Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WABDR Adventure Ride Day 1

Day 1

After last years motorcycle adventure ride, I was ready to do it all over again in another place! Earlier this year, as I began to look at options for the next ride, I quickly realized just how hard it might be to do another ride on the scale of last years epic ride. Trying to plan a trip like this while living life, working, planning family vacations/time together....getting the time off from quite a difficult task, especially if you are planning for 3 or 4 persons instead of just 2.
This years ride was destined to be a bit closer to home, as it was going to be impossible to get more than 6 consecutive days off in a row, for the three of us that planned on making the trip. This year Brandon, a friend and work colleague, would be making the trip with Jim and I. Brandon is a novice rider and does not have a ton of seat time on his bike, but he took to his bike fairly quickly last year, in spite of never having ridden a motorcycle before! He was a little nervous, but alot excited.

After some conversing about where/when to go, it was decided that we would stay in our own “back yard” of WA and do the “WABDR” or Washington Back Country Discovery Route. This route was established as a motorcycle adventure ride “trail” of sorts. It traverses WA in a South to North direction from the Oregon border to Canada. It can be done in as little as 5 days or as many as 6 or so. Given our time constraint of 6 days, and the hindsight of wanting to slow down and enjoy the ride a bit more than we did on last years adventure, we decided to do 5 days and go from the Oregon border to about two thirds the way north to the town of Cashmere. Built into this time frame would be one extra day, should we have mechanical issues or wanted to venture off to explore on one of the days. So, it gave us 4 days to ride the trail, and the fifth day would be the ride home on hardball...west and then south, about 200 miles.

We decided to start the ride just across the Columbia River, in Oregon, at the “Bridge Of The Gods”. This is the symbolic beginning of the WABDR and the end of the OBDR. Seemed like a cool way to start the ride...if we could get someone to drive us and our bikes down there!! Well, as fate would have it, we had mentioned the ride to another friend/co-worker (Joe) and he was quite interested in going.  He surmised that his girlfriend could likely drive us down to the starting point using his truck/trailer.  The more the merrier...welcome aboard Joe!

A week or so before our ride was to take place, Joe is out on the freeway minding his own business and goes down on account of a very deep/abrupt edge on an “off ramp” due to a construction project. Joe has been riding motorcycles since he was a child and he told me, “I never saw it moment I'm riding, the next moment I'm on the ground with a truck and cars bearing down on me at 60 mph"! Well, to make a long story short, Joe is damn near killed/run over, but makes his way to the jersey barrier/median, but he is banged up pretty good from the fall itself. Bruised organs, punctured lung, broken ribs...the usual injuries associated with slamming into concrete. Needless to say, he was not healed enough to make the ride with us but he insisted on participating..and he agreed enthusiastically to chauffeur us down to our starting point at the Bridge Of The Gods. ( He actually grew up near that area)

So, the date is set, we have a ride down...we just need to give the bikes a once over, pack some gear and download the GPS Track for the ride/route. (This route uses electronic GPS tracks and very little old fashioned Map we would be relying on Jim's GPS...hmmmmm)

Our bikes were rock solid from last years ride prep and we are familiar with what we need to bring as we had figured that out/tweaked it last time around. We would be camping/tenting it 3 nights of the 4, and staying one night in a time-share that Brandon was able to arrange with his in-laws. (in Leavenworth, WA)

When the day arrived, Joe was at my house at about 7am...much earlier than I am used to being up...but we wanted an early start. Jim rode his bike from Port Orchard, all geared up/ready to go and Brandon got dropped off. All accounted for!! We had the bikes loaded onto Joe's trailer in short order and we were on our way down Interstate 5 before you knew it.
In a few hours we were unloading and gearing up for our ride. We thanked Joe for getting us there and we fired up the bikes. We could see the starting point some 80 feet above us. The bridge is actually quite high for an old bridge. It is a steel grate bridge, the kind you can look down thru the deck/see the water. Cool!

This trip would add the dimension of some helmet mounted video. Sandi had bought me a very nice little “Go Pro” HD video cam to chronicle some of my rides and it was along for the ride, though I was just getting used to using it/figuring it out etc.

As the guys were paying the bridge toll, I clicked on the Go Pro, and we all made our way from Oregon...across the bridge Of The Gods into Stevenson, WA...the start of our latest adventure ride!

We crossed the bridge, moving strangely left a bit, then right a the grating of the bridge sort of steered us with a mind of its own! It was a bit weird, but I had crossed others like it...Brandon had not, and was justifiably freaked out by the sensation! We then made our way along a paved, primary road that would lead us to the dirt road we would turn left onto, to get us into the back country. It was a nice little warm up for the bikes as well as us, and we were soon turning onto our first dirt road.

We were on our way...riding some pretty easy, winding dirt roads...surrounded by dense green trees and the occasional mountain view thru the trees. The air was warm and you could smell the forest, as well as the dirt/dust in my case, as I was pulling up the rear! Jim would be leading this trip as he had the best GPS unit, Brandon would stay between Jim and I as he had no maps, or GPS!

Today’s ride would be mostly uneventful. We would see glimpses of some meadows and a rare view or two of the backside of Mt St Helens...but mostly we just enjoyed a very quiet ride among the dense trees, enjoying the good weather and the twisting, mostly smooth gravel. We stop and take a few breaks, have lunch along the route, which consists of a Lara Bar and some water in my case, and we ride on.
Jim had a little excitement when a Dragonfly entered his helmet as he was doing about 45 mph on some pavement...Brandon kinda wondered why he was swerving...and then suddenly pulled onto the shoulder of the road!  By the time I got there, Jim was holding the Dragonfly that he had murdered!  Better him than me!  Our "open face" helmets work really well for our type of riding, but it does leave some wide open space for bee's and ...well Dragonflies!
  We made our way pretty quickly towards Packwood, WA after several hours of riding.  As we rolled into the tiny town of Packwood, which is just a bit Northeast of Mt St Helens, we saw that there was a "Flea Market" setup throughout the small town.  It looked rather "trashy", but the shops and tents were all closing at this point, as it was probably almost 7 pm when we rolled in.  We had been riding for a good 7-8 hours at this point and we were dusty/dirty and hungry.  First order of business was to get some water in us, as the dry, dusty conditions seemed to suck the moisture out of you.  Second, we needed to find a campsite/place to throw our tents up etc. 

Well, we grabbed some water, and some snacks to eat...then started to look around for a place to camp for the night.  Well, this turned out to be more difficult than we thought, as it was a Holiday weekend and the campsites that we patiently rode thru, were literally all full.  By this, it was dark and we were looking thru campgrounds with our less than quite bikes...headlights blinding campers as we looked for that elusive site.  Not happening.  At this point we were ready to simply find some trees on the side of the road, and camp in a ditch!

We rolled east on Highway 12 until we saw a trail/dirt road that looked untraveled and lo and dead ended into a clearing of sorts.  We surveyed the spot with our headlights lighting the way...looked like a place teenagers would come to drink, smoke pot...and tell tall tales to each other...perfect!

We setup our tents by flashlight/Super Sherpa headlight, built a small fire and settled down to hydrate our dehydrated meals.  Ahhhhhhhhhh...always feels good to get near a warm fire at the end of a journey.  We talked a bit about the days ride...agreeing that it had been pretty smooth and a nice/easy first day.  We knew we needed to get an early start the next morning, so it wasn't long before we hit the sack and got some much needed rest.

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