I've been slacking on posting about the ride. Part of me hoped someone else would start I could jump in.
Tuesday 0830, 6/26,
20+Riders showed up at the Giant Loop Offices in Bend Oregon. Being a local, I was one of the last to arrive for breakfast. Many Riders were on return legs from the Touratech NW rallly in Leavanworth, Washington. We all go a chance to meet each other while trying to comsume some breakfast and snacks provided by GL staff.
By 0930, kickstand were up, and we all headed out. South East and towards my neck of the woods. We left the pavement just down the road from my house, so I already felt at home. Besides the sweep riders, I was last to get onto the dirt. The first rock hill had already consumed its first Beemer. I could see multiple riders helping lift the heavily loaded GSA back onto its rubber and getting the rider ready for a fun restart mid hill. I looked around to see many GS riders a bit apprehensive about the trail ahead. I let a few riders in on the smooth single track on the left, and the additional smooth double track ahead if they stayed left. With that, I took off. The next few hours of wrong turns, bad GPS way points, electrical issues, and 20 plus riders of widely varrying abilities and heavily loaded bikes turned into a 5+hr ride to Christmas Valley.
View from Green Mountain Lookout, and Fire Watch Tower
Now 1500 hrs, most riders present and all accounted for in some shape of form. We all inhaled food at the Christmas Valley gas station and topped off bikes. Oh did I mention that I had become one of the official Gas Tanker donation bikes to help refuel two of the Giant Loop guys who probably did twice the mileage of most of us trying to keep everyone on track. Dustin and Justin both needed fuel just 5-10 miles from Christmas Valley. Justin could of made it had he not been spinning tires the entire 120+ miles. That guy makes his 950 SM into his bitch on the dirt (more on that later).
Refueled, and planning on slabbing the last 40+ miles to Summer Lake, we head out. Miles up the Road, Harold of Giant Loop pulls over, and offers who ever is up for it, to go dirt straight over the pass. 5 of us including Harold hit the dirt. By far the hardest riding of the Day, we manage to get over the rocky pass. Mad props to the Cook from Touratech on his 1200GSA. He punished those rocks. I was very happy to be on my 690. Once on the flats, we were soon on the pavement, ripping to the Hot Springs.
Cold Beer, Hot Food, and soaking in the tubs was in Order. Big thanks to the staff at Giant Loop for putting this ride together. A BIG BIG thanks to Harolds Wife, friend, and kids for keeping us fed and hydrated
The night was spent soaking, BS'ing, and hanging around the campfire.
I was up early with the sun, and took a few pics. Summer Lake is a beautiful place, and I have enjoyed every trip to the springs. I was stoked as this was the first time I had seen the area green.
After Breakfast, everyone parted and went their ways. Dustin of GL, and Justin (local guy enslaved to run sweep) were keen to hit dirt back to Bend. I think they just dragged me to have fuel reserve. We headed up Government Harvey Pass only to be slowed by a cattle drive. Ranchers on Horseback, hundreds of cattle, with help from their farm dogs were in, on and around the road. It took a few sketchy minutes, with dung flying everywhere to get through the herd, but it made things interesting. Sadly, I was focusing too much to try to take pictures. Once on top of the ridge, we were greeted with lush green scenery, great high speed packed roads, and nice cool air. I highly recommend this ridge ride to anyone in the area. There are numerous places to stop and take pics, though we kept our pace up as Dustin needed to get home to his recent addition in the family.
Two fuel dump stops for Dustin before we made SilverLake, Yep, that's why they brought me. We topped off at SilverLake, and hit the gravel to Fort Rock. From there we continued on China Hat where Dustin headed for home, and Justin and I headed to East Lake and Paulina Lake. We were hoping to grab lunch at East Lake, but struck out as the cafe is closed on Tu/Wed.
This is where things got really interesting. Leaving East Lake at a good pace, Roughly 60mph. A young deer bolted out of the woods. I did not see it until it was a few feet from my right side. Thankfully the deer had turned up the BOOST, and with a rub of my brakes, I managed to nudge the rear leg of the deer with my front tire. The deer was uninjured, and ran off into the woods. The state of my underwear is still in question. Justin was far enough behind a saw the whole thing unfold. We both laughed for miles. We ended up blowing right by the Paulina Lodge, consumed by the twisty ribbons of tarmac. Justin turned us around and suggested we take the dirt road under the powerlines that led back to Bend. He indicated that it had some rocky sections, including crossing the Lava fields, but it should be no trouble.
Here comes part two of the interesting stuff. Justin later discovered that he had not ridden from this far South on the road, and the lava field crossings were needless to say, baby head lava rough! The temps were rising into the low 80's, and the physical demands increasing the riding suit temps as well. I was wishing for my moto gear now, but managing. We had finally reached the last lava field crossing that Justin was familiar with. It happened to be the most groomed and nicest section, so we thought. Cruising along at a decent pace, I see Justin pull over and scramble to his tank bag. His bike began to dump oil as he shut off the bike. I mentioned earlier that Justin rides a 950sm. I know what it's like to ride one, as I had one until recently sold it
He has spoked 19/17 wheels with custom flat track cut knobbies. He also has a header pipe off of an 950 Adventure to get the header up out of the way. The problem is, his oil tank and lines hang down with no protection. Before we had left Giant Loop the day before, he had attempted to affix a head shield to protect the lines, but to no avail, ended up with his custom duct tape skid plate
Justin had bent the hard line fitting and torn the hose affixed to it.
Below you can see Justin clamp the oil line with his leatherman, then a pair of vice grips to stop the bleed out. We figured out that if we laid the bike on its side, we could release the vice grips and take things apart without losing all of the oil. The Hardline was sketchy to unkink, as we feared it would break. Luckily Justin got it open just enough to allow oil flow, and meet up with the shortened line. Working over a hot bike, in a lava field at 3pm on a hot day in Adv gear is always lovely. After all was said and done, the bike fired right up, and the oil level was still registering on the sight tube. Woohoo!
Mad props to Justin for the fix, and for riding the beast in the dirt the way he does!
After a hour trail side repair and 15 minute ride, we were in town and eating sushi. Our waiter gave us our own pitcher of water, as he could see we needed it. Repaired line below, note cow dung on bottom of case.
Mechanical Note, my 690 ran flawlessly with the Rally Raid kit. I had not done any serious mileage offroad with it yet. I never thought I would love the bike more.
I would have liked a more dirt oriented tire, but I have had the Pirelli scorpions sitting around needing to be used. They surprised me how well they did in the dirt and especially the rocky sections. I might take Justin up on his offer to use his tire cutter to add a few more knobs to them though, I did have more than a few O-$hiiiiiiz moments.