Sunday, January 14, 2018

January Gravel Road Ride

So far we have lucked out with the recent weather in Oregon.  While it is winter, we haven't had any snow in Corvallis and the days of rain have definitely been less frequent than last year.  We'd been eyeing the weather forecast for this weekend and following three days of pretty good rain were a few days of sunshine.

We made a plan to ride to coffee and then tootle around some gravel roads after and see where the day would take us.

We left the house just after 9 am.  The temperature was 44˚F (6.6˚C) and the fog was thick.  The 5 mile ride to coffee wasn't that pleasant.  I had my yellow lensed glasses on to see better but the condensation on the visor (and my glasses) by the time we got to coffee was not fun.

We sat around and chatted until 11:30 when the fog burned off and the sun came out to play. Four of us were heading off together for a wee adventure:  Andy, aka Polar Bear was on his orange Triumph Tiger, Brad, aka Troubadour was on his Suzuki DRZ 400, his buddy Jeff, aka Lefty, was on his Suzuki DRZ 400. I Trobairitz was on my trusty mostly trusty Yamaha TW200.

(Brad, Andy, and Jeff getting ready to ride)

We took the back roads to Philomath and then headed west to Woods Creek Road.  It is a road we know well and enjoy its gravel and elevation changes. We meander up then down.  I usually worry about the downhill side as it doesn't see a lot of sun and can be quite muddy.  This time it was the uphill climb that was rather muddy, but the downhill side was fine. There were a few large puddles, probably the largest I've ever ridden through.  Nice to know my Sidi Livia Rain boots are still waterproof after all these years.  Jeff found out the hard way that his boots weren't quite sealed.

We made a few turns and stopped at a clearing where we've stopped a few times before.  It gave the guys a chance to water the tree stumps and take a break.  We were on a ridge so we could see the other hills around us.

(My TW 200 with tail bag - the packhorse of the day)

(A view of the coastal mountains)

(The view without the bikes)

(Troubadour's DRZ 400)

(From the left - Polar Bear, Troubadour, and Lefty in the helmet)
While we were here a gentleman rode up on his Triumph Scrambler Street.  Nice looking bike. We chatted for a bit and before he left Lefty asks him to take a group photo of us.

(Troubadour, Polar Bear, Trobairitz, Lefty)
From the clearing we rode into Burnt Woods where we could stop for fuel. Well, Lefty and I needed fuel, Troubadour has a Clark tank on his DRZ and Polar Bear's Tiger is a fuel tanker so they were good.

(Troubadour and Polar Bear)

(Polar Bear basking in the rare winter sunshine)

(Lefty after fueling up his DRZ 400)

At Burt Woods we turned East onto Highway 20 for two miles and then turned North on Clem Road. I was last out this way in May 2016.  In fact it was just after Clem Road when I hit reserve on the TW and was almost out of gas. (Notice I fuelled up at Burnt Woods this time).  I wrote about that ride HERE.  

It was a mile or so up Clem Road when the ride went a little pear shaped.  We were headed uphill after a left hand corner when I heard a loud "bang" and then nothing.  The bike was running but I had no forward momentum.  I called to Troubadour and Lefty on the Sena radios that I was stopped.  Polar Bear rode up behind me and said my chain had come off.  I said "my chain came off?"  Which the other guys heard in their helmets and turned around.  Polar Bear's battery had died on his Sena so they couldn't hear him talking to me.

I was sitting there with my hand on the front break not wanting to lift my foot off the muddy road to use the back brake. Troubadour had to steady the bike while I put the kickstand down and could get off the bike.  Nothing like being stuck uphill on a muddy road between two blind corners and the road doesn't have a shoulder.  I can't think of a safer spot, can you?

(Chain came off the rear sprocket)
While I was unlucky that the chain came off, I was lucky in two things:  1) the chain didn't come off at highway speeds a few short miles before; and 2) it didn't come completely off and kill the bike.  Troubadour has a nice little tool kit on his DRZ so the guys went to work.

(Troubadour and Polar Bear fixing the TW -  Lefty turning off the Go Pro)

(Troubadour working on the muddy TW)

(A view down the hill from where we'd been)

(Troubadour's DRZ and a view up ahead of where we were going)
The guys got my bike race ready - thank you gentlemen and we motored forward.  I couldn't believe in the time we were there not one vehicle came down that road.  Last time we were on it there was quite a bit of traffic.  Luck was on our side.

We linked up more gravel roads and took the back way into Fort Hoskins, where we used the restroom facilities and had a snack.  It was about 2:30 by this time.  Our destination was the Yeasty Beasty pizza place in Monmouth.  You may remember that name from our Polar Bear ride two years ago.  You can read that post HERE. Because of the time of day we decided not to take the longer gravel route, but to take some tarmac into Monmouth.

We arrived and found parking out front.  It was now 3:30 so Polar Bear said his goodbyes. He had a longer ride home and was chasing daylight.  Troubadour, Lefty, and I went in for a bite of pizza. The food was not great, but we were hungry.  

(Mini Greek veggie pizza with no cheese)
While eating we discussed the best way to head home.  We were heading south to Corvallis, but Lefty was heading back to Albany, which is about 11 miles east of Corvallis. We decided to head back the way we came on Helmick Road until it intersected again with Highway 99.  Our goal was to do as little of the highway as possible and in that we succeeded.  After linking with Highway 99 we went about a block south and Lefty turned left onto Suver Road and we turned right onto Airlie Road.  About a mile in we stopped at De Armond Rd (a gravel road of course). We have passed that road a lot of times before, but we weren't sure where it went.  

When stopped Troubadour checked the map on his phone, while I took a few pictures.

(Troubadour checking his phone during the golden hour)

( A selfie with cockeyed glasses, I had to pull them out a bit to keep them from fogging up)

(Last picture of the day was the sun reflecting off a pond in a field while we were stopped)

I am pretty good remembering directions so Troubadour read them off to me - right on Rifle Range Road, right on Coffin Butte Road and left on Tampico Road, which would take us back to Highway 99 just a lot further south and mostly gravel.  Got it.  It was a nice little route that we will take in the future.  We popped out on Hwy 99 and continued to leapfrog side roads all the way into Corvallis.  It was just getting dark when we got to town.

We pulled in the driveway at 5 pm to 50˚F (10˚C).  Almost 8 hours since we'd left the house and yet only about 100 miles (160 km) on the odometer - most of them gravel.  It was a good day.

No one got hurt and everyone made it home safe.  I think everyone might be checking their chain tension today though.

Update:  As linked on Troubadour's blog - Lefty put together a short video montage of part of our ride.  It gives you an idea of some of the terrain.  A link to YouTube HERE.

- Au Revoir

" People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.  Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." - H. Jackson Brown

Sunday, December 24, 2017

An End to 2017

(Stock image from interweb)
As the end of the year approaches, I figured I'd best post up a quick blog; it has been almost two months since my last one.

Nothing exciting has been keeping me away from posting, just the opposite in fact.  Days consist of going to work and coming home.  Our weather has been pretty chilly and we just finished a good 10-day stretch of freezing temperatures, luckily no snow.

As 2017 comes to a close I look to 2018 and the changes it will bring.  My boss is retiring after 41 years of being an attorney.  I have worked for him for 17 of those years.  As of January 1st I will be actively looking for employment so that when I am done at the office at the end of January I will have another job to go to.

We are also hoping to put our house on the market in the spring.  Long time homeowners beside us have sold and it has become a rental complete with 7 children, 3 large barking dogs, 7 chickens, and a pig.  Yes, a pig.  We are in city limits and didn't sign up to live beside a farm.  So combined with the two-story monoliths they built against our back fence it is time to go.

(Two story houses - photo taken this morning - we miss the forest)
Weekends are now spent finishing up home projects such as installing baseboards and trim around the doors.  That will be followed by painting and of course the never ending yard work.

We have come to the conclusion that moving will be a good thing.  We have been in our house over 11 years and we bought it to flip it in two years.  It wasn't supposed to be our forever home. We are looking forward to a 2-car garage and a laundry room in the house.  I don't really like going into the garage to do laundry when it is below freezing.  Brrrr.  Our current one-car garage is not heated.

We are not sure how Basil will feel about a move, but I am sure he will enjoy a quiet area with more room to roam.

As for motorcycles, we still have four sitting in the garage.  With our weather and other obligations they haven't been moving at all unless it is to shuffle their order in the garage or start them to make sure the carbs aren't gumming up in the TW200 and DRZ400.

(On the way to Marys Peak, photo by Troubadour)
I did order a skid plate from T-Rex Racing for the Versys 300x, which we received, but haven't installed yet.  SW Motech Crash bars/engine guards have also been ordered from Twisted Throttle.  They are out of stock, but hopefully will ship before spring.

(T Rex racing skid plate)
We hope to do more riding and camping in 2018.  Of course, every year it seems we hope to do more riding and somehow life just gets in the way.

Happy Holidays to all of you, and the very best wishes for 2018.

- Au Revoir

"  If you are in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change.  If you are in a good situation, don't worry it'll change. " - John A. Simone, Sr.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Autumn Hiking - Inspired By SonjaM

Unfortunately there isn't any two-wheeled content in this blog post, but at least we got out and saw some fall color.

Inspired by SonjaM and Roland, and their many hiking adventures, we decided to drag our arses off the sofa on Sunday afternoon and go for a wee hike.  We grabbed our rain jackets and some water, hopped in the Fiat and set out.  We opted for the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, which we've been to several times before. It is around 10 miles (16 km) south of Corvallis. No bicycles, jogging, or dogs allowed because of the wildlife, so this means less people.

As we were driving through the refuge heading east towards the Woodpecker Trail trailhead we saw a heard of Roosevelt Elk in a field to the south.  They were a fair ways away so the pictures didn't turn out great, but in the second one below you can see a large bull elk with a great rack in the center of the photo.

(A heard of Roosevelt Elk at Finley Wildlife Refuge)

(Check out the rack on the bull elk in the center)

(A bit of information on the Roosevelt Elk - photo taken at the information kiosk)

A little further up the road and we were at the Trail head.  The Woodpecker Trail is a 1.1 mile (1.77 km) loop.  Intertie Trail also intersects with the Woodpecker Loop to connect the Mill Hill Loop. We opted to wander down it and back before finishing the Woodpecker Trail.  It added an additional 1 mile (1.6 km) and different scenery too. If you are interested, a trail map can be found at this LINK.

One of the first bits of interest along the trail is the old growth oak trees.  This one has a viewing platform built around it.

(Old growth Oak tree)

(View of the valley looking south east - rain in the distance)

(Troubadour checking out the rainbow)

(A full rainbow against an ominous sky)

A little bit further up the trail and Troubadour stopped to take a picture of some white berries.  I have no idea what kind they are.  I took a picture of him taking the picture.

(Troubadour taking artsy pictures with his phone)

(Photo by Troubadour - the one he was taking in the picture above)

Several bridges and boardwalks are located along the trail to traverse seasonal creeks and boggy areas.

(One of the many bridges along the trails)

(Many different types of leaves falling to the ground)

(So many leaves covering the trails)

(Me hamming it up with a Big Leaf Maple leaf - as big as a fig leaf)

Once we were on the Intertie Trail the foliage began to change.  Things were more green and the ferns were large and lush.  The trail was bordered in little tiny green plants leading the way, so pretty in the sunlight

(Sunlight streaming through the trees)

(Follow the green path.......)

Along the Intertie trail we saw another large oak. This one is an Oregon White Oak.  

(Oregon White Oak - do you think they need the "Oregon" in the name?)

(Sunlight streaming through the trees - getting later in the afternoon)

With all of the rain and wet weather this time of year comes different types of mushrooms and fungus.  While we always have a few varieties in our yard, the more interesting ones can be found in a forest setting.

(Pretty red color on theses mushroom caps)

( A different variety - these were the size of portobellos)

Another view of the path strewn with leaves.  Not much color on the trees anymore, mostly on the ground, but still bright.

( A leaf strewn path through the woods)

(Not sure what type of plant this was, but the small thistle type blooms were really bright)

Along the way we also saw several bird varieties.  A Varied Thrush was the brightest, but we also saw a Steller's Jay and a Red Breasted Sapsucker.  The sapsucker is a woodpecker - we had to see at least one woodpecker on the Woodpecker Trail.  Unfortunately most were too far away to photograph.  The clearest picture I had was the one of the Varied Thrush below.

(Varied Thrush)

(Oak gall attached to a fallen leaf)

The photo above is of an oak gall.  According to the Oregon State University Website: "there are several cynipid gall wasps that make galls on oaks in the Pacific Northwest."  More info at this LINK.

It has been several years since we've seen oak galls.  Normally we see them on the Bald Hill Path near our house.

The oak gall photo was the last one I took of the day.  We returned to the car and headed home for dinner.  I had chili bubbling away in the crock pot/slow cooker.  A nice way to end a fall hike considering the temperature was only 44˚F (6.6˚C). 

*     *     *     *     *

I haven't posted any pictures of Basil in a while so I thought I'd add two to the bottom of this post.  The first one is a typical Basil pose.  Giving you the "stink eye".  In this case it was aimed at Troubadour who was taking the picture.  The second picture is Basil relaxing in front of the living room window, basking in the filtered sunshine.  Belly up - a favorite position of his when sleeping.  He seems to sleep even more now - he is 12.5 years old.  Where did the time go?

(Basil - sitting on the back deck glaring at Troubadour)

(Basil doing what he does best - napping.  And he lets you rub his belly)

- Au Revoir

" .... I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as Autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.  So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, (10th October 1842)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

After Saturday Coffee Ride

Last Saturday on September 15th Troubadour and I rode our motorcycles to coffee.  A much needed series of rainstorms was forecast to begin on Sunday so we figured we'd best ride while the weather was perfect.

We left the house just after 9 am.  The temperature was a balmy 54˚F (12˚C).  I admit to having my grip heaters on low on the ride there. My hands were cold before I put my gloves on, it wasn't due to the air temperature.

Only six of us attended coffee, five on bikes.  Melissa would have ridden had her Triumph Daytona started.  I know, a Triumph that won't start....unheard of.  

We lingered at coffee with folks talking of a ride, but no one really wanting to lead one or plan one.  Slowly people left to do other things.  Troubadour and I were the last to leave and decided to take some back roads to Fort Hoskins for a picnic lunch/snacks.  Troubadour was thinking ahead and packed a bag of goodies before we left the house.

We didn't notice it too much heading to coffee but while we were sitting there enjoying our drinks the wind had blown wildfire smoke from the east into the valley.  It was getting pretty thick.  Once again this summer our air quality was rated as "unhealthy."

We arrived at Fort Hoskins and were pleasantly surprised that there was only one other car in the lot and no one at the picnic table shelter.  And, because we'd risen in elevation the smoke wasn't as thick.

(The bikes at Fort Hoskins)

(Our view from the picnic table - notice the smokey air and dry fields)
Notice the difference in the picture below.  Taken from the same spot back in October 2016, blogged about HERE.

(Same view taken October 2016)
We were enjoying the mild temperatures and slight breeze.  Some folks came and went as they checked out the old Commander's House seen in the photos above. Originally built at the Fort in 1857, it has been restored within the last few years.

We relaxed and enjoyed the peace and quiet for several hours.  It was nice to be able to sit outside and talk without the three barking dogs next door, construction noise from the houses being built behind us, or the other neighbor's cigarette smoke wafting through our yard on the breeze.  Made us wish for country living, but not the extended commute.

At one point we took the Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer out of Troubadour's saddlebag and pondered what route to take home.

We opted for the back way via Maxfield Creek to Airlie Rd, to Berry Creek Rd, Soap Creek/Tampico, Sulphur Springs, etc.   A twisty route, but not with any gravel since they paved Berry Creek.

We were clipping along Maxfield Creek at a pretty good pace.  I was enjoying the suspension of the Versys smoothing out the bumpy country road and tar snakes.  Just after a right hand turn I heard and felt a banging.  I said out loud to Troubadour on the radios, "something is not right, I am pulling over."  He was riding lead and I didn't want him to wonder where I'd gotten to.  I knew I couldn't have ridden over anything that would have stuck in a spoke so my thoughts turned to the center stand.

Troubadour turned around to help me see what was up.

We stopped about in the center of the screenshot below, where the long straight stretch is just to the right of the time estimate. It was only about 5 miles from the park.

(Fort Hoskins to Airlie road via Maxfield Creek)
Sure enough, I'd lost the spring off the center stand.  Having never owned a bike with a center stand before, this wasn't even something I'd thought about before Saturday.  The center stand was a Kawasaki part that we ordered at the time of purchase and that Troubadour installed for me.  He mention that he was surprised it had come off since he'd had a heck of time installing it as the spring was wound so tight.  He thought maybe it was so tight it pulled the hook straight allowing for it work its way out over the bumpy road.

Neither one of us had zip ties/cable ties/zap straps in our bags.  Trust me, we do now.  For some reason I was carrying around a broken helmet lock in my Givi tail bag.  A pin was broken in the lock mechanism, but the cable was still good and that is what Troubadour used to jury rig the center stand in place.

(Kawasaki Versys 300x center stand rigged to stay up)

(It looks close to the chain in the photos but had lots of room)
Troubadour decided he'd walk the road towards the corner to see if he could find the spring.  I didn't think he'd find it but he figured he'd give it a shot.  While he was searching I took the opportunity to take a few photos.

(The bikes on Maxfield Creek Rd)

(Close up of my Versys 300x - that really needs a bath)

(Lucy looking all shiny)

(Still a little smoke in the air)

(Troubadour is back there somewhere looking for the spring)
That was the last picture and last stop of the day.  We got back on the bikes and aimed for home, still using our originally planned route of back roads.  It was a nice leisurely ride and we arrived home just after 5 pm.  The cable held and Troubadour has since secured it with a zip tie until we can order a new spring.

Totals for the day:

60 miles ridden (96 km)
1 motorcycle part lost  (new spring from Kawasaki is only $10)
1 spare part used
1 deer spotted on the side of the road
1 spicy ginger chai latte drank by Trobairitz
2 cups of house coffee drank by Troubadour 
3 bananas, 2 apples, and 3 bottles of water consumed
Many hours spent enjoying each others company.

- Au Revoir

"Luck never gives; it only lends." - Swedish Proverb