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.



  1. Sophisticated dandy???? Tough bugger more like! Impressed as heck with your ride - I simply couldn't do it. Rode in frost and snow as a student but always on tar seal and not very far in those conditions - doesn't even come within a country mile.

    Really impressed and looking forward to more.

  2. Sophisticated dandy? Not at all. I've got friends who call a three star hotel "roughing it." It's no fun in the cold - and even less in the snow and ice.

  3. Your attempt is honorable, and riding under the conditions you described is already more adventure than I would need.

    Actually I can't see anything wrong in staying in a five star hotel. My days of camping are long over.

  4. Trobadour:

    you are better than moi. I would never have even started. I like to stare at simmering soup.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. You are a superstar if you ask me.....and a bit nutty! You have more guts than me that is for sure.

  6. Very, VERY impressive! Would've been easy to turn around but takes a man to pull a stunt like this :D


  7. Nasty stuff going over the pass, and a heck of a time for the heated gear to click off. (though I'm pleased to know such a feature exists - thanks!)

    I have a firm belief that tents and snow don't mix! I hope you made it home where it's nice and warm. You know next weekend is looking pretty good!

  8. I believe the weekend would have been much more tolerable had I been able to stay dry, but once I got wet I was never able to warm up again. Should have rode out Saturday instead of trying to rush Friday night.
    Erik toughed it out until Sunday before coming home, kudos.

  9. I can't believe that weather. And I think that I would've turned around when I realized that I didn't have a jacket liner. Nothing worse than being wet and cold.

    I guess I need to stop complaining about hot and sunny...

  10. Hats off to you guys for camping in the cold like that. Was it an official campsite with toilets and stuff, or a wild camp site? Over here you can camp anywhere you want, but its not allowed in england.

  11. I'm not touching the Dandy part. There certainly seems to be no Candy in sight. As in Candy Ass.

    At least it makes a good war story, now, doesn't it?

  12. Hey! You have to at least try! And your effort was valiant. My hats off to you for enduring that pass, ice and rain. Incredible. And with a cold? Forget it!


  13. I'm impressed and I know the feeling of being cold and wet. I rode to Lake George in NY, over 3 hours in torrential rain, somehow water seeped in through the jacket and rain pants and everything underneath was soaked. Camping and being cold is not desirable, but these are the adventures that leave a lasting memory. I'm planning on riding trails like that with my Tenere.


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