Robert 9/2/29 - 4/30/11
Last weekend (10/15/11) we rode the Strom to Frenchglen Oregon to fulfill my dad's wishes to have his ashes spread in the eastern Oregon desert. This trip was the first long ride for my wife, Pauline, on the Strom. Overall the two-up ride was a total success!
Back in the late 70's my dad and I started coming up from northern California to the southeastern Oregon desert to ride our dirtbikes. I'm not sure who started the annual event, but somewhere in the early 80's what started with a few riders escalated into a group. I believe it was Memorial Day week 1983 when the ride was to traverse the desert from Wagontire to Frenchglen, however the group was large and not without mechanical problems and weather issues.
The weekend started off with everyone gathering in Wagontire and going on a ride to make sure the machines were ready for the trip. One rider fell and was injured enough to hospitalize in Bend. His bike was bent bad but fixable; which was a good thing since the Husky in the group blew a base gasket and was toast for the trip. My dad volunteered to give his bike to the Husky rider and we fixed the bent bike for dad to ride. We started out for Frenchglen the next morning and arrived for dinner without problems. The following day was another story. The weather changed from cloudy to rain and we were unprepared for the Xcountry trip in bad weather, so we scored some garbage bags and made rain gear. Without the benefit of visibility and landmarks we started west on the roads we thought we were supposed to take. Once we found that we were going in circles Rod, a friend of my dad, got out his compass and he and dad looked at the maps. After a few minutes we were underway and made it back to Wagontire safely. It was a memorable trip for all on the ride. Some riders ran out of fuel and all of us were cold and wet. The folks who ran the motel and gas station in Wagontire fed us and took care of our fuel needs. This trip could have easily gone very bad for all of us in some very unforgiving conditions.
The memorial ride:
My dad passed away on April 30th of this year. He talked to me over the years about spreading his ashes where we used to ride our dirt bikes. The plan was to meet two of the original riding friends of ours in Frenchglen and stay at the historic Hotel like we had done so many times before. On October 15th we rode the Strom from Frenchglen west and re-traced some of the same roads we were on that day in '83. Riding two-up limited some of the trails and roads, however the Strom performed wonderfully where the rocks and sage would let us. The only issue we had was the sage brush, because it was murder on the Micatech panniers, or should I say the bags murdered the sage brush; either way it made for an interesting ride. Here is some pictures of our trip. Thanks for the bandwidth and letting me share my dad's last ride on my Strom.
Pictures from the trip:
We started out the day with rain over Mt. Hood:
But once we got to Warm Springs things started to get better:
Our destination was the Frenchglen Hotel where we met up with our friends and former dirt bike riding partners Dave and Tom from Redding California:
While both of these guys ride well, even into their seventies, it amazes me just how well they still ride! This gives me hope for the next 20 years if I can keep myself in as good a shape as these guys. Dave (on the trailer) rides the KTM and Tom rides the Honda 110. Tom gave up dirt riding for the street a long time ago and the 110 is a perfect bike to take with the RV. That little Honda went everywhere we wanted to go and pulled out over 50 MPG in the process.
Our Strom is ready for the trip:
We got some of the birders to help us with a group shot (nice folks with no motobike bias):
Before the ride out to the desert we made a plaque to place near a crossroad where we were once nearly lost on a cold and rainy ride in '83:
After carefully packing the plaque in Dave's backpack we headed out on the "trail":
Some interesting sights can be seen out in the middle of the desert. I was surprised that Pauline found the trip so much fun. She is used to touring on the back of our BMW LT and the Strom is not as comfortable. The Rick Mayer seat and the J&M Comm system helped us to pass the time and to compare notes, and that made the trip a lot of fun.
The country is so wide open and not many people around out here. To see anyone for miles of riding is a novelty. We loved the solitude, but realize that you really need to be prepared for anything out here. A breakdown or a fall could spell disaster, so we packed our Spot tracker for the trip and let family and friends follow along while we made this trip:
A stop for lunch in a dry lake bed sounded like a great idea. The Hotel packed us lunches and we brought along sodas and water:
The "trail" gets a little rough on the Strom with the big panniers. As you can see the sage brush is growing right up to the tire tracks and the hump in the middle is not friendly to two-up riding. This brought a new meaning to "bush wacking".
A look back to the dry lake bed in the valley below where we had lunch. I can never get enough of this country:
Tom found just the right place to place our plaque and to spread Dad's ashes:
After arranging the rocks near the cross roads we placed the plaque:
A close-up of the plaque details the seriousness of the days ride in '83, and without a compass, map and two guys who knew what they were doing the ride might have spelled disaster:
The view from Dad's resting place is stunning with the Steens Mountians in the SE:
I scattered his ashes and we said a prayer with a shed of tears. I hope Dad is at peace with his place in the land he loved:
Here you are Dad. Enjoy the view and watching the occasional passerby. I pray folks let his plaque rest well with him in this spot:
I want to thank Dave Booth, Tom Stewart and my wife Pauline for making this trip possible for me. I have lived this story all these years and heard my dad recount his analysis of the ride. He and Rod were great map readers and were my GPS that day. I promised Dad I would honor his wishes to have his final resting place in the eastern Oregon desert, I only wished I could have had a few more years to prepare for it. I miss you and miss riding those trails with you Dad.