Back in the saddle ­– getting reacquainted with “Alex”

It’s been six weeks since I crashed hard. During that time, I have been taking it (somewhat) easy, and Alex, my Kawasaki KLX, has been getting a few things replaced.

It’s kind of a long story, but of course the first thing that had to happen with the KLX was to straighten the bars, which were slightly twisted on the triple clamps, and re-adjust a couple of things that got tweaked in the crash. Most importantly, the tires (the cause of the whole problem) were replaced. The bike got some nice big “knobby” Maxxis tires, ones that hook up and bite into the dirt. And, since the new tires made the bike almost too tall (again) for me to ride, I had to get some of the foam cut out of the seat so I could sit on the bike and reach the ground with both feet at the same time, at least on my toes. I’d only ridden the bike about five miles home from Tom’s (mechanic’s) with the new tires. Desmond was following me in the car at the time, and I think he was horrified at how tall the bike was. I had to lean it over and only have one foot on the ground at each stoplight. It really didn’t bother me that much, but he wanted me to get the seat cut down.

All that got finished last Monday, but I had to wait for the weekend to ride. Hal hadn’t been on his dirt bike either, and it needed new tires as well. He chose Heidenau dual sport tires instead of knobbies.

Finally, Sunday we got to ride, and we trailered the bikes to near Florence Junction at a staging spot just north of Florence. When we arrived, I was depressed to find how hot it was. The sun was beating down, and that old familiar summer heat feeling was there, which I hate. I thought if I’m this hot already, I am going to die. It is so uncomfortable. Fortunately, I had brought all my mesh gear, and I was glad of that choice as I geared up. We had parked next to a couple of Fish and Game trucks with trailers, which told me they were out on quads enforcing the OHV stickers. I am not excited about buying extra license/permit stuff, but it’s the law so I do it. I was especially glad I’d bought the proper stickers when I saw the Fish and Game trucks.

The little KLX started right up, and soon I was moving forward. She must have been just as eager to get back out again as I was. I’ve been riding all this time on my other bikes, but I missed the KLX.

We had to ride on the pavement about 10 miles to Florence before we got to the shortcut to Florence-Kelvin Hwy. Immediately when I got on the pavement, I felt the squirmy-ness of the tires. If I hadn’t been through this once before with the Yamaha, I would have been worried, but I was expecting that feeling. I just went with it, knowing that in a few hundred miles the tires would feel great.

Hal and his DRZ400:

Soon we got to Florence, took the street that is the shortcut to F-K Hwy. Once we got into the dirt, the bike/tires still felt squirmy, especially in the sand. I had told Hal I might have to go a little slower today. At F-K, there were a few miles of pavement to be negotiated, but then we got into the dirt again. I stood on the pegs, and of course that made it much better. Then we turned onto Barkerville Rd. where, at first, the sand was deeper. Then, we climbed out of the wash and started to really enjoy the road.

Not so “new” now – the rear tire on the KLX:

The roads out there are like super highways with nothing challenging, but it was a great way to break in the new tires. Soon I was flying along, almost up to normal speed. I was looking for the road to 96 Ranch, and I thought I saw it as we neared the Freeman Rd./Barkerville Rd. intersection. I wanted to go there again and shoot some photos, but I could tell it was not high on Hal’s list for the day, so I didn’t insist. We passed it by, and soon were on Willow Springs Rd., which is the road we took a couple of years ago to get down to Mt. Lemmon near Oracle. I’d been on the F650GS that day and had a good ride climbing the dirt up the back of the mountain, and then flying down the pavement on the other side.

We flew along on Willow Springs Rd., too, and the sky was becoming more thickly overcast. The temperatures dropped as well because we were climbing in elevation, and it was super comfortable to ride. Soon we came to a small intersection of unmarked roads, and when we stopped, we saw another road, down the small incline on which we were standing. To our surprise, a steady stream of trucks and RVs was exiting, then going east toward Oracle, and Tucson. A guy riding a big KTM Adventure turned out of the road and came toward us. We waved him over.

“What’s going on down there?” I asked.

“Oh, it was a 24-hour mountain bike race,” he said. I was immediately interested, even though I haven’t raced mountain bikes since 2002. He told us about the race, and then said he was riding his buddy’s bike, just to see how it felt. He was riding without a helmet, which I thought was a mistake, and he had no other protective gear on either.

There are at least four different types of cacti, and one crazy looking tree, in this photo:

With all the traffic and the dust it was stirring up, Hal and I decided to go back the way we’d come. I suggested an alternative to take Freeman back to Kearny-Winkleman, and then go through Kearny and back to Florence-Kelvin, but I don’t think Hal wanted too long of a day. I was happy with going back because I would have at least 100 miles by the time we returned to the car.

What one must do when one’s dirt bike has a too-small gas tank! Hal adding fuel from one of the bottles of extra fuel we must carry:

The ride back was the same thing in reverse, but it was still fun to fly along, the new tires feeling better already, and digging into the sandy areas. All the doubts I’d had, all the chiding myself for making the wrong tire choice, were dispelled in one ride. I think the Maxxis tires are going to work out great for me.

High ice clouds, a welcome sight, on the way home:

I felt really happy to be back in the dirt with the KLX. It was another great day for riding, and I am so glad to be back in the saddle.


2 thoughts on “Back in the saddle ­– getting reacquainted with “Alex”

  1. Wait just a doggone minute. Alex is a female? You did not tell me that. And then to find out she had to have some liposuction in the middle of her? You have fallen into the media’s trap of having the shape that everyone expects. What’s next? A new gear box so she can have a bigger top end? Shame, shame.

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