So You Think You Are An Adventure Traveler?

Aging Baby Boomers have led an explosion in the Adventure Tourism
business.  While sitting in a cozy, comfortable home, the brochures
look great: ride the rapids, climb a mountain, etc.  All these
activities sound like just the ticket to feel young again or to add
some excitement to life.

Today was a time during this adventure for me to act on an old
Minnesota saying:  Fish or Cut Bait!

My ride started beautifully.  I was on the road earlier than many so I
could ride leisurely and stop for photos.  The awakening sky was magnificent.  As the sun rose, it was evident that we were in red rock country.  Our route notes had told us to beware of the big drops in the road that function as water gullies.  Seeing the piles of dry red dirt that had been bulldozed off the road from several of those gullies got me thinking, “I wonder what it’s like when it rains?  I’m
sure glad it’s dry today.”

Over a hill, not only did I see a sign warning of a dip in the road ahead, I saw the water over the road.  No, it was not a few inches of pristine water flowing gently across the road as it does sometimes on paved North Georgia back r oads.  This was fast-flowing, muddy water in a large quantity.  Before I had the chance to wade in and check for depth and road surface conditions (as we have been taught to do prior
to crossing), Kevin came from beyond in the back of a pick up truck. He had seen my approaching headlight but didn’t see it cross the river.  With his guidance as to what line to follow, I successfully made my first water crossing.

I hadn’t even wiped the smile of pride off my face when I found out
why Kevin was still in the vicinity in the first place.  A few blocksbeyond that point was a BIG water crossing.  Kevin had walked it, determined it was fit to ride across, and had ridden successfully.
The guys ahead of me had crossed it as well.  With steady speedcontrol and a huge bow wake, I made it!

We then heard that there was even a bigger river of muddy water to
cross.  I kept thinking, “We’ll need an ark for anything deeper.” Sure enough, we came up on the HUGE water, complete with lines of vehicles in both directions and dozens of spectators waiting for the water to recede enough to cross and watching to see who would be nuts enough to go first.  By this point we were only 20 miles from our
destination for the night and were ready to be there.

Kevin waded nearly up to his crotch in the raging river and determined that while it was still too deep and fast to ride across, we could
team up and get the bikes across.  One person controlled the throttle and clutch.  Three or more others surrounded the bike, walking to steady each bike while the engine did the pulling.  Several bikes had been delivered to the other side when Kevin noted that the water was rising again.  Then it was my turn.  With my shoulder still not at 100%, I asked if he would run the controls and I took my place at the
rear left of the bike.

With the pounding water on my legs and gingerly stepping on a bed of
mud, I had trouble keeping up with the guys.  When we got to the
deepest part of the crossing, one foot slipped and down into the
torrent I went.  Terry noticed that I was now bobbing across the road toward the big drop at its edge and headed toward me, leaving the other 2 guys to get my bike to dry ground.  As he neared me, all around could hear me scream to him, “Save my bike!”

How heavy with mud are my boots, riding pants and shirt! How delicious the beer is tonight!  How wonderful will be the memories when we’re back home on the sofa!

5-Feb  Uspallata to Villa Union 365 miles

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