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Dad, Elk and the Rokon

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Seeing the ad in the for sale section about the Rokon brought a dear memory to mind so I thought I'd share.

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I had the rare privilege of riding and seeing these in action as a teenager in Idaho.  They are a whacky crazy 1 dimensional tool that are frankly... no fun to ride as motorcycles go.

But...

If your name is Lewis, and your buddy is Clark, then you would be hard pressed to find anything better for "getting through the very worst terrain".  It is morbidly slow and the noise is only slightly more pleasant than a chain saw concierto in D minor.  It's only redeeming value is that it will go anywhere, up anything, and haul any weight that you can strap to it.  It is Gods answer to the wailing prayers of idiotic explorers who find themselves quite 'stuck', or as we say 'in a pickle'.

Elk hunters are an example of someone who needs a Rokon.  Dad and I found ourselves each Autumn following these regal beasts about 6 miles down down down into some Idaho river bottom.  All the time knowing the great elk is toying with us.  Daring and taunting us to follow as  he powerfully yet gracefully floats his 800 lb frame, DOWN the vertical mountainsides.  It was one such episode that dad and I could not resist. Sliding on our asses, hiking, running, sliding again down those 60 degree slopes - the kind that you toss a basketball sized rock down and it just keeps bouncing and falling and long after it's gone from sight you keep hearing it bounce off of trees somewhere far below.  The elk I'm sure thought he was going to kill us or make us quit the chase. What he didn't know is that we had a Rokon.

Even though we 'took' the elk mid morning we did not crawl into camp until late that night... scraped up, bruised and empty handed.  After a couple hours of sleep we fired up the Rokon to go claim our prize.

 There are several very cool attributes to this bike for missions such as this.

(A) you can just tie a rope on the tail rack and push it off the ledge and then slide down the pitch behind it, kind of like you're waterskiing behind a boat.  This doesn't always end well...  because . . . trees.  And furthermore, rocks.  You can't hurt the bike, but being pulled down fairly vertical slopes by a big piece of steel,  over rocks and brush can leave you pretty beat up and your clothing torn to bits.  Which is ok, because it was already splattered with blood from the previous mornings sacrifice and as such is too gory to be worn again except perhaps for Halloween.  But I digress.

Then there is B.

(B) On a cup full of petrol one can point the thing in any direction and it will go there. It is your job to find a point to hang on to so that you can be dragged along and avoid the arduous climb out of the canyon.  In this instance, where there was an actual game trail my father would pilot the rig with one elk quarter on the front and one on the back.  While I walked ahead carrying two rifles and a midsized pack.  Eventually dad would unload the elk, pick up the bike and turn it around to go back and bring up the other half an elk.  There were several places that day where the game trails were too treacherous to ride and were thus forced to take a compass heading up in THAT direction.  Choosing a slope is always better than choosing a cliff.

This was a very long time ago (circa 1974) but I will never forget where the solution to getting up the "hill" was to unload the bike and have me sit precariously on the front rack while dad attempted to straddle or stay with the bike as it tractored along  sometimes straight up slopes.  And when one became separated from the bike (and was lucky enough to NOT get run over ) would then slide back down the slope.  I did try draping myself over the front rack like a sack of flour in attempt to stay aboard (and keep the front end down), but found this to be equally treacherous and quite painful to my ribs. The best method eventually turned out to be 100' of rope tied to the right foot peg with a loop tied midway that I could hang onto and the elk quarters tied on somewhere behind.

There was never the slightest hint of lack of power, and thank goodness there was no clutch.  Just twist the throttle and the little motor would start screaming and puffing smoke..... and both wheels would start turning.  The challenge was how to keep the wheels in contact with mother earth.  The Rokon is not a motorcycle.  It is a 2 wheeled winch.

I can only imagine how fun this machine could be in bottomless sand piles and "jeep crawler" boulder fields.  It's light as a feather and would chew it's way across shale slides with ease.  It was your job just to not fall off the thing because it went where you pointed it.

The grand finale to that day of elk hunting was noisily riding into camp with Dad and me 2/up, and elk quarter on the front, one on the back, and two in tow behind us, to our hunting buddies wide eyed disbelief.

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While reliving this memory and chuckling at the adventure, there's a tightening in my chest, a shortness of breath and my eyes have become a little too moist.  While my dad is still with us, our adventures now take place in the living room.  What I wouldn't give for one more weekend together around a campfire in Idaho.

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Agreed, that's a good story.

 

Rokon Trailbreakers are terrific tools, I'm dragging mine back up north in a trailer right now. It'll need a rebuild but that's a simple thing to do, even up in Alaska.

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Great story indeed!  And while you reminisce of one more day around the campfire with your Dad, I wish for just one more conversation anywhere (he has been gone for 24 years now).  Enjoy your Dad no matter where or what you are doing with him 🍺🍺

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