Cold, Wet and Hard Climbing

Some years ago we started taking longer, more adventurous sailing trips on our sailboat Little Wing. The mantra for sailing couple marital bliss was “warm, safe and dry”. Yesterday was the motorcycle challenge which was “cold, (potentially) dangerous and wet”.  It started out cold and got colder. We saw a low of 37 degrees so thank you Aerostitch for the fine riding gear.  And while it did not pour rain, we did ride up into and through a cloud which seemed to surround everything with suspended precipitation. The riding however was beautiful with rock formations, dark evergreen forests and mountain creeks meandering beside the roadway. Here is a borrowed picture taken on a sunny day:

Elevation? Yes sir! King’s Hill has a long relatively steep climb to the summit of 7393 feet which is difficult for these old bikes. Most are not geared to pull that peak and most need considerable carburetor adjustment to be lean enough to keep running in the thinner air. I made some preliminary adjustments in the morning thinking I would do the usual tweak while riding if needed. Well, tweaks were needed but I had not taken into account that I couldn’t feel or turn the low and high speed jet needles with cold weather gloves on….and I wasn’t going to stop on that hill! Blue Bird accepted her mission and we slogged over the top in second gear at 34 mph.

The down hill run was a blast but this is where we were reminded of the potential dangers associated with riding antique motorcycles. My friend and fellow bike collector, Byrne Bramwell had stopped to get gas partway down the mountain and while going 30 mph on a smooth surface, felt the front of the bike lurch, wheel briefly lock, and had to use all of his prior motocross skills to keep it upright. The wheel was cocked at an odd angle and it was clear that so-called minor fork had broken. While heartbreaking for someone in contention for an overall win, Byrne will not be able to complete the race as this is not a simple repair and there are no Henderson dealers nearby (or anywhere). We are all grateful that he is safe and the bike ultimately fixable.

A really nice description of Stage 11 is also available here: The plan for Stage 12? Dress for even colder and wetter riding as we take on the Road toe the Sun in Glacier National Park,