The graves that Lee rode among were on River Road West, not too far from Castolon. We continued east towards Mariscal Mine.
The dirt roads so far, (Old Maverick road and River Road West), had been very easy. The big GS was a cinch to handle and the KLR and DRZ didn’t even notice the bumps.
The three of us took turns leading, so no one had to eat ALL of the dust. I was leading on the GS when the road suddenly turned to a twisty mixture of deep sand and occasional gravel. My old motocross instincts kicked in and I slid to the back of the seat and nailed the throttle. For the next three or four minutes, we blasted down the winding creek bed, throttle wide open, living on the edge (well, I was on the edge on the GSADV—the KLR and DRZ were in their element).
Once the road turned back to “normal” 4x4 road, we pulled over to take in the views. I thought back on what we had been doing, and realized that riding at 9/10ths on a very expensive 600 pound bike was probably a mistake for several reasons. The nearest hospital was 70 miles away, and the GS was my only transportation to and from the park. I resolved to take it easier on both my bike and my body … a resolution I was to break later.
We remounted, and took the turnoff to Mariscal Mine. An older couple stood there looking around. When they found we had come from the west, they asked about road conditions. We told them, “pretty easy.” They said that to the west there were two sand washes that were “very deep and difficult to traverse.” I remember thinking, “for a car, maybe.”
The old couple drove off. Lee took one look at the foot trail to the mine, then zoomed up it on the DRZ.
He returned after deciding NOT to make a souvenir of a mercury-contaminated brick. We backtracked to Black Gap road, purportedly the most difficult road in the park…
The first ten minutes on the road were non-eventful, then Lee coasted to a stop. I pulled up behind him and looked down. The spirits that Lee offended by riding near their graves had decided to yank his chain—literally.
I asked him, “Do you have a spare master link?” and the expression on his face said it all. We did not have a tow strap either. I heard Lee muttering “#@&! evil spirits” under his breath.
We planned for Tom and I to ride 45 minutes back to Terlingua to get the truck, then drive it out to where the bike was (probably an hour and a half) and pick it and Lee up. Lee began going through is pack to ensure he had food and water, since there was no shade in sight.
Just as Tom and I started to pull away, we heard a shout. Lee was holding up a little plastic package in his hand. It was a spare link for his old ZX10 that he had bought about 9 years ago in response to a broken chain. We checked the size and it was the same as the DRZ! Lee looked at us and said, “God must have put that there.”
After a twenty minute three stooges-esque master link install, we were ready to go again.
I figured that God (at least Lee's God) trumps any local Big Bend spirits.
Next: Black Gap Road
To Be Continued …