|Getting ready to roll.|
This year the RMAR is having two Rendezvous--the usual in Silverton and a second one in Meeker. My friend, and sometimes housemate, Doug Sager, was taking a short break from his rock 'n roll lifestyle of touring with Rod Stewart, and was hoping to make it to one of those weekends. Unfortunately, with work starting off this season for me the way it has, I couldn't make the first one, and he had to go back on tour before the second. I told him if he wanted, when he came in for this visit, we would go out and have our own off-road fun. He would leave his Honda Shadow behind and ride Thumper, while I rode Taz, my little Tasmanian Dirt Devil. This was the first real riding I did on Taz, using it for the purpose for which I actually bought it.
|Ready to go--I think Doug might invest in some off-road gear next time, but for that day's ride, cruiser chaps worked fine.|
|Smartwool snowboarding socks are great as motorbiking socks!|
Sunday morning, after a little instruction for first timer Doug--stand up, throttle out of trouble, you break it you buy it--Josh, Doug, and I got the bikes out and stripped down of luggage, checked tire pressures and headed for the hills. We rode Golden Gate Canyon to the Peak to Peak highway, and took that into Rollinsville. We turned left off the highway onto a dirt road with a sign that said "Rollins Pass". This is a nice wide, well cared for dirt road which goes under, over, and beside railroad tracks for seven miles to the start of Rollins Pass. About six miles into the road, I started chatting with Doug, asking how he was doing. It was strange for me to see someone else riding my motorbike!
|I did take the top box off the GS so Doug could ride without worrying about it. We wore Camelbacks so we didn't even have to worry about tank bags getting in our crotches while riding.|
Doug said he was doing well, but that the bike felt a little squirrely on the dirt. I told him the moment he stood up, that feeling would go away. It took me a little while to figure that out when I first started riding dirt, but that's how it works. I watched as he stood up and tested out the theory, and we eventually reached the end of the road, where a sharp right turn would take us to the trail. We stopped there for a few minutes to air down the tires, then got going.
|Not knowing what the terrain was going to be, we each aired down just a few pounds. Traction was great and there was no worry about pinch flats.|
**Oh, and I have to say, Ian McLeod--I now know why you come up and jiggle my brake light assembly every time we ride together. It bounces around a lot!
|This is the start of Rollins Pass. Lots of 4x4s, mountain bikers, runners (ok, those people are just crazy) and motorbikes.|
Not 100 yards into the trail, I watched as the left side mirror on the GS flew off and hit the ground. What the...? I pulled up to it, got off my bike and picked it up. Doug, unsure of what had just happened, stopped and came back to where I was, looking puzzled. As I laughed and put the mirror--the brand new one it had bought to replace the one the bear had destroyed (see the "WTF!?!" Blog)--in the little case on the back of Taz, Doug looked at me and said, "That wasn't me!" I told him no, no it wasn't him. It was just my bad mirror luck!
That was the most difficult part of the day. We had a great ride up. It's pretty easy dirt with a little rutting here and there, and a few areas with more technical riding. We stopped about a mile and a half from the summit to take in the views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There we recognized a guy named Paul from the Sedalia meadow ride last autumn. He was with a group of ten or so guys, and we followed them up to the top.
|The top of the pass is blocked off, but you can hike to Needle Eye Tunnel. The views are really lovely up there.|
|Speaking of lovely views--a view from a "bathroom" doesn't get any better than this!|
Pictures were taken of both groups, goodbyes were said, and they headed back down while we had snacks. When we were done, we headed back down and the combination of gravity and boosted confidence had us down the trail in a flash. Also adding to our quick descent were the black clouds rolling in. As we came down to the lake again and rounded a curve, a blinding flash of lightning struck down, creating long rolling thunder. It was time to get the hell out!
I could tell Doug was having a good time of it on the GS, and I had a blast on my little bike. That day of riding convinced me the XT was going to Meeker the following weekend.
|We got a few drops here and there, but managed to make it off the mountain before weather got too severe.|