By Tom Niemela
(click on thumbnails for larger picture)
It was a beautiful, early Sunday morning on August 18 as I headed south to Willamina for the Applegate Roughriders Bulldog Dualsport Ride. After the usual super tanker of mocha, I arrived in Sheridan wondering how to get to the neighboring berg of Willamina. A few miles past Sheridan I tripped over the staging area for the event, which was a big parking lot called Coyote Joe’s. I arrived just as the rider’s meeting started, so got in line with everyone amidst greetings of many friends. Ray Carpenter and Dan Meneley were going over the gory details of their ride and what to expect. This was their first ever dualsport ride, but since they’re old hands at dualsporting, my expectations were high for a quality event. I was not disappointed.
After the meeting, I hooked up with my bud, Frank Noe, and we decided we’d ride together with Gunny Claypoole. As usual, Gunny was ready early and chomping at the bit to go. I started getting my riding gear on and Gunny came over and said he’d ride slowly and we could catch up with him. I said to myself, “Self? Gunny ride slow? Yeah, right!” I nodded, got ready and then waited on Frunk. Once he got everything rolling, we were the last ones out of the parking lot. We played the start-check game of electronic blackjack and then started out on the course heading west on paved back roads, which eventually transformed to gravel roads. The roads eventually led us to the Nestucca OHV Area. With the entire area still wavering between level-2 and level-3 fire danger, the dust was pretty thick on the roads and trails. Frunk and I dove into the trails with reckless abandon. There were even a few new looking trails. On the previous weekend, the Applegate boys had a poker run in the OHV area and it looked like the dualsport ride was using much of the same route. The trails were pretty good stuff, although typical of the Grassy Flats area – somewhat short. After the first few trails the course dropped us into a brand new trail – now this was fun! Frank and I hopped, roosted, slid and railed our way through the foliage and loam. Coming down to the end of one trail my front tire slid across a big rock slab and pushed my XR to the outside of the turn. I pulled in the clutch and made my way around the next turn, which ended up being a road. I killed my motor and waited on Frunk. I heard him railing the turns, some skidding, then the engine died. After a few seconds I heard some huffing, puffing and scraping of brush. “Did you miss that turn due to that rock too, Frunk?!” I yelled.
“Yeah, it got me” he replied. He joined up and then we were off again. We then soldiered onto more trail. This was just about as much fun as a person can have with their clothes on. Plus, riding with the Frunkster is nothing short of a kick in the shorts. Frank always rails and is happy riding in dust, mud or whatever; in fact, he’s just plain happy whenever he’s riding. Throughout the trail system we encountered various bikes carrying riders of various skill levels, but the most impressive were the BMW GS boys from the PDX-GS group (www.pdxgs.com). These guys were manhandling their massive rides along much of the ‘B’ level trails. Incredible indeed, considering that the size of these bikes varied from 650cc to 1100cc [gasp]! We then came upon the first check, where everyone rode along progressively narrower boards for points. From there, the Frunkster and I continued to rail on the rest of the trail section, although I had to take one important nature break. Then we came up behind one rider, Bob, on a bonafide Harley Sportster! Incredible indeed and more manliness!
We rode onward through the course and were on a gravel road section, when I noticed Ray Carpenter alongside the trail with his KTM’s rear wheel off and lying on the ground. Not one to resist a tease, Frank and I pulled up to Ray and started flapping our gums about him tagging a nail or something, when he said, “So, you guys got the stuff to repair a flat?”
“Of course,” I jokingly replied, “but it’ll cost ya!”
Then he said, “Okay, that’s 10 points for offering trailside assistance and 10 points for having the right tire-repair items.” Well now, that was a plus! Ray had created a secret checkpoint – what a novel idea. As we sat there, other riders continued on without stopping. Little did they know they were missing out. As we continued to ‘attempt’ to catch Gunny, we came upon a group consisting of David Butt, George Flanagan and Jim Loveall, with Harley Bob in tow. I couldn’t resist and roosted up beside Jim and grabbed his shoulder, therefore making him about fill his shorts! Did the same thing with Dave Butt too! The course guided us down to the town of Beaver for gas and lunch. Low and behold, there was my bud, Jim Dukes, on his big BMW GS out for a ride and just happened to see all of us there! A great chance meeting! So Jimbo joined us for some lunch and bench racing with the checkpoint girls. This checkpoint had a roll of the dice and I got a wimpy two points. After lunch, the course then went out Bunn Road, which had a great scenic overlook, came down to the town of Hebo and started up the climb to Hebo Lake and over the summit. Frank and I made a side trip at Hebo Lake, since I’ve never been there. What a great little spot to camp at. I decided I’d have to hang out there sometime. Frank and I continued on up Hebo Mountain Road to the summit, and what a treat we saw there - a panoramic prairie of green grass and coastal vistas! Yet more reason to head back there sometime.
The road then descended down the backside of Hebo Mountain and snaked its way back again towards the Nestucca OHV area for another checkpoint. This time around we had to pitch countershaft sprockets into a bucket for points. From there it was an easy gravel road rip to the finish. Once we arrived, we realized that we were one of the first sets of riders back to the finish. The final checkpoint had Ray Carpenter awarding points if our bikes didn’t leak, and all our street-legal requirements were still working, such as brake lights, mirrors, blinkers, etc. We must have railed after all, however, Gunny came up and said with a Cheshire-cat smile, “Hey, I rode slow all day waiting for you guys to catch me, but only saw you two briefly at lunch!” With that, Gunny and I walked to Frunk’s camper, where he had some cool “Van Riper” refreshments for us to enjoy as the remaining riders trickled in. The stories started flowing like water. The BMW Boys were milling around for pictures and the head honcho, Ed, even gave me a club patch. Thanks, Ed!
Jason Mosiman said, “Was that a well marked course or what? I’ll be back.”
David Butt commented, “The organizers of this event produced a ‘B’ course that I just loved. They got the balance of pavement, gravel roads and trails just right for me, and I had a fantastic ride. The only mishap I had was when a bee or something flew down my top along the "Bad Breath Trail" and I had to make a 30mph to zero stop in less than a millisecond to get the little critter out of my vest. I'm sure I looked real dumb jumping around and trying to pull my clothes off as Harley Bob turned the corner and came running up on me.”
Overall, the roll charts were pretty darned good and only had a couple questionable spots. Ray and Dan did a great job with them and they were easy to read. On the trails they used arrows, possibly left over from the previous weekend’s poker run. This was a great benefit when there were questionable sections of trail. They had about 30+ entrants, which is above average for a first-time dualsport ride. It was great to see so many familiar faces at this ride. There’s a great, close-knit following of people that ride these, which always adds to the camaraderie. Overall, it was a great event and I had a hoot riding with Frank the entire day on the main jet – thanks, Frunk!
Bob on his Harley Sporster!