Paris to Dacre – part 2

Sorry for the delay.  Been busy with work and some projects around the house that I promised Jane I would get to after the P2D.

One thing I ment to add to the first post was this link:Local TV news story on the P2D.  Ignore the fact that they say “motocross riders”.  Few of us consider ourselves motocross riders, that is what the 18 year old kids do.  Also they pronounce Dacre several different ways, none of which are correct (it is “day-ker”) but otherwise it is a good little bit with interviews.

Ok, on with the story….

4:31 am and we are off.  Due to the luck of the draw we were the final team to leave so only the sweep riders would be behind us.  It was still quite dark at this point.  The full moon was low enough on the horizon to not give much light and we would not see the light of dawn for another hour or so.  In previous years they had said the fog was very thick at the start but it wasn’t too bad this day.  Robb was in the lead followed by myself and Brad.  The first couple of miles were pavement then we turned onto the first gravel road.  This part of Canada really does remind me of where I grew up in Kansas.  Lots of farmland connected by gravel roads.  The roads were in good shape so nothing tricky at this early hour.

The organizers loaded the route into each rider’s GPS the night before.  Even though Robb was leading I was still watching my GPS just to make sure none of the turns surprised me.  The speed limit on most of the roads we were on was 80km/hr (about 50mph) and we keept the speed fairly sensible at around 95km/hr (a little under 60mph).  According to my GPS the fastest we hit all day was 105km (still under 65mph).  The pre-dawn hours were fairly uneventful, or at least that is what Brad and I thought.  Later Robb mentioned he nearly hit a deer standing in the road.  Of course it was so dark we never saw it.

About 20 minutes in we passed a team on the side of the road.  They appeared to be working on one of the bikes but gave the thumbs up that they were OK.  We keept on going, happy that we were no longer the last guys on the road.

We were 100km in to the ride when we hit the first gas stop.  My DRZ has a nice large tank so I was no where near needing fuel but Brad and Robb have smaller tanks like most dirt bikes have so needed to stop.  Nutrition is important on a long day like this so I figured I should eat one of my cliff bars.  This is when I learned my first key lesson of the day.  A proper helmet should fit snugly and put a little pressure on the cheeks.  The good news is my helmet fits properly.  The bad news is when you quickly bite down on a cliff bar with your helmet on you bite your cheek!  Ouch!  Normally I take my helmet off to eat but I was trying to save time.  I learned to eat more carefully after this.

Not long after the fuel stop we hit the first section of off-road trail.  It was muddy and rocky but nothing too difficult.  It was probably under a mile long but had some sticky mud and rocks.  I had to slow down and be careful but was certainly no more difficult than many of the trails I had been on in the past.  However we managed to pass several other teams in this section.  There were several BMW 800GSs and KLR 650s stuck in the mud and lying on their sides through this bit.  These bikes are really a bit heavy for real trail riding and the riders were finding this out.  My DRZ400, Brad’s Husqvarna 450 and Robb’s Yamaha WR250 were great bikes for this kind of trail.  It was nice to know that we most certainly were not the last team on the road at this point.

The morning continued on with mostly gravel roads and a few trails here and there.  I was feeling rather confident – perhaps too much so – and was doing a decent job of trying to keep up with Robb.  Robb is a big enduro racer and also is on a nice lightweight 250.  So, of course whenever we hit a trail section he speeds up.  I had told myself I wasn’t going to worry about keeping up on the trickier bits.  No sense in wiping out and hurting myself.  However, did I say I was feeling confident?

We were on what in New Hampshire we would call a “class VI road” which means unmaintained and travel at your own risk.  It was in pretty good shape so we were carrying a good amount of speed.  This is when I learned the second, and most important tip of the day.  PAY ATTENTION!  It is roads like this that will bite you.  I am not sure if I was checking my GPS or looking in my mirrors to make sure Brad was still behind me or just daydreaming but we came up over a little rise and suddenly there was a giant washout in front of me.  It was about 4 feet deep and had a nasty rut at the bottom.  It was too late to miss it but I thought I could still ride through it.  Most of the time if you keep your eyes forward and don’t panic you would be surprised at what the bike can get through.  Well, not this, or at least not for me.  I flew down the 4ft washout and landed in the rut and went a bit sidways.  I came off the bike and tumbled pretty good.

Now, that alone would have made it a good wipeout.  But the nasty part of it was I landed right in a wet mud puddle.  As I slid through it water was forced up and into my helmet.  Add to that the heavy breathing and I injested a bunch of muddy water and for a second felt like I was drowning in my helmet.  Granted, it was only a couple inches of water but when it gets shoved up your nose it is unpleasant to say the least!

Thanks to the miracle of modern off-road safety gear I was unhurt.  I really am amazed at how I can bounce right back up after a spill like this.  Makes me feel like I am 20 again.  I am sure one of these days I am going to injure myself but so far knock on wood I have done well in that regard.

Once I got my face sheild up and had some fresh air (fresh being not filled with mud) I was OK and got going again without too much delay.  Robb was waiting a little ways down the trail and just as I had almost caught up I managed to get my wheels into a deep muddy rut and went down again.  Where the first one was mostly wet this one was much stickier mud so I really looked the part of a “dirt bike” rider.  Or perhaps a “dirt” bike-rider is more appropriate.  But, once again nothing hurt but my pride.

I managed to keep in upright for the last bit of this trail then we were on regular roads again until we hit the first pit.  The organizers give 2 GPS routes.  Once is the bike route and another is the support truck route.  There are 3 areas where they have pit locations to make it easy to meet up with the trucks.  My wonderful wife Jane was driving the truck and meeting up with us at the first stop.  I was able to get a cold gatorade from the cooler and had a spray can of cleaner and a clean rag to clean the face sheild of my helmet (inside and out).

I said goodby to Jane and off we went again.

and then the rain started…..

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