|Home||Articles||Free Ads||Forums||Games||Images||Videos||Ride Info||Sponsors||Technical||Contests||Search||Contact|
4Strokes.com Articles: Suzuki Submarine by Ryan Walker
Sunday June 23, 2002, I rode the Dirtyface Dualsport hosted by the Lake Wenatchee Recreation Club. Eight riders including myself headed out on the course together. Seven finished the event. The following is the story of the rider who never crossed the finish line. If I had not been there to see what happened, I wouldn’t have believed it.
We got an early start ahead of the pack so the dust was light. With good visibility and knowing the roads and trail very well we didn’t need a roll chart and were able to cover the course quickly. I took my first break at the top of Nahahum Canyon and hooked up with another rider from my group, Tom DeVera.
Tom has ridden dirt bikes for about 10 years but just stepped up to a dualsport this April. He decided to buy a 2002 Suzuki DRZ400. Tom had put 1800 miles on the DRZ before the event started. Last week he had finally ditched the stock tires and picked up Dunlop 606’s front and rear. With the new rubber his bike was finally hooking up in the dirt and performing like it should.
We headed down into Cashmere to checkpoint three. Tom nailed all three clothespins and was looking good with 82 points as we headed up Mission Creek Road to the Devils Gulch trailhead following the course up the Red Hill trail and then down the Sand Creek trail. At the bottom of the Sand Creek trail the course turned on to an old logging road. At this point Tom took the lead and opened it up; I hammered my XR250 trying not to lose him. I kept him in sight on the straightaway just barely losing sight of the DRZ in each corner.
A sharp corner snuck up on me resulting in my bike going through the turn sideways. Luckily I was still in the saddle, dropped a gear and got back on it. I expected to see the blue Suzuki ahead of me on the next straight since it was fairly long but all I had to chase was dust. When I blew through the dust cloud the visibility cleared in front of me. As I picked my line I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, movement that was blue in the bushes next to the road.
I locked up the brakes and skidded to a stop then looked over my shoulder. Tom had just gotten up and walked out of some thick brush with his arms out to his side. Right after I shut my bike off Tom, who was about 20 feet behind me, asked, “where’s my bike?” I got off my ride and walked towards him. His helmet that was only as old as the bike had a scratch on it and again he asked, “where’s my bike?” I was sure he had hit his head and was suffering from a decreased level of consciousness but as I got back to him I couldn’t tell him where the bike was located so at least for the moment I decide he wasn’t nuts.
At this point two more DRZ 400’s pulled up and stopped to see if we needed any help. The riders, Shelby and Darren had helped the XR back on to the trail only a few miles ago. They shut off their bikes as Tom investigated the bushes for the MIA motorcycle. I walked back down the road from the direction we came near where I rode through the cloud of dust. There is a large culvert going under the road, about 4 feet in diameter with a creek flowing through it. Only the creek wasn’t really flowing since we are near the bottom of the drainage and the ground is completely flat. I didn’t notice we even crossed any water since the level of the creek was about four or five below that of the road.
Just in case, I looked down into the water to see if Tom’s bike may have taken an unfortunate dip. I noticed that a small dam had been constructed out of rocks impound the water to make a swimming hole. The water was very muddy so I couldn’t see the bottom or tell how deep it was. Then it clears a bit and I see something it’s not much but at this point I know. “No Way!” “No #%$&ing Way!” is all I can say in between giggles. I’m trying not to laugh but hey it’s one of those situations like seeing your buddy’s snowmobile rolling down the hill bouncing all over the place. You laugh a bit, but not too much because it could be you.
Tom, Shelby and Darren walk over and look into the pool. Five feet below the surface we can just see half a front tire lying on its side. As we stare in disbelief the silt clears a bit and we can then see a white “S”. Everybody knows the DR is in the drink!
It is not entirely clear how she ended up down there eight feet below the road and another five below the water. The amazing part is Tom landed 20 or 30 feet beyond where the bike went in. Tom remembers the ass end of the bike coming around on him that most likely sent him high side and the bike tumbling. Nonetheless the wreck happened on a straightaway so the location the bike came to rest can only be described as one in a million.
It was pretty clear someone was going to have to get wet to get that thing out of there so of course the owner was the first one in. Tom waded in up to his waist then halfway to his armpits before he took the dive to pick it up. The bike got straightened up and he started pushing it towards shallow water. The creek was ice cold with snowmelt and Tom struggled to get it to the bank. I realized he needed help and that I was next in line to go in since we have only known the other two riders for about 20 minutes. I made the plunge up to my knees and grabbed the front end, which was surprisingly light due to the buoyancy of the tire. We got the bike to the bank and Shelby and Darren helped to pull it back on dry land. We all pushed it up the bank back on to the shoulder of the road to assess the damage.
The taillight was hanging by the wires, the right side plastic over the radiator was broken, the radiator on the same side was bent back, crushed and we later noticed it was leaking. The front plastic was lose and damaged; headlight looked more like a fish bowl with all the water in it. The right fork leg dust boot was ripped loose and we saw the fork tube dented and bent. Tom later discovered the left fork leg was also bent. Despite all the damage the factory mirrors and both levers (no handguards) were unharmed.
Since Shelby and Darren both have DR’s they grabbed the tools and got after it right away. Had to pull the damn seat and tank to get to the plug. Opened up the airbox and got about a gallon out of there, wrung the filter out and set it out in the sun. The oil was then inspected and there was definitely some water in there. Suzuki never planned for an on-the-trail oil drain so they didn’t bother to include a 14mm socket in the kit. Tom pulled the skid plate off so we could get at the drain plug with a wrench. It is difficult to estimate the volume of water that came out but it was a lot! At least the starter still worked, with the plug out we cranked it over as water continued to blow out of the cylinder.
Tom was skeptical of the oil situation. As we all rubbed a sample between our fingers Shelby assured us it was plenty sticky and wouldn’t be an issue. Tom wasn’t totally convinced but we don’t have too many options at this point so we put the plug back in and tried to fire it up. Nothin’! Pulled the plug again and it was soaked. Water kept coming out of the cylinder. We tipped the bike, cranked some more, not looking good.
Time for plan B. We can ride double on an XR250 with no buddy pegs back to Wenatchee or Plain to get a truck. The two up ride didn’t appeal to either of us so Tom decided to push it down hill to the Sand Creek Road hoping to get some cell service down there. I headed the other direction and finished the last 55 miles about 7 hours after the ride began.
The tale ran unopposed for the hard luck award back at the Rec. Club. Tom was able to get a hold of a ride and went back with his truck to claim the carnage. For all his hard luck he received a broken trophy and a new pair of goggles.
Credits: Article written and submitted by Ryan Walker, animated images and editing by 4Strokes.com.
4Strokes.com Articles: Non-Model Specific or Suzuki Related