Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Gladius as a Dual Sport?

At first the plan was a day trip to Coos Bay to see my mom and surprise my brother. After looking at maps Troubadour thought it would be fun to stay overnight and play on some of the back roads in Southern Oregon since we aren't down that way very often.

There were a few routes we could take to Coos Bay and Troubadour opted for the less direct more twisty route. I was hesitant about the route. The first part was over Wolf Creek and I'd only been that way once before and it was riding pillion on the America. I didn't have fun that day. The road was real twisty up and down and there was a nice cliff on one side. Those kind of roads have always scared the bejeezus out of me.

DAY 1:

I hadn't been on the bike in a few weeks so I wasn't as fast through the twisty route as Troubadour thought I could be but I made it in one piece and that was my main focus. The second section of road was Smith River Road and it was much nicer. One lane through the forest and not too rough. Few pictures were taken before we arrived in Coos Bay since we were racing the clock. We were going to take my mom out for lunch and didn't want to run too late.

We arrived in Coos Bay without incident. Two things I learned from riding on Wednesday:

1) The tinted face shield was not the best option for meandering roads that are switching between brilliant sunshine and dark forest overhangs. I hadn't brought a clear shield as a spare so I rode with it up a little so I could watch for debris and road hazards; and

2) I'm pretty good at navigating. If we are outside I can tell you which direction we are heading and get us where we need to go. If I was inside a mall, it would be a different story. I get all turned around inside.

We had a nice visit with my mom. Turns out my brother was out of State on business so we didn't get to surprise him. I guess the surprise will be he missed our visit.

DAY 2:

Thursday came and we headed off about 9:30 am or so. The roads heading towards Powers were fine. There was a bit of road construction and the one section that we were guided by pilot car was more difficult. Gravel, wet road surface and ruts in the road. I really had to pick my lines. Second gear and steady on the throttle. Just passed Powers we stopped for snacking and shedding some layers. We started out with jeans under our riding pants and switched to shorts and I also took the quilted liner out of my riding pants.

This was one of our favorite spots to soak up some sunshine.

I even tested the self timer on the Canon. We've had it for over a year and I don't think we'd ever used that feature.

Back on the bikes we went. At this point I was having a blast and the roads were great. I knew we had a turn off onto the forest service road and thought the road might be like the ones we had ridden on Wednesday. I was in for a bit of a surprise.

To say that they were rough and twisty would be an understatement. When Troubadour said his Tiger would eat those roads up and love them he was right. I found them a little tedious and annoying on the Gladius. The suspension on the Gladius is made for nice smooth surfaces. It is not set up for rough roads full of dips and ruts, chip seal, big bumps, frost heaves, sections of gravel and debris. I was bouncing out of the saddle for most of the day. Sometimes it was just a matter of holding on tighter to steady the bike and at other times I was to gripping the bars as my butt had once again bounced clear off the seat.

The seat on the Gladius is tilted slightly into the gas tank so every bounce drove me a little further into it. I had to push back with both my hands on the bars and my feet on the pegs. This also proceeded to drive my bony knees into the hard armor of my riding pants.

For a couple of miles the forest service had come by and cut down the brush and tree limbs that were overhanging the road. They left the debris where it fell in the road. The Tiger ran right over it like it wasn't there. I was trying to pick my lines over the smallest bits of branches. Every once in a while the front tire would slip sideways but always grabbed right away. One limb I clipped the edge of came up and smacked me in the foot.

Luckily Troubadour took pity on me so there were lots of stops along the 57 mile stretch. Stops also meant photo opportunities.

We eventually made it to Glendale. I was so glad to be off the mountain. I had been riding with a numb right hand for many miles so it was nice to stop. My arms were achy, my shoulders sore and my knees felt like they were bleeding from rubbing on the armor. There were no gas stations in Glendale but they had a little grocery store. Troubadour managed to find a bit of shade across the street and consulted the map while I went inside for cold drinks, Advil for him and Aleve for me.

We were a few miles from I-5 and we knew Wolf Creek Lodge was about 4 miles south on I-5. The map showed no road linking the two locations except for I-5. The GPS on the other hand had other ideas. It showed a road linking the two. We gave it a try.

A little ways up the road it turned to rough road and then eventually a steep uphill narrow dirt track. Troubadour radioed for me to stay put while he scouted it out ahead. Judging from what I could see I knew we wouldn't be going further and attempted a left hand u-turn. I say attempted because I didn't get all the way through the turn when the bike got a little high centered on a hump and stopped. I made the exhausted rookie mistake of putting my left foot down (on the low side). The ground was too far away and by the time my foot touched it was too far leaned over to save it. Max had had enough of the day and decided to nap then and there. It seems even gladiators get tired after a long day.

It was easy for me to get out of the way, but man was I ever ticked at myself. All those forestry rough roads and I dropped the damn thing less than 10 miles from our destination. I'd like to blame the GPS for leading us down the primrose path, but I know it was me. I radioed Troubadour and let him know my bike was on it's side and I didn't mean the side stand. My first thoughts were "oh crap, he isn't supposed to lift more than 40 lbs". Luckily I knew enough to grab under the seat and bars and walk it to stand it up. Troubadour assisted and it was easier than I thought. I didn't get any pictures but wish I had at least got one of where it occurred.

The only damage to Max was the long peg feeler broke off the left foot peg and the left hand guard is a little cracked on the bottom. The frame sliders did their job and the rest of the bike doesn't even have a scratch.

Back on the bikes and out to I-5 we went. We arrived at Wolf Creek Inn/Tavern and managed to secure a room. Dinner wasn't great but we wandered around a bit after and stretch our legs and took a few pictures.

The benches on the front porch looked inviting so we stopped to relax and enjoy the wildlife. Well, not so much wild since it was just a hummingbird drinking from the crocosmia.

Three things I learned while riding on Thursday:

1) A Gladius is not a dual sport;
2) If your GPS tells you there is a road connecting two points, but it doesn't show on your map - go with the map; and
3) Shit happens and all bikes will nap eventually. Suck it up and move on.

DAY 3:

Friday we woke just after 6 am and puttered around until 8 when the Inn started serving breakfast. It was included in our stay so we thought we'd check it out. Vegetarian options were limited, but the server was nice and let us switch out the bacon, sausage, ham option with our french toast and substitute in hash browns. It was nothing to write home about.

We went back to the room, gathered our gear, loaded the bikes and headed out.

I felt much more alert and was ready for the day. Troubadour assured me the worst of the roads was behind us and he was correct.

He was really interested in Cow Creek Road so we went back up I-5 to Glendale, turned onto Cow Creek Road and stopped for that now famous sign. I knew it wouldn't be a long break so I didn't even take off my helmet.

It was a great road and a lot of fun. We zig zagged down roads going across I-5, trying to avoid the interstate as much as possible. We made it to Highway 99E only to find it went through a bunch of towns. When we found a Starbucks in Roseburg stopping at all the stoplights and slowing through towns was worth it. We'd been looking for a coffee shop for more than a day with no luck. After a nice iced coffee and another look at the map we headed off. We decided to make up some time and booked it onto I-5 for 10 miles or so.

The other place he wanted to find was the Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. We wanted to see some peacocks. Apparently they aren't as attracted to Triumphs and Suzukis as they are to Yamahas since many more surrounded Dani when she visited.

It was a welcome break even though there wasn't much shade. We managed to get a few pictures.

There was even an interesting tree. It seems when your wood is this big and old you need a little support.

From there we did a few more miles of I-5 then meandered up Territorial Highway to Veneta. With 150 miles on Max I needed petrol to get home. We realized it was after 2 pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. Must have been the iced coffee sustaining us. We ate some vegetarian jerky,almonds, a granola bar, and guzzled a liter of water between us. We rested for about a half an hour and were off again.

We made it home by 4 pm. Basil was happy to see us and ready to go outside. We brought all our gear in and relaxed until I finally made some dinner about 7 pm. Salmon burgers and sweet potato fries tasted really good at this point.

Two things I learned on Friday:

1) Twisty roads are much better when rested and alert; and
2) It is important to stop for snack breaks and to stay hydrated.

That said, we had a great 3 days. It was nice to see some new places and ride some roads we'd never been on before. Yes I would do it again. I had a lot of fun, but I don't think I want to put knobbies on Max any time soon and turn him into a dual sport. Although, it sure felt like he was one on Thursday.

- Au Revoir

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." ~ Frank A. Clark


  1. Great ride report.

    The hummingbird photos are wonderful.

    I ride like an old man. I ride twisties at the pace of continental drift. It sounds like now I'd have to eat your dust and then some :)

    I'm truly glad you had a great time and are enjoying learning the limitations of your bike and exploring and expanding your skills at the same time.

    Thanks for the share. I'm looking forward to more. I must admit I'm not a big food porn guy, but I love it when you post it. Why? It means you guys found food you could eat and honor your dietary choices. Next time, better luck.

  2. Lovely ride report, and I like the 'lessons learned' section, too. The bench on the front porch of the hotel must look very inviting to the weary traveler.
    Kudos to you to go off-road with a road bike, and tested your and the Gladius' boundaries. A different set of tires might have helped a little, but the seating position is just not right. Sounds like you need a dual-sports bike.
    Bummer, laying down Max, but you know it isn't YOUR bike until you drop it... shit happens, at least you didn't get hurt in the process, maybe except for hurting your pride...
    Isn't it great to get away even if it is just for a few days? Thanks for sharing this adventure with us.

  3. Very nice pics! Yup... motorcycles like to nap... there was a Harley napping on the side of the road in Philomath after I left your place last night. The owner was standing there just looking at like it was a natural thing to do for a Harley. Several people were stopping and since he was on the other side of the road divider and there was no way to easily get over there I headed on home. Welcome to the napping bike club... membership free, cursing welcome!

  4. Woohoo! Great report. I'm so glad you were able to get away for a couple days. You went to some exciting looking places...even to feed peacocks!

    Very courageous riding all those miles on twists and gravel. You did a great job. I'm sorry Max felt the need to nap, but exciting that you know you can recover if it were to happen again.

    And love Toubadours knees with motorcycle boots. :)

  5. Some lovely pics there, Man what I wouldnt do fo a three day trip away on the bike at the moment!

  6. Trobairitz:

    I'm glad you managed to get away for a few days but I don't know if I would have tackled that road. I have zero experience off pavement. My Strom has napped more than once, and recently too so welcome to the napping club. Glad your Max wasn't damaged .

    Riding the Wet Coast

  7. Way to get back on the bike...take the bull by the horns so to speak. Kudos! What a nice treat for you guys!

    I love your self portrait - very nice.

    I can guess the road you took to Wolf Creek. I researched the area for a bicycle tour and found the same thing. There is a small section that can't be connected without I-5. I spoke with someone from the area who said, yeah, there's a road, but you'd need mountain bikes to cross it. Has to be the same road.

    I'm glad you and Max are relatively unscathed from Max's little nap. Sucks to drop a bike, but it's nice to know you can handle it when it does. I dropped my Suzuki twice. Sooner or later, it happens.

    Just curious...
    Where did you find vegetarian jerky?

    Awesome trip report!!

  8. @CircleBlue - thank you. The hummingbird was really hard to capture as he was flittering about so fast. Ask Troubadour, I'm not that fast in the twisties yet.

    @Sonja - lessons were definitely learned on the trip and it was nice to get away for a few days. Troubadour volunteered to let a little air out of my tires thinking it would help but I wasn't sure where the next place to fill them back up would be.

    @Rickster - wouldn't want to pick up a harley. I hear those are heavy. Oh and when Max napped, I cursed a blue streak.

    @BeemerGirl - We never thought to bring anything to feed the peacocks, but he/she was sure looking to be fed. I don't know if I was courageous, but just a good follower. Where Troubadour went I had to follow. I'd done long stretches on gravel on the TU and it was easier but I sure wouldn't want to do this route on a 250.

    @Raftnn - thank you. Are you looking to escape your winter weather?

    @Bobskoot - It was mostly paved. If you can call rough chip seal, frost heaves, etc paved. It just wasn't smooth pavement. Don't get me wrong though as some roads were beautiful and the views made it worth it. I didn't know V-Strom's napped. I'm sorry.

    @Bluekat - I am going to try and take more self portraits while riding. We'll see if Troubadour cooperates. We found the veggie jerky at Market of Choice. It is awesome for traveling although a little spendy. It is called Stonewall's Jerquee and is $1.79 for a 1.6 oz pkg. They have several flavors. Here is a link to one online store selling it. The packages have been updated now. I'll pick some up and do a short blog on it. They are about 150 calories and have about 13-16 grams of protein. Essential for us when traveling.

  9. What a great read! The pictures were fabulous. Canons take excellent pictures, they are reliable little cameras. Love the humming bird photo, actually all of the photos! They are magnificent, looks like you rode through some very pretty country. Glad you had a great time.

  10. You have an Iron core beneath that aesthetically pleasing exterior of yours. I wrote it that way so the guy you're married to won't get offended. Wouldn't want of provoke a guy who rides a Tiger, after all.

    We have TU250's as training bikes. I often tell other instructors of your ride to Bend on one. That's tough. Although you may feel differently these days knowing what you now know, you know what I mean?

    You may find this of interest.

  11. I'm glad you popped in at my place, otherwise I'd not seen yours. Fantastic photo's and the Humming Birds...priceless.

  12. @Dar - I am enjoying the Canon and will be purchasing a pocket sized one before our trip to San Francisco later this month.

    @Irondad - you flatter me sir. I don't know if it is an iron core so much as I follow hubby blindly where he leads, lol. Wait the phrase following blindly isn't a good choice when talking about motorcycles. I noticed in one of your blog posts there was a new TU 250. Glad you guys are using them, they are great little bikes. Taking it to Bend wasn't tough, I was having too much fun for it to be tough. It sure is nice to be able to pass uphill now though. Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading about your off-road adventure on the ST.

    @Wooley - Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy my ramblings.