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
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
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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