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6.27.2006

The ride last week


I have had a few requests for a
better report on the ride last week.

As you wish.

Alivia will write about it a bit from the Birthday girl perspective.
This was my experience.

The plan was Baker City and Back with a one day run around the wollowa mountains. Baker City is darn near the idaho border - 300 miles as the crow flys, but crows and roads rarely stay together. Baker city was chosen as the destination because it has a fabulous restored 1890's hotel called the Geyser Grand. I believe in a good bed and a good dinner after a long day's ride.

We left on the longest day of the year. I have a tradition of doing the longest ride of the year ont he longest day. Pre-Alivia I ususally did this with Bike Bud Walt Lawry. Walt and I once did a 600 mile day in Eastern Oregon. What with the new bigger, untried bike we decided to make it 300-350.

We buzzed up around Mount Hood and down the backside. The road from Hood (26) to Maupin in one of the sweetest roads in the state. Out of Maupin we went up the back road appropriately named BakeOven road ( do not try it in July or August) This was a good place to try my first impression of Burt Monroe. Still on break-in I took Asfoloth Bucepholus up to 6k rpm and he was doing a nice steady-as-rails flat 100 mph. This took us through Shaniko to Fossil. We had gone 200 miles and it was early afternoon.

Part of the fun of the day was that we had decided not to bring a map. So I got to have a delightful conversation with an old gent in the local diner that started with

"Hello sir, we seem to be in Fossil - could you give me some idea of where that is?"

The look on his face was priceless - I guess he has never spoken to someone who didn't actually know where they were before. I found out from him that there was no crows-fly road East from Fossil to Baker and that we had to go 100 miles south to John Day and then a 100 miles from John Day to bed. Half of a 400 mile day to go and it was 2pm. Seemed ok.

Then just outside fossil came the sign that every biker dreads.
"Fresh Oil - Loose Gravel"
The average motorcycle makes contact with the pavement on just two patches of rubber, each a couple of inches square. Anything that decreases the traction on those couple of inches is not your friend. The road we were on was twistie and badly banked. Slowing down is the sensible option, but my new bike isn't real stable at slow, especially on a badly banked turn. It is top heavy, and my skills are just rising to it's requirements. Part of the while there was this winabago on my ass - so if I dumped it I was going to be a speed bump for the 'Bago. Stress-o-rama. Liv's 500 shadow was taking this a lot better than I was.

It was about the that I discovered that the bike/body interface was not optimal. I have to reach just a little too far to hang on to the handlebars and at 200 miles excruciating upper back pain set in.

The gravel stretch was FIFTY miles long!

The sad part was that I had the sense that this was some of the prettiest country I have ever ridden through. Rock formations, riding along river beds, vistas galore.

We made John day about 5:30 with another 100 miles to go.
Baker City at about 7:30.
I was so exhausted and in so much pain that if I had traded my cruiser in to get this bike I would have been inconsolable.

A thick rare steak, a heap of Walla Walla Sweets rings and a beer helped a lot.

But the extra day out got scrapped. We spent the next day sleeping a lot and then exploring Baker City. WE called home and said that we needed an extra day to get back.

Friday we did 200 miles, made lots of stops and stopped at three pm in Prineville.

The day was warm, but the scenery was fantastic. Lots more canyons and rivers. The Ochoco forest is ponderosa pine, and still green forest floor at this time of year, Pretty doesn't even start it. Lots more canyons and rivers and rock formations in crayola colors.

Saturday we came over the cascades again this time farther south at Sisters.
On the straight stretch out of sisters I discovered a neat thing. I was stretching my back by taking one hand off the bars at a time and twisting and reaching my arm behind me. Taking the right hand off the throttle slows you a bit, but not too quickly - left hand has no effect unless you need the clutch. The bike was so stable that I was flashing back to my childhood Schwinn which I could ride and even turn with no hands. So I experimented and took both hands off the bar - Straight and Stable - who knew?

The day got hot - over a hundred at Detroit Dam. So we were glad to see the barn about 3pm.

Not a bad run about. But this bike is going into the shop for some mods. Pronto.
The cruiser Rocinante may get the nod for FGC.






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