The view was quite spectacular, with the exception of the haze and smog layer. The weather was perfect at around 65 degrees and I really didn't mind hanging out for a bit. My buddy expressed a little concern with the single-lane and having had a SUVs and trucks coming down, I could see the concern. I offered to go up front since I was narrower and since the roads were getting progressively crappier. I held enough pace to catch the oncoming traffic and alert them that I had one more behind me.
These roads tend to remain closed until well into late spring early summer. We had been lucky enough to get a substantial dusting of snow, and much of it was still on the ground as we made our way further up the mountain. snow piles of various sizes sat along the side of the road and some corners were still wet with muddy water. As we approached one particular corner, I looked ahead to see what looked like a pretty decent accumulation of snow along the shoulders of the corner on either side. I slowed my pace a bit, but figured I'd ride through the tire track and deal with a little muddy water. I was still going about 25 mph when I realized my assessment was wrong, and this quickly turned into one of the best saves I've ever pulled off in my motorcycling career.
I coasted into the wheel track with some delicate feathering of the clutch and throttle to keep the bike settled. I had tried to scrub off a little more speed with a light drag of the rear brake as delicately as possible before letting it go altogether at the last possible second. As my rubber touched the wet stuff, I noticed that the slushy muddy track was actually wet ice in some parts. I can't really articulate how it all unfolded, but all I can say is I felt like a badass. I went right into "Awww HELL naw!" Mode as I felt the front tire start to slide almost instantly. I feathered the clutch to try and get more traction and steer with the rear which might have worked if I hadn't been in a lower gear. As such, when I feathered the clutch out the rear tire slipped out too and we went right up onto a hearty block of snow that had started melting and then froze again into an ice block. I instantly pulled the clutch back in and re-engaged my delicate balance of feathering the clutch to try and get us out of the mess, all while muttering in my helmet "Nope. Nope! Nope. Nope... Not today precious... your ass isn't touchin' the ground today sister!"
The bike was already all over the place and I was damn certain that I saw my own ass at one point as she slid and bucked from side to side. I dropped one foot to balance out the weight and try to settle the shimmy, and then another foot. I was still going too fast to actually plant a foot, and as the sole of my boots grazed the surface of the ice, it was hopeless to even try and catch any traction so I kept my weight centered and hoped for the best.
The view of the corner, from the opposite direction.
Looking back on it, I didn't even so much as gasp. Somehow it all felt completely natural and expected, and my brain went into action mode as I fought to keep her upright at all costs and with as much finesse as possible. I rode it out all the way through the corner, fully expecting to feel the entire bike collapse beneath me. Then my front wheel cleared the gauntlet and gave us the stability of traction. I coasted us onto the asphalt where the bike settled herself and I gave her some throttle while belting out a victorious howl and triumphant laughter.
A couple of miles up the road, we were officially denied access to the rest of our journey as the closed gate indicated that there was probably still a substantial amount of snow further up the mountain. We parked the bikes and I was still laughing.
"Did you see that shit?!" I yelled through my helmet at my friend.
"Oh my god, how could I not?! Holy shit, I thought for sure you were goin' down. I am so proud of you... you stuck with it, I thought for sure you were gonna just give up and let it go."
If the circumstances had been different, I might have. Granted, it wouldn't have done much damage if I had, but it wasn't necessary to dump it, there wasn't a point where I didn't at least have some sort of a say as to what inputs might rectify the situation and I figured if nothing else, we'd buy some time and hold on for the ride whilst having a clear evacuation plan in mind.
We stood around for a few minutes remarking on the experience from his perspective, including what a pain in the ass it was to get his hefty bike through there. Then we did it all again on our way back down the mountain.
Needless to say, it went much smoother the second time around.
Hours later, as we sat on the couch drinkin' a post-ride beer we both started chuckling. My friend stared off into the distance and said: "Man, of all the times to not have a Go-Pro... I really want to watch that again a few times... I am actually really bummed that I'm the only other person in the world who was there to witness that."