The front rotor zizzes as fresh brake pads haul me down. I flick the kill switch and the slowing chain rattle and skrunch of gravel under my KTM’s front tire fades when I stop along the dirt road. A crisp snap and juddering lets me know the kickstand is down. The shock creaks a bit as the chassis unloads – mental note, lube the shock bolts and skip the fries next time. I walk away ready for the reward of a dual-purpose mid-ride look-about.
Of course man and machine have been here before. Lumbering tractors, cussing sledgehammer swingers and gear grinding dump trucks mixed with blasts of dynamite and the patter of shattered rock raining back down built this rugged road. Before machines invaded I suspect it was a pioneer trail that followed an Indian trail that followed…a Brontosaurus trail or something like that.
Modern adventurers come through here now. In fact, by the look of the road more than one Jeep has bashed its differential against that mid-road rock that is clearly the tip of a granite iceberg. At least one left the trickling evidence of gear-blood recently. Along the side of the road I see distinctive knobby tire marks from others who chose to braap past this view. Fellow riders ventured forth surviving the thrill of this corner that leaves little room for error and looking to a horizon filled with more of the same. This is the kind of spot that leaves flatlanders stunned and hugging the cliff face in search of a hand rail. The panorama steals breathe with every sense. Beautifully open America.
Tink Tink Tink Tink Tink tink tink tink…the bike pants behind me. Now I am alone in this place. Goggles off and helmet on, the wind filters past my chin bar and under my glasses, rewarding my gaze with grit. No matter, that’s part of the deal. As I look around I absorb the consequences of a little mistake. The clear and near insanity of our passion drops away in front of me, cascading rough edges of bazillion-year-old rocks and boulders flow forth. Erosion and gravity will not be denied. It’s thrilling in a way I don’t care to explain to those who don’t get it.
I reflect on friends, loves and experiences. Thoughts of family, great rides, crap bikes, and the successes and failures of things human float through me as I scan the valley below. Dust trails coming in my direction indicate my riding buddies will catch up to me in a minute. I’ll lose this moment soon, so I voraciously look about to catch that last piece of solitary magic.
My camera snaps mementos of my friends skillfully riding past, one roosting me with rocks inches from the edge. Db killers in their exhausts are a nod to preservation of our riding access. Despite being a committed enthusiast, the rip of a raw competition exhaust would annoy the hell out of me – even in the middle of nowhere. As they fade off in the distance I know that I want to come back to this place again and I hope I am allowed to. It too may fall into the category of inaccessible places if the current legislative climate continues its path of closing off well established places to ride.
But for a few minutes it was my spot, and one I would not have seen were it not for the thirst for adventure, that great dirty road, the people who journeyed ahead of me, and my dual sport motorcycle. When we fired up our bikes, a great ride was the goal – but this place is clearly the reward.
Writers / Riders note – if you are interested in helping protect motorized access to public lands, and you should be no matter what bike you ride now, pay attention to and perhaps join the American Motorcyclists Association, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, Trail Preservation Alliance or any number of local groups dedicated to the cause for responsible land use and issues. Please encourage your local riding clubs and dealerships to do the same.
Land use starting points online: