To be fair, elderly comes down to a number, an implication of being feeble. It doesn’t really take into consideration a person’s state of mind or physical abilities. At 70.7 years old, Gabe may not have been the oldest to tackle the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route (MABDR), but it was an accomplishment, nonetheless. Especially after our last trip down that way a few years earlier went haywire. Gabe took what looked to be your run-of-the-mill slow speed fall on a George Washington National Forest two-track and ended up with a broken tibia that needed a cadaver part, a plate, and a few screws… we shall call him FrankenGabe!
Route development could be considered an art form. It takes a bit of a creative mind and an adventurous spirit to patch together an enjoyable ride. Creating a route that follows the curves of the track, the elevation changes of the terrain, and through the beauty of our world can be done by just jumping on the bike or by careful and meticulous planning. For me, a little research before going out has proven to be well worth the effort. You come up to an interesting looking dirt road, but where does it go? I have taken it on a whim and found excellent terrain, but I have also found myself on someone’s front yard. When taking the time to do the homework, I already know that dead end doesn’t go anywhere. However, I do know taking the next intersection leads to an unmaintained dirt road following the ebb and flow of a creek, climbs to a ridge line, and brings you to a scenic vista.
Sometimes that creativeness and desire for adventure can get you into sticky situations…
And there the bike laid, stripped of all gear and Farkles. I heard the Wee call to me, “don’t leave me here alone in the woods!” In order for me to rescue it, I had to go rally the troops. The three of us could not muscle the bike the rest of the way up the hill by ourselves and luckily we didn’t have to… we were at an actual Rally. The 5th Annual Wailin’ Wayne Weekend (WWW) to be exact, based out of New Straitsville, Ohio nestled in the hills of the northern section of Wayne National Forest. Surely someone would be interested in pulling a well beaten 2005 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 out of the trails of Monday Creek.
The Origin: Latterday Shunpikers
It all started in 2011. A buddy that I worked with at The Ohio State University Medical Center had a Beemer and loved to share his riding stories with me, the non-rider. He would share magazine articles from BMW Owners News, BMW MOA Magazine, RoadRUNNER, and the American Motorcyclist Magazine; the writings of Neil Peart (the drummer of Rush fame who was also an avid motorcycle rider and author) and Piet Boonstra (old school enduro rider and author); and any other motorcycle related article or book he could find to throw my way.
A Comprehensive Look at Adventure Riding: Tips, Gear, and the Need for Failures
A few opening ramblings…
First off, as of this writing I ride a well-worn Suzuki V-Strom 650. The Strom is the first motorbike I ever purchased, and all its scars prove it helped me learn how to ride (at least that’s what I tell myself!). My V-Strom model is the older generation, not the more off pavement-oriented XT models the OEM started producing in 2015. I will list some of the things I used to beef up my older Strom model from an excellent street-oriented ride to a true ADV beast. I’m sorry, I have to say it… The only gripe I have on the new models is why did they change the headlight configuration?! It was unique! Everyone could tell a V-Strom by the look in its eyes when it was coming at you, those tall, pointy, side-by-side, angry bug-like eyes. They changed them to an over-under configuration along with a new extended beak, which both look similar to a few other ADV bikes…but I digress, back to my initial subject.
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The Shinko 804 hit the murky water and time slowed to crawl. As each second passed I watched the tiny brown droplets dancing through the air. The initial speed of the 804 caused a small spread of spray but as our velocity reduced and the 805 rear tire entered the slop, large round globules followed. As each molecule of water reached peak arc, time itself stopped… the globules seemed weightless, as if I was riding on the surface of the moon. But earthly laws prevailed. What goes up, must come down. My trajectory through the brown mess pushed the water forward but as our momentums equalized… I think you get the point, I took a swamp water shower.
I am lucky enough to be an Ambassador for the Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) organization. Backcountry Discovery Routes is a non-profit organization whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. Through education, advocacy, and promotion of responsible motorcycle travel, BDR seeks to preserve backcountry motorcycling opportunities for generations to come.
Glossary Of Terms
22 Motorcycle Words and Phrases and My Take on Them…
Kane continues the ride through Asheville, North Carolina, the northern mountains of Georgia and South Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway, moto-camping in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest (sort-of), and the Back of the Dragon on Virginia State Route 16. The ride turned solo after Gabe’s leg injury in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest put him down for the count (see Appalachian Adventure Part 1 – Who Needs a Tibia Anyway?).
Six hours of sleep later, I am groggily packing and loading the bike. My motel neighbors’ are Harley riders and can’t help but inquire about my wildly different loaded down adventure bike (a 2005 Suzuki V-Strom 650 or as many know it, ‘The Wee’). It’s a cool, overcast morning as I point the bike south on US-220 to head towards Gabe’s broken leg in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Gabe is still waiting for surgery when I arrive, but is in good spirits (probably due to the pain meds). His bike is on the way to his son’s mother-in-law’s near Nellysford, VA and his kids are on the way from Columbus, OH.
The Sena conveys the pain as I hear my riding partner agonizing and see him writhing on the ground. We are in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains with no one around for miles. His muddied bike is on its side with the back wheel still spinning, the rider might be down but the Beemer is still itching to go. As I pull up to the scene… I’m getting ahead of myself here, let me take you back to the beginning.
My moto-camp loaded bike waited patiently in the garage as I cut loose from work early and sped home in excitement. I swear the Wee gave me a wink as the garage door opened. My work clothes were practically off as I ran in the door and in a fury my riding gear was on and I was ready to go. I shot my riding buddy Gabe a text somewhere in that madness to let him know it was time to hit the road. The Wee fired up like a champ and the engine warmed as I started up the US Topo Maps GPS tracker function on my old cell phone and loaded the route. He texted back his confirmation and we both set off to our rendezvous, a BK Lounge parking lot in Bellaire off the Ohio River. This was an ideal spot because it would take us both an hour and 45 minutes to get there which made for easy timing.
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