I was moving in slow motion, drifting slowly into the abyss. The thin layer of snotty mud covering the hard packed surface was no match for the knobblies. It didn’t help that I was heading downhill and the off camber angle was increasing. The Tenere 700 weighs in at 450+ pounds and if it wants to start going somewhere, it’s just gonna go, or is it? I dab my right leg on the upper camber, push down on the peg with my left and slide the rear down in towards the trench then bounce my arse off the seat while goosing the throttle… The T7 growls to life, freely slinging mud aided by the R&G Tidy Tail. I feel the sweet bite of the rear rubber as the #TankTenere700 pulses forward to regain my position on the thin flat spot atop the off camber trail.
The Hardcore Encore route had barely started but I was feeling nice and warmed up now! The third and final day of The Fools Ride on April Fools’ Ride ADV Rally was a bit soggier than we anticipated but that would make it all the more interesting. A small handful of riders braved the day as the wet weather and the previous day’s escapades had taken the wind out of many sails. Most opted to call it a day and packed up camp while a few went out and explored using some of the other straight ADV routes that were provided to everyone.
Sunday’s 50 mile Encore route was to be the pièce de résistance for Appalachian ADV’s Fools Ride with the Ohio River and a couple of its tributaries being the centerpieces. The previously mentioned downhill slopfest brought us to the first tributary and provided a lengthy stretch of trail running alongside, across, and through the rocky creek. The team picked its way through the amazing terrain, bouncing off rocks, kicking up mud, climbing and descending a couple snot-covered hills, and splashing in the creek like a bunch of kids…
And then BOOM. I was dropping into the creek off a bank and got a little too excited on the throttle in the loose rocky bed. The backend kicked around and whap, I took a small log to the engine case. Luckily I was not moving at a fast speed but even more so, I had the R&G Engine Guard covering that precious CP2 Parallel Twin! The R&G decal on the cover took the brunt of the attack but that is a much better proposition than banging up that pretty engine.
We eventually made our way to the Ohio River but not before a greasy boulder filled hill climb and descent had us working up a sweat. Once at the river, a nice surprise was in store for the team as we led them out onto a rocky peninsula where their rubber touched the mighty Ohio! The previous day, on the Brush Creek Daytripper Route, everyone had a chance to see the river from a higher vantage point a few miles upstream (as noted in the opening picture). To do so, they had to tackle the hardest and longest challenge spot of the day but the view was well worth the work. It would also prove the worth of those R&G Engine Case Covers
It was towards the end of the day on Saturday’s Brush Creek Daytripper Route and fatigue was setting in for many riders. The River Playground is challenge spot 10 of 12 on the 125 mile route and it is the longest and toughest of the day. For those who accepted the dare, a beautiful vista view was at the halfway point overlooking the mighty Ohio River. The trails are gnarly, unmaintained, rock laden, washed out and weathered as well as burned up by side-by-sides, 4-wheelers, and a plethora of small bikes.
The entrance is tame enough but the farther you go, the worse it becomes. Weathered and rutted tracks lead us through a rock garden then dip into the woods. A windy track full of ruts and brown mud bogs are next on the agenda, delivering us to a burned out Jeep left for dead. Then comes a drop into a gash in the earth big enough to swallow your ADV bike whole. I lose traction and drag the bike along the wall of the massive rut. The foot peg is caked with dirt and mud but the rocky bank dragging along the side of my bike is of bigger concern. A quick look shows the R&G Engine cover and my crash bar both took a bit of a scrape but the bike is otherwise ready and eager to tackle more of this madness.
Once down in the small wooded valley I picked a line and dodged a few ruts, skimmed the edge of a muddy hole, bounced over a downed young tree, and started the curvy ascent towards the top. As the T7 crests the hill into an opening I caught the first glimpse of West Virginia and the banks of the Ohio River. Pay dirt. Here is the greatest view of the weekend… perched atop a set of hill climbs, basking in the hilly terrain, the curves of the river below, the tiny looking barges being pushed by even smaller tugboats, and the spring growth just starting to show their colors.
After giving everyone a chance to do some big bike hill climbing we now have to finish the second half of this off road bonanza. A long steady decline with plenty of rocks starts us off before flattening out and heading back towards our entrance. Another burned out vehicle greets us at the bottom of our ascent and then we hit the trickiest section of the climb. Embedded and loose rocks, accompanied by washed out ruts and downed trees to dodge greet us as we begin our climb. The occasional mud pit and the weathered terrain keep us on our toes until we reach the top. We dip into the woods again, climb a short rock face and splash through more mud bogs to our power line trail exit. Big bikes tackling small bike terrain: #ADVDualSporting.
Flashback to the waterlogged Hardcore Encore… we bid adieu to our close up view of the great river and take a nice twisty paver back into the hills of the Northeast Ohio River Valley, following the ebb and flow of another tributary. We soon arrive at our next off road spot after a spirited peg scraping uphill climb, an old abandoned farm road. The beginning is 2-track but flat with large water and mud filled ruts. Don’t get too close to the Tidy Tail boys or you may get a dirty shower! As we descend back into the valley the terrain changes to rock. Returning to the canopy, the thoroughfare is muddy with a few spots of running water. We each pick our lines, sometimes dodging and sometimes traversing large embedded rocks with a few smaller loose ones to make it interesting.
As soon as the rubber touches pavement we are pointing the bikes back into the woods and start to follow another creek trail. The last creek ride went downstream but this time we had a chance to run upstream. Labeled as a county road, you don’t want to follow your GPS on this one in your minivan! A skinny, rutty, and (of course) muddy 2-track takes us alongside and through this steep valleyed creek. So much fun taking these big bikes through the beautiful Ohio woodlands ADV Dual Sporting-style!
A mixture of twisty county and state tarmac peppered with a few gravel roads lead us to the next set of trails. A unique sight greets us at the entrance, a covered conveyor belt stretching for miles in both directions. We follow the gravelly track, rising and sinking like a set of waves, out to the edge of the Ohio River Valley and enjoy another view of the great river along with a power plant and a dam with a set of locks. The conveyer was set up to move products like coal back and forth between the river and a processing station a few miles west of the river but doesn’t seem to be used often (at least recently). After taking in the view and checking out the conveyor we hit a figure-8 shaped route and head back towards our entrance through an old abandoned and very overgrown county road through the woods. Freshly fallen trees have us blazing go-arounds, which is an interesting task on the soggy canopy floor.
The R&G Engine Case Covers proved their worth and helped fend off a few of Mother Earth’s attacks. Or was I attacking and she was defending? Either way, glad to keep my beautiful CP2 engine from getting dinged up! The solid hardened plastic Covers are molded to fit my T7’s geometry and R&G has customized Engine Covers for many other models as well. They were extremely easy to install, loosen and remove four bolts and attach the Covers with replacement bolts provided in the kit. Best to tighten everything to spec according to the manufacturer’s guidelines! With the wet and muddy conditions, I was also happy to have the R&G Frame Inserts keeping debris and water out of where those ruffians shouldn’t be! No fuss, no muss on install for these bad boys...just push them in by hand and start riding!
As with any rally, bonds were formed or strengthened. Isn’t that the main point of putting on an ADV Dual Sporting motorbike weekend?! Form a team of riders, take those riders out and challenge their skills on various terrain, help each other traverse the rough stuff when needed, and sit around a campfire later that night and laugh about our mistakes so that we may learn from them. In doing so, friendships are forged on the playing field and solidified eating excellent BBQ downed with your favorite frosty beverage (alcoholic or non) at the end of the day with tents, bonfires, and laughter as the backdrop.
A special thank-you to everyone who came out to the 1st Annual Fools Ride on April Fools’ Ride ADV Rally and my sincere appreciation to all of you for hanging out with me in the woods for a weekend. Big Thanks to Mama Wags for heading down and playing caterer serving us Fools breakfast and dinner, on her birthday nonetheless! To Jim and Reiko who played Host to a bunch of Fools, I cannot express enough my gratitude for opening up your property and providing the perfect base camp for an amazing weekend. Lastly, I have to thank Twisted Throttle, Backcountry Discovery Routes, Moto-Recon, and Birdfish Brewery for providing items for the participant goodie bags and door prizes! See everyone at the 2nd Annual Fools…or one of #AppalachianADV’s other rides!
An Epilogue, if I may…
If you noticed, I referred to the Ohio River as “the great river” up above there a few times. Back in the day, you know the 16- and 1700s, the Ohio River served as a dividing line between the colonists in Kentucky and the Indigenous Peoples in what is now called Ohio. The Iroquois were one tribe that called this area home and had a word O-Y-O, which translates to “the great river”. The Seneca who also lived near the river had a word Ohi:yo’, meaning “good river”, but I like to think the Iroquois had it right…
This article was originally published on the Twists & Turns Blog over at Twisted Throttle!
A series of articles inscribed by Kane Wagner, Twisted Throttle Ambassador and Head Fool at Appalachian ADV...
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