Oregon Disco

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by R-dubb, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,307
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Seems like I get a chance to go riding with Pablo and the Portland crew once every couple of years. Never light on the action side of the equation, road-rage has been remade into dirt-rage, as of late. When I got called in July, the scene had already been set. "We got a week to ride the B2B. Only problem might be, we can't do it until October. Kinda late you know, but we'll be fine. Best place to ride in whole USA.". Oh yeah. One week, October 1st - 7th.

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    The Oregon Back Country Discovery Route (OBCDR) has a checkered past. Once signed and posted, the 900 or so mile unpaved route extends from just south of Lakeview at the CA border to Wala Wala. The signs were taken down after an environmental group asserted that markers would attract heathen OHV maniacs in mass numbers, thereby endangering life as we know it. The signs came down, and state sponsorship ceased. Needless to say, the roads are deserted and quite difficult to follow. The route, as documented, winds its way on a very convoluted course northward over hill and dale, generally parallel and sometimes crossing US395.

    The line-up shapes up to be five guys. Pablo, who happens to be my brother-in-law, rides a very cool PD but wisely decides on a Husky 610 for this trip. Eric, aka "The Gypsy", on a cherry looking 950 "Go" with soft luggage. David on a "everything has gone wrong with this bike" Silver 950. Stephen, former hog biker, on his bullet proof 1150 with Jesse's. Big bikes, camping and limited time for screwing around. My kind of ride. The Portland boys coax friends into trailering the bikes to Lakeview. I ride up to meet them. New knobs all around. I knew little of the actual trails except that all the pictures seem to feature guys on dirt bikes, not big dualies. "No worries", they say. "Eric and Stephen rode three days into it last August and gave up after falling two days behind. Good news is, they want to go back this year."

    Weather report a week out says rain for the first four days and lows of 25 degrees in Burns (elv 4000'). I make sure to upgrade my sack and pack a cord for the electric vest. Sounds nippy. As usual, my biggest issue is what to do about bags. Knowing how much I like to dump, Jesse bags are a risky choice. Given the weather report it seemed to be the only choice. I kept asking questions about gas. Knowing we all have similar range of 150-175 miles in dirt meant that we'd all run out at the same time. Not good. I packed a 1 gallon can just to be sure this didn't happen. If nothing else, I could make my escape knowing no one would be able to catch me.

    The trip starts like any other.

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    Saying good-bye to my cutie-pies.

    I spend a leisurely day riding north, sticking to back roads most of the way. I hadn't been up SR70 along the Feather River gorge. Its a really well built depression era road with no reason to be there other than accessing numerous power facilities along the way. Nice! I get to Lakeview, the Hunters Hot Springs Resort, by about 6pm. The pool had just been filled at 103 degrees for a warm soak while waiting on the trailer queens. The boys turn up right on queue after a hectic departure and rain soaked drive down from Portland. A sure omen of what's to follow.

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    Pablo enjoys a nip as the bikes unload.

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    The Gypsy is ready...
    #1
  2. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

    Joined:
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    The usual limited sleep the night before, and we're up and out for Day One. No breakfast as we'll be returning to Lakeview on our loop up from the south and will eat a real meal then.

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    Day One starts out rather bullshit. We ride 20 miles down 395 to the first trailhead and it's all dirt. Simple enough. First mistake, we invite Freddie and some Texas cowboys with a car load of guns (it's hunting season), to follow us in the truck just to get a sense of what we're up to. A mile in, we stop to shed gear. Another mile, pictures. A mile after that, where's Freddie? Robbie, another trailer mate, tags along on his street shod Grand Canyon. We wait for him now and again. Pretty soon hours have passed, and we've not gone more than twenty miles.

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    One of too many mindless delays in the middle of nowhere. The day is drifting by. The sky is turning a bad shade of grey, and I'm fucking hungry. This is bullshit. Quick, we decide to blow off Freddie, Robbie and the Texas lads.

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    It's time to disco.

    The trail tightens, the five of us step up the pace and things are looking up. Damn this route make a bunch of turns. The trails aren't too hard to find, but turns seem to happen constantly. We make some mistakes and take a few dead paths. Thankfully the GPS won't let you get far before that little arrow makes no sense at all. Another 10 or 15 miles and the gravel road taking us back towards Lakeview turns to pavement and heads south instead of west. We turn around. Eric and I, the self appointed navigators, see that the grassy pasture off to the right is only a few hundred yards from the highway. We point and shoot. David gets out in front, but before long he's standing there waving us back.

    More bullshit....

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    Will ya check out that wheel? WTF..... "You see, there was this ditch hiding in the grass. By the time...." Yupp, about 4 feet deep and 6 feet across with a nice sharp edge at the top. Diablo launched the 950 straight across, flipped up on the opposite bank, and well, you see the rest.

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    His day is done!

    A little regrouping. I shoot into town with Stephen to chase down Freddie and the truck. Wouldn't you know, just sitting down to nice hot lunch at the local diner. This is David's lucky day. Not only does he get to bin the bike, but also gets a free taxi back to Portland. Lucky as well; he was not seriously hurt, only about a dozen bumps and various bruises.

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    Restoration required.

    Now it's really time to go. Quick lunch at the diner. The remaining four are back on the trail with a mere hundred miles to camp. Four hours 'til sunset. Feeling liberated to be leaving the Lakeview goat show yet again we busted out with new fervor. All the while, the sky has become steadily darker and dreary. We're riding on some very cool trails now, some open and rocky, some tight and wooded . The southern most region of central Oregon is a mix of sparse alpine forests, alkaline lakes, rocky desert buttes and sandy sage brush. An hour or so in, the rain starts. We're pleased, at first, as surfaces become sticky and dust settles. Not for long. The approaching alpine arid terrain is not conditioned to the moisture and turns to glue almost in an instant. The temperature is has dropped from 60 degrees to about 40. It's now muddy, cold and we're getting soaked. The worst part is our progress is slowing from 20 to less than 5mph. By 3:30 or, I've dropped the bike more than a few times due to the slick, black mud. We find ourselves suddenly in the middle of a swampy meadow with no drainage whatsoever. The soil is bentonite like clay that sucks you in, then clogs the wheels to the point of lockup.

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    Three down.

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    We push the bikes, one at a time up and out of the bog. At some point, Stephen took a big hit to his ankle. His tendency to dab straight down in the slippery mud was causing his foot to get stuck as the bike goes down. This happened one too many times and really jammed his foot. He didn't make a big deal about it, but we could all tell he was hurt.

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    Pablo's middle weight barely avoids entrapment.

    At this point we've subjected our wet gear to the muddy blasts of pelted goo coming off the rear tires as we worked our way free. Well, we're no longer cold, and the road has improved. Rain pouring down. We ride on in hopes of reaching Paisley, our first gas stop before dark. Just before closing, we pull up to the only pump and gas. Into the saloon to dry and discuss plans for the night. This storm is turning out to be a monster. We'd traveled a mere 100 miles on what had turned out to be a very long day. Nice start for day one, ehh....

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    As luck will have it, the saloon keeper says there's a room next door that might be available. Turns out the owner is right at the next table, and we're in. Very lucky indeed. Camping in below freezing weather with wet gear and cold asses, we'd be in a world of hurt by morning.

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    Stephen's happy.

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    Wet dough.

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    Such a happy place.
    #2
  3. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    San Francisco
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    Up at 6am, feeling dry and warm. Step outside. It's cold, very cold, say mid-twenties. The bikes are crusted with frost and ice. Frozen ignition switches and icy roads. My favorite.

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    We get a quick start, as we're all too aware that we had fallen nearly 50 miles short of our goal the day before. The road goes straight up the mountain to where we'd left off. Went no more than about a mile and up perhaps 1000 feet as we turn on to a mildly rutted dirt road. The puddles become ice, and light snow blankets the landscape.

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    Yee Ha, this is pretty cool stuff. We're tracking along much better than we had during the rain. A crunchy surface with a soft bite underneath gives decent traction. A rare treat. First snow with no tracks. As we trek higher, I'm getting just a little concerned that three inches could turn to six, and then we're screwed. There was one slippery hill that started to look like the end of the line, but as we rounded the bend, conditions improved just enough to make forward progress a reality. We were traveling north towards a big bluff overlooking Summer Lake. We would then continue along the rim at 7000' for another 20 miles.

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    We reached the top and the scene was simply awesome. One of the most beautiful and rare sites a motorcycle will witness.

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    Checkitout DUDE!! The Gypsy is stoked.

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    Now that's what you call a trip highlight.... No shit Jack. Pretty cool stuff riding motorcycles around in all that white stuff.

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    There's more, of course, as we wind our way through the eerie beauty of a recent burn covered in snow. There is always something sacred about remote trails crossing the burned forest floor. Snow added an entirely new dimension.

    At one point, the route becomes a gravel, ice, snow covered and tracked by dozens of pickup trucks carrying hunters towards their prey. Deer season was in full swing, and we were having numerous armed encounters along the more traveled gravel roads. I'm leading. As I build confidence in gliding along the slippery car track my speed increases to perhaps 40mph. Too fast. The front wheel slips on a glassy patch of ice, and I'm doing my best Pete Rose imitation within an instant. Slam, bam, I'm down again. Damn that hurts. Fortunately, I slid to a stop without incident. We picked up the pieces and trundled on. Needless to say, the hunters were impressed.

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    As we wind along the rim the elevation gradually drops and the day warms. Snow turns to mud and mud turns to puddles. This will be the new reality for some time to come. We're headed towards the desert. Crossing Hwy 31, destination Christmas Valley for a late lunch and gas.

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    There were miles of near perfect, rocky tracks.

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    And then there's this. Many miles. I don't always fall. After dodging a couple hundred puddles, you're bound to miss on one or two.

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    Pablo never went down.....but he sure did pick up a lot a bikes.

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    The desert was very cool. Not much for photos, cause we're trying to make up lost time. Firm sand is no problem. puddles the size of lakes are. In many cases, we were forced to jump out of the track and into the sage brush. Bouncing through desert brush has its own perils. That shit is tough. You aim for the small ones and just when you think you got it the small one throws you off into a big one. Yikes. Stephen and I had lots of practice that afternoon. The GS's did not do well crossing muddy fiords. Something about clogged TKC80's and 100 pound Jessie bags just don't always go the way they should. His ankle was not improving. A few more hard knocks, and he was limping rather badly.

    Time got a little out of hand that day as well. We worked our butts off all day. Snow, sand, ruts and mud, it was very slow most of the day. Once again, the sky was turning. Rain on the way. Our plan was to get through the desert and into Riley, where there was a little RV campground. No way was that happening. At 6pm we were still 30 or 40 miles from Hwy 20 and conditions were not improving. We had a deal. If it starts to rain, we stop wherever we are and pitch tents. Eric's 950 began to sputter. After miles of slow terrain it would act as though starved for fuel and crap out. Couple of minutes later, it would go a short distance, and do it again. Stephen and I got out in front and waited at one of many cattle gates for the other two. An hour or so after dark, they'd had enough and found the only flat spot for miles around in which to camp. No dinner and the rain was coming down. We spent a cold, wet night sleeping in the road. On Day Two, we had covered 150 miles with no more than about 20 miles of pavement. Not bad, but we worked our asses off doing it.
    #3
  4. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    The morning was frosty, cold, but bright. A fantastic day. The spot we landed on sometime after dark, turned out to be pretty darn nice. Oatmeal and hot coffee. Today was going to be different....

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    Even Stephen had a smile.

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    Eric tore into his bike looking for gremlins. We were pretty sure it was a fuel problem. He looked for kinks in the lines and cleared away some of the debris. I suggested that the problem sounded like a fuel vapor issue. The gas may be vaporizing due to slow speeds when heat gets trapped inside the body work. If so, we'll get over it. That was the hope anyhow. The bike started right up and ran fine.

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    Today we would finish our trip across "The Great Sandy Desert". Yupp, that's what its called.

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    Off we go. To where, we do not know.

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    As you can see, conditions are much more conducive to riding big-ass bikes.

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    The Gypsy must not have slept so well.

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    Yes, there are cows in the desert. I got a big kick out of riding right up to the herd, as they block the road. Then, lay on the horn and keep moving forward. Watch those cows try to scatter. A very confused bunch. We made it to the gas stop in Riley by about noon. Grab some sammies out of the fridge. Talk to the little ladies about riding motorcycles in the desert, and get back to it.

    From outside Riley on Hwy20, we headed north over a rocky jeep track that was reputed to be the toughest section of the trip. Given all the shit we'd been through, I was feeling ready.

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    Not bad to start with. Soon the rocks arrived, and they just kept on coming. We spent about two hours on about 15 miles of very rocky shit. Steep in spots, mostly just endless loose rocks.

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    Stephen was scared to death about putting his feet down, and that was a good thing.

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    I was just tired. That kind of effort takes a toll. As usual, Pablo did a stellar job of picking up my rig after those lapsed moments.

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    Eric rides the Husky like a champ!

    Once again, the sky is grey and its starting to get late. We made a plan. David was to go to Portland, get Paul's PD and ride back to meet us at Delintment Lake. Only problem, we were a day late. The plan in Lakeview was to meet him the on the third night. With all the weather, we didn't even come close to making that plan. So we had to get there tonight. No way would he hang out for more than a day. It would be a long trip for nothing. The road levels out, and we get into a really nice section of fast dirt roads with only minor puddles. I'm haulin' ass having a good ole time, dodging holes, making time. Just when you think things are great. I hit a big hole, and the tire goes dead. I had mounted an MT21 with a tube on my tubeless rim for this trip because TKC's were back ordered at the time. Snake bite.

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    Fixing the tire takes two tries. We pinched the first tube with a tire iron. After three days of mud, it was really hard to keep shit from falling into the tire. We did our best, but it took way too much time.

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    Stephen elevates the sprained ankle.

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    Eric definately knows how to change tires. As you can see...

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    Snow falling, darkness coming soon. We gots to go.

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    We did make it to Delintment Lake. David was there. He'd been waiting since midnight the night before. He got caught in another big storm and nearly froze trying to make the trip, but he made it. He's back, minus the 950. Again, we are five. It was cold that night.

    ....more to follow.
    #4
  5. rider914

    rider914 Agnostic Adventurer Supporter

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    Very cool! :lurk
    #5
  6. Rad

    Rad Done riding

    Joined:
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    great report, Rick :thumb
    #6
  7. Tiras

    Tiras Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
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    670
    Location:
    Medford, Oregon
    Awesome!!!! Can't wait for more! :lurk
    #7
  8. mike54

    mike54 You don't get me

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
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    15,322
    :thumb Way cool man. Love the pics of the bikes in the snow.
    #8
  9. Squints

    Squints Adventurer

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    WA
    Very good report and pics. :thumb Being from the area the OBCDR is on my list of rides to do. Your report show what a difficult but rewarding ride it can be.

    Looking forward for the next installment.:lurk
    #9
  10. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Great job :thumb

    You guys look like you put yourselves through hell, but had a hell of alot of fun! I'm looking forward to more pics.
    #10
  11. sandiegoland

    sandiegoland Adventure Boy®

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    Outstanding report. Well documented. Great photos. Good update on this route. Thanks!!
    :beer
    #11
  12. DRxDR

    DRxDR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    California
    The wife and I just got home from a 4 week stay in the Grants Pass area of Oregon, which has outstanding riding on both road and dirt in most any direction, however our 'base-camp' style of touring does not compare to the adventureous type of hardships you guys encountered. My hats off to you guys for venturing off into such terrain with the potential for such questionable weather. Great report and it certainly reminds one of the neccesity to be prepared. Thanks, wayne

    BTW, I'll try to post a report on our more comfortable touring adventures in the near future. ie: miles of paved single lane forest roads and gravel fire roads devoid of any traffic...followed by beers and a BBQ back at the cabin next to the Rogue River...yeah, I'm getting old and enjoy my comforts. wayne
    #12
  13. bavarian

    bavarian bavarian

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    Cool! I picked up my pig twice on the last trip and was totally spent.
    #13
  14. jmetteer

    jmetteer Filler...

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    Dec 21, 2003
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    1,640
    Location:
    Woodland, WA
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    "Hold on a second guys, I'll straighten this out real quick and we'll be back on the trail in a jiffy!" :eek1

    Damn that looks like fun!

    Later,
    #14
  15. ClearwaterBMW

    ClearwaterBMW The Examiner Supporter

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    awesome report and pictures...
    you are brave souls
    thanks for sharing
    greg
    #15
  16. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

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    Tumalo, Oregon
    YIKES! out loud - I'm goin' NO WAY. cheers to your adventure and too bad about the mud bullshit start but bring on the rest!!! roostafari!!
    #16
  17. ktmnate

    ktmnate Long timer

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    Somewhere
    :thumb Nice write up!
    #17
  18. traveltoad

    traveltoad Aaron S

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    Nice report Rick!!!!!! :eek1


    As usual.... always an adventure! :lol3
    #18
  19. Motoplaner

    Motoplaner PNW Heel Rounder

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    Dayum... I've been through some of those those Christmas Valley roads and they SUCK. And then you get to the sand dunes and wish you were back on those roads.


    :lurk
    #19
  20. richard cabesa

    richard cabesa The Mayor Supporter

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    Nice report and some really great pictures. Keep 'em coming
    #20