Scoot Commute

Motobikes in Wrentham State Forest: it’s not even really a trail

Posted in Honda CT90 (1967), Honda CT90 K2, Off-road riding, Utter nonsense by sbahn on 2010/08/28

Mom, you may not want to read this post.

Me and my Honda CT90 getting ready for some rocks

Me and my Honda CT90 getting ready for some rocks

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s begin! Erik and I finally, finally, finally took those nasty little CT90s out into the woods to do some stupid shit. Friday was my last early Friday of the year as school is starting up again and the kids are all coming back to campus (not a bad thing as I do start to miss them around mid-July). I gave a holler over to my friend Terry to ask if he wanted to come with us to Wrentham State Forest for a ride on his new-to-him DR-Z400S. Last weekend Erik and I had visited the forest, me on the DRZ400SM and he on the BMW F650GS Dakar and we both decided that those bikes were not the right ones for the rock and boulder strewn trail. But Terry’s S would work, as would our Honda Trail CT90s.

Neither of us has yet to take the CT90s for a dirt run. I’ve ridden mine (the red CT90) to work, the auto parts store, and around da ‘hood for some posing with the Passport Posse, but the little guy should really be ridden in the woods.

I got home Friday afternoon and Erik was sitting in the Honda Fit with the trailer attached, both CT90s loaded and ready to go. I went in the house and gave Terry a call to come meet us in town. On reflection we probably would have been better meeting somewhere out of Providence as he had to bring his car and trailer into crazyville which is my neighborhood.

What to wear? I brought my old street helmet, my BMW Savanna jacket because it’s less obnoxious than my hi-viz mesh jacket, mesh pants, and both my A* Tech 6 boots and my regular Oxtar street boots. Erik brought his Joe Rocket DS helmet, the Rallye 2 jacket, mesh pants and his A* boots from the 90’s and his regular street boots. We both wound up wearing regular street boots because the controls on the Trails are small and we both thought the big off-road boots would have been a distraction. In retrospect, I wish I had worn the A*s because I got bruised from kick-starting all the time.

The bikes? I was on a red, unmolested 1971 Honda CT90 (aka Honda Trail). It’s a 4-speed auto-clutch trail bike. In other words, a stupid machine. Erik was on a yellow 1967 Honda CT90 with a 110cc Lifan motor converted to 4-speed manual. Oh, and no neutral no matter how hard we both tried. Terry was on a blue and white DR-Z400S with every doodad you’d want on such a machine for woods riding. And every freakin’ sticker you could imagine. I suppose it makes it go faster.

We drove up to Wrentham and parked in the main lot. As we were almost done unloading and getting ready, a guy pulled in towing a Honda CRF 230 (turns out he’s called Noah). It was a little after 4pm when we headed across the street (Route 152) and into the woods. Erik and I had walked the trail a little bit last week so we knew what to expect. Terry hadn’t gone and had a peek, so I think he may have been a bit surprised. It’s not so much a trail as a path strewn with rocks, boulders and tree roots. Now this is all new to me so I don’t know if this is par for the course or what, but it was challenging.

I pointed the little CT90 down the hill and into the woods. The trail is supposedly marked but who has time for looking around for blue or yellow slashes. I was just happy to keep going forward. Man, it was hard. I pretty much kept it in first save for the few times there weren’t that many rocks.

Terry was behind me and Erik was behind him. Erik is a slowpoke so I figured I wouldn’t see him for a while. Terry was pretty far behind me so I thought we had some good spacing going. At one point the trail was less rocky and Terry was able to catch up (I’m on a 90cc and he’s on a 400cc so it’s David & Goliath), so I thought I would move over to let him pass. As I was looking around for a good place to pull up, I see a nice flat spot, no trees, no rocks. I was going down an incline when I saw it and pulled on the handlebars to go to the right. STUPID move. I still blame Terry with his loud-ass DRZ behind me (you knew you’d get called out, right?), but really, it was just stupid of me. I should know better. I went over and to the right. I was up in a flash and grabbing the bike out of the way so Terry wouldn’t hit it and also go down. But he had pulled up and was running over to ask if I was alright. He’s a nice guy. Connie is a lucky woman.

Erik on the CT90, my CT90 and Terry's DR-Z400S plastered in stickahs

Erik on the CT90, my CT90 and Terry's DR-Z400S plastered in stickahs

I was fine. I didn’t feel a thing so I don’t think I had actually hit anything. Terry asked how Erik and I usually ride together as he seemed way behind us, and I said, “That’s normal. He’s usually way behind as he takes his time. I’m the dumb one in the relationship.” Erik eventually caught up, none the wiser to the fact that I dumped the bike. I’m only a little mad at myself because I should have known better on a downgrade to not think and just do. That’s why I like this kind of riding so much…you literally cannot have a thought if you want to be successful.

The trail is supposedly marked, but like I said, this was my first time and, as the leader in the group, I guess I should have been looking for markers, but all I could do was look for my line. This is all new to me, and even though I’m on a baby bike, I still had to pay attention to the rocks.

As we continued on this path, we eventually wound up at a gate, a road, and someone’s yard. Hmmm, I suppose this isn’t where we’re supposed to be. And this is when my CT90 started to act up. It kept conking out, so I would have to put it on its centerstand and kick-kick-kick to get it started. We couldn’t figure out if it was just hot or what was going on. This run was its first serious run in years and years so who knows. But I’ll tell you, the kick-starting was starting to wear me out more than maneuvering the trail.

We turned around at the gate, did some map looking, and backtracked. We did this a few times (mainly because the little CT90 kept dying, kick-kick-kick) and eventually made it back to the parking lot. As we were cooling down and drinking water, the CRF230 arrived. Lemme tell ya, I was drenched in sweat. My hair was so wet it was as if I had just gotten out of the shower. And we had only been riding for like 45 minutes or whatever. The CRF230 guy (aka Noah) headed over for a chat, saying he was new to the area (transferred military). We said we were as clueless as he was, but then Terry said there was a culvert crossing.

So we walked a bit of another trail, this time with Noah, trying to decide which way to go. I don’t do direction as I’m geographically clueless (I have to turn maps in the direction I’m going or I can’t figure out left and right). We eventually decided on a route. Erik suggested I switch to his CT90 as my jacket was yellow and it would match his yellow CT90 better. He was also wearing a red jacket that would match my red CT90 better. That, and ah, well, his bike was just running better and I have a much shorter fuse for mechanical issues.

Off we went, this time me having to clutch and shift. Man, lemme tell ya, that auto-clutch is really nice in this type of terrain. I could get very lazy. Terry led, Noah followed, me third, and Erik behind me. The boys blasted through and I was working hard at keeping up. Who knows where Erik was. I just always assume he’ll eventually get there. Noah was cool as he actually waited for me at one turn to make sure I followed the right path. At one point we’re on this little path running alongside the guardrail to I495. What a sight that must have been.

There was a very steep hill down to the culvert. I was all in for a ride through the thing, but with all the rain we’ve had this week, it was pretty nasty down there. Noah took a look, walked over and said, “How the hell are you supposed to ride through this?” I figured, he’s got more experience than me (well, he at least had the right clothes), so that’s all I needed to not go through. It was cool looking, though.

As we’re all walking around in the stream, I hear a voice and it’s Erik yelling over from the other side of where we are. “Hi hon, why are you over there?” I yelled over. Now here’s where the stupid part of me began to kick in. We had to come down a really steep, rock-strewn hill. The only way out of where we were was to either go back up the hill we just came down which I didn’t want to do, or go up a new hill. Terry and Noah headed up the new hill in the direction of where Erik was. “Ok,” I thought to myself, “I suppose this is how one gets out of this gully.”

I kick-started the Trail and pointed it in the direction of the hill. Hill to some, steep, treacherous mountain to others. I opened the throttle and got about halfway up before the back tire started to spin in place. I let the bike slide back down the hill and tried again, taking the same line. I made it a bit further, but again, got stuck in endless rear tire spinning.

Me on the Honda Trail after a difficult hill

Me on the Honda Trail after a difficult hill

Again, I let the bike slide back down the hill. I was screaming at myself to just get the little bike up the hill. “Come on! Grrrr! Just do this! Come on!” I think the guys must have thought I was calling for them. I was pretty loud. The third time I picked a different line and made it much further up, but still not the whole way. I was pushing and shoving and willing the bike up the hill. Eventually Terry dismounted his DRZ, casually perched at the top of the hill, and got behind the little Trail and pushed as I used the throttle and my legs to get the little guy up the hill.

Let me tell you. I was spent at this point. I was gasping for breath, sweating and swearing. We headed back out, presumably in the direction of the parking lot. I was following Terry and Noah and Erik were behind me. Terry stopped and said that he didn’t think this was the way out and Erik said no, we should backtrack over the little bridge he was on. For some reason Noah continued going straight. We all turned around and Terry was leading. When we got to the fork to go back, Terry didn’t see it and Erik started shouting and honking. I screamed for him to turn and he did hear us.

The hill I had to get the CT90 up ... it was way worse than this pic shows, trust me

The hill I had to get the CT90 up ... it was way worse than this pic shows, trust me

At this point Erik started leading, with me following, then Terry and I don’t know where Noah was. The bridge we had to cross had some stupid log in front of it, and as I was on the yellow Trail (with no skiplate) I was having a hard time getting the bike up over the log. I gave up, dismounted, and walked the bike, throttle open, up over the log and onto the bridge. Where the frick is the skidplate? Oh, it’s in the garage. Good place for it. I did slam the bike into a big ol’ rock at some point so I was getting all freaked about riding. It left a big scrape on the rock. Lemme tell ya, the difference between the red Honda and the yellow Honda was night and day. The red Honda, I knew it was protected and could hear the scrip scraping and not worry. The yellow Honda, I was trying to be good but it’s near impossible in this terrain.

Anyway, I got over the bridge. With Terry following, the bastard made it look like a child’s romp through a field of sunflowers. I should have asked to ride the DRZ as I’m sure it was a freaking blast.

The ride back included a big puddle. Erik went up to the right around it. I started shouting “w00t w00t” as we came up to it. I stopped in front of it, looked to the right and looked straight ahead. Erik had stopped on the other side because he knows me oh so very well. He was looking back, and I made the decision to go up to the right around it.

As we got very near to the parking lot, so close I could see it, I had to pull over and take a sec to get my breath. Terry passed me and did a burnout as he pulled into the lot. I eventually got my energy back and rode into the lot. And then Noah showed back up. He was right behind us.

As we disrobed, drank water, and loaded up the bikes, Erik said, “You wanted to go through that puddle.” Terry said, “I heard you yelling. What was that about?” Erik said, “Oh she loves going through mud.” I said that I was so tired at that point that the thought of dragging even the little bike out of the water was daunting enough to make me go around. I have got to get in shape.

We said our goodbyes to Noah and headed to get some food. I said to Erik that the next time I get the great idea of going for a woods ride after work, he needs to remind of the nice riding out by his grandmother’s house. My butt was kicked.

Erik and the yellow CT90 which is actually a 110cc

Erik and the yellow CT90 which is actually a 110cc

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One Response

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  1. eric said, on 2010/09/22 at 11:13 pm

    nice ct90 with lifan. Im doing a lifan upgrade myself and wondered if you could answer some questions? Did the engine guard not fit- i see that you don’t have it on? Would it be possible to flip the intake to face the opposite way and use the original air filter setup?
    Thanks, Eric

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