Post, Oregon … finally

I am running out of places in Oregon that I haven’t visited by motorcycle. One of the locations on my to-ride list was Post, Oregon, the geographic center of the state.

Been there, done that, won’t bother doing it again.

Don’t get me wrong, the ride there and away was fine, with some classic eastern Oregon scenery and roads. But, the location — you can’t call it a town — of Post itself is just a general store with a sign, and that’s it.

They do have a gas pump, which I suppose would be convenient if you were running low. Regular unleaded cost $2.96 a gallon, which is amazingly low considering the remote location. I paused long enough to get off the bike a take a picture, then moved on.

My route was Gresham to Prineville via highway 26. I know, boring. But I didn’t really have any other viable routes to take. Once in Prineville I took state route 380 east-south-east to Post, then kept going east to Paulina. When I left home, I stopped at a gas station in Boring to put some air in my tires and got chatted up by a retired school man named Val. He was very familiar with the area and suggested I take a side route south to Burns, then north on US 395. I thanked him for the suggestion and looked for the required road when I got to Suplee. Alas, I never found it.

Even my GPS kept wanting me to go all the way to 395 first, then south to Burns, which would involve riding the same 45 miles of road twice in the same day. That’s not going to happen.

The last dozen miles of 380 before you get to 395 are much more wooded and typical of the Blue Mountains kind of terrain. I came out onto 395 just north of Seneca. I rode up to Canyon City, gassed up, then got to my motel in John Day in the mid afternoon.

I stopped at the Shelton Wayside along highway 19 just south of Fossil for a break, and used the timer on my camera to take a rare self-portrait.

Dinner was at The Outpost next door. That night, some rowdy kids decided to paw-tay the night away in the room next door so it took ear plugs to give me a few hours of sleep. The next morning I left with temps in the mid 30s. I took my usual route home: Kimberly, Spray (where I got gas), Fossil, Antelope, Maupin, Wamic, Government Camp, home. The weather was perfect. I saw two cow elk cross Bakeoven Road between Shaniko and Maupin, and earlier saw a wild turkey on the pavement, but other than that the only other critters I saw were a half dozen dead deer at various places along the route.

$8.90 in Detroit

Over the holiday weekend I rode each of my bikes to Detroit and back, the V-Strom on Friday and the Gixxer on Saturday. There were a lot of vehicles on the road and a fair number of bikes as well, and Detroit itself was hopping.

Something interesting happened. I gassed up my V-Strom on regular unleaded at the small store in Detroit on Friday and paid $8.90 for the fuel bill. On Saturday I rode my Gixxer to Detroit and filled up the tank on premium unleaded. The bill?

$8.90.

Involuntary Get-Off in the Snow

Adventure riding has its price, and it’s easy to say that if you spend enough time riding off the paved stuff, sooner or later you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to take a deep breath, grip the bike tight, and lift with your legs.

Last weekend I had a slow speed get-off coming down a fire road in the Cascades foothills behind Timothy Lake. I was standing up on the pegs, riding down that 1″ deep strip of snow in the center of the road. Suddenly my front tire cranked left, I tank slapped a few times, recovered, shot into the left tire track and across into the 5″ deep snow on the side, then went down onto my left side. I was unhurt and the only damage done to my bike was my front left turn indicator got bent a little bit (but still works). The Touratech side case didn’t have a scratch and handled the incident with ease.

I was able to lift my bike by myself, although it took several tries. Standing in snow doesn’t make for good foot traction, and also the tires kept sliding away from me as I’d lift.

Some gas leaked out of the filler cap and I could smell the fumes as I rode home. I stopped at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station and exposed the underside of my tank bag to the sun to let it evaporate and that eliminated the problem.

Turn Around When You Hit the Snow

That’s what my wife always tells me, “Turn around when you hit the snow.” She should know. So should I, for that matter. A few years back, in the middle of June, her and I got stuck in a patch of snow that was only 20 yards across. It took us an hour of rocking the V-Strom back and forth and poking the snow with whatever sticks we could find. We dug with our hands, yanked, tugged, pulled, and pushed.

My V-Strom had Shinko 705 tires at that time. Although they are considered more of an 80/20 tire, and they do fantastic on rainy pavement, they aren’t very good in snow.

I have new tires now. Heidenau K60 “Scouts”, with a knobby 50/50 tread. They actually do very well in snow, but snow is snow and it’s still a slick proposition on a motorcycle regardless of tread.

This past weekend, I rode up the Clackamas River Highway east of Estacada, and turned right across the river up Memaloose Road. It was paved the whole way (except for a quarter-mile stretch of packed gravel), which was kind of a let-down. I wanted to get some more off-road practice. Once I was above 3,400 feet elevation, I started riding through patches of snow with bare lanes of pavement where truck tires go. I came to a junction with NF 4550 and it was covered with snow, and both roads leading away had snow as far as the eye could see.

So I turned around and headed back down toward civilization. On the way, I saw a gravel road going up a steep, rutted hill. I cut a hard right, stood up on the pegs, and climbed the hill. My Heidenau’s worked great and I navigated the ruts and slope with ease. It wasn’t a long climb, maybe 100 yards, so at the top I did a four-point turn and headed back down. Again, the Heidenau’s did a fantastic job of giving me good grip and control.

This off-road stuff is a lot of fun!

Review: Aerostich Courier Bag

For about a month now I have been using an Aerostich Courier bag when commuting to work on my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750. As you can imagine, the body position is rather different between these two bikes. The V-Strom has an upright, neutral position and the Gixxer has me leaning forward with my elbows practically touching my knees.

I use the Courier bag to carry my lunch, an iPad, an external hard drive, and a few other miscellaneous items. The total weight is around six pounds.

The bag itself is one large compartment. I purchased the additional pocket organizer that attaches to the inside panel (that presses against my back) with hook-and-loop fasteners. In this I store pens, business cards, a small notebook, and a few other small miscellaneous items.

I switched from using a Targus backpack with traditional shoulder straps and several external pockets, and so far I think I like the one big compartment of the Courier bag much better. It’s faster to get stuff in and out of the courier bag, and of course it’s easier to see in a single glance what is inside.

My biggest concern was switching from shoulder straps (plural) to a singular over-the-shoulder strap. Once the bag is slung over my head to the opposite shoulder, it presses against the flat of my back and I don’t notice it anymore after I get on the bike. Even when leaning forward on my Gixxer, the courier bag is comfortable and stable.

The hook-and-loop panel holding the main flap down is very wide and opening it can be rather loud.

I commuted to work through some serious rain the other day on my V-Strom while wearing my Aerostich Courier bag slung over my Roadcrafter one-piece suit. The bag remained stable and the contents were kept completely dry despite the heavy precipitation. I’m sold on the quality of this bag and wish I had purchased it long ago.

The craftsmanship of this bag is outstanding, just like that of my Darien jacket and Roadcrafter one-piece suit. The materials are solid and I can tell this bag is going to last me a very long time. Considering the very low price, I think it is an outstanding value.