Goin’ Back to Cali…Cali (aka ORCABDR)

Click on *CURRENT RIDE* at the top to see a map of where we are.

ORCABDR is a painful acronym to suggest Justin and I are planning to ride off-road half of Oregon we haven’t finished yet, parts of Nevada, and a big chunk of California…sorta kinda.  We were going to do the UTBDR, but because of a variety of reasons related to the perils of being a 40 Year Old Baccalaureate, we’re going somewhere else this year.

We have a colorful history including this most-excellent WABDR some years ago.  Justin and I just find adventure riding to a new place in the world now a basic requisite as Renaissance Men….without being too fruity about it.

Strained acronym aside in broad strokes our plan is to ride for 11 days and see what the West Coast of the U.S. has to offer including Eatern Oregon, Northeast Nevada, and big chunk of California can offer to guys on laden down adventure bikes with mostly street rubber.   While we’ll be riding off-road on forest service road–we’ll also be riding a fair number of twisty mountain two-laners.  This trip is far less aggressive off-road than our previous Washington, Oregon, or Utah plans…but will highlight what I think is ignored by most as a phenomenal adventure riding paradise…..Kolli-forn-’ya.

Tuesday 7/30 Update: That all said as departure is less than two days away we see that one of the biggest attractions to the ride (Yosemite) is under threat wild fires.  I’ll be monitoring Tuesday and Wednesday to consider route changes.  While we could revert back to a Utah ride I’m also seeing the forecast is for rain in the western U.S. the next several weeks…less so in the Sierras.

Tentative Route (take with a BIG grain of salt…especially the last half)

There aren’t really 80+ points we’re going to stop and visit.  Many of the points are purposely added to try and force the route to a remote forest service road or an interesting two-laner.  We’ll be doing our best to avoid roads that start with “I-” and have more than one lane of travel in the same direction.

Green dots are points of interest we’d like to see.  There are more than we’ll possibly have time or miles for…or ultimately want to given weather conditions (especially the hot Death Valley ones), but it’s better to aspire to a little too much than find ourselves board and bag the ride to head to Vegas.

Red dots represent locations of various motorcycle friendly friends that we’d like to ride with, visit, or give us a shower, meal, and bedroom to sleep in after roughing it in the woods for days on end.

Tentative Schedule (take with an even BIGGER grain of salt)

Thursday, Day 1 – Depart early Thursday, July 31st from Pasco.  Cover a big chunk of Oregon including visiting the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, fueling up in Burns, and visiting Steen’s Mountain.  Camp in the high-country there…or maybe go farther past Fields to the Nevada border and camp in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

Friday, Day 2 – Back roads to Gerlach through the Summit Lake Indian Reservation, stop by Double Hole Hot Springs, take in the playa that hosted the world land speed record, Burning Man, and the IBA Memorial.  Lunch and/or libation at Bruno’s in Gerlach.  Check out back roads by Pyramid Lake, move on to Reno and either visit my buddy Reno John and/or Mr. Swetland (IBR finisher #5).

Saturday, Day 3 – Virginia City, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, Markleeville, Topaz Lake (aka Rickey Lake), Bodie, and Mono Lake.

Sunday & Monday, Day 4-5 – Order and plans get very fuzzy in this area.  Places of interest include Yosemite National Park, Devils Postpile National Monument, Bristlecone (oldest tree in the world), Mono Hot Springs, Mammoth Lakes, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, Manzanar

Tuesday, Day 6 – Head west to the coast of California to Atascadero (hopefully be greeted by the head of the Candy Butt Association), semi-step relative in the San Luis Obispo area, San Miguel Mission, San Simeon, etc.

Wednesday, Day 7 – Monterey Aquarium, Laguna Seca Raceway, Bixby Bridge, Carmel, Santa Cruz.

Thursday, Day 8 – San Francisco, Napa, head to Mendocino National Forest

Friday, Day 9 – NorCal

Saturday, Day 10 – Southern Oregon, maybe make it to Sisters to Justin’s Uncle’s cabin

Sunday, Day 11 – Get back home

The Tools for the Job

Justin is on a 2013 BMW F800GS

A twin cylinder adventure bike, 85 hp, with big spoked rims and lots of active suspension goodies.  It has 4.2 gallons of capacity with a spare 1 gallon Rotopax of fuel and 1 gallon of water.  Huge hard bags make this bike a pack mule (I’ll see if I can slip some rocks in the bottom of them when Justin isn’t look) that’s also a wide-load when going down the road.  Tires are Anakee II that are considered a 80% on road 20% off-road.  Basic bike is 505 pounds unladen.  With the aluminum tumors on the sides stuffed with stuff….it probably exceeds 600 pounds. (not his actual bike below)

I’m on a 2013 Husqvarna Strada 650

It’s a thumper single cylinder putting out 58 horsepower and I’ll purposely be running cast rims and Metzler Tourance EXP 90% on road and 10% off-road.  The bike has a 3.7 gallon fuel tank and I have 1/2 gallon in several fuel bottles.  I could run more fuel bottles, but I like to pack some liquid libation in two of them for the campfire.  I’m running soft bags, a top case, and will be the one to get us into trouble first.  Basic bike is 410 pounds and probably 75 pounds of gear.

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Camping Supplies (aka ‘Camping Crutches for Pansy-Asses’)

We’ve done the one tent sans air mattress thing before and are maturing in our camping abilities and tastes.  I want my own tent for 11 days so we’re each packing one.  We’ve also suffered through air mattress failures and switched to lightweight cots.  I’ll be trying a Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Cot that’s extra long and extra wide.  Justin is trying the Helinox Cot One.  I bought one of their ubercool tables earlier this year and will be taking it.

Also we’ve learned over the years that sitting on the ground after a long day of riding generally sucks.  We both bought Kermit Chairs and will be setting our stainless steel cups of Pendelton Whisky in the optional cupholders as the sun sets.

I’ll also be packing my Canon 5D Mk III and spare fisheye lens to try and wrangle up some good photos of the adventure.

 

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Meet “Deep Thought”

As some know I work in the same company as Warchild and about 10 years ago I started pining over his 2003 FJR (back when there weren’t many in the country) and called 16 dealers in the PNW before I found a 2005 ABS a person had bailed out on the PDP.  And I put 168,000 miles on it (I called her “Heart of Gold” from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).  And I even put 50,000 miles on another ’05 non-ABS called “Zaphod”, but I never cottoned too him.  And I even won 3rd place with it in the most recent Cognoscente rally with the older one.

Riding home from the Poison Rally I started thinking about what I was going to do as she enters middle-age and the host of issues that haven’t stranded me yet, but certainly add to the maintenance regime and risk of a DNF.

Then I had an epiphany that’s simple in hindsight.  It fixes all the issues I’ve been having as well as adds even more to my riding experience. Something that money fixes well.

Meet my new friend, “Deep Thought“.  It’s a 2014ES and is ubersweet.  And as a hardened Gen 1 owner I’m here to affirm that Gen 3′s rock!  I figured that out in less than the first 25 miles….the refinement in the last 10 years is more substantial than I thought possible.

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Warchild approves as well. wink.png

More to follow as I hopefully get a chance to ride her this evening.

Heart of Gold won’t disappear though.  She’s gonna still get a spot in the garage and a battery tender connection for a ride here and there I’m sure…..or hope.

 

 

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Poison Plan

It’s like 8 rallies possible and you need to do at least 5 of them.  I’ve prioritized and doing the Dog Eat Dog, Blister!, End of Days Zombie Apocalypse (Mayhem thread), Range & Altitude (not yet done…but it’s a peek into next one), and White Pine Fever with an option to switch to Where the Hell Is Peter Heesch?.

General plan is to ride south to Ash Springs (know it well from a month ago), ET Highway (know that one REALLY well), Tonopah, over to Big Pine, California, back up to Austin, then to Gerlach.  May try Jungo Road to Winnemucca and then east along I-80 to Elko.  Then back to Ely.  Need to get back by 12:45 a.m. for that leg to be worth the points.

Estimated Route

Then I try laps of what’s called the Nevada Fast Triangle involving Ely, Ash Springs, Tonopah, and back to Ely.  One or two if I’m lucky.  REALLY lucky includes a trip to Vegas, but I doubt it’s doable.

If you see me linger at Middlegate at 3 p.m…..I maybe be changing it up a bit.

Should be fun!

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Poison – A Cognoscente Event

Every two years the Cognoscente Group hosts an invitational rally and I’ve been on the list since 2006.  This year’s event is an amalgam or have elements of the last 8 events or so and promises to be a exciting rally.  I won the last one…so that means about squat with this competition level.  And I’ve also been scrambling to get the motorcycle back to rally form after having to replace the shock (pretty $1300 shock from Ohlins), replace a bunch of corroded needle bearings in the suspension relay arm (probably why I’ve experienced premature failure in the last 3 shocks), and fix a light fuse popping issue, replace a slider that fastener fatigue cracked and fell off, and other miscellaneous issues. 

That all said, I’m looking forward to returning to Nevada.  I had one helluva ride a few weeks ago…more than I will ever post online certainly….a ride for the ages.  I also have a long list of special items I had to procure or process…including one cow femur devoid of organic matter.  This involved a 2 week process that involved boiling one end (this thing is so big it won’t fit in even the largest pot); picking and cutting off icky bits including muscle, tendons, ligaments, & goo; and bathing in hydrogen peroxide to give the appearance I was able to remove more bits than I actually was able to.

Schedule:

  • Thursday, June 19, Evening – Commute to Ely, NV
  • Friday, June 20 – Arrive in Ely, nap as I can, odo check, registration, banquet dinner.
  • Saturday, June 21 – 5 a.m. the rally begins….probably staged at 1 minute increments so I’ll be out sometime close to 5 a.m.
  • Sunday, June 22 – 1 p.m. The rally is over….32 hours or less after I departed. Banquet in the evening.
  • Monday, June 23.  I need to be back for a council meeting…so exact time I commute back will be a bit variable.

Gary Eagan returns after riding 1800+++ miles in 24 hours in the 2006 White Pine Fever.  Note the huge fuel cell on back.

Greg Marbach returns after another 1800++++ mile ride.  I had 1800++, but 6 years later I’d ride an 1800+++++ mile ride with a cell about the of Gary’s and a 2nd tire.

GPS Tracking:

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Finished ride safely…blew shock

I finished safely, rode 1800+ miles, had lunch, and went to ride home with spare wheel and fuel….shock blew.  Friend is bringing a spare  from Vegas.  Doh! But glad it happen after event.

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Protected: Team Lyle Silver State Round-Up – The Private Club

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Big Money Rally “Gold”, Peruvian Consul General, and Pasco….de Peru

Headed over Friday afternoon to Seattle and meet the Peruvian Consul General and delegation from the “Pasco” region of Peru. My city is named after this region and looking forward to the cultural exchange….they’re also coming to Pasco (my version) on Monday.

I’m also doing what is probably my last or next-to-the-last ride for the Big Money Rally. I should earn enough points to cross from Silver to “Gold” status. (I need 10.7 points)

I’m planning on riding the Husqvarna as the FJR is still getting some brackets welded and installed for a special ride in May. Heh, heh, heh!

 

Schedule

Friday

Noon: Depart for Seattle

Later Afternoon: Snag a few bonuses in Issaquah, Bellevue, and South Seattle

7 p.m.: Receiption at Fairmont Olympic in downtown Seattle

Afterwards: Snag a few more bonuses on the way to Whidbey Island

Saturday

Relax on Whidbey Island

Sunday

Come back from Whidbey

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Big Money Rally and Adventure Riding

Headed to Idaho to spend Saturday night in the woods and also pick up some Big Money Rally points in the search to make Gold level finishers status.  Plan is to head east towards Orofino, ride some roads around Dworshak Reservoir I haven’t been to before, continue a loop north back through Moscow and Pullman, and back home Sunday evening.  Leaving about noon on Saturday after my City Council retreat.

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My First Motorcyle “Race” – The Desert 100

Rally vs. Race

I’ve been riding competitive scavenger hunt RALLIES for so many years that when I decided to sign up for the 2014 Desert 100 RACE–I feel a twinge everytime I type and say that four letter word that starts with an R and ends with an E.  It’s a totally different thing than RALLIES–that R word is much easier to say.

I’ve never “raced” a motorcycle before and both excited and a a little nervous at the prospect of flogging 700 pounds of dual-sport and rider through the scrub lands of Odessa for 50 miles in amongst hundreds of other riders.

Race Flyer

My Ride

I’ll be riding a 2013 Husqvarna TR650 Strada (that’s the street ABS version) converted to off-road by swapping to spoked rims and knobbies.  Essentially the bike I’m riding and camping from for the weekend is the bike I’m racing…and the bike I’m relying on making it back home with.  I’ll be leaving behind bags, top case, windshield, mirrors, and a few other accessories.

Daddy O’s History

The race is also a surreal event with almost 45 years of history.  My dad raced it in the early 70′s and even won the team class one year….and I was there as a 5 year old kid.  Some things are a bit different today including the fact two-stroke oil isn’t made from castor beans anymore, the suspension on even my compromise enduro bike is light years ahead of the death machines they rode, but several details are exactly the same as before.

Ready, Set, BOOM!

It’s a “running start” race.  That means 750+ riders stand behind their motorcycle about a hundred feet, a cannon goes off (shotgun’s can’ be heard or seen by everybody in the 3/4 mile long line), riders run to their bikes, start them, launch, and everybody tries to make the hole shot about a mile later across a giant undulating field.

Cannon Start from spectator view: http://vimeo.com/63758003

Running to Your Bike on an F800GS (about 100 pounds heavier than mine…got 3rd place last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqcEZB25Kqg

The whole premise of me signing up for this is that I’m forty-something, don’t own an actual “dirt bike”, and signed up because they’ve recently added an “Adventure Class” to the event.  Supposedly, I’m starting in a second “wave” that includes “Vintage” class bikes before 1986, 15 years of age and under, women, seniors (which scarily are considered 50 and older), and only have to do one lap instead of two that the boy racers and grizzled old timers will do.  I’m sure some of them will be lapping me.

Regardless, I’m guaranteed to be passed, to pass, and to encounter bottlenecks.  My goal is to finish….and if possible 3 hours or less.  Again, I’m my racing machine IS my transportation, so I have a big interest in being able to ride it back home.

And I can’t forget that this is adventure riding too.  I’m camping for the weekend and hanging out with THOUSANDS of other people.

Schedule

Friday, April 4

Noon-Afternoon – Depart on Husqvarna TR650 with knobby tires, camping gear, and supplies to camp two nights a few miles west of Odessa, WA.

Afternoon-Evening – Arrive in Odessa and camp with other adventure riders and an adventure riding acquaintance I’m planning to ride the UTBDR with in July.  William B. will be riding in the same class with a KTM 690 Enduro.

Evening – Stories, Frivolity, & C2H6O

Saturday, April 5

7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – “Dual Sport Poker Run”.  The first 100 “adventure bikes” to sign up get a free lunch at the brewery in Odessa.  I understand you get to ride part of the course to get a bit of a taste for things…anywhere from 20-150 miles.

Afternoon – Who knows

Evening – Stories, Frivolity, & C2H6O

Sunday, April 6

8:30 a.m. – Riders Meeting

9:30 a.m. – Race Starts with Wave 1 (the big classes doing 100 miles or 2 laps).  I’ll be in Wave #2 and will undoubtedly be lapped by riders in the first wave.

I estimate riding 2 1/2 to 3 hours to finish the event.

2:30 p.m. – Awards

Late Afternoon – Ride back home.

Monday, April 7

400mg Ibuprofen administered orally every 6 hours or as needed.

 

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Big Money Rally Ride #4 – I’m Going To Where Liz C Has Been

Watch me do this ride with the tracking mapS below and as I bag bonuses near real-time at Big Money Rally.

This will be my fourth Big Money Rally ride of the season and includes collection of up to 90 points AND a signed napkin by Liz C. The latter would be if I successfully capture an image of ALL the green circle bonuses below in less than a 24 hours period….which is about 27 of them by my count (the list is curiously missing LC013) and goes to LC028.

Liz C has ridden in every BMR rally to-date. Liz is always enjoying the ride and shares her fun so very well. And she’s always riding beautiful motorcycles and she has a posse of followers in tow to many of the BMR bonuses she earns.

Here is your chance to be one of those followers, ….or at least go to where Liz has already gone. We’ve taken a few of Liz’s past BMR bonus pictures and created a theme. These are good spots, in good locations. Note: Your emphasis should be on the item in the picture, and include your bike and placard unless noted otherwise.

I’m also doing this ride on Friday, February 28 because it is the last day of the optimal point month.  It makes those 27 bonus locations worth 70 points instead of 56 points a day later.  They were worth 2.0 in January, 2.5 in Feburary, 2.0 again in March, and trail off to even less points April and May.  In fact, the ride organizer echoed these points:

Earning the signed napkin is an accomplishment that will be relished the rest of your life, …even longer if you choose to take that napkin with you to your burial.

A few things to consider:
On Saturday the points for this theme go down. Earning the napkin when point value is at it’s current peak is icing on the cake.

Many western riders have already forfeited the napkin by already earning a LC bonus. So, you are truly in an envialbe position: Not only earn world-wide fame, but also bragging rights and admiration from BMR participants and spectators.

If you go and earn this napkin on Friday, BMR will kick in something special.
Certainly you’ll want to permanently display the napkin in your well-stocked trophy room with all of your other moto-bike awards. BMR will access it’s resources and furnish a zip-lock sandwich bag to showcase the napkin.

We’ll be watching…….

RenoJohn

A ziplock bag?  Whoa!  I can’t not go now!

Weather?

HOWEVER, there is a hitch to the giddyup.  It’s frickin’ February!  And PNW has been pummeled the past 2 or 3 weeks with WINTER weather.  Yes, they plow roads, but another weak storm is coming through on Thursday, clear again for most of the day Friday, and another weak storm on Saturday.  The trick or issue is that one of the bonuses is on Mt. Hood at Government Camp and 4800′ elevation.  Two others are at 1900′ elevation in some remote areas of Washington.

I’ve been burned 3 or 4 time in this area of the world including this season opener of the Dam tour near Hood River on the exact same day of the year, and barely made it to a lake near Mt. Hood the third time in MAY of another year:

This narrow weather window (as of Thursday 10 a.m. it’s raining) says Government Camp has high of 46 at 1 p.m. on Friday, partly cloudy with 20% chance of rain, giving way to low that evening of 26 and chance of snow of 80%.  And once I snag my first bonus at Rufus, I’m committed to the ride.  I either earn the napkin on this ride or never at all.

Watch conditions as I go up the hill from Tygh Valley to Blue Box Pass Summit at 4000′, Frog Lake, merge onto Highway 26 at 3735′, and Government Camp here.

I Want the Napkin!

The question I’m pondering on Thursday morning is whether to ride up at o’dark thirty and crawl my way in the cold night when no other cars are around or wait until what heat there might of the day to melt the slushy roadway, but with many cars around.  I’ll probably go the latter option on this one as I want a good night of rest Thursday to do what is a 900 mile ride in less than 24 hours.

If Government Camp isn’t reachable…so be it.  I’ll as far as safe, turn around, loop to Portland area via Hood Rive,  and snag the other possible bonuses.

Ride Plan (Estimated Times)

  • Depart Tri-Cities – 6-7 a.m., Friday, February 28
  • Begin route at Rufus, OR – 9 a.m.
  • Important Trout Lake & Glenwood, WA Bonuses – 10:30-11:00 a.m.
  • Critical Government Camp Bonus – 1 p.m.
  • Astoria – 5 p.m.
  • West of Portland option to stop at 8 or 9 and and sleep for 6-8 hours
  • End route at or near Sweet Home, OR – Midnight (or morning before 9 a.m. if I stopped earlier)

Note that I have 24 hours from the first bonus to complete the ride.  I may end up using it all.

Technology Testing

On this ride I’m also trying a little technological experiment. I have TWO different GPS tracking devices. I’m trying my new SPOT 3 unit out and I’m trying my iPhone running the recently released SWConnect app in parallel.

SPOT 3 Satellite Transmission

 

SWConnect and iPhone Cellular Data

They both will provide GPS coordinates, but have different performance characteristics.  The biggest difference is that the iPhone with SWConnect will NOT transmit a position unless I’m in cell phone data range.  If I’m out of range it will “buffer” those locations and report them in a burst as soon as I’m back in range to transmit data.  The SWConnect is free (in that the app is free and I already have an iPhone).  The SPOT unit cost me about $150, but I also pay about $175 a year in a fee for the tracking service.

Additional differences will be the reporting frequency.  The SPOT is set at 10 minutes (unless I want to go to the $225 level) and the iPhone can go from 1-10 minutes depending on how I change the application.  Since it cost nothing…that’s a bargain.   With SWConnect I can also choose about 10 different custom messages…where the SPOT has technically only 1 “custom” message.

After The List of Bonuses

After the LC bonuses (with a few libraries thrown in)–I’ll find myself in the Corvallis area probably around midnight Friday.  Get some sleep at a hotel, and then ride around Saturday for some more bonuses in the area and aim for Portland area Saturday night.

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The Road Well Traveled

On a subject completely unrelated to rallying I wondered the other day if I’d been to a particular place in Wyoming and tried recollecting in my rallying over the years…to no avail.

Then I remembered as I’ve accumulated various rallies, rides, and trips using my SPOT tracker over the years–I wondered if it would be in the various trips I’ve accmulated via SpotWalla.  Unfortunately, I have about 80 trips since I purchased my tracker in May of 2009.  Then I thought in a brain flash–just create a trip that spans those 4 1/2 years!

Wow.

Full

It doesn’t include rallies I’ve done since 2005 including the 2007 Iron Butt Rally, 2008 SPANK Rally…that would include more on the map including Northeast and Southeast, but still illustrates how one can cover the country fairly well on a motorcycle.

And have I been to Gilette, Wyomong?  Yes, I have!  Once….at least.  The morning of September 1, 2009 in the final leg of the 2009 Iron Butt Rally.

11-7-2013 9-57-30 AMAnd judging by the spacing of reports and position of the one icon I’m fairly sure I fueled up here…fairly quickly….at a Kum & Go near the freeway.  Not that I remember it exactly since it was Day 9, but mystery solved.

I love technology. :)

11-7-2013 11-43-02 AM

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Autumn at China Hat

I’ve been watching since August the planned gathering of NW Husqvarnas near Bend, Oregon at a place called China Hat.  And other than the weather being potentially very harsh in the high country in the end of October I’m pleasantly excited by the promise of decent weather this weekend.

Friday, October 25

I’m planning to leave Friday morning from home, stop by Cycletown in Hermiston to pick up a Oregon ORV tag (Oregon doesn’t honor my street plates from Washingon when off-road).  $10 for 2 years….so I guess I can live with the slight hassle. (I got my newly required Oregon “ATV Safety Evaluation” and got my card in the mail….best 3 hour waste for 15 minutes of something worthwhile I’ve ever seen).  Besides, maybe they’ve got some dirtbike boots I can try on and pick up a 1/5 of hooch as it’s cheaper in Oregon these days.

Then meander through Lexington, Spray, and Prineville, before getting off the pavement for the last 10 or 15 miles.

This is my tentative route.  I updated it a bit Thursday as I thought I’d like to visit John Day Fossil Beds National Monument do a bit of mix of paved and non-paved cut-offs.  The route takes me through Post, OR which is a single pump outpost of a place and only 60 miles from camp…leaving me 3 gallons of fuel to play with on Saturday.

Or, as an alternate I could also choose a more direct route via paved roads and gas up last in Prineville.

Ultimate destination is a campground with supposedly a dozen or so campsites just south of the actual China Hat cone.  I find one pretty good video of the area riding…except for the ending part.  Reminds me I need to take my GoPro…and not fall down.

Saturday, October 26

Ride around, see the countryside.

This year seems the 3rd or 4th year of a larger Husky end-of-season gathering and if this picture from last year is indicative of the tenacity of this group–they seem like kindred spirit to me!

DSC_3576Fear not!  Weather forecast is for mostly sunny, highs in the 60′s, lows in the high 20′s, and no chance of rain.  Morning’s oughta be brisk and I’ll be packing my heavier sleeping bag.  Although, if there were snow–this looks fun!

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UPDATE: Here’s what I actually did when I got there.

Picked a nice place to park my bike and setup for a cold night of camping.

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Went for a little ride before dark.

Once the sun went down…the fire warmed up.
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The music played, stories of the days ride exagerated, the booze flowed, and the embers warmed.
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Sunday, October 27

Ride back home.

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Moonrise and Packwood in the Autumn

A little impromptu ride to visit my friends in Packwood for the evening.

On the way I’m going to stop at Chinook Pass for a hike in the full moon, but since the full moon should be rising at 6:20 and sunset at 6:03 (my location, but similarly adjusted when I move a hundred miles to the west) I think it *might* be an interesting event to photograph…maybe I can get some interesting background in the twilight.  Figure I’ll get there early to see what I can see.

MWK03993c

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FJR PNW Tech Meet

I was invited to attend an FJR Tech Meet and Greet to talk about rallying and looking forward to visiting about 20 fellow FJR riders in Auburn Saturday, October 5th.

I’m planning to ride up either Friday night or Saturday morning for the event and spend the night at the family cabin on Whidbey.  Should be fun. :)

 

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Ride Report to Gerlachfest 2013

I bailed on Steens Mountain as I was blocked by snow 12 miles away and. 3000 vertical feet.  No way I was going to make it.

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Friday morning shortly after sunrise I found a nice picture opportunity near Fields, Oregon. Snow level was just a few hundred feet above this picture and tires were slippery in the fresh morning frost sticking firmly to the road in shadowy spots.

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Meeting up with George Swetland in the middle of nowhere….to be specific the center of the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe’s land….32 miles from the nearest paved road. George’s IBA number is #005…which means he was 5th place in the very first Iron Butt Rally in 1984. I’m #332 having finished first in 2007…and they’re up to about #500 these days. His KTM is SERIOUSLY pimp.

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About 30 miles later I found Double Hot Springs, parked the motorcycle and soaked in remote beauty.

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After the hot springs I rode 25 miles on the playa to Twelve Mile entrance. That means the left lobe of the Black Rock Desert Playa is 37 miles long! This is the general area they broke the speed of sound with a car and where Burning Man happens annually. Picture is from a fish eye lens to force perspective.

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The next day I went out on the playa with friends for a little target practice (Barbie is ziptied to a post) with pistols ranging from .38 to .45 in caliber and a variety of .223 rifles. It should be noted that passing cyclists (even TR650 riders like myself) RARELY actually hit the target.

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My cycle amongst a variety of others including FJRs, GSs, a Tiger, multiple Tenere, a DR650, STs, and who knows what.

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Shortly after our little shooting competition (I estimate $500+ of ammo was expended) I rode the playa for a bit. My iPhone is not the best choice, but it does give you a glimpse into the surreal nature of skating across a Euclidian flat plane, what it’s like to ding your brand new AltRider skid plate on railroad tracks (about the 6:22 mark), and to have an impromptu adventure through some seriously slick mud, sand dunes, and to navigate a bit of the mythical “Jungo Road”.

Visit rail road track initially by myself at 0:00.
High speed by the breaking up shooting group at 3:20.
On tail of friend on DR650 at 4:15
Railroad tracks 2nd time at 6:00
Riding through some wet playa and washes 11:45
Jungo Road at 15:30
Arrive in Gerlach at 25:55
Commence to drinking at 27:00

And while the Strada is not in the picture…this photo is important because it’s the Iron Butt Association Memorial Monument with the Black Rock Playa in the distance. It’s an incredible location and sight. And also on the post is a list of IBR winners since 1984. We had three attending this year’s event..plus Swetland from the first event. I bagged 5th place in this year’s IBR on my FJR.

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I also got to thinking about the geology of the region.  It’s a HUGE flat expanse…one of very few this size on the planet.  Supposedly it’s the largest mud/akalai playa in the world.  I’d heard it was from a variety of volcanic activity, but there’s this theory that the region was shaped significantly as a 54 mile wide impact crater.  Makes me want to go back and find a chunk of basalt that shows shatter cones.

If I had to pick my favorite picture of the weekend…it’s probably this one. 6400 miles on the TR since I bought it in May. Only thing left to put on is a front Woody’s spoked rim that will be finished sometime this winter.

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To Gerlach….via Steen’s Moutain…on a Husky

Something Cool | ~1100 Miles Round Trip

The end of the rally season marks a tradition I’ve had the great honor of attending for the better part of a decade, and as the days get shorter and summer season starts to wane I swear I can smell alkali dust in my nose.

I’m talking about Gerlachfest and this year its September 27-29th.  I’ll be leaving home about 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 26th and riding through much of the night to hopefully catch a sunrise picture in Oregon.

  IMG_7169eGerlach is an oasis of food, liquor, and marginal motel beds in Northwestern Nevada.  It is also a unique crossroads of bipeds representing an interesting sampling of humanity.  Whether it’s Burners cleaning up after 70,000 of themselves, rocketeers shooting missiles high over the Black Rock Desert, car drivers breaking the speed of sound in a jet car, locals lamenting the disintegration of traditional family values and encroachment of their property, or “other 1%’er” LD riders doing a little binge drinking and ravioli face stuffing–Gerlach is very special to me.

My usual commute is via FJR on a Thursday night down the lonely stretches of 395 and high-speed pass via the back door to Gerlach on cow-infested 447.  But, this year my route and bike choices are a little different….

Something New (To Me) | ~400 Miles

I read a little piece in my local newspaper and find myself drawn to alter course ever-so-slightly and detour to Steens Mountain along the way.  This detour is almost the same distance, but makes it much more interesting, dramatic, and adventurous.  I think I remember seeing the turnoff sign before, but thought it was a gravel road and didn’t think much about riding it on the FJR, but the article suggests its a nice paved loop with stellar views comparable to national park, but in the middle of nowhere.  Regardless of road condition for my road bike–I’m taking the Husqvarna and know it will be up to the task–even though the 9,734 foot peek will take a 34% toll on the output of my 58 hp thumper compared to sea level.

Thursday night is expected to be as low as 39 in the dark part of my journey and I’ll be riding a minimally protected motorcycle with a 400 watt alternator.  I’ll be taking my electric jacket to be certain and it will be interesting to see if I have a surplus or defecit of watts while firing it and my auxiliary lights.  I’ll pack some extra fleece, glove liners, and socks to be sure.  If I get some time Wednesday evening I may rig a temp gauge and voltmeter to monitor.

I’m hoping to get to the area somewhere around sunrise Friday and hopefully find some interesting stuff to photograph.

And, after the fact, I realize my friend H Marc has done all this and other things before. :)

Something Stretchy | Mile 425

All is the same for the first 268 miles of the trip.  I fuel up in Burns, OR (technically Hines…it gets me 3 miles closer), but then head down 205 like I’m going to Winnemucca. This stretch of road is interesting even on a fuel-cell equipped FJR with extremely long fuel legs. While I’ve fueled up at Denio Junction in the past–I’ve learned they are now closed.   And on the limited Husqvarna (the reserve light comes on about the 150 mile mark…and runs out of go juice around the 170-180 mark) I’ll be having to fuel at the recently confirmed $4.09/gallon berg of Fields, OR (157 miles) sometime early Friday morning. (Thanks Tim B.!)

I’ll be carrying at least 3 or 4 liters of spare fuel to extend range another 40 or 50 miles , but there’s just no way I can make it the 300 mile shortest distance to Gerlach from Hines.  While I could make it to Winnemucca for fuel (180 miles) and then to Gerlach via Jungo Road (160 miles) I fully intend to half the distance and go directly to Gerlach via gravel and other interesting roads.

Something Sketchy | Miles 425 – 564

About 30-40 miles after Fields I’ll turn off the paved blacktop in favor of various road names like “Knott Creek”, “Pearl Creek”, “Summit Lake”, “Soldier Meadows”, and the infamously generic “Local Road(s)”. Fields, Denio, and Denio Junction are barely wide spots on the tarmac in the middle of nowhere, but this stretch is going to be new and different to me….and I think even obscure to the regular motorcycle Illuminati that attend Gerlachfest.

West of the Black Rock Playa: In fact, as I write this and zoom the finer details of one possible route I find it will go through the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada…that has a whopping 6 members living on the reservation with 112 members presumably living elsewhere.  There’s a story here I’m sure.

East of the Black Rock Playa: Alternatively, I could route to the east of the Black Rock Desert Playa and join Jungo Road at its midpoint for a more “traditional” sketchy arrival….or maybe even go onto the playa and ride it across to the memorial and then to Gerlach. It’s funny how riding a dual sport changes the way you look at dashed roads on maps. They become more suggestions with myriad options than when riding a sport-touring bike where paved roads are much more defined and, pardon the inaccurate pun, concrete.

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Regardless of the route I ultimately take–this 150 mile’ish stretch is sure to be interesting.

Something Soothing | Miles?….far out man.

The whole Black Rock Desert area is littered with hot springs and maybe I’ll take a page from previous riders and stop for a soak.

Soldier Meadows, Black Rock Desert, Nevada – 60 miles north of Gerlach on the west side of the Playa. 90-105 degrees.  This would be an easy to get to spring….it may even be close to pavement or at least a numbered state highway of gravel.  41.358515,-119.189301.

Double Hot Springs, Black Rock Desert, Nevada – 35 miles north of Gerlach and “25 miles across the playa”…which could be difficult to cross if it’s rained recently.  If I did Soldier Meadow I could make it to this spring via “road”, but then be on the wrong side of one lobe of the playa.   It has a 200 degree source, but piped to a bathing area.  Supposedly “fantastic”. 41.05098, -119.02642  This is a stretch plan and depends on the condition of the playa if I were to ride across the lobe.  Optionally, I could backtrack and make a longer ride…..I’d be on the edge of reserve fuel if I did.

Trego Hot Springs, Black Rock Desert, Nevada – I’ve heard of Trego before and know it’s 20 miles north of Gerlach on the east side of the Playa. 100 degrees at the source and 95 degrees in the pool.  This would be an easy and single get for Nevada springs if I choose to come in via Jungo Road.  40.770922,-119.113855

Alvord Hot Springs, Oregon – Doing a little homework I find Alvord Hot Springs just a few miles off my intended route from Steens Mountain to Fields in Oregon. It’s supposedly 112 degrees…which down from the 174 degree source, but still seems pretty danged warm.  It was a candidate…..but maybe not now that it now has a $5 fee and presumably people monitoring.

Something Nostalgic | Mile 565

Assuming a west-of-the-playa arrival I’ll be coming in on a road I’ve only ventured on 12 miles north of Gerlach on.  This approach guarantees me a stop to the IBA Memorial and see the addition of Derek Dickson to the IBR Winners Plaque. Visiting this site is always an inwardly dramatic event for me as I increasingly know the people on the IBR Winner Plaque….as well as the faster growing floor of memorial stones…that unfortunately I know as well.

Something Thirst Quenching & Homey  | Mile 568

Arriving at Bruno’s Bar, Casino, Country Club, and Regional Events Center I have the routine down.  Park in front of bar amongst a gaggle of fuel-cell equipped motorcycles, go to the bar, switch from a bright desert day to a darkened room filled with other motorcyclists that proclaim your presence with “MATT!“, receive a drink somebody buys you, ask “Chuck” the bartender/hotel staff to check in, pay room fee, receive big brass key (no card locks in this place!), greet next rider that comes through brightly lit door struggling to adjust to the low light with “TOM!“, buy them a drink…..lather, rinse, repeat.

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Something ‘Nummy | Ravioli #6

Friday evening is more informal than Saturday, in that you could probably not wear pants and nobody would even notice. Saturday evening there’s an old fashioned eating contest and nobody wins given the sheer mass of Italian food served.

Something Somber | +20 miles

What happens Saturday I prefer to not share in full detail.  Sometimes the day is filled with fun bench rallies to try out an impending IBR technology.  And, sometimes it’s just casual a case frivolity, tire-kicking, lie telling, while simultaneously maintaing moderate BAL levels in the afternoon breeze.  Or more commonly it involves riding out on the playa and shooting at Barbie dolls in a somewhat sketchy, but riotously fun manner.

Suffice it to say there’s a bonfire after dinner and I’ll spend time with my friends. And a toasting flask will be involved.

Something Pasty | Mile 600-1200

Waking up Sunday morning with a hangover and nostrils filled with playa dust is always bittersweet.  Motorcycle engines fire up as dawn approaches, settle into a warm idle in the usually crisp morning, clunk when the rider puts it in gear, and then wander off in the general direction of their home with the fading sound of a motorcycle snicking through its gears.

I’ll see them again next year.

I get up too. Not the first, definitely not the last, but I repeat the ritual the previous person did–knowing that somebody more hungover than I is lying in their lumpy bed awakened by my motorcycle starting, idling, and motoring away.

Once aimed back towards home on 443 I’ll unwind the miles, be reminded that Fall is here, and ride through the little bergs that I’ve memorized: Cedarville, Lakeview, Burns, John Day, Seneca & Fox, Long Creek, Ukiah, Pilot Rock, Pendleton, Hermiston, Umatilla, Kennewick, home.

My computer awaits downloading pictures and king sized bed awaits me.

 

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7 Choices for TR650 Skid Plates….I Mean 9!

UPDATE 9/6:  I FINALLY received my AltRider skid plate.  It’s seriously sweet and super easy to install.

UPDATE 8/13: It’s been two months and I haven’t yet seen this work of industrial art.  I just read on a forum that they were supposedly “manufactured incorrectly” and “engineers were assessing the situation”.  I’ll be eager for a response and decide if I need to switch to another choice.

UPDATE:  I purchased the AltRiders product on 6/13 and got free shipping from Revzilla.  It should be in shortly!

Who knew that a motorcycle that is less than a year old has no less than 8 choices when it comes to skid plates. It certainly needs one for ANYTHING off-road, but I didn’t expect I’d spend two hours pouring over Internet discussions on the subject and create my own blog entry about it. From cheapest to most expensive:

Ricochet

$99.95, the Richochet Skid Plate comes in 5 mm thick aluminum and seems to be a big hunk of aluminum to cover the bottom of your bike plus the front and sides as well. It’s not sexy all bare metal and there’s a question about its mounting hardware, but if it’s job is to protect the bike from taking a nasty hit…it looks like it would do it’s job. With no holes in it I’m sure it reflect engine noise and probably would add some Dynamat stick-on sound deadener.

This one is a contender even though it’s the cheapest….less than half one of the other easily purchased units. I can also powder coat at home if I like and bet it will look WAY better in black.

Moose

I’ve read about them, but haven’t seen a picture….and Google searches come up with the same one as Richochet.

Touratech

At $179.90 this one seems the welterweight of the bunch in price and function. It offers 4mm thick material–although corrugated for some extra stiffness. It covers the sides and front…a little. I don’t like how that one of the hoses are exposed. Otherwise an “eeee-ficient” German design….Gunter would be proud of.

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Motosportz

If Tony Stark to were to design a skid plate…one of his designs would definitely be this one. CNC machined from billet aluminum (I think that plate is 6mm) and then welded it looks like an engineering marvel of unobtanium alloy. The mounting hardware is VERY elegant and robust.

But…..why doesn’t it offer any projection to the side or front of the engine? Does Tony know something I don’t?

At $199 it’s steal for the bottom strength and detail. I saw one at the dealer I bought my bike.  It looks like a metaphorical .22 round aimed at an up-armored Abrams tank that would bounce off with nary a scuff ….only to  ricochet through an open hatch and make a small red spot between the….duhh…commanders eyes.

Note:  I learned they or somebody else does offer some optional wings, but didn’t know before I ordered the AltRider.

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SW-Mototech

They make some nice products and at $234.50 it seems a welterweight fighting up a class with 4 mm thickness on the main plate and 2.5 mm on side wings to provide fairly decent coverage. They up the Swiss Army knife quotient by offering a $139 optional toolbox (Canadian pricing). Kinda cool, but perhaps spendy for what you get.

AltRider

This product is seriously pimp! And at $240.97 they’re proud of their product. The combination of 4.75 mm (.187″) aluminum stock, inclusion of well-considered front & side flanges, radiusing along the bottom at various points to more closely follow the motorcycle lines, recessed fasteners, and cleanly cut holes to reduce some weight & still look cool. They also added an elliptical hole for oil draining to accommodate lean from the side stand…niiiiice touch!

It’s also 2.5 time more expensive than the Ricochet, but the other one I’m seriously considering. And black powder coat is an option with no premium.

Bonus, they’re made and marketed in my own state by some cool kids (or they seem young to me).  Bummer, they’re made and sold in my own state and I won’t get the opportunity to forget to remit my use tax and they’ll go ahead and add sales tax for me. ;)  Hmmm, I’m headed to Whidbey Island next Friday.  Maybe I’ll have to stop off and pick one up personally and see their other goodies firsthand.

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Happy-Trail

I learned about the HT skidplate after I bought the AltRider.  Similar coverage and decent price at $154.95.

B&B

Those Aussies have a slightly more elegant answer to the Ricochet. It looks like a beefy unit, but to ship one would supposedly make this thing in the $350 range delivered.

OEM

Somebody told me Husqvarna does make an optional skid fin, but laugh at the minimal protection, weak projection, and laughable price. (Did I really hear it cost $1000+ for it?). I read an entertaining account of making a Franken-plate of a Motosportz and OEM for hyper numbers.

 

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Following Lewis & Clark…”Into the Unknown”

MontanaMapI’m returning to visit my friends Bob and Sylvie in Big Sky, MT and participate in the second Big Sky Rally. Some may remember I rode the 2010 event…and won.  So, I’m the returning champion….but there are some incredibly talented experienced riders and even several relatively new riders that will be sure to competitive.

I admit I’m a little behind the curve on this one as the shock absorber I blew in the Iron Butt Rally (and later found cracked the clevis) is due to arrive Thursday afternoon (with a used clevis that still cost $80) and hopefully I will be mounting up and using sometime in the later evening as I headed to Big Sky.  The commute there will be fairly boring as I ride I-90 to Bozeman and hang a right the last 50 miles.  The bike will still have bug cuts and patina from the IBR on it.

Friday will be tech inspection and catching up with friends and newcomers.

Saturday morning will be the rally…O’dark thirty.  It will be 32 hours long which is enough time to ride back past home to where Lewis and Clark made it near Astoria OR ride to where L&C started 2 years earlier near the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota.

Rally Details:

  • Start & End: Big Sky, Montana
  • Begin: 05:00 MDT, Saturday, August 24, 2013
  • End: 13:00 MDT, Sunday, August 25, 2013

Regardless of path, Brian Roberts, is the puzzle master.  He’s the one that came up with Wild Wild West (I got a 2nd) and the Zombie Apocolypse.  Rumor is he’s outdone himself on this one…and I was nearly outdone by both of those…so it’s gotta be good.

Enjoy watching us in Montana and I’ll update with links to resources as they come available.

Matt

—–

Article About Me!!!!

http://northernrockiesrider.com/blog/2013/08/05/pasco-mayor-is-a-long-distance-endurance-rider-2/

Official website

http://www.thebigskyrally.com/

My commute and rally

Group Page

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Burger in C’Da

I can’t ever spell Cour D’ Alene the same way twice, but somebody says there’s a free burger involved…I’m all over it.  Going to see the GZ in C’Da with the TR on Saturday along with WC, HMarc, and others. Then some camping somewhere in the area Saturday night.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.

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Touring the Tucannon via Timbuktu

Impromptu camping with my homie Nooch. I’m supposed to go “where the pavement ends take a left into Camp Wooten…” (I’ve failed twice in the past to actually find it) and “…follow signs we are making.”

So, this sounds suspiciously like the ol’ ‘follow the paper plates marked by a half-working pen from the glove compartment and be confused for hours before accidentally finding your party’ type of directions….in an area I’ve had miserable luck before finding to begin with.

Sounds like a perfect Adventure Ride for me! I might even not follow directions on purpose and try this alternate route to get pre-lost…so that finding them will feel like even a bigger achievement.

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