-skids to a stop directly in my path! I slam on both front and rear brakes, coming within 3 feet of T-Boning my new acquaintence - and we haven't even left the parking lot! "This guy is nuts!" I think to myself, as he circles around me again, "Is he part Indian?!" Without waiting for the arrows and tomahawks, I fly up the trail away from him. I don't think I want this guy in front right now! Having been here quite a few times already, I've become familiar with the trails, and the quickest, easiest ways to negotiate the roots, rocks, whoops, and (again today) mud. I took Dave on a quick loop of the really rocky stuff so he'd get a feel for it (tho' he informed me he likes the technical stuff - damn sicko on a BRP650), and he kept up better than even I thought. Heading out to the central access road, we took a tour down it to show Dave the trail sections that loop off the road, and to get an idea of the terrain so he won't be left behind. I say this because Dean literally smoked me when we came here last year, and assumed Dave and his BRP couldn't keep up with his GasGas and my familiarity of the trails. Never underestimate a guy in a brown leather bomber jacket. We cruised through the southbound trails, getting wet, muddy, and warmed up. Dave seemed to really like the terrain, but since he was wearing a full-face street helmet, I couldn't tell (?) I took him down to the big open area where real spodes ride in circles and not much else to find a guy on a CR250 and his girlfriend puttering around in (what else) circles, her in front, learning how to ride his rocket (hehe, had to get that in. He DID have a smile on his face - couldn't tell w/ her, she was wearing the only helmet). Dave asked before if there were any hill-climbs, and the only sorta-difficult one is from here, back up to the parking lot. We blasted up the hill, fishtailed through the gravel parking lot to find (DRUM-ROLL PLEASE) Dean!!!!
After hugs & handshakes, we waited for Dean to finish gearing up as I re-charged on a malted beverage and fruit-bar given to me by a guy whose bike I helped load. Dean gets the cob-webbed GasGas fired up, and off the Motely Crew goes, Dean in front, me, and Big Dave. Like a rocket, DH takes off, but within a few hundred yards, am right on his tail. WTF? I'm thinking, this isn't right, he should be gone by now! (He told me later he was battling a lung infection or something, and of course it HAD been 10 months or so since he rode last, so he had a good excuse.) At the bottom of a particularly loose, baby-head sized rock downhill, I almost slam Dean from behind. He had stalled-out. Seizing on his spodely move, I jump in front to lead the group. Why anyone would follow me is beyond me, but after an OTE missing a hairpin, I made a wide sweep through the woods to turn around to get back on the trail, and -- YOU GUESSED IT -- Dean and Dave followed me off the trail (?!) thinking I knew a shortcut. Blasting off back on-trail, Dean tried to cut me off by going through the woods, only to stall again 10' from where he could've beat me. I missed another turn further ahead and quickly rode to a cul-de-sac, turned, and rode back to the goof. Not hearing them, I assumed they were in front of me and took chase, riding probably the fastest, most out-of-but-still-in-control-right-on-the-edge style I have heard of people riding, but never got in that zone myself --until now! I have this issue that if I'm in front, I usually ride in control, am careful, and conscious of speed, braking, etc. When taking chase, that all seems to go out the window. I'm looser, I look ahead, I let the bike do what it's supposed to, and don't fight the bike, but let it take me over-around-and-through everything. I never rode so fast through this shit -- ever. After a while, and not catching them, I begin to wonder if they shot off to the road. At another junction I stop, arms pumped up from around 15 miles already (on top of waterskiing), and figure hell, if they're that far ahead, screw-em.
Sitting at a nice peaceful spot for a few minutes, I hear the low rumbling of a 4s, and figure it's someone else. Nope. Dave, the Big Brown Bomber on the Big Red Pig rides up, Dean right behind him. I think, "You gotta be kidding me! I just almost killed myself trying to catch you guys, and you weren't even in FRONT OF ME!!!" Apparently, Dean tried to wheelie up a crappy rock section and had his own OTE. No problem. We stop for a few to let Dean find the lungs he coughed up, put them back in, down some badly-needed water, and finish the last nasty part of this loop. Leading the way again, we go though a new re-route that I'd never taken. It was way narrow, with a steep drop to the right, but for the most part a fun up-and-down with some steeps and squirrely downhill. At one point, I was about 30-45 seconds ahead, when I hung the front tire up between 2 big rocks. Momentum carried my crotch into the gas tank (thank God XRs have that 'barrier', and I wear biking shorts with a pad), went to put my right foot down and -- missed. Off I go to the right, head first and backwards landing about 10' downhill. My new helmet just earned it's money, as well as my body armor and elbow/tricep pads for the ump-teenth time. LESSON #1: Get the friggin equipment and wear it, no matter how good you THINK you are! I was literally stopped when I bailed, but could be in a coma right now. Plopping through the last downhill to the access road went without any incident, and we stormed off towards the first southbound section, thankful for the breeze 40mph gives after sweating through 4 miles of rocks, roots, and mud. Swapping leads through the first few sections of trail, I ended up behind Dave, who, instead of using hand signals to slow me down when we came upon the sneaky trailheads, started using his turn signals. Good thinking!
I had hoped these last sections would go without incident, but alas - no friggin chance. All the bikes made it through every waterhole and mudpuddle no problem until a particularly slick, rutted out section. Dean in the lead had the disadvantage of being guinea pig, and managed to plonk his bike in the deepest rut I've ever seen. Y'know how they tell you to look where you want to go, and not in front of your tire? Well, I happened to be looking at Dean at the time and got lined up in the same rut 20' behind him. This mud was the kind you used to make ashtrays for your chainsmoking grandma in grade school. Footing was ridiculous, and it stuck to everything. Dean, with his Carpe Diem attitude, grabbed his camera and handed it over to me to document the Freeing of the GasGas. I think I got one picture where his handlebars are below his knees standing next to it, and Dean stands 6'1" or so! After the blue bike was freed, I figured I can get the front wheel out of the rut and up the side bank. Right. I promptly put it right where Dean did. And he put his camera away. No big deal. Blue stuck bike/red stuck bike - same difference....stuck. After a few more power-cleans, we got mine out and the planets were once again aligned. Knowing we were nearing the end of the days ride, we settled into a nice easy pace, enjoying the serpentine sections that weave through canopies of bushes, forming tunnels one needs to duck through so you don't get grabbed by the vines and prickers. At one more section, I was in the lead, rounded a corner, and properly slammed on the brakes. Remember that rut? This section was 3x as long, with about 4 ruts through it. I hopped off, pushed the bike away from it, got back on and waited for Dean. Although I couldn't see his face through his helmet, we were thinking the same thing. Short-cut! Maneuvering around this mess, we stepped up the last section of trail back to the parking lot without incident, flying though the whoops, rocks, and roots with glee -- we made it!
Coming to the trucks, Dean slams on his brakes and just...drops his bike, exhausted. Removing his helmet, though, the grin on his face reveals the exorcizing of a few demons, and an orgasmic relief. It's like what we all feel during, and for a few moments after, a tough ride. For that period of time, our thoughts are on every sight, sound, touch, smell and sensation. It occupies every part of you when you ride because it HAS to. If just one of your senses lapses, you screw up. When it all comes together, though...just for a few hours...any and all other thoughts dissipate, and you are totally and completely in the "NOW". It's why I ride. And hopefully, for a few hours, my good friend Dean's thoughts were on "NOW". Dave gets the mad props of the day for doing those trails on the BRP. I thought my XR4 way a heavy sucka to throw around, but "Dave_cl" showed this lightweight that no matter what the XR, it'll get you there and back if you're willing to make the effort. Great day Dave!
Hope y'all enjoyed the write up...
Reply by dave_cl on 09/23/2003 09:19:44 AM
Must be a sign, EastCoast. I started reading this and on comes Primus... "My Name Is Mud". No kidding.
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