I'm Down, I'm DOWN, I'M DOWN!

Our day started off with much anticipation. The previous week my buddy Jeff procured himself a “new to him” Suzuki V Strom 650. I think the adventure riding bug has been nagging at him and he has decided to give it a go! Plus, he says "He doesn't want to go faster, just be able to get further in a day." I started laughing the first time he told me that, it's kind of the same thing!

Jeff and his new Suzuki V Strom 650

Jeff and his new Suzuki V Strom 650

Jeff and I worked together to build a route and I wanted to work in some sites that Stretch has taken me by in the past. In other words, I wanted Jeff’s first adventure ride to be epic. Here’s the route we had planned.

You may recall a story I posted up called Too Cold To Slay The Dragon. Well, the guy I was going to join on that ride is named Andrew and we have been trying to work another ride out ever since that one fell through. This ride is the first one that was going to work so Andrew was joining Jeff and I for a good days ride. It was good we were sticking to decent gravel roads and pavement because Andrew was on his SV650. When we got to the gas station we all just got to know one another and we installed a SENA headset in Andrew’s helmet so he could join in on the conversation with Jeff and I.

Shortly after we left the gas station we were getting into our first twisty roads. It was a nice warm up. We couldn't ride it too hard because the roads are kind of beat up from the winter and there were bicyclists everywhere! As we made it out of the crowd of bicycles we got our first gravel road. Reasonover Road is a great road to get used to gravel. The road is in nice condition and offers a very scenic ride through a typical Appalachian mountain environment.

Kawasaki KLR650 out on an adventure!

Kawasaki KLR650 out on an adventure!

At the end of Reasonover Road we are back on pavement. We took a very common route for us going up 276 to East Fork Road. We often use East Fork Road to cut back over to Hwy 178 and keep heading North. During the winter East Fork Road was used as a detour because of a big washout on Hwy 178. This little road was not meant to handle that kind of traffic so the pavement has become a bit rutted and deformed. I think this was messing with Andrew a little bit. I was in the lead, Andrew in the middle, and Jeff bringing up the rear. We came around a fairly tight decreasing radius turn and for some reason Andrew got freaked out and panic braked. Jeff was a bit too close and when Jeff dodged Andrew it put him in a dire situation. Jeff managed to scrub off some speed before he crossed the outside lane and went into the grass. Over the headset we heard “I'm Down, I'm DOWN, I'M DOWN!” My heart sank! This is a terrible feeling to know your friend has just wrecked and you don't know what has happened yet. We quickly turned around and went to help him.

As soon as we got to Jeff we saw he was pinned under his bike. Andrew and I lifted his bike off of him and helped Jeff to his feet. Jeff said his right ankle was hurting pretty bad. We got the bikes parked on the side of the road and when we knew Jeff was Ok we started assessing the situation. Jeff kept it on two wheels in the dirt for about a bike length, then you could see his tire tracks separating in the dirt. There was a bit of a pause in the dirt and then a large divot where the bike went down and started sliding. His crash guards performed perfectly. Not even a scratch! His Givi side bag did get a busted latch, but the bag was in good shape. His HJC modular helmet and his Olympia jacket and pants were muddy, but completely intact. ATGATT saved his bacon too!

In an effort to calm down and give his ankle a few minutes to settle Jeff lit up a cigar and we took a break. When he was done Jeff decided he would try and ride his bike to the end of East Fork Road and then decide if he was going home or not. When we got there, he was sure that he was going home. We offered to follow him, but he insisted that he was Ok and me and Andrew should finish the ride. With Jeff’s insistence we took a right and Jeff took a left.

The rest of the ride was pretty awesome! We had some more gravel and more twisty roads. I wanted to show them the waterfall you can park your bike in from Leaf Peeping Adventure Style , but when we got to the forest road it was closed until March.

I hate these forest road gates. They are the symbol of disappointment.

I hate these forest road gates. They are the symbol of disappointment.

We took a break and headed back towards home. We had some very scenic gravel roads back to 215 and Andrew got to do his first water crossing on his SV650! I even managed to find the creepy bus again and get some more pics. That thing will make you do a double take when you are riding down the road.

Our next stop was Hawg Wild BBQ in Brevard, NC for a late lunch and then we headed back over Caesar’s Head on the way home.

Later that day I found out that Jeff broke his fibula in the crash. I asked him if it was a fracture. Remember, he was walking on it and he rode his bike home. Jeff informed me that it was a pretty clean break. I couldn't believe it. That’s hardcore right there. Then on Monday Jeff told me that he is going to need surgery and have a plate installed. I would like to ask you guys to send prayers and positive thoughts his way. Hopefully, he will heal quickly and completely.

What I Learned:

  • I don't ride off road alone, but having a buddy with you is a good idea even on the street.
  • Jeff is calm in an emergency and apparently has a high tolerance for pain.

Spirit Strike:

Phillipians 2:4 ESV “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

It’s obvious that you would help a friend who has just gone down, but we can apply that willingness to help others across our lives. In the motorcycle community there is an unspoken code that riders will always help other riders. Even if it is just to lend moral support, we always look out for each other.

When you see somebody that needs help outside of the motorcycle community, are you as willing to lend a hand?

10 Motorcycle Myths

Any rider who has been around for a little while will certainly recognize some of these motorcycle myths. I asked a bunch of riders to suggest their favorite myths and here are some of the ones they came up with. 

Good times!

Good times!

The Best Oil – If you want to light up a forum or group discussion all you have to do is say “The best oil is…..” The truth is we have our pick of adequate oils these days. There may be lab reports that rate some oils better than others, but if you just stick to a quality oil that meets the manufacturer’s specs for your motorcycle you will be just fine. It’s always more important to have fresh clean oil than the most expensive oil.

The Perfect Tires – This is another topic that will light a fire under the rider community. Everybody will pick a different set of tires and describe them as the best. The truth, is there is no perfect tire. We all ride in different environments, with different riding styles, and different bikes. You get variables such as air pressure, surface conditions, regional temperatures, bike loads, rider weight, etc. The best advice I have for this is, experiment. Pick some tires that fit your budget and if you don't like them get some different ones next time. Another good option is to look at what your riding buddies like. Chances are they have a similar environment and riding style.

Loud Pipes Saves Lives – This is a common phrase uttered in the cruiser community. I guess there are times when loud pipes may get people to notice you, but a far better strategy is to learn to ride well. Ride as if you were invisible and look out for yourself. If loud pipes is your thing, by all means express yourself with your choice of pipes, but please wear ear plugs.

This happened really fast!

This happened really fast!

Accidents Happen Slowly – This one came up a couple of times. I haven’t heard this one before, but as one rider said, “All mine have been: Riding, Riding, Riding, flash of color and noise, laying on my back wondering what happened”. I haven’t been in any big accidents, but the ones I have experienced offroad have been very quick. However, I have a riding buddy who has described some lowsides as slow motion. Maybe you have a story to share about this in the comments to help decide if this one is a myth.

I don’t counter steer, I lean – I have heard people say this. The truth, is the act of leaning causes a tiny bit of counter steering and counter steering causes leaning. They are linked, but rest assured you are guiding your bike by counter steering whether you realize it or not.

A little trail side tire repair adds to the adventure!

A little trail side tire repair adds to the adventure!

Adventuring is expensive and you need to be gone for months – I love to read the stories and watch the shows of the epic adventures around the world. They are inspiring and full of challenges, but great adventures can be experienced right in your backyard. This site is full of adventure and the majority of it has been the result of a good day trip. Don’t wait for a fat wallet to start your adventure. Go looking for it this weekend!

Increasing preload on a rear shock will make it stiffer – I will admit that I used to believe this and who could blame a new rider for thinking this is true. Suspension is a bit of a dark art and there is a lot of misinformation out there. The truth, is increasing preload on your shock is used to set sag, not stiffness. Maybe I will eventually write up some articles on suspension, but for now just understand that adjusting preload is to set proper sag.

The Best Chain Lube Is – Here’s another topic that will end up much like the oil and tire topics. Everybody has a favorite and thinks their lube is the best. We have a lot of choices available and the best thing to do is experiment. The truth, is there is not a best chain lube. Try to find a lube that is easy to work with and one that does not leave your chain sticky. When chain lubes are sticky they just hold on to grit and increase wear on your chain and sprockets. A clean chain is far more important than a lubed chain if we are talking O-ring chains.

Shannon Rides Still 2.jpg

You’re going to die on that murder cycle – We have all heard this right? Usually people who have never ridden a motorcycle telling us all how dangerous they are and how we are going to die if we keep riding. I actually feel sorry for them. They will never know the freedom and pleasure a motorcycle provides. The truth is motorcycles are less likely to be in an accident than a car, but when a motorcycle is in an accident the injuries are usually worse. ATGATT goes a long way to being able to walk away from an accident. Fatalities do happen, but if you operate a motorcycle properly there is no reason to think you will die just because you ride.

Interstates are more dangerous than secondary roads – I can understand why people would think this, but the truth is the chances of being in an accident are lower on the interstate. On interstates all the traffic is heading in the same direction and roughly the same speed. Compared to interstates, secondary roads are organized chaos. The upside to secondary roads is all the fun!

So what myths did I miss? Post your favorites in the comments below.