08-05-2011, 05:22 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Banks, Oregon.
The Desert Rat is born.
Sunday 24th July 2011.
We wake pretty early, splash on some more deet, brew up some coffee in Jetboils (and the queer thing Ernie bought that he swears is better than a Jetboil because it packs so small but takes 20 minutes to make a cup of tepid water). We start packing up and I'm rushing because I am miserably slow at eating/packing/getting up/using the toilet/brushing my teeth and I don't want to hold everyone up.
Today is the 'Desert' section and we are expecting a pretty tough one. It starts off easily enough and then winds through a few houses before picking up our first sand trail. The sand is pretty deep and I'm a bit nervous in it having never ridden sand before. I actually start losing a little ground on the others and at one point I think James even turns his Bike around to come look for me, but I chug around the corner before the ride gets disrupted. We follow the trail up a fairly steep and rocky grade, but we all handle it relatively easily. We get to the section where ORV signs are posted and Ryan has a problem. Gas has eaten his rubber gasket around his gas cap and it's leaking bad enough so that we have to fix it. I'll let others explain how they did this but it holds us up for a little while, but I do get to take a bunch of pictures of him playing in the sand whilst he tests the fix;
When we get going again we are riding through miles of sage brush which rub against our boots and pants and leave the place with a distinct sage aroma that I haven't experienced before It's the sort of smell that once you smell it you won't forget it, so I know my mind will wander back to this day at some point in the future. The sand is firmer now and the Husky strides over it easily, in fairly quick time I am starting to fly over it and catch up and pass the others on heavier bikes. The new Husky was really born this day. When you buy a new bike I guess you are always concerned it won’t live up to everything you expected of it. Today the Husky did everything I asked of it and more and I'm having a blast. I made up that name “s1Marks – The Desert Rat” but in truth I am really a little desert shit today because I am flying around and having the best time of my life whilst the guys on the big bikes are wondering if it will ever end. I don't stop smiling all day.
Right near the end of the desert we go through a fairly deep and unexpected water crossing, I get lucky and see it coming, others get somewhat more of a shock, but the cooling of the water is refreshing anyway. It is around 86 degrees today and you can feel a distinct change in temperature when you are “IN” the desert to when you are “Next” to the desert and riding on the pavement, it’s cooler still in Riley where we stop to fill up. We got lucky with temperature, I’m sure when it tops 100 it is just about unbearable. Before we hit Riley, my 2 litre camel back is empty, I have downed one of my spare water bottles and I am distinctly dehydrated.
It’s getting late in the day and the 3 guys on bigger bikes opt to head for the campsite rather than run the next section. We set a fairly stiff pace for the OBDR and today’s sections was long, hot and hard going for the bigger bikes. James, Ryan Jess and I agree to meet them at the campground either that evening or the next morning if we get way-laid.
When the 4 of us get back to the OBDR it almost instantly becomes tougher going and we’re in a hurry now so we can make the campground before dark. Ryan’s front mudguard comes loose (shaken out bolts) and we patch it up first with zip ties and then with bolts that the kid mechanic had stashed away as spares. Ryan then gets a puncture which with the help of James is fixed pretty quickly (transpires it was the rim lock biting into the tube). The sand is full of baby-head rocks and we get bounced about pretty good. Going up one steep section, I get too close behind Ryan who slows right down, I lose momentum and have to stop, I drop the Bike, no damage except to my pride. Crap, I could ride up the hill no problem, but I’m inexperienced to get so close to the rider in front and that fouls things up for me. It’s my only moving topple over of the entire trip.
Ryan has more problems with his Gas cap which this time he successfully fixes with a zip-loc sandwich bag. It was not his day. The trail at one point crosses through clean through a lake and we have to navigate around it at another it becomes like a sea of rocks and we all do well to stay upright focused and moving.
It's now got dark and the although we soon get back onto gravel roads they are as dusty as all get out. We have been navigating by following James, who stops at each intersection, the next rider then stops and doesn’t move until the following rider has caught up and stops for the next rider etc. The dust is so dang thick there are long gaps between us. It’s late enough that there is no other traffic, it eventually dawns on my to catch up with Ryan who is the rider in front of me and ride alongside him. He benefits from the extra light with his tinted goggles and I get to eat a lot less dust. I ate more dust that day than I ever have done in my entire life. I wish I had thought of riding in parallel sooner.
We get to camp as the advanced party, who had taken the pavement, are about to turn in. They help us with lights whilst we set up camp and food.
You have never seen cups of pot noodles devoured so quickly. We tuck into them eagerly and hungrily. Today was a really great day.
<<<***Please holder for future picture (which I don't have access to right now)***will edit later***>>>
The long and winding desert
That leads to nowhere
Jeff cruising through an easier section;
James gets to grips with Ryan flat. The kid Mechanic stands by desperate to get his hands dirty and take over.
John Pumps water for Ryan the next day. He has very strong wrists does John and you get the feeling he could just pump away all day!
s1marks screwed with this post 08-07-2011 at 10:27 PM