Old Folks Off-Road Technique


Pauline and Elden in Baja

Pauline and Elden in Baja

(Editor’s Note – I haven’t ridden a motorcycle for over a year now due to personal reasons, but my last ride with Elden and Pauline was less than two years ago (probably when they were younger… like 79 and 87…) on Highway 94 east of San Diego. Riding one-up, as fast as I could safely corner on my DR650… they were glued in my rear view mirror. Point being, these two have a lot of riding left in them, and riding at a very high level.)

I suppose at 81 years of age and after 65 years of activities such as high school football, US Navy boxing and off-road motorcycle riding and racing, I should have bad knees and hips but I don’t (knock on wood).

In the early seventies, with only 7” and 4” of front and rear suspension travel, Al Dietor and I spent most of our days in Baja on the pegs. Now, thanks to C & J frames and Charles Curnutt, among others, we have plenty of travel and greatly improved damping. By also maximizing what I call the “suspension triad,” which consists of improved suspension components, better seats, and properly inflated tires, one can spend much more time sitting.

When I ride solo my basic technique off-road is to remove about 50 – 75 pounds of body weight from the seat by tensing my quads, which I can do for quite a while. This unpacks the seat foam allowing it to work better. If the road surface gets too rough, I stand on the pegs.

When Pauline and I ride two-up off-road, we obviously can’t stand up so we both must employ the quad tensing technique. Pauline does not hold on to me. Instead she pushes her hands against her thighs so as to reduce quad fatigue. She has actually worn out a pair of denims in the thigh area, which proves my point.

Now in our 80’s, Pauline and I avoid the deep sand and shale washes and rock piles we used to traverse regularly when we were youngsters in our 60’s and 70’s. But we are not ready to quit riding yet. On Pauline’s 89th birthday (April 25, 2016) we are planning to head south from our home in San Diego County on a 1000 mile tandem on/off-road ride all the way to Cabo San Lucas. We’ll visit some of our favorite locations and people in Baja and ride some of the dirt roads we’ve enjoyed on our many other Baja trips over the years.

On Pauline’s 80th birthday we rode tandem on our KLR650A down most of Baja while carrying our own gear in two saddlebags and one tank bag. Total gross rolling weight was near 800 pounds. On our trip this year we’ll have a chase vehicle carrying all our gear. The gross rolling weight of our DR644TG will be approximately 690 pounds. Not only will our one of a kind heavily modified DR650SE be 100 pounds lighter, but it will have a lower center of gravity and more rake and trail for slower and more secure steering in the soft stuff.

Let’s face it, with a combined 170 years, Pauline and I need all the help we can get.

Stay tuned for more info on the DR644TG that Pauline and I plan to ride to Cabo Can Lucas. With more than three dozen improvements and some very special top end work by Vey of Vey’s Power Sports in El Cajon, we think we have developed the best bike for the job at hand.