Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A test of my riding skill.

The folks here at the campground suggested that we take a ride to Sheep Mountain Table about 40 miles away. They said that the trip would be worthwhile and that not many people travel there.  So this morning we took off on the first mostly cloudy day that we've seen here.  The wind was coming off the grassland at about 25 mph so the motorcycle ride was nice but you had to pay attention.  We did see three Pronghorn Antelope run across the road in front of us and lazily leap over a tall fence to enter the grasslands.  Beautiful animals.

When we arrived at the turnoff, we saw that the road was washboard gravel for as far as we could see.  But the promise of great views not seen by the masses made us head down the gravel road.  At the 4 mile mark there was a parking area.  That's where the road that continued got progressively worse.  There was a "high clearance vehicles only" sign at the start of the two track road.  We turned in to the parking area and met a man who had just walked part of the next section of road.  He assured us that our bike would do fine since we could stay in one rut.  Convinced, we headed off.  For the first mile or so it seemed reasonable.  Gravel, dried mud and the occasional path off the road to avoid huge ruts.  Then things got a little hairy as we hit patches of sand, something that I've never experienced before. Our beemer is a nice bike, but an off road bike it isn't.  Take off the fairings, raise the clearance, add some knobby tires and you have a bike that can and has traveled around the world as the BMW GS Adventure.  Of course it didn't help that I had a passenger aboard.  Nothing against Val, but it doesn't help to have extra weight being thrown around as the sand tried to steer us in all directions.  After about 2 miles and at a drop-off, I hit sand that almost turned the bike over the edge.  Val hopped off and helped push me back about 15 yards so that we could take a different path.  Val decided to stay off the bike until we could figure out how bad the conditions would get, and shortly after that I hit deep sand that stopped my completely.  Once again Val helped push me out of the sand, and I turned around and parked.

It turned out that we were just a half-mile from the top,  and when we arrived on foot we were treated to some fantastic views.  It was definitely worth the effort.  Once back to the bike, Val decided to walk about a mile of the road as I did my best to get the bike through the sandy parts.  It was a learning experience for me as it's been almost 45 years since I have ridden a dirt bike.  I'm glad I did it, but would probably not take that road again on a motorcycle.  Can you say Jeep?

The best of the road to the table.

Val helped push me back to this point.

One of the views from the top of the table.

A short rest on the edge before we headed back to the bike.

A last look.

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