Noob goes down in the woods - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-30-2019, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
1st Gear
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Northeast PA
Posts: 44
Noob goes down in the woods

I am an new rider. Freshly licensed and riding for about a year at this point. Total experience is 3000 miles or so. I try to push myself a bit from time to time to build up my skills. While an experienced rider would find this trip simple, it is still a challenge for someone new to the sport.

The KLR was mostly stock when purchased except for the addition of ammo can style panniers and associated racks. Since then I have added Barkbusters, an aluminum skid plate, bar risers, off road pegs and lowering plates.

Rickett's Glen State Park is in Northeastern PA and this story happened last Saturday in the State Gamelands off of RT487 just north of there. I rode these gravel/dirtroads once last year and recently took a Jeep ride along the same roads. Last year on the bike it was very intimidating and I stuck to the main route with no side excursions. The ride in the Jeep was anticlimatic even with mall crawler tires on a wet day. The gravel road is 1 to sometimes 1 1/2 lanes wide at most. There are some turnouts for opposing traffic. The roads wind up and down the hills with some dropoffs to the side. Perfect beginner ADV territory. People hunt, fish, and just tour the gamelands.

Saturday was the first nice day in quite a while with time for a longer ride (~100 miles). The plan was to go back to this State Gameland area and do some exploring.

Everything is going well; between the pegs and and other adjustments to the ergonomics the standing position has become comfortable. The roads have some puddles but nothing that can't be easily avoided.

I go up one side road that leads to a parking spot after a 1/4 mile. Quick u-turn and back to the original road.

Next up is a split in the trail: uphill left or downhill right. The road to the right is rutted and eroded. I avoided it last year for this very reason. This year I go down the road and it isn't so bad. Somewhat challenging but very doable afterall. Turns out this road leads to another parking area after a mile or so. So back up the hill again. Not quite back to the split there is a newish Ford Explorer coming down the road. It pulls to the side and gives me room to pass. A quick nod of my head and shout of thank you to the driver. Make it back to the split feeling a new level of confidence. Not like a riding god but rather that this too can be learned and mastered with enough time in the saddle.

Lots of streams running at full tilt. The woods provide a shady canopy over the road. Drop offs to the left. Only 1 or 2 cars for traffic in 30 minutes. Everyone is polite and making room. No yahoos back here. I am just really enjoying the moment.

Oh look, there is a turnoff to the right. Give it a little extra gas and go up the small rise. Crap, I will split those deep puddles and stop on the other side to find the best way through this mess.

Except that now I have a close up view of the weeds. Yes, I had an off. It seemed to happen in a split second. I had fallen to the left and my leg was stuck under the bike with my left boot somehow wedged weirdly into the pannier rack.

Turn the key off. Take off my gloves, helmet, and open the riding jacket. It is warm in the sun.

Go into Boy Scout mode and take an inventory. No sharp pains, no lack of feeling anywhere. My left knee is aching so I roll over on my side/belly to ease that a bit.

I am stuck under the bike! There is the smell of gasoline from the fuel leaking under the gas cap. Very annoying as I had just filled it.

I try using my free foot to dig the ground away from the trapped one. No good, there is a large flat rock about an inch below the surface.

I try moving the bike via the handlebars but the leverage is all wrong.

I try using my free foot to lift the bike enough to get the stuck foot out. I lift a few inches but it causes a sharp pain in the stuck foot. Looking closer, the rear of the bike is pivoting on that foot via the pannier rack.

Again I see that the boot is at a very weird angle. Did I break or wrench something but don't feel it because of adrenalin? Wiggle those toes again. OK that works. The foot somehow twisted a bit inside the boot. If I can get the boot undone, I can get out of here, maybe.

There is no way to reach the buckles and Velcro fastner as they are next to the ground. So I am still stuck here.

I can't help myself any further. What about calling for help? No cell signal as expected.

So now I wait. No choice really. I am only 30 feet off the gravel road and I can hear if traffic is approaching. Nobody goes faster than a jogging pace because of the potholes, ruts, and drop offs. Nice warm day so windows should be open. I can see the road in one direction but the other way is blocked by bushes.

So how to get a passerbys attention? I can yell and wave. Or use the horn! Turn on the bike and try. It works. I punch out dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot a few times and then turn the bike off again. Blindly sending morse has a low probabilty of detection. Decide to wait and listen for the car that just has to come.

After awhile there is the sound of tires crunching on the gravel. Turn the bike on, use the horn dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot until I see it coming the same way I did. Start yelling, waving, and lay on the horn - no time for morse code any more. They see me. It is the very same white Ford Explorer from earlier. A young couple in their 20's stop to help.

We talk calmly about what needs to be done. The bike has to be lifted enough to undo the boot to allow my escape. I show her the other boot so that she knows how the buckles/straps work and where they are located. He lifts the bike a few inches while she gets everything undone and I slip my foot out. Finally free.

They give me some water as I walk around making sure everything is really ok. There is some soreness but no more than getting tackled.

A few minutes pass before we get the bike upright. Put it in neutral and try starting it. It cranks but doesn't fire. Use choke and still doesn't fire. Choke off and crack the throttle... it runs and dies. Try again with the throttle cracked, it fires right up. Keep it at 2000-3000 rpm for a few moments and then ease off gently. The bike just idles like nothing ever happened.

After profuse thanks and another drink of water we part. The three of us are headed to the town of Noxen where the roads are paved and the volunteer fire department holds an annual rattlesnake roundup.

Total damages to the bike: a broken mirror.

Total damages to the rider: some soreness that went away after a day or two.

After a few days of introspection.

What went wrong:
1. Did not tell anyone where I was going.
2. Should have gotten off the bike and walked up the rise before taking it blindly.
3. Should have just gone through the puddles.
4. Did not take water even though there is a perfectly good hydration pack in my closet!
5. Should have checked the light switch. The high beams were on. Didn't notice until afterward. Extra battery life could have been critical if this had dragged out.

What went right:
1. Did not panic, instead worked my way through the problem.
2. ATGATT, the gear worked. Helmet, boots, armored pants, armored jacket, and gloves.
3. Barkbusters work as advertised.
4. Crashbars elevated the bike enough so that its full weight was not on my trapped foot.
5. Chose a route with some traffic, not totally desolate.

So did this turn me off of adventure riding? No, but I will be more careful next time!

Ride safe,

jncdi
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-31-2019, 02:10 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Oliver Springs TN
Posts: 736
Glad you're ok.

Might want to look into a Spot GPS. There's other brands too. Shop around.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-31-2019, 05:09 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: NW MO
Posts: 5,314
Hell of a story and thanks for sharing this cautionary tale with us. Glad it was this version instead of a sidebar on national news detailing a cyclist who was forced to amputate his own leg with a Schrade Cattleman pocket knife to avoid dying of exposure after being inextricably pinned under his machine.

Good points all about what went wrong and what went right.

Well done.
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-31-2019, 07:54 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Northeast PA
Posts: 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toney View Post
Glad you're ok.

Might want to look into a Spot GPS. There's other brands too. Shop around.
Good idea. I was thinking of getting one for a longer trip next year but maybe I should push the purchase up a bit.

jncdi
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-31-2019, 10:40 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Kelowna, B.C.
Posts: 2,199
congrats on keeping your wits about you. The best thing is a riding buddy....after that a SPOT or similar. Additionally, this is why I'm anal about making my bike as light as possible - I realize you were trapped at a bad angle but the lighter the bike, the better off you are.....

glad it worked out.

Cheers,
Dave
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-01-2019, 03:06 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Glad you're now safe, gncdi!

As to SPOT; at an AMA/International event a couple of years ago, I went down HARD in Pennsylvania's Buchanan State Forest. While I was not alone, I could not ride as a consequence of my injuries; had water from a hydration pack (made a serviceable pillow, also, as I lay in the shade of a signboard, hoping the pain pill would kick in).

Anyhow, the Horizons Unlimited organizers had provided all riders with active SPOT units for the event; my companion sent a, "Non-life-threatening Injury" SPOT signal; within half an hour, a rescue pickup and trailer evacuated me and my bike from the woods, hauling me to the regional hospital in Cumberland, MD.

Now, I think I would definitely have survived the incident, under the circumstances in this case, WITHOUT a SPOT. But, my point: The SPOT system really works; a distressed motorcyclist, remotely alone, could owe his life to an active SPOT subscription.

So, how am I doing now? Fine; able to cause a little excitement from my partial shoulder replacement at airport security metal detectors!

Oh, yes: Bike was unharmed!

Thanks for sharing your experience, and lessons learned, gncdi!

“You better put down that gun. You got two ways to go, put it down or use it. Even if you tie me, you’re gonna be dead.” "John Russell" (Paul Newman), Hombre
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-01-2019, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Northeast PA
Posts: 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
congrats on keeping your wits about you. The best thing is a riding buddy....after that a SPOT or similar. Additionally, this is why I'm anal about making my bike as light as possible - I realize you were trapped at a bad angle but the lighter the bike, the better off you are.....

glad it worked out.

Cheers,
Dave
All good ideas.

An observation: I am a big guy. One thing most big guys gave in common is strong legs. Moving the bike with the free required only moderate effort. It was the angle on the trapped foot that was the real problem. If this had dragged out for a few a hours, I would have considered pushing the bike off despite the pain and possible injury.

If there is anyone who wants go for a ride in the general NE PA area, feel free to reach out.

jncdi
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-01-2019, 08:15 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Northeast PA
Posts: 44
Damocles,

Your story makes me think it is time to join the AMA. Sounds like a good way to make some new friends (that ride) and partake in some fun events.

Glad you are all healed up.

jncdi
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-03-2019, 09:59 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Kelowna, B.C.
Posts: 2,199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damocles View Post
Glad you're now safe, gncdi!

As to SPOT; at an AMA/International event a couple of years ago, I went down HARD in Pennsylvania's Buchanan State Forest. While I was not alone, I could not ride as a consequence of my injuries; had water from a hydration pack (made a serviceable pillow, also, as I lay in the shade of a signboard, hoping the pain pill would kick in).

Anyhow, the Horizons Unlimited organizers had provided all riders with active SPOT units for the event; my companion sent a, "Non-life-threatening Injury" SPOT signal; within half an hour, a rescue pickup and trailer evacuated me and my bike from the woods, hauling me to the regional hospital in Cumberland, MD.

Now, I think I would definitely have survived the incident, under the circumstances in this case, WITHOUT a SPOT. But, my point: The SPOT system really works; a distressed motorcyclist, remotely alone, could owe his life to an active SPOT subscription.

So, how am I doing now? Fine; able to cause a little excitement from my partial shoulder replacement at airport security metal detectors!

Oh, yes: Bike was unharmed!

Thanks for sharing your experience, and lessons learned, gncdi!
My son and I are doing our third H.U.M.M. event this summer in Nakusp, B.C. They have quite the system - while we (fortunately) didn't need any assistance, several did and reported the same experience. Both the SPOT system and other resources they have work very well.

Dave
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