The "Y2K-9" Black Dog AMA/Suzuki National Dualsport
By Tom Niemela
This was the ninth annual running of the Northwest's biggest dualsport ride
- dubiously named "The Y2K-9" (pun intended). As usual, I spent
the week prior to the event clearing trail and making a fun and challenging
course for the riders. This year I was blessed with a week's worth of assistance
from my god-like sweep crew: Randy Beadle and Dan Hatcher. Randy yarded his
trailer that became the home base for each day's adventure to the Mt. Hood
Village campground. Dan took the week off because he acquired a new Yamaha
WR400 bike that had been dualsported, so he was obviously antsy to take that
bad boy out and get it dirty. He took a much-deserved week off and enjoyed
it. Randy took the week off because he was, well, unemployed - and could!
In past years the Black Dog has had many wonderful and supportive sponsors,
but this year Beaverton Honda/Yamaha wanted to really step up to the plate
- and did they! With the direction of BHY's Dualsport Team of Walt Koch and
Frank Noe, they organized an entire parking lot dedicated to sign up and festivities.
They also brought tents, RVs' from Top Of The Hill RV Dealership, prizes,
certificates and many other items to fill in the gaps. The Dawg, as usual,
once again had notable famous types show up such as Suzuki's national off-road
champ Rodney Smith and his lovely wife Lori. Also present was Suzuki's off-road
race manager Mike Webb. Past national MX champ and Husaberg rep Chuck Sun
once again also showed up for a fun rip around the mountain.
This year's event was set up much the same way as previous years: long course
on Saturday and short course on Sunday. This year also had a new extra feature:
a road ride on Saturday for the pavement-only crowd. This was a detached ride
from the dualsport ride to offer more riding opportunities for our pavement-riding
friends. The road course snaked its way to the historic Columbia River Highway
along the many waterfalls, crossed the Bridge Of The Gods to the Washington
side, and came back to Oregon at Hood River, where lunch was provided at the
Mt. Hood Country Store. From there it went on Highway 35, wound around to
the Timothy Lakes area, dropped through a long and windy back road down to
Estacada and then came back to the start/finish. The total mileage was about
For the non-pavement folks, Saturday's main dualsport course once again went
over the beautiful Lolo Pass, just West of the majestic Mt. Hood. The riders
could almost reach out and touch the top of the mountain. This area has a
distinct trait-no matter if a road is a yawner, the scenery will still inspire
you. Once over the top though, the A and B courses split, sending the A riders
into the first awakening. The first trail was called the Daisy Trail that
had the riders pushing their bikes through a field of daisies, then bulldogging
across some streams, down a rock-strewn two-track, a half mile of gravel road,
then to the first eye opener - a sedate "looking" creek crossing.
It really didn't look too difficult, but the basketball-sized boulders lurking
under the surface have taken more than a few riders for a swim over the years!
This year was no different as a few hapless riders had to tread water.
Once across the stream, the A riders got a brief break to catch their breath on some single-lane pavement, but then were routed through a gnarly trials section that brought them down a dry creek bed. The A course then mated up once again with the easy B course, but then forked off up a steep and rocky power line that brought them to the famous Car Wash Trail. Riddled with a number of face slappers, this trail still provided some thrills. It then dumped the riders onto an old two-track that led them down to a gate, where the riders had to be wary of a neighboring aqueduct.
After that section, the A and B courses once again merged together onto a
new single-lane pavement section that took them up a draw and zig zagged up
a steep ridge towards Wahtum Lake. After a magnificent view of the entire
Hood River Valley, the riders went down an old skid road by a remote pond.
Then they descended down an active logging section that led them to the first
checkpoint at the Dee Fish Hatchery. Long time Black Dog diehards, Joe and
Julie Barrell, (members of the Trailsmen M/C) were on hand. They had a new
game of chance for points, designed by some faithful Black Dog participants.
From the hatchery, the riders went up a gravely road to the summit of Mt.
Defiance. The summit provided a magnificent view of the Columbia River, Mt.
Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, the Three Sisters and the Hood River Valley.
Plenty of Kodak moments there! At that point the A and B courses split once
again, thereby directing the A riders to about 15 miles of luscious single
track. These trails are fairly technical and loads of fun! This year the riders
were directed down these trails as opposed to last year headed up. Due to
the technical nature of these trails, last year's uphill direction presented
a few bottlenecks to the unwary riders, so this year some mercy was allotted.
At the bottom of this section, the A and B sections once again merged together
as the riders descended to the first gas check at the town of Hood River.
The riders then headed North along the orchards and then turned up Gilhooley
Road, which took them over the top of the mountain. They went through some
back roads to Parkdale for another gas option, then settled down at the burg
of Mt. Hood to lunch at the Mt. Hood Country Store. The store owner, Tonia,
presented the riders with gourmet sandwiches for lunch. The riders also had
a chance for more points from checkpoint support people, Ron and Loretta Rice
of Affordable Trophies (also from the Trailsmen M/C). Ron and Loretta supply
trophies for the Dawg AND run checkpoints - such a deal!
After lunch, the A riders ascended up the famous Stairway To Heaven Trail,
which took them to the top of Surveyor Ridge for yet another stellar view
of the scenic area. It then dropped down to a multiple-use single-track trail,
up an unimproved old skid road, and wound the riders through a clear cut.
Once again they merged with the B course for another scenic gravel road rip.
Some of the scenic vistas along this route provided yet more Kodak moments
and then concluded with a little side jaunt around another multi-use trail
that followed an old aqueduct. This is an especially fun section due to the
roller jumps and waterbars that lets the more aggressive riders air it out,
culminating with another small creek crossing.
After that the A and B courses once again split sending the B riders on another
easy putsy of single-lane pavement, then transforming into an adrenaline inducing
two-track that climaxed at the beautiful High Prairie. The A course, however,
took a much more challenging route towards High Prairie via approximately
about eight miles of exhilarating single-track trail. As with the entire two-day
course, this section required plenty of trail clearing due to the many windfalls
from the previous winter weather.
From High Prairie both A and B riders traversed the historic Gumjuac Ridge
Road encountering bouts of snow along the way. Once again, this provided plenty
of moto-photo opportunities from either the snow-riding antics or the picturesque
vistas. This favorite road eventually worked its way back towards Government
Camp and descended down the old Still Creek Road back to the start/finish
area at the Mt. Hood Village Campground. Total miles for the day was 187 -
you get your money's worth at the Dawg!
At the staging area the awards were handed out for the Saturday-only riders.
This included dualsport and road riders. The new staging area offered plenty
of room for everyone while they enjoyed the chili feed. Later that evening,
I cruised around the campgrounds and it was the exact opposite of Friday night
- it was quiet as a mouse. Evidently, everyone had a full day of riding and
was sound asleep!
Sunday's ride was shorter at 143 miles, so everyone could get back sooner
and the two-day awards could get handed out in a timelier manner. The riders
headed up Still Creek Road to the stunning beauty of Trillium Lake, wound
around to the first gas check by Frog Lake and finally to the summit of Blue
Box Pass. This is where the A & B courses did the first split of the day.
The A riders ran the Blue Box Trail that always provides a test of skills,
but rewards riders with an epic adventure. After that, the course hit two-track
and veered off to an old jeep trail ended with a spring-fed puddle-which cooled
everyone off. Then the A riders hit some alpine single-track, slowly working
their way to the gorgeous vista of High Rock. This provided another panoramic
view of Oregon's highest peak, Mt. Hood, from the South.
Turning back around, the A & B riders steered their way through more
jeep trails, eventually guiding themselves to the first checkpoint where Joe
and Julie Barrell once again had games of chance. After some laughs there,
they went through the legendary Allison's Tunnel Of Love, where the A riders
then split with the B riders again for a new trail called the Wet Spot Trail.
This trail is only about three miles long, but was newly opened with a lot
of time behind a chainsaw. The trail had one point where the riders descended
downward to an old spring bottom, then had to climb back out the other side.
Hence the name. It may have only been about three miles in length but took
over 45 minutes to get through. No falling asleep on this trail! From there
both groups of riders did a minor power line section at McCubbin's Gulch OHV
Area and then ended up at Ken's Market in Pine Grove for lunch and gas. Ron
and Loretta Rice once again manned the lunch check for another game of chance
to help riders improve their scorecards.
Leaving Pine Grove, the riders went through Richard Dodge's property that
had about a three-mile section of rocked road. Every year the riders snivel
about this section, due to the 2-3 inch size of base rock on the road, but
it always provides great stories too! Once finished with that section the
course mapped everyone down to the historic Barlow Road, which is the last
existing section of the original Oregon Trail. While the B riders giggled
their way on this section, the A riders had one last trail to ride before
hitting Barlow Road. This was a newly cut 15-mile alpine trail section. The
riders that took this piece were once again rewarded with awesome views and
virgin trail that had everyone grinning - certainly worth the extra effort!
The A riders then found their way back to the Barlow Road and followed the
B riders by the Old Pioneer Woman's Grave, to Government Camp, down Still
Creek Road once again to the finish.
At the finish, the two-day festivities began. The $300 cash prize was handed
out, trophies and prizes were awarded. Lisa Bierlmeier received an anonymous
donation of major cash for her persistence at the event. She rode her DR650
Suzuki down from B.C. rode the event and then rode home! Most of the 175 entries
agreed this was the best Dawg ever! Perfect weather, great course, killer
trail, impeccable scenery, and plenty of history to make everyone really appreciate
this wonderful area.
The event could not continue to have been the Northwest's biggest dualsport
event without the help of Beaverton Honda/Yamaha (www.bhy.net) (Thanks Jerry
and Shari!) and their dualsport team of Walt Koch and Frank Noe (and his family)
(http://hometown.aol.com//dssteam/DSSTeam/index.html). Other big sponsors
included national series sponsor Suzuki, plus Clarke Plastics, Acerbis, Answer
Racing, White Brothers, Steahly Off-Road Products, Baja Designs, Moose Off-Road,
Progressive Suspension, Budweiser, Castrol, Affordable Trophies, and Top Of
The Hill RV.
Be sure to thank them for supporting our sport! Also want to thank the many
people that sent in photos of the event, brought checkpoint games, and offered
assistance. Of course, the event couldn't have happened without the help of
the famous Black Dawg team of Randy "Rand Eye" Beadle, Dan "Hatchetman"
Hatcher, John "Jobias" Hughes, Richard "Gunny" Claypoole,
Tami "Tamatha" Buedefeldt, Jesse, Dan & Shawn "DOS"
Pollard, Joe and Julie Barrell, and Ron and Loretta Rice.
Next year will be the 10 annual (that's 70th annual in dog years!) Black
Dog and NW Tour & Trail. Plan to make it on the weekend of July 7-8, 2001!
It will be quite the happening weekend!
NW Tour & Trail also hosts the one-day Rat Dog Dualsport on September 24th of this year at the famous Flying M Ranch out of Yamhill, Oregon. For more information on either event, you can always check out the NWT&T web site at: www.blackdogdualsport.com Ride on!