Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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Excellent ride

Posted by desflurane on October 1, 2010

I had the day off yesterday (Wednesday) since I worked a 24 hour shift on Tuesday (labor and delivery call…) So I loaded up the bike and headed for Dog Valley!

I was on a pretty loose timetable (on my bike at 12:30, didn’t need to be home until almost 5:00) so I decided to make a big loop of all the trails I usually ride up there. It worked out beautifully. I hit all my favorite spots, explored some great new places and worked on some tips I picked up watching Wattsy’s DVD while I was stuck in the hospital! Hard to beat that. The loop ended up being 56 miles (90km). Pretty respectable ride, I think.

I don’t really let it all hang out when I’m riding alone but I felt like I moved along pretty well. The trails range from super rocky fire roads to nice singletrack. There are some challenging hill climbs. The challenge is not because they are steep, but because the ground is really loose.

Three or four steep climbs lie along a power line access road. The dirt is seriously the consistency of talcum powder! I have flailed around trying to chug up these suckers with lower rpms, trying to keep the rear wheel hooked up. While I topped the hills eventually, I realized that this stuff is just too loose and too deep to possibly maintain traction in.

This time I decided to try the liberal application of fossil fuels to the problem. It worked much better. Nearly wrapped out in second gear, and kicking up a considerable rooster tail of powdery dust, I would keep just enough momentum going to reach the upper part of the hills where the grade eased up a bit. I could get onto solid ground again, and water bars beware!

On the same access road another challenging hill sits just a mile or so away. Here the road has climbed higher up the mountainside and the flour is replaced by gravel and avocado-sized rocks. The grade is about two miles long and gets gradually steeper and steeper, until reaching a few tricky, aggressively pitched, boulder-littered hairpin turns at the top. Again, chugging up this stuff works great, but I found that twisting the right grip made things go better. I still love the ignition map switch! It makes it easier to apply smooth power – key to keeping the rear wheel behind me! An inexpertly delivered blast of juice seems to want to kick the back end out sideways allowing me to take an unplanned side trip into the bushes.

And what, you may ask, was the hot tip from Shane Watts? One of his fundamental skills reviewed at the beginning of the DVD: Leaning forward for acceleration and leaning back for braking. Simple, ultra-basic stuff which I already do. But focusing on it and trying to really do it properly is immensely helpful. Arm fatigue reduced drastically, especially on the long, difficult hillclimbs and getting my head out over the bars put my center of gravity more in line with the bike’s CG making it much easier to weave the machine around, picking my way through the rocks.

I also tried to focus on what Shane calls precision wheel placement. Trying to put the front wheel exactly where you want it, rather than pointing it in a generally desirable direction and hoping for the best!

Both of these skills helped me ride more confidently, faster and expending less energy. I love it! I need to keep working on these, but improvement came almost immediately.


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