I recently discovered a group of offroad riders in my area through the ADVRider forums (Niagara Region Riders section). We were all supposed to meet up this evening for a ride. I arrived on time and met up with Ryan on his 250cc. He is new to this group as well, and we waited for quite a while, but nobody else showed up. While waiting we each exchange stories of past rides, and discussed the merits of each of our bikes. Ryan said that one day he’d love to have a big GS for longer trips, while I agreed that I’d love a small bike to do some really nasty offroading with.
Still nobody has shown up, and neither of us knew what trails the group had planned on riding on. We decide to go check out the Welland Canal Trail near his house instead.
As we enter the trails Ryan asks me, “How gnarly do you want to go?”, to which I say, “I’m willing to try anything. Just remember, though, whatever we get into, we still have to get my 600lb GS back out of.” Famous last words…
So, we take off into some pretty greasy single track trails. I’m doing my best to keep up with him on his nimble little bike, which is much better suited for these conditions. Plus, with the recent rains, my Heidenau K60’s are loading up with mud and giving me little to no traction.
I see Ryan drop down into a deep gully, and then struggle his way back up the other side, barely making it to the top. Now, I know I have a lot more power than him, but limited traction and excess weight (both the bike and my gut) are probably not going to overcome the altitude changes I’m about to attempt. But, be damned, I decide to go for it.
I make it down no problem. I cross the stream at the bottom no problem. I’m heading up the other side, doing great. Lots of momentum, power to spare… but then the rear tire starts to break loose. I’m slowing down far too soon. I’m not going to make it to the top, and I know this is a one shot deal. Failure will mean a miserable defeat, an off-bike experience, and lot of hard work to get it up either side. And down we go…
45 minutes of fighting with the bike, trying to walk it up the incline under power, trying to go up the other, less steep side the same way, and no luck. We even made a make shift staircase with logs and branches to see if that would give us more traction. No dice.
We finally decide the best (read: ONLY) plan is to ride down the stream bed to look for another way out. Bush-wacking with a big BMW R1150GS Adventure is probably not ideal, but it does the job. Albeit, we need to stop several times to hoist it over logs hidden in the underbrush, and to pick it up every time I lose my balance in the mud. Ryan is breaking the trail ahead of me on his nimble little 250. At one point I honk my horn to get him to stop. “Ryan, you’re heading into Bull Rushes!”
“That’s a swamp. I don’t think hauling this beast through there is gonna work.”
We eventually get into a field; a welcome relief from the dense woods, especially now considering the sun has set and how it’s dark. The next challenge is that my GS is riding down a 4′ deep ditch, and I can’t get enough speed or momentum to get it up either bank due to the 4-5′ tall weeds and brush.
That’s when we come up with a brilliant plan. The GS has horizontal cylinder heads that stick out each side of the bike. With my crash guards and valve cover guards the engine is well protected. We lay the bike down on the engine head and use that as a pivot point. We rotate the bike around so the wheels are now on the opposite side. Standing the bike back up and laying down on the other side we are now part way up the embankment. Repeating this process of rotating the bike and standing it up, laying it back down, more rotating, ad nauseum, we finally get the bike standing up on the top of the bank. It’s even facing the right way!
Ten minutes later we make it down some hydro lines to the road, and a few minutes later we’re sitting in a bar having drinks, laughing about our experience. In 4 hours of strenuous riding, heaving, dragging, and cursing we covered a grand total of 3.8km. How do you like the big GS bikes now Ryan?!