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Bit of adventure over the weekend

Posted by desflurane on March 14, 2011

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, so I leapt out of bed and quietly snuck my bike out of the garage before my sleeping family had a chance to notice.

About a week had passed since the last snow/rain fell and the dirt was near perfect – no dust, no mud!

I made short work of the switchbacky hillclimb I have struggled with on previous occasions. I roared along some new bits of single track that I haven’t noticed before – it was really choked with rocks, but good none the less! Gradually I made my way to the gravel pit/backfill dumping ground just outside a housing development. I have ridden here before and there is a wealth of vaired obstacles to work on ranging from a short but vertical dirt wall to an insane Karl’s Diner-quality boulder pile (which I leave alone…)

I busied myself riding through a maze of soft dirt piles created by a dump truck emptying load after load of soil excavated from house foundations (I assume). The piles are about six feet tall and pretty nearly 45 degrees up and down. They are really closely spaced so the riding is a bit like going over the teeth of a giant saw. You break over a sharp peak, heave the bike over when it high centers, drop into the valley and bash into the next pile. The challenge is to blip the throttle at the right time to keep the bike moving when the front wheel reaches the bottom of the “V” and wants to stop dead.” It’s a pretty good workout.

I did some other general screwing-around for a while, then decided to work on some rocks and boulders. I dove headlong into a little gully that appeared promising. After about twenty feet of struggling I found myself slightly stuck with the rear wheel pinched between some big rocks and another big rock blocking the front wheel. Undaunted, I was using the clutch to pull the bike up into a nice static wheelstand while I tried to turn myself a bit to get onto a different trajectory. This seemed to be going reasonably well until I dropped the clutch, the bike lurched up only a fraction of the distance I expected, halted suddenly and the engine died. Damn.

As I studied the back wheel to see what other maneuvers might be productive, I noticed that the chain had dropped off the rear sprocket – I’m guessing that the rocks pinching the rear wheel flexed the chain guide over far enough to “guide” the chain right off. No big deal – until I noticed that the newly created chain slack had been jammed up between the countershaft sprocket and the chain slider on the front end of the swingarm – what I would call “chain-suck” on a mountain bike. Bottom line was that the chain wasn’t coming out without removing the countershaft sprocket and probably the swingarm.

To shorten a medium-length story, I spent the next hour or so: 1) removing the chainguard so that the rear wheel could turn, 2) failing to break the chain (the master link was trapped behind the frame tube), and 3) wrestling my dead bike backward through the boulders I had so gallantly ridden over before (the gully was way too narrow to get the bike turned around).

Once I had the bike out of the gully I simply had to walk across the street to the construction site and bum a cell phone from a framer who was toiling away on a Saturday morning. My good buddy Jim was just leaving his house to swing by the motorcycle shop (how convenient!) and picked my derelict scoot and myself on the way.

One of the guys at RMS helped me pull the sprocket and loosen the swingarm pivot and the chain popped free. Now I just need to replace the slider/guide/plastic thingy that wraps around the swingarm, tighten the chain up a tad and I’ll be running again. I’m giving some serious thought to springing for a new drive-train (sprockets, chain and guide) however. It’s all OEM stuff and has 95 hours on it now. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It turns out that Jim was headed to the motorcycle shop to pick up a helmet for his youngest son so they could go riding! How VERY convenient… I made a few phone calls, twisted my wife’s arm a little and viola! I got home, hitched up my trailer and we all went out for an afternoon of quads and bikes at Moon Rocks. Except for my bike being stuck in the garage waiting for parts (slider thing and the countershaft circlip which I accidentally left at the bike shop) it worked out to be a very fine Saturday! But, no bother – Jim had brought his oldest son’s 200 along, but not his son. So I ripped around on the 200 for a bit. Great fun!

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