We've been on tours before with bigger bikes, but this time around it was a herd of real dirt bikes which made things fun.
It’s time to shed a little light on one of our favorite little MotoUSA testing secrets here in Medford, Oregon – we like to make others do all the hard work! That’s why we continue to use OMA-KTM
as our source for dual-sport adventure.
We love testing DS bikes, like our latest Beta 525 RS, but mapping a route, finding gas stops, packing food and general logistics, not to mention finding some riding buddies who can get away, really make dual-purpose riding different and sometimes dissuading. That’s where Jeff Moffet and his partners at OMA-KTM come in with their guided tours around southern and eastern Oregon.
Based out of his KTM
dealership in nearby Phoenix, Oregon, Moffet has never turned us down when we asked to tag along on his tours - and trust us, it’s happening more and more. We’ve hooked up with the local KTM shop on several occasions for special things like testing the EXPLORER snow bike kit
and 2009 KTM 250 XC-W
, but we’ve come to expect and anticipate his annual trips. Every tour season has the possibility to change, and the routes can cover basically any part of the Beaver State outside of the metro area centered in the northwestern region. Don’t tell him, but we’ve coordinated our testing calendar so that we just “happen” to have dual-sport bikes during his multi-day outings.
Let’s get one thing straight, this isn’t a high-polish babysitting service – these guys like to ride, like the challenges of dual-sporting and like to trash talk along the way – if you’re looking for someone to hold your hand and show you pretty mountains, well… In reality what you’re likely to get are some rocks and dust kicked in your face until you back off, make the pass or reach the next destination, whichever comes first.
Not only that, but they’re cheap. The three-day, two-night trip I just sampled only cost $750 while comparable tours easily reach double that amount with other outfits we’ve seen. That includes lodging at cool places like Patrick Creek Lodge and Whaleshead Beach Resort
, paid dinners and informal lunch catering and gas on the trail via a support truck. In between is the really good stuff - the scenic, challenging and varying terrain of Oregon. Every trip I’ve been on has featured hundreds of miles of side-by-side riding, frequent hooting and plenty of ribbing at everyone’s expense. The groups usually consist primarily of local riders, many of whom are regular customers at OMA-KTM. The instant camaraderie has always made me feel right at home, and though there’s plenty of joking, everyone’s out to have a good time, not hurt feelings - ok, Nancy-boy?
Excellent lodging at Whaleshead Beach Resort and fresh seafood highlighted our stay on the Oregon Coast.
The other benefit of riding with locals (Jeff has lived in southern Oregon his entire life) is that someone always knows of another trail, road or point of interest such as a lookout or cabin that is somewhere near the route. The goal is to get everyone through with as much fun as possible, and that’s why the tour routes aren’t set in stone. Depending on rider skill and the number of participants, Moffet can tailor the ride to suit, and he isn’t afraid to try something or someplace new. After all, it’s supposed to be an adventure.
The first day of our ride was spent winding our way west from the OMA-KTM shop. With everyone anxious to get underway and twist the throttle, most of us spent the majority of time riding too close and sucking dust – too eager to let it settle before taking off after the previous duo. Riding in pairs was informal and we mixed it up throughout the day just for fun. Oregon has plenty of old cabins, lookouts and historical waypoints to keep anyone interested, and several of these sites were designated resting points and a chance to learn some local knowledge from the well-versed guide, Moffet. Lunch was at one of our favorite spots on Applegate Lake where the support crew was waiting with a full spread of sandwich and lunch makings. The final miles were pretty long, so when we popped out on the highway only a few hundred yards from Patrick Creek Lodge, it was a welcome sight almost 190 miles in the making.
Dinner was a hearty affair and the BS got so deep afterwards we would have been better off staying in our riding boots. The rustic lodge was very accommodating and made our rowdy bunch feel right at home. Fortunately, the second day was a short one as we tore across the final few mountains to reach the windy, cool Oregon Coast and a basket of fish and chips for lunch in Brookings. The ride could have been a little longer, actually, but we’d bet that next year the trip is reworked to make the three days a bit more equal in length. We parked the bikes at Whaleshead Beach Resort where it happened to be prime rib night. The libations flowed once again as did the shady recollections of past riding accomplishments. Once dinner was over it was time for a digestive stroll down to the well-known beach via the underground tunnel – very cool.
Riding home through the fog made for eerie scenery at times, like this dilapidated fire lookout.
By the time Day 3 rolled around we were all thoroughly enjoying ourselves, but most were looking forward to getting home. We blazed through one of Oregon’s famous coastal mists that wreaked havoc on our goggles and face shields. Slogging through the dangerous drizzle meant that we missed most of the morning scenery which was a shame. However, we finally got out of the nasty weather and back inland enough to start warming up and enjoying the final leg of our journey. All of us were home in time for dinner without a single injury over the course of 460 miles. A pair of flat tires (at the same time) was the only hiccup in the entire program, and thanks to one of the paying customer’s local knowledge, we capped off our trip with some unplanned single track.
Every time we go on one of the OMA-KTM tours, we’re reminded of why we love to ride. Hanging out with our buddies, enjoying the scenery, riding our brains out and living to tell the tales – embellishment included. Tours range in length, difficulty and scheduling, and Moffet plans his rides in advance. Check him out on the OMA-KTM website
or call the shop directly (541-773-7433) to get info on the 2010 summer schedule. Chances are you’ll have one hell of a time, and you’ll probably see us there if we have anything to say about it!