T – Today I did a really dumb thing. I put our trip in jeopardy. I’m really ashamed about it and I deserve to be yelled at by everyone who reads this. So feel free to give me a good telling off.
We both had a pretty crap sleep last night. Not for any particular reason. It was just one of those nights. There were a heap of wolves howling quite near to us in the early hours of the morning. Maybe 30 meters or so away. That was really cool!
As we sat around having our breakfast and a cup of tea a huge black cloud swept overhead and dumped a light bit of drizzle on us. Apparently there would be some showers today and then fine for the next little while!
C – I know I said this yesterday, but really, these summit prairies are something special! The view we had of the sky last night, the wolves howling, the way the sky feels so close to you, it is all pretty spectacular. We did awake to showers on the tent this morning, but the cloud moved past quickly, dropping very little and then the sun came out to dry everything out!
T – After having packed up camp we hit the road. The GPS taking us on the back roads again through to a large town called Baker City. The GPS was doing a sterling job too as we wound through more incredible high roads, mostly above 1700 meters, and tight corner after tight corner kept coming at us. We were falling in love with Oregon.
Then the riding got better. We went over a mountain called Dooley Mountain. There must have been 20km of corners stitched together here. The road cut into the side of the mountain through a burnt out forest. Zig zagging back and forth and snaking over and around the mountain. Some of the best riding we have had so far in the States! We had smiles for miles!
C – Wowsers! What a ride. The switchbacks climbing up and down the mountains were wonderful!!!
T – Eventually we plopped out into Baker City for lunch time. Sometimes we treat ourselves to a fresh made sandwich from Safeway or Walmart. Usually they are a huge thing and only cost about $6. A pretty cheap lunch really!
As we were walking into the shop I heard a loud bang and a crack as something fell out of my jacket and hit the ground.
C – Todd was about to keep on walking I think, until I said to him that it was his camera on the ground. He was terribly upset.
T – It was my camera. The lens had broken into pieces and lay scattered across the ground. To say I was unhappy would be an understatement. I love my photography and this was a damn good new Sony mirrorless camera. I had obviously not put the strap over my head when putting it away last time I used it.
We managed to put it back together but then it wouldn’t work. The side of the lens was dented in and was jamming the mechanism that allowed the lens to retract in and out. Shit.
That’s a $200 lens. Wrecked. I ended up jamming my pocket knife into the bent part of the lens and managed to bend it slightly back out. I figured it was already stuffed so what was the harm. Then voila! It worked again! Yay! Looking slightly dented and scratched up now though. But it works.
After a very disappointing sandwich, there was almost no filling in the thing, we went to the library to steal some free wifi before heading out of town.
C – The library here was great, with plenty of tables, power points for charging stuff and great wifi! We spent a few hours doing some research into Idaho and Wyoming and catching up on some other blogs we follow. It was a lovely afternoon, looking over the beautiful city park, and we watched a massive thunder head roll in, making some thundering noises and dropping some water, and then roll out.
T – Neither of us was really motivated to move on today. Chantelle saying she didn’t really feel like going on for the day. No reason why, we both just couldn’t be arsed. We managed to ride about 2 km up the road before we stopped at Maccas for a cool drink. We procrastinated for a bit again and finally after much sighing we got on the bikes and headed for camp.
Camp was only about 35km away and it was a free one. So that wasn’t too bad. There was a massive storm cell passing by and as we climbed a little in elevation we were presented with some incredible views of the clouds coming over the nearby mountains and could see the rain coming off of them. My now working camera was out and clicking away. The photos don’t do it justice. It was spectacular.
C – I can not describe the view as the storm cell moved over the Cascade Mountains, in the valley where Baker City is, and then over the Hells Canyon mountains. It was simply amazing, the contrasts between colours and the road we were on treated us to the perfect view of this.
T – We rode on. And here is where I made a stupid mistake. A potentially trip ending one.
As we crested a hill there was a magnificent view before us. The sun was lighting up the hills in front of us while the blackest massive cloud I have ever seen filled the background. The thing was spectacular! And we were heading straight for it. I decided to try to grab a photo of it. Now as of late I have been getting lazy about stopping and taking photos. Opting instead to let go of the handlebars and coast along while I drag out the camera , take off the lens cap, and take a photo. I should be stopping for the 30 seconds this takes. It’s safer and the pics turn out better.
C – Todd said over the intercom, I am going to take a photo. He was a few car lengths behind me so I replied, sure, I will pull over. I indicated and moved onto the shoulder, looking in my mirrors to see how far back Todd had stopped.
T – So I did the usual let go of the bars. Opened my jacket and took out the camera, took of the lens cap, tried to take a photo. The lens had jammed again. Damn it. I was fiddling with it and trying to get it work. Still zipping along at 65 km/hr, still with no hands on the bars, when Chantelle yelled over the intercom.
‘SHIT TODD STOP!’
Too late to do that. Chantelle had stopped on the edge of the road, thinking I would pull over to take a photo.
I slammed into her bike at speed.
No hands on the bars.
Lens cap in one hand.
Camera in the other.
Luckily Chantelle was straight onto the throttle and managed to ride out of it. Me? I was stuffed.
Mabel careened off of Rosie and the bars twisted to the right. With no hands to hold them straight they just yanked around to the stop.
I went down. Hard.
At 65km/hr a person slides a long way on the bitumen.
I slid across our lane and over the center line before stopping. Mabel laying on top of me. My back, side, and shoulder screaming in pure pain.
C – As I looked in my mirror, I was still rolling and saw nothing but Todds helmet in my mirror. I reefed on the throttle and screamed at Todd, who was looking down. I saw him look up, then I saw Mabel swerve quickly, flick sideways and then Todd and Mabel sliding along, Mabel on top, Todd on his back doing the turtle. The hit shot Rosie forward, her backend slipping off of the bitumen onto the soft shoulder, but after a wiggle I had her back on the bitumen shoulder, stopped, and asking Todd if he was ok.
T – Mabel. My poor Mabel. Her right hand mirror in a million pieces across the road. Her handlebars bent. Big gouges out of her steel crash bars. Panniers ripped off. The straps holding them on torn clean off.
I struggled to get up. Had to get Mabel of the road.
Chantelle came running over. Panicked that she had caused this thing to happen. It was all my fault. Totally.
C – Todd moved off the road but all he wanted to think about was Mabel. I couldn’t lift her from the angle she was, so Todd had to come and help me move her off the road. Then I inspected Todd, not allowing him to look over Mabel until I was satisfied there was nothing serious. He was moving stiffly and groaning a lot.
T – We dragged Mabel upright and got her off the road. I’d crashed her badly again. I could barely move and Chantelle kept telling me to stop worrying about the bike and make sure I was ok first. I was fine.
Mabel started first kick and sat there idling nicely. I cant kill this bloody bike.
We picked up the bits of luggage strewn about the place and after a 10 min breather decided to carry on for camp. I was so lucky that I hadn’t put Chantelle or myself in hospital. Stupid. Never again will I do that.
Also I am so glad I had my leather jacket on. The scrapes and gouges in it could have well been my skin. The crack in the plastic vent on the back of my helmet from where my head had slammed into the ground could have been my skull. The massive tear in my gloves could of been my hands. Lesson learnt.
We turned off of the bitumen onto a gravel road about 16 km’s from camp The road quickly became soft and soggy from the rains. It looked to have recently been graded and the loose stuff on top was slicker that snot after the storm cell had moved across these hills.
We made it about 5 km in before our wheels jammed up. The dirt had turned to the stickiest clay I have ever ridden on. It quickly filled our treads and then our wheel arches. Locking the wheels solid. At this stage we could push on the 10 km’s to camp or turn back the 6 km’s to the road. We turned back. Both of us fell off twice on the way. The front wheel locking up solid and just tipping us over. We would sometimes ride 5 meters before having to stop and dig the tyres out. It was damn hard work and took us the best part of two hours to travel that 6 km’s. Do this on a big heavy bike? No way. Eventually we made it back out and Chantelle made the executive decision to head back to Baker City and a cheap motel. She wanted me to get my rapidly swelling bruised bits into a hot shower.
C – I think any other time, we would have really enjoyed the challenge of this road, despite it testing the bikes to the limit as well. Todd had a massive lump and bruise forming on his right hip where he went down and I was worried about him having to struggle against the bike, fall off another two times and help me pick up Rosie twice. The falls here were very low speed and very soft falls, but I was worried about Todd falling on the same spot and doing more damage to himself. We decided it was just time to turn around and at 8pm we emerged on the bitumen and I just plain refused to go anywhere other than back to town. We have a coupon book for hotels and this city had one, for less than our daily budget.
As we headed back into town, Todd rounded a bend and told me to watch for a big dog that had launched at him and chased him. I slowed as I rounded the bend and sure enough, a massive white dog was running towards me on the highway. He launched at me, barking, as I went past. I was fuming and pulled into the nearest driveway to the talk to the owners. They were outside and very pleasant as I pulled up, smiling and waving. I asked if it was their dog, which it was, and explained that he was on the highway chasing vehicles. They seemed unfazed, just kind of commenting that he does that, he keeps away the coyotes and they hope he doesn’t get run over. I politely explained just how dangerous it is to be on a motorbike at speed, and then trying to avoid someones dog who appears as though he wants to bite you. That playing with moving vehicles on a 60mph highway is not safe for anyone. They just didn’t get it. The dog made a last ditch effort as we left their driveway (still on the highway) and poor Totti then had to listen to me rant about the situation for the next 5 miles. Boy, what a day!!!!
I forced Todd to have a shower and lay down whilst I unpacked and organised some dinner. Then it was definitely time to sleep!!!!
T – So that’s the day. Never ride distracted. Always wear the riding gear. It can go so wrong so fast.
Tomorrow we shall head the short distance to Halfway and another free camp.
Feel free to yell at me now.