Of course we sometimes got the bikes bogged too; that's all part of the fun! Usually there were enough of us to drag them out and get going again. Probably the worst experience of getting bogged was when I was out with just one other mate. We'd got to a big swampy area. Getting through the swamp was no real problem; there was a track of firmer ground and that got us through okay. But then I thought I'd have some fun; and get a few "happy-snaps" with a camera I always carried with me.
One of the tracks across the swamp went through some very muddy looking ground; which I thought would make for some good action shots! My mate was a bit dubious about attempting the squishy track, but agreed to take the camera and try to get a good shot.
Off I went into the mud; and almost immediately realised it was worse than I'd thought. Oh well, might as well make the most of it! So I wound on the throttle and the bike just sat there, spinning the back wheel furiously, sending a rooster-tail of mud out behind (as well as a fair plume of 2-stroke smoke!). It also dug itself half way to China! It was well bogged!
The mud was thick and gripped the bike in it's sticky slosh. I couldn't pull it free no matter how hard I tried. My mate came sloshing over through the mud, and it took both of us heaving and straining to wrench it out of the bog. Then with the tyre full of sticky mud, there was almost zero traction, and it took a lot of pushing and shoving and wheel-spinning to finally get it back to more solid ground. My mate wasn't too impressed I don't think. "Better be a bloody good picture!" He said. (It's not bad, but I don't think it was worth all the trouble!)
It's been quite a few years since I was in my "trail-riding" phase, but I remember those days well! I still have a soft-spot for trail-bikes, and still have a desire to be out there riding around the bush tracks and fire-trails. It's great fun! (Although I'm probably getting a bit old for that sort of stuff now!). I'll start with a few photos I dug out of the old albums.
The DT after a particularly muddy ride.
It was tracks like this that got it so muddy!
"The water is wide...." But trail-bikes can cross o'er! And yes, that's me.
Trail-riding can get you to some very pretty scenery. (The rider is my wife).
When I came across a D10 bulldozer --- well it was a good photo-opportunity!
One from my trials-riding days. My TY250 negotiates a muddy course.
Of course we got bikes bogged a lot more times than that!
One day a group of us were riding near a creek, and I decided to try riding along in the creek for a while. That was fun! Until I hit a soft patch, and the bike sunk down into the sludge under the water. It was well and truly stuck! It just sat there, standing erect all on it's own, trapped by the under-water mud! It took a lot of heaving and pushing by the rest of the people in the group to get it out again!
Another day there was a group of about six of us all out on a ride. My wife was riding then, and she was one of the group. We came to a narrow creek. It was a difficult looking crossing. We each surveyed the creek and discussed the best place to cross. A couple of the group crossed further downstream, the rest crossed at the point I'd picked. I was expecting the others to have trouble, but they made it across. We were doing well too. I went across with no real dramas, and my wife followed. Her bike was, at most, about half a metre to the right of where I'd crossed. And as she surged across, suddenly the bike dropped into a hole. The front dove down like a submarine doing a crash-dive, and came bouncing up out of it. But the back dropped in and stayed there! Attempting to ride it out just buried it further. It was bogged up to the seat! We were amazed at how close she'd been to following in my wheel-tracks, yet I'd got through and she'd hit this massive hole! It took about four of us to heave the bike out of that one!
THE LOST WALLET
It was the same mate actually, who took the photo when I got bogged. We had been out for the day on a ride through swamp and bush and along fire-trails. Now we were on the way back home. We'd got back to where the main fire-trail met the road. At one point during the ride we'd stopped for a rest, and I'd taken off my jacket. Now I stopped to put it back on. That was when I noticed I didn't have my wallet. I looked through the rolled-up bag I had on the back, but it wasn't there. "Are you sure you brought it with you?" he asked. I told him I was. I was particularly sure because I remembered getting petrol on the way. And I remembered starting to walk out of home, with my wallet, and having to go back and get money for the petrol. So I knew I'd had it. But now I didn't. There was no option but to go back into the bush and look for it!
I was pretty sure where it would be. Most likely it would have fallen out of my jacket pocket when I took my jacket off. So we rode back to there. Funny how now the ride wasn't fun! Before we'd enjoyed riding the muddy fire-trails, but now we were tired and not it was just a task - to retrieve the lost wallet.
We got back to the spot where I'd taken off the jacket. I knew exactly where I'd parked the bike, so I went over and ..... no wallet! I looked around the area, dug around in the mud a bit, but nothing! We'd kept an eye out while we rode back, so were pretty sure it wasn't on the trail up to that point. So there was nothing for it but to keep going, retracing our route for the whole day!
The tracks from there got a lot more muddy. And so it was going to be harder to see. A couple of times I even stopped at what I thought might have been a likely spot for it to fall off, and dug around in the grass and mud. But no sign of it!
Finally we got back to the main fire-trail. The light was starting to fade now, which made it harder to spot, but we both kept our eyes glued to the sandy track as we rode back towards the main road. And finally we were there, back to the spot where I'd first discovered it was missing. By now it was dark. I had ideas of going back along the main fire-trail again and having another look, but I knew the chances of finding it would be almost zero. My only hope was that some honest person had picked it up. We'd seen a couple of other bikes in the area during the day, so I just hoped that one of those had seen it and would be honest enough to hand it in to the police or return it to me.
I thanked my mate for helping me look, and we headed for home. All the way I was thinking of the hassle involved in replacing credit-cards, licence, rego papers, and so on. And feeling pretty miserable. I was also feeling pretty tired; after all, we'd actually done our day's ride twice!
It was quite late when I finally got home. I dragged myself inside and explained to the worried wife what had happened. I put the gloves and helmet down on the table near the door. And then I saw it. There was my wallet!I couldn't believe it! Slowly the realisation set in to what I'd done. When I'd gone to get the money for petrol, I remembered not putting it in my wallet, because I would only be getting it out again in a few minutes time, so I'd just shoved it in my pocket. And left the wallet sitting on the table!
I was tempted not to tell my mate, but I'm not that dishonet. So I called him up and very sheepishly told him what had happened. He said something about putting his size-10 riding boot where the sun hadn't shone; but I'd pulled the phone away from my ear when he'd started yelling, so I didn't catch it all!
Amazingly, he actually kept on riding with me - after both of the above incidents!
THE LONG WAY HOME
At one time we used to go trail-riding out from a town down the coast. We'd trailer the bikes down there, park in town, unload the bikes and ride out through the bush along fire-trails and tracks. Mostly, my mate in the 4-wheel-drive mentioned above used to come also. (This was before the episode in the swamp!). There was some good riding there - lot's of good trails, a creek to play around in, and some good tight tracks as well. Our friend followed (or sometimes led) where he could in the 4WD.
On one occasion we headed along a trail that led south from the area we usually rode in. There was my wife and me, both on DT175 Yamahas, a mate on an XL250 Honda, and our friend in the 4WD. It was an interesting and challenging ride. There had been a lot of rain in recent times, so the tracks were very muddy. Good fun! (The 4WD was doing okay that day!).
We came to a clearing where we stopped for a while. We got talking about which way we were going to go back. The logical thing was to return the way we'd come, but my friend in the 4WD suggested going further south along another fire-trail. We knew that this trail ended up joining a road that led back into town. Now, while doing this "round-trip" sounded good, I remembered looking at this route on the map and remembered it had seemed a long way back to town. It was certainly a lot further than going back the way we'd come. We didn't carry extra fuel, and I was thinking we might not have enough to go back the long way. (And we didn't have anything to rob some out of the 4WD either).
I had a rough idea how far it was to the road, but didn't know how far it was back to town from there. "How far is it to town once we get to the road?" I asked our 4WD friend. "Oh, about thirty", he replied. I did a rough estimate of the distance to the road, and added on 30km. I reckoned we'd be getting very close to running out of fuel. The Honda had a bigger tank so might be okay, but our Yamahas would be marginal. "You'll make it!" my friend encouraged. I mumbled something about him having to tow us if we ran out, and agreed to go the long way!
The fire-trail from there was one of the muddiest I've been on. The 4WD got through on sheer speed, brute-force, and wheel-spin. The bikes slipped and slithered and splashed, and were caked in mud! It was hard going, but good fun! I remember at one point looking down at the motor and couldn't even see the spark-plug through the mud! Yet they kept on going. Of course this harder work was going to use more fuel though!
Eventually we got to the end of the fire-trail and swung out onto the road. It was a dirt road, and the heavy rain had turned it into a quagmire! All along the road were deep wheel-ruts from cars that had driven along it. But the wheel-ruts snaked everywhere all over the road as the cars had obviously slipped and skidded as they traveled. It was hard work on the bikes, because the wheels got trapped in the ruts and wanted to follow their path. Steering out of one rut only let them get caught in another one, often throwing the bike sideways in the process.
We'd only gone about a kilometre along the road when I saw the sign-post to the town. It said "50". What?!"I thought you said it was thirty back to town!" I shouted to our friend, who was making his own snaking wheel-ruts in his 4WD. "Yeah, thirty miles!" he replied.
I was sure our bikes would be bone-dry long before we reached town. And even the Honda rider was looking very worried! I was working out how we were going to rescue the out-of-fuel bikes. Could we get them onto the 4WD somehow? No. We'd have to leave them by the road, have someone stay with them, and go bring the car and trailer back. And the cars were going to have trouble negotiating this muddy road! But in the meantime we kept on going.
It was one of the hardest rides I've done! Fighting the mud and the sloshy snaking wheel-ruts for 50km! The bikes were sliding around and then snapping sideways as the wheels got caught in the ruts. And all the time we were expecting the bikes to run out of fuel. We all tried to conserve fuel as much as we could, but the tough conditions made economy-riding totally out of the question. I don't think we ever got into top gear! I remember at one point just giving up on the economy thing and just concentrating on keeping the bike upright and mobile!
Amazingly (and I still don't know how!), we got almost back to town before finally my wife's bike coughed and she had to switch to reserve. The Honda made it back into town before he switched to reserve. Mine made it all the way, still without even going onto reserve! We were all amazed that we didn't end up having to push them, or go and bring the trailer to rescue them! And I never trusted my friend's estimates of distances again!
Some trail rides though, end up being better if you'd stayed at home! No, not really; they're all fun, even if they don't turn out the way you expected or hoped!
These few memories are of some occasions when it wasn't all fun! But it's all great experience anyway!
Of course there are always days when the weather turns sour. Back when I was trail-riding, I didn't have very good wet-weather gear. That was because I didn't intend riding in the rain. So what I had was just "emergency"-type things. I had some plastic pants and an old rain-coat. It let water in a bit (through ventilation holes under the arms, and down through the wide collar section). Now, a bit of rain is par-for-the-course eventually, but there were some days when we really should have stayed home.
Probably the worst of these was one day when I'd organsied a ride with a couple of mates. Even a couple of the wives were along for the ride (this was before we had kids!). But when the day arrived, the weather looked a bit dodgy. It was cloudy, and the mountains where we were headed were covered in cloud at some points. But we decided to go anyway.
At first it didn't seem too bad, just cloudy. But as we reached the top of the mountain range we ran into fog. Thick fog! At this point we were still on public roads, we hadn't got to the fire-trail we were heading down. I was leading, but a couple of the bikes following dropped back a bit; to the extent that they couldn't see my tail-lights in the fog. At one point I don't think any of us knew where we were! We didn't know if we'd missed the turn-off, and we didn't know where each other was! So I stopped, and the others caught up. At that point I would have gladly turned for home, but some of the others were keen to keep going ("Hey we've come this far, we might as well"!). So we decided to keep going. I reckoned we hadn't come to the turn-off yet, so we headed on up the road through the whiteness, all bunched up so we wouldn't lose sight of each other.
A short while later we came to the turn-off; I could just see it off to the left through the white mist. And we turned down the track. Now, usually this was a reasonably easy ride; there were some soft sandy spots, and a few rough sections, but it was reasonably easy. But it became a bit more difficult in fog that was so thick you could hardly see the track!
After a few kilometres of riding through a blanket of white, the fog finally started clearing. Hooray! We could see the track we were riding on! Then it finally lifted. Cloudy skies, but all around was clear.
We trekked our way along the usual trails, which went through some rough and swampy sections (a bit like in the photo above). We got a few spots of rain, but it was okay. Until just after we'd stopped for lunch. We'd just put the gear on when it started to rain. Heavily. First fog, now rain! We got going though, hoping to ride through it. And that's when the hail hit!I've ridden in hail before and since, but this was the worst hail! It was deafening as it hit the helmets! Of course we'd stopped, but there was nowhere to shelter from it, so we just stood around getting pounded by hail-stones! I was wondering if we'd get pummelled to death, or just be deafened by the racket!
Eventually the hail stopped; and we all decided we'd had enough, so we headed for home. Of course we got some more rain and some more fog. The fog returned in about the same place we'd left it before, and we were again riding along in pea-soup whiteness! This time I didn't worry about the bikes behind; we all just had to follow the road - or as much of it as we could see! As we descended the mountain it cleared, and we rode home in light rain. I think we all decided that next time the weather looked that bad ..... we'd stay at home!
WITH A BOGGED 4WD
It's probably a good policy not to go trail-riding with a 4-wheel-drive! But a mate who used to have a bike and go trail-riding with us got a 4WD and we went out together with him quite a few times. Some of these times were good, some weren't so good. The worst time was one day when we headed into some very swampy territory. The fire-trails up to that point were okay, and we mixed it along with the 4WD with no problem (other than thicker-than-usual dust!), but then we came to the swamp!
The problem with a 4WD is size; they can't pick a track through the mud the way a bike can. On a bike you can navigate your way along narrow paths between the more sloshy bits. And you get through the sloshy bits a lot better than a 4WD anyway!
The mate in the 4WD tried steering a course through the mire, but it didn't work. He got bogged. He had a winch, so he got out again, after some time; but only to go a few metres and get bogged again! We spent hours going a couple of hundred metres! Eventually I headed off on my own to see how much of it lay ahead, and see what the prospects were of him eventually getting through it.
Getting through the swamp was still a challenge, but it was a challenge the bike was well up for; and I made it through reasonably well. Once through the swamp it might have been okay for our 4-wheeling mate, but there was still a reasonable amount of boggy stuff for him to get through before he reached the other side. I reckoned at the rate we'd been going it'd probably take him the best part of the next week! So we turned around (that took a good half-hour just to get him pointed back in the opposite direction!), and headed back the way we'd came. Of course that still meant slogging through the mud and getting bogged and winching it out and so on, but eventually he was back to solid ground. And we went home.
I think that was probably the last time we went trail-riding with him!
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