Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adventures in water crossing - Part 3

Since I haven't had much time to ride this season, when opportunity finally knocked several weeks ago during a period of fine weather, I jumped on the steed and headed for an evening cruise. In my haste to profit from this good fortune, I neglected to strap on my tool/spares bag which is wise insurance when riding out in Lanark County. Ah, but what could possibly go wrong? This was an evening stroll, not an adventure ride!

After a spin up to White Lake I decided to take a diversion back through Sleepy Hollow Rd, a nice unopened track that parallels White Lake Road through the woods. I've ridden it many times. A bit rough, it hides the occasional puddle but is otherwise quite innocuous.

About halfway along the trail is a puddle between two little slopes that I've crossed many times. It's only a few inches deep. However, this time, just as I slowed down and approached, I noticed a beaver swimming across in front of me. Uh oh. Couldn't stop, wasn't going fast enough to get through, and as I wallowed perfectly into the middle of the where the beaver just was, my front wheel sank into the mire. Crap! The water was about 2 feet deep! I came off on the right but my foot kept going down... down... where is the bottom?! Before I could stop it, my bike tipped over, the tailpipe filled with water, and the engine quit. I was up to my hips in soft gluey muck, struggling to keep my KLR above water. But with each heave, I just drove my legs deeper into the muck.

That morning I'd cut and stacked about 5 mature trees worth of firewood. After 6 hours of cutting, I was bagged. It was all I could do at this point to right my bike. Five times I deadlifted it before I was able to balance it upright and wiggle around to the front. By this time, the sun was setting and I had only about 45 minutes of light left. I managed to winch it out of the puddle by grabbing the spoke on the front wheels. Mud everywhere, I was soaked, and the deer flies and mosquitoes were fierce.

Frustration at my own idiocy drove me to push the bike about 200m down the trail. Mercifully, it was generally downhill, but eventually I hit a slope that I couldn't push the bike up and decided to just walk out. Incredibly I got a cell signal and was able to call my brother to bail me out. While walking out, I met a guy on a quad who graciously gave me a tow the rest of the way. The bike was flooded and not a chance of starting it with a dead battery that I had meant to change all season.

Next day, I disassembled my bike to inspect the damage. Incredibly, nothing serious besides water in the tailpipe all the way to the head. Once I drained that and installed a new battery and changed the oil, it fired up no problem. If I'd had my tools, I could probably have fixed it on the trail in a pinch. Lesson learned. Still, I'm amazed at how rugged the KLR is. Despite these tales of abuse, I really do try to look after it and perhaps in recognition of that, it rewards me with faithful performance.

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