Dualsporters Get Bitten by Black Dog!

The '93 Black Dog AMA/Suzuki National Dual Sport

By Tom Niemela  May 22~23, 1993

             The Northwest Off-road Racers Association, Inc. (NORA) had worked for months to host the Northwest's first national Dual Sport event: The Black Dog.  This was event number three of the AMA/Suzuki National Dual Sport Series and event number three of the Northwest Suzuki Dual Sport Series.  They had created a course, that ran through the coast range mountains West of Portland, Oregon, that was about 145 miles on Saturday and 124 miles on Sunday.  The weather so far this year in Oregon has been rather wet, but on the weekend of this event, the skies turned from bleak to beautiful, much to the delight of the riders.

Since this was a national 2-day event, factory Suzuki and factory Honda also showed up.  Its obvious that these companies are interested in the Dual Sport market, because they both spent a good deal of time and money to appear.  Suzuki showed up all the way from Pataskala, Ohio with a large box van driven by famous Cross-Country veteran, Mark Hyde and assisted by his father, Charlie.  Honda appeared from Southern California in a half-sized eighteen wheeler with Gary Martini as driver, Scott Reif from Honda R&D, and Lee Edmunds, who was the Oregon Honda representative. 

For those that may not know how a Dual Sport event works, it is similar to a poker run, where you ride a prescribed course and stop at checkpoints along the way.  At these checkpoints are games where the riders (and their passengers) can play various games of chance to attempt to get maximum points.  At the end of the ride, whoever has the most points wins first place and so on.  A Dual Sport event is a non-competitive type of ride, and the cycle must be street legal, but the idea is to keep the riders off the road as much as possible and include as much fun as possible. 

Saturday- day 1

On the morning of the first day, Suzuki and Honda both appeared and took their respective positions in the parking area at the starting location, Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki of Hillsboro, Oregon.  This proved to be an ideal location, since riders could purchase last minute items like spark plugs or tubes from the shop.  Gary Roe, owner of Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki, opened his doors early, much to the joy of some of the riders.  Mark Hyde opened up the Suzuki van unloading his bikes and tools offering to help anyone who needed any with their machine.  The Honda people set up a huge tent to help with the sign up chores and provided coffee and donuts for everyone.  Once the riders were signed up and had their roll charts in the holders, the adventure began.  The NORA Club provided roll charts, similar to a timekeeper Enduro Jart Chart, for the riders that displayed mileage readings and appropriate turns.  The chart had resets every 10 to 20 miles to accommodate differences of speedometer error. 

The first part of the ride wound the riders through the back country roads of Cornelius and Forest Grove and eventually onto the Wilson River Hwy. to the summit of the Tillamook Forest where they tried their hand at a game of chance at the first checkpoint.  From there they descended through the beautiful Drift Creek Canyon, which eventually brought them to University Falls Road.  A few miles later, they had a choice of which way they wanted to go: the normal easy route or an alternate moderate route.  The easy route wound them through the Ben Smith Road, which was highlighted with a small creek crossing, where the road had been washed out due to winter rains.  The moderate route option wound them down a long steep jeep road that has been used many times by the local clubs as a special test for Enduros.  This route was especially fun for those that liked to jump waterbars.  Both routes eventually came together and progressed towards the next checkpoint at Lee's Camp Store on the Wilson River Hwy., where they again played another game of chance to acquire more points. 

Onward from Lee's Camp Store up Diamond Mill Road towards one of the Saturday course highlights called Triangulation Peak.  This was to have been the highlight of the Saturday course and for some, it was more than just a highlight.  From Triangulation Peak you can see the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Willamette Valley to the East, but Ma Nature wasn't cooperating and brought clouds into the surrounding area to block most of the view.  Eric & Gail Haws, the lone BMW entry, ended up going up the wrong peak, which had a steep rock face towards the top of it.  Unfortunately, they tipped their Beemer on its side in this spot.  They were in good spirits about it though, and Eric later laughingly commented, "It was nothing.  We just tipped it over on its side.  Heck, we figure if we don't tip it over once in a while, then we're not having enough fun!" 

From there the riders descended down Cedar Butte Road and eventually wound their way to the Trask River Store, which was the third checkpoint.  The Trask River Store has been a landmark for years to motorcyclists in this part of the state and is ran by Margaret.  Bikes are always welcome and Margaret always has something friendly to say.  From there everyone went up the North Fork of the Trask River, to Bobcat Cut-off, Hembre Ridge and then the trek back to Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki.

Upon arriving at Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki, the riders were greeted to a hamburger and hot dog barbecue by the Honda folks and Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki.  During this time, Mark Hyde gave a seminar on Dual Sport bike setup.  This was a great way to end the Saturday ride and of course, after the seminar, all the riders started telling their personal trials and tribulations about the day's ride. 

Mark Hyde had been out on the course in various locations all day offering assistance to anyone who needed it.  Throughout the course of the day's ride, he had fixed a few flat tires, but amazingly enough, also fixed a broken case on Kevin Dugan's Yamaha XT600.  "I don't know how the case got broken," said Kevin.  "All of a sudden, spooge started coming out of a hole on the top side case in front of my countershaft sprocket.  All I can figure is that I got a rock in the chain somehow.  Anyway, I saw Mark Hyde's van a few miles later, after I had stocked up on four quarts of oil at Lee's Camp Store, and he pulled out this stuff that looked like chewing gum.  He cleaned up the surface and wadded this gooey material into the hole and it has held up great!  I'll tell you, he's a great guy!" 

One poor gentleman broke a gear shaft on his bike and limped it in to the finish, where Mark Hyde immediately jumped in to fix it.  Within five minutes, the bike was on its side with the case off, clutch basket out, and Mark elbow deep in transmission oil and gears, while the crowd of riders watched him perform surgery.  After about a half hour, Mark had replaced the shaft, buttoned it back up and the bike was ready for the second day.  What a guy!  And no labor charge!

Sunday- day 2

Sunday morning arrived with the sun shining and hardly a cloud in the sky.  Coffee and donuts were provided by Honda during sign up as everyone loaded up with gear for the day's ride.  Today's ride would take everyone down to the Flying M Ranch, just out of Yamhill, Oregon, where the annual Trask National 2-day ISDE Qualifier is held. 

After riding some scenic backroads over Bald Peak, the riders eventually made their way to the Flying M Ranch and the first check.  At this check, the riders enjoyed a brunch at the Flying M Ranch Lodge that was provided by NORA and then made their way up the Old Toll Road to Murphy's Camp, which was the second check.  From this location, NORA had some moderate and advanced rider course options available for the riders that opted for a more challenging ride.

On Sunday the NORA Club had also decided to offer a little extra feature for the riders who wanted some serious off-road riding fun.  Under the capable hands and guidance of Team Butthook member, Jerry Morrell and Team Squirrel member, Dennis Craig they offered at checkpoint one, a personally guided, knobbies only, trailride through some of the most popular trails of the Trask ISDE Qualifier area.  This proved to be a huge success for the riders that participated.  Everyone had big grins and stories of Mark Hyde performing daring acts of riding when they got back to the finish!

At the finish, the NORA Club had more than enough prizes for all the riders.  In fact, everyone who entered the Black Dog Dual Sport went home with, not one, but two prizes!  This obviously met with a high amount of approval from the riders.  NORA had again provided special made works of art trophies for the winners, custom designed by course sweep god and all around nice guy, Ken Murphy.  Ernie Brown was the overall winner and now has a big trophy and a new Thor Gor-tex Enduro Jacket.  Congrats Ernie!  Other winners included Bob Schwarz as oldest rider (No Bob, I won't say how old!), and John Aulabaugh as the rider who came the farthest from Centerville, Ohio.  With the combination of  two prizes each, great weather and a great ride, everyone went home a winner!

The NORA M/C would like to thank the following sponsors who helped make this event such a big success:  Factory Suzuki, Factory Honda, Hillsboro Honda/Suzuki, MC  Events Newspaper, Beaverton Honda/Yamaha, Portland Off-Road Center, Aloha BMW, D&S Cycle, G&G Cycle, Salem Cycle Country, Mike's Cycle Parts, Big Boy Toys, Dirt Rider Magazine, Clarke Plastics, Steahly Off-road Products, USA Racing, DeVol Engineering, Sprocket Specialists, White Brothers, Kal-Gard, O'Neal USA, Maier Mfg., Moose Racing, Team Dual Dogs & Dual Sporter Magazine, Race Tech, Lockhart Dualsport, and Bill Bishop Enterprises.

They would also like to thank the Flying M Ranch, Willamette Industries, and Oregon Department of Forestry.

NORA M/C plans on hosting the Black Dog National Dual Sport again next year in May or June, so mark those calendars now and polish up that Dual Sport bike!