The 2002 MRA Prospect 100 Dualsport Ride, 7/21/02

By Tom Niemela

(click on thumbnails for larger picture) Click here to read Oregon_DSR's Davey B's report on this ride too!

            I grew up in Southern Oregon and used to belong to the Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) in Medford, Oregon.  I used to do dualsporting before it got the term down there, so when I heard my old club was hosting a dualsport event, I was stoked.  Then I heard that it was going to happen in Prospect, not 20 miles from the small town of Shady Cove (where I grew up), so I was double stoked! I managed to coerce a few of my riding buds to also go down, namely Dan Hatcher, Randy Beadle, Walt Koch and Frank Noe.

            Dan was typically late, but this time he was late to his own house (How does he do that?) and the drive down to the southern part of Oregon was typical I5 drone until we turned off at Roseburg heading east. Then we noticed the high amounts of smoke in the air from some new forest fires.  The further we went up the canyon towards the little town of Prospect, the smokier the skies got.  Evidently there was a fair-sized forest fire somewhere between Glide and Diamond Lake that was turning the skies to pea soup. 

            When we finally arrived at the newly built and stylish Hamaker Staging Area (built with public OHV sticker money), it was late in the day before dusk.  We decided to park things at the staging area, so started unloading Dan’s huge enclosed trailer.  After visiting with a number of friends, our newest riding partner (Milo Juenemann) and some of my old MRA buddies, then doing signup, we pretty much had things set up, except we found out that Walt and Frank were camping up the road a few miles at a different campground called Farewell Bend.  Well, since we only had orange juice and ice and were missing a key ingredient, Dan, Randy and I poured ourselves into Randy’s dwarf-sized, Geo Metro, four-wheeled skateboard and sauntered towards their camp.  Once there, Walt and Frank had a great spot above the river, had munchies out, offered the key ingredient we didn’t have (their names were Margaret and Rita) and also had their twinkling disco lights going.  The benchracing ensued for a few hours until Dan, Randy and I realized we had to head back to ‘our’ camp and shoehorned ourselves once again into the nuclear powered Geo Metro. Methinks Walt and Frank wanted their screen door to hit us in the fannies. Driving back, Randy had the music blaring and we were laughing and sure enough we drove right on by the Hamaker entrance. After a brief turn around we idled through the camp around midnight and realized we were the only noisemakers.  Doh!

            Sunday morning at 6am brought a beautiful, albeit smokey, day.  I still can’t believe that nobody heard us the night before, or at least no one admitted it. After a rider’s meeting and the first game for points (electronic poker), we were ready to take off.  The event host and all around great guy, George Flanagan, had acquired a one-time permit that allowed us to ride the event, even though the forest was in a high-caution condition. I was chomping at the bit to go and, knowing the dust was going to be a primary issue, decided to head out early to escape it ahead of Randy, Dan, Walt and Frank.  I swooped off excitedly onto the course.  The roll charts looked good and I could see that club member Chuck Steahly did a great job with them.  Only thing is in my sleepy stupor I didn’t realize that the ‘A’ riders were supposed to go up to the first ‘A’ section, so I went up the road unknowingly following the initial ‘B’ course, turned off on the first gravel road and noticed a bunch of riders hovering around a trail head.  I was wondering why there was a trailhead and I wasn’t participating, scanned the rollchart and realized the error of my ways.  After scrolling to the proper section of the chart I tucked in behind the group of riders.  The trail was awesome!  It snaked through the beautiful forest, went over a couple bridges and up and down a few ridges, but this was when I realized how bad the dust was – THICK!  I backed off so I could see what I was going to hit.  It broke back onto another gravel road; I poked on by a few riders and came to the second trail section, which was a quad trail that wiggled its way along the top of a ridge with a scenic overlook.  I could hear Walt, Randy, Frank and Dan yapping on the radios, but didn’t know how far back they were.  Coming back out onto the road again on a two-way section, I met Danno.  He was lost as a little lamb and I didn’t have a clue where he was, but being a good friend, I pointed him in the direction I thought would get him the most lost.  The next trail section appeared, which was an old skid road that had been overgrown and turned into a very fast trail.  It was like railing a sand wash, slowly going from side to side!  Then the route took us down more gravel along what I think was Red Blanket Creek and about that time I heard Danno on the radio asking me to wait for him.  Sure enough he must have missed the first two trail sections and tucked in behind me, so we then teamed up to do the rest of the course.

            The next section crossed Hwy. 62 and paralleled the highway as a VERY fast, Baja-ish, two-track/quad affair.  You could hang it out as fast as you dared through here! It eventually got us to the first checkpoint where the local sheriffs and search & rescue were waiting.  Since this was a benefit for them, they were helping at the checkpoints.  The game was a horseshoe-tossing affair for points.  I let Danno go first and he did horrible, getting no points.  I went second and did almost as dismal: two points.  That’s about the time I realized I knew one of the female sheriffs named Terry.  25 years ago I used to shoot photos for her Mom’s modeling agency in Medford – a blast from the past! Dan had the only tip over there of the day, when someone ran into his bike. After this check we rambled onto a scenic overlook, but couldn’t see much due to the smoke. After that was an easy ride to the gas/lunch check in downtown Prospect (don’t blink).  Once again Danny and I did pathetic and each of us scored a fat zero for the combination slow race/balance board that the wild and crazy Paul Hildebrand was running along with the sheriffs and S&R. Lunch was at the Prospect Café and was great chow.  After lunch, I took the boys up to a scenic overlook I remembered from years ago and we were off again.

            After lunch it was back up Hwy. 62 a stretch and then onto another extremely dusty two track, but this time we also had Randy, Frank and Walt with Dan and I.  The dust was brutal! But again we headed onto more trail, mostly quad width built with trail machines.  Normally quad trails bore me to tears, but these trails were very creative and fun! We snaked around and around as our face and engine filters got more and more plugged up, looking like a shag carpet!  One of these quad trails had Randy’s name on it, since he said that his front wheel washed out and he went for a tumble in the pea-soup dust cloud.  It was so thick when he stopped rolling that he was disoriented till the dust finally settled, and he was glad he had elbow pads on. What was a nice feature by the MRA was (combined with rollcharts), they also marked the trails with arrows, and so if you weren’t quite sure of the chart, the arrow could also be used as confirmation.  Frank was leading along one killer trail section and we came to a road.  Frank took off to the right, but the rollchart seemed odd here.  Some searching uncovered an arrow that crossed the road and continued up a trail.  We got Frank back and headed up the trail, which I slowly started to remember was an epic single-track trail I last rode with my close friend Tony Larson almost 20 years ago called The Golden Staircase.  This was an alpine type trail that meandered along numerous ridges.  I believe the map said this trail was almost 17 miles long, ba-bee!  It went up and up and up….   When we broke out onto the first vista it was like déjà vu all over again for me!  We rode and rode and eventually came to a couple tricky switchbacks that got a couple of us. All too soon the trails ran out and we ended up again on gravel road and more delectable quad trails and gravel roads to the next checkpoint where we had to bounce a badminton birdie for points. Only problem was this birdie must have been made out of flubber!  It was SO erratic bouncy that I got four and the most I saw was seven – an evil birdie indeed!  From there it was an easy ride to the finish.  As is becoming typical, Danno and I did some front-wheel stoppies to signify the finish (good thing we didn’t crash!). The finish game was a golf challenge on some Astroturf. I saw duffer Dan show the hot line on this game and he got 30 points.  Abiding by his experience and skill, I nailed two of them for 60 points and almost nailed the third one too!  When all the points were added, yours truly overalled the event, which is weird, since I always do miserable at the games. The MRA had some very cool, custom trophies for the event too. I also saw an old high-school buddy that I hadn’t seen in eons, Tracy Shaw. Was great to visit with him after all these years.

            The event sponsors included Hansen’s Motorcycles, Golden West Accessories, Xtreme Toyz,, Kawasaki & Honda of Medford, Medford Powersports, Wheeler Toyota, Dayspring, Medical Eye Center, Steahly Off Road, and John Sigel Automotive.  It was good to see some of my old MRA friends like Tyrell Hart, Don Falgreen, Ryan Taylor, and of course George Flanagan. It was a bummer that the MRA couldn’t clear out the smoke to afford us better views of Rabbit Ears, Crater Lake, Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen at the overlooks.  They said they’d take care of that for next year though!  The rollcharts had only a couple spots that were questionable, but the arrows confirmed the right way and were a plus. They had over 50 entries for their first ever dualsport ride, which is more than normal – a great way to start! The dust was so thick on this event, but I can only imagine how much fun it would be after a brief rain. In fact, many of us have made plans to go back down when it’s wetter in the fall. Yes, Martha, it was that good.

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World famous Chuck Steahly (Steahly Off-Road) doing his best Grant Langston #111 imitation.
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Walt showing his donation to the Saturday night fun.
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Frank chillin'.
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Walt showing his elbow rash.
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Danno saying, "...and that's when I passed Larry Roeseler!"
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RandEye wondering where his refill is.
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Walt and Frank watching as Danno shows one of his finer skills.
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Danno (Tums in hand) and RandEye attempting to be quiet after returning to the trailer at 12am!
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Ryan Taylor and buds on Elk Mountain vista.
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How did we know it was Elk Mountain?  Look at the rocks.
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Danny boy trying his luck at the first checkpoint with plastic horseshoes. 
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The scenic overlook after the first check.
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Danno showing up at the overlook.
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Danno 'feeding the bears' at the overlook.
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View from the overlook - yes, it was SMOKEY!
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Ryan Taylor on his way to the overlook.
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Ryan on his cool Husaberg.
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Danno showing his slow-speed skills (he got a fat zero too) at the lunch stop.
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Oregon_DSR's Davey B. tipping off the board at the lunch check game.
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We only managed to take one picture on the KILLER, 17-mile Golden Staircase Trail.  I last rode it 20 years ago!
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Some poor soul trying check #3's badminton-bounce challenge - it was tough! Darn birdie was made with flubber or something!
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Walt showing his Tiger Woods skills at the finish check.
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RandEye in an intense action shot at the finish.
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This guy came up to me after the event and I suddenly realized it was my old high-school friend, Tracy Shaw!
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The event organizer and rabble rouser, George Flanagan!
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Was good to see Don Falgreen after all these years.
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Local boy, Ryan Taylor, tugging at the 8th-place trophy with George.
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Cheri Meneley scoring a cool 3rd-place plaque.
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I think this is Zack Hoffman getting his 2nd-place award.
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Yours truly getting the overall! (I must have cheated somehow).
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Mt. Scott member, (forgot his name) , getting the long-distance award calling from Astoria, OR.
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Bob Sandgren getting the oldest-rider award - somewhere in his 70s - yes!