To Ash Dumps with Mark

Distance= 72 Miles

Ben and I were out pretty late the night before, so I was very surprised that we got such an early start. The plan was to get up about 9 AM so that we could get an early start. Then Ben ended up calling me at 8 AM. He had stayed at a buddies house, and happened to wake up early. I guess he felt I should also. So we ended up heading out on our ride by 10 AM. We figured we would stop by Jeff’s place on our way through. I didn’t figure he would be awake yet, but I knew his step-brother Mark was supposed to be in town, so I figured I would stop by.
To our surprise, Jeff, Mark, and Drew were already up, and out in the yard working on Jeff’s 3 wheeler. Jeff had finally bought a new front tire for it, and was trying to get the front axle out, so that he could change the tire. For some reason, the brake assembly was stuck to the axle, and would NOT budge. After bending or breaking a few tools, we figured it would be best to leave it alone. It was sprayed down with some lubricants, so maybe a couple days ride on it will break it loose.
Next was Drew’s ATV, ol Smokie. This thing is riddled with problems, and seems to throw a new challenge at us each week. This time it was a retainer plate that holds the front sprocket onto the engines drive shaft. There are grooves on the drive shaft, that the plate locks into when rotated into place, then two set screws hold it in place. I have no idea how this could have came off, but nothing really surprises me anymore when it comes to Smokie. Drew lost that retainer plate, so we had to improvise a way to hold the sprocket in place. Mark brought a small welder with him, so I attempted to weld the sprocket to the drive shaft. Yes, I know, that’s not exactly something you ant to go doing, but it was really the only option at the time. None of us had much faith in it holding anyway. I could tell when I was welding it, that it wasn’t penetrating the sprocket well. It seemed to be holding though, after a short test run around the yard, so we packed up the tools and got ready to head out.
Mark lives in Ohio, and was in for the weekend, and had not been to the Ash Dumps yet, which is where Ben and I had planned on going today. Ben and Drew had not been to the Ash Dumps yet either. We headed out on our way, and made it about 6 miles. I was behind Drew when a heard a loud bang, and his bike jumped, sure enough, the chain was dangling behind him. The sprocket had somehow popped clear off the drive shaft. I don’t see how it did this, seeing how it had to slide over about 3/4″, and the chain was so tight it felt solid steel. Luckily we were only 6 miles away, and Drew even found the sprocket.
I had bought a elastic tow strap a few weeks ago, and had it with me. It ended up working very well. Its about 5 feet long, and will stretch to almost 20 feet. It was the perfect strap for towing someone. It eliminated the sudden jerk when the strap tightens up, and would take up its own slack when they would drift closer to each other, so that it wasn’t dragging the ground.

     We waited at The Island for Mark and Drew to get back. Mark let Drew ride on the back with him so that he wouldn’t be left out. I felt sorry for Mark, the same thing happened to him last time he was in town. He didn’t seem to mind, but I know it had to bother him some. I rarely have anyone on the back of mine, and I hate it when I do.

     We took a fairly straight forward way out to the Ash Dumps. Its a bit of a ride, and we wanted to have plenty of time to play around out there. I don think we left Jeff’s place till about 12:30. The ride up was fairly uneventful. We made it all the way to the Interstate Tunnel with no problems.

     That is, until we made it to the top of the ride of way in Osage, leading up to Morgantown Lookout 2. Marks ATV, which I think was a 400 or 450cc Bombardier, started to overheat about half way up. So we all stopped at the top to check it out. His is a liquid cooled engine like mine, and he said he had not heard the fan kick on all day. The liquid cooled models don’t kick on the fan too often, but on a hot day like today, and with hauling Drew along also, it should have been kicking on.
Mark had most the body panels off in a matter of minutes, and we started to look the ATV over for any blown fuses, or loose connections.

     Everything seemed to be fine, and all the fuses were good. We found a temperature sensor on the radiator, and decided to disconnect it, and jumper the wires to it. The good news was, that the fan kicked right on, the bad news was, it wasn’t going to go off, even with the key out of the ATV, the fan still ran. This was better than nothing though, and would prevent the ATV from over heating the rest of the day. I fashioned a small jumper from a tiny split ring that was on Marks tire pressure gauge. We jammed that in there, and slapped some duck tape on it, and were ready to go.
We wasted no time getting down to the Ash Dumps. At first we kind of split off in our own directions, checking out the area, and doing some playing around. It was fun having all of us there. There was always something going on, one of us climbing a hill, one doing doughnuts, one flying across the flats, etc.

     I was doing some doughnuts in the soft black ash, when I got it alittle tipsy, and on two wheels. So I figured I would try some two wheel motion again. The scary thing is, I am getting good at this. I suppose its just a matter of time before I push it too far, and the nice new ATV goes flopping over. Its relatively safe though, I am not going very fast, and I would be able to jump off and roll away easily. As long as I make a conscious effort not to throw down my leg and try to catch it.
I handed Ben my new Canon SD630 digital camera, and let him take some photos and video of my doing the two wheeling. He got a couple real good shots, and the camera did a great job of keeping the shots clear and crisp, considering all the movement.

     Here is a video of Mark and Drew playing around also.     mark_and_drew_ashdumps.wmv

     Here is a video of some of my two wheel motion.     john_2wheel_motion.wmv
     After playing around on the Ash Dumps for a while, we headed out the trail that Jeff and I had previously went on with Brent. This time we went out just alittle further, and then dropped down to the tracks. We tried to follow the tracks alittle further North, but they were very rough, and we were in between two sets of tracks. We figured this wasn’t a great idea, and it wasn’t fun riding anyway, so we headed back to the trails.
Mark was running low on gas, and the rest of us weren’t doing great. Mark was the worst off though, having to haul Drew on the back was probably eating up quite a bit more fuel. I looked on my GPS, trying to find a nearby gas station. But everything seemed to be across the river. Not sure if we would find one on ahead, we thought it was be best to turn back, and start heading toward home. We were all a bit disappointed though. We were only about 6 miles form the PA border, which would have taken about 15 to 20 more miles of riding to get to. It would have been nice to actually cross the border, but it wasn’t worth running out of gas. From now on, we are going to bring along extra tanks of gas.
On our way back, there is a small place that sells hotdogs, fries, ice cream, etc. We stopped there and were going to grab a bite to eat. Jeff opened his insolated cooler bag, that he had on the back of his 3 wheeler, to get his wallet out of it. When he noticed a huge gaping hole in the bottom of it. His wallet and cell phone had fallen out! Now, let me tell you alittle something about Jeff. Jeff is a very laid back guy, and shows little emotion. After realizing his wallet and phone were gone he replied, in a slow, calm voice, “Ah, wow, this really sucks, I tell ya boys, I am about 2 seconds away from just flippin out.” Now, for Jeff, this was emotional, and I could see in his eyes he was NOT happy. I was waiting for his head to just explode off his shoulders. We really felt bad for him, and none of us thought he had a chance of finding either of them.
Mark had no choice, but to head back to Donnie’s Mart for gas. Ben and I went back to Morgantown Lookout 2 with Jeff to look for the wallet and phone. We had gone up a steep ride of way, and came down another trail earlier, so we split up, Ben and I heading up the ride of way, and Jeff heading up the other less steep trail. We were supposed to meet at the top of the hill, but when Ben and I got to the top we didn’t see Jeff anywhere. We thought we would have beat him to the top, so we waited there on him for a while, but he didn’t show. Then my cell phone rang, and it was Jeff! He was up past the Ash Dump on one of the trails we had taken, and had found the phone, and no more than 6 feet away was his wallet! We were amazed he found them, and I am sure he was ecstatic as well.
We met back up with Mark and Drew either at the bottom of the hill, or near the Tunnel, I cant quite remember where. But either way, they made great time getting gas clear back at Donnie’s.
We rode back through Table Top, and then on to The Pirate Camp, stopping along the way to look for fireworks that were being let off all night. We saw a few from the Pirate Camp. Some off in Morgantown, and a few here and there just off in the valleys that looked like amateur ones. By this time it was after 10PM and we were getting tired and hungry. 13 hours and 72 miles tends to wear you out some. It was our longest ride yet, last weekend was our second longest ride, at 52 miles. Once we start bring extra gas tanks along with us, the rides should lengthen quite a bit.