yamaha tw200

Happy Trails

We went trail riding at Camp Claiborne again this last weekend.

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We got a little muddy.

The weather was outstanding! It was warm but not hot. (No mosquitoes yet because it’s still too early in the year. Bonus!)

This trip we put the GoPro on my helmet and, in my opinion, the video is much more entertaining! I caught Don jumping a couple of times and executing a great little turn around trick that I’m definitely not ready to try yet.

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A still shot from the video.

You can see the jump in action here. He jumps a second time too; it’s a little hard to see because he’s farther ahead that time.

 

Here’s his turnaround trick…

Probably looks like nothing to an experienced rider. If I tried that at this point, I’d end up on my face for sure.

The day couldn’t have been better. Well, it would have been nice if I hadn’t gone down on my bike, but at least it wasn’t a major mishap. 🙂 The trails were muddy that day. We were constantly navigating around puddles and shifting between wet and dry ground. During one seemingly dry stretch, my front tire washed-out in a slippery spot and I just went down. One second I was on the bike, the next I was on the ground, a little banged up and startled, but otherwise injury-free.


(That darn bike is heavy!)

Don

Don, “You ok?” Me, “Yep.”

Don also took us off-trail, as usual, because sometimes there’s just something you have to check out off-trail. LOL We found a spot with a mighty big hill that, of course, doesn’t look that big at all in the video, but I’m telling you, it was BIG! And I didn’t weenie out about going up and over, and back again.

I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.
~ Leonard Nimoy

Exploring the Camp Claiborne Multi-Use Trail

During our long holiday break we enjoyed a couple of days trailing riding at new spot we found – Camp Claiborne, in Forest Hill, Louisiana. It’s closer than any of the other trails we’ve been to before (who knew?!) and the trails seem to be well maintained. At least, most of what we explored was well maintained. There are three loops of trail marked for multi-use.

  • North Loop – 32 miles
  • Boy Scout Single Track Loop – 30 miles
  • Woodworth Loop – 20 miles

We got a late start the first day we went up.

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We didn’t make it on the trail until around 3:30 pm which is partly why the above shot is so grey but it was also just a very cloudy day. Since sunset would be coming around 5 pm, we decided to try the Woodworth Loop, hoping we could cover 20 miles before dark. No such luck. Thank goodness our bikes are on and off-road legal. We covered 10 miles, came to a road crossing and checked the time. It was already 5 pm and clearly getting dark fast. We took the road back to the trail head in minutes and headed home for the day.

The next day we went we made an effort to be early so we could have plenty of time to cover the entire trail of Woodworth. There is an area, called the Clay Pit, near the trailhead that we explored first, with berms, whoops, and climbing hills.

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These are definitely more Don’s speed than mine.

Now, don’t laugh too hard at my expense in this clip; I’m still a newbie and this since this area was right at the beginning of the ride, I was going a bit slow and taking things tentatively. Don seemed to think this area was a good warm up area. I told him it’s not MY kind of warm up. It takes me 20-30 minutes to warm up to that level! LOL

Once I get my groove on though, I’m not so bad. 🙂

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It took us a little over 3 hours to cover all 20 miles of the Woodworth trail. For the first 10 miles, the trail is wide, smooth, well maintained, and consists of lots of tight corners and berms. It narrows down for the second half. There are a lot more trees, roots, debris on the trail (which could have been from heavy winds the day before), and ruts. Generally, the second half of the trail was more technical than the first half. Both fun for different reasons.

All in all, it was a good day. The sky was clear, the sun was out, and even though it was chilly enough to need to bundle up in 3 layers, including my old snowboarding jacket, it was a beautiful day and a great ride.

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Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin 

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A Beautiful Day to Ride

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve had a chance to take the bikes out. (Too darn hot!) We eagerly took advantage of the fall weather this past weekend and headed out to the Vernon Enduro Trails, near Leesville, LA. It was a beautiful, perfect day. Low 70’s, low humidity so that it felt cool, but not chilly. Clear blue skies. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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We rode for close to 4 hours, our longest day out yet, and covered about 28 miles. My quads are talking back to me today (from all the standing while maneuvering over roots and fallen trees.)

Newsflash! I stayed upright the entire time! It was my first day without a spill or running into a tree. Awesome.

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We found this great spot for practicing hill climbs and just playing around.

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The picture DOES NOT do justice to the size or scale of the area. The camera really flattens the scene and changes the perspective. They look like itty bitty little nothing hills. I feel ridiculous telling you that I almost wouldn’t go up the one on the far left; but I did. This would have been a great area to take some video but we didn’t bring the GoPro. (Next time for sure.)

Since we couldn’t get video, after playing for a bit we took a break and then Don had an idea to stage a picture. Here he is setting up the bike.

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So I could pose with it. LOL

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The bluetooth headsets we purchased for riding are so incredibly useful; I feel like I can’t even describe how meaningful it is to be connected and able to talk continuously. It completely enhances the experience. We aren’t just two people silently participating in the same activity. Don is able to alert me of obstacles that are coming up or coach me more directly when needed; and it just allows us to share thoughts or ideas while riding instead of riding in silence and stopping and trying to yell to one another through helmets, or having to go through the process of taking off our gear before we can visit.

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Another great day of adventure and good times. 🙂

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
~ Aristotle 

Trail Riding

In-between all the movies and cooking, we do still get out occasionally and do other activities. 🙂

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In fact, almost two months ago we took a motorcycle safety course so I could get my endorsement to be legal to ride on the road. (Our bikes are dual sport, legal for the road, but rugged enough to ride on trails as well. GREAT combination.)

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Don had to refresh his course certification also due to a new regulation with the military. I am glad we had an excuse for him to take it alongside me. I was crazy nervous; I’m not the best about learning new things. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the class (so did Don.) I learned a few tips and tricks that hadn’t come up in my trial-by-fire sessions on the trail. Don is a great teacher but he’s been doing it for so many years that some things come so naturally to him that he doesn’t think to spell them out for Miss Newbie. I also didn’t anticipate that everyone else in the class would have absolutely ZERO experience on a bike so the fact that I had been out a few times already on trails, and we had our own bikes to use in class, set us apart slightly. Most of our classmates treated us like we were both pros. LOL  Little did they know. Pro? Don. Yes. Me? Heck no. But it made me feel good and we had a lot of fun that weekend.

Now, when we go trail riding we can cut back to the parking lot using the forest roads and main roads if needed. Don’s also eager to get me out on the regular road to get more experience on-road and with traffic. I must admit, I am a little nervous about that. But I’m sure it will be less intimating the more I ride, just like everything else.

We also have some new gadgets to go with our riding hobby as well – a GoPro Hero3 and headsets so we can talk while riding.

The GoPro is a fun accessory. It’s a tiny little video camera that you can mount to your hobby toy (kayak, surfboard, snowboard, helmets, bicycle, you name it) and you can take video as well as still shots with it. The first photo in this post is one of our first still shots we took with the GoPro the first day we took it out. There was a slight learning curve to use it but we got it figured out in a couple of trips.

Here’s a one minute clip of me riding; I asked Don to mount the camera backwards so you could see me riding from the front, rather than me riding in the lead and watching the back of my bike.

I like the different view but he’s a traditionalist and seems to like facing the camera front.

The headsets are not just a fun accessory, they are essential, and beyond awesome. It is such a relief to be able to talk to one another without having to stop, try to yell over the bike, and/or through the helmets. We don’t have to press any buttons or do anything while riding. We just turn the headsets on when we start out and we stay connected the entire ride. When Don is riding in the lead, he lets me know what obstacles are coming up which is a nice benefit. We don’t have to stop to check in with one another which lets us keep going for longer periods. It’s really incredible and so worth every penny. It enhances the entire experience to have constant contact with the other person.

And, it turns out, the GoPro even picks up our conversations. Nice.

Here’s one last video for you; it’s only 40 seconds. Me and my goofy self crossing the biggest obstacle I’ve had to face yet.

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The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
~ Oprah Winfrey

All Geared Up

We geared up properly this weekend.

I feel slightly foolish because I’m a total newb and I feel like the outfit implies differently. But it also provides protection that everyday clothes and shoes don’t. For that, I am thankful.

Day 3 of learning to ride (for me) was good, rough in some ways, but good.

First off, the gear may look snazzy but it feels incredibly awkward and it’s just one more thing for me to adjust to. (Really? Do I have to?) The boots feel like bricks. I kept thinking, “How in the world is this thing supposed to fit between the pedal and the gear shift?” (I managed.) Then imagine wearing “coolmax” (cool my ass) boot socks, boots, and padded pants in 80 degree weather. Oh, and don’t forget the awesomely awkward goggles and gloves. Every inch of your body is covered by something and I was swimming in sweat. The price you pay to play I guess.

I had trouble enjoying myself at first. I was so overwhelmed with all the new sensations and the many things I’m still learning. Have you ever heard the phrase, “too much in your head?” This was my brain for perhaps the first 20-30 minutes. How am I supposed to move in all of this? OMG I’m so hot. Breathe. Flex fingers. Don’t death grip. Lighter touch. Breathe. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sweaty. Remember the clutch. Speed up. Shift up. Roots. Bump, bump. Relax. Breathe. Crap. Downhill. Slow down, shift down. Breathe. My goggles are not sitting right. HOW DO PEOPLE FUNCTION LIKE THIS? Eventually the gear felt more natural and I wasn’t so distracted by it which allowed me to focus more on handling the bike and enjoying myself.

Here we are taking a much-needed break.

That sign says *easiest* for trail rating. My ass. Maybe right there by the road.

Do not be deceived. This is NOT what most of the trail looks like.

We explored north of the camp this time. And thanks to poorly marked trails and maps we weren’t entirely sure we were going the direction we meant to be. Thankfully Don’s pretty good with a map.

Never fear, we found our way back eventually. I don’t think either of us anticipated being out for so long – 3 and 1/2 hours this time. We took a lot more stops along the way which gave me a chance to get some shots of the trails.

We even saw some wildlife! Two deer sprinted across our trail like lightning and surprised the heck out of us. I didn’t see the first one which crossed in front of Don but the second came between us like a shot. It was barely 6 feet in front me! It was pretty cool.

Another pit stop…

Here’s a closer look at the hill coming down toward where Don is standing.

Here’s another look at the path I took coming down this hill…into a tree.

Please excuse my sad stick figure skills.
It’s supposed to show you where my front tire and handlebars were.

I was trying to maneuver the decline with a little speed (probably all of 5-10) rather than just coasting and braking which was my method most of the time. It didn’t work out. There was more of that tricky loose sand here and I knew I was in trouble as I started to veer off the trail. I managed to slow down enough that I didn’t hit the tree with any force but I was resting against it when Don came back to investigate my absence which is why his bike is facing the opposite direction. My clutch cable came free as I was coming down the hill or when I hit the tree. It happened too fast to say but it was definitely disconnected once I was stopped. I couldn’t get it into gear to disentangle myself from the tree. I wasn’t sure what I did. LOL  But it was only a few minutes and Don had it re-connected and we were good to go. Back in the proper direction.

Before this little mishap I also had one full-on wipe-out and another incident with an incline that was just too technical for me. I promise I wasn’t hurt! Not even any bruises or scratches. The hill I just couldn’t make it up, too steep, too much loose dirt and gravel. I killed my engine going too slow. I didn’t even try to get up it. I just asked Don to do it for me. Too much, too soon for me.

My wipe-out was another loose sand issue; that shit is hard to ride in! My back tire shifted in the sand, I was losing my balance, and I think in my attempt to keep my balance I jerked on the throttle, which I’m sure you can imagine isn’t what you want to do when you’re already losing control. I sort of went down to my left but because I was throttling I didn’t just fall off or over, the bike wanted to keep going and was spinning out from under me while I sort of laid across it. My right leg was on the engine and exhaust and if it had not been for my new padded pants and head-shielded boots, I’m sure I would have been burned. As it as, my new pants did get singed a bit but I was not.

Those white marks are NOT part of the pattern of the pants.

So after feeling slightly foolish and encumbered by my sweltering new gear, I was thankful to be wearing it and I’m certain it paid for itself in one day of riding. The boots, while feeling clunky and stiff, were a blessing as well. I can’t count the number of times I planted a heel or foot to catch a fall that might very well have twisted an ankle if I’d been wearing simple shoes.

The moral of my story: wear the protective gear. Even if you think it’s silly.

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson