Green lanes, mid week, two bikes

[This happened back in September but I realised I never posted it]

I’ve promised my brother a try on a trail bike somewhere and things seemed to align to make it possible. Rather than a quick try, I suggested we just go for a run out. I’ve never been trail riding mid week before and never just with two bikes. This would also be the YZ’s second real trip out. What could possibly go wrong?

We left my garage just after the rush hour traffic died down and had the horrible fight through traffic to reach the other side of Newcastle. After a few more miles we reached the first trail, a nice uphill section which is “ideal” for someone who’s never had a bike offroad before. Chris did fine though. We looped over some further trails winding our way to Slaley forest. One of the routes there has had one end blocked up and we confirmed that was still the case. The local group is working on getting it fixed.

Since Chris didn’t want to destroy his road bike boots, I was trying to be careful where I took him. I couldn’t resist demonstrating the bike was perfectly capable to going through mud over the wheels on at least one occasion though.

We exited Slaley going through some water crossings which I got the bikes through, looped around some trails. At this point Chris was riding through the water crossings with his feet up. I did point out this was fine until you hit something. This is a lesson you learn the hard way though.

We then came back to Slaley from a different direction and then up onto Emberly Fell. This trail is seasonal and closed from 30th Sept for six months of the year so it was nice to ride it before it was out of bounds for a while. I think Chris found the mud/moorland harder than the rockier pieces we’d been on so far. He did have the bike stop standing in a rut as he went for a run. At least he didn’t have to pick it up :). I was also bemused at one point to be sitting waiting and rather than ride up to me, he took a detour though several bushes 🙂

From here it was up onto Blanchland moor, over the top into the next valley. I’d decided the best place to head was Hamsterly Forest, a dead end but good fun with no deep water crossings. We made it over the first part of the route, then my bike started sounding rough. Not good. At this point I realised I was out of fuel. We hadn’t made a fuel stop when getting to the other side of Newcastle like I’d planned.

So what to do? I did have “reserve” although looking into the tank, I wasn’t optimistic about how long it would last. The nearest garage was the one we were heading for in Wolsingham, quite a distance away and there was not one nearer. I’d screwed up by not stopping for fuel once through Newcastle and was still thinking in CRM tank range. All we could do was press on. I went into fuel conservation mode, stopping the bike when I could although since it had no kill switch and has to stall in gear to stop the engine, it was hard to coast down hills.

We continued to have some good fun with me riding into what looked like a little puddle that pretty much swallowed the bike. Fuel conservation was forgotten as I had to open it up to get out of that mess quickly, muddy water going everywhere. Apparently it was funny to watch.

The fuel ran out on the flat tops of the hills overlooking the valley that Wolsingham is in. I assessed how much was in the CRM and decided to steal some of its for the YZ in the hope we’d both make it to the garage. The easiest way to do this was simply to remove the CRM’s tank and drain it in which we did. I got over the flat bit, stalled the bike, then coasted down the hillside. I had enough fuel to ride the road to the garage and I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to reach a fuel station.

After refueling we continued on to Hamsterly with Chris getting to see
some pretty nice landscape. The water eroded path we rode along contains
pretty scary drops, bumps, rocks and other obstacles and is a lovely
illustration of what those bikes can actually cope with. We reached the
far side of Hamsterly and had lunch.

The trip back was pretty much the route out but with Slaley cut out. It was getting quite late by this point and we needed to get back. On the third last trail of the day, Chris asked me what the red light meant. It was either over temperature or low two stoke oil, we decided on over temperature and the radiator seemed low on water. It should have been fine for two stroke oil. It was also smoking quite a bit. I decided to abort the rest of the lanes and head for civilisation and a garage. It did take water but not as much as we’d expected. I decided to head home and hope we made it.

As we drew nearer my house, the smoke was getting worse and worse, it was like a smoke screen. I was dreading what state the engine was in but at this point we might as well try and make it back. We got back, washed off the bikes and put them away.

I finally got around to a quick look at the bike to see what was wrong. Surprisingly after being left for a couple of days the bike had good compression and fired up first kick. The red warning light was still on. That means its the two stoke oil as it definitely was cold (or something was broken with the temperature sensing which is unlikely). I decided to check how much two stroke oil it had and pulled off the oil pump cover to disconnect the pipe to check there was still some in there. There was oil but the oil pump looked odd somehow, cue some staring at it. There was something not right, but what? I poked the pulley and it sprang back to closed position. Opening the throttle was indeed opening the oil pump but closing the throttle was not closing the pump off, the cable was sticking. Aha!, that would explain the problems. So the working theory is that when we put the tank back on we’ve somehow trapped the oil pump cable and its not returning properly, I’ve not checked into it further yet.

Chris did extremely well for a first time out on green lanes and whilst its a shame the CRM decided to act up, I don’t think it spoilt the day too much.