You know it’s a good ride when you have to get hosed down back at the track. And even afterwards, Fulia and I were still picking clumps of mud out of our hair.
I have no idea how I have been riding this long without ever having encountered mud like that. It was one long, dry Istanbul summer, but STILL.
It had been raining all morning, clearing up only a few hours before our run. Sinan, Zac, Fulia and I headed out at 5pm, with just an hour and a half left of daylight. As soon as we entered the wet forest, we KNEW we were not going to come out of it clean.
Fishtailing down the flats, sliding down the hills, sending up sprays of wet clay as we brrraaaaappped up steep slopes, struggling to keep control of the bikes… At one point we crossed a mud puddle that, as it turned out, was thigh high. White smoke coughed from our exhausts as we comically trudged through the deep mud pool.
I fell far less than I expected, and actually only really fell once (two other times I merely dropped the bike for stupid reasons, not due to difficult obstacles). The only fall was on the steep uphill of wet, slippery, rutted clay. I was the first to run it, making it almost all the way to the top, heroically counter-steering against the sliding and fishtailing.
But when you’re going down, you know.
I dropped the bike and popped off of it before it landed.
I tried multiple times to get Sherco back up. The incline of the hill made it difficult and the mud was like a suction-cup keeping her down. Now, I’m not a wispy girl; I’m muscly with good core strength. I leg press over 300 kilos and deadlift 60, so the 102 kilo Sherco shouldn’t have been much of a challenge but I still lack the experience and knowledge to know the best tricks to get a bike up easily. I tried everything I could remember and nothing worked. I took a break.
I realized then that there was no sign of the others.
I waited. And waited. And waited. No sign of them. Ten minutes pass. Fifteen minutes.
I alternate between struggling to get Sherco up and resting, looking back down the hill to see if they were coming or not.
Eventually Zac zips up the hill on Sinan’s Husky. Sinan is next on Zac’s KTM. I didn’t understand why they had swapped bikes. Next, Fulia is walking up the hill. Zac is now walking back down the hill, passes us, and eventually comes grinding back up on Fulia’s KLX, riding it to the top. Fulia helps me get Sherco upright and I plow up the hill.
Turns out Fulia’s bike had lost its gear shift lever. As in, it fell off and they had to hunt through the mud for it. They found it eventually, but the KLX was stuck in second gear for the rest of the run, hence Zac getting the KLX up the hill for her.
We were losing daylight so once Fulia walked to the top, she got on the KLX and we raced down the trails back to the track. Fulia was the only one with a working headlight (a bit of compensation, since she had to continue in 2nd gear); the rest of us could barely see the terrain, so throttling it was the best option, though I wasn’t nearly as fast as Zac and Fulia. SInan and Zac have been riding since they were toddlers, and Fulia, though new to dirtbikes, has been motorcycling for at least a decade. I did my best to keep up, struggling not only with the waning light but also with boots so caked with mud that it was hard to shift gears. Stopping to scrape them off wasn’t an option because the ground was just as muddy (and losing momentum is usually not a good idea). While still in motion, I tried to scrape my soles on my pegs without impeding my balance.
By the time we exited the forest it was dark and we were covered from thigh to heel in mud. Our bikes were not just covered but caked in brown mud.
Emrah, the mechanic, already had the powerhose out. He pressure-washed our boots and we hobbled back to the gear room, changed out of our wet gear, and huddled around the wood-burning stove to laugh about the adventure. It was only once we came to a full stop sitting in front of the fire that we realized exactly how exhausting mud wrestling can be.
Follow the adventures of Fulia & Jen on Instagram: @d1rtgirlz