3:53 PM, Saturday, June 9th
I pull into a gorgeous overlook on the side of the mountain as we wait for Bryan to catch up. I take a knee and snap a photo. Walking around the Scrambler I notice my tail bag has flopped over the side of the bike, wide open. It’s now empty with exception of my electrical tools. “Hmm… lost my rain jacket… certainly Rosie won’t curse me for the ride home tomorrow”
07:00 AM, Sunday June 10th
Squinting, head pounding, I wake to the sound of rain beating on the tent like I’ve never experienced before… Like clockwork, Rosie is the Rainmaker.
Friday, June 8th
I Roll into Woodward Cave Campground in search of the registration table that’s supposed to close in 10 minutes.
Recognize Steve Kamrad, ask him where I can find the registration booth. He gives me a funny look, then spots the snorting warthog and realizes he’s talking to @MotoADVR. I realize this same thing happened to me at March Moto Madness, apparently I should take more selfies…
Get signed in for the rally, grab my event T-shirt, sticker, and register in the “Intermediate” group.
Join rider meeting hosted by Jeremy, president of Alt Rider. He covers a lot of good tips for all levels of adventure riders.
Get hot chow, break bread with new (awesome) people, drink free beer from the keg. Still have no idea who I’m riding with tomorrow…
Saturday, June 9th
Head hurts… should have drank more water.
Morning rider meeting; meet up with Matt and Bryan from Gear Patrol. Join their intermediate” group.
Get my crap on and get ready to ride.
Bike is dead… “not this again.”
Lemmy gives me a push.
Lemmy gives me another push, tells me to throw my weight down on the back wheel when I let the clutch out.
Bike is now running. Note to self, don’t stall while riding off-road today… no pressure.
Pennsylvania Amish country is gorgeous!
Navigation seems to be going well.
Oh, Hello Option 3, how did I miss Option 2?
Fall in behind Steve, Spurgeon, and the REV’IT women’s team headed into Option 3
This “wide” single-track-esque shale trail thing is awesome!
Stop at a bend on option 4, met by significant log. Fortunately there’s a ramp.
See big adventure bike get stuck on log.
Can’t wuss out in front of the Rev’It girls… Flog the warthog and go for it.
After feeling like a hero, Jeremy and Lemmy blast past me on the trail.
Skip option 5, speed down the main loop for option 6.
Bridge out. Make U-turn.
Wow this main loop is long…
Find Option 6, let’s do this!
At the rider’s meeting someone described the trails in Pennsylvania as “Boney”. Yeah… that’s pretty accurate.
Running late for lunch, we better hustle.
See a KTM on the side of the road. Ask the dude if he’s good; get the universal thumbs down.
Turn the bikes around to help; Brian (The Dude) says it’s like his second flat today.
Jeremy helps swap a new tube while I patch the now “spare” punctured tube and we sacrifice a 3rd tube to keep the steel belts from puncturing yet another tube.
Jeremy spoons on tires faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
I think lunch was Mexican, I only remember the chocolate cake brownies (I left Lemmy the crumbs).
Back on the main loop, skip option 7 and take press photos of the Husqvarna 701.
Debate feasibility of “adventuring” to and from the DBBB with before mentioned Husky.
Still on main trail, “Wait… where’s Bryan?” “Matt, did he run out of gas?”
Brian Rolls up. “Oh, bug in the helmet, yeah that sucks…”
Option 8, hey, I think we went the wrong way.
Okay, Option 8 for real this time; mud… oh yeah, now we’re talking!
BMW F650 does me a favor and locates the boulder in a rut.
Inform Gunner (BMW rider), we can’t break the golden rule of adventure riding: if everyone is okay, take photos before picking up the motorcycle.
This is my favorite option!
Stop to help Bryan adjust the controls on his bars.
Back on the main loop for some sweet flat-track riding.
Lost Bryan in rearview mirror again, stop at nice overlook.
Bryan rolls up moments later after digging yet another bug out of his goggles.
Notice tail bag is lopped over the back of the Scrambler.
Sigh as remember not closing the tail bag after helping Bryan on option 8. Assume my rain gear, air compressor and jumper cables are scattered across the trail.
Run option 8 backwards in search of stuff.
Ride past the scene of the crime… nothing to be found. “The ride home is sure gonna be an adventure…”
Spot Matt and Bryan getting set up at the end of the trail for a photo.
Hit mud puddle harder than any puddle Rosie has hit before.
Water blasts up my riding pants getting stuck in the rain gutter just long enough to empty directly into my boots.
Running late now after looking for gear, burn it down the main loop for camp.
Stop at tent. Drop off (what’s left of) my crap. A guy walks up carrying my rain gloves and jumper cables. It’ll suck without my rain jacket, but I at least someone found my rain gloves!
Grab my bottle of Bulleit Rye and head over to Bryan and Matt for a celebratory drink.
We meet up with the Steve, the Rev’It women’s team, and the Revzilla crew and discuss the finer parts of the day’s ride.
After the previous day’s carnage, talk to Steve about how his Tiger is holding up.
Someone points out that Steve’s forks look bent.
Despite the aftermarket accessories (zip-tied dash board, “streamlined” windscreen, rally paint, and cracked frame)… I offer Steve $100 for his Tiger 800.
Somehow end up riding said Tiger to “test” the front end.
Return from test ride. Drop Steve’s Tiger on the ground (cheap aftermarket kickstand spring). Offer Steve $120 for his “Race Bike”.
Get dinner; enjoy free beer from the keg.
Jeremy proceeds to pour out my beer, hands me a drink.
I’m going to regret this later…
Light cigar and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow adventurers.
Stumble back to my tent. Feel a light sprinkle begin to fall.
Sunday, June 10th
Woken by to the sound of rain pouring down… head throbbing. “Rosie is like a Marvel Superhero… if Deadpool was a superhero…”
An hour before breakfast is served, start packing everything in the tent. Slam 2 Gatorades, glad I had the forethought to set those out last night.
Eat breakfast under the campground shelter. Wane off hangover. Procrastinate… waiting to see if rain slows down. (It doesn’t)
Andy offers me a rain jacket. I accept out of desperation; seriously concerned about experiencing hypothermia on the ride home.
Walk back to shelter, about to drag tent beneath shelter to finish packing the bike.
Notice my rain jacket and air compressor sitting on a table.
Thank Andy for using his good karma to signal a gift from the motorcycle gods; return his jacket.
Finally head west into the monsoon.
Take it easy to Amish country, it’s harder to dodge horse manure in the rain.
Highway disappears a few times between the rain and fog along I-99 through the mountains.
Stop at a gas station for some coffee and hope the rain clears out a little.
Finally get a little sunshine on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Sick of the interstate, and now getting rained on again near the Ohio border.
Exhausted. I Pull into a Sheetz near Cambridge, Ohio, for gas and rest. I kick down the side-stand, and slowly climb off the scrambler. I notice oil spattered all over the back half of the frame and saturating the transmission case. “…over 320 days in the saddle. I hope this isn’t the deal-breaker…”
Finally roll into the driveway after 9 hours and 434 miles. Rosie is still bleeding on the frame, but the oil level is still within spec. “Looks like I have something to do next weekend…”
Reflections on Conserve The Ride
Conserve the Ride is an amazing event, a “must do” for aspiring adventure riders here on the east coast.
Having just held Red River Scramble in Kentucky the weekend prior, the similar passion among attendees at the two rallies was impressive. Per comments I’ve made elsewhere, the adventure community is full of the nicest motorcyclists you would ever meet; each with their own unique thirst for off-road adventure, and all willing to give you the shirt off their back to get you back on the road when calamity strikes. In my case that was literally about to take place when I lost my gear. In a strange coincidence, it was Brian, the guy I helped with a flat right before lunch, that actually found my gear and returned it to me.
Conserve the Ride is set up in a way that it welcomes first time off-road adventurers to Appalachia with a well-manicured, scenic, gravel route through Bald Eagle State Park, while still offering more challenging optional off-road sections to more advanced riders.
Each of the options dumps riders back onto the main loop, that way if riders realize they need a break or have had their fill of “adventure” for one day, they can take the difficulty down a few notches and make is back to camp safely. Per Jeremy’s comments at the rider meeting, it’s not necessarily that the challenges have surpassed the skill level, it’s mostly that riders get exhausted and start making poor decisions in latter portions of the ride. With the “main loop” system, riders can take a break when they need to, or they can just stick to the main loop and enjoy the Pennsylvania mountain vistas and some really nice winding gravel roads.
I also want to thank Alt Rider and especially the Seven Mountain Conservation Corps (SMCC) for making this event possible.
The SMCC is a 501C3 Non-profit that works with the local Department of Natural Resources to keep these trails open for the enjoyment of motorcyclists. Access to trails is a problem that I’m all too familiar with, as I’m sure many motorcyclists here on the east coast are as well. On Saturday night, Alt Rider auctions off some really hot gear to support the SMCC’s mission. Considering the cause, the new relationships that have been forged, and the incredible riding, there’s no doubt the Conserve The Ride will be on my event calendar again next year.