Another night that I didn’t sleep very much. Around 5am, the wind kicked up and the tickle of raindrops started hitting the top of the tent. By 7am, we were pretty much ready to head out and by that time it had started raining steady and looked to be set in. We all hovered in the shelter house getting camelbacks and other gear ready. It’s funny because everyone was silent as we waited for the others to show up. A 100 miler was a first for all of us. Kygoat showed up around this time and got unloaded and was ready to go in pretty short order. Then everybody else showed up and we were all standing around in nervous anticipation waiting for 9am sharp.
Ed, our guide, was over by his toy hauler going over his Sportsman 850 completely decked out with GPS, two way radio, and every manner of things we might need on the trail. Rob, the tail guy, had left his Razr at home since he thought this was going to be a quad only ride. He was strapping down a chainsaw on his quad and checking tires. They then walked over and informed us that as soon as we got off the blacktop we would be hitting a new trail that they had never been on when wet. Get ready…..no easing into this ride. They also informed us that we could get gas at 18 miles in and then again at 18 miles before camp. This meant that we only needed to make it 64 miles and we all thought we could do that so we only hauled about 4gal of gas on the Ozark.
The hill did not disappoint. Again, I decided to hang back with Rob and watch everybody else. He’s a funny guy that can fix anything and he kept me cracking up at his commentary. This trail was steep switchback after steep switchback. We were starting and stopping a lot to make sure each rider made it ok. I swear, I think we traveled up for 3 miles of this. Our dirt bike guy was worn out before we started. The XX laughed at this hill. Again, I couldn’t quit smiling. Rob said, “You like that thing don’t you?” and laughed. We finally got on top of a ridge and hit some 3rd gear riding with some small mud holes and curvy mine type roads. Everything was going fine until our older Z had a wrench bounce up and short out his battery cables burning the posts and part of the cable. Luckily, were close to the gas station and Rob was able to fix it good enough to run the rest of the day. While at the gas station, our dirt bike kid found a huge split in the sidewall of his tire exposing the tube. Ugggg…..I was thinking “it’s going to be one of those days”. Thankfully, one of the guys in a Razr let dirtbike guy ride with him and we left the bike at the store.
On we went and again we kept going up and up. The trails so far had been rocky, smooth and everything in between. We, as a group, had decided to jump up in front behind Ed since this was our ride after all. We were making a little better time now and had topped out on a ridge where we over looked a lake with a sandy beach. I had made it a point to get behind kygoat and sure enough…..we would hit a nice curve and he could slide and I couldn’t. He tweaked on his shocks a few times I think but the bike seemed really dialed in. *jealous* ;-) With a quick couple pics and snack, Ed was moving us on….we needed to make tracks to make 100 miles. We got a little ways and then Ed stopped. He says we got a breakdown and he headed back towards the end of the pack. We, like good sportquaders, found a little jump and played awhile. Ed never came back. So we headed back to find a Polaris turned over on its side with a hammer flying. A ball joint had broke letting the wheel turn too far and jerked the axle out and somehow, the tire was split a good 6in around the sidewall. So, with that, the SXS’s and the two quads with them, limped out to the nearest gravel road. Uh oh, there went our ride for dirt bike kid. Not wanting to turn back with them, he talked his dad into letting him ride with him on the Ozark. A 250 Ozark. With bald tires. The dad is 230 and the kid is pushing 150. This couldn’t end well.
That left our original group and the 3 guys from Missouri, Ed our guide and Rob the caboose. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun had popped out. Ed decided to up the pace because 100 miles was slipping away. He changed course from a muddy trail after an incident with a tricky mud hole. Ed went through with no problem, of course. The Outlaw was behind him. He tried to follow Ed’s track and got stuck. Next was a Z400. He tried the left side. Stuck. Next was kygoat. He tried the same left line and made it fine. I was next and tried the middle. I might have spun a little but it wasn’t noticeable. Next was another Z400. Crossed up and stuck but we shoved him on out. Next was an LTR 450 with 18” tires. He wiggled through but got pretty wet in the process. Ha…..the Ozark was next with two people and bald tires. No problem. And of course the utilities bringing up the rear made it fine. Lesson? If I had been on my 450R, I probably would’ve been one of the ones getting pulled out from being high centered on the ruts in the bottom of the mud hole.
We continued on at a pretty good pace heading for the Virginia/KY line and another beautiful overlook. The road got sandy on this part and was a nice contrast to what we had been on. We made great time on this section but not enough time. We didn’t stay at the overlook very long. The ride was winding down by this time. We made another stop at an active coal mine and then started descending down down down. We were deep enough in a hollow and deep woods that lights could’ve been used if they weren’t covered in mud. Everything is up and down in that area. The hills are tall and the hollows (hollers fer common folk) are deep. We stopped at the lake that we had seen way off in the distance at the first overlook.
By this time I was ready for the ride to be over. Not because I was beat up and tired…..but because I was heading back home that night and not staying with the other guys at the campground. The gas station was the next stop where we could get gas and pick up the dirt bike we left there. Rob duck taped the tire at the split wrapping it around the tire and rim over and over and then pulled out the widest, thickest zip tie I’ve ever seen. We had 18 miles to go and we didn’t want that tube popping. Luckily, the tire held all the way back. We made it back to camp around 7:30 and I immediately starting loading up. I was curious how many miles we got in though. Ed said 86 and one of the utility Missouri guys said 87…..either way, it was my personal best for a day of trail riding. So, after showering I was headed home by 9pm and arrived home at midnight. Luckily I didn’t have a run in with bambi….he was too busy with kygoat. I waited until Sunday morning to unload everything…..this story continues here https://www.club700xx.com/vb/showthread.php?t=3830