Ride report – 8/16/2008 The Aufderheide

Jim Iwaniec organized this ride and invited a bunch of people, of whom six folks made the ride.

425 miles or so by the odometer in 100 degree weather.  When I signed on for this ride over a month ago no one could have predicted the weather.  I thought about asking whether we should reschedule to Sunday in hopes for cooler temps but figured if it was going to be that awful someone else would speak up.  Lesson learned: when in doubt, speak up, don’t wait for someone else.

My usual morning alarm for this kind of thing is to put a reminder into my online calendar to hit the pager.  I’d made the calendar entry and confirmed the times but the one thing I forgot was to make sure it’s set to go to my pager.  Sending reminders to my email at 5am does little to wake me up in the morning.  As luck would have it though, I set the clock to go off at the usual 6am, just in case, and had enough time to chug a cup of coffee, shower and at the very last minute, brush my teeth.  I learned a home improvement project or two ago (while wearing a respirator mask) that if you’re going to spend any time at all in close proximity with your own breath, it behooves you to make it as pleasant as possible.

And without a moment to spare, I rolled the bike out, got the dogs setup in the garage, suited up and headed out.  Somehow my brain short circuited and I headed off in the wrong direction and had to stop and make a quick call to let them know I would meet up with them in a few minutes.  We rolled out and were quickly making our way toward Estacada (pt 5).  I thought that I had more gas than what I had but I was counting on one thing: John Cumming’s Suzuki 1100 cruiser only has a range of about 100 miles.  We blew right through Estacada and continued toward Detroit.  The ride along the West Cascade Scenic Byway (pts 5-7) was great but all I could think about was my gas gauge.  With my gas pump indicator flashing for the last ten miles we rolled into Detroit (pt 7) and who knows how very close I was to actually being empty.  I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as I stuck the nozzle into the tank.  As a side note, the fuel pump was one of the old dial-style pumps and you had to go inside to get the money total because the pump couldn’t be adjusted for today’s gas prices.

When I signed on for this trip, I had my trepidations about riding 400+ miles in a day.  That’s a long haul, especially for a person like me who only has a couple thousand motorcycle miles under his belt.  Being focused on my fuel situation for the first leg of the ride took my mind off of the distance anxiety.  Once I got topped off, I relaxed with the situation and set out to ride well and enjoy the trip.

We headed out of Detroit toward Sisters and said goodbye to the last of the cool weather.  From this point on, the temps escalated quickly to the 90 degree range.  A couple of views of Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson and Mount Washington (pts 9-11) and we were on the long straightaway into Sisters.  We had ‘lunch’ at Coyote Creek; we rolled in just prior to the lunch menu so we were treated to breakfast.  We gassed up again and headed out.

Coming out of Sisters on 126, we headed west up McKenzie pass (pts 11-12).  The ride up was stifled by a cager who refused to pull off on one of the many slow traffic pullouts along the last section up to the pass.  At the pass we stopped to take a few pics, chat with some of the other riders and just have another pit stop in the sweltering heat.

We saddled up again and made our way down the pass (pts 12-13).  We didn’t have anyone in a car dragging their brake pedal but there was gravel in the road on just about every turn.  Had the roadway been cleared, it would have been one heck of a ride.  As it was it was pretty harrowing, really, gravel being the danger to two wheeled conveyances as it is.  We got to the bottom of the pass and had another quick pit stop, then proceeded along Hwy 126 (pts 13-14).  We almost missed the entrance to Aufderheide but looped back quickly and hit it.

The Aufderheide was definitely the highlight of the ride.  Aside from the vistas at Cougar Reservoir there’s not much to see here.  But the riding: wow!  As I was negotiating the curves I felt sorry for those riders who are constrained by geography to flat lands.  No matter how twisty the twisties, if you’ve got no vertical to the ride, you’re missing out on a major portion of the thrill of riding.  I felt truly blessed to be having this experience in this place with this group of people and did my best to ride my best.

The Aufderheide eventually drops into the tiny town of Westfir, home of the Office Covered Bridge.  Come to find out that “at 180 feet in length, the Office Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in Oregon.”

At this point, John was again running shy on fuel and we went in search of a gas station.  Bob’s GPS said there was a gas station in Westfir (which there wasn’t) but luckily there were several opportunities to get fuel and snacks at Oakridge.  We then backtracked our way past Westfir to Lookout Point Lake and Dexter Reservoir and looped to Interstate 5 headed north into Springfield.

I believe we hopped off of I5 at Brownsville and hit the back roads home.  Jim was supposed to get home by 7pm but we were running pretty late at 5pm already.  Since there was nothing to see and really no sense in stopping, we pushed on stopping only in Silverton to gas up again then continued hauling north back into town.  At the last stop we laid out the ground rules of the break up: we’d just hit Hwy 205 in town, then fan out into our own paths home.  I said goodbye to all in the party prior to putting in my ear plugs and putting on my helmet one more time.

When we got off of Hwy 213 and onto 205 in town, it was kind of a mess.  With all of the other traffic, the group scattered but within five miles had regrouped.  As we pressed north, first one, then the next would wave and peel off.  At last, at 8:30pm I rolled back into my driveway.  My ass was killing me and the insides of my thighs were chafed from rubbing against the seat.  But I’d made it.  I greeted the dogs and moved the bike into the garage, then poured myself a beer and sat down to reflect on the day.  Amid my groans of exhaustion, I congratulated myself on having completed the trip then collapsed in the hammock.

I practically melted into my gear over the course of the ride.  Bob joked that we should call it ‘the biggest loser’ ride based on who lost the most water weight from sweating so much from the extreme heat.  What I found was any air that enters the jacket tends to exit at the front of the neck area, shooting it right up into my helmet.  A fresh smelling jacket would have been a definite plus for the day.  I also found that having mesh pants doesn’t really help so much ‘at speed’: 97 degree air blasting on you at 65mph still feels like 97 degree air hitting you at 65mph whether you’re wearing mesh or not.  All the same, I am thinking of budgeting for a mesh jacket for summer riding as having my jacket balloon out on me was sometimes distracting

Would I do it again: absolutely.  It was a great ride with some outstanding scenery and vistas.  The first half of the ride is quite challenging and the ride home is more of a countryside glide back into town, making the most of your focus early on and allowing you a few turns to keep you from getting bored on the way back home.