Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

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

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Posted by desflurane on April 26, 2013

Day before yesterday my good pal Ben finally showed me the fabled network of single track just a few miles out of town. Honestly I can’t believe nobody had recommended this area to me before! The trails are just as good as those found at chalk bluff (if not better) and are an hour closer!

As I-80 climbs westward from reno into the Sierra Nevada the terrain changes rapidly from sagebrush covered desert to heavily wooded forest. A few miles across the border into California lie a network of reservoirs with campgrounds and boating access galore. Along with this has come a TON of dirtbike trails. Loads of tight single track, fire roads and gnarly hill limbs. It’s particularly great because its all new to me.

We tore it up for two or three hours before darkness began settling in. I really felt like my riding skills have been advanced. All the other training rides have been paying dividends. I’m attacking corners more aggressively, climbing and descending hills more confidently. I really think that this is due almost exclusively to improved clutch control.

I’m not even sure if “clutch control” is exactly the right term here. It’s not that I have developed some magical connection with my engine that affords me some fantastic degree of influence over its operation. I’m just “using” the clutch to my advantage – as a means to regulate and time power delivery – rather than simply a device to facilitate gear shifts.

When I come into a tight corner at speed, in addition to working the brake levers you can bet that I’ve got the clutch pulled too. This allows me to slow down much quicker, as I’m not trying to fight continued power delivery from the engine. Additionally, since I didn’t bog the engine during braking and turning, once the bike is pointed where I intend to exit the corner, I can drop the clutch with a bit of throttle and roost out of it rather than struggling with a motor almost ready to flame-out from low RPM’s. It takes a while to spin the motor back up under the load it has been subjected to during the entire cornering process – only a second or two, but that’s time I could have spent blasting away toward the next corner rather than limping along, recovering from the last one.

And clutch use has completely changed how I climb hills. As I mentioned before, I have gone from almost certain bogging and eventual engine conk-out on the steep stuff to sustained, on-the-pipe, wheelie-popping uphill rampages! And I owe it all to that gorgeous little lever on the left!

Benny and I ripped up some long, steep climbs that I guarantee would have defeated me two months ago. Talk about conserving energy! Pushing a dead bike around on a steep, slippery hillside sucks it out of you. And forget about how much time is saved by just climbing the hill in one go…

So yeah, it was a great ride. I’m feeling really good as far as my bike skills are concerned. I’m not “there” yet, but I’m definitely making perceptible progress.

Btw, I had my helmet cam all teed up and ready to shoot some footage of these sweet trails, but via a convoluted series of events that I won’t bore you with, the goggle mount (essential to its use) was left in my jeep which was parked back in Ben’s driveway. We even tried to snap photos and video of a sweet log-crossing using ben’s phone but somehow it didn’t work. His phone decided to shut down instead. So we came home empty-handed.

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