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Adventures with Honda (Arizona)
- draft #2
|2000/02 to 2000/04||
I took a dirt-bike class on Saturday
and on Tuesday i was already driving 140miles to look at a Honda XR-400. That's
"look", because i was pulling a motorcycle trailer behind my jeep. The price
was good, it was 2 years old... just a bit of a drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff.
It looked great, but i didn't really
know what to check for. Except for calling DMV with the VIN number, in case
the bike was stolen -- but all was ok. We took it for a spin, on a dirt road
not far away. I bought my helmet before the training on Saturday, and i had
cool gloves too. The dude took off on his new Yamaha to the right, so i headed
to the left. Power... lots of power. It was upgraded to 440cc and tuned to
performing at altitude. 1..2..3..4.. i was in 4th gear when i saw the upcoming
turn in the road. I had too much speed, and barely a day of experience on
200cc dirt-bike from Saturday. Even then we only drove in 1st and 2nd gears,
only for seconds in 3rd gear.
So i went down, panicking by pushing
the clutch in, skidding... and finally letting go off the bike when i was
down. The visor on my helmet was scratched, my sunglasses bent a little...
but the left knee was the big deal. I could barely stand on it, let alone
kick-start the dirtbike. Eventually i started it, but i was done riding for
the day. There were scratches on the plastic of the bike. But i wanted this
bad boy... i'll just have to control my testosterone next time. This hard
lesson I will remember for a long time.
We did the deal, went to bank, then
to Emergency Room, then to eat, and at night-time i was pulling my new Honda
Tangerine Road ... Tucson
Tangerine Road looked promising for
interesting trails. I turned from the highway and parked my jeep behind a
single-story abondened building. Once on my Honda, I soon passede the houses
and started to follow dirt trails. Eventually it was just cactus and me, and
a rolling trail. After crossing yet another dried up river bed, I stalled
my dirtbike on an uphill. I tried kickstarting it when it happened -- the
kickstarter went down with my kick but did not return. The circular grooved
bracket broke in half. I knew of a rolling start, but i never tried it, not
even on my stick shift jeep. I pushed my Honda back down to the river bed
and then uphill. It wasn't too bad pushing my 270lb dirtbike, just a little
hot under my helmet. The first try was a failure, but i learned that using
the first gear does not work. On third try my Honda was running. It was around
5pm and i decided to turn around -- not really to return, just finding a smoother
terrain without the danger of stalling again. I ate on top of a big hill and
condinued on the car-driveable dirt road. Eventually the sun set and I started
looking for a way back.
I couldn't find the right turnout,
so i decided to continue further on the dirt road, hoping to arrive at my
car from another direction. I could make out the highway far in the distance.
Eventually i saw a paved road ahead and got on it. The traffic was low but
still several cars passed me as I drove in 4th gear. I was probably somewhere
around 45mph -- but my dirtbike didn't have a speedometer. It was a flat road,
it would be hard to start without a kickstarter. Suddenly my dirtbike jerked
a little -- ohohhhhh it's running out of gas. I couldn't risk stopping and
stalling, so i tried to switch to Reserve while i was moving. I had to use
my right hand, because it wasn't working out with the left. The switch was
on the left side, and i had to lean forward to reach it. But I succeeded and
happily continued along. 3 or 4 cars passed me along the way. Eventually I
was in familiar territory along the highway and made it to my car without
running out of gas.
It took 4 different tries on different
days to drive to Crown King. Once i started from Lake Pleasant, somehow surviving
the steep uphills without stalling or dropping the bike. It sure was a tall
bike -- perfect height on flat ground, but on uphills i wished for being closer
I went up as much as i could before
the sun started to set. I heard from returning offroaders that there was snow
ahead. If they had to turn back, i certainly would, but i wanted to at least
get that far. Without daylight, however, i couldn't go on. I turned back.
Temperature was dropping... and then in pitch dark, my Honda was dropping
too. After dropping it for the 3rd time on yet another steep downhill, i couldn't
start it again. I waited, tried again, waited. I was sitting in pitch dark,
hoping that next time will be successful. Yes! Finally.
Another time I started from a car-driveable
dirt road. The kind of dirt road that's great for 4x4 cars and any rental
cars, but not advisable for owners of passeger cars. After several scenic
stops for photos, I made it to Crown King. An eating place, some houses...
The road continued and then there was snow. Coool -- snow in April. In Arizona.
On the way back i was cold. I had
my poncho on for warmth, but still i was shaking and had to stop and hug my
engine for warmth. I passed by an interesting sight -- a glider plane landed
on the dirt road. The dude was 18miles off coarse and emergency landed without
any damage and just along the road.
Kurt was a cool dude who was the
friendlier of the 2 instructors when i trained on a Honda XR-200 for a day.
He just happened to have an XR-400, and when i got mine I called him up. On
this overcast April day it was pleasantly cool. We headed out in new territory
that i discovered a week before, by following trucks with offroad quads and
dirt-bikes. We followed the up and down trails, rolling gently most of the
time. All was cool, even that steep uphill, i made it without stalling/dropping.
Then we encountered mud. About 30 yards of nothing but unavoidable mud. Kurt
made it through like a champ (he has driven track competively too), and I
...... well pretty soon i dropped it, but at least i was still standing. Kurt
came back on foot and drove it through for me. I never got hang of the mud.
I never was into dirtbiking much, and I bought thinking about driving sandy
flat desert stretches. With lack of interesting company and my other hobbies
like cycling, photography and hiking, my dirt-bike was mostly standing as
hot weather of May and beyond came and went. When I returned after July 4th
weekend from Canada, my bike was stolen. Hmmmmm... well i was going to sell
it anyway. The insurance money was more than I paid (the cost in Phoenix is
greater than in Flagstaff).