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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Boondox, Mar 8, 2014.
Great report, thanks!
The online Adventure Rider community is tight-knit, though most of us have never met. Even so, the forum is a place to share adventure plans, to appeal for technical guidance, to arrange to meet fellow enthusiasts as you ride through their turf
and on the forum there is a history of total strangers dropping everything to come to the aid of a fellow rider in trouble far from home.
That community spirit would come in handy on this day.
Duncan, a fellow sidecarist on the forum, and his wife invited Barley and me to breakfast. Always delighted to meet new people and pick their brains about our shared interests, I accepted. The diner was an immaculate and very dog-friendly place tucked among artsy stores in Hood River. Barley, on his best behavior, ducked under the table and laid on my feet. I listened raptly as Duncan described a car tire modification to his rig, along with a narrative of his installation woes. He and his wife asked about the route Barley and I would be taking out of town, and offered some excellent suggestions on more scenic routes. One can pour over maps and online resources, but nothing beats the advice of local riders. As they talked I took careful mental notes.
They described the town and pointed out some local history on the way back to our hotel, where we said our goodbyes and made plans to meet up at the rally in a few days. Barley and I went in to pack up our belongings, fill up our small ice chest, and load the rig for the day. I checked voice messages on my iPhone and found one from another adventure rider who lived in the area.
Jeff and his wife, Shelly, were going our direction and would be waiting for us at a wide spot in the road near a town Id never heard of. No matter, it was on the way. We set out on the scenic route Duncan had described, hoping it would pass the spot where Jeff was waiting. It did, as luck would have it. Shortly after I got my first glimpse of Mt Hood, I spotted a pair of dual sport motorcycles at the side of the road. Jeff and Shelly, a thirty-something couple, were waving a greeting.
Barley enjoys few things more than a butt scratch from a pretty woman, so he was soon leaning into Shelly and happily telling her all about his grand adventure! And when he gets going his vocals are truly inspirational! There wasnt much time to talk as they had to be somewhere soon, but again I got some excellent route advice before we set off, Shelly leading the way. After several miles they signaled for a left turn and waved for us to continue straight, so I waved goodbye in passing and we continued alone.
We left the pavement at the point they had described, and headed past Timothy Lake on a dirt Forest Service road. After a break in the shade of a majestic pine grove we continued several more miles to pavement, then turned south through sparse pines toward the volcanic peaks known as The Sisters.
The terrain looked like NASA photos from Mars, save for the occasional conifer struggling to survive. It was surreal, beautiful, desolate. It was also very sharp, too sharp for Barleys unprotected paws, so we stayed on the road and safe in the sidecar.
I love curves! On two wheels I will happily drag footpegs for hours. On three wheels its more of a physical workout (due to the inability to lean) and also a more technical ride. I also have to be prepared for sudden changes should Barley spot a rodent. Still, I managed a few power slides coming down the incline into the valley below. We had a blast! It was also getting much hotter as we shed altitude, and once the road leveled off I pulled over to let Barley play in a stream.
Ten minutes after we got back underway I was doing 65mph on a straight section of road when I heard a muffled POP and the rig became instantly difficult to control. I am a religious checker of mirrors, so knew without looking back there was nobody behind me. I also knew that Id lost the rear tire, and instinctively stood up on the footpegs and leaned forward and to the right to lessen the load back there. No brakes, roll off the throttle smoothly, arc to the left where providence had placed a small church with a large parking lot. It was afternoon, and the lot was empty as we lurched to a halt.
Dismounting, I stared at the ruined tire, then cuddled Barley and gave him some cool water from the ice chest. We sat on a rock and share a granola bar, waiting for my pulse to return to normal. A few minutes later we walked over to check the rig. Barley sniffed the tire and looked disgusted. If the pannier hadnt been in the way he probably would have peed on it. We were in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon. Small town. No services. Sunday afternoon.
It was not looking good for the home team
I put the camera away at that point; sorry, no more pix for the day.
Im not sure why I did it, but this year, before leaving on this trip, I signed up for the Good Sam Club Platinum Plus program. In the way of insurance I never expected to use it, but figured the modest introductory payment was worth it simply for peace of mind. I pulled my membership card out of my wallet, tapped the Where Am I function on my GPS, grabbed my iPhone and called the toll-free number.
Are you in a safe place? was the first thing the woman on the other end of the phone asked me. Not my name or my membership number. Are you safe? I liked these people right away. I gave her all the information about my location, the type of vehicle and nature of the problem, and the fact I was traveling with a dog. She told me I should expect a flatbed truck in half an hour. Fifteen minutes later she texted me pushing the ETA back another forty-five minutes. After texting Duncan a quick note of our situation I gave Barley a few treats and refilled his water bowl, then hunkered down with my Emergency Snickers Bar.
Chocolate helps in these situations.
Right on time the flatbed arrived. Randy, the driver, quickly winched the rig aboard and strapped it down securely. Barley got the back seat while I rode up front with Randy. He had come all the way from Eugene, nearly sixty miles away, and thats where we were headed. It was a fun trip, not exactly how I intended to travel, but his running commentary on the region was entertaining and educational. He even dropped us off at a hotel right across the street from a tire store, a very nice gesture.
It was brutally hot by this point, so I checked into the hotel, fired up the air conditioner, got Barley situated in the coolness then began schlepping all the stuff into the room. We were in downtown Eugene, just a block from the Greyhound station, which to my mind meant drunks and derelicts all over the place. I had visions of everything not locked up being stripped from the bike, and only the flat tire would prevent the entire rig from being stolen. But downtown Eugene proved to be a remarkably nice place, full of friendly people, clean
not at all the stereotypical downtown I expected. And when I checked the forum I found several offers of help from total strangers! Duncan had broadcast our plight to the Adventure Rider forum and several were offering help in the form of a place to stay, help changing the tire, and even a trailer to transport us wherever we needed to go! I reassured all those great people that we were okay, and had things under control.
We had dinner and slept well, Barley and me. In the morning we walked across the street and into the tire store the moment it opened. They wouldnt help! They did not do motorcycles. The fact that I had a car tire on a car rim made no difference. The Firestone corporate policy was that they would not touch any tire unless it was on a rim and a vehicle for which it was designed. Cowards! Scratch Firestone products from my list of approved suppliers!
About a mile down the road was a place called the Tire Factory. They had the tire I needed in stock, and had no qualms about mounting it to the correct sized rim no matter what that rim was bolted to. Roy, who had a pronounced Robert Duvall thing going, got me right in. In fifteen minutes we were heading back to the hotel with a brand new tire!
1. Does Barley ever sleep while.he's riding in the sidecar?
2. Does Barley ever seem reluctant to get back in the sidecar after a great stop?
Since we’d lost so much time with the blowout, we left the city of Eugene on Interstate 5. We veered off at Highway 58, making good time till we came up behind a pack of extremely slow Harleys who would not let anybody pass.
One of the advantages of riding a dual sport bike is the ability to take roads that bikes designed purely for pavement wouldn’t dare. Oregon is blessed with scenic Forest Service roads; most are dirt or were paved so long ago that they might as well be dirt. Forest Service 21 led us through a scenic wonderland of beautiful reservoirs, streams cascading down steep rock faces, and mountains. Many, many mountains.
The big BMW was in its element, rocketing down the straight sections, pulling power slides around the gravel switchbacks, and taking ruts in stride. By standing on the footpegs with knees flexed I was able to ride in comfort. Not so Barley, who was rattling around inside the hack like the ball in a can of spray paint. I tried to justify the pace with the thought that we had a bit of catching up to do, but I could feel the Hairy Eyeball searing into the side of my helmet after just a few miles. At twenty-five miles Barley was openly glaring at me, but still I pressed on. Finally, after seventy-four miles of fantastic dirt roads, we turned onto pavement and Barley’s mood improved. A short time later we entered Crater Lake National Park.
There were no tent camping sites available, said the ranger. The primitive campground to the east had been closed, and the privately-run campground to the west catered only to RVs. Ahem; we would just have time to take a lap before setting off in search of a place to stay for the night.
The devastation at Mount St Helens had been impressive, but was small potatoes compared to Crater Lake. Imagine the power required to blow a hole in the earth a thousand feet deep and nine miles in diameter! We rode around the crater, my dog and I, stopping for photos, snacks and water here and there, but the lack of campsites meant we couldn’t linger. I felt we had a good shot at reaching the redwoods in northern California if we hustled, so we headed out the south entrance and turned toward Grants Pass, Oregon on Highway 62. Again, we ran into a group of Harleys doing 35 in a 55 zone. They seemed oblivious to our presence behind them so after giving them several minutes to remember their road manners I began picking them off one by one, generally passing as we exited corners. They seemed to be particularly fearful of curves.
We made good time once we passed the rolling roadblock, but by late afternoon it was brutally hot and I began to think reaching the coastline was not realistic. When the ambient temperature exceeded Barley’s body temp, I called it quits. There was a nice hotel on the banks of the Rogue River in the town of Shady Cove. We refueled, got a room, unpacked, showered, walked across the road to get dinner, walked back to our room and ate a leisurely meal. A few minutes later the group of cruisers we had passed south of Crater Lake showed up and checked into the room next door. One of them nodded at me as I covered the rig with a small tarp. “You scoot right along in that thing,” he said.
I took it as a compliment.
Back on the road at first light. We reached Grants Pass, Oregon by seven o’clock and shared breakfast at McDonald’s. (Barley loves their hash browns.) By nine we passed through a tunnel and found ourselves in California. An hour and a half later we reached the Jedediah Smith Grove of coastal redwoods. The plan was to set up our tent and spend a leisurely afternoon playing among the giant trees. We pulled up to the campground entrance. A sign on the ranger’s kiosk read: NIGHTLY BEAR INCURSIONS.
It was a very nice park, with the scenic Smith River meandering through a grove of magnificent coastal redwoods. It would have been an awesome place to spend the night, but Barley quickly picked up bear scent and I knew, given his prior offenses, that he would become Cujo that night should we elect to stay.
Just enough time for a stroll amongst the giants and it was time to move on.
We could feel the chill of the Pacific Ocean as we left the redwoods behind, and in less than an hour we reached a broad sandy beach at Crescent City, California! The moment Barley was let off lead he raced across the beach and rolled in the sand with unadulterated joy. He chased his ball, sniffed strange new smells, and yipped happily. Oddly, he showed no interest in the ocean.
We headed north into Oregon and a series of small towns spaced along the shoreline every twenty-five miles or so. Some were all about overstated tourism with shoulder to shoulder national franchises, but others were delightful assortments of small independent businesses framed by fantastic scenery.
Now and then Barley got a chance to tell a perfect stranger all about his trip. Some listened more attentively than others.
We stopped every half hour for rest and play. This was, after all, a vacation!
In mid-afternoon we pulled onto the broad quay of a fishing town and found a small group of BMWs parked near a tiny seafood diner. Nearby a huge crane lifted a fishing boat out of the water and placed it carefully on a trailer. A truck pulled the boat to a cluster of others. Lacking a protected harbor, the town’s fishing fleet was launched – and recovered – daily by crane.
“Is that Barley?” asked a booming voice. It was Randy, a fellow adventure rider I knew from the Web, and a few others bound for the rally. He fussed over my dog for a few minutes then turned to me. “And who the hell are you?”
Everybody knows my dog. I’m just the driver…
We sat on the seawall getting acquainted, chatting about road conditions and our respective bikes, sharing the excitement of the upcoming rally. I asked if they knew of any decent campgrounds in the area.
“We’re right down the road at Humbug State Park,” came the reply. “There’s plenty of room; why don’t you join us?”
Humbug was a very nice campground tucked right off the highway. It was treed, walking distance to the beach, had plenty of firewood and immaculate facilities with hot showers. Bottles of local beers appeared from topcases. We sat around a warming fire trading brews and snacks far into the night. Randy turned out to be a sucker for Barley’s big brown eyes, and shared most of his food with the dog. By ten o’clock we all turned in for the night.
1. If the pavement is smooth and the route uninterrupted he'll sleep, but it's not a deep sleep. More like a nap. If I roll off the throttle even a bit his head pops up and he looks around. He's very curious about the world around him. But a long day on the road is tiring for him. Our rhythm is 90 minutes travel, 10 minute break. Another 90 minutes travel, 30 minute break. Midday we take an hour and try to nap if conditions allow it. Proper hydration is just as important for him as it is for me. We drink water at every break, and if we can't pee we drink more water.
2. No. He's exceptionally well trained and will follow my instructions. That said, I'm very in tune with his needs and if I sense he needs more time to stretch or play, or if he's hot on the trail of a rodent, I'll give him the extra time. I don't really think I trained him for long distance travel so much as we trained each other. In a team, all members need to modify their behavior to advance the ball.
It felt great to wake up surrounded by new friends, but in the way of BMW riders we quickly packed up, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways. Barley and I continued north along the coastline passing through towns built up, but in a funky ‘60s style that was often silly but always fun. The town of Bandon, however, was a gem that beckoned us to pull over and rest.
There were a couple of promising eateries in Bandon - the Minute Cafe and the Bandon Baking Co Cafe. While we were standing on the sidewalk pondering the relative merits of each, a cluster of elderly women poured out of the bakery and dragged us inside. They wanted to hear about our adventures, and so the bakery it was!
Sated, we continued north crossing rivers on a series of art deco bridges, past the largest pile of wood chips I'd ever seen (in Coos Bay), and stopping now and then to explore a series of empty beaches.
We stopped at the Coast Guard station in Depoe Bay to thank the coasties for what they do. We continued north and pulled into a small park in Lincoln City. Barley was not his usual playful self, and was shaking his head a bit. Hmmm. The inside of his left ear was bright pink; the absence of any odor told me it was not the fungal infection that plagues long-eared breeds but some other cause. (This was one of those times I was glad to have a background in military medicine; glad also that there are so many similarities between dog and human physiology!) There was no sign of insect bites, no inflamed lymph nodes, no fever. As I clicked off the possibilities it looked more and more like he was having an allergic reaction to something.
I suspected a food allergy. Back in Wyoming Barley needed a refill of kibble. Unable to find his normal brand I purchased what was available. That was a bad decision on my part. Find dog food, I instructed Siri, then plugged the address provided into the GPS and off we went. A couple hours later we were settled into a local hotel. Barley had been medicated with Benadryl from the veterinary meds we carried, had a bowl full of high grade lamb kibble, and quickly settled down to sleep off the meds while I logged onto the Internet and let family and friends know where we were.
Susan, a total stranger who worked in Salem Tourism, was monitoring Facebook postings about the upcoming rally. She read my post about Barley’s ear and sent me a private message containing contact information for three local vets she trusted with her own dogs. Once again I was touched by the kindness of strangers…
We arrived at the rally Thursday at 8 a.m. One glance at Barley and it was instant Sidecar Delay Factor! It was clear that my dog had far more online friends than I, and each wanted to say hello. Barley was at his vocal best, cheerfully greeting his admirers, instinctively avoiding people who were not fans of dogs. When we reached the front of the registration line I presented our membership cards to the volunteer behind the table. He looked at the cards, then at us, and burst into laughter. Yes, Barley is a card-carrying associate member of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America! (The online application asked for age and gender, but not species.) I got my wristband, and Barley his collar band, and off we went to find a place to pitch our tent.
We set up our tent and sunshade in front of the Pavilion, next door to Dave and Liz, a couple of other Vermonters in their Redvert penthouse. Barley immediately introduced himself to Bill, our neighbor on the other side, and made himself comfy by sitting on Bill's leg.
Early the next morning I told the Zumo to find me one of the vets Susan had recommended and set out to get Barley's ear looked at. The vet confirmed a food allergy, approved of my treatment plan, and sent us on our way with a huge smile. Barley had once again wormed his way into a young woman's heart.
Back at the rally we scoped out the grounds and gravitated toward the vendors. Aside from a fresh pair of gloves I didn't actually need anything, but it's fun to check things out and meet new people. We took in a couple of classes, shared an ice cream, and just rested up from our cross country trek. We met Susan, the woman from Facebook who had steered us to the vet.
And then Barley discovered the Best Rest Products booth. Or rather, he discovered that Dave had assembled his booth using clamps tipped with tennis balls so customers wouldn't be injured by the sharp ends. Barley, like most golden retrievers, loves tennis balls! He meticulously dismantled portions of Dave's display and proudly paraded around the building with a tennis ball -- still attached to the end of the clamp -- as if it was the best prize ever. Dave could do nothing but laugh and take pictures.
At some point on the ride to Oregon my Schuberth SRC bluetooth system had failed. Being from a small New England town I'm wicked intimidated by big city traffic and rely on my Zumo to give me turn by turn directions. Not having to take my eyes off the road in congested areas is a bonus. So when I saw the Schuberth booth I shared with them my tale of woe. Not a problem, they told me. If I brought my helmet they'd replace the SRC free under warranty. I practically ran back to the tent to get my helmet before they changed their mind! Fantastic customer service!
I was surprised by the number of people needing "dog fixes," those who had left their dogs at home and needed a cuddle. Barley was only too willing to fulfill that need.
We checked out a couple of other sidecars, including a nice rig from Bob's BMW, but sidecars are a very personal passion and I truly love the one I have. That said, there was one rig with a built-in espresso bar that I simply lusted over!
Barley is a chow hound who has perfected The Look. Big brown eyes staring intently at food held by total strangers has the desired effect often enough that he tries it on just about everybody. It certainly worked on Chris, a blonde woman who shared her lunch with him and then let him "do the dishes."
But when Chris ran out of food he turned his attention to a man behind him who was eating an enormous burger. He tried The Look. He tried the Lip Quiver. He even tried Cute Sound Effects. The man was immune to all this and refused to share his burger.
Nice write up Peter, one of these days i going to have to figure out a way to get Murphy my Golden on the bike. http://d26ya5yqg8yyvs.cloudfront.net/clap.gif
There's no way I'm going to let my gf see this RR.
She's already mentioned a couple of times how nice a Ural would be for her, me and Dexter to all ride together.
I'll just keep this little read all to myself - thanks for sharing!
Here's Dexter keeping an eye on the squirrels outside.
Any dog who keeps the squirrels under control is a great dog!
A friend of mine posted this on instagram a couple years back, look familiar? I *think* it was in Burlington.
Kinda looks like Burlington. I'm always amazed at how many photos are taken of us in motion, and how very few I ever see. Thank you for sharing that!
This is very cool. Thanks for sharing.
We packed up most of our things Friday evening; Saturday morning I took a quick shower then broke down the tent and finished loading the bike. We left the fairgrounds around 7am.
Salem is located in a relative arid valley, but there were mountains to the east we had to cross before reaching the vast expanse of desert. I dressed for the desert, and the cold of those mountain heights took me by surprise. It was cold!
Barley, who had been curled up in a ball on his dog bed, sat up as we neared Sisters, Oregon, his nose busily working a scent. Half a mile later he started barking and leaning out the side of his hack. Sure enough, just ahead I spotted the golden arches of a McDonald's. That boy has a nose for hash browns!
We visited the drive-thru, then pulled over to stretch and warm up. I groomed him, a convenient way to check for ticks and cuts, then exercised him and made sure he drank plenty of water before we dropped into the desert ahead. The transition from forested hills to the flatness of the desert was very abrupt, and finally I began to feel warm. Within an hour I would be yearning for a return of the cold!
The region was very sparsely populated. We went thru just a couple of towns. Mostly the day was spent passing through endless miles of low scrub that offered no shade whatsoever. Lines of cottonwood trees marked rivers below, and when Barley needed to shed some heat that's where we would go. But even the water was warm!
We passed a lot of small abandoned and decaying structures alongside the highway. Some of them were cinderblock, but most were wooden. Aged, gray, and completely desiccated wood. Roadside produce stands, perhaps?
By the time we approached Boise, Idaho the temp was pushing 105 and Barley was clearly not having a good time. I found a hotel and called it quits for the day. Barley found his customary spot in front of the air conditioner and promptly fell asleep.
Fantastic read! You're making me even more psyched to finish setting up my hack and start touring with my pup!
Great RR! I love the pictures with Barley checking out the views and smiling. He really seems to enjoy the adventure just as much as you do.
To beat the heat, we left Boise well before sunrise and crossed much of the state either in the dark or with the rising sun stabbing me in the eyes. It wasn't till we passed Idaho Falls that the scenery began to change. Having poured over Idaho tourism brochures before the trip, I was surprised by how dry the terrain was! To my way of thinking, the dry flatness just made the occasional town or geologic feature that much more enticing.
Crossing into Wyoming on final approach to Jackson, we traversed a high plateau so completely covered in rich green hay that I had a moment of pasture envy. Incredibly, the elevation was over 10,000 feet! I had always thought the growing season would be short at that altitude. We soon spotted mountain ridges ahead.
Jackson Hole was unexciting. I think my jaundice comes from the fact that I live in a tourist town, and recognize the shameless wiles of that genre when I see them. We refueled, split a ham and Swiss at Subway, drank plenty of cool water, and pressed on.
Ahead I could make out the Grand Tetons!
I had hoped to get up close, but Barley spotted a bison ahead and once again went into Cujo mode. There really is no hope for that boy!
We refueled in a small town. We had a long way to go still, so I experimented to see if squinting as I refueled would permit more gas in the tank. The verdict was unclear, however.