Once again, we hosted the annual Lizrdbrth Memorial ride in Joshua Tree. Which is our fourth year now. It was time brush the dust off of P2 and hit the dirt. I don’t ride P2 very often, now that I have an adventure bike. I actually prefer riding on the slow winding back roads of the countryside.
In reality, I have never considered myself a very good motorcycle rider on dirt. I still remember vividly the first time I rode the TW200 on a group ride back in 2009. I was still green on the bike but Russ thought I could navigate the trails of Joshua Tree easily enough. Boy, he was wrong! I dropped the bike about 30 times. I broke every turn signals, both mirrors, and the throttle sleeves. Everyone sure had patience of a saint that day constantly waiting for me. I don’t know how they keep putting up with me.
We would do the ride each year and slowly I would improve on my riding ability. However, I would at least drop the bike a couple of times. There’s even a boulder that I would always run into every year to point where they would name the rock after me. Every year, I’m always nervous, exhausted and felt like I was over my head during the ride. To the point that I didn’t alway enjoy the ride. Meaning, I couldn’t enjoy the tranquility or the scenery of Joshua Tree. However, I’m always glad that I did push myself to do the ride. I enjoy the comradeies among the fellow TW riders.
This year was the first year where there wasn’t a rider in the group that has even met Russ except for Jeff and myself. It was a strange feeling. We had eight riders all together. First stop was to pay our respect to Russ. Four years ago, we put up a plaque in a secret location to memorialize the times we all spent together. When we got there, my first thought was wow, that was quick and the trail wasn’t as challenging as I remembered. In the years past, it felt like it would take forever to get there.
Then, we jumped over to Berdoo Canyon to head up to Joshua Tree National Park where we would meet up with another fellow somewhere on the trail. This trail has 2 rock waterfall that we have traverse up on. The first one is small and has the boulder that is infamously named after me. Every year, I would hit the darn thing. Believe it or not, it was the first time that I narrowly missed it and made it through without any incident.
The second one, is a larger pile of rocks that I never have been made it up on my own. It was either Russ or another more experienced rider that would ride my bike up. I would hike up the trail to collect my bike. This time, I left a couple of riders go ahead of me to watch the line they were taking up the waterfall of rocks. Then it was my turned and I told myself to just do it! To my amazement, I did it without any mishap. I was so tickled with myself.
For the rest of ride, I became one of those annoying rider who become impatient and frustrated with the slow riders in front. To point, that when I found an opening to pass them up and jumped up to the front to lead the ride. Since, I knew the trails, I would sometimes get ahead of them a bit and then slow down so they could catch up. Now, I know how those other riders felt when they were stuck behind me in the past.
Once, we hit the pavement, I didn’t want the dirt to end. I felt exhilarated and for the first time I wasn’t exhausted or even sore. It felt like something just clicked with my riding skills. That my body instinctively knew to react with the bike and the trails.
The next morning, we had another ride. A smaller one but its a single track with a lot more sands. My old nerve crept up and played with my mind thinking that yesterday was just a fluke. This time we had a rider that who was green on the dirt. In the beginning of the ride, I was behind the guide. However, I shifted toward the middle of the group to let the new riders in front of me. I was too self conscious of the new rider behind me worrying that he might run up on me. This meant I had to ride slower in the sands which pushed me out of my comfort level. However, it was good practice for me to work on my balancing and needless to say that I didn’t fall at all. I almost did once but recovered nicely.
Again, when the ride was over, I didn’t want it to end. So, the previous day ride wasn’t just a fluke. I did reached a plateau where my riding skills becomes more natural. Don’t get me wrong, I still a lot of room for improvement in my riding ability. I think that next year, my goal will be for me is to keep my feet on the peg during those two difficult sections.