Finally. I’ve been telling Kayla’s Polish boyfriend Nick that we’d ride for more than a year now. This may be his last summer in America for a while so it had to happen. We did the quick, sort of standard loop along the backside of the Boise Ridge, Humpty and Daggett. It was a nice workout.
We worked all day yesterday, and various days before that, to get the bikes in working order. A hot and hazy day isn’t my first choice to ride the Boise Ridge but Nick and I want to put the bikes through their paces before a four-day ride in a few weeks.
We zip a short ways through town then up Rocky Canyon to Boise Ridge Road. I watch in the mirror as dust billows behind and Nick searches for the sweet spot where he’s near enough to be above the rising dust without getting pelted by gravel. It’s like the tale of Icarus.
I notice a few mormon crickets making their way across the pale road, from dry grass to dry grass, some feasting on the remains of crushed brethren. I wonder if I should bring this southern Idaho curiosity to Nick’s attention (he’s from Poland) but decide it isn’t worth the heat and dust that will roll over us if we stop.
Nick loses sight of me when I veer up a sandy hill-climb and thinks I went left near the top. But there is no left, just brush and sand, so I watch from above, enjoying the show, while he works to free himself.
After a couple flowing miles through ridgetop forest and welcome shade, I drop off the edge of the road to a steep, poof-dusty slide between trees to rejoin the road below and carry on past the Eighth Street intersection. I notice Nick has disappeared from my mirrors so I stop to wait.
After a few minutes of nothing I backtrack to find Nick at the intersection. Everything looks okay — no visible blood or bones — so I turn around again without stopping; just check in the mirror to see he’s following.
From Nick’s perspective it probably looks like I’ve just ridden off the road into brush. The Humpty trailhead past ramshackle cabins is obscured by summer growth. Beyond that, the trail alternates between forest clearings and more brambles we have to push through blindly as we make our way down the drainage.
We stop for a break when the trail opens up beside Karney Creek. Nick takes the opportunity to explain his earlier delay. “A tree jumped in front of me,” he says.
“That happens,” I acknowledge.
He points out a few casualties on the Husky — headlight, speedometer, mirror. It must have been a good hit! He has a light scrape on his arm but otherwise his gear did it’s job.
My oldest daughter Laura has cursed me for sweaty-head genes. Sorry. I walk to the tiny creek and stoop to splash cold water on my hot head.
The zipper on my tank bag came apart, which is where I carry camera and lenses, so today I’m relying on the phone and Nick for photos. I can’t remember the last time I rode without a camera.
We might care about cosmetic damage if we weren’t focused on more basic things like the engine working. If you’ve read my notes from other trips with the Husky, you may remember it hasn’t been reliable. It never stranded us (my brothers and I) but it added unpleasant hours to our travels.
Before taking it out again, I wanted to put a rebuild kit in the carburetor. While I did that, Nick replaced the spark plug, oil, a weepy stator cover gasket and broken rear fender. It’s nice to have help. The bike doesn’t look much different but I hope it’s happier.
I am ashamed to say I long neglected to get my forks fixed after blowing a seal last fall when I hit a ditch too hard near Silver City.¹ Getting those back together was another pre-ride task.
I remember reading an article around 1994 suggesting the brand new Internet thing could eventually constitute a part of the human mind. I remember it because it suddenly seemed obvious even while sounding far-fetched.
The idea wasn’t that we’d have some kind of cybernetic implant but that we’d simply be able to bring to mind information from the Internet, in whatever way, with the same speed and ease with which we recall it from our own brains.
For me and the work I do, the prediction came true a while ago. I’m hardly conscious anymore of the difference between remembering something and doing a search-click to read it in a few seconds. I do both constantly throughout the day.
Garage work isn’t quite that way for me yet (maybe when virtual reality glasses are common) but it’s heading that way. When I went to check valve clearances, I didn’t think twice about “recalling” a video to step me through it.
It was probably Nick’s fault for encouraging me to start the KTM even before I had everything buttoned up. The KTM objected by spraying fuel on the engine. What the hell? Of course it wasn’t until I’d gone to the trouble of lifting the subframe to remove the throttle body and clean the fuel injector that I found it was just a leak in the easily accessed, inline fuel filter.
At least with programming I can click a button to “revert changes” when I do the wrong work.
Those hours of maintenance seem to be paying off. We followed Humpty down to Eagleson Trail and now, after some wrong way sight-seeing on Clear Creek Road, we’re making our way up the Daggett Creek Trail. It’s a lot of fun.
I have gone down Daggett a number of times but never up. It’s a bit more challenging, closer to the edge of my skills at points. I still marvel, as I did after first buying it, how easy the KTM seems to make some of this stuff. Just point and hang on!
Thick summer brush adds to the thrills. You might see you’ll have to carry some speed to get over rocks or roots on a steep climb but you sure can’t see where that’s going to put you.
“I remember pushing Hunter’s little motorcycle up this,” I tell Nick, referring to Hunter’s previous TT-R 110,¹ when we arrive at motorcycle-swallowing ruts descending to the Daggett drainage. I wonder how Jeremy’s TW200 would fare.
This muggy day and my naturally hot head has me excited for creek riding. Much of the Daggett Creek Trail really is the creek.
Brush is thick enough in some sections we can only tuck our chins and continue blindly, hoping none of the “klonks” on our helmets knock us down.
“That seems like a really stupid design,” Nick says, noting the coolant on his leg. The radiator overflow, sitting below the carburetor, is still blowing steam out its lid, straight at where his leg would be on the footpeg.
“Or maybe smart,” he adds after thinking a second. “It’s the bike saying, ‘hey dumbass, I’m overheating.’”
“There are some bumblebees here getting sexy,” I inform Nick while we’re waiting for the Husky to cool. He doesn’t seem super interested. “Don’t run over them,” I insist. Coitus killing seems cruel.
“I’ll try not to,” he answers in a tone that makes me think he’ll probably run over them.
“I’m going to walk ahead to get a picture at the next spot you’ll crash,” I say as Nick is preparing to ride again. He either didn’t hear me or didn’t think it was funny. Either way, it’s still funny.
The Husky isn’t the only thing overheating. I feel like my skin is pruning inside my gear from being saturated in sweat so long. I’ve gotten ahead a bit so Nick doesn’t see me sitting in the creek, pouring water over my head.
One thing we didn’t fix yet on the Husky is the dead battery. Nick is getting to kickstart the 450 a lot today. That and its harsher suspension, as I remember, are giving him a good workout. But he’s twenty. Twenty-year-olds are made for this.
Finally we pop out on Ridge Road and make our radiators happy again with a little speed. From the Eighth Street Extension, we cut over to Trail 4, trading a stream of water for a stream of dust.
As is now sadly typical of our summers, smoke from northern fires blanket the valley. We’re right above Boise but can see nothing of it.
Nick is a good rider. My brothers and I are pretty novice but we’re usually able to get where we’re going. If he can just avoid those trees that jump on the trail, Nick will have no problem remaining close-at-hand on our upcoming Brother Ride to lift and push as we may require of him.