The 2005 7th-Annual Beaverton Honda-Yamaha Rat Dog Dualsport Ride

By Tom Niemela

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I had slated this year’s Rat Dog to be the ultimate ride for all entries. I was bound and determined to give everyone more than their money’s worth, no matter what bike or route options they selected.  As usual for weeks prior, Dan no and I were out wearing out our bikes, gear and spending way too much money on petrol to come up with “the killer course” for everyone, and I think we attained it.  We had also gone on many ‘route approval’ rides with Oregon Department of Forestry’s rangers, Kelly Foster and Lee Winslow. I had also had many phone calls and meetings with trail gurus of the Trask and Diamond Mill areas such as Barrett Brown, Frank Wildgrube, Kurt Schonbroud, etc.  They are the masters and I appreciate their help. Many of these classic trails were getting ignored and had grown over, therefore becoming extinct, so for this ride I wanted to resurrect some of these classics, so they would remain on the maps and riders would know where they are and could experience them firsthand. 

We again wanted to lay out routes that are different than years  before and this year was no different.  When the smoke cleared, we had three loops: a North Loop, East Loop and South Loop .  Plans were to have everyone ride them in that order. This remote section of Oregon also has challenges with not many options for gas without heading into downtown Tillamook, so logistics were typically challenging. 

Dan no and I did the usual gig of camping at the staging area of Trask County Park a few days prior to the event (using up more of our vacation days) and confirming rollcharts, plus marking the routes. On those days prior, we had some rain, but nothing like last year’s torrential downpours.  These rains were just enough to settle the dust and make the trails perfect and the weather guessers forecasted almost perfect overcast weather for the day of the event with possible showers.  Perfect.

Friday night had some showers which dampened everyone’s spirits for any sort of a night ride, so it was cancelled.  Bummer, as the creative lighting tricks by the riders is always a treat. We all stayed up late, fed the campfire and printed out rollcharts for the next day’s ride with the Juenemann Boys’ help.

Early Saturday morning had everyone stirring and getting in line for signup. I had rollcharts being spewed out from my printer again in fine manner as the riders watched in amazement and appreciation that they no longer had to cut-and-tape rollcharts with our events any longer – just one long, continuous rollchart. The rider’s meeting then started and people were on their way. This year I had bragged up our A and AA routes to hopefully get a few bites from the more advanced riders in the area. These routes were NOT for the faint of heart and were guaranteed to challenge even the most seasoned veteran. We also had so much course that we decided to cancel the South Loop , since we decided that there wasn’t enough time to cover that area. You always get your money’s worth at our events!

The routes for the North Loop all went up the North Fork of the Trask River from the Trask County Park and made their way up to Hembre Ridge Summit.  To get there, the C route went up the easy route on Bobcat Cutoff Road , while the B route had more challenge to it by heading up the old ZigZag Road . The A course made its way up by turning off onto the Old Jeep Trail (that had new boulders in it, due to a recent reroute), then traversed various classic on-and-off trails that paralleled Hembre Ridge Road .

From Hembre Summit, the B/C courses lazily made their way down Fox Creek Road to Roger’s Road where the C riders continued down to Highway 6, as the B course took the Roger’s Road route.  Meanwhile the A course took various trails eventually coming to the top of Mad Dog Murphy’s Pumpkin Patch Trail, culminating to Roger’s Road leading to Highway 6. 

At Highway 6 everyone took Cedar Butte Road (aka Koenig Creek exit) where I had my checkpoint.  I’m usually stuck at the start/finish area and don’t get to enjoy everyone’s camaraderie out on the course and see/hear the stories, so this was a real treat for me. While I was getting ready for the riders to show, Mitch Juenemann showed up to help run AA-course sweep. This was great, as I hadn’t figured out yet who would skim the AA course with Milo Juenemann, so now everything was complete.  The riders trickled in, told their wild stories and funneled out, taking the next leg to Triangulation Peak for the subsequent big stop.

The C riders had a very easy puttsy taking Cedar Butte Road directly.  The B riders had an added treat of meandering their way over Wolf Point Road to the bottom, then coming up Deer Fence Trail to Diamond Mill Road and then to Triangulation Peak.  The A riders had more then their share of trail by starting out on Cedar Butte Trail, exiting onto Frankenstein Trail, up over Wolf Point Trail, down Mongo’s Trail, then mated up with the Deer Fence Trail concluding their way to Triangulation Peak.

At Triangulation Peak the usual, stunning viewpoint was socked in with fog, so the riders did their reset and were on their way.  From this point the C/B routes combined while the A route took the riders through quite possibly some of the most challenging trails in the Northwest. The B route trickled its way down the steep trek from the summit to Kilchis River and a long gravel road back to the small community of Idaville for a gas stop. Then the riders made their way by the Tillamook Cheese Factory, eventually winding their way back to Kansas Creek Cutoff, onto the Trask River and finishing up the North Loop back at the Trask County Park .

The A riders however had an epic adventure from the summit of Triangulation that they would not soon forget! They descended down from the summit of Triangulation and exited onto Barney Rubble Trail, wound back up towards Triangulation again, then turned off towards the first A/AA split. They then had a decision to make whether they were skilled enough to ride possibly the most gnarly set of AA trails or continue on the very technical A trails. At this split the AA riders descended over the edge of the infamous Bungee Jump Trail (no turning back!), while the A riders bypassed that only to take another famous trail titled Dick Crusher Trail. Legend has it that Barrett Brown had the honor of creating the name, but you’ll have to ask him how! The AA rider’s trek down Bungee Jump created many wild stories at the end of the day, as did the A course.  The Dick Crusher Trail had one particular washout that created an awkward challenge where the riders needed to double up and help each other through the obstacle.  After that it was a great trail that covered an old skid road. After that split, both A/AA routes combined again on some classic trail working its way to Feldshaw Road and onto Reed’s Ridge Trails and Muesial Trails.

There was yet one more A/AA split towards the end of the loop, where the AA riders separated and slid down another death-defying trail named Psychopath Trail, then up the very challenging BPA Trail, meeting up again with the A course after the A riders had ridden the South Tower Trail.  From there the A/AA riders rode the same route to the finish by taking Kansas Creek Cutoff road, taking a couple of VERY brushy carwash-type trails and concluded the loop with the blockbuster Briar Trail.  Then it was a very short pavement scrape up Trask River to the finish. 

After the North Loop, the riders that made it back before the 2pm cutoff to start the East Loop , still had more fun.  The B course was an easy gravel road ride that went up the North Fork of the Trask River , by Laughlin Road and then back Old Toll Road to the finish.  The A route had yet more great single track like Beadle’s Bail Trail, Jawbone Trail, and the impressive Pungee Jump Trail, but none of the A/AA riders made it back in time to partake in these options – they were too whipped!

At the end of the day, the B/C riders had ridden some great course and Ma Nature had only dropped a couple of showers on everyone and they all still looked fairly refreshed.  The A/AA riders were a different story.  They looked like they had been run hard and put away wet!  There were only six riders total that took the extreme AA options and they had plenty to say about the trails. Some were swearing at me, but then congratulated me on riding something like they’d never ridden before.  There were tails of sliding with no brakes, seat puckers, tree bouncing and over-the-bar augers, torrential showers, but in the end they all made it.  I even had some finisher plates that read, “I rode the 2005 Rat Dog AA course and survived!” The riders also were treated to a great spaghetti feed that the Barrells had cooked up, and the food went like sharks in a feeding frenzy. After the majority of people left, I suddenly realized that I forgot to hand out the $100 cash prize - doh! So with a bunch of people gathered around, we pulled names out of a hat and young Mason Ginsman was the winner! Boy was he surprised when he received it a couple days later.

Although the turnout was unusually small this year [for some reason], everyone had a great time. I would like to give mad props out to the people that once again stepped up to help with this event: Dan Hatcher and Dawn Wayne are the best (good friends and good help), Walt Koch, Frank Noe, the Juenemann Boys (Milo, Dale, Warren and Mitch), Jim Dukes, Randy Beadle, and Dave Klug.  Thanks also go out to our favorite sponsors who are integral in making this event happen: Beaverton Honda-Yamaha, Moose, IMS, Clarke, Baja Designs, Rooster Performance, Trailtech, and Guts Racing. 

Unfortunately, due to the loss of return in event costs, it is questionable whether the Rat Dog event will continue. Unsure if we will do it again, create a different venue or cancel it entirely, due to lack of turnout, but we’re optimistic.  Many thanks to those that did show up and continued to support our events!