Saturday, June 10, 2017

Black Dog 2017

That came fast, I couldn't believe that the Black Dog Dual Sport Rally was here again already.



This year went much smoother than last year. Trains ran on time and stayed on the tracks, allowing us to run up I-5 and I-84 to Hood River and the fairgrounds in Odell where we'd spend the weekend. Polar Bear looped around the fairgrounds looking for a suitable spot to call camp. We drove up past the restrooms, past the bandstand and found the perfect, shady spot in the corner with power for our buddy DJ and his Class C motorhome and trailer. It was away from both busy roads and all the hustle and bustle of the other attendees.

Base camp for the weekend



Home Sweet Home



We unloaded our gear, got our tents set up, then sat and enjoyed a cold beer under the shade of a birch tree while waiting for DJ. It was sure nice to be up there early, claim a spot and relax while everyone else rolled in. About an hour later DJ and his friend Thad rolled in, backed up and leveled the rig in true glamping fashion.

Dinner plans were discussed and the gang went down to the meeting hall for $2 tacos from a local vendor who set up on site. I wasn't up for a token lettuce taco so I stayed and puttered with my jet-boil and prepared a delicious meal of rice and lentils in curry sauce. Just add hot water and stir.


This beats many restaurants  





The guys got back with the news that the night ride was easy gravels roads "C course" so we decided to all go. DJ and Thad brought their dual sport bikes for Saturday's more challenging "A course", and their bigger adventure bikes for Sunday's "B-C course"; and now Friday night's ride. Andy and I unloaded our bikes all the while trying to figure out how to fasten lights to our helmets to read the roll chart.




Course descriptions for our events    Note: this is assuming dry weather conditions.  Inclement weather or fire danger will dictate probably running only B or C courses, so as not to damage trails.  Letter designations are in key with typical AMA enduro class descriptions.
AA: VERY DIFFICULT [extremely advanced] -  sophisticated and complex trails that are only passable by a real dirt bike. Extreme uphills/downhills and trials-like sections, which require lower gearing.  Aggressive knobbies required. 
A: DIFFICULT [advanced] - plenty of challenging trail that requires advanced trail techniques.  Aggressive knobbies highly suggested. 
B: MODERATE [normal] - moderate or mild trail skills required.  Larger single-cylinder or two-up bikes should easily traverse these  sections.  Generally passable by an advanced Jeep/driver combo.  Regular dualsport tires are acceptable.
C: EASY [very easy] - practically no trail.  Mostly gravel road. Passable by large 2-cylinder bikes, two-up,  sidecars or most any 4-wheel drive.  Regular dualsport tires are acceptable.


We wandered down to the hall to pick up the roll chart for the ride and any other information we needed, such as departure time and approximate mileage. Back at camp we loaded our roll charts, taped flashlights and head lamps to our helmets, and waited for dusk before gearing up and heading out.

Thought this was ingenious 

Not being familiar with the area makes the riding fun and full of discovery. The road unfurls before us, revealing beautiful scenery as the sun slowly sets behind a mountain. Again, not being familiar with the area makes the riding in the dark... fun... and full of discovery. Especially for the one of us whose "street legal dirt bike" has less than adequate lighting. Polar Bear, short of stopping to light his gas lit carriage lamp of a headlight couldn't see into the night let alone cut through the dust which hung low like an early morning fog. Me being behind him didn't help, so I passed him to give him a taillight to follow. We had our Senas on so we could at least communicate with each other and it wasn't long before I felt like his seeing eye dog, leading him through "most" of the sharp turns. I commented that his red and white Husqvarna was like a blind man's walking stick, which I don't think he appreciated, but isn't that what are friends are for?

The pace slowed considerably, but we made it back safe and sound. It was late, we had an early day Saturday, so we called it a night and made our way into our respective beds.

The neighborhood rooster woke me up at 4:00 Saturday morning, which is about the time I get up for work anyway. So I quietly gathered up my jet-boil and breakfast fixings to peacefully enjoy the sunrise with a hot cuppa tea. I knew that once everyone woke up, the race would be on and the pace set for the day.


Good morning sunshine


Tick tock, pick up roll charts at 6:00, rider's meeting at 7:00, there's the horn, let's go!
The organizers have us raise our right hand at the meeting and recite "this is not a race".

Rider's meeting "This is not a race"


Andy and I prefer the "B course", also Andy likes to start off slow then taper off from there. DJ and Thad on the other hand were chomping at the bit and were gone on the "A course".

The two of us eased into our gear, rode our bikes down to obstacle course, spanked the monkey, then headed out. Much easier in the daylight.

Saturday's ride was a leisurely tour, much less KTM rhinoceros traffic than last year's shared course. The "A course" and "B course" were split up this year, on opposite sides of the river, in separate States in fact. We rode across the scary bridge into Washington while the "A course" stayed in Oregon.



B-C-Courses-BD-2017 from Thom Niemela on Vimeo.


We took our time and ambled along as we had all day. Took a few pictures and stopped for snacks, pee breaks, and more often than not, to stretch our butt muscles.

Andy the Polar Bear on his Husky


Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge



















With so much rain this year, neither one of us had been out riding motorcycles or mountain bikes, let alone any training for longer rides. I'm in pretty good shape for a guy not in very good shape.

Saturday's ride


Pulling back in the fairgrounds for the day, we were met with a little riding challenge for points. We had to ride up to a mailbox on our left side, reach in and grab a poker chip without dabbing (putting a foot down). This is much harder than it sounds as the left side doesn't allow you to use your clutch, thus causing my bike to stall and me to dab. Andy had better luck by staying on the throttle a bit and dragging the rear brake. Must be a trials riding technique. My neighbors are going to wonder what the hell I'm doing practicing at home riding up to my mailbox trying to grab a poker chip.

We were whooped, so we headed back to camp for a cold beer and converse about our day. It wasn't long before bed as we had to be up early again for Sunday's ride.

Cock-a-doodle-doo went the alarm at 4:00, and again I enjoyed the peaceful sunrise over a cuppa while packing up my sleeping bag and camping gear.
Grab the roll charts, load our holders, gear up, spank the monkey, and we're off. All the rider's shared Sunday's ride so we were wary of the KTM rhinoceroses. And sure enough they didn't disappoint.

We had to be back by 2:00 so the pace was a lot quicker, with fewer stops and much fewer photos.

Had to stop for the covered bridge photo


The route and roads were awesome, we crossed the scary bridge and made our way up to Gifford Pinchot National Forest for a quick loop through the woods and past the Ice Caves, too cold to stop. Then it was back down to Trout Lake and up the other side toward Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, wish we had time to visit. Sunday's route was fantastic, but the pace was way too fast. It does give me an excuse to go back with Trobairitz and enjoy it at our leisure.

There's a mountain back there somewhere...






We did find time to stop and assist a KTM rider with a broken hub, more console him than assist as there was nothing we could really do. He called the event organizer to have a truck come pick him up. And we talked to a 70 year old gentleman that rode the entire B course, both days on his Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster. He said it was lighter than his BMW R1200GS and he could touch the ground.



Back at the fairgrounds we enjoyed another  challenge for more points, touching the top of 4 traffic cones lined up in a row without dabbing. Again, much harder than it looks, I nearly lost control of my bike and fell. I tapped two out of four, and something else I'm going to have to practice.

We rode back to camp, loaded up just in time to attend the awards ceremony. I didn't earn enough points to warrant a prize, but I wasn't there for the points, all I wanted was to ride.

It was an uneventful drive home, it was great just to sit and relax.

"Thanks for driving Andy!"


"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." 
—African proverb


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Another belated post


April 2017, we were into our seventh month of rain, an annual record breaking amount of rainfall at that, and needless to say were are a bit sick and tired of it. May has finally dried out some, at least enough to mow the lawn between showers.

Online photo

A couple... 6 weeks ago, Polar Bear suggested we trailer the dual sports over the wet, snowy mountain pass in search of drier trails and the sunshine of Central Oregon. We heard about a small OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area nestled between Redmond and Sisters, about a 2-1/2 hour drive. We loaded up the bikes and were off to Cline Buttes.




We drove through rain, and there was snow on the side of the roads, but as we got closer and closer to Sisters, the sun was shining and the snow disappeared. Through Sisters and toward Redmond we kept an eye out for the turn off to the OHV area. I have driven and ridden by this spot at least a dozen times, never knowing it was there, (I bought my Tiger in Redmond).

Three more miles... 2 more... 1 more.... a half mile ahead on the right. There it is! Two dirt bikes were on the cross road to the left waiting to cross the highway. Passing us after our turn in, we followed them to the staging area. More like a camping area as there were camp trailers and toy haulers, even tents staking claim to their own little area. We were only there for the day so we didn't want to take any camp spots and just parked off to the side.




Sunshine! Warm, bright, glorious sunshine! 
And dust! 
Actual, float in the air, in your teeth, up your nose, wear your goggles, dust!

We couldn't get the bikes off the trailer fast enough, then we geared up as the sun warmed our Western Oregon, water-logged spirits. The temperature slowly climbed as we mounted our bikes.

It's been months since being on the bike, so we did a loop around the kiddie track to keep us from setting off full throttle and doing anything foolish. Then it was a slow tootle along the easy, green trails before venturing off to the intermediate blue trails.  We rode clockwise, down to trail 11 and over to 15 and 21. What a great loop, not too difficult although a couple of rocky areas tested us, we had a great ride. 


Intersection of 11 & 15

Our approach to Dry Canyon

Whence we came

Hi Andy!


We gonna talk about it, or ride?




Dry Canyon was a wonderful trouvaille, photos didn't capture the impressiveness, and although not as grandeur as that famous canyon visited by thousands of tourists every year, it was beautifully secluded and quiet.

We rode on, checking the trail map once just to make sure we were still having fun and making good choices. After both of us lugging 500+ lb. Tigers out of mud trails in the past, we are much more cautious of chasing the fearless down rabbit holes, let alone each other.




We meandered back to the staging area for a bite to eat and to load up for the 2-1/2 hour drive home. Andy drove more than we rode, but it was certainly worth it to dry out some from the long, wet winter of Western Oregon. We discussed coming back again with the families for a weekend camping trip and ride.



trou·vaille tro͞oˈvī/
noun
  1. a lucky find.





Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Short Ride...



I finally got a ride in; the recent weather has been rather winter-ish.



The freezing temperatures, snow, and the ice gave way to warm rain, and 53º today.




Although it was only part way up the mountain, before I was turned around due to ice, it was a ride nonetheless. I was able to fuel up and run some fresh gas through the carb before I was rained out.



Fresh powder would've been much more fun, and a whole lot easier to ride in. This weeks old, wet, sloppy snow, and rain over ice was not worth riding on, let alone crashing, as I was by myself.



Not a lot of snow, nor much of a story to tell, but I'm still around and riding whenever I can.


~ The obstacle is the path. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ketchup II

So I left off my last post with the Black Dog in June...

The second weekend in June, Chris from Everyday Riding flew out to stay with us, visit for the weekend, and attend the Vegan Beer & Food Festival in Portland.

Trobairitz had to work Friday morning, so Chris and I were left at home unsupervised to make "good choices". As kids do when left alone, we raided the closet and came up with my spare Aerostich suit, a pair of riding boots, and Brandy's helmet for Chris to wear, played dress up, then went for a ride up Alsea Falls and Mary's Peak.

Just two guys out for a ride

Two of a kind



Goofing off at Alsea Falls













Don't let the helmet fool you, this boy can ride!



Chris's best Julie Andrews impression "The hills are alive, with the sound of music"

Saturday we battled Portland traffic to attend the Vegan Beer and Food Festival, but first we had to stop at Back To Eden Bakery for breakfast and a recommended Mexican Cafe. Sufficiently suffonsified, we were off to taste ciders, beer, and more food. Chris and Brandy were tasting ciders while I preferred sampling the beer. Although we could drink as much as we liked, the line ups and the 3 oz. tasters kept the excitement to a dull roar.


















Sunday we drove out to the coast and clambered about the beach for a bit before heading back inland to Eugene for some pizza and more treats. I think we all gained about 10 pounds that weekend.





Thanks for coming to visit Chris, we had a blast. Next we need to go to Minneapolis.

~


A couple of more weekends were spent leading KLRs through the woods in preparation for our OBDR ride. The guys were having a great time just getting out into the woods and riding gravel roads.

Andy and I rode out and hiked The Valley of the Giants one day.














Then Brandy and I scouted another covered bridge ride.


Wildcat Covered Bridge






~

A bunch of us instructors got together one day to practice the Rider's Skill Practice course. For the RSP, we set up a course stringing together many of the exercises we teach in the Basic Riders Training and Intermediate Rider Training classes with the addition of a barrel ride type exercise.
So we'll ride through the barrel ride, into a corner proficiency evaluation, then through the swerve exercise, then ending with the quick stop, all under the watchful eyes of two instructors with stop watches. The idea is to time the student through the first course, break down and practice each exercise, then run the course again to see how much they improved. We all had a blast, leaned and learned a lot. Evidently I ran the course about one second shy of our new director on his BMW K1600, and a senior instructor on his Aprilia Tuono earning me two awards; scoring Best Time, and voted Most Inspiring from my peers.




I was also able to sneak in an Instructor Cornering Clinic and a Braking Clinic to my schedule this summer. The braking clinic is part of motor officer training and gives us the opportunity to practice quick stop braking and swerving at highway speeds on a closed drag strip. This is a great way to communicate with your bike while practicing and honing our skills.


Cornering Clinic at Pat's Acres Go Cart Track in Canby
Cornering Clinic at Pat's Acres Go Cart Track in Canby



Braking Clinic at Woodburn Dragstrip


Do attempt this at home, practicing a swerve at 60 mph.




Woodburn Dragstrip




~


Next up, my coworkers and I headed out to ride Route 6 of the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route from Crescent Lake to Coos Bay.

To be continued...