September 4th 2015 – The subtitle for this post should be “Nothing broken, on me or the bike”.
I never appreciated how challenging riding a dirt bike was until today. By the same token, I did not appreciate how easy it was to ride a 1000cc sport bike until today.
I feel like my body has been run through an egg beater.
This is the first time I’ve ridden a dirt bike (since I was about ten and that was only once) and to be frank, I hurt like hell after a full day of beating the shit out of my body on some punishing terrain. And I know that where we were wasn’t even that hard compared to what’s out there.
Kirk bought me dirt bike lessons for Christmas but it’s taken us this long to manage to get them in. I don’t think I’d call them lessons really, it was more of “…here’s how it starts, …why don’t you play in the parking lot for a few minutes…everything’s good? Right then…let’s go!”
And off we went.
Loose rocky hills, low lying tree branches whipping me in the face, wet mucky parts. The morning leg seemed challenging, even though it was a “green” trail (they mark them like ski runs – personally I would avoid the black diamonds at all costs, but this is my first time on a dirt bike as an adult) it was a solid challenge. The back end fishtailing in places, and there were moments where I can honestly say that I was pretty much just holding on. Really only one bad moment on the way up to the lookout, I hit some loose crap and the back end went on me…I also had a foot out to correct when it happened, and the bike kind of went in another direction…and when that happened I was just trying to hold on…but as the bike went ahead somewhat without me my throttle hand twisted and it all went to hell in a hand-basket and it was all I could do to get the bike stopped….sort of in the trees, on a steep incline. Trying to get going again from there was…interesting.
It was at the top that I came to the realization that dirt biking is hard, physical, work!
And then Bill said we had to go back down.
I didn’t like that idea.
But there weren’t really options.
There weren’t any other ways out of there.
And on the way down that hill I learned that you can ride a dirt bike like a mountain bike. That meant stand up, push the pegs, and ride the rocks. I haven’t ridden a mountain bike in a long time, but it came back fairly quickly.
We bounced our way back down the hills and got back to the parking lot for a lunch break. Bill had some good, stick to your ribs, bagel sandwiches, some freshly picked Okanagan apples from his recent trip up – tart, sweet, so crunchy – and a bottle of water waiting for us at the van.
And then it was back on the bikes and back up for some more challenging trails.
And when I say challenging…..the afternoon trip was when I dumped the bike twice, high centred on a rock with my back wheel stuck in a shithole, got stuck over a greasy log, and had to carefully back down two crappy hills to take a second run. We bounced over mossy non-trail sections, wound through single track trails with trees so close I was afraid I was going to hang up my handlebars going through as my back wheel slipped and slid on the twists. I still can’t believe I didn’t go headlong into a tree.
The first time I dumped I got through some crap and then rode across a greasy log, but I didn’t get the back end over fast enough and slid it sideways. I got across, but then I lost it on the other side and down I went. I was in the back and all alone and extremely pissed off at myself. When it went down I didn’t go down with it. I sort of stayed standing and stumbled a bit as it landed between my legs. I hauled it up and then fought with it for a few moments since it was now flooded. And then it was back on the trail to catch up.
The second time I went down was on a crappy, shitty, gunky, hairpin around a greasy big log. I got part way around it, gave it some gas to swing the back end around, and lost it completely. The only saving grace was that when the bike came down I had my leg on the other side of the log so I didn’t get myself caught between the bike and the log, though I did drive the peg into the bone on my shin.
That’s going to leave a bruise.
A bit farther on I high centred myself, the front wheel over a large rock, the back wheel stuck in a mucky rut. I had to shut the bike down and get off to drag it out. About the time I got it started again Bill came careening down the trail, saw I was up and running, skidded to a turn, and disappeared back into the forest.
Don’t worry about me….I’m coming!
Good thing I’m not one to be coddled, clearly he wasn’t concerned about me and I wasn’t going to receive any coddling today. Just as well, I don’t accept it well. I’ll bitch and complain, but I am usually in whatever position is resulting in the bitching and complaining of my own volition 😉
Kirk says that clearly he was a perfect instructor for me :-/
Then there was the rock hill. I tried….I stared at that face for a few minutes….Kirk and Bill watched me….Bill pointed a line. I kept thinking that if I dumped on it, it would really hurt…a lot. I made it…halfway. I didn’t dump. I just sort of got wedged. I could actually get off the bike and it just stayed there, upright. Bill came down and got it freed for me and had to back it down the hill to make it up. I didn’t have anything left in me by that point to give it another try. I was pretty much done.
All I remember about the rest of the afternoon ride is picking my way through tight wet trails between closely packed trees, and when we finally pooped out at a fork and Bill said the van is that way, or we can loop around on more of what we just came through, Kirk and I both said “
So it was a slower and more careful, given how tired we both were, run back down to the van where we pretty much collapsed to pull off the gear, soaked with sweat.
Bill loaded the bikes back into the van and we headed back out of the bush. We stopped in Squamish for a coffee and chatted with a rider for a bit before heading back home.
Where we collapsed with a beer.
And then a few glasses of wine.
So. Totally. Done.
And again, I ride a Ninja 1000 sport motorcycle. It has a goodly number of horses in its little motor. And it’s freaking easy to ride compared to what I was on today. As far as I am concerned anyone with half decent balance, a decent sense of focus, and the proficiency to do different things with all four limbs at once can ride it and probably stay safe.
On a dirt bike I was probably doing a maximum of 35kph but I was so fully engaged on every level that it was a bit surprising. Brain, limbs, balance, eyes, ears, sense of smell…..everything. Totally different level of focus required, totally different level of balance required. I will never look at a dirt bike the same way again.
But damn it was fun! I am glad we did it on Friday and not Sunday though, because Monday and Tuesday I will be standing in a river hauling a net and grappling with salmon, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have very sore forearms tomorrow….
(I need my chiropractor now….)
Here’s the GPS track; I can’t believe how little distance we actually travelled in those hours, goes to show how challenging the terrain was in there.