April 19, 2014 Ride Report
Yes, I missed May, but reserve the Date – June 21st – for the next ride!
Midway through our second attempt to reach the Steel Wheels pub, we were facing our third large section of snow after having already hacked our way through a downed tree blocking the road and an offshoot trail with several difficult mud sections.
I strolled over and asked our junior member, Lisa, how she was doing. She looked up at me and with a smile on her face said, "Rainbows and unicorns."
I stared into her helmet for a moment and asked, "Rainbows and unicorns?"
"That is what my daughters think of when they need to be in their happy place - rainbows and unicorns."
I smiled at her and then laughed and she laughed with me. Lisa was on the threshold between fun and misery and doing her best to stay on the fun side of the line. She was a recent convert to the two-wheeled world and was doing an excellent job of conquering her fears, but portions of this ride were testing skills and personal limits.
She had slipped and crashed in some mud earlier in the day and now we were on the edge of this large patch of snow and she was not looking forward to another long section of pushing and paddling her BMW GS650 through it. We were just sitting there because two volunteers rode up ahead to see if we could even get through at all so this would not turn out be in vain. They soon returned with the disappointing news that there was too much snow to get through, so a retreat and attempt on another route was our only choice.
We all have our limits, whatever they may be. I remember reading years ago that 2-time Grand National Champion and then 3-time World Champion Kenny Roberts would never go SCUBA diving. There was no way he could be under water where he could not see what was out in front of him. Being an avid diver at the time, I thought it was cool that I did something my motorcycling hero would never do.
Riding motorcycles for some of us is about finding that limit, that line between relaxing and frightening. Once we have found it, some of us like to nudge it once in awhile. Why? Well, that is an individual question for each of us. Maybe your day-to-day desk job just doesn't rev your motor and that adrenaline shot is your favorite stimulant. Jostling with a buddy on a dirt road satisfies your repressed competitive streak. You have to know where it is, even if you never want to get close to it and are happy to just stay away from it.
Lisa had bumped that line and was at the edge of her comfort zone, but she was still making the best of it. She was searching for a way to keep her smile and not complain. She also kept her composure and her wits. There was no panic, no complaining. She just kept riding and doing her best.
When we finally got to our favorite diner in Sweet Home, Lisa was truly one of the gang. She had done a fantastic job and had earned her place amongst us. She had come out of it all a better rider and even she recognized that. When you have to do tough stuff like that, it makes the easy stuff, like paved roads, really easy. Pretty soon the 25 mph she was doing on the way in was too slow, so coming out at 35 mph was no big deal. Though cold and damp at lunch, she was all smiles sitting with us.
Of course we're standing in the rain, it's Oregon! Great group, fun ride!
The rest of us had a fabulous day playing here and there, climbing hills, racing between this corner and that and the next. A herd of elk scattered for us on one dirt road section. We used the breaks and waits to visit with new friends, bench race and tell lies about rides long gone. There is a slim possibility that we left our vaulted leader watering a tree near the end. You never know what will happen when you're with a group of happy hooligans out on motorcycles.
This is a beautiful ride that we will do again this summer when Chad lets us all know when the snow is gone and the route open for sure.
Postscript - Lisa has taken to motorcycling like a baby duck to water. Her stable now includes a WR250R that she describes as 'peppy'! She loves the lighter weight for off-road rides and weaving in and out of traffic in town. She commutes to work and out to her sailboat whenever possible.
Recently she came into the shop to pick up a new sprocket for the WR and set her backpack down on the counter. She pulled two long lengths of line for the boat sails before she could pack the sprocket in!
She already has plans to ride the Oregon Backroad Discovery Route this summer with Brian as well.
Her mascot is a recently acquired little purple plastic unicorn with a rainbow colored mane and tail. This is attached to the handlebars of her WR to keep her spirit soothed. If you see her, wave howdy!
This is part of a monthly ride I coordinate where a general invitation is emailed to a little over 20 fellow dual-sport riders here in this area that have requested to be on 'the list'. The invite gives a time and location to meet and after that, exactly who is going to show up is always a surprise. There are regulars and then there are a few riders we only see a couple times a year as there are too many scheduling conflicts to make more than that. Some of you we have not seen in quite some time though and hope to see you soon! Want to join us for an adventure? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on 'the list' too. The next ride will be June 21st. Yes, I know that is a ways out, but it is the first day in June that works for everybody. Besides, it is the summer solstice and that just sounds like fun!