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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all;

Last weekend I was out riding (solo) on a forest road (Burlington Ridge Rd.) near Nevada City, CA, when I attempted to ride a small section of (Valencia) road that connected the Burlington Rd. back to a paved Hwy 20. It's not marked solid on iMaps, but is connected on Google-maps. What the map doesn't show is that the connecting road crosses a creek and is a very steep down-slope with some sharp turns and rocky terrain.

When I first encountered the descent, I reached a point where I thought it would be beyond my ability to ride back up and out if I needed to reverse course, so I gingerly turned the bike around and went back up to the ridge. But Burlington Rd. quickly dead-ended, and the way back (the way I came) was at least an additional 30 minutes of riding, so I figured the fastest way back to Hwy 20 would be to cross the creek at the bottom of the canyon via Valencia Rd.

So I decided to descend again, all the way down this time, passing the point where I originally turned around, hoping that the way up the other side of the valley would be more manageable. But when I got to the bottom of the valley, dread started to set in as the exit route became visible.

The creek was only a few yards wide, so the crossing itself would not have been too difficult; but the opposite bank was moderately eroded, involving a sharp bump to get out of the water, and then immediately after the road became very steep with some nasty angled slopes to navigate. Although the dirt road was fairly well-packed and the incline mostly straight uphill, I was concerned that the wet tires would turn the dirt into mud, making traction unpredictable, turning the ascent into a higher-risk situation.

It was starting to get late, and although I had probably at least an hour of sunlight left, because I was stopped at the bottom of a forested canyon, I was losing light fast. I had thoughts of walking out to find help, but my stubborn pride wouldn't allow it; and even if I did find help, a rescue vehicle would be useless without a rope and low-geared 4WD. I got myself into this situation; at the very least I should attempt to get out of it on my own.

After five minutes of what seemed like an eternity, I decided that my best chance of success would be to go back the way I came. Since I just rode down that section of road it was mostly still fresh in my mind. Although littered with loose rocks ranging in size from golf-balls to softballs, and having some sharp turns, there were some large embedded rocks that would provide more predictable traction. In any case, this was going to be my most challenging ride yet w/ the '2018 Africa Twin Adv. Sport.

I envisioned emulating all the tips from the MotoTrek video's I've watched (Thanks Bret Tkacs! I have to give credit where it's due); "Weightless rider" "Body-position" "Throttle/clutch control" "Relaxed handgrips", etc.; somehow I managed to climb this beast back up without dropping it. The handlebars were bouncing back and forth violently and the front suspension working hard to climb over steep edged obstacles, but I kept my momentum and eventually made it back up without dropping the bike or getting stuck!

After I made it back Burlington Ridge Rd. the road flattened out, and I was basically home-free again; while I had a sense of accomplishment for overcoming the situation, I also experienced a sudden onset of stomach pain. It wasn't from anything I had ingested; it was likely due to a big stress-adrenaline (cortisol?) dump I must have undergone when managing that machine up that hill. The stomach pain stayed with me for an hour or two (and I noticed my digestion was "off" for at least a day). I suppose learning to relax, even during those difficult riding conditions / maneuvers, could help prevent the involuntary stress-response.

Looking back on it, I realize there could've been a lot of bad outcomes to that predicament (which I don't want to even start listing). I do think there are a few obvious take-away lessons;

a) Ride within your abilities! Take on challenges that are within a reasonable margin of difficulty!

b) Leave yourself an out! This can apply to riding in traffic, just a much as riding across difficult terrain.

But in addition to these two, a solo rider may come across dynamic situations that stretch the limits of both of these guidelines; I think a few other things would have been smart:

c) Having a riding buddy can help provide the physical (and mental) support to avoid these 'no way out' scenarios

d) Trust instincts; it would have been smarter to not re-attempt the descent after I had turned around the first time.. it was likely a combination of pride/ego and impatience that led me to unwisely attempt the difficult canyon traverse with no backup and fading daylight.

e) Walk it first; although it may take more time initially to walk the road ahead, it would've saved me a lot of stress and potential risk.

Anything else? Feel free to comment / post any similar situations you may have experienced!

And thanks for reading this all the way! I hope to get some more rides in this summer.

K
 

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'22 ATAS ES DCT
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Nice read. Glad you got out of that situation. I don't have enough experience to add more to it just yet but point e) is one we both don't do enough of :)

What seems like a previous lifetime by now, on a much smaller bike, was faced with something similar due to not reading the map correctly and ended up riding along the creek until I found a clearing that was safer to exit. The map had elevation lines which helped. Added another hour or two to the journey mind you, but was worth it.
 

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I ride alone often in the N GA mountains and there have been many times that I've turned around on a trail not because I couldn't ride what was in front of me but because IF something happened and I got stuck I would be alone and probably walking a long way out or worse. It happened once on my DRZ400, walked about 3 miles b4 a 4 wheeler came by, took me back to my bike and helped out.
 

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My similar experience was just last Thursday afternoon. I managed to get in a bad spot, took what I thought was a rough but passable Amicaliua Mountain Rd off of Nimblewell Gap Road in the Chattahoochee National Forest here in North Georgia. The road winds down toward the top and backside of Amicalola Falls, but once I got on this boulder, downed trees, and water-logged obstacle course I realized no one had used this OHV road/trail in a long time.
It was so difficult I almost turned around but really didn’t want to repeat anything that I had already done. It had started to drizzle, was getting dark, and I had already almost dropped the bike at least three times through mud holes. I continued on and when I finally reached the rear of Amicalola Park I was heartbroken to see that the park service had a ‘road closed’ gate that blocked my escape onto a gravel road on the park side, so I was stuck. I had just traveled several miles on a closed OHV road.
I tried to squeeze the bike around the gate and got it wedged between a tree and the metal gate post, plus it was facing downhill so I couldn’t get it out or pull it back uphill out of the wedge. I called my wife to have her and my son come in from the civilized side on the other side of the gate to help me pull the bike out. It was going to be about an hour for them to arrive. About that time some hikers were coming by on the gravel road, probably headed to the Len Foote Hike Inn nearby. They gave me a hand to back the bike out. I was certain I wasn’t going to return down Amicaliua Mtn Rd in the dark. Realizing the gate post was set in dirt with no cement, it came out of the ground after some persuasion and I was able to open the gate and ride out, taking care to set everything back as it was supposed to be.
I bought a small ratcheting boat winch the next day to put in my Apache top case because having hikers come along is probably not a good plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I tried to squeeze the bike around the gate and got it wedged between a tree and the metal gate post, plus it was facing downhill so I couldn’t get it out or pull it back uphill out of the wedge.

I bought a small ratcheting boat winch the next day to put in my Apache top case because having hikers come along is probably not a good plan.
Bummer! It sounds like you were so close to freedom.. glad u made it thru without damage
 

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Unfortunately she’s a big girl. Things that would be fun on a small light 125cc are hard and technical on the AT. But in the end you did it, made the right choices and didn’t ride past your skill set. Came out the trail with better insight a story to tell no damage to you or the bike..
 

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Trust instincts and walk it first. Those two I have learned the hard way.
That was a good read. I felt your angst.
In my younger years I have put myself in such situations. No more. The AT is a big, heavy bike. On top of that, being older, having some physical limitations, and riding solo have all taught me to take the cautious approach.
Glad you made it out ok.
 
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