Adventure riding with the KLX – part 2


Above: Dusk at Roosevelt Lake

**

Yesterday, the story left off when I found out that the clutch cable on Hal’s DRZ400 was broken, and we were going to have to try to ride all the way home from Young, AZ without stopping. That was going to be almost impossible to do …

Hal was able to keep the bike moving at the intersection of the 288 and the 188, so we made it through without incident. The 188 would take us to Globe. We were supposed to stop (again) for gas in Globe, but I decided to chance it and keep going. After all, I have the “reserve” setting on my bike, and I was also carrying two full fuel bottles; I could stop and dump them into the gas tank if I had to. Hal had plenty of fuel, so that was not a worry. I pulled up next to Hal.

“Don’t stop in Globe!” I shouted. “I’m good!” I pointed to my gas tank and gave the thumbs-up sign. He nodded. We were going to need a little bit of luck to hit all the lights green going through Claypool and Miami (small towns in a string from Globe). Fortunately, we were able to get through them all, including the one at the 60 and the 188 (a miracle), and we kept going, turning onto the 60. Hal was able to shift without using the clutch, so changing gears was not a problem.

Meanwhile, it was getting dark, and since we could not stop, I was once again, as I had on Jan. 2, riding home from Young with the (dark) visor flipped up, and I was still wearing my sunglasses. Cold air was rushing in making my eyes tear, and with the visor up, my lovely aerodynamic, silent Shoei helmet was no longer aerodynamic or silent. The wind was making my head hurt. The air was not as cold as it had been earlier, but I thought wistfully about my clear visor and clear-lens glasses stuck in my bags.

Superior doesn’t have any traffic lights to have to stop at, and down the road we even made it through the cluster f— that is the Renaissance Faire traffic. I thought we were going to avoid it, but at nearly 7 p.m. people were still streaming out of the gate. Ugh. Please let that go away SOON! I thought for the thousandth time.

In the dark, farther up the road, my bike started to hesitate, and I knew what was coming next. So I drifted to the side of the (dark) road, reached down, and flipped the switch to the reserve setting. Hal kept going, which was good, and I soon caught up once the bike started again. But, that was my warning. I had to stop at the Shell gas station up ahead, and I hoped that Hal would  just keep going.

It turned out, though, that we didn’t have a choice. The backup for the stoplight was super-long, and the only way to avoid it was to turn onto Mountainbrook Dr. The whole parking lot of the Shell station was jammed, too, because of the McDonald’s behind it. It seems the McDonald’s is a popular stop for fair-goers on the way home, probably because they don’t want to pay for the over-priced, crappy food at the Renaissance extravaganza. Like, those big, ugly “turkey” leg things that they sell, and I use the term “turkey” loosely We were able to slither through the jumbled cars and make our way to the gas pumps.  Of course, once Hal’s bike was turned off, it was going to be difficult to get it going again.

People were crawling all over, including a young blond waif with long messy hair who was apparently one of the performers at the Renaissance Faire. He was standing there, shirtless, probably to show off the enormous tattoo on his back, wearing sweatpants for pants, and flip-flops on his feet. He was shivering so hard his whole body was vibrating. I thought, put a shirt on, dude!

We fueled up both bikes, and I went inside to use the bathroom. When I came out, I took the time to put on the clear visor and the clear-lens glasses, as long as we were stopped anyway. I only had about 30 more miles to ride, but I was going to be comfortable for those last few miles! The bigger problem was how we were going to get the DRZ going again. I phoned home and let my husband know what was going on. “We are going to try to get the DRZ rolling,” I told him, “but if that doesn’t work, we will have to go to plan B!”

“What’s plan B?” he asked.

“Well, either we ride two-up home on my bike, or you bring Hal’s car and trailer and come get us.”

“Okay,” he said, “I can do that.” We said goodbye, and then I turned to Hal.

“If you push me,” Hal said, “I can maybe get it started in 2nd gear.” (We have done this many times before.)

“Okay,” I said, knowing that I probably didn’t have enough strength and speed to get it going. But I tried. It wasn’t enough. The guy at the pump next to us came over, kind of laughed, and said, “Looks like you need better pushing.”

“I can’t help how I am!” I said in frustration.

“Do you want help?” he asked.

“Sure!” I said.

So, Hal pushed his bike back around, got on it, and the guy pushed him from there, only he pushed harder than I had, and then the bike fired! Hal roared off, because the light happened to be red then and there was a gap in the traffic. That had been the plan.

“Thank you!!”I yelled to the guy, who smiled and waved, and then I got on my bike to chase Hal down the road. Soon we were back in town, and getting closer to home every second. At last, as we approached the off ramp, I could see from half a mile or so away that the light was red. Don’t turn green yet! I thought. It held the whole time we were approaching, then it turned green as we got about halfway up the ramp. Perfect! The only problem was that there is another light at the off-ramp , and it never stays green long enough to let the off ramp traffic through. That’s so stupid.Hal’s bike was still running as we sat there because he had put it into neutral, but it was getting it rolling enough to drop it into gear. Hal yelled over to me, “I’m going to push it up onto the sidewalk if rolling it doesn’t work. That will at least get me out of the traffic lane, and then I can push it.”

“Okay,” I said, hoping that it would work, and we wouldn’t have to be put in a dangerous situation. The light turned green, and of course, the bike stalled right away. I stayed behind Hal anyway, because the lights on my bike were on, and I left my turn signal on so people would know we were trying to get the disabled bike out of the way. Once he got it into the crosswalk to push it onto the sidewalk, I rode down to the first driveway 100 ft. away, and turned in. I waited for Hal because there really wasn’t anything I could do, and at least it was downhill, easy for him to push.

It was an apartment complex, and we parked the DRZ. Our plan had been to ride two-up on my bike if we had to, and fortunately, we were only about two miles from my house at that point. Hal’s car and trailer were there, and once we got home, we would just come back with the car to pick up the bike. I buckled Hal’s backpack so it was toward the front, and I climbed onto my little bike behind him. We’ve done this before and know it works, but we hadn’t done it on the little KLX before.

My only worry at this point was that I was sitting up on top of those empty fuel bottles (we’d dumped the fuel in at the gas station), and I was afraid my butt on top of them was going to dent them. Hal turned out of the driveway, and then we were on the way. I was thankful again for the great suspension on the KLX, and it worked great even with the two of us and all our baggage on it. I don’t think I could have gone too much farther, though. I was sitting rather precariously on top of everything on the back. At least I had footpegs, which there aren’t on the DRZ.

At last we turned into my driveway, and my husband, Desmond, opened the garage door and came out. He was looking around for the other bike, because by then I had dismounted. We told him the whole story, and that we were going to go back and fetch the DRZ. I think he was glad we hadn’t had to ride all the way from Gold Canyon! So was I, if the truth was told. Oh, and p.s., I didn’t dent the fuel bottles! Desmond kindly said he’d have some dinner ready for us when we got back, and it was only going to take us about 10-15 minutes. I went with Hal because we have this unspoken agreement that we never abandon each other until we are both home and safe.

It really did only take about 15 minutes, and then we were back at my house eating a nice vegetarian dinner. By this time it was about 9:30 or so, and I was grateful we didn’t have to go try and find some nasty fast food place and eat a bunch of greasy food. It was several hours since we’d eaten at the airport in Payson by then!

Our day ended when Hal bid Desmond and me goodbye, got into his car, which was pulling the DRZ on the trailer, and drove home. All’s well that ends well, and it was a fun day of riding a total of 309 miles!

I learned that I can easily put in the miles on the little KLX. I loved riding it all day. And I also was reminded that “adventures suck when you’re having them,” but are super-fun to brag about later! 😉

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