Sunday, April 25, 2010

Re-discovering off-road riding

Late Friday afternoon, I agreed to meet a couple of BMA members for a casual dual sport ride on Saturday. Apparently, once word got out that some riders were planning to explore some trails along the hydro lines around Calabogie, some 20-odd riders showed up at the rendez-vous point in Almonte.

Riders arrive at the meeting point

We split into two groups: group A was for the wussies who were afraid to get wet and dirty, and group B was for the hardcore offroad enthusiasts. Wanting to prove something, of course, I chose group B. This group was made up of several 250cc bikes (a bunch of WRs, a KLX) plus a number of larger 650 dual sports (an XR560L, an XR650R, and 3 or 4 DR650's). I thought to myself: I should be able to keep up with these guys. There were no young punk hooligans, it seemed. In fact, most were older than me, and by and large the group appeared to be a bunch of middle-aged, beer-drinking, out-of-shape motorcyclists. Perfect.

We left the Esso in Almont and quickly got to some gravel road I've never seen before. I was able to keep up fairly well in the beginning, but when we hit the hydro lines I was struggling to hold my own. Big rocks, loose gravel, steep hills, slippery mud, swampy water holes, river crossings, and that was the easy stuff. And these guys were ripping through it all like nothing. I realized my early impression of this riding group was way off. These older, out-of-shape dirt bike bums were a deceptive bunch. And skilled.

Then the big red pig (XR650R) rider dumped his bike in the mud and sprained his wrist. And one of the DR650 riders had an unintended get off, and his luggage rack snapped (not from the crash) and lost his pelican case. At that point, those two decided to break away from the enduro speed demons and do something less intense: go for a bite to eat, coffee and some leisurely riding, group B-style. Count me in!

the start of the hydro line trails

break time

BMW's dirt gem...what a rig

As we split from the hardcore group, we ran into the group A wussies and chatted for a bit. Then, two of them decided to join us, and our new group of five ended up at the cafe in Burnstown where we enjoyed a bite to eat and chatted for a good hour. I was obviously the newcomer to this tight group, as the other four seemed to know each other quite well, but they nonetheless made me feel welcome. None of them were involved with the BMA, rather, they had just heard about the ride and showed up for the party. We had a spirited ride home on the back roads into the city. Great day! Next time, I'll need to pace myself and not bite off more than I can chew.

DR650 parking

The lone Big Red Pig