Another great day of riding!
It was cold this morning, so I put on a few layers of clothing. No electrics on the small dual sport bike, so I have to “rough it” when I ride it. That means no heated grips, no plug in for the heated jacket liner. After stopping at Denny’s, though, I was warm from coffee and breakfast, and the temperatures started to warm up. When Hal and I got to Mt. Ord, I knew I was going to get even warmer when I saw what the road looked like: mud, deep and slippery.
Remember a couple of years ago when I wouldn’t even go on this road in this condition? I had the 650GS under me at the time, and the TKCs as tires. Since then I have come to appreciate having a TKC in back, but then it was too much for me to handle. This little bike is so easy to ride and agreeable that I didn’t think twice today.
Trucks that had attempted the road had already made a mess of it. They made huge ruts and slippery areas where they’d almost spun out, so I kept out of those. But after the first turn, the road smoothed out. That was because it was the segment of the road that is directly in the sun, and it had already partially dried. It was an almost normal tan color, but as I looked farther up where the road climbed steeply, I saw that the surface was nearly black. That meant more chewed up mud.
We kept going up, and after we crossed the cattle guard, the road turned very muddy, as I’d thought it would. The amazing thing was that I didn’t even care. The road at this point is steep, about an eight percent grade, but the little Kawasaki is so great that I didn’t have a problem at all. I went up fast, but then I had to back off a bit because Hal wasn’t going as fast as I was. We were hanging on the part of the road that has the most steep drop-off, and I didn’t want to make a mistake. I could feel the tires slipping a little once in a while, but I was managing the throttle just fine.
Soon we could see the snow dusting the trees near the top, making a frosty crown around the summit. The snow and frost up there sparkled in the sun, and the contrast of ice and sun made a magical mist of evaporating water droplets. It was so beautiful.
Once we reached a wider part of the road with less of a drop-off, we passed a red pickup off to the right. Then, farther up the road about half a mile were two white pickups, and one was blocking the road. We stopped. They had some towing chains and other things that made me think at first that someone had gone over the edge, but the people were just gathering firewood. We parked the bikes and walked up to them and started talking. They said the road was covered in ice and snow a couple of miles up, and that they had tried, but couldn’t get up any farther. We were probably going to slide back down, too, but I was willing to keep going. Hal looked doubtful. We’ve already been through this in New Mexico a couple of years ago.
Here is the top of the mountain, the snow and mist visible:
So, we hung out for a little while, got some photos, and then we went back down through the mud.
After that, we explored a few roads near Mt. Ord that either ended up terminating with a closure gate, or in more mud, so we did a lot of turning around. But, it’s better than not riding at all, and after the thrill of mud riding, not as exciting and fun. We got back to my house early, had a cup of coffee, and changed the oil in the Kawasaki! As the afternoon grew later, the temperature plummeted, and I was glad to be home.
Lots of riding planned for the next week, and I hope I can fulfill my plan of riding one of the bikes each day. I have some epic dirt rides planned, and I am really hoping for the luxury of full carefree days of enjoying those rides without a thought about anything but the ride!