Monday, February 27, 2012

Presidents Day Rocked

I was off for Presidents Day last week so Randall and I thought we should celebrate by throwing dirt on each other.  We headed out mid morning, waiting for the temperature to get up in the mid 40's.  We started off at an easy pace for about the first ... oh, I don't know ... quarter of a mile.  
Soon we were chasing each other on the forest roads like a police K9 running down a one legged crack dealer.  Several miles off of the highway we got into some clear cuts.  Like Andy said in one of his recent posts, "they are logging the crap out of the forest", or close to it.  Sorry Andy if I didn't get your quote exact.  
I need to adjust the shift lever and rear brake pedal position on my KLR but keep forgetting to do so.  They work fine with my Nikes and work boots but not with my Alpinestars riding boots.  About 15 miles into the ride, I was following Randall running 68 mph into a turn.  A quick stab at the brake and accelerate hard out of the turn back up to 65 mph and again tap the rear brake approaching the next turn.  I'll say it again, tap the rear brake approaching the next turn.  OH CRAP!  My size 12 Alpinestar has been hung on the side of the brake pedal and boiled the brake fluid... no rear brake.  None, nadda, zip, zilch, nit!  No time to panic, is there a clearing through the trees that I can run through off the road?  No way, that would be too easy.  Suddenly my ride had turned into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.  The only thing missing was that little sign that reads "Help!" so I could turn and look pitiful at the camera.  
I chopped the throttle and firmly pulled the front brake, then let off and downshifted, again on the front brake and downshifted as I entered the apex of the turn with my butt sucked down on the seat hanging on for a serious crash.  I tight roped the edge of the road and the start of the ditch for about 30 feet before I realized I was going to make it.  I was half chuckling/half shaking and well ... I no longer needed to go to the bathroom.  Some two miles down the dirt road my rear brake pedal came back.
We rode on into Danville and then to Ola.  We were looking for 4 iron truss bridges to photograph today.  The first one was a wash, literally.  The road was under water so we turned around and found the next one.  
Built in 1918, it was a bit lightweight compared to some but still a cool bridge.  Next we found the real prize, a bowstring truss bridge (below) that was built in 1880.  The water was too high and prevented me from getting over closer to it but I will be back later to get some close up shots of it.  
Finding some of these old bridges is like an adult easter egg hunt. We finally found an abandoned railroad bridge that we were looking for.  It was built in 1899 and although it had been out of service for 10+ years, it was in amazing shape for as old as it is.  We walked out on it even though it was missing a few ties here and there.  
We stopped by Belleville and ate at the diner (amazing food) before heading on.  We soon had the 650's lit up once again and between Spring Lake and Mount Magazine we passed a ranger, pulled onto a side road and parked, at 70 mph on the single lane forest road.  
To our relief, he didn't come after us.  I'm not sure what the speed limit is on a single lane dirt road but it's pretty safe to say that 70 is exceeding it just a little bit.  I don't think I have ever seen everything so green this early before.  We stopped and shot one more abandoned railroad bridge by Blue Mountain Lake.  We climbed up on top of the derelict bridge and shot several pictures, then walked part the old rail bed before heading on toward home.  
We split up just before getting back and Randall saw 3 bear on the road at dusk.  We also just barely beat the thunderstorms back in.  190 miles, 1 flooded road, 4 bridges, 3 bear and thunderstorms.  Mike, you missed a good ride buddy.  And my RA didn't complain all day!  


Lana said...

You are making me jealous with these photos. I often dream about getting away from it all. Going somewhere quiet and away from civilization but that is hard to do. You always manage to get in trouble. I think you secretly wish you would. Hopefully, you brought along a change of clothes. :-) At the RA decided to let you have fun.

Wren said...

Wow, Terry! What a ride! The way you wrote your account of it had me on the edge of my seat. And I have to admire your cool when your brake failed on that curve. You were literally breathing adrenalin, weren't you? Your joy at completing the curve in spite of the odds came through loud and clear--and it wasn't due to the fact you didn't crash. Your joy was from your mastery and skill on that wild machine.

That your RA stayed away throughout the ride is fabulous. And your photos of the bridges are, too.

Wishing you a painless and joyful week, Terry.

tharr said...

Lana, we have several rides that we do 2 or 3 times a year. This is one of my favorites. Thats one of the things that I enjoy so much about riding is just getting away from normal day activities. No distractions, no cell phone, no internet. I seriously thought we were in trouble when we passed the ranger at 70 mph. lol My RA caught up with me mildly for a couple of days after the ride but it was absolutely worth it!

Wren, thank you!! Needless to say I made sure my boot was not catching the side of the brake pedal the rest of the day, I even looked down to check it a few times. lol To panic in that situation would be the worse thing you could do, there were just 3-4 seconds from the time I first grabbed for the brake to when I was at the turn. I have to admit that my RA has been pretty well behaved over the last week to 10 days now. I kind of like this feeling (not pain free by any means but I do feel much better), I think I could get used to this. Hope you feel better this week Wren.

mary said...

A little danger makes everything a bit more fun. Great pictures.

Candied Frogs said...

GREAT looking and exciting ride and great photos to prove it. When I first glanced at your entry, I saw the underwater road and figured you had ridden it... WHOA, YOU GOT DEEP RESPECT MAN. I gotta say I agree with your not plowing through that lot! Hey, nice work on the front wheel braking and gearing down... Sounds like you handled your nasty situation perfectly. (Okay, so you got the respect you had coming to you). Your old bridges look awesome and well worth a long ride to check them all out. Definitely a summer ride in the planning there!

tharr said...

Hey Mary, I used to think that but I'm too old for danger now!

Andy, we sat there for must have been 5 minutes talking about going on. But never having been on that road before, we didn't know if there was a dip or low spot in front of us. So we chickened out (see my comment to Mary above) lol. I have lost the rear brake before racing hare scrambles and enduros, though it has been a while since I have had to do that, I guess I was well trained from my racing days. I love old iron truss bridges and have shot a bunch of them over the last 3-4 years.

mary said...

I don't know Terry, some of the stuff you do still looks kind of dangerous to me. Guess it is all in the eye of the beholder. Enjoy and be careful.