The Long Ride/Rally Report:
I drove 500 miles with a Super Enduro in the bed of my truck on a Friday afternoon which put me in Crane, OR at 8:30pm, that is how badly I wanted to ride in South East Oregon…
I unloaded, chatted with Tom, Jim, Clint, Mike, Scott, Russ and John then hit the truck bed for a snooze.
Alarm went off at 5:30am, prepped my gear and got in the breakfast line which was going full swing at 7am. The group grubbed down on Eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy and coffee (pretty good way to start off the day).
By 8:15 we were off doing the Steens Loop. Initial riding was Forest Service type stuff with loose gravel on top of hard pack. This is not my favorite stuff to ride but it got us to a good track which was dirt, rocks, ruts and water bars. Loved it. We made our way to the lookout and passed a couple spotting for Antelope (they were pissed to have bikes making noise). We calmly passed them making sure not to aggravate them even more by roosting (it only hurts the group after us if we go full bore). In reality it wasn’t a big deal to slow down and take the high road.
After the lookout it got better and better. The scene changed from rocky desert to plains to swamp, back to scrub brush. It was spectacular.
Now there isn’t much out here but Jim had a good suggestion, head to fields for lunch. We scooted to fields at a great pace 60-75mph on some gravel over hard pack. I mentioned earlier that this is not my favorite and here is why: The rear gets squirrely and hitting soft gravel gets a butt puckering shake going. We did about 50 miles of this dance going around SUV’s and Trucks which would not pull right and yield to the faster bikes. It got interesting passing a set of jeeps through dust at 60mph on loose gravel!!
We hit up fields for some food and gas (only 87 oct here). This diner is superb, what they can do with 1 small grill and 1 small milkshake maker is unbelievable. In about 30 minutes they served 8-10 people and were still adding in orders. The ladies running the joint were awesome and joked back and forth. I would recommend this stop to anyone.
Everyone geared up fully fueled, bikes and riders. We hit the gravel road back towards the Alvord Desert.
This is where it got interesting for me. Jim had pulled up to take a photo and I blew past him then turned around to see where the others went. It looked like they were goofing on some extra credit and I saw Russ pop out onto the main road so I turned around and kept on heading down the gravel track. What I didn’t see was that Russ and the guys had actually turned right….
I hit the track at full bore blowing right past the turn. Since we were spreading out pretty far for a dust gap it wasn’t uncommon to lose sight of the riders behind or ahead. I thought nothing of it until I reached tarmac…. I thought I would mark this turn and wait. I emptied the reserve fuel in was carrying in the tank and took a leak. I waited about 10 minutes then knew I was separated or something had happened to the riders behind me. My fuel range is 120-150 with my reserve fuel. I had traveled 80 miles and knew I didn’t have enough to back track. Safest bet was to follow the route on the GPS… I didn’t have the distance calculated so it was going to be a craps shoot to see if I had enough in the tank to make it.
At about 100 miles I knew I was going to be in trouble if I didn’t pull off and search for gas. I was extremely lucky to spot a couple on their ranch. I pulled off, said hello and asked if there was any fuel nearby. It turned out I was 12 miles from fuel. I was so relieved and the fuel was in Crane (about 5 miles from the camp site).
I grabbed some fuel and scooted to camp. I checked with the ADV Medic who said they didn’t have any reports/accidents about where I lost the group. That was a relief. Now I wanted to get in touch with the group to make sure they were not looking for me. I got on the Delorme and put a Facebook message out there to spread the word. No one had cell reception so it was a shot in the dark. I pulled in at about 4:30 and the rest of the group started arriving at 5:30-6. In the end we all linked up and no one was hurt or lost. Overall a good time and I am very ready to go back and ride in Eastern Oregon. Let the planning begin….