3.10.2008,1:18 PM
Sandworm Bike: College course

My beloved little Sherpa (KLR250) and Ed's XR250 at the junction of Glen Springs and River Roads in the Big Bend National Park.

Riding the back country in Big Bend National Park was like a crash(less) college course in riding rocks, pebbles, boulders, rutted and rocky hills, and sand. Lots of sand. It wasn't like beach sand, but it was sand; river sand and desert sand. Lizard Brain did the job well.

A few things I learned:

  1. Don't panic.
  2. Sit way back on the seat to lighten the front end.
  3. Yeah, I know y'all want to hear it: roll open the throttle. I did.
  4. Something I read in a motocross book and tried all three days was to push my weight down through the pegs. This accomplished a few things: transferred my weight down and by virtue of that, also lowered the center of gravity of both myself and the bike. I noticed the difference right away. Another result is it lightens my weight on the bars and relaxes my shoulders, traps and arms; hands follow likewise. Much easier in letting the bike do its thing underneath me and maintain control. I know, it's a bit ironic when you think about it: let the bike loose and you gain control. But the rider also has to stay loose. To do that, get the weight off from the upper torso and get it centered in the middle and down through the pegs. Kinda like martial arts. (Tai Chi of Riding Dirt)
  5. #2, 3 and 4 resulted in the front tire/end 'floating' on top of the sand and small pebbles. Woohoooo!!!!!!!!
  6. Once the front tire, and the bike, loses momentum, the front tire plows into the loose ground surface. This is the case when faster is better.
  7. I'm keenly interested in the steering damper that Rusty showed me on his bike. Despite results stated in #5, the front tire was usually all over the place. It was almost as if the front tire was not attached to the rear and the rear tire was chasing it in front like chasing a wild tornado demon. At times this caused my eyes to pop out of my head and very loud exclamations emit from inside my helmet. It would be nice if the front wheel wasn't so schizoid and dancing all over the place. (Dancing with Sandytires)

Following the five guys on Glen Springs road, where speeds were at least 5-10 mph faster than I rode on Old Ore Rd. the day before, at one point I had to stop and catch my breath and make sure I was still breathing. During an impact* on a rocky decline (upright and still rolling), I bit my tongue. It made me giggle. Guess I should keep my tongue in my mouth......

In all, I loved it. Despite that the adrenaline exhausted me and dried me out to the point where my dry lips were stuck to my teeth, I was quietly proud, and relieved, that I made it on both roads with no issues (except for the spill in the middle of six inches deep of tiny pebbles when I lost my line).

I'm ready to repeat. Next time I'd like to take more time to stop and explore things. To me, that is just as important as the ride itself. It's all a journey.

* I should clarify this. Anyone that has ridden Glen Springs road knows the sections of hills that are nothing but rock; all sizes, shapes, all one color, however; loose, sunk in, everywhere. Imagine riding up a hill and then facing a steep decline with angular rocks all over, ruts and boulders, and cacti sporting thousands of thorns ready to stab you on the sides of the road. You roll down, holding your breath hoping you don't crash on either the boulders or thorns and look for the smoothest line that doesn't exist anyway. At one point going down and by the sheer grace of luck, for I was not in control at all, the bike wheeled off a boulder into the air and came down hard on another. The jarring was as if something squished me between two planets. I don't know what my face looked like but the fact that I bit my tongue suggests it was in terror.
It was fun. At the end :) I'm almost ready to do it again.



Above: Bill on his WR450 rounding a bend on River Road along the Rio Grande.
Three of the Six Shooters on the last day's ride: Graeme (KLR650), Rusty (WR450) and Scott (KLR650) ride up one of the many (many!) rocky sandy slopes of Glen Springs Rd.

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posted by Macrobe
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