Oregon Backcountry- Just Gonna Wing It
After surviving our first rainy winter up here in the pacific northwet, tons of overtime at work, and visiting relatives, we decided we needed a vacation. Preferably one with as few people as possible and lots of riding! We've explored a fair bit of Washington so far, but we wanted something a little different.
We decided on Oregon. It was far enough away that we couldn't explore it on a regular 4 day weekend, but wasn't so far away that it was California. Perfect! :evil To maximize the amount of riding time we'd have and minimize the amount of time I'd have to spend playing on the freeway during rush hour with a bike that won't actually do the speed limit, we decided to trailer the bikes and go from there. In the automotive equivalent of couchsurfing we made arrangements to leave our car and trailer with Zootpatutie (our new buddy Todd!) in Bend, Oregon.
Well, since I'm an Engineer and therefore like to make lots of nitpicky lists and organize things (don't make me put the first aid kit in alphabetical order again...) I took it upon myself to prepare the bikes and gear for our soon-to-be-epic adventure.
The first thing I looked at was the first aid kit. I get hurt... a lot. I'm a klutz and try to keep up with a guy on a freaking KTM 690. I'm an idiot. :lol3 but Blinkerfluid also has quite a penchant for greasy diner food and milkshakes for breakfast! So, some pepto bismol etc wouldn't be too bad to have around either. We had a premade kit from Adventure Medical Kits. (fitting name, no?) Bring it hiking and biking with us all the time. I added more pepto, tylenol, eyedrops, everything I could possibly think of within reason.
So, now that the people repair kit was out of the way... I turned my focus to the tools and spares. I have a KLX250. There's not a lot of stuff on that little bike. Replaced the shitty wrenches with less shitty wrenches, tow strap, chain fixins, zip ties, etc. Got a spare spark plug. 2 spare tubes stuffed in socks because if ya dont have em.. you're gonna need em! :cry Got those cute little tire irons with the wrenches on the ends. (engineers like shiny machined surfaces darnit! :rofl) Pretty much went through the tookit thread and redid my whole situation. I probably could repair anything on my bike with the stock toolkit... but my dear, sweet Blinkerfluid had to have the most badass fuel injected fire breathing bike ever and ended up with a KTM 690 Enduro R (say it with me! ARRRRRRRRRRR!!! yeah, that means fast!). Does the stock toolkit include a spare fuel pump, fuel injection widgets, sensor gizmos, and other assorted KTM-only doohickeys? yeah... no way... so.. eh, screw it... if it breaks, the KLX will finally be faster and I win! :clap
Well, I can't leave any mechanical device alone. Fix it until it's broke! :evil So needless to say we modified some things on the bikes before we left. Woulda done it anyway, but a big trip is a nice excuse to buy stuff for my bike that I wanted already.
2009 KLX 250s
Easton fatbars with Cycra handguards. (so I can bash into things and be comfortable while I do it!)
Lowering link of dubious quality courtesy of ebay
Custom seat. (stock seat mercilessly attacked with a turkey carving knife. This is why we can't have nice things)
Jetted carb and FMF Q4 (now it almost sounds like a motorcycle!)
Skidplate (again, with the bashing of bike against stuff...)
Tail chop (because a girl and her Dremel is a beautiful thing)
Dunlop 606 front tire, MT43 trials rear tire (I love the 43 and won't run anything else ever!)
2010 KTM 690 Enduro R
Enduro Engineering handguards (ebay FTW!)
Hyde racing skidplate. (Blinkerfluid couldn't get an aluminum one like everyone else)
Yeah, that's it. The bike's pretty decently cool to begin with. and we couldn't afford to buy him any farkles for it. It did get a new set of tires though, so that's nice.
We kept hearing about how you really need a 200 mile fuel range out there in the Oregon desert. :cry Well, my bike has 1.9 gallons stock and I go on reserve at 90 miles. They don't make a fuel tank that fits my bike yet, unless I want the one that fits like crap and is bright green. So, in the end, my inner cheap-ass won and I bought 2 color-matched 1 gallon gas cans from lowe's for $8 each and called it a day. (my bike is red too, so this is a bonus!) All the tanks they make for the 690 are ludicrously expensive and we just didn't want to mess with it. So the 690 got a 1 gallon gas can as well. That was easy! :evil
So, big trip with camping involved and an undetermined amount of time? Yeah... we're going to need some luggage! We'd both had racks and aluminum panniers on other bikes and didn't like them. Too heavy and I, personally, hit my legs on them every single time I walk the bike around. So we went with the Giantloop Coyote saddlebag and Fandango tankbag. We took the bikes loaded up on a test run around the Olympic mountains up here in the rainy pacific northwest and guess what... NOT waterproof. So, 2 tubes of seam sealer later, and we're ready to go! The saddlebag comes with 3 inner bags to keep your gear separate. I washed those in nikwax also, just in case. I really hate being wet. Might have gone a little overboard since we're going to a Desert and there's no rain in the forecast. Better safe than wet. Blinkerfluid had all the tools and spares in his tank bag... I had my DSLR in my tankbag. (with homemade foam and duct tape protective case!)
Woke up Friday to the typical mad dash of loading the bikes on the trailer and the last minute piling of shit and everything you could ever possibly need in the back of the car. (cast iron skillet? wheelbarrow? ferrets? never know!) Finally got on the road and fought 4th of july weekend traffic the entire way down. Finally made it to Bend, Oregon and Todd's house and started relocating the stuff filling the back of our Subaru Outback into the small bags on the back of our bikes. Turns out we were wearing more gear than we were going to be packing. Go figure! Got a hotel for the first night so we wouldn't have to worry about anything and could start our trip well rested and ready to go! (and caffeinated! can't forget my coffee!)
I started the next morning off right by whacking my helmet on one of the hanging plants by the lobby. :roflWe left bend by way of China Hat road. China Hat is a really fast gravel road through scraggly trees with snowy peaks faintly visible in the background. Road had lots of annoying braking bumps in it, but it made up for it by having tons of cute chipmunks. (i'm easy to please and I love critters!)
This is the view right outside Bend up on a little hill:
I never realized how many tall mountains Oregon has. Last time we drove through it must have been cloudy because we missed ALL of them. Up by Seattle the mountains are just drowned out by Rainier (yes, its THAT huge!)
We took China Hat for a long time and other various gravel roads and ended up in Fort Rock. It's been a while since I've had a geology class, so I'll quote wikipedia:
"Fort Rock was created when basalt magma rose to the surface and encountered the wet muds of a lake bottom. Powered by a jet of steam, molten basalt was blown into the air, creating a fountain of hot lava particles and frothy ash. The pieces and blobs of hot lava and ash rained down around the vent and formed a saucer-shaped ring of lapilli tuff and volcanic ash sitting like an island in the lake waters"
Photo from above because my bike can't jump that high:
Needless to say it was VERY cool.
Fort Rock in the distance....
Someone LOVES Fort Rock!
Looking up the side of the rock face
Remind me to not go hiking in Sidi Crossfires again
Lots of tiny delicate flowers grow out in the harsh desert
So, our "trip planning" consisted mostly of googling totally random things out here in the desert that sounded interesting. The problem is that, like Washington, lots of stuff in oregon is named exactly what it is. Fort Rock isn't very original. I've also spent a lot of time riding to places like the "high steel bridge" and "7 mile road"... which brings us to the next highlight of our trip: Hole in the Ground. yup.. there really is a place called hole in the ground and amazingly enough it really is a giant freaking hole... Apparently hole in the ground is the opposite of Fort Rock. The area was a lake, magma rose to the surface, flashed to steam, blew all the rock and dirt out, and collapsed into a giant hole.
Doesn't look that big right?
I'm squishing Blinkerfluid and the 690
We rode down one of the trails to the bottom of the hole where I found this sacrificial redneck target practice barrel.
I'm also amazed at the amount of SKY out here. Both Blinkerfluid and I are originally from the Midwest, but we've lived in Washington for a year now and I guess we've gotten used to the cover of thick fluffy gray clouds and tall trees. The desert is so OPEN.
Now, this wouldn't be a proper ride report without some FOOD! and I believe this was the only place in the little town of Fort Rock that served food.
the 690 showing her dainty delicate side :lol3
We were definitely having a good time though! :rofl
The further we rode the shorter the trees got until there really weren't any left at all. The scenery turned into sagebrush and rocks. Sometimes it felt like riding on the moon. I've never spent any length of time in a desert. Sagebrush smells good! Meant to snag a piece for my tank bag, but I forgot.
The next stop was another location with a totally obvious name: Crack in the Ground. :roflLaugh at the name all you want, but this was one of my favorite places on the whole trip!
yup, that's a giant crack in the rocks!
Then a little path goes down through it and the temperature starts to drop
interesting volcanic shenanigans (again, need to brush up on that science-y stuff)
Sasquatch was here
other side of crack in the ground
Back out into the desert
Crack in the ground was awesome! I really want to come back and hike it properly! :clap
Awesome! Beautiful scenery, nice riding and great ride report. Diggin' this one. Looking forward to moving to Bend from Moab and these PNW ride reports keep that fire stoked.
Looks like a good time! :lurk
We have one of those bright green tanks but on a green KLX and it will take you anywhere you want to go...:D
Keep it coming. :lurk
Excellent Pics and discussion! The "Crack in the Ground" with the lava bubbles does look awesome! I've not seen anything like that in TN...though we do have a fair amount of caves.....
Thanks for sharing...
Great shots, cool route so far! :clap
Did you guys find ice in Crack-in-the-ground?
Cool pics, looks like an awesome trip! (there is alot of blue sky in the eastern WA too)
:D Great pics and report thus far!! What happened next??? :ear
Good to see yall are having adventures out there, we will be joining you on the West coast this fall. Really looking forward to getting out of Tidewater.
So after hanging around at crackintheground and taking pictures of the motorcycles from every conceivable angle in front of various rocks and bits of shrubbery... it was time to keep on riding!
This is the fabled Fandango road that our tank bags are named after.
That doesn't look too bad! lets go! :lol3
Fandango road is wide and gravel and runs through a valley with hills covered in sagebrush on both sides. The road conditions kept getting worse the further we went until it turned into nothing but braking bumps and babyhead rocks. I don't usually mind babyhead rocks, but I didn't adjust my suspension for the additional weight of luggage so it handled like a water balloon on roller skates in addition to the presence of luggage keeping me from moving around as much as I need to. Let it be known that if you plan on doing this, I'd start in the morning.. we hit it after lunch and it just got hot as hell and there are NO TREES here... beautiful ride, but by this point I was already getting tired and a tad cranky.. and then I got hot and frustrated. Not a good combo. on the plus side there were a couple totally random oddball lakes and lakebed areas to check out!
I was, once again, glad I bought a skidplate. I used it! (and then I hit a rock sideways and ended up sideways inside of a giant bush... but.. these things do happen)
Blinkerfluid on the 690.
One of those dry lakebeds. There were random patches of black rock strewn about the hillsides. I love this Oregon geology!
Action shot! SHAZAM!
Another thing I might not have mentioned yet about Oregon. Everyone with their own fence has horses and everywhere else there are cows! Cows everywhere... and that means cattle guards everywhere! They weren't as big a deal as people made them out to be though... so no biggie. Except THIS one! it was raised a couple feet and I saw it move when the 690 went over it. I shoulda gone first. :rofl
More tiny delicate flowers growing through the cracked dirt
little motorcycle, big sky!
This was the only shade available. Coincidentally, it also looks a bit like the Windows background picture. Or maybe that's just me.
The lake in the distance. We dropped down into this little valley where there was actual green grass. Rode alongside a deer for a ways and saw a ton of antelope. Kinda reminded me of the Mongolia scenes in Long Way Round.
My momma says I gots to wear a helmet...
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