Friday 11th September
We had the best intentions to leave early, but after I sent Ed off to get de-hoboed (hair cut and shave), I met some other bikers at a cafe and got chatting to them while I enjoyed a free chai latte courtesy of the owner.
Ed finally appeared with lego hair, and while I adjusted my rear brake so that it actually worked, Ed put a different jet in his new carb so he had a chance of getting up the mountains. He’d decided to invest in a Mikuni carb, but was having trouble getting the jetting right. It would just have to be a case of trial and error, with hopefully less of the latter.
It felt much cooler with the breeze, and after taking a paved road out of town we turned off on to a gravel road. I soon needed to stop for wee, and it was then that I noticed that I had an oil leak. It never does it when your in a garage with all the tools does it?! Luckily a gasket just needed cleaning and the cover re-seating, and while I did that Ed put another jet in his carb.
We were all good to go but when it came to kicking my bike over it wouldn’t start, and I appeared to have no electrics. After several failed attempts to bump start it I went investigating, and discovered that a wire had got caught between the leg shields and the engine, which had melted the insulation tape and was shorting out. Thankfully some duck tape and a spare fuse sorted the problem out, and we were soon off on our way again, headed for Marshals pass.
We rode through a beautiful valley before going up through some forest, where the trail became rocky and narrow. It was quite mentally tiring avoiding all the rocks and gullies, and with the added annoyance of my plug cap deciding to bounce off repeatedly I was looking forward to getting to the top. There were beautiful views out over the mountains though, and after reaching the top and getting our photo taken next to the Continental Divide sign, we made our descent, enjoying yet more lovely views on the way down.
The smooth dirt and gravel was a pleasure to ride on, and after stopping to take a photo at the bottom we met another couple of riders called Francis and Dave.
They were riding the Back Country Discovery Route and were really lovely to chat to. It was quite funny as Francis had actually been following Ed online, and had even bought his film. Small world.
After a short section of road we were back on to dirt and gravel, surrounded by yet more lovely scenery. A river wound it’s way through flat green fields, and mountains sat proud in the distance.
I’d finally had enough of my dodgy plug cap by this point, and remembering that Ed’s new engine came with one, we swapped them over and my bike finally stopped dying.
Before we knew it were were riding up and over black sage pass, but at 10,000 feet and with easy gravel we barely noticed that it was a pass. I absolutely loved the scenery after that. The bushes were a lovely sage green and the hills and mountains looked like they were painted on the sky. The hills were undulating and the position of the sun cast shadows across them, adding to their appeal.
We were quite happily following the trail when suddenly we couldn’t see it anymore. We don’t know if it was overgrown with shrubs and bushes, but where the GPS told us to turn there wasn’t an obvious trail.
Unable to work it out we decided to turn around and take another gravel road that re-joined it, and as we were happily flying along Ed suddenly got air on a bump and his boots went flying. They were tied on to his pannier though, and as they bounced around all over the place I started cracking up in my helmet. I don’t know why but it really made me laugh watching them bounce around.
We soon got back on to the other gravel road and suddenly my bike felt weird. I stopped and looked down to discover that I had a flat. The valve had been torn right out, and the Slime we’d put in them had made an appearance. At least it was a pleasant place to stop for the night, and we rode down a bank next to the road and set up camp.
Ed put the tent up and I got the dinner going, and it was while I was doing that that I made the stupid comment of the day. ‘I think I like these hilly things more than the mountains’ I said. ‘What? Hills?’ Ed replied. I laughed. ‘Don’t mock me!’ I said jokingly, suddenly aware of my momentary stupidity.
Beautiful pastel colours filled the sky as the sun set, and as darkness fell we were treated to the most gorgeous starry sky. It was pitch black with no light pollution, and with the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon it was a little like being in a snow globe.