Today, I'll be working on plans and details for the Devil's Creek Dual Sport Rally this Friday through Sunday (March 1-3) in Brooksville, Florida. Devil's Creek is the primo of all rides/rallies in all of Florida, filling their 175 rider registration limit within hours of opening registration each year. This year, registration opened at midnight January 2, 2019 and closed 14 hours later.
This year I'm working up my plans with a very heavy heart. My 23 year old son, Samuel, who has been with me at this rally the last four years will not be with me this year or any future year. I lost him in a motorcycle crash on June 2, 2018.
Nine months after the crash that took my son from his mother, sister and me, I remain under a gag order as lawyers banter the details. So I can't tell you what happened or what I think about it. What I will tell you is that the kid had three jobs as he tried to fund a piece of property for his future and was on his way to work at Cycle Gear in Tampa. He wasn't out screwing around. He rarely rode streets; he was at home on the dirt trails. He was just on his way to work using one of our motorcycles, for no other reason than motorcycles are cheaper on gas as he saved his money.
Yes, I've had a very heavy heart for many months. He was really my only friend.
Immediately after the crash that took his life, I promptly sold off all of our motorcycles, believing I'd never ride again, including the 2016 KLR650 that was half his to begin with. He could make the KLR650 work on technical trails. He rode that KLR650 on tracks that would scare away experienced riders on two-fifties. He'd become well-known, almost an expert, on the southeast rally circuit.
As discussed in posts elsewhere in this blog, after selling it, I re-acquired the KLR650 in October after the second owner, a close family friend, blew up the top end. I re-acquired it and rebuilt it. I rebuilt the top end. I replaced everything that needed replacement; new crash bars, new tires, everything. Took the better part of three months, but I got it taken care of. Why? Because I just couldn't let my son's primary dual sport motorcycle come to that kind of an end.
At the same time, working on rebuilding the KLR650 (and the passage of time since my son's passing) sort of brought me back to my senses about what motorcycles really mean to me. Motorcycles have been a big part of my life for the better part of five decades. I started on the trails in Upstate New York and moved to motocross. Unadila in South New Berlin was my home track. I moved to road bikes to go off to college and my early working years, but found myself back on the trails in the early 80s with a Honda XR500R that I just loved. From there, it was back and forth between road bikes, dirt bikes, dual sport bikes, adventure bikes (Tampa to Alaska and back) to sport touring (cross country east west twice and an Iron Butt). And, most importantly, motorcycling was something that my son and I shared for many, many years. I was wrong to abandon motorcycling and sell my motorcycles. I wasn't thinking straight. There's just no way Sam would have wanted me to do that.
As December 2018 closed in and all the rally announcements started popping up on my computer, I finally decided that I really needed to be on the trails again...but not on the KLR650. It's a great motorcycle, but it is too heavy for me on the rally circuit. On the KLR, I'd be stuck doing the adventure rather than the dual sport tracks. I'd be stuck riding with the seven hundred pounders on lightly dusted roads. That's not my style.
The rally bike that I chased my son around on the last four years was a DR650; much lighter, much more trail oriented. I'd ride that in any OHV park. I really liked the DR650 and would have been looking for one of those.
However, while at my dealer in November, working on one of the final repair items the KLR650 needed, I noticed that Kawasaki now offered a Digi Camo KLR250. At 300 pounds wet, it was like the KLR650Lite. While a two-fiddy ain't gonna have many of the capabilities of the larger bore thumpers, it certainly had the look.
On December 5th I bought the 2019 KLX250 and was riding the Wild Bear Safari in New Smyrna Beach on December 8th and 9th. From there we went to the Polar Bear in Keystone Heights (Gainsville) in the beginning of January and the ADVshit weekend ride in Clewiston at the beginning of February. Beyond the organized rides, the KLX and I have been mapping some of the smaller Florida Forest Trails. This weekend we'll be spending three days on one of the more technical tracks in the Devil's Creek Rally. I think I've found something in the KLX, that I can work with.
So where does that leave the KLR650? Well, honestly, it could just sit right there; a monument to my best dual sport buddy. However, I was approached by an individual from our trail circuit that got wind of the whole story about the top end blow up and rebuild and wanted it for adventure riding. With a much clearer head, I now feel that keeping the KLR650 for nothing more than as a monument to my son would not be something he would be keen to. Rather, while I believe Sammy wouldn't want for the KLR650 what the prior owner did, he would definitely want it used by an enthusiast for the rest of its natural existence. If that can't be me, then it needs to be someone else.
Yesterday afternoon, during a most appropriate heavy rain, I parted with the KLR650 for the second time. I hope I've done the right thing.