Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Sparkle Farkle

While I don't think the little TW200 needs many additions or changes, one thing I noticed on our gravel ride is that the stock foot pegs are really small.  Especially for a bike that is intended for off-road riding where one might be standing on the pegs for any length of time.

Troubadour was also not impressed with the smallish pegs on the XT250.  Some months ago he'd been thinking of buying after market foot pegs and last week decided to go looking once again. He found DMO Specialties; a website he'd previously perused when debating new pegs.  This time he ordered a set for both the XT and the TW.

They arrived last Thursday and he graciously installed them on both bikes.  While he installed them on the TW, I manned the camera and played fetch the hammer - not even remotely as naughty as it sounds.

(Aftermarket foot pegs - XT on the left - TW on the right)

(Stock foot peg on the TW200)

(Aftermarket vs stock foot peg for the TW200)

(Installed aftermarket foot peg - right side of TW)

(Installed aftermarket foot peg on left side of TW)
While we haven't had a chance to test them out, they do seem very solid and well built.  A heavy duty steel rather than aluminum.

*          *          *          *          *

On a side note - holy crap - this is my 400th post for this blog!!  When I posted my very first blog post on December 19, 2008, I never imagined I'd be at it this long.  For someone who loved her English Literature classes, but absolutely hated creative writing, I guess I am not doing too bad.  

It has served as a journal and a memory book.  It has been nice to look back and see where we've gone, what we've done, and all the friends met along the way.

Troubadour and I have been debating about merging our blogs into one if possible.  Some days he has something to post, sometimes I do.  It makes sense for us both to be admins to one blog.  I am not sure if it is even possible, but it is something we've discussed.

Life is a journey, and I thank you for traveling along.

- Au Revoir

" With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable." - Thomas Foxwell Buxton

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bicycles, Blueberries, & Motorcycles, oh my......

I managed to get another Friday off, so last weekend was a three day weekend together.  We thought about riding somewhere, but when the news informs you that forest fires are burning to the North, the South, the East and throughout Central Oregon, all that is left is West to the ocean. The Governor  declared a State of Emergency due to the wildfires.  Here is a link to the story LINK.

When it heats up in the valley, it seems most of the population heads to the coast to enjoy a 20˚ drop in temperature.  Unfortunately, traffic on Highway 101 can slow to a crawl so it isn't always the best place for a ride.

We opted to stay closer to home and do a few other things.  Don't worry - there is still actual moto content in this post.


Friday morning we slept in and downed a pot of coffee or two, then headed out for a mountain bike ride.  When I work Friday mornings Troubadour likes to go out for a morning ride.  Friday I tagged along, he was nice to me and didn't put me through the wringer too bad.

Through the neighborhood and across to Bald Hill far, easy peasy - a well known route.

Once in Bald Hill Park we rode on the paved multi-use path and up the hill to the barn.  We were headed for a dirt/gravel path, also known as the Mulkey Creek Trail in Fitton Green Natural Area. Up, up, up, it went.  Damn.  Huff, puff, wheeze.  At least being all uphill to start, it was going to be all downhill going back.

We stopped for pictures here and there.

Troubadour steadily climbed ahead and managed to snap a few pictures of me huffing and puffing uphill as he stopped at the switchbacks.

He then whizzed down the hills stopping again at the switchbacks to catch pics of me riding down.

Once back down to Bald Hill Park we stopped to let a mama turkey and her babies cross the trail. They decided to turn around instead, but still came quite close.

We were out for a couple hours.  We returned home, scrounged some lunch, then headed out grocery shopping, a task neither of us really enjoys, but is necessary.


We decided not to attend Saturday morning coffee, for good reason though.  As many of you know,  since buying the XT250 a year ago we have been looking for a little Yamaha TW200 or the like.  We wanted a second bike so that we could both go forth and explore beyond where the pavement ends, as well as head out to the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) areas.

The problem we've had when looking for bikes is that most people are asking too much. Bikes 20 years old are going for over half the price of new. And those that were a good value were gone before the weekend came and we could take a look.

There was one in Albany we'd been eyeing for a while, but the owner was asking a little much. Troubadour noticed the seller put up a new ad and dropping the price a bit and it was or best offer.

Saturday morning hubby decided to make the call to see if it was still for sale.  He couldn't find the new ad online and thought maybe it had sold.  However, the old ad was still up and had a contact telephone number.  

Turns out it really was our lucky day.  Not only did the seller still have it, but we were able to look at it right away.

Wow.  The bike was immaculate.  A 2009 Yamaha TW200 with only 972 miles on it.  This bike had never seen dirt or even rain.  I think he cleaned it with a dust cloth daily.  The owner recently sold his Harley, bought a V-Strom, and he was looking to sell this bike too.  Apparently his wife didn't think he needed more than one bike. (rolls eyes)

He and Troubadour haggled over the price and finally settled on knocking another $400 off asking. A total reduction of 20% off original list price.  Done.

The seller was going to Salem with his buddy, who was also buying a V-Strom, but would be back in a few hours.  That worked for us as we needed to find a bank that was open on a Saturday.  Just our luck that in Albany, they were.

Not to make the story any longer... we puttered around until 2pm Saturday afternoon and returned for the bike.  We gave him cash, he gave us the signed title, done.  Troubadour rode it home for me since his gear was in the back of the car from earlier.  Instead of riding straight home, he headed to Premier Moto in Albany so that we could get an off-road permit for it.  The low price of $10.50 will get you a 24 month permit for any State owned off-road vehicle area in Oregon. How can you go wrong?

We arrived home to 95˚F (35˚C) temperatures and took a few pictures of the bike in the backyard. We  just relaxed for the rest of the evening on the deck - where we could see the bike.

(2009 Yamaha TW 200)


We woke to 60˚F (15.5˚C).  A far cry from the temperature we had Saturday.  The skies were overcast and it was threatening rain.  Perfect for blueberry picking.  We went to Anderson Blues north of town (our favorite) and picked 24.5 lbs (11.11 kg) of sweet, yummy, blueberries of the Blue Crop variety.  They weren't quite as big as last year but they sure were abundant.  It took us about 1/2 an hour to fill our two pails... and munch on more than a few while doing so.

It started to mist on us as the morning went on, and the clouds were looming.  Finally around noon the clouds parted and it looked as though the sun was going to make an appearance.  It didn't really matter, we were going riding no matter the weather.

We suited up and took the bikes out of the garage.  We have a large clump of Echinacea in a bed beside the driveway that attracts bees, butterflies, etc.  When Troubadour pulled the bikes out he noticed a cool spider sitting on one of the blooms.  I wonder if it normally has pink accents or if it is a camouflage feature.

We headed west towards Philomath so that Troubadour could fuel the XT.  Just west of Philomath we turned south off of Highway 20 and onto Woods Creek Road.  A nice gravel road that winds up into the hills.  It runs through clear cut logging areas and tree farms.  I call them replanted clear cuts, but the lumber companies prefer tree farm.  It was a one lane road with gravel, some packed dirt, pot holes, and a little debris here and there.  We pulled over a few times for pictures.

It was at this stop that we discovered the water bottle in the tail bag leaked and soaked everything including our large map book, extra gloves, and the title for the TW.  Oops.  No water for us the rest of the ride.

(2009 XT 250 and 2009 TW 200 - His and Hers)

(Troubadour looking chill in his Triumph jacket)

(A Happy Trobairitz)

Troubadour was asked to write a story for an upcoming Team Oregon Newsletter on our covered bridge adventures.  They asked for a picture of the two of us in our riding gear and also one with a bridge in the background so we thought we'd best give it a go.  Bridge selfies later in the post.

Back on the bikes and further uphill we climbed.  We eventually crested the hill and started our descent.  Before long we had to stop for a tow truck on the side of the road. He had two lines strung across the road and said we could go by if we could get under the cables, but neither of us thought it was a good day for decapitation; accidental or otherwise.  We waited patiently and Troubadour dismounted to observe.  I took my helmet off and just relaxed on the bike, taking a few pics. Turns out it was a Jeep Grand Cherokee that came around a corner too fast.  The tow truck driver said judging by the amount of beer cans in the bushes, the occupants probably weren't sober at the time of the accident.

(The road behind us as we waited)

After about 20 minutes we left the tow truck driver to hook up the Jeep.  We then stopped a mile or so down the road at a ridge line for a picture. We were in the shade and the ridge was in the bright sun so the pictures didn't turn out great.  I probably should have changed the settings on the camera.

As we descended further we turned onto Harris Road and came to a bridge that looked fairly new. We stopped for a wee look.  Turns out it was built in 2013 using some donated trusses that were built in 1939.  The road was paved over the bridge and turned back to gravel a few yards beyond.

In order to get back to the highway we rode over the Harris Covered Bridge.  The last time we were there we were on the Tiger and Gladius and the 2-3 miles of fresh gravel wasn't the best on my road tires.  It was just plain fun on the TW.

And lastly, some bridge selfie outtakes.......

(Now don't we look like we could cook up some trouble?)

From the bridge we headed back to Highway 20 and pointed the bikes East towards home.  At one point, downhill on the highway, the speedometer read 70 mph.  Not sure the bike was actually traveling that fast, but it was buzzing like it.

So far the bike is a great fit. I was impressed that I was out there for a few hours at low speeds and my hands weren't numb at all.  Something I can't say about the Gladius after a few miles at low speeds.

- Au Revoir

"There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate." - Robert Brault

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How Basil Beats the Heat

Our weather has been slightly odd lately.

On Saturday, while Troubadour was teaching, we saw temperatures in the low 90's F. Sunday brought rain, hail, thunder and lightning, and temperatures in the mid 60's F.

I did manage to ride to coffee on Saturday, but we didn't go out Sunday on the bikes. We decided we didn't want to be moving targets in a lightning storm.  It was a good day to watch movies and clean out the spare room.

Monday, our weather turned warm again, and yesterday our high was 98˚F (36.6˚C).  Luckily our house stays fairly cool.  It was only 85˚ in here when we went to bed.

I worry about poor furry little Basil, but he manages to stay cool by laying under the ceiling fan in the living room or hanging out on the floor in the kitchen by his food bowl.

(Basil and his favorite hot weather position)
We have a three-day weekend coming up and temperatures are supposed to be down to 85˚ F (29˚C), perfect to get out on two wheels.

- Au Revoir

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." - Russell Baker

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Weekend Quandary - What to do....

Last weekend was a three day holiday weekend.  Friday was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and Troubadour finally had a free weekend with no Team Oregon classes scheduled.

The hardest part was deciding on what to do. Because his free time is limited due to his teaching schedule, I asked Troubadour to pick the weekend activities.  He indicated he wanted to be able to stay in shorts and comfy summer gear all weekend without having to put on hot riding gear.   Considering the long weekend is usually a party weekend with way too many drunk drivers on the roads, we typically stay off the motorcycles anyway.  

It is all about minimizing risk.  We minimize risk in our choice of helmet, gear, extra training, and to us one more way to minimize risk is to assess when to stay off the roads.

So, with motorcycles off the agenda that left hiking and bicycling.  How to get both into the weekend.....


Friday we woke entirely too early - before 5 am and decided after a pot of coffee and a light breakfast to go for a walk/hike in Bald Hill Park; just a short walk from the house.  The sun was up, there was a light breeze, the birds were singing, and it wasn't too busy yet.

( A Lazuli Bunting in Bald Hill Park)

(Two silly birds in Bald Hill Park)
We returned home from our 4.5 mile walk, had an early lunch and decided to try out the new Hollywood bike rack for the car by taking the bikes to the McDonald/Dunn Forest areas and ride one of the multi-use trails.  The McDonald and Dunn Forests encompass 11,250 acres and are managed by the Oregon State University Forestry program.  There are quite a few service roads and multi-use paths and trails.  Some are fairly wide and smooth for vehicles.  This part of their research forest stretches from the Lewisburg Saddle on Sulphur Springs Road over to Peavy Arboretum off Highway 99W to the east.

It is a short drive into north Corvallis/Lewisburg and we were actually surprised at how many other cars were at the gate.  We ended up parking on the side of the road, but at least it was in the shade.

(Trusty Subaru at the Lewisburg Saddle)
We chose the Vineyard Mountain Traverse, a "7.5 mile loop through old growth stands of evergreens; physically and technically easy."

It started with a long downhill grade and wound through the forest and up along a ridge.  

We passed a little lake and watched the salamanders come up for air.  It looked to be an old quarry with it's high bluffs.

There were some interpretive signs along the way explaining some of the forestry practices.

More climbing......

We did have some great views of the other ridge lines while up top.

(And another descent....)

(side road leading into some of the other research areas)

Soon we came to the half way point.  An intersection of 3 access roads. We headed up this one, west  towards the car.....

(Even the wildflowers came out to play)
We survived and made it back to the parking lot.  Loaded up the bikes and went home to make homemade potato salad and veggie dogs for dinner.  That evening was spent trying to calm Basil because of the fireworks and trying not to fall asleep on the sofa by 8 pm, we finally went to bed about 10ish.


We were up by 6 am Saturday to relax and enjoy the morning.  Before we headed to coffee Troubadour noticed his rear bicycle tire had gone flat.  That explains why it fell off its perch in the middle of the night and crashed to the floor taking my bike with it.  A rude awakening it was.

We drove to coffee and headed downtown afterwards in search of a patch kit, bike pump, and spare tube. Our local bicycle shop was closed for the holiday weekend so we ended up driving to REI in Salem.

Mount Jefferson was in full view on the way to Salem.  Mount Jefferson is the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountain range and is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  It is 105 miles east of Corvallis and is one of the hardest volcanoes to reach in Oregon.

(Mount Jefferson viewed looking east from the Independence Highway)

We arrived home about 6 pm and had leftovers for dinner.  Not an exciting day, but definitely relaxing. We also made plans for Sunday.


The weather forecast for Sunday was a high of 93˚F (33.8˚C) in the valley. For us that meant - what can we do at the coast where we'd be guaranteed at least a 20 degree drop in temperature.

We consulted the Kissing the Trail book Saturday night and discovered the Siltcoos Trailhead, where there is a 4 mile single track intermediate mountain bike trail just south of Florence (95 miles southwest of home).  Intermediate is one rank above beginner in the book.  It sounded good, but I'd never done any kind of single track before so I was a little apprehensive.

We had breakfast, puttered a bit, loaded the bikes, packed some snacks and set off.

It took a bit to find where to pay our $5 parking fee.  The Siltcoos National Forest has a few parks and trailheads in and around Siltcoos Lake as does Lane County and the State Park system and each one is different.  They cost different amounts and you pay different entities.

We parked at the trailhead and there was only one other vehicle.  We unloaded the bikes, strapped on the helmets and gloves and looked at the uphill climb.  At least that meant it was downhill to the car on the return trip.  Rather than take the book with us I took a photograph of the trail map in case we needed to consult it on the fly.

(Siltcoos mountain bike/hiking trail photo from book)

(Photo from Trailhead - notice how it says on the bottom left, "rated more difficult")

(A fairly wide trail with lots of tree roots to start off)

(The trail narrowed to wind through the old growth trees)

Some areas of the trail were against a bank on one side and steep drop off on the other, and in other areas we seemed to zoom through a rolling valley floor.

We eventually came to the primitive camping spots at the half way point.  These campsites can either be accessed by boat or by hiking/bicycling.  They even have a "vault" toilet.  An outhouse by any other name .......

Some of the campsites had picnic tables.

(Troubadour - never let fear and common sense stand in your way)

(More of the trail)

(A view of Siltcoos Lake from one of the primitive campsites)

From the campsites we kept following the trail.  We took a 0.4 mile detour down over fallen logs and through a blackberry thicket to another group of campsites.  Then it was a 0.4 ascent to get back to the main trail.  The trail wound up then down and after a fairly rapid descent we rode across a boardwalk only to be stopped by stairs.

(Yes, we had to go up and around the stairs)

(Looking back from the bottom of the stairs)

(View from the top of the stairs)
I believe it was while pushing my bike up the path around the stairs huffing and puffing that I said: "Buy a mountain bike they said, it'll be fun they said." After the stairs it was a fairly long climb before we hit a rapid descent to the trailhead.  No more picture stops.  I was certainly glad to be back to the trailhead and off the bike.  Sure I could have ridden more..... downhill.

It was a great ride and I am sure we will do it again.  It sure was different from the ride on Friday.

And just in case you are interested.  I found a video on YouTube where someone recorded part of their ride on this trail.  Here it is:

At the trailhead, we had a snack of trail-mix (what else) then loaded up the car and headed north to Florence.  We stopped for petrol at Fred Meyer and I went inside for some bananas and cherries.  We feasted on fruit on the way home.  You know you're vegan when fruit for dinner hits the spot.

It was 69˚F (20.5˚C) on the coast and by the time we got home to the valley at 6pm the temperature had returned to 91˚F (32.7˚C).


1 - Flat tires
2 - Bikes fallen over in the house
4.5 - Miles hiked/walked
7.5 - Miles of forestry roads ridden in Corvallis
4 - Miles of single track ridden in Florence
2-3 - Bruises and Scratches:  a few on the shins and damn those blackberry vines
0 - Sore bodies:  surprisingly neither of us were sore after all that riding
Amount of fun:  Can't be measured

I was surprised at how much my motorcycle skills came into play on the single track.  Not just picking my lines along the trail and avoiding obstacles, but looking through a turn too.  Troubadour said that this track was actually tighter than the single track dual sporting they do at Huckleberry so now I am really looking forward to my first off-road adventure there.

*     *     *     *     *

I work Friday morning this week and hubby teaches on Saturday.  That leaves Sunday as our only day to play.  So far the forecast is for 96˚F (35.5˚C) temps in the valley.  Not sure what we'll do to duck the heat.  It does make us long for a return of the temperatures in the 80's, and just where did the rain go?

Don't get me wrong, we are not complaining about the heat.  After the cold winter we had, our friends joke that the first one to complain about the heat gets a punch in the throat.  Not it!

- Au Revoir

" Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you're scared." - Edward Vernon Rickenbacker