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STILL riding with "MURPHY
I HAD A VERY INTERESTING DAY …and an important lesson was given me. It occurred to me that the lesson /advice could be useful to others ..lest they have to learn the lesson deep deep in the outback of the Appalachian mountains ..on a fire road/jeep track …MILES from civilization ..in an area notorious for “spotty” inconsistent cell phone reception.
The day started with much promise…my friend stan had borrowed a small dual sport bike to experiment with in the possiability of purchasing it. The Yamaha xt225 is I cool bike and offers much potential for all terrain exploration /adventure. I like it cause it only weighs 235 lbs…goes almost 80mph and can give up to 80mpg when ridden with restraint. Plus my friend rick lee ..a very experienced msf instructor ..adventure rider…all around fast guy had purchased one for himself years back. ANY bike that gets rick’s attention and stimulates a purchase hasJUST GOT to be something special.
I like the xt225 because it is the only bike that makes my 360 lb sr500 feel overweight or lethargic. Unfortunately I could not ride my sr because of an “accident”.
Week ago I was “running my mouth” saying goodbye to my good friend james rester in front of his shop in Jacksonville. I smiled and casually stroked the kickstarter bringing the BEAST to life….having a “GOOD DAY” TO THAT POINT I blipped the throttle and pulled the clutch and sni**** …..the bike into ge-----hey I am surrounded by silence ?! what happened?! My inner self KNEW what happened instantly..my “conscious “ self “PLUNGED “ INTO DENIAL and resolved to STAY there till eternity!!!!! I sobbed and searched frantically for a logical explanation ….it stalled?! Just quit running ?! yeah that’s it !!! but my SUBCONCIOUS KNEW !! and it made “bile” fill the back of my throat!! Desperately hopeing ,PRAYING that my “SUB” was wrong! Money is tight and time is precious and I just do not want to pull THAT lump of a motor OUT of the frame ….ONE MORE TIME TO FIX THAT VALVE THAT I JUST “BENT” AS I ABSENT MINDEDLY PULLED THE DECOMPRESSION LEVER WHILE THE ENGINE WAS RUNNING…..mistakenly and stupidly mis identifying it as clutch lever!!!!!!
BACK to present day.. I was riding the mz baghira today. A neat cycle and dual sport capable ..SORT OF. Its heart and soul are dual sport but it is a supermoto replica. It is some what heavy at 385lbs and tall( a stretch for even me to get my leg over)..sporting 17 inch sportbike size rimes shod with Dunlop supersport tires; it is not the ideal off road exploration machine. Did I mention that the 660cc yam raptor motor has AND NEEDS an electric boot?! No kick starting here..
I figured that a careful off road adventure steeped in discipline and forethought would be “okay”. To hedge my bets I reduced the tire pressure to 20psi f and r. this pressure seems to be accepted as the lowest “limit “ for bikes NOT blessed with rim locks or other bead security features.
I was further emboldened by the super moto racers who routinely fly on off road sections with road racing slicks cut with horizontal groves in the center of the tire but “un grooved “ sides. And THEY GO REALLY REALLY FAST TOO!
THE PLAN was to cut thru the back of the onslow landfill property and scoot down the powerline reconnecting us to the pavement. Next we would take a jeep trail off of gum branch road which would bring us to the eastern boundry of the Hoffman forest. Skirting the yellow gate would be easy(done it before) then before us would be 25 miles of jeep track and double rut to play in…
Never made it!!
Within about 2 miles of my house there is an access to a powerline created when the loggers went in and cut the trees…my feeble mind decided that this area would be a good “dress rehearsal” “feasiability” test for the concept.
Man I sure am glad my sub conscious acknowledged the soundness of this idea!
The area in question is mostly soft stuff with an inconsistent “crust “ of dirt that looked dry and FIRM but often was not. There were places where grass and low to the ground plants fortified the dirt improving traction and predictability.
This did present specific challenges to a guy on a tall bike with a full tank of fuel and subsequentally high centre of mass. Factor in my my new awareness of my 55 years of life and relatively slow “rate of healing… .and the tires/rims suited more for deals gap or road Atlanta…and you began to understand the problem.
I believe in gyroscopes. A motorcycle has 3 large ones …normally I use my understanding of said gyroscopes and the manipulation of their influence to “make speed” or reduce risk. In this sit…..i could not!!
The mass was too great to risk going too fast as I was “reading trail” and needed to be able to NOT hit that giant cross grain rut obscured from vision by the tall reeds. I had less than “damn little traction “ at either end. I wanted to use rpm of the crank and wheel spin to enhance stability and keep the tire grooves clean and “biting” as much as possible. Only vehicle speed can make the front gyro spin faster and stabilize. THIS OPTION WAS UNAVAILABLE TO ME as I was in a world of hurt and over whelmed..trying to spin the gyros fast yet keep the vehicle speed down. I needed to be “loose” on the bar yet keep a hold on things too…
Needless to say I lost the front …and rear simultaneously at less than 12 mph…and shortly thereafter lost the WHOLE PLOT as I “AUGERED” INTO THE GROUND! It was relatively pain less but interestingly as I was going down I noticed my right leg was about to be trapped by the handlebar/frontend and the tank as it headed down! I remember consciously moving my leg position to prevent inujury!! M y sub conscious never quit thinking.
Had to lay there a while as the bike had me pinned awkwardy to terra firma…and what feels light and agile dancing thru deals gap was decidedly HEAVY AND RESOLUTE when lay upon my body.
Stan stopped and missed a good opportunity to just drive over me. I noticed that his inquiry as to my status was lost in the sound of him struggling to get his camera out before I “escaped”. Thanks stan!!
I righted the fallen steed and stepped back and took a breath…I wanted the fluids to reestablish there normal orientation BEFORE I tried to start the beast. Checking the bike revealed no damage..
THEN MY DAY WAS INCREDULOUSLY PLUNGED IN TO HELL ….. turned the key and hit the button……a slight buzzing was all I heard! Oh shit!! In the blink of an eye I ALREADY KNEW WHAT THIS MEANT!! BATTERY ISSUE!!!!
And the beast was not blessed with a kick starter!! I let the bike rest while I pondered the problem… ..NO kick starter!!! And no jumper cable!! THIS WAS A BIG ERROR! Just because the battery has been behaving perfectly all week until I dropped the bike!! Shit!
If my name was charley boorman or ewan mcgregor I would just sit back and use the sat phone to call the support vehicle.. and all would be well. I texted Derek who lives but two miles away and he would not even return my “SOS” text!! I was less than a mile off the road but it might as well have been 100 miles!! Ever try to push a bike is deep soft loam?! My only option was to try and “bump start” the beast…..you can imagine how badly that went with street tires on sugar sand!!!
I needed some jumper cables!! Never thought to bring them before as my Yamaha sr500 is kick start only WITH A MAGNETO TOO!! IT WILL START WITH A DEAD BATTERY!!!! LOVE THAT BIKE! HELL unless I had compound fractures of BOTH LEGS ; I could start that beast!! But today was a different story…
Ironically the battery was NOT DEAD. It was in a situation where the electric boot requires “x” amount of juice. The ignition coil requires “y” amount of juice and the battery total juice available was less than the sum of “x and y”! it would have bump started if I could get the traction and it would have “kick started” with a kickstarter if one was available..but alas I was stranded.
The battery on the xt225 would have been sufficient but I had no jumper cables!! THIS IS IMPORTANT: MUST CARRY JUMPER CABLES ON ALL BIKES WITH ELECTRIC BOOTS. YOU COULD BE DOOMED WITH OUT IT.
How’d I get out of the wilderness? I dispatched stan to my house to grab the jumper cables near the scooter and to bring me the battery from the Suzuki bandit 400 in the front yard for a carb cleaning. Stan went while I started pushing…..the bike got heavier and heavier as I pushed it ……just as I was thinking my beloved mz baghira was a fat bitch as fat as my old 1982 honda cbx…I saw stan on the horizon …..stan I love you man!!
Lessons learned:adventure bikes should weigh less than 300 lbs. battery dependent bikes----fuel injected,fly by wire controls, electric boot…..YOU MUST THINK AND PLAN for battery type emergencies. And BUY SOME DAMN JUMPER CABLES.
BIKES with kick start options. Consider setting the bike up with the optional kicker…could save your life. Try to be prepared and always ride with “stan” or some other friend. Makes the adventure more fun any way
Addendum: Yamaha xs650 had electric started added as a response to consumer pressure. Electrical system was NOT beefed up and the bike would normally refuse to start with the button ….just whirring away no fire . yet would start with one stroke of the kick start lever. FACT
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