Monday, September 27, 2010

Ride report: Steens Mountain, Southeast Oregon

I just got back from a 6-day, 1,600 mile trip through, across, and around southeastern Oregon, with a visit to the highest road in the state at 9,700 feet -- Steens Mountain.

After camping my way all the way across the center of the state and down to the southern border for a couple of days, I met up with Mark and Janice, two new friends from California. I met Mark in a diner in Weaverville, CA back in June. He and I both ride V-Stroms and had stayed in touch all summer, talking about taking a trip together. His wife Janice also rides a V-Strom, so the two of them headed up to Lakeview and met me there on a Monday afternoon.

The next morning we set off to see the pronghorns on top of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (we even saw fighter jets in dog-fighting maneuvers directly overhead), then rode 65 miles at 60+ mph on a washboarded dirt road to Frenchglen where I picked up a nasty hitchhiker in my back tire.

I fixed my own flat, then we headed up to Fish Lake on the western slope of Steens Mountain and stayed the night. The view from the top is incredible and should definitely be on everyone's short-list of must-see places on the west coast.

On Wednesday we rode south through Fields (home of overpriced burgers and rather pathetic soft-serve shakes) and into Denio, Nevada. From there it was one wide open space after another as we boogied across the prairie back into Oregon for another night in Lakeview before heading our separate ways back home. I headed north in another cross-state jaunt, landing at my sister's ranch outside of Goldendale, Washington for a one-night stay before heading back to home turf.

It was a trip of firsts and I can easily say it's one of the most enjoyable journeys I've ever made. The route was light on twisties and heavy on long views, but I'm learning to appreciate and actually enjoy them.

Rather than stick individual photos in this blog post, I'm going to link to my Picasa page and let you peruse the entire bunch from there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back side to Timothy Lake

It was a pretty good Labor Day weekend. The weather wasn't too hot or cold, it was dry, and I had a nice mix of productivity, rest, and recreation. Of course, that means I got a good ride in. This time I headed up the Clackamas River road to Ripplebrook Ranger Station, where several government vehicles were parked at a forest fire staging area (presumably there was a fire nearby but I saw no smoke or flames). Instead of heading south to Detroit as I usually do, I headed east on FS57 past Harriett Lake and up the gravel road to Timothy Lake.

The road up the back side emerges at the lake's outlet, a man-made dike that flooded Timothy Meadows back in the 50's or 60's. The water shoots out in a dramatic spray below the dike and flows west to the Clackamas River.

Once I crossed the dike I rode around the various campgrounds on the southern shore of the lake, then got onto Skyline Road for about a dozen miles before merging onto Highway 26. Once up and over Government Camp I stopped at the Dairy Queen on Rhododendron for lunch (avoid the mushroom swiss burgers; they're nasty). Fed, I left 26 in Zigzag and headed about a mile up Lolo Pass Road where I then cut west again on Barlow Trail Road and followed my favorite "Marmot Run" into the back side of Sandy and home.

My new Bridgestone Battle Wing tires were broken in and performed great, riding nice and smooth and providing plenty of grip. They're supposed to grip really good on wet pavement. It's supposed to rain most of this week so I may commute one or two days to test it out.

Here's the route I took in Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Friday, September 3, 2010

New tires

I just had new tires put on my V-Strom. At 31,700 miles total bike miles and approx. 9,000 miles on this set of Metzeler Tourance's, they needed to be replaced. I had Yamaha Sports Plaza -- in the same location as the former Action Motor Sports dealership -- install a new set of Bridgestone Battle Wings, purchased from (great prices and free shipping!) I also had them flush and replace the coolant in my bike.