Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sophisticated Dandy

My Mom and Step Dad are snowbirds and come through to visit twice a year either headed North to Washington from Southern California in the Spring or vice-versa in the Fall. On their most recent visit two weeks ago, I was telling them about an off-road riding trip that a couple of others riders were planning and told the folks I intended to go too.

I laid out the maps and went over the details and answered their questions. We would be doing the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route (OBDR) from the Oregon/California State line to Oregon/Washington State line. It is a nine day, 900+ mile off-road adventure with two additional 300+ road miles to get to the start and to home from the finish. We would be self contained camping along the way with every other night at a developed campground with running water. I likened it to the Long Way Round documentary with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

Dad just could not see me tackling such an adventure on my big bike let alone survive nine days camping in the middle of absolutely nowhere. He could understand if I was raised hunting elk with a cast iron frying pan like my step brother, but he said I was more a sophisticated dandy.

Now I'll be the first to admit, I am terribly handsome and I do enjoy my Starbucks. I have stayed at some pretty lavish hotels, drive a nice new car and take very good care of my stuff, but I've worked damn hard to get here. I've worked on a rock crusher while living out of the back of a car and bathing in a creek, for years I've carried many a truckload of drywall up many flights of stairs, moved more furniture, appliances, pool tables, jukeboxes, pinball machines, pop and snack machines than I care to count.

Okay, that was twenty years ago, but I can still do it, right?

This weekend was a trial run, practice if you will for the OBDR. We would leave work early Friday, ride 168 miles South to Eugene then East to La Pine and stay over at East Fort Rock OHV Area to practice riding on dirt trails. While two members of our party went over a day or two earlier, Erik and I had to go to work Friday but were able to get out early.

Wot, wot, matching jackets, Triumph Adventure nonetheless.

We had our bikes loaded, fueled and were ready to roll.

We were rushed for time, we had to make it over the Willamette Pass before 5:00 to beat the freezing temperatures and make it to camp before dark to set up camp.

I know how you feel buddy.

We endured pouring down rain from Eugene to Oakridge before Erik stopped for fuel and to cinch down his load. We trudged on through rain which turned to sleet which turned to snow over the pass. Neither one of us could see as ice formed on our visors faster than we could scrape it off. I at least had a windscreen, Erik had no protection on his Scrambler. The rain penetrated my jacket as I had forgot the liner, then the rain rendered my heated liner useless as there must be some safety feature not allowing it to turn on when it is saturated with water. The damp spot on my shirt wicked ever so slowly and increased in size while decreasing my body temperature. We finally stopped on the leeward side of the pass to shed our gloves and embrace our heated grips barehanded. Erik's jacket was covered in ice. We both switched to a dry pair of gloves and trudged on toward La Pine where we stopped for gas and a bite to eat. It was 24 more miles down a forestry road into camp and darkness was approaching fast.

We got into camp and hurriedly set up our tents while it snowed on us. Next was to gather any dry wood we could find, try and start a fire to warm up and dry off. We didn't have the luxury of driving over or having the warmth of a camp trailer but we were able to store our wet gear inside the trailer to dry out overnight which was greatly appreciated. We were offered the accommodations of the trailer but this was a practice run to test our camp gear so we politely declined opting to stay in our tents instead.


This was bad idea number two. I had been fighting a cold all week and thought I'd have it beat by the weekend. Below freezing temperatures and sleeping in a tent at 4200+ feet in elevation will prove otherwise. I couldn't sleep at all and when I did I would wake up coughing, but on the bright side I used the opportunity to put on another layer of clothing. Dawn arrived and at 5 am I made the decision to call it quits; my health wasn't going to get any better on this mountain.

I gathered my things, packed up my camp, loaded my bike then waited on everyone else to wake up.

Erik was up first and promptly started his stove to make tea and some breakfast. Nothing says roughing it like cooking over gasoline.

The other two were in the comfort of the warm trailer and were sleeping in.

I went for a walk up the trails to see the terrain they would be riding.

I found some sunshine, stood for a bit to soak up the warmth then headed back to camp. I waited for the temperature to warm up a bit, bid the group farewell and headed for home. I stopped in La Pine where I was back in cell service civilization to call Trobairitz and ask what was for dinner. Soup? Sounds good to me, I'm on my way.

Sophisticated Dandy? Damn straight.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Owning a Motorcycle

This was posted by a friend on a popular social network page. I seem to be terribly busy lately so I haven't posted much in a while and don't have much time to post now, so yes, I am cheating by posting somebody else's work but this was too funny not to share.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Once I thought I was wrong but I was mistaken.

I rode down to Eugene Friday night after work to attend their monthly Bike Night held at the Sonic Drive In in Springfield. I enjoy standing around talking bikes and meeting new riders.

Photo taken by forum member Wiley Coyote

Photo taken by forum member Wiley Coyote

I am sure Sonic Drive In has a fantastic menu but as with most fast food chains, they lack anything resembling vegetarian fare. French fries and tater tots do not constitute a veggie meal. So I stopped at a Cafe Yumm on my way...


I came into town from the north of a very busy beltway and was stopped in the left turn lane turning east when I spotted the sign for the cafe straight ahead on the right. I made the left turn and moved over to the right lane and made a right turn to go around the block then into a Chevron gas station parking lot so I could position myself to turn right, move left across four lanes of traffic of Gateway Street into the cafe parking lot on the west side of the street. Local bloggers know this part of town and this road, as all the road construction going on, the disabled traffic lights and the new Cabela's store that just opening recently.

I had planned to wait until the light down the street to my right turned green and then slip into moving traffic and merge over to the left turning lane. Unfortunately, during rush hour traffic courtesy can become your worst enemy. One car stops to let me in and now I am stuck in stalled traffic, I sneak over one more lane and am now perpendicular behind a stopped car and in front of a truck in the left lane. The oncoming traffic to my right is clear and I move out to cross the remaining lanes when I caught a bright red Ford Mustang in my left peripheral.

Oh Shit! I made a mistake! I didn't even consider that a car would be traveling down the left turning lane. Of course, I should have known. People will drive two blocks in the turning lane to make a left turn just so not to sit in traffic. I could blame the driver but I was in the wrong, it was my mistake and can only be thankful that they must have seen my front wheel, stopped and waited for me to cross. I am also thankful they stayed off the horn as not to scare the living crap out of me. Courtesy was my friend that time and saved my ass. Thank you... sorry.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Trobairitz said she was glad she wasn't with me and my response was that I never would have threaded traffic like that had I not been by myself. So why did I do it? I couldn't have turned left, traffic was gridlocked. I should have turned right, traveled north through the intersection I came in on, away from the busy traffic then turned around and came back, positioning myself in the right lane to make a right turn into the parking lot.

I am human, I made a mistake and I learned from it. Maybe a Sonic burger isn't so bad because being a vegetarian is downright dangerous.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Silence is Golden

In my case, silence is silver.

I'll post up a review in the future as this post is more of an entry so I remember when I bought it and when I need to replace it.

I have read articles and heard from other riders how comfortable and quiet a good quality helmet can be. I've always worn earplugs with my HJC helmets in the past and I've used a Scorpion for the past three years. All of them are decent helmets for the money but unfortunately they are also very loud even with earplugs. I may not be able to blame the helmet, but my own head shape. It seems the majority of the population have round heads, I can't blame helmet manufacturers for designing their product to fit the majority of the population. It does however make it very difficult for the minority, those of us with a long, oval head shape to find a well fitting helmet, a proper fitting helmet. I've actually filed and sanded the Styrofoam in my helmets to alleviate the pressure point on my forehead.

I made it through the winter with my Scorpion EXO400, the rain, the road spray and grit, the fogging visor, poor ventilation and noise but I wasn't going to ride another summer without a new helmet.

I went to many shops and tried on many helmets from the Shoei RF-1100, to Schuberth, Shark, HJC, Nolan, HJC and the new Scorpion helmets with no luck. I tried on modular helmets that allow the chin bar to flip up and helmets with fighter lenses that flip down, helmets with the air pump inflatable cheek pads but I kept going back to the Arai Profile. I was even looking at the Arai before I purchased my Scorpion, I just couldn't justify the price and promised myself the next helmet was going to be an Arai.

I'm glad I did, all the reviews were true. I've only put on 20 miles in it but it's quiet, well built, ventilated, comfortable I can really hear myself singing and that may not be a good thing.

So what are you wearing, how did you decide on your helmet and would you buy the same helmet again?


Sunday, May 1, 2011

ABCD Centerline Challenge

Finding a centerline without cagers roaring by is difficult enough. Trying to stand out there with your bike long enough to take a photo is a whole other challenge altogether.

We got up this morning and suited up to go out for a group ride to the coast for lunch. Stopping to take pictures while on a group ride is never an easy task so the whole day I was wondering how to make the ABCD Challenge. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I just had to find a deserted road to set it up.

After the group ride, we headed home and I finally found a road that would suffice, even then a car disturbed our set up. Cagers just don't understand motorcyclists, let alone motorcyclists parked in the middle of the road taking pictures of their bikes.

I wanted to portray an optical illusion as what we see when we ride isn't always as they first appear. I've mistaken roadside mailboxes as pedestrians, deer and other roadside hazards. Curves, corners and side roads filtering sunlight and shadowed by overhanging trees can play tricks on the eyes.

Although a bit worn and faded, (aren't we all), thanks for the centerline challenge.