Frank Raines Park: November 4, 2007

In the immortal words of my coworker: “Why is there so much dirt on your bike?”

The short answer:

Andy, Don, and Doug from the Chain Gang met up with Peter and I at Emil Villa’s in Livermore on Sunday for some great dualsport riding.

First, we had much yummy goodness.

(Yes, I ate more than bacon — though who would want to? — my waffle just arrived a few minutes late.)

Andy, Doug, and I had our F650GSs; Peter rode his NEW DR-Z400S (!! more on that in a bit); Don brought his Yamaha TW200.

We took Mines Road from breakfast down to Frank Raines Off-Road Park.

The original plan was to get a trail map and play around on the easy jeep roads but, unfortunately, that plan was right out the window when the ranger said they were out of trail maps. No problem, we said, “what could possibly go wrong?”

Well, what went wrong was that we pretty much instantaneously got lost.

I believe that I was the first to bite the dust as I was leading…I tried to stop on what I THOUGHT was a flat section, but it wound up being sloped and my foot couldn’t touch ground. Rather than pulling a muscle trying to save it, I just let the bike tip over. Plop. That’d be the photo up above there.

Doug came up behind me, looked at me and my sleepy bike, and decided to join in the fun.

Peter hides behind a bush and pretends he doesn’t know us:

So, hey, how about that DR-Z400S, huh? I found it on Craigslist last week and we bought it on Saturday night.

Here’s another pic of it:

Peter seems really happy with it (which, of course, makes me thrilled — more riding with my sweetie!). He was certainly kicking all of our asses at the park.

Which brings us to the fateful hill. Or, as I like to call it, The Hill.

After dissecting the following events with the benefit of hindsight, it seems that the problem was that Peter thought that he was riding up The Hill on the DRZ to scout for the rest of us; unfortunately, Doug and Don thought that he was leading, so they followed him up.

Doug will be the first to admit that he has no idea how he made it up The Hill. Beginner’s luck?

Don wasn’t so lucky — when Doug slowed down at the top, Don had to brake while he was still behind Doug, and Don’s TW200 went ker-plopsky.

Andy and I were still at the bottom at this point, parked, saying things to one another like, “oh, HEYYYY-L no”.

For some reason that is probably unknown even to Andy, he decided that he was going to try to make it up after all. To be fair, he did make it up about 3/4 of the way before losing traction and sliding back down the hill. On his side.

So now Peter and Doug are at the top, Don and Andy are resting partway up, and I’m parked down at the bottom.

Don’s bike is easily righted since it’s close to the top and very lightweight. Andy’s bike was a little trickier. I helped by staying out of the way and, y’know, taking pictures of people doing actually useful things.

The guys get Andy’s bike back up on the rubber bits, but there’s a problem. It won’t shift out of neutral — rather, the lever itself will shift but the clutch won’t engage, or disengage, or something. No power was getting from the clutch to the final drive. “Oh poo,” we said.

So that decided what we’d already mostly figured out — we would have to get everyone back down The Hill since the park entrance was downhill and mechanical issues meant the day was pretty much over.

Peter rode his DRZ down without trouble and parked it in a flat area at the base of The Hill. Doug happily turned his bike over to Peter as well, who rode it down and parked it. My bike was a little tricky, since it was far enough up The Hill that I couldn’t back it down; Peter wound up riding it UP and THEN BACK DOWN The Hill. I will insist until my dying day that I married a superstar.

As you can see in that pic, Doug and Andy were still hanging out at Andy’s bike. Eventually, that bike also made it down to the flat area, where I got out my tools and started checking the obvious parts. His clutch cable and shift lever were both fine; I started taking off the clutch cover before realizing that it was a bigger deal than it should have been, due to being a BMW. Thank you, Die Korp, for necessitating removing the water pump to take off the clutch cover. Oh, but I found the drain bolt that has the coolant under pressure. Thanks for that, too. *spits out antifreeze* Pfeh!

About this time, I suddenly heard Peter yelling “BRAKE! BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE!” and Andy and I looked up from the antifreeze puddle in horror to see Don SCREAMING past us on his TW200 going much much much too fast, his legs sticking straight out and the front wheel wobbling like mad until BAM! Don flopped face first into the ground with a sickening thud.

I ran to my tailbag for my first aid kit while the others bolted over to pull the bike off of Don.

He was conscious and insisting that he was OK, but had a nasty gash on his face and he let us remove his glasses and lay him back down on his back. * asked the usual “Who are you? Who am I? Where are we? What day is it?” questions and he had no trouble. To be on the safe side, Andy and I removed his helmet using the two-man system, which was harder than I remembered. I should practice that.

Anyway, luckily the only things needed out of my first aid kit were the antiseptic wipes and band-aids. Don had a mouthful of dirt and a bunch of scratches and bruises but his helmet and gear did its job and he’s already looking forward to riding with us again.

Don’s bike was now unrideable, too, with bent forks and the mirror glass shattered out of one mirror.

We decided to leave the broken bikes at the flat spot and all re-convene at a shaded camping area near the entrance. Don and Andy walked down; Doug, Peter, and I rode.

Don had a friend in Modesto who could come and get him and his bike, but Andy was pretty trapped. Long story short, Peter and I decided to ride home, get our pickup, and come back for Andy. Because Doug is also a superstar, he offered to stay at the park with Andy until we returned.

We left the park around 2:30, got home around 4:30 (after an admittedly awesome ride over Mt Hamilton), left home around 5:00 and got back to the park around 7:00.

We loaded Andy’s bike into the truck and said goodbye to Doug.

Andy took us out to dinner and a beer in Livermore on the way home and we dropped him off at Cal BMW around 10pm.

So that was our day at Frank Raines. Apparently we don’t really learn anything, since we’re already planning an upcoming trip to Hollister Hills. ;)

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