After all the crazy off-road stunts we’ve seen Chris Birch pull off over the years on big adventure bikes, it’s easy to start thinking of him as an infallible god. But we must remember that he is human just like us and makes mistakes. In this latest video “Getting it wrong…” from the Birch YouTube channel, we see what it looks like to fail at the “legend” level.

The video begins with Chris quickly analyzing a hill climb aboard his KTM 890 Adventure R. Even from the start, he’s not sure if he’ll make it, but he’s ready to find out. Since it’s his first time riding in Utah, you can imagine he has a lot of questions about the terrain, traction, and the various new obstacles he might encounter on his way up the mountain. “This is a completely different area! It’s like traveling on another planet compared to home,” says Chris.

As he takes off on a steep climb, it looks like it’s just going to be another one of Chris’s jaw-dropping “I can’t believe he did that” videos. Everything looks good for a successful climb until it’s about 90% up. Then it becomes clear that he lacks momentum, and as the incline increases, a bump in the trail stops the bike just short of the top. The bike then tips over on its side and begins to slide back down the slope.

Chris cheerfully orders his motorcycle, “Stop!” and lets out a nervous laugh. The bike seems to heed his command as its sliding motion stops. The moment after a botched hill climb is one of the most dangerous situations any adventure cyclist can find himself in, and the moment feels particularly sketchy despite the GoPro’s ability to sharply flatten the terrain. What went wrong? Chris admits, “I didn’t follow the first third, got lost in the second third, and camped out in the last.”

This is a critical moment when you need to keep your composure and try to figure out what your next step is. Chris makes the goal clear in the video: “I need to keep this bike from going down.” Perched on top of a steep hill, with nearly 500 pounds of expensive equipment to get down, there are significant consequences if you get it wrong. Most of us would lose our shit right now, but Chris seems extremely calm. Obviously, the hard enduro champion/world renowned rider trainer has been here before and has a few tricks up his sleeve to handle the situation.

Chris Birch had an unsuccessful climb on an adventure bike

After pulling himself together, Chris gets to work and draws on his experience to deal with the situation. He starts by slowly backing the bike up to a less steep section, keeping it in gear. He then puts it on the other side and starts spinning the bike. Once the front tire is in front of the back, pointing slightly down the slope, he can mount it and start rocking the front tire back and forth so it points down. Once the bike is fairly straight, Chris announces, “And off we go!” as he begins his stunning descent back down the mountain.

Riding a full-size adventure bike down steep descents is no joke. You should apply the brakes lightly to avoid triggering a slide that will send you and your bike down the hill. Chris executes the procedure flawlessly and quickly returns to safety.

For most of us, that would be enough adventure for a day, but Chris won’t be satisfied until he tries again. The second time is much easier and he manages it with no problem, it almost seems effortless. The skill shown in bringing the bike back down the mountain was even more impressive than riding it.

Chris Birch had an unsuccessful climb on an adventure bike

As the old saying goes, failures are just stepping stones to success. Even the best riders make mistakes sometimes, and Chris probably had countless failures on the way to his success. Fortunately, he records some of these failures so that we can learn valuable lessons from them, without the potential consequences of being there. And that’s the beauty of off-road riding, it gives us so many opportunities to fail and achieve that little bit of glory that makes you feel alive. The challenge shouldn’t be anything like that hill Chris did, but something tough that pushes us to our own skill level. Chris puts it best in his understated way: “Well, it sure was fun. I like Utah!”.

One thing is for sure, even when Chris fails, he fails gracefully.

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