...to the list of places I've ridden.
The other day my friend Dan, (that's Dr. Dan to you), asked me if I wanted to go over to Vantage, WA to ride the "Green Dot" trails with him and his friend James. I hadn't been on the bike since the 2009 Sparkplug so I thought it was a great idea and said, "sure".
The day before the ride, I pulled the WR out to do a little repair work on it since it had a few dings from the Sparkplug event. My Dad just happened to be in town visiting so together we straightened a few things, (foot peg, shifter, etc...), and re-atached the handguards that had somehow come loose. We got it all up to snuff and loaded it on the trailer so it'd be ready for the early morning drive.
4am sunday: I drag my butt out of bed and am on the road by 4:45. I get to Dan's place a little after 6am and we are quickly back on the road after loading his bike and gear.
We made it to Vantage by about 9am or so and meet up with James and his brother, Tim. James and Tim had camped in Vantage the previous night because they had attended the Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers ,(they may not be related but they do be brothers), and Grateful Dead concert the night before at the Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA. (Seems like an awful lot of brothers to me).
We make our way to the staging area and start unloading all our stuff. The discussion turned to our planned ride of 120 miles. James, (who is a guide for motorcycle tours in Baja, Mexico), and Tim, (who is an extremely good rider), both balked a little at riding the full 120 miles. (You may wonder why two riders of their caliber were not excited about riding that far. Remember, they were at the "Dead" concert until nearly 1am... need I say more?) I was secretly relieved at this decision as I wasn't sure if I was feeling up to a full 120 miles. I was more interested in riding at a relaxed pace to be able to enjoy the scenery, etc... We ultimately decided that we'd just ride until we were ready to stop and how ever far that was would be good.
Unloading at the staging area
We got going and I immediately felt a bit tentative on the bike. The ass-end of the bike was squishing around all over the place and it felt a little like riding on a marshmallow, (at least I think that's what it felt like). I remembered to pump the tires back up to a "normal" pressure so it wasn't that. I guess I just had to get used to it.
If I had to assign an animal to represent the ride, I would use a squirrel named Lee... because the ride was very "Squirrelly". And when it wasn't "squirrelly", it was rocky.
(Yes, I know that was a stretch, but sometimes obscure references are fun)
"And now, here's something we hope you'll really like. "
We rode for a few miles and when we stopped we talked a bit. I asked the more seasoned desert riders James and Tim if it was normal for the bike to sashay all over the place like that. They said 'yep'. They also added that it'll settle down once you get used to it and can anticipate the terrain ahead better. It did... and I was happy.
There were many nice views during the ride above the Columbia
After about 35 miles or so, we took a lunch break down by the river. It was nice to splash some of the cold river water on our heads since the temperature was nearing 90.
James enjoying the refreshing river water on his melon.
We had been riding at a fairly brisk pace, but not too crazy. I made a concious effort to take it easy through some of the really rocky areas because those rocks can jump out and bite you in a hurry. I was fortunate to be able to navigate my way through the rough patches without dumping it. A crash on those rocks at the speeds we were traveling could be very painful.
I wonder if it wouldn't have been so windy if they had turned these fans off?
We started to get into more of an alpine area where it was less desert and more trees, etc... It was really enjoyable. It reminded me a lot of riding as a kid up in the Cascade foothills with my brother and friends.
Tim had the worst luck of the 4 of us considering the mud pit incident and the bee sting. The picture below is Tim trying to show the bee sting on his forehead.
Just before we got into the alpine area, however, there was a relatively small mud patch. It looked harmless enough and actually seemed really out of place. There hadn't been a patch of water or mud anywhere during the ride other than the river bank. So to see this mud patch in the middle of this desert trail was kind of weird. Tim, the most aggressive rider of our group, thought it would be fun to blast through it. He somehow didn't see a fairly good sized rock just before the mud and managed to clip it with his front tire. This small piece of bad luck sent him flying over the handlebars and directly into the middle of the mud patch. If my Dad were to explain the action, he would probably use the phrase "Ass over tea-kettle".
Here is the first picture I could get of Tim's mud pit incident. The rock that helped create this scene is partially pictured below in the lower left-hand corner.
Another shot of Tim's landing spot
James returns to see what happened
We made our way down the hill and passed by a few cabins along the way. There were a few odd looking folk sitting on the porch at one place and I'm pretty sure I heard a banjo playing as I went by.
Enjoying a cool one after the ride.