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DRZ tires

Life Lessons from Riding Sand

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 RIDING Comments Off on Life Lessons from Riding Sand

A loose grip is the answer to life.

A heart attack, brain bleed, and mild dementia. Nothing that the best sand riding technique couldn’t cure.

Did I feel guilty for leaving my 76 year old father in my brother’s capable hands as I took off for a weekend desert ride getaway in Borrego Springs after I’d spend two months nursing him back from his heart attack and brain bleed? Not in the slightest. If it’s one thing a caretaker learns after a long time of giving it’s that sanity demands that you give back to yourself once in a while.

There I was with my DRZ Jack, ready to kick up some sand thanks to Andy at Aerostich and Michael at On Any Moto. You see after my first adventure ride through the Grand Canyon in 2009, I quickly learned that a top load with no side bags makes for some extra squirrelly handling. So the second my two wheels hit the garage on my return, I dove right into ADVRider’s forum to find out which saddlebags would be best suited for the narrow profile I like to run for tighter trails. The answer was easy…Ortleib’s Thin Dry Saddlebags made only for Aerostich. I picked up a nice used set on the cheap, and loved them until the very end. It was a bittersweet day when my right bag took the brunt of a nice 25′ slide down Fairfax Blvd in Los Angeles to save my leg in a mid-town get-off. Thanks to Andy at Aerostich, Jack is now sporting a new set of the same most perfect waterproof dual sport bags that have ever hit the market.

With a weekend of sand staring me in the face, I knew I had to replace my 90/10 road tires with more sand-worthy counterparts. Michael at On Any Moto was there to cover my butt in the loose terrain with a new set of Dunlop D606s and a new 43 tooth Superlite steel sprocket from Drive Systems, USA. I’ve been running the D606s since I first got my bike in ’07, and I love them for their bite in the dirt while holding up well on the tar with no drift or road noise. The new smaller sprocket gave me more top end on the tar for less whine at my stable 70 mph without sacrificing much torque in the sand. Michael is my favorite dual sport supplier, and like Andy, customer service is at the very top of their list. Cheers to you, swee Michael and Andy.

When I finally let Jack loose on the grainy swells of the desert, I had to override the most common mistake made in the sand…control. This is a huge life lesson that I’ve finally come to practice regularly in my 48th year in this life. I just tossed it out of my vocabulary, altogether. Now, I let things unfold organically in their due time, and allow situations to dance to their own music. Just like Jack as he skips across this beautiful landscape at whim underneath my loose grip.

I brought this top sand riding technique back to my dad after my soul was filled from this weekend away. Watching the dementia take hold of him was like watching a motorcycle wheel bury itself deep in the sand at the mercy of a desperate gunning of the throttle. I ride the fine line of honoring his wishes, and helping him navigate the path that appears to be best for him. Who am I to judge? I use the loose-grip technique especially when dealing with my dad’s financial affairs. I let him pay his own bills, and go over them with him to make sure he’s not double-paying. He still feels in control of his life, while accepting help to see things for himself.

This stage has brought us closer together through trust, patience, and companionship. And without the lessons I’ve learned from sand, it would have never been as sweet.

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