By Tom Niemela
This year’s Rat Dog was a 2-day affair with us (Northwest Tour & Trail) hosting Saturday’s ride and Lobos M/C hosting Sunday’s ride with their Horny Wolf event. Since it was a 2-day event, both clubs were looking for a good turnout and plenty of fun.
However, starting a few days before the event, it rained - HARD.
Friday night I arrived late at the staging area of Trask County Park. As usual, I’d made monument efforts at trying to make it out at a decent hour, but realized at the last minute that the rollcharts that I had been working so feverishly on, no longer contained the recent changes I’d made. Argh! What the heck? Turns out I had somehow created two files of the same name, in different directories on my pc and kept accidentally alternating edits between them. Once I got that ironed out, it was off to Kinko’s for mega-copies.
For day’s prior and while driving out there, it was raining like the proverbial cow peeing on a flat rock, or worse. How bad was it? When I topped off my pickup with petrol, I even installed some Rain-X on the windshield. After driving in the dark rain, for what seemed like an eternity, I finally arrived at Trask Park around 11:30pm (after surviving the brutal, suspension-ravaging Trask River Highway) and the gaggle of Juenemanns engulfed me with warm greetings. Thanks to them, they had reserved a place for my vehicle and me, so I got situated. Even though it was a potential torrential, there were all manner of RVs, campers, trailers, etc. lined up at the park, although it was too dark to see most of them. Frank and Walt had even set up signup tents already. Over at Walt and Frank’s trailer, there was a small gathering of partiers lurking around a dancing campfire, so I sidled over and joined the foray. Frank was trying desperately to keep a campfire burning as Ma Nature did her best to stop it. That’s when Frank pulled out the five-gallon gas can to feed the fire. You know how you watch America’s Funniest Videos where people do crazy things? I wished we would have had a video came at that moment, as pyro Frank was crazy indeed.
After things settled down, the only two left was Andy Roberts and I and we benchraced until about 2am, then I finally threw out my sleeping bag in Walt/Frank’s bike trailer as the deluge of rain continued. It rained non-stop, all night, so hard in fact, that I got squat for sleep due to the roaring noise. At one point in the wee hours, some critter even walked into the trailer and scared both it and myself silly. Still don’t know what it was – a miniature Bigfoot perhaps?
My watch alarm sounded off at 5:30am yelling at me to get my sorry buns out of the sack and start getting signup ready. I was thinking why bother, since anyone in their right mind would not want to ride in this slop, so I laid there some more. I peered out at the signup tent and didn’t see anyone, so figured I’d at least try to get a few winks of sleep. Then I noticed someone ambling towards the signup tent with a flashlight. I peered out again and sure enough, there were people milling around and lining up. Hell's fire - people were ready to ride! Dang – hardcores! So I ambled on over and a number of people were wanting their rollcharts, wanted signed up, etc., so fortunately I had Dan Hatcher’s girlfriend, Dawn, there to help with her organizational expertise. We started signing people up and distributing rollcharts, t-shirts, waivers, etc.
After a brief discussion with my compadre, Danno, we decided to cancel the actual ‘riding’ portion of the event. We informed everyone at the rider’s meeting that the rest of the event would still take place, i.e. at lunchtime everyone could drive 0.9 tenths of a mile up the river to Trask Store, eat their barbequed burgers, then come back to the signup tent, play a few games, hand out trophies and the $100-bill prize and call it a day. However, numerous people said that they showed and by God they were going to go riding! Impressive indeed, so I highlighted a route they could all do that could be done in the downpour – basically a gravel-road ride. After that, riders started trickling out into the oceans of water. There were a few who didn’t take my advise and run Scotch tape along the entire back of their rollcharts, so when their rollcharts got a bit wet, they tore, therefore rendering the riders in a lost state. Riders trickled out, and riders trickled in. (‘Trickle’ being the key word) Some adventurous souls even made attempts at some of the A sections of the course. Then again, some of those that tried, failed, due to the slimey mud and rushing water.
Thank God some people made coffee (many thanks to Warren and Jim!) and I got a second wind, even though I felt like I was run hard and put away wet. Most of us huddled under the signup tent as the rains continued to pummel the area. Due to the 'official' riding being cancelled, my sweep dudes were thankful, so we sat around, drank coffee and benchraced.
At around 11am we all started making our way down to Debbie Johnson’s Trask Store, where burgers were being cooked in her garage (out of the rain). This is about the time that the rains actually let up for a short while. Everyone ate tasty burgers, cracked jokes about the pet banana slug, drank a soda, ate chips and were rejuvenated. Then it was back to Trask Park for some games and awards. Just to keep things quick and simple, everyone pulled cards out of a can, while huddled together under the EZ-Ups and umbrellas for points. When the rain cleared, the lucky dog Steve Simon won the crisp $100 bill! (He almost DIDN’T win it, due to not paying attention and yapping when his name was called out) First-through-tenth place trophies were handed out, along with prizes. Other notable trophies were Lisa and Herman Hill taking the Long Distance Trophy, coming all the way from Montana. Chris Calvert also came all the was from Sacramento too! We were stoked to see so many friends come from so far away! Hard Luck Trophy went to Aaron, who was on his very first dualsport ride. Oldest Rider Trophy went again to Billy Toman at 72 years young. The Oldest Bike Trophy went to Nick Juenemann and his 1971 Suzuki 350 twin! Kelley Kinser drove his KLR650 all the way down from Seattle area in a rain fire hose to partake in the ride, then rode all the way home – gnarly! Vernon, Vince and Michael showed up with their Ural sidecar to have some fun. The sidecar was painted camo and looked very cool.
With the drizzle rolling down his shoulders, Vernon Wade said, “Tom,
this one has got to go down in history as the ‘Drowned Rat Dog’!
The little taste I did get of the country makes me want to return during
better weather. What I could see was spectacular! That was fun! I was as wet as I've been on a moto in recent
memory, but it was fun! I think Michael got some good video of Vince and myself
on the Ural so I hope IMWA is happy. I was sure glad they (Ural) lent me the
bike! Lunch was excellent and it sure was wet out. Sorry I didn't get you your
sidecar ride, Tom, but I did offer.”
Jimmy Loveall said, “Tom, I wouldn't miss a Black or Rat Dog. I have to admit it ‘RAINED’. George and I had a terrific time. We did get a little wet even with rain gear on. But, what the heck, we are ‘real’ dualsporters. Well, OLD, dualsporters. Thanks for an awesome time and we will be back next year.”
“Soggy is an understatement,” said Dave Butt, “It rained so much and so hard at times that some of us tried to get Noah to come out of retirement and start work on the Ark-2! To be honest, I've never ridden in a deluge like that before and I very much doubt I'll ever try and attempt it again. The dust was pretty minimal, mind you!”
Of course, many thanks go out to Dan Hatcher - he's the man! Also to Dan's girlfriend Dawn, the Juenemann's (Milo, Warren, Dale, Nick), Jim Dukes, John Hughes, Frank Noe, Walt Koch, Clyde Kersting, ODF's Kelly Foster, Curt Schonbroud, Trask Store, Billy Toman, Jack at the Trask County Park and of course Beaverton Honda-Yamaha. Also, trail maintenance appreciated from Grandpa Greene and Western Oregon Riders Club (Leroy and Ron). Be sure and visit our website at: WWW.BLACKDOGDUALSPORT.COM
Okay, we've had our bad-weather event, now we get five more years again of awesome weather, so see ya next year!