(2007) Monroe

Giving Thanks for Many Things

Dan (Bombauer) was going to come and visit me for the first time from San Francisco. We had made arrangements for him to borrow Carolyn’s (Bluepoof’s) bike, which she stores in my garage. He had been riding for less than a month and that hadn’t included any dirt riding. That would change this Thanksgiving weekend!

November 23, 2007
Total Miles: 120 miles, 1 day
Seattle, WA

Dan arrived in time for Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, but Friday was to be devoted to two wheels. It was decided that Carolyn’s XT is more cold-blooded than previously known and the only way to get it to start in this cold weather was to let it heat up sufficiently. We rolled it into the living room Thursday night so that it would start up when we were ready to go on Friday. Early Friday morning we found a heavy frost on everything out in the yard so we took the car to do some bike gear shopping, hopefully giving the roads a chance to warm up and thaw out. Our (his) shopping was successful and by 10:30 we were on the bikes and heading east towards the Snoqualmie Valley, the location of many recent forays in the search for “local dirt”.

I thought that we should break Dan’s dirt cherry gently by doing some gravel roads first and then tackle the muddy tracks that Jerome and I had discovered previously. But as I considered our route I threw that plan out the window and Dan was at my mercy. After some deliciously and mostly dry paved roads, dotted with minimal frost on the shaded north sides I led Dan down a boggy and muddy track. Welcome to dirt riding! Dan did great, keeping his feet out as outriggers until he got the hang of it and generally doing a great job of maintaining the proper combination of torque, engine braking and throttle. We explored some side trails that I had previously missed and didn’t mind the deadends that we found.

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Carolyn’s XT warming up in the living room

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Dan’s first taste of “off road”

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Dan getting his feet dirty on a narrow road

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Ducking under trees

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Deserted trails

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Dan catches on quickly!

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Taking off into the underbrush

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Stossel Creek Rd

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Frost still clinging from the previous night

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Bikes waiting to continue

The trails we were one circled back to where we had started and now I was able to take us to the “tame” gravel road that I originally had in mind. It was stupid easy to blast down Stossel Creek Rd now, being in such great shape compared to what we had just come from. But wait! What’s that over there? A previously blocked logging access road was no longer blocked. Adventure time!!!

I took off down the muddy track with Dan right on my heels (wheels?). After rounding a bend the soft and squishy mud ruts became hard and frozen and caught the wheels – it was a surprise, to say the least. We stopped to discuss whether or not to continue and thankfully we both agreed to forge ahead. A few more miles of narrow track, fallen logs and wet leaves greeted us as we trekked forward. Unfortunately one of the fallen logs was much too high to ride over and too cumbersome to easily move. Not to say that we couldn’t have, if it had been important, but it was getting late in the afternoon and I knew that the temperatures would fall with the sunlight, refreezing anything that was still wet from the day. We turned back, re-crossing the same logs (one of them with Dan’s help. I think that he knows not to stand behind a motorcycle when its stuck in the mud now) and generally having a good time.

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Clear cut

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Note the frost even this late in the afternoon

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The “foreshadowing” picture…

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Checking out a logging road

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Oh yeah, I’m having fun!

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Dan is determined not to be turned back

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The bikes laugh at his efforts

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Where we couldn’t ride

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Going back down to the main road

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Not much traffic around here

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The sun is telling us to head home now!

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The logs that snagged my bike

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Dan got roosted!

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Dan makes his appearance

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Still more frost along the way

Now it was time to just “get home”. We had friends to meet for dinner and I thought that Dan might appreciate being able to wash his face beforehand. We ran out of dirt roads and were now on Ben Howard Rd, a twisty paved snake that follows the course of the Skykomish River. A tight, 20mph right hand bend on the north side of a tall hill made me suspicious, as these were the ideal circumstances for ice. I tapped my brake in warning for Dan to slow down and eased my way around the corner. Sure enough there was about 30′ of ice spanning the curve. I coasted over it, watching in my mirrors for Dan, waiting to see how he fared. He didn’t.

I saw the bike come into the corner, going slowly as expected. Then a slight movement, a foot came out, the bike shifted again and then it was horizontal and sliding across the ice. Dan fell in the other direction and scrambled to get out of the way of the pickup he knew was behind him. I pulled off and turned around to help out, the pickup and another vehicle also stopping to help. Dan was standing, the bike was lying down and it was getting dark. Dan looked like he was doing ok so I pulled the XT out of the road. He figured that he’d be alright so the two other vehicles left and we stood there at the side of the road, assessing the situation further. That’s when Dan said that he thought his shoulder was dislocated, but he could ride on the back of the KLR for help. As I moved bikes around he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to ride with me and he’d need to hitch a ride to Monroe, where the local hospital was. I tucked the XT in someone’s driveway and we stood at the side of the road, ready to wave down the first person we saw. Naturally this was a FedX driver who couldn’t take passengers. However, she said that there was a state patrol “right around the corner” and she’s ask them to stop.

Pretty soon a Fire Department response truck pulled up. Dan was ready to just jump in for the ride but the truck pulled ahead and the driver got out. That’s when we heard the sirens. A firetruck, an ambulance and two state patrol cars showed up, lights flashing. This is apparently the standard response, although Dan felt rather embarrassed at all of the attention. They stuck him in the ambulance, gave him some morphine and I followed them the 5 miles into town.

The medics were great, the doctor was fantastic, the nurses were wonderful and everyone (including Dan) was laughing. The x-rays confirmed the dislocation, drugs were administered and the arm was put back in place. Dan was supposedly “out” for two minutes during this procedure, but he still talked the entire time. I was clever (mean?) enough to record the entire re-location of the arm, including this soliloquy. The medics and the nurses laughed at his ramblings and Dan didn’t ‘seem to mind at all.

I had asked the doctor if Dan would be able to ride on my bike back to Seattle and he altered his procedure a bit to accommodate this. Therefore, in just over two hours we were bundling Dan up in his gear (which, much to the dismay of the medics, he didn’t let them cut it off of him) and on the back of the KLR. We made the trip back to Seattle in about 30 minutes and were just a little bit late for dinner with our friends.

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Here comes the cavalry!

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This is a standard response to any call

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The medics hang around to see what Dan’s prognosis is

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The doctor gives Dan a quick peek at the x-rays

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He’s asking Dan what he did to me to warrant such mockery

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The doctor demonstrating one way to relocate the shoulder

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Narcotics in full effect – all better!

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The One Armed Man rides pillion

The next morning we borrowed a van from a good friend of mine (thanks Fritz!) and went back to retrieve the bike. I had left a note on it just in case someone came back to the house while we were gone, but as I suspected, no one currently lives there and the bike was unmolested. The corner of doom was still a little icy but much better than the night before. The XT came through relatively unscathed and was loaded somewhat willingly into the van for the trip home.

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The fateful corner

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Fritz’s van at the house where the bike was stored

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The XT ready to come home

Bonus material!!! Hear Dan’s incoherent babbling while his shoulder is being put back into place. He says that he doesn’t remember this part of the evening. YouTube video here

Tell me what you think! I want to know!