THANKSGIVING OUTING: by Chas Moser
WOW, what an outing. We had four glorious days of riding. Six to eight riders each day, for a total of about 270 miles. The weather was cool and mild for the most part with temperatures dipping into the 20's at night, with the exception of Saturday. Saturday's ride was cool and extremely windy, with winds gusting to 50 mph on the ridgetops, which made for some very entertaining riding, especially while traversing very narrow, rocky, steep ridgeline trails against the sun where often you couldn't see where your front tire was with the wind blowing you sideways at the same time!! Waiting for the gusts of wind to subside so that you wouldn't be blown off the trail was a little nerve-racking, but otherwise the riding was spectacular.
There was one bike casualty early on ... a certain '91 KTM 300 two stroke overheated and suffered a terminal heart attack. Said bike probably will not survive and is not long for this world. The only other problems were two rim-pinched flat tires. Either slow down guys, or put more air in your tires. There were so many orange bikes that it was almost blinding. With the exception of the "big red pig" (as XR650 R's are affectionately known among Hondaphiles), all of our bikes were of the orange persuasion. My how times have changed!
While we were riding over in the Spangler Hills region, we naturally gravitated to the infamous hillclimbs, where the dry conditions were not actually very suitable for climbing hills that day. After watching the big red pig make about 50% of the hillclimbs, and even then with difficulty, Chas decided to refrain from attempting said hills. In hindsight, Chas could kick himself in the rear end for not even attempting some of the steeper hillclimbs as he knows in retrospect that he intrinsically was capable of doing so. Is that the boy speaking??
The CHP estimated that there were 45,000 - 50,000 riders in the California City area over the Thanksgiving weekend. While it was a madhouse around the various camping areas (where you had to be super careful because of the quads and kids), the further you got away from these population centers the fewer riders you came across. We ran across only occasional groups of riders. On Friday, we rode single-track almost exclusively and didn't see a single other rider.
Special thanks to Roberta Austin, Glenda Baumgart and Vicki Hepler for keeping Chas in line, and most importantly for their hospitality and dinner invitations each and every evening.