Monday, July 5, 2010

Gettin' Chummy

Last year my old high-school buddy, Dan, attended an organized riding event called “The Chumstick”.  It is a 2-day riding/camping event that is held in the Entiat, WA area. 

Since he told me “it’s a ride that shouldn’t be missed”, I decided to go this year, and drag my brother and father along too.

My brother and I decided we would ride to the Pine Flats Campsite, (where the Chumstick ride begins and ends), from his house on the west side of the Cascades, while Dad was going to load his bike in the back of the truck and tow a tent trailer over to Pine Flats a day earlier. 

On Thursday, Dad left with as much as we could think to load him up with.  The more he took in the truck, the less we had to strap down to the bikes.

Friday morning arrived and Dale and I got going at a leisurely 9:30am.  We weren’t in a hurry.  In fact we stopped at a local coffee shop for a bite to eat and some caffeine.

The bikes are still clean at this point.

We finally got on the road and since we wanted to ride on as many dirt roads as possible, there was a strong possibility that we’d run into a roadblock or two and may have to back track and find an alternate way around.

Our planned route consisted of about 35 miles of dirt roads, followed by 45 miles of pavement, and then topped off with an additional 50 miles of dirt.

It turns out we did encounter a few obstacles along the way.  We were fortunately able to maneuver our way around them without too much trouble and we managed to not lose too much time in the process.

Our first obstacle

After the first section of dirt roads, we jumped on Stevens Pass to make our way over the mountains.  My bike was geared a bit too low to be cruising @ 60-65mph for long periods of time, but “The Bruise” screamed it’s way over the pass and 45 minutes later, we were on the dirt roads of eastern Washington.

This gate was open on Friday...

...and closed on Sunday.

Near the summit of Stevens Pass

This section of dirt roads started out to be little more than an ATV trail.  It was steep and narrow and was a lot of fun.  During our ascent we encountered 2 small black bears that didn’t seem to want to stick around.  All we really saw was their furry butts disappearing into the brush.  We were just hoping that their mother wasn’t interested in meeting us up close.

One of the many places we stopped to take a picture.

Once we got higher into the hills, we had to stop quite a few times to take in the scenery.  It was a beautiful day and the views were amazing.

After a while longer, we came across Sugarloaf lookout.  We decided to stop and check out the active fire watchtower, and we weren’t the only ones.  There were about a dozen young hikers who were talking with the Forest Service employee who manned the tower.  Dale and I stopped to take a few photos and just relax for a bit.  Once we had our fill of the beautiful vistas, we made a push to get to our destination at a little quicker pace. 

@ Sugarloaf Lookout

Sugarloaf Lookout

It didn’t take us too long before we were riding into the Pine Flats campsite.  We located Dad and not long after arriving, we had our feet propped up and drinks in our hands. 

Takin' it easy

One of the first realizations was that the flying bugs in the area were hungry.  In order to combat this problem we coated ourselves with copious amounts some toxic spray that promised to prevent the bugs from eating us alive, and for the most part it worked.

That evening we indulged in the hotdog feast that was being prepared by the ride organizer, JR.  While we were there we bumped into Dan and Chuck.  Dan and Chuck had ridden in earlier that day and they were both riding unsupported.  While Dad, Dale and I were sleeping in semi-luxury, Dan was sleeping in not much more than a plastic garbage bag.  Chuck had at least brought along a tent that provided some shelter for himself.

Dale, Dan & Chuck

The Chumstick “Ride and Seek” ride is a pre-determined route that is installed on every rider’s gps unit, or at least for the riders who have gps units.  The course was a little over 110 miles and consisted primarily of extremely dusty forest service roads that climbed and descended the eastern foothills of the Cascade mountains.  There was a small section or two of pavement near the halfway point of the course, but that was mainly to provide an opportunity for the riders to refuel and get some lunch down in Cashmere. 

Throughout the course, there were three geo-cache locations where each rider was tasked with finding the hidden geo-cache container and removing a raffle ticket that would later be used for the prize drawings.  The clues that were provided made it nearly impossible to not find each location.

Early Saturday morning breakfast was served. Once everyone got their fill, the 40+ riders began to make their way out of the campground and on to the course.  Most of the riders were up and gone by 7am.  The three of us were so comfortable sleeping in Dad’s tent trailer that we didn’t get on our bikes until nearly 8am.  While we weren’t the last riders out of the campground, we were close.

Dale gettin' a bit frisky

The first half of the ride consisted of many fantastic views and there was quite a bit of stopping to take photos, etc…  We climbed to the top of Chumstick Summit and stopped to take a few photos but since the wind was blowing roughly 30 knots we decided to snap a few quick pictures and get back on the course.

Ol' Dad on the WR

One of the many excellent views

Before too long we found ourselves winding down a smoothly paved country road that led us into Cashmere.  Once we made it into town, we stopped in at Rusty’s for a burger and a milkshake.  We sat at a picnic table in a cool, shady area.  It was a great lunch.

Lunch was @ Rusty's

We fueled up and got back on the course.  After 20 minutes or so of more pavement, we once again were eating each other’s dust on the forest service roads. 

The second half of the ride offered some really fun, narrow dirt roads that climbed steeply into the hills and were overgrown with wildflowers, prairie grass and other foliage.  We all enjoyed that particular section a lot.

I was continually impressed with how well the guys with the huge bikes rode.  I'm not sure I could've done it on those monsters.

More dust consumption and a couple minor spills later, we eventually made our way to the end of the ride and back into the Pine Flats campsite… and the comfort of Dad’s tent trailer.  We each poured ourselves a celebration beverage and sat down on our camp chairs to relax and verbally recount the day’s ride.

Another beautiful view

At some point in the evening, JR and his support staff provided us with a burger BBQ that was very good!  While we were feasting on our dinner, JR proceeded with a prize drawing.  He drew names from a coffee can where everyone had placed their “found” tickets from the geo-cache locations. 

Here's JR puttin' on a show

There were quite a few prizes to be had but there were a couple items that were considered to be the most desired of the lot.  One of which was a folding saw.  This was the object of Dr. Dan’s affection and he verbally expressed this to those of us sitting near him more than once during the proceedings.  He was very confident that JR was going to draw his name, and when this fantasy became reality, Dan proudly stood up with a big grin on his face and strutted his way to accept his glorious prize.  Once the folding saw was in his little, sweaty, chiropractor hands, he stood in front of the entire group of riders and displayed his winnings much like a game show girl from “The Price Is Right” would display a potential prize.  Chuck, Dale and I gave him crap all evening about this, but nothing could faze “Dr. Saw” and his good mood…  because he was a WINNER!

...that is until he tried his hand at a game of "Washers".

Dan, Marty, Cheryl and Paul(I think)

I was amazed at how well Dan was able to ride his bike home the next day using only his right hand

Most of us found our way down to Lan & Sylvia’s campsite.  They had the “land yacht” parked and the generator running.  The margaritas started pouring and before long, Lan had brought out a game called “Washers”.  It’s basically a game much like horseshoes but with a few variations.  The game was fun but the name could use a little help.

Lan & Sylvia's motorhome... this was where the party was

Chuck and I teamed up and for the majority of the night we couldn’t be beaten.  Dan appeared to not even understand that the washers were supposed to be tossed into the holes as whenever he threw one, it nearly ended up in the river.  It may be because he wouldn’t let go of his saw while he was playing but I can’t be sure.  Eventually Chuck and I were dethroned by Lan and our newly minted friend, Todd but we had a good run while it lasted.

A rousing game of "Washers"

The next morning, we started packing things up and getting ready to make our way back to the west side.  We got the tent trailer compressed into its transport configuration and sent Dad off on his way. 

Dale and I had decided to ride back the way we rode over two days earlier.  Mainly because we knew that it was unobstructed and we shouldn’t have to worry about roadblocks.  We had a great ride back over the mountains and found ourselves sitting at the Duvall Grill & Tap Room a few hours later.

Parked outside the Duvall Grill & Tap Room after a long weekend of riding

Overall, the weekend was nearly perfect.  I got to spend time with my brother and father and a few good friends doing something that I love to do… 

…riding motorcycles.

The Burris Boys

Thanks to JR and all his friends who put on this fun event!

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