Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Forest tracks rock....ooops!

From Canal Flats on Highway 95 I took a forest/logging trail to White Swan Lake, and camped the night. Following morning (Monday that is) I decided to follow the track for about 100 km, making it a total of 125 km; supposedly. I rode at an average of 40 mph for 90 minutes, a bit slower for another hour, and then a sign said another 100 km. As my trip meter got broke I didn't know how far it actual was. I can only say over 100 miles, and leave it at that! I came out at Galloway, and headed down to the US border.

The track was quite varied in the quality of surface I was riding on, at best it was loose and dry gravel, and at it's worst it was ball breaking. I was going confidently at 40-50 mph with a big grin on my face, the ride was great; even when faced with bottomless chasms. Well actually, seeing my front wheel skimming along, an inch from the edge of a massive drop did slow me down for a wee while. But not for long, despite feeling the twitches and slight slipping of the tyres, the bike held it's course; point it where you want to go and open the throttle, easy. Well almost; coming round a bend I was suddenly faced with huge trenches covering the entire width of the road, running along the road for a good twenty metres. Miraculously I managed to keep the bike out the ruts, maintaining control on a narrow band of dirt and emerging unscathed. Phew! I seriously worried about the cleanliness of my thermals after that, but was pleased with how I tackled the problem and sped off. Oh, boy! Maybe I should have reassessed the track at that point. Neither the troughs or the horrendous drops were a match for the fearsome boulder field I was to come across though.

Oh, boy! Why can't I have more foresight. Why can't I see round bends? And why isn't the bike indestructible? Within a few hundred yards of the rutted death trap a section of large cobbles appeared on the left side of the track. No sweat, there was plenty of space to the right, and it was fairly well compacted. Simple, ease off a touch for the bend and swing round on the right, right? WRONG! Find myself faced with a long stretch of boulders filling two thirds of the track, my two thirds of it! Before I could do anything I was being bounced all over the place, struggling to keep control of the bike. Despite the best efforts of the boulder field, I managed to aim the bike towards the flattish side. I was stood on the pegs for more control, struggling with motorcycle epilepsy and trying to knock it down a gear for proper traction. Too much for me: Boulder field 1 - 0 Les. Down and out for the count, both me and the bike, me underneath to break the bike's fall. Due to the rather large nature of the boulders it was relatively easy to extract myself. Free and unhurt was a relief, being unable to move the bike more than an inch was not. God, when did it become that heavy? Probably by falling into a slight ditch, leaving the handlebars lower than the wheels. I tried from a few different angles, no chance at all. Being dressed in full thermal regalia I instantly broke into a profuse sweat. This was definitely going to more than a quick lift, so off came helmet, gloves and all the top layers. When did it suddenly get so hot? Tried maneuvering it into a better position, no joy! Found a length of timber to lever up one end, it broke! Found a stronger piece, risked snapping the lower portion of the nose fairing; nearly done it. OK, try again from a better position. Nearer, get my knee under the tank, swear loudly and heave; crap, not quite! Make a support out of large flat bounders to wedge the lever, then I won't have to lift as much, hhheeeaaave. Double shite, pile of boulders are in the way! At this point I can see petrol leaking out he tank, not a good sight, don't want to lose too much and get stranded. It's obvious I've got to sort this out without any help, had been immediately. I know it took long enough to decide but there is no alternative now, off comes all the luggage, which reveals an even steadier flow of fuel from the rear fuel overflow. This could be crucial now, if I lose too much fuel I've got a long walk, at least 40-50 miles. With renewed vigour and half a litre of water I give all the grunt I can muster, f*** you b******, get the f*** up aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!! Yes, yes, yes, phew! How relieved can one man be? Believe me, VERY! It nearly fell over the other way though, that caused me a seizure. But all's well that ends well!

Almost a shame I didn't move it onto safer, more even ground before reloading. Not to worry, it get out the boulders with no more fuss and I was on my way. That's enough excitement for one day. Though riding another hour before a sign declaring another 100 km to the highway could have caused distress, if I hadn't thoroughly enjoyed getting out the predicament alone.

The rest of the ride out was uneventful, in comparison. There were a few minor wheel slides and twitchy moments with the handle bars, but hey, all in a good days ride, right? Reaching Montana gave way to more open countryside and some lovely pastoral landscapes. Loads of gorgeous lakes and rivers, slightly more windy roads and a more relaxed pace. My Back tyre has no grip left at all in the centre, so I'm taking it easy until I get a new one.

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