The Inverted Dry Sump Idle Test

There I am, tooling across the Hackney homestead farm on the DR350SP, my daughter Amber nipping at my heels on the XR80. The sky is blue, the air is warm, with a nice breeze blowing out of the South.

"What a way to enjoy a Labor Day" I'm thinking as we wind through the prairie grass that is higher than our heads. After nearly ten years of no crops, the land has quickly returned to a more primordial state. It's relatively smooth, but with plenty of mounds and bumps, high grass waving in the breeze and scores of birds flying loudly off hither and yon in a vain attempt to attract us away from their nests.

We were wandering across the South 40, a part of the farm I hadn't been on in at least 20 years. We had cut across the high ditch from the road, romped up the bank and blasted out onto the hill overlooking the west end of the Moore's farm. We'd been surveying the Northern section of the farm for a crossing over the main North/South creek, but had been unable or unwilling to try one.

Although only a small waterway of about 2 feet in width that sometimes was impossible to see through the thick grass, the stream had managed to cut a channel about twelve feet deep and about fifteen feet wide. I had found one spot earlier in the day with my son Adam that looked like if you jumped off the west side, which was a vertical drop of about twelve feet, landed flat on the bottom of the creek, popped the front wheel up and over the water channel, you could climb up the east bank where it had partially collapsed in a spring flood sometime in the past. At least that's what Malcolm Smith, Charlie Holcolm, Tom McAlister, Conrad Brooks, or any of the other stratosphere level dirt riders that I've watched disappear over the horizon on previous dual sport rides in California would have done. Facing the prospect of a Technicolor gravity accelerated face plant in front of my son head on, I worked up as much sage wisdom as possible and said gravely "we'll have to go around on the road, there's no way across."

I had returned with Amber for further exploration, and we were pushing out the envelope of trails into the heretofore unridden southern reaches. As I rode south, parallel to the main creek, I was probing for the draw that ran west to east, draining this field into the creek. I knew it was here somewhere, probably just up ahead. I was thinking, "you know, I haven't been out here in so long. I can't really remember if it was just a draw or if it was a...woooooaaaaaa"

As Amber said later "all I saw was this white helmet just disappear."

My next thought was one of "jeez this muddy creek water doesn't taste that bad." This was quickly followed by the usual instant inventory of body parts and major bodily functions. My first mission was to get out from under the bike, and the water, since I hadn't managed to Kostnerize myself some gills just for the occasion. Fortunately, I wasn't fully pinned, or this would have been a really short story with a very dramatic ending.

I managed to wiggle out, pop my head up out of the water and get my legs out from under the bike. After the water drained from my ears, I was greeted by a lovely, putt, putt, putt, putt. Isn't it amazing how your mind works at times like this? I was thinking, "What an incredible guy Avery Innis is, he can even build DR's that run upside down with the airbox submerged." Next I had a short debate with myself about whether dry sump lubrication systems worked even when inverted. I quickly mentally nominated my brother Jeff to flip his Sofatail(tm) over, put it up on the bars and the seat just like a Sting Ray and see if it lubes OK. Hopefully this all happened in milliseconds, as the scientists tell us it does, because the bike is still putt, putt, putting along, the rear wheel lazily weaving the grass through the spokes into a rough green carpet.

I'm just beginning the debate about 'how will I get to the kill switch, since it's buried in the mud with the rest of the bars' when the bike finally putts it's last putt and mercifully prevents me from frenetically digging for the kill switch in a vain attempt to save the motor.

"Dad? Dad? Are you all right?" I saw the high grass move a little, and out poked a white helmet and Oakley goggles, filled with eyes the same size as the lenses. Now, how all right can you feel covered in mud, (at least the top half), standing next to an inverted bike, looking twelve feet up at your formally respectful daughter? "Yea, I'm OK" I replied sheepishly.

So far the score read:

Wheels to the sky DR350SP - 1

Formally viewed as Guy Cooper father - 1

Mud covered 1994 Ridge Runner 500 jersey - 1

Perceived ways to get all of above out of predicament - 0

I managed to get the bike flipped back over by applying my shoulder to the seat and sliding the side of the bike along the nearly vertical bank, while the front wheel stayed firmly locked in it's new found home, the creek bed. I then fought my way through the nearly impenetrable interlocked grass and brush up the creek looking for a likely spot to get back up. About thirty feet west I found a place where the bank had collapsed, at least to the point where it wasn't vertical. I wallowed back down to the bike and began the process of getting it started.

A few kicks at full throttle, decomp lever in, to clean it out. A few kicks at closed throttle, no luck. Whoops, I had fortotten, about 1/4 throttle because it's already hot, and a few wonderfully easy auto-decomped kicks later, putt, putt, putt. Amazing.

I then proceeded to push/drag/heave/ride it the 30 feet to my escape route. It was basically one long trench, as the rear Metzeler Six Days was rapidly proceeding to China. Where were all the 'dig a hole' Parry Sound Sportbike Rally guys when I really was digging a hole?

By the time I got to my destination I was wasted. Any idea how hot and humid it is in the bottom of an Iowa stream, sun beating down, humidity at about 95%, and that nice breeze is about 20 feet straight up? I took a couple of swigs from the enduro jug. The water was about 90 degrees, but it was wet, and a lot less abrasive than the stuff from the creek.

I made a few attempts to get the front of the bike up the first two foot embankment and quickly realized that it wasn't going to happen, at least not when I had my cousin and my son back at the house with nothing better to do than rescue me. I fought my way up the bank and back to Amber, feeling as if all I needed was a machete and I'd have been ready for the Amazon. I got her bike turned around and sent her on a mission of mercy to the house with instructions to fetch help.

While I waited I make another feeble attempt to get the bike up the bank, but with no traction, no momentum, and fading strength, it was a hopeless case. In a few minutes I was rewarded with the site of Scott's Suburban coming over the hill. No troop of calvary ever looked better parting prairie grass. Primarily due to his pushing we quickly got the bike up and over the three or four jumps up the bank.

Although I managed to get back to the farm, and even give rides to the little kids around the lawn, further exploration and inversion tests were postponed.

Now, if I can only figure a way to mount a winch...

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