At 125 horsepower and 125 Nm of torque, the BMW R 1200 GS can sling mud from its Shinko knobby like a snow blower in a Louisiana swamp. My pal Jay Rothstein sits unaware atop his clutch-less KLR 650, 12 miles north of Gypsum, CO. Afternoon rains have turned this section of the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route into the consistency of cold egg drop soup. The stuff is slick below the surface scum and will weld a wheel to a fender in about 100 feet. If speeds aren’t kept up (risky business in this stuff), the front wheels on the big GSes and Triumph 800XC just become skis. We had already ripped the fender off the Triumph and spent the last 90 minutes digging the mud from the fenders on our GSes with a tire iron. Tim James, chase rider for our host, Colorado Motorcycle Adventures (CMA), calls the whole debacle a kerfuffle. Sounds like an understatement considering the mess we’re in.
With its tall first gear, the KLR’s clutch went belly up against the gravelly, concrete-like substance, locking the rear wheel down tight. The bike is idling now—in gear, clutch out. I imagine a bubble caption over Jay’s head filled with question marks. The sun will be setting before long and there is little doubt the rains will soon return. A 12-foot tow strap connects our bikes at the footpegs. I look back at Jay with mild compunction for what I know will happen next, when I twist the throttle and dump the clutch on the big GS.