Thursday, September 4, 2008

small bike envy

A few weeks ago Jascha picked up a gently used KLR 250 from his coworker, so after a half day in the shop machining and installing new suspension links we decided to take our bikes out for a street/dirt ride around Angeles Crest/Forest Highways. Our options for ungated dirt roads were pretty limited based on my topo, so we settled on the Lynx-Gulch 4WD road off of Upper Big Tujunga. I still had slightly ugly memories of our off-road adventure in an attempt to reach the Mt. Humphreys trailhead. Remarkably, my bike came out with only a few dings in the handlebar end weights and a slightly bent luggage rack. Maybe this would be a kinder gentler trail more suitable for a bike that weighed more than 3 times more than me.

I was in my element on the windy AC/FH roads and blissfully took a wrong turn down Big Tujunga (v. Upper Big Tujunga). I didn't figure this out until we bottomed out in the canyon just before Sunland. We cruised back up the hill and onto Upper Big Tujunga to the Lynx-Gulch turn-off. The first part went OK; I made it through the sandy and rutted sections and rode through a creek after only minor hesitation. Then I saw Jascha stop
ahead. When I caught up I saw a steep curvy downhill covered with major ruts and broken pavement sprinkled with gravel, not inspiring. I started down the hill after Jascha, skidded out in the gravel, and dumped my bike. I tried, but couldn't pick it up on with the angle of the hill and sketchy footing. Jascha came back up and helped me turn my bike upright.

So much for my bike karma. My clutch lever had snapped off leaving ~ 1.5 inches past the bend for shifting, my fender was scratched, and my left turn signal was smashed. More damaged, however,
was my fragile pride. I've been riding for 7+ years (enduros for 3 years) and I should have better offroad skills. I was pissed and not psyched to dump my bike a bunch more times trying to get down the hill, but I was also stubborn and didn't want to swap Jascha for his ~250 lb bike. Reluctantly I agreed. What a difference. The KLR was light and nimble and I wasn't fighting to keep it up when it tipped. My riding skills magically improved. We swapped back bikes at the road and headed home.

We later found a defect in the clutch lever cast; the fracture occurred at an air bubble. BMW of Hollywood said it would take 5 days to get in a new clutch lever and I wanted to get back home to Bishop. Luckily we were able to crank out a new lever and epoxy my turn signal back together at Jascha's shop. I told my friend Chris what happened and he said not to worry; he had broken a number of clutch/brake levers. Maybe when I finally get settled into more permanent living arrangements I will pick up a dirt bike. In the interim I should probably invest in some Barkbusters.

1 comment:

David said...

That's right, smaller is better sometimes. :P