A Day in the Snow
Location: Somewhere near Kirkwood, CA
Riders: Jay & George
Bikes: XR600 & XR400 (Hondas)
Date: Sometime in ’98
Next time I say “Hey, let’s go riding in the snow” would someone please SLAP me! OK so it wasn’t all that bad… Last month I mentioned to George that I wanted to go riding in the snow. He smiled, or was it smirked? Anyway, he invited me up for a weekend at his cabin in the Sierras, near Kirkwood. I have to admit that I was really stoked. I hadn’t ridden in deep (a relative term) snow since high school. In all honesty it seemed much easier when I was 15, well almost 20, years younger and 100lbs. lighter.
We couldn’t of asked for better weather. It was sunny, clear, and almost warm. When dressed properly, it was perfect. We started our ride on some fire roads and hit a couple single-track, “Blue” trails. Nothing too bad and most of it was a blast. However, there wasn’t any snow. We headed to a paved road that took us to higher elevations and, finally, the snow. Once we hit the snow, for much of the way, there were tire tracks that appeared to go all the way to pavement. So much for appearances. What it really was was and inch or two of ice. As much as I love the XR600, it is not the ideal bike for riding on icy pavement. I went down four times on this stretch of road, all of which were fairly low speed. Had there been good footing, I could have avoided going down all together.
After we ran out of tire tracks we reached a reasonably steep hill. George puttered up it without much problem at all. I, on the other hand, got stuck.
After loosing momentum I spent a fair amount of time walking, pushing, and pulling the 600 up the hill. Somehow at about the halfway point I lost my kickstand return spring. I eventually found the spring and waited for George to come back down to help me get it back on.
George suggested that I return to the bottom of the hill and try again. This didn’t sound like the best idea, but I went for it. After about five minutes of fighting to turn the bike around on the ice I headed back down. Once at the bottom George offered to trade bikes. I jumped at the chance. I rode the XR400 up the hill without any problems. George managed to get my 600 up the hill but laid it down shortly past the top. He later insisted that next time I put the smaller front sprocket and my stock fuel tank on. As a side note, there were several 4x4s that couldn’t make it up the hill and their owners were amazed in our riding ability.
The snow finally got too deep to continue so we headed back down to lower elevations, ending at a restaurant with warm burgers and cold beer…