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Sometimes Seniors Don't Have Good Sense...But They Do Have Fun!


Our KLR adventure ride


My friends Paul, Kerry and I all own Kawasaki KLR650’s and if you are any kind of motorcycle rider you know what these bike are all about. These kinds of bikes have been all around the world many, many times, because they are bullet proof. They are what they are big heavy turds with little power. If you try to improve them it’s like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It’s like putting lip stick on a pig, you get the idea. But there are lots of guys who do just that. Mine is totally stock, I haven’t even done the Do-hickey thing update. Don’t ask me what that is cause I’m not sure. I do know that almost all KLR riders know what that is.

Paul asked a bunch of his friends to join him on what’s referred to as a KLR ride. There’s supposed to be a big difference between a KLR ride and a Dual Sport ride, namely the kind of bike and the terrain ridden on. (A dual Sport bike is basically a dirt bike with a license plate and blinkers) Dual Sport bikes can go on single tack trails, KLR’s are tanks and don’t work well or at all in that environment period. I should have realized once again something was up when only Kerry and I accepted his invitation. Now my definition of a KLR ride is some paved roads a lot of what I’d call fire roads and some what I’d call jeep roads, no single track trails. And of course most all, this should be happening in the forest.

Now Kerry and I have been on other KLR rides with Paul and on the last one I had to remind Paul to stick to KLR type roads. You see Paul is a very skilled rider and can ride his KLR like he rides everything else like it’s no effort at all and for him I’m sure it isn’t.

So we meet at Paul’s at his house in Dutch Flat at 8 AM on a Friday. He knows most all the roads etc. for probably 500 miles in any direction. He has a route in mind that will eventually take us to Downieville and back. Now based on that knowledge I know it’s going to be a lot of riding, but hey we got all day.

We knew the dust was going to be a problem so we will need to spread out so we don’t spend the day riding in dust. Now, since Paul is the leader he’s automatically excluded from any dust eating, one of the perks of being the leader. So Kerry and I are left to fight over who rides second behind Paul, one riders dust is better than two.

About fifteen miles into our ride we came to our first problem, the road was closed and there were two tractors parked at an angle to block the road. We had to work our way around first one then the other by riding in a ditch on the side of the road. After we worked our way by them in about a half mile find out why they were parked that way. The road is completely washed out. I’d say it was about 20-25 feet wide and 10-12 feet deep. Paul says I think we can make it and sets off down into the hole and with a little struggle up and out of the other side. Now it’s our turn, I don’t remember who went first Kerry or me but we both made it. It was a bit more of a struggle for me than Kerry. Great now we are on the other side and it dawns on me that if we were to run into another one of these and couldn’t make it through we would have to come back this way and go through that again. The moment we arrived at this wash out Paul declares the ride has just turned into an adventure.

Another umpteen miles this time over some not KLR roads, it was rock city. Pebbles to basket ball size rocks; it was some slow going on bikes that weigh a ton. And then we came upon our next adventure, this time it was a washed out cement bridge. If we were on our Dual Sport bikes we could have jumped off one slab on to another, no way that’s happening on the KLR’s. Fortunately some very rocky (River bed) trial had been half assed worked in around it; we were able to make it through without much of a problem.

Another umpteen miles and guess what another washed out bridge (And another adventure opportunity) this one was very tricky and of course our fearless leader went first made it look fairly easy and basically shamed us into doing it. This one was a struggle for both Kerry and I, did I mention we were riding KLR’s. By know I was really thinking instead of just thinking what if we find one of these adventures we really can’t get by, will we have to go back the same way. I didn’t want to ask Paul,  there is another way back, right, we won’t have to go back the same way right. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to hear, no we will have to go back the same way. In the back of my mind I kind of knew we would have to go back the same way, I hadn’t seen anything that would lead me to believe we could go any other way.

Now, at this point I need to stop and say, this was not some sort of forced death march, far from it. It was a beautiful day the temperature was perfect, the scenery was beautiful and most of all a couple of good friends to share it with.

However if you were an outsider listening to our interactions with each other you would at times find it hard to believe we were friends. You might even think we were a bunch of riders who somehow got stuck with each other on this death march. We all have our own brand of humor which at times can be cutting and downright insulting. It’s great.

Now back to the KLR ride with perhaps a few more adventures thrown in. So at this point I ask Paul (We are about 60 miles into this ride and still fresh in my mind is the adventures we’ve had so far) when was the last time you’ve ridden this particular route and he says oh maybe two years. I say shit, are you kidding me do you know what kind of winters they’ve had up here the past two years, no wonder the roads are like this. He blinks smiles and says, yeah and that’s where the adventure part comes in.

The next umpteen miles were from an adventure stand point uneventful, but beautiful. At 75 miles exactly we ended up in a place called Bassett Station on hwy 20 for a much needed lunch break. All I had was my usual bowl of cold cereal with a banana at O- dark thirty that had played out a long time ago.

A quick lunch was not too be had; a vintage car club on their way for a weekend stay in Sierra City had invaded the little restaurant. But it was great to sit around and BS with the car buffs and their (I assume) wives. By the time lunch finally arrived I devoured it even though the choice I had made was not all that great.

By the time we left Paul decided we wouldn’t have the time to ride up to the lookout at a place called Sierra Buttes. He casually mentioned we still had another five hours to get back, WHAT I exclaimed. Actually I thought he was kidding, I hoped, he was kidding. We were having a really great time but five more hours of having a really great time seemed a little much. 

So we took off down hwy 49 to Downieville a beautiful ride and no dust. Once in Downieville we headed out town sort of south east and back onto dirt roads. Eventually those KLR roads turned into much less than KLR roads and the pounding finally took a toll on my jury rigged back rest, (For my wife) the rack and soft sided bag. A lot of the nuts and bolts had loosened and fallen off. A strap, with a half dozen bungee cords and we were off again. As we were traversing down a particularly nasty rocky road we meet an old man and a young man working their way up the road in an appropriately old beat up truck, we stopped and exchanged howdy’s. He tells us the road is closed a ways back and then begins to describe exactly where it is and just how bad it was of course. Aw shit I thought another adventure.

Somewhere on this up and down road I hit something and heard a very loud noise, I didn’t want to stop and look I figured it would probably be better if I didn’t know what possible damaged had occurred. Besides I didn’t want to lose my momentum, sometimes momentum is your best friend. I didn’t see any oil trail in the rearview mirror so I’m good I figured.

After riding past several places on that road that could have been considered the spot we finally arrive at THE spot. And yes there was no way other than a dirt bike that could possibly make it. Did I mention we were on KLR’s? Paul of course paved the way; he made it with a little slipping and sliding around. Then me next and at that very moment I had a brilliant idea and shouted out, Paul you ride my bike and much to my relief he simply said ok. I immediately started telling him that it was a little tricky and if I were to have a problem we might be there a while getting me to the other side. After hearing me say all this Kerry thought that was a great idea and of course had Paul ride his bike as well. Paul was very kind to us afterword, he says I think if it were just you two guys you would done it and made it. Paul can be a very supportive friend. Oh, I need to add that it wasn’t that Kerry and I were that tired, but when you come up with such a brilliant reason for Paul to ride the bikes it was just too good of an idea to pass up. That turned out to be our last adventure and the rest of the way was just a beautiful KLR ride, in the dust.

We got back to Paul’s house around 6:45 PM exactly 10 hours after we left. We were dusty, well Kerry and I were anyway and perhaps a little tired but not bad really considering the time spent and the fact we are old. Some of the credit has to go to our trusty KLR’s they are a cloud to ride on except in the rocks. 

The KLR is back home now in its special place in the garage having been all cleaned up, with fresh oil and filter I’m waiting on the bolts and rubber washers etc. to arrive so I can put the back rest, rack and bag back on. I did break a chunk off my stock plastic skid plate and put a big dent in my frame otherwise she’s ready to ride again. Except maybe when Paul sends out another invitation for a guided KLR ride we may pass, eh probably not.

Doug 21J




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