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Common Tread

Business trip II: ZLA conserves the ride again, this time two-up

Jul 11, 2017

Some of you may remember that Spurg and I have ridden the AltRider “Conserve the Ride” event in the past. I think we can all agree that we Adventured the shit out of that ride.

It’s an offroad jaunt filled with dirt, good times, beer, and a bunch of riders with a healthy disrespect for warranties and insurance co-pays. Some of the ZLA crew showed up, including Stevan, who you may remember from last year, Triumph nut Joe Z., and a few other ZLA characters.

Fancy Steve
This is The Big White Whale (a Yamaha Super Ténéré) and its rider, Stevan. Stevan drinks imported Italian mineral water. Joining him in this photo is Hubert, who has a curious proclivity for pork products and wears gym shorts in public. Photo by Lemmy.
This year, the AltRider guys moved the event to Blue Mountain in eastern Pennsylvania, just a stone’s throw from Lemmy Mountain. I sold my plated dirt bike, so our COO stepped up and lent me his BMW F 800 GS for the second year in a row. Free use of bike at an event I could walk to that includes the price of beer? I love this job.

Naturally, I kept a little log of how the ride went.

April 25, 1:27 p.m.: Request time off for event. Realize Lance will require good angle to make story resonate with the readers readers laugh at me.

April 25, 1:29 p.m.: Decide to do event two-up. Will be funny and challenging. Great idea, Lem. Pat self on back. Announce intentions to Common Tread staff.

April 25, 9:27 p.m.: Wife wants to know why I am idiot.

May 24, 3:37 p.m.: Help wife select offroad gear from favorite retailer’s website.

May 25 — June 28: In spite of faith in ZLA return policy, ask wife repeatedly to try on gear to assure fit and break in said gear on test two-up ride.

June 30, 11:18 a.m.: Wife complies, albeit a bit late, as is her custom.

June 30, 12:02 p.m.: Pack BMW F 800 GS, begin trek to Blue Mountain. Trek is 19 miles. I don't know why Spurgeon whines so much. This Adventuring business is easy.

Packed up.
Packing a motorcycle correctly isn't that difficult. Photo by Lemmy.

June 30, 12:41 p.m.: Arrive at Blue Mountain. See Spurg’s truck, fortunately do not see Spurg. Use Spurg’s pop-up tent and begin drinking Steve Kamrad’s beer politely (slowly).

Steve Kamrad, a Triumph parts tester, rigorously examines the efficacy of Triumph's fork seal supplier. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
FortNine Ryan
Apparently this guy makes videos in Canadian, which I do not speak. The only words I could make out when he talked sounded like constant apologizing. Photo by Steve Kamrad.

June 30, 1:11 p.m.: Find out Kamrad is merely carrying event beer that other riders did not finish previous evening and did not actually pay for this beer. Begin drinking in earnest.

June 30, 2:30 p.m.: Spurg arrives. Hug smelly buddy. Spurg limps. Spurg has a broken toe from previous day’s press ride. Spurg makes tough face. Realize Spurgeon does not have Lem-like layer of chub insulating him from impacts. Feel bad for friend.

June 30, 2:31 p.m.: Consider that my toes are not broken despite 19 miles of Adventuring. Realize Spurg is not great at Adventuring.

June 30, 2:37 p.m.: Many other Zillans arriving. As last few pull in, biblical rain begins.

June 30, 2:38 p.m.: Poorly staked easy-up tent flies away.

June 30, 2:39 p.m.: Well-staked tents fly away.

June 30, 2:40 p.m.: Make run for cover; get soaked. Run unsuccessful. Ponder intense dislike of running. Ease sore running muscles with dinner and more beer.

June 30, 7:40 p.m.: Rub belly, feel food baby kicking. Affirm for 32nd time to another fellow adventurer that my wife and I will indeed be doing the ride together, but on one bike.

The only thing cheerier than a rainbow is not having a tent full of water. Photo by Lemmy.
Spurg's sweater
Spurg's shirt got very wet in the rain, so he took it off to reveal a carefully trimmed waterproof sweater. Photo by Steve Kamrad.

June 30, 10:38 p.m.: Accept truck ride to cushy cabin; ponder adventure difficulty level of air-conditioned bedroom.

July 1, 2:44 a.m.: Hear Spurg stumble in after evening of serious preparation for Adventuring. Tough Adventure Spurg apparently also likes soft pillows.

July 1, 7:03 a.m.: Join fellow riders in mess hall. Restrict self to one breakfast sausage. Support local pork farming industry.

July 1, 8:17 a.m.: Watch Spurgeon dump bike in grass on way to registration table. Realize this is going to be a long day for both of us. Also mentally take a quiet moment to pause, consider the beauty of nature, and laugh at him. Wave as his group leaves.

July 1, 10:02 a.m.: 37th consecutive pavement mile clicks on the odo. Stevan (ZLA Purchasing guy) questions for the 19th time whether Jeff (ZLA Facilities guy) knows how to use a GPS.

July 1, 10:08 a.m.: Guy in muddy Jeep stops group; offers to show us good trail. Confirmation of Lem-lem Maxim #846, always take trail suggestions from people driving muddy Jeeps.

July 1, 10:18 a.m.: Finally on dirt. Realize Standing Off-road Lem = Butt View for wife. I sit. Fight urge to stand for remainder of ride.

July 1, 10:47 a.m.: Hear wife mutter expletive for 43rd time. Tell wife not to utter expletives until she hears me utter expletive.

Mrs. Lem is a dainty lass, so breaking rear wheel traction was still very possible. I tested that plenty, much to her chagrin. Photo by Steve Kamrad.
Mrs. Lemmy
"What do you mean, no lunch? Wait until I get these gloves off, then you're going to catch these hands." Photo by Lemmy.

July 1, 10:51 a.m.: Utter expletive. Bike goes down. Wife angry.

July 1, 10:53 a.m.: Still not sure wife has completely internalized frequency of bike being horizontal during normal off-road excursion. Momentarily (and uncharacteristically) self-unaware, my wife has failed to consider that she may be directly increasing that frequency.

July 1, 11:25 a.m.: Run into Spurg’s group. He tells me Stevan and Jeff are going the wrong way. Join Spurg’s group. Congratulate self for being so Adventure-y.

July 1, 12:31 p.m.: Wonder aloud when we might eat lunch. Recoil in horror when I find Spurg’s group has already eaten lunch. Abject terror fills me, for I am A) hungry and B) fearful of my ever-hungry wife, who is Adventure Peeing in the woods.

July 1, 12:32 p.m.: Take whiz. Collect thoughts.

July 1, 12:35 p.m.: Break news to wife that lunch is not happening. Wife nods slowly. Mentally note homicidal look in her eyes.

July 1, 1:31 p.m.: Ride into coal pit play area. Announce intent to ride up hill and land on tabletop.

July 1, 1:32 p.m.: Wife asks again why am idiot. Wife dismounts bike.

Lem on a hill
It felt cooler than it looked, I guess. On a side note, it's probably a bad thing when a photo of your bike's suspension makes you rethink your dietary choices. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.

July 1, 2:14 p.m.: Land after ascent; do not die. Much joy.

July 1, 2:39 p.m.: Pop out of forest onto main drag in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania. Pass McDonald’s; see Stevan’s group outside. Bail on Spurg immediately because burgers.

July 1, 3:01 p.m.: Wife and self both much happier. Guts full and alarmingly rumbly, bad offroad combination in my experience. Make extra certain not to stand and give wife Butt View.

Spurgeon in a rare shot where his bike is upright. Photo by Lemmy.

July 1, 4:12 p.m.: Help Stevan pick up bike. Pick up my bike. Mud mix of clay, oil, Teflon, and ice. Bike goes up, bike goes right back down. Up-down. Updownupdown. Gah. Get tired. Hate up-down mud.

July 1, 4:17 p.m.: Swear at up-down mud. Tell wife we may never leave woods. Prepare to die. Somehow find way from mud to dirt. Dirt turns to baby-head rocks. Do not love baby-head rocks; prefer baby-head rocks to up-down mud. Make big descent down rocks. Whoo! Adventure! 

July 1, 4:23 p.m.: Find 35 riders all stopped for one guy with flat. Thankful am not guy with flat.

Tire plug
Pretty sure this is not an approved tire repair method. #whateverittakestogetout Photo by Lemmy.

July 1, 4:46 p.m.: Pop out onto road.

July 1, 5:36 p.m.: Take Adventure shower. Scrub off nature, nature goes down drain.

July 1, 7:17 p.m.: Consume four-course dinner: beer, beer, burger mac ‘n’ cheese, beer.

July 1, 9:31 p.m.: Tell everyone how easy two-up off-road riding is. Begin drunkenly formulating two-up-only off-road race. Realize no one will attend this event.

July 2, 7:13 a.m.: “Holy shit, what happened to your ass, honey? Are those bruises from the tail rack? Hooo-wee! Oh, nah, it ain’t that bad. Barely noticeable.”

Fortnine sticker
That Canadian rat bastard who makes videos vandalized my boss' motorcycle. This isn't over, hoser. Photo by Lemmy.

July 2, 9:00 a.m.: Eat pre-ride-home pastries and drink coffee. Make mental note to hit Starbucks on way out and freak out other BMW riders with strange brown substance on bike and get fancy iced chai tea latte. 

I think there were a few other parts in there, but that’s the important stuff. I could tell you about the importance of picking lines carefully when riding two-up, or expound upon the finer points of trying to rail on a completely overloaded bike. I could tell you how the aftermarket parts I chose performed. None of that really matters, though. What mattered was getting out to see people I hadn't seen for a year. There's a special camaraderie that forms between weirdos who like to ride motorcycles in the woods. Once a year is too little. No matter how many of these events I participate in, I never even approach getting my fill. 

Muddy bike
"So, just go up to the woods, and then make a right at the woods, and then you'll pop out into the woods." Photo by Lemmy.

I desperately wanted to put my nose in the pines, drink beer with my buddies and do fun stuff on motorbikes. I did. We did. And you should, too. If you haven’t done something like this recently — or ever — you'll find most people are friendly. If I am in the woods, I am there for love of the game and I have time to spare. I will always help a rookie or a stranger and most people at an event like this are just as accommodating.

I’m already ready to go back. Big thanks to AltRider, all the people who made the ride a reality, and my fellow riders for putting up with me. (49 percent antics, 51 percent bullshit.) 

Let's make CTR '18 the year of new faces: new riders, and for those of you who are old hands, why not bring along a new pillion? Can't wait to see you!

July 5, 3:47 p.m.: Dr. Shiau reams out Spurgeon for knowingly riding with broken toe; denies him painkillers.

July 7-present: Spurgeon acting funny; blames herbal medication from pharmacist named "Shaky Steve."