Another invitation for a dualsport event gave us the perfect opportunity to run our HP2 again through Oregon's breathtaking scenery.
Still trying to find time to recount my last ride on MotoUSA's long-term HP2 test bike, a three-day voyage from our offices in Medford, OR, Jeff Moffet called me with an invite to again travel north for the Diamond Lake Dual-sport 200. The two-day event was co-organized by Moffet's Oregon Motorcycle Adventures (OMA), the Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) local riders' club and the Oregon Motorcycle Riders Association (OMRA). The OMRA hosts a dual-sport series that included nine points-collecting events this year. After two cancellations in late August, this event was the final chance for riders to gather points and a perfect opportunity for Moffet to test my dual-sport mettle.
Fortunately, this time the trail was already established and marked accordingly whereas before we accompanied the Medford businessman during one of his preliminary scouting missions. The trials and tribulations of that three-day trip are for another article but I thought I'd at least mention the past "experience" with Moffet so that you readers might understand my reservations about spending another day on Oregon's intricate trail system with our notorious guide.
Local clubs like the MRA do the actual leg work for each of the OMRA events. In this instance roughly 20 volunteers joined Moffet and combined efforts to gather permits, chart and flag courses and align sponsors. Day 1 sent riders from the Diamond Lake Resort south to Union Creek and then back on a 120-mile loop. This was more of an actual day on the trails whereas Day 2 offered a 100-mile scenic tour from D-Lake down to Crater Lake.
Since MotoUSA's HP2 test bike was missing its license plate and holder, a mishap from our Colorado Rockies testing, we decided that the first day would be our best option. Additionally, our photographer's bike wasn't quite up to spec for highway use either. The ride to Union Creek only incorporated about six miles of pavement, a worthy gamble for any off-roader. The rest of the trip consisted of roughly 20 miles of gravel and the remaining 80% was the most bad-ass single track, quad track and jeep roads I've ridden all summer.
With the smell of rotting fish seeping from the depths of Diamond Lake, we embarked on a 120-mile voyage of dream-worthy snowmobile, quad and motorcycle trails.
My photog and I jammed out of Medford at 5:30 a.m. in order to make registration and the riders' meeting scheduled for 7:30. Highway 62 whizzed by in darkness until the cresting sun appeared just in time to float a few rays across Lost Creek Reservoir. The morning was bright and full of potential by the time we arrived at the resort. Diamond Lake is known for its beautiful location at the southern end of the Cascade Range. Surrounded by landmarks in the Umpqua National Forest such as the scorpion-like Mt. Thielsen (9,182 ft), Mt. Bailey (8,363 ft) and Howlock Mountain (8,351 ft), the D-Lake area is renowned for winter skiing and snowmobile activities and summertime hiking, camping, fishing and of course, OHV recreation.
Debarking the warm cocoon of our van, we were assailed by the scent of rotting fish. Department of Fish and Wildlife officials have recently poisoned the entire body of water in order to eliminate an overpopulation of destructive tui chub, an estimated 90 million fish. Clean-up efforts have removed the majority of the dead fish, but as you might expect, ODFW crews missed a few.
The sensory assault didn't stop with the olfactories. Once Moffet discovered that I was again riding one of his events on the hulking BMW, the familiar ribbing drove us to the safety of the sign-up table in an effort to escape his verbal abuse. Thankfully, we were greeted by the warm smile of Cheryl Coburn, wife of MRA Vice President, Troy Coburn, and the appointed do-all assistant for the day. With a knowing grin she directed our signatures to the appropriate dotted lines.
The tight, wooded confines of Prospect OHV’s Minnehaha trail are seemingly delivered from the enduro Gods above. Thankfully that 4-foot diameter tree had been notched or it would have made for an interesting log crossing on the BMW.
The 41 riders on the sign-up sheet each had the option of choosing between A, B and C-level courses depending on their skill level. Having dragged the cylinders of my Boxer Twin engine along the edges of Minnehaha, I knew the A trail would be challenging for a monster machine like my HP2. Minnehaha is an immaculately groomed single track located in the Prospect OHV area maintained by Blair Anderson and the Prospect Ranger District. With three small, wooden bridges, off-camber sidehills and roots all delivered through an 18-inch strip of soft, damp earth, this trail is to die for. I also knew that if the rest of the advanced course was as blissfully roostable as this one, it was definitely worth checking out, even on the enormous BMW.
Right out of the gate we connected to a snowmobile trail that really got the ride into swing. My 92-hp Beemer was gobbling up terrain like nobody's business until we crossed highway 230. From there we put on a couple more warm-up miles before our scroll chart, which added another element of fun to the ride, told us to hop down a gravel section until reaching the Minnehaha junction. From that point on every worry in every rider's brain dissolved into a rush of greenery.
Like before, the BMW was a handful in the tight stuff, but again I was pleasantly surprised with the off-road competence of the machine. After completing 50 miles of beautiful terrain and making new friends along the way it was time to stop and eat. Our lunch gathering was at the Union Creek campgrounds where the third checkpoint and a king's spread of delicious food were ready and waiting.
This little lake was only a few miles away from the D-Lake Resort. The righteous snowmobile trail leading here and the stunning weather let us know right away that this was going to be a sweet day of riding.
The goal at Checkpoint 3 was to accumulate as much time as possible between two sets of cones. In between was a small log crossing with a 2x6 ramp on either side. Falling off the ramp awarded no points and the slower a rider negotiated the course, the more points they would earn. With fellow riders looking on, the speculation swirled as to whether the wooden planks would even support the roughly 550-pound HP2/rider combination. They didn't.
Scoring points hinges on a competitor's ability to complete a series of riding and non-riding tasks set up at each of the five checkpoints. Since I'm not a member of the OMRA, I didn't think it was fair to be stealing points from any of the regular participants. Besides, I had managed to miss the first two checkpoints before making it 0-for-3 with the balance beam debacle.
Leaving the MRA guys to salvage what they could for the next batch of riders, I wandered over to a huge metal wagon-turned-grill to devour some primo barbeque chicken. Knowing I still had 70 miles of trail in front of me, I somehow managed to restrain myself from eating into a coma. The return trip was not only longer, but the trail system we followed incorporated less high-speed gravel and jeep roads and replaced them with an abundance of quad track.
One of the best things about joining club rides is the potential to expand your network of riding buddies. Catching up with the boys at the end of a trail is an essential ingredient for a top-notch ride.
Riding the BMW all day on a typical laid-back dual-sport is much easier on the body than even an enduro machine. The roomy layout, soft seat and supple suspension make a long day in the saddle a real joy. However, since traditional dual-sporting was on reserve for Day 2, I was soon feeling the effects of muscling around a 420-pound machine on tight, twisty and fairly technical trails. It wasn't long after resuming our trip that my bellyful of chicken began collaborating with the physical exertion. This kind of scenario typically leaves me looking for a place to nap, but the miles of sinuous quad track not only kept me on my toes, but they were so damn fun I couldn't have stopped if I wanted.
After arriving back at the D-Lake Resort, my photog and I capped the day off with an old-fashioned round of bench racing with Moffet and some of the MRA riders. This kind of event offers an incredible fun/dollar ratio. If Moffet hadn't generously comped the trip in return for shameless website ballyhoo, a single day fee would have cost $60, and an extra 10 bucks if I had chosen to ride on Day 2. Honestly, OMA/MRA could have charged me full price and I still would have recommended the ride to anyone willing to listen. The more I'm around local riding groups like these, the more I realize how fortunate I am to be involved with the sport.
Here are the top-5 points finishers from the Diamond Lake 200.
1. Gary Land, 193
2. Richard and Kim Brooks, 174 (Honeymooners from Minden, NV who rode 2-up the whole way)
3. Dan Hatcher, 173
4. Scott Jensen, 170
5. Dan Meneley, 168
This cool trio of organizations offers more than just dual-sport rides. For more information about their scheduled events and what they are about, click on the links below.
Oregon Motorcycle Adventures
Motorcycle Riders' Association
Oregon Motorcycle Riders' Association
Naumes Oregon Motorsports
Kawasaki & Honda of Medford
The Bike Barn
Oregon Motorcycle Adventures
Bob Thomas Automotive