Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Finally, a Dam Motorcycle Ride

Last Thursday on my lunch break I decided to check out the website for our local motorcycle forum. I hadn't been on the site for a month or two, but figured I'd check it out to see what was going on.

I noticed our friend Melissa (Mel) had posted a group ride to some dams.  Mel works for the Army Corps of Engineers out at Foster Dam just east of Sweet Home. A few of her work mates wanted her to put together a ride and she opened it to the rest of us.

Hmm, I pondered.  Troubadour and I both have Friday off and the weather is supposed to be back to normal.

I mentioned it to Troubadour Thursday night and he sent Mel a message confirming we'd be there about 9:30 in the morning.  We both needed petrol in the bikes and we needed to ride 38 miles (61 km) east across the valley to get to Sweet Home. Our plan was to be out of the house and kickstands up at 8:30 am Friday morning.

Here is a screenshot of Mel's original route from Ride with GPS. We were riding it clockwise to visit the following: Foster Dam, Cougar Dam, Hills Creek Dam, and Lookout Point Dam.  We did end up taking a different route home from Springfield. (just east of Eugene on the map)

(Original route - we were starting from Corvallis - 38 miles to the west)
(Image borrowed from Revzilla)
As Troubadour was pulling the bikes out of the garage it started to sprinkle.  The forecast was a little iffy as to whether or not it was going to rain.  We didn't care, it wasn't blistering hot. Because of the sprinkles I opted to put my rain liner in my Rev'it pants and also try out my new Rev'it Monroe jacket instead of my mesh.  Back in June, I purchased a new 3-season riding jacket when it was on sale at Premier Moto Gear in Albany.  I liked that it had built in waterproofing in the shell, but still came with a quilted liner.  I purchased it in olive/black to be different.  It only has 2 layers, not 3 like my current Rev'it Siren.  Three layers are a pain because of all the snaps in the cuffs when you install both the quilted and rain liner into the shell.  I left the quilted liner in on Friday since it was 65˚F (18˚C) and I wasn't sure how chilly it would be as we headed up in elevation over the Cascades.

We arrived at Foster Dam without incident. I didn't think to take a picture at Foster but I managed to pilfer the one below from Mel's facebook page.

(Photo by Melissa at Foster Dam - just before heading out)
There were 8 riders total:  PolarBear and Troubadour on their Triumph Tigers, me on the Gladius, Mel on her Triumph Daytona, as well as a Victory, a Kawasaki KLR 650, a Honda Shadow, and an older Yamaha we believe was a Seca.  Quite a menagerie of different bikes.

With Mel in the lead and PolarBear riding sweep, we headed east and up Tombstone Pass and then turned south on Highway 126.  We stopped in the little hamlet of Rainbow for lunch at a place called Takoda's Restaurant.  Luckily they had a salad bar and iced tea with free refills.

There is also a mercantile with a gas station at Takoda's.  We parked in front of the mercantile.

(Parked at Takoda's in Rainbow, OR - Mel, Troubadour, and PolarBear in the foreground)
Why did we park at the mercantile instead of the restaurant?  Well, the Porsche club just happened to be meeting at the restaurant as well and took up all the parking.  This was one row of them.

(Porsche club meeting at Takoda's restaurant)
We ate, chatted, ate some more, and then all headed out for more riding.  A little further down 126 and we made a left turn onto the Aufderheide Scenic Highway, also known as Forest Service Road 19. We've ridden this road a few times from South to North, but this was to be my first time riding it North to South.  LINK to last ride on Aufderheide in July 2012 and LINK to one two-up on Troubadour's America in August 2010.

(Aufderheide Scenic Byway - Forest Service Road 19)
We stopped at Cougar Dam/Reservoir just a short ride in.  This is a different parking area from where we usually park so you can't actually see the dam.

(Cougar Reservoir at Cougar Dam - water looking low)

(All the bikes in a row at Cougar)

(Max and PolarBear's rig parked at the end)

(But wait, Max was between the two Tigers - a Suzuki sandwich)
The temperature was warming up so I opened the vents in my jacket and my helmet.  I realized there aren't nearly as many vents on this new jacket compared to my older one.  One rider left us at this point and headed home.  We were down to 7.

Riding North to South was an experience.  The side of the road we were on was definitely the worst of the two.  There were a lot of patch jobs, dips, bumps, and breaks in the pavement.  I was getting really beat up and bounced around.  I think Mel and I had the worst suspensions for this stretch of road.  There were times when my butt bounced right off the seat.  I was happy to make if off the mountain in one piece.

Part way down the Aufderheide we realized the Porsche club was chasing is down the mountain. They'd catch up on the straight stretches and back way off in the lumpy bumpy rough areas.  As PolarBear was riding sweep, he found this quite amusing.

We arrived at Highway 58 and turned east, rode through Oakridge and turned down a short road to Hills Creek Dam/Lake.  We'd never been here before so it was interesting.

The first thing I did upon arriving was rip my jacket off and take the liner out.  I was so overheated it was becoming unsafe.  I then proceeded to take the rain liner out of the pants. (Thank you Mel for not taking any pictures of me when I had my pants off).  Much better with the liner out.  I had a long drink of water then proceeded to take a few pictures.

(Hills Creek Lake, behind the dam.  Oakridge, OR)

(Hills Creek Dam - lake to the right of the picture)

(One more shot of the lake - water level a little low here too)

(The bikes at Hills Creek Dam)

(A different view, the Victory and Daytona up front)
This was our turn around point.  From here we rode back into Oakridge and stopped at the Chevron Station for petrol and a potty break.  I proceeded to wet my Buff in the sink before putting it back on to try and get some relief from the heat/humidity.  It was only 80˚ (26.6˚C), but it sure felt warmer. The clouds were keeping the heat in.  Oakridge was a little smokey as well, you could smell it in the air and see it a bit in the hills in the pictures above.

Before long we were back on the bikes and heading west on Highway 58 towards Lowell and the Lookout Point Dam/Reservoir.

We didn't stop at the dam, but we did ride by it, does that count?  Two more riders turned off at this point and we were then down to 5.  We turned off Highway 58 at this point.  PolarBear had to be home for dinner so we kept up a good pace as he guided us through back roads through Jasper, Highway 222, Highway 126 through Springfield to Marcola Road, and then McKenzie View Road into Coburg.  I rode sweep.

At Coburg, Troubadour and I turned off to head west towards Harrisburg and Corvallis. The remaining three headed east toward Lebanon and Waterloo.

At Harrisburg we turned north onto Peoria Rd which would lead us to Corvallis.  We stopped at a park in Peoria for a quick break as we'd been on the bikes for over 70 miles since Oakridge and our knees were getting a little sore.  It was nice to take a break and just chill for a minute sitting at a picnic table.  Here is a view of the bikes as we sat.

(Lucy and Max and Peoria Park)
It was only another 15 or so miles to home.

All in all it was a good day.  We left the house at 8:30 am and arrived home at 6:20 pm. According to my odometer we put 282 miles (453 km) on the bikes.  Not bad considering I haven't been on the street bike in a few months.

We woke Saturday morning to a few stiff muscles, but we were happy we took the opportunity to ride.  One of our biggest issues is trying to figure out where to go when we plan a ride.  With Mel planning the trip it was a no-brainer that we should hop on the bikes and go.

Finally, we got out for a damn dam ride.

- Au Revoir

" Seize every opportunity along the way, for how sad it would be if the road you chose became the road not taken." - Robert Brault