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                                         Gingerbread  Men

 

 

Munster. (MUN ster) Here in north Texas we all know what it means...a good ride. No, it means a great ride. Muenster has every kind of terrain that you can find in the north Texas area, from sandy washes, & creek beds, to loamy, twisty, woods areas, hills, rocky sections, & of course, the Red river, setting the northern boundary of it all. With the expansive, & varied terrain, & suitable camping facilities, it's no wonder that the home of The Red River Trail Riders, is host to several off road events each year. Ranging from Observed Trials, to Enduro & Cross Country events. Obviously an opportunity to have this place to oneself on a Wednesday in the middle of spring, … well that'd be just …just…premium!
A buddy of mine once said, "Ya just can't have a bad ride at Muenster." 


So, when this same buddy called up & boasted that he had wrangled the next day off, & a trip to the local "Disney world for cyclists" was in order, I had no choice but to call the boss & explain that, "Yes,. it was indeed possible to get the pox four times in four months." And with my ever lengthening nose, entangled in the phone cord, the die was cast.
Next I called Racin' Jason, & proudly boasted, that while he slaved away there at Mobil, makin' mud, or whatever he makes, that the rest of team Monkey Butt, would be livin' large at Muenster.
Further, I expounded, on the fact that the local prognosticator was predicting perfect weather, and that we'd probably be alone. Ha ! After a moment of what sounded like whimpering, I heard him hang up the phone.

I had only recently, with the help of notables like Eric Gorr, & Paul Thede, finished the buildup of a one off Klemm Research, Kawasaki KX 301, for the open expert class. It looked like a rolling parts catalog, with everything from a 300cc titanium nitride coated cylinder, to that funny silencer that Answer made, the one with the little valve in the end.( now, what the hell was that all about? ) And of course I was anxious to see what it had to offer.
My ridin' buddy, who we'll call…Mike, was currently campaigning a 100+ mph CR500 in the Cross Country wars, & believe me when I tell you, if ever a bike had too much raw horsepower, this was it. It was the stuff that broken bones, & motorcycle nightmares are made of…I know this to be true…I sold it to him.
I once, during my brief ownership of this monster, theorized that the slight variations in the worlds timepieces, was due to too many of the worlds open bike riders roosting to the east, or west, at the same time world over. Thus, causing the earth to consequently… speed up, or slow down.

Next mornin', Wednesday, if I recall, introduced itself with the smell of 'Carole the ultimate pit tootsies' piping hot pancakes. She's been cookin' me & the guys pre-ride breakfast for years, & man, it sure gets everyone off to a good start, & sometimes the guys even let me lead, out of respect for Caroles cookin'. She's great at goggle wiping, gassin' & water givin', & not bad in shorts either, she is in my opinion, the ultimate pit tootsie.
After loadin' our woods weapons on the trailer, we realized that I would be the one to drive Mikes VW microbus, cause we loaded my KX on the drivers side…it a superstition thing we have, drivers bike on the drivers side. For good luck, right? Isn't that the way everyone does it? Well, anyway, off we went..

Like a bomber crew, we set straight to the task at hand, seatbelts on, arrange butts so as to get protruding seat springs out of the way, then bend down ( in unison ) to our flight bags, pull out our Sony headsets, & plug into our only source of music, a single portable CD player, with two headphone plugs…the B-52s if memory serves.
Now, from Austin to Muenster, is about a three or four hour drive, depending on the wind conditions… the microbus was never that good at cheatin' the wind, & along the way certain games would always surface.


"Hey Mike, ol buddy, how's 'bout reachin' back in yon cooler & grabbin' Patman a cool Pepsi?"


Always the gentleman, he would unbuckle, de headphone, unseat, & head towards the cooler, strategically placed back past the gear bags, beyond the gas cans, & aft of the spare tire. I watched with a wry eye in the mirror.. then just as he would lift his right foot over a gas can, & reach for the cooler…a quick jerk of the steering wheel would send him flying.
"Whoa!" " Hey, sorry man, did you see that guy?" "almost cut me off!" "Sorry dude."
I Smiled to myself.
The roost game continues.
Mike made me stop, so he could drive. "What?" I questioned. "We'll have to switch the bikes on the trailer if you drive." "Bad luck, 'member?" 
He made kind of a stern looking guy, what with that red mark under his eye & all, it was kinda shaped like the side door latch though.
We drove on. Well...he drove on.

What a day! What a glorious day! When we finally arrived, Little Feat was just finishin' a set on the CD, & my butt had a waffle pattern on it from the micro busses thinly padded seats. I should've just sat on the Hibachi grill, it would've been just as comfortable, & we could've saved some space in the back. No doubt about it, The microbus definitely needed new seats…but not today. 
We pulled into the campground, found our favorite table, & stepped out into the cool spring morning.

There we stood, hands on hips, surveying what was going to be our playground for the day. Not a cloud in the sky. It was pretty quiet, no other bikers, The birds were singin', the breeze was …breezin' & the creek was making that cute little 'babbling brook' sound.

We looked at each other…We looked at the still trailered bikes…"LET'S RIDE !!!"

We did the creek ride first…'cause we always do the creek ride first.
Another friend once said, that when you're havin a crappy day, "just laugh & pull wheelies".
I figured, why wait for a crappy day!!

It was beautiful, the water was clear against the white sand, & when the sun hit it just right, the creek looked like a silver snake winding through the sandy canyon. Fourth & fifth gear stuff all the way !
The water that day, was only about six inches deep, & twenty feet wide, and, as it confined itself to the center of the 'hundred foot wide creek bed, there was plenty of sandy beach on either side.
Fifth gear down the beach, drop to fourth, corner, wheelie across the water, then back into fifth & down the next beach ! Awesome! 

Now, folks, nuthin' really funny happens in this story, & the only reason I'm tellin' it, is 'cause, I jus' hope, as we are all off-road brothers & sisters here, that you too, have had, or will have, a epic ride like this one.

I mean, just picture it, seventy degrees, the early morning sun, skimming across the top of the canyon overhead, & when Mike did a seventy mile an hour power wheelie through the water, it looked like he was roostin up diamonds, as the water droplets flew high enough to catch the sunlight. I'm sure that just for a second, the world went into slow motion, & I thought I could hear the theme from 'On Any Sunday' playin' in my ALS-2.
Remembering the fair rules of the roost game ( you all know what I mean ), I was careful to stay twenty or so yards back from his blast cone.

Now, a word about "slow motion". Slow motion, is the worlds way of allowing a regular guy like me, to experience certain moments longer than others. Exciting moments. Moments that really get the heart pumpin'. I think you all know what I mean. Like that first moment you jump from an airplane…& pull the ripcord…then, slow motion…ya see…the world is letting you experience that long, long, wait for the chute to deploy, 'cause the cosmic forces of the world know we like to be excited, they just haven't separated the good excitement from the bad excitement. I betcha ya got a moment of slow motion the last time you failed to clear that big uphill double at Rocky Ridge didn't ya. Uh-huh.

So we're havin' this great day. Ridin', & roostin', & getting' each other wet, & pullin' wheelies & laughin', & so on, 'till we come around this bend in the creek, a sharp right hander. Mike had temporarily gotten the best of me, & was pullin' away around the corner, in a big wheelie of course. And of course I hit the gas a little harder, & was in hot pursuit. 

Of course these motorcycles aren't the whisper quiet machines that we would all like them to be, so it's no wonder that neither of us heard the sound of the rushing waters of the Red river…which was right there…I mean right there. 

Slow motion.

The best line out of the corner put us both directly in the center of …well, trouble.
I could see the rushing river, about thirty yards ahead. I could see there was no more beach. I could see only vertical walled canyon on both sides of me and worst of all ( at the moment ), was that the ground wasn't ground anymore. Nope. No more ground.
There was no more discernable 'creek' per se.
In it's stead was a mixture of the creek, the river, & some red mud / sand mixture, that had the consistency of Jell-O puddin'…butterscotch, I should think.
Patman was goin' fifty miles an hour, directly at what appeared to be the end of the world…in a mud flow, on a new bike. (adj. Deleted ) 

My cat-like reflexes, & my finely honed off-road skills are all that saved me from what would have been certain death…or worse. Keeping the throttle pinned, I jammed it down into fourth, & tried to aim myself at the nearest canyon wall "think light…think light as a feather" I told myself, but it's really hard to ride in pudding, as it doesn't support a motorbike well at all. My speed was dropping so fast I thought someone tied a mountain to my back fender. I jammed it into third, with twenty feet of quicksand to go. "Not gonna make it. Not gonna make it" I hissed between clenched teeth. With my beautiful new Kawasaki slowing, & sinking in the muck, I downshifted into second, with ten feet of bottomless slime to go.
Finally, just as all hope was lost the back tire found the tiniest bit of traction, & I bumped up against the canyon wall. Dirty but alive!
"YESSSS! YESSSSS! Man that was great!!!" I reared my head back , let out my best war whoop, & did a touchdown dance right there on the seat of the KX301. "Go Patman, Go Patman" I sang to myself.
During the slow motion, I forgot about Mike.
I spun around in the saddle to see how he faired in "the great mudride of '92".
I saw a trench that started about midway out of the last corner, straight as a laser beam. Straight as a got dam arrow. Straight to the rear fender of the CR500. It looked like the crash path of an airliner.
There he sat, about twenty five feet from the spot where the mud turned to river, & exactly forty nine feet, & four inches from either side of the mudflow.
"Well,well, well. Mister Open expert. Mister sixty mile an hour power wheelie." 
"Why don't you wheelie you ass over here, where I am?" 
I guess it took about five minutes for me to crawl out to where he was…a bird couldn't have walked on this crap. 
It was ten o'clock.
Do ya remember the scenes in the western movies, where the hero would be draggin' himself through the sand, & the camera would look directly into the hot sun, & you could hear the sizzling sound?
( insert here )
It was now three o'clock. The sun had crossed the sky & was now heading toward the other side of the small canyon. The KX lay on its side, safely out of the goo. The CR5 was still stuck. We had pulled. We had pushed. We tried to start it, but water had fouled the ignition. We tried lifting, but that only resulted in us sinking deeper into the muck. It was like it was glued there….With epoxy. Marine epoxy. 
The water was still rushin' a few yards away. The Sun was still beatin' down on us, & we both were covered from head to foot with half dried butterscotch puddin'. We looked like a couple of well baked gingerbread men.
By four o'clock, we had decided that in order to break the vacuum under the tires, we would have to put our faces in the muck, & reach down under the tires to allow air in. I was particularly glad that I had not removed my helmet, when I realized that, with sag set to 100mm, the distance from the top of a seat, to the bottom of the tire, is farther than my arm is long. Mike looked like he'd been hit in the face with a chocolate pie.
By five, the CR5 was resting quietly on its side, on top of the mud. Mike & I started dragging it like a dead horse, towards the shore. Scooting on our butts backwards in the mud, tugging the bike an inch or two, then scootin' again. That took us about forty five minutes.
Finally. But now another problem arose. How to get the bikes up the steep embankment that was between us and the five mile trip back to the VW microbus. Several attempts to ride up proved absolutely useless, as there was no way to get a run at it. Instead, fearing the sun would go down with us still here, ( for the Boy scouts to find next Summer ), I revved it up & dumped the clutch, launching the KX like a rocket…without me on it. After about three of these 'launches', I made it up & over.
I could see the road home. The sun was headed behind yon hills now, But we'd make it…I hope. 
The CR5 was next, as it wouldn't start, we ended up doing the dead horse thing up the hill, one of us gingerbread men on the front tire, the other on the handlebar. Holding onto the local flora with one hand, & draggin' the CR5 with the other.
There was no time to rest, so we set to the task of tying a rope retrieved from the trusty Hallman fanny pack, to the front of the sparkless CR5, & the back end of the KX.
We each hopped on our scoots, & off we went towards the comforts of the microbus… for about a half of a mile. That's when the KX ran out of gas!! ( now here's a tip from uncle patman, remember to turn off the gas, when resting your bike on it's side for more than …oh say, seven hours ) 
"What ta hell else?"
OK. It's been a crappy day. The sun is all but outa site. The CR won't start. The KX is out of gas. AND, the two gingerbread guys, & their gingerbread bikes, are three or four miles out of camp. Did I mention that we were alone today?
Alright, it's now a matter of principle. Into the fanny pack. CR Seat & tank off. Fuel from CR into & onto the KX. Reassemble CR. And again, back to the 'Gingerbread man doubles riding exhibition.
Now we're racing the darkness ( and losing ), & it's getting kinda cold in the mud suits. 
My concern with the coming darkness may have caused a little heavier throttle hand than I would've normally used, cause at one point, I had once again, forgotten about Mike & was in third gear through the whoops, with only dry clothes, food, & the barely operational VW heater, on my mind. Mike, fearing to hit the brakes, ( everyone knows you never hit the brakes when being pulled through the sand whoops in the dark, by a cold, hunger crazed, gingerbread man ) was helpless to stop me.

Yes we made it. We always make it. I couldn't have written this otherwise. But you can bet your ass that we'll load the drivers bike on the drivers side from now on.

Patman
 

 

 

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