January 18, 2014 Ride Report
Reserve the Date – Feb. 8, 2014, Next Ride!
Gregg was out with a buddy on a short ride Friday afternoon and sent me an email that said just, "Yes, sun" and had an image attached of mountain tops surrounded with nothing but a couple of wispy high-level clouds and two peaceful contrails slicing across the sky. It was just fantastic looking! I had almost forgotten what blue sky looked like after almost two weeks here in the damp, freezing fog of the Willamette Valley.
A quick consultation with the ride leader and I presented the argument that we may never get out of the fog if we just headed north to the little town of Detroit, OR as planned. He agreed and we decided to take our merry band of dual-sport pranksters in an easterly direction and see if we couldn't find and enjoy some of that elusive blue sky.
After topping off the fuel receptacle on the mighty DR, I wandered over to the meeting spot and ordered a coffee to await the arrival of whoever was going to show. Response had been good and I was anticipating maybe a half-dozen other crazies to join us on this adventure. First to show up was Mike, a recent drinker of the DR Kool-Aide. He is midway into his DR monster project and it looks great! Seriously, a good looking ride.
Then Bob, er, Grizzly Adams, showed up with his fogging face shield. Seems the fur on his face kept the temperature inside his helmet too warm and was causing a heck of a view blocker. I passed him the No-Fog and suggested this might take care of the problem. He stayed with us the rest of the day and never hit anything or anybody, so it must have done some good.
Chris was next to arrive. I was worried about him though as he really wasn't properly attired for the cold we were going to face at least getting out of town. But being young has its advantages and he toughed it out the entire day without a complaint. He also did this ride on the stock Bridgestone Deathwings!
Dan and Michael showed up close to each other. We chatted in the warmth of the Safeway for a few minutes enjoying Starbucks coffee's until departure time arrived. We headed out to our metal steeds and started suiting up. Michael and I were parked near each other and just about had a heart attack when we saw a rider clad in a red Aerostich suit come into the parking lot and head towards us. It looked like somebody we know that never goes on group rides and we were about to pass out when we realized at last it was not that guy, and all was square with the world again. Morgan introduced himself and he was the lone hold-out from the DR650 club, riding a well adventure prepped DRZ400.
That said, we tightened our helmet straps, put on our gloves and hit the Bob Straub Parkway towards Jasper and the North Shore Rd. First we had to stop off and hound a fellow DR rider who had flaked out at the last minute. In fact, my phone rang as I was tightening my helmet and I refused to take it off. The caller ID let me know who it was and I yelled into the phone that I knew he was going to do this. He laughed and said something about his dishpan hands being sore and still having to make cookies for the guys at work. We did swing by his house, it was right on the way after all, and heckled him from the street with horns and revving motors. His neighbors will never forgive him!
From there we made it as far as the Jasper Store when Mike started having issues. It seemed like an electrical issue when I test rode it for a second, but he had just installed a brand new Clarke tank and TM40 (of course, from ProCycle!) and we just weren't sure what else it would be. Well, he nursed it to Lowell with much care hoping somehow the problem would go away. At Lowell he reported that it was much worse and he was going to have to turn back. His buddy Chris did hear from him later that he did not even make it home. Wife unit had to bring out the pickup and he later found out it was some kind of electrical short where he had removed the kickstand safety switch. Mike really knows what he is doing, so it must have been a fluke of some kind to cause a problem like this.
We blitzed out North Shore Rd. entirely into the sun by now, the fog staying behind in Lowell and straying no further east, and practiced our flat track technique on the sweeping dirt corners. A couple of quick rests to pull the group back together and be sure we were all headed the same way was the only stopping we did as we were way behind schedule meeting Gregg at the Mickey-D's in the thriving metropolis of Oakridge.
Meet him we did just before 11:00. Not bad for a group that was supposed to be there at 10:30! Oh well, Gregg was not too upset when we told him we had dealt with a minor mechanical mishap, but that we were ready to hit the road!
Off we were through downtown Oakridge and past our ultimate destination, the Brewers Union! We were headed to the Flat Mtn. Trail, a great piece of trail that would take us goes up to the top of Dead Mtn. WHOA! Less than 200 yards from the trail head, we were stopped by two massive trees that had fallen down across the road. It appeared that they had fallen in just the last few days and there was no way around them high or low.
Dan ducked under the first piece of large uncut lumber and attempted to hop the second, but 28 inches was just a little much for even the mighty Vandenhoovin-haulin-man to get over. He got the front wheel up onto the log and then found his legs about 2 feet too short to provide support for his motorcycle and they both toppled over into the mattress like cushioning of the multiple evergreen boughs on the ground. That was actually the only crash of the day!
We circled up to High Prairie (towards Huckleberry Flats) to access Dead Mtn. But before heading to the summit, did a quick roundabout tour searching for a large herd of elk that, until that morning, had been hanging around the area Gregg the tour guide informed us. The numerous fertilizer tablets they had deployed on the road, let us know that Gregg was not kidding, and that until very recently they must have been thick as mosquitoes in a swamp on an unprotected body part. They won't need to pave that road for years!
Just because the trail was block did not mean we weren't going to get to our first, and finest, vista of the day. We took a great dirt road up to the top of Dead Mtn. and then Gregg took us on a little hike down to the Devil's Spine. This is a very aptly named trail I must say. It starts off normal enough as an old road wide enough for a car. Then narrows down until you are walking on a trail about 12 inches wide (in good spots!) with a drop off on both sides that goes unprotected for about 100 feet! One of us, who shall remain nameless, was more than mildly nervous and accused me of always taking him to places where he could easily fall to his demise!
This is the shot from the end of the Devil's Spine looking out to Downtown Oakridge. High Prairie is off to the right.
Looking out to the Cascades with Diamond Peak just to the left of center.
The gang's all here!
Back on the steel steeds, we headed down a great dirt road to Salmon Creek Rd. and then down to the old Squaw Butte Rd. that crosses over to Hwy 58. This has a new more politically correct name, but I cannot remember it, and even Google maps show it as Squaw Butte Rd., so that's it. This is a great road, right up until you get to the washout. Yep, wash-OUT. I am not talking a little piece of sluff, or where a bank slid down into the road, nope. I am talking an entire corner that is gone except for about 2 feet next to the bank. Has been like this for a couple of years as even the Forest Service does not know how to repair it for less than the cost of a new F-22 Raptor.
There is no way that anything but a motorcycle, bicycle or hiker could get through this impasse. We stopped and checked it out on foot first to be sure we could get through the axle deep mud and that the road was clear on the other side. Dan, as always, was the man and just saddled up, dropped in the deep rut and kept the gas on and paddled through to the other side. Once one fool makes it, it leaves no choice but for the other fools to do it! Everybody made it pretty easily though and we were headed on down to Hwy. 58.
Just before popping out onto the tarmac that is Hwy 58, there was a RR X-ing and an access road alongside the tracks. This had to be explored! A few of us jumped on this soft muddy travel-way and rode it as far as we could. Well, not really. We rode it until there was a fairly steep downhill that we were not sure we could get back up if need be and turned around. Dan the Man however, went down that hill and skillfully returned safely and somewhat easily to our wide eyes. Now, we all want to be like Dan, for he IS the MAN!
From here we wandered down Hwy 58 for just a bit and then turned up Kitson Springs Rd. and headed up again. For the first time we came across some snow! You know, that white stuff that means it is getting colder. Great to see and a couple of the patches got to where it was fun for a few of us to get the big bikes through with the street oriented tires. We all made it through safely though until we came around a corner and we could not see where the white stuff ended! Though Dan swore he could make it, cooler heads prevailed and we turned around to try a paved route that Gregg swore would get us to the second best view in the area. Right.
We scurried down the dirt road, turned off on another dirt road, went this way, then that way and finally got back into the snow. Tons of fun with everybody spewing trails of the white stuff out behind them whenever possible. Now, why Gregg thought we were going to get to the top via this route, I have no clue. He was running D606s, albeit worn, but better than our 705s in the snow. Not able to see the end and still climbing, those wiser members of the group turned back while we still could while Dan and Gregg tried their best to get to the top. Alas, they too were stymied and were forced to come back and join the rest of us sitting in the sun.
From there it was down the road, up the road, around the bend and through the hills and over the dale to the Brewery we went. There we were served up some of the finest brewed hops in the entire Valley. Excellent food was eaten and we finally parted with quenched thirst and full bellies. What a way to end the day - almost.
The GANG in front of the Union Brewery.
To get back down to the valley and the terrible, terrible fog, we traveled North Shore Rd. again. A good time was had by all and nobody did any soil sampling. Once we got into Lowell the fog was really terrible, nothing but worse the further west into town we went, much worse in fact. By the time I got home (and I live the closest to this area) it was really bad. Felt sorry for the folks headed all the way into Eugene.
This was an excellent trip! Just too much fun to be legal. Remember for all future trips, we reserve the right to revise routes and plans in favor of better weather, conditions or skill levels of those in attendance.
Mark your calendars now, as Saturday, February 8th will be the next gathering of the…the…ummm…that will be the next ride for the…WHATCHAMACALLITS Bad Boy Biker Band! Yep, that is the stupidest thing ever, I admit it, but I didn't get a lot of sleep last night after a run and am open to suggestions!
One last announcement, would like to do a women's beginning / intermediate riding class in the early spring. If you have a wife, girlfriend or daughter that you would like to have join us for that, please let me know so we can plan. This will be a small group for maximum attention and instruction. No more than 6 students! Half of those spots are already filled. If there is enough of a response, we can start planning a second one, so please let me know if you have somebody interested.
Good, safe riding for all!