This post is written in memory of my Uncle André Benito D’Agord (Tio Benito).
After several days of rainy and cold weather I was more than ready to ride when things cleared on the weekend’s weather forecast. And to compensate the time I was away from riding, my plan was to go far. What about a 600 mile loop for Sunday, April 20th? But I played soccer Saturday and one of my buddies missed the timing on a tackle and knocked me down, blocking my left foot, forcing it to a sudden stop, sideways, provoking an about 90 degrees sideways torsion to my ankle. First thing I thought when I realized the damage to my ankle was that I wouldn’t be able to ride Sunday as planned! And the bike was all nice and clean and ready to go the distance with two GPS’s, the touring screen and a full tank of non-ethanol gasoline. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Saturday evening the pain in my ankle was a solid 5 on a 1-10 scale, but then I woke up Sunday morning feeling better and decided to try on my riding boots. I put them on, tightened it up and I could put my left foot down and it held my weight okay and without (much) pain and I could walk (with a limp). So let’s go for a ride. By the time I made this decision it was already late for my 600 miles plan, so I decided on a shorter route, via Hwy 58 in the general direction of my original plan, the Crater Lake, minus a few hundred miles of detours. And the idea was to re-evaluate at some point and decide if I could go as far as Crater Lake or not.
I first needed to know how I would mount the bike, using my left foot as the pivot to swing my right leg. Well, it worked okay with only minor pain. I started carefully down the road, afraid when stopping, when I would touch the ground with my left foot, I had visions of my ankle collapsing, taking me and the bike down. So the idea would be to always when stopping use only my right foot to support the bike. In the end, no problems at all, left or right foot stops, except for that psychologically induced fear that never quite went away in the first several stops. My first stop was at Dexter Lake, to check out the Animal House film’s club where the guys were beaten up when they showed up at that club, unannounced and with that pseudo-conquer-it-all quasi-frat attitude.
Next stop was Oakridge, where I filled up the tank. Oakridge has been through a renovation in its approach to business in the last few years. From a run down logging town it discovered mountain biking a few years ago (or mountain biking discovered Oakridge), becoming a leader in this type of sport and one of the meccas for mountain biking in the region. There is also a brewery and other attractions. Hoping it continues its resurgence. Check here to read an article on NPR about Oakridge and its transition from a lumber town to becoming a Mountain Biking destination.
There is also a very good documentary, Pedal Driven, about how mountain biking gained space in the western region, it includes a description of the area around Oakridge.
I used to race cross country mountain bikes when I lived in Ohio. I still have a couple of mountain bikes, maybe I should get them ready and ride the Oakridge trails some day this summer. Larison Rock and Creek trails are on old growth forest areas, I hear. In the summer, when it all gets dry that area must be a really nice place to ride a mountain bike.
From Oakridge I continued up and southeast on Hwy 58 and soon I learned the tunnel is still under construction with traffic in only one lane. I made my third stop at the Willamette pass and found out the ski season is over.
This is at about a 5,000 ft elevation, it was a bit chilly here, low 40’s. But I knew it would only get worse from now on, towards the Crater Lake at something more than 6,000 ft of elevation. By this time here I had completely forgotten about my left ankle and that painful soccer injury.
Next stop was at the entrance to the Crater Lake National Park. The West entrance was the only way to the park this time of the year. It starts from Hwy 62, so I had to do an extra set of miles to get there. The north entrance, the one closest to where I was coming from, was still closed, blocked by a wall of snow.
I continued up and soon I was there, walls of snow on both sides of the road. At the top the store was open, a few tourists around, we were all confined in a small area of the park, the only areas where the roads are kept clear of the snow.
The lake is always beautiful, no matter the time of the year you go there.
An opportunity to photograph the bike with the snow.
Soon all these roads will be open and I will come back for a proper visit to Crater Lake. By the way, I was here a few other times before. And I have a report of my visit to Crater Lake, last year, with the Triumph.
The Rogues river goes from north to south on the west side of the Crater Lake. I followed it for a while, I was traveling north, the river is traveling south in this area.
My goal was to reach Hwy 138, and follow the Umpqua river down to the Willamette valley and from there I would be home quickly.
I checked the lake itself, and it was still somewhat frozen.
Yes, the bike was there too.
I asked it to move so I could take a more decent picture of the lake.
The weather is not looking too good, as you can see from the pictures. I felt a few drops of rain, and it was getting late, so let’s go home! From here I’m a good 175 miles from home, so it would be a long way. But, my friends, Hwy 138 is a treat for a motorcyclist. Besides great curves, it is beautiful following the Umpqua river, with nice rock formations on both sides of the valley carved by the river. On my other report about the Crater Lake I reported some pictures from this road. Today, with the possibility of rain I decided to just go down the cascades towards the valley. Eventually the weather cleared and I stopped to check Watson Falls. Can you see it up there on the very top?
I tried to hike towards the falls, but my foot did not cooperate. It was actually not bad, but I thought about the damage I could be generating. But I walked a little bit towards the falls on a nice, well groomed trail.
Continuing west, I stopped to check the river by the Horseshoe Bend.
And from there all the way to the valley. I took the North Bank Rd., a nice short cut to Hwy 99 where I would go north towards Eugene.
When I stopped here I checked my phone and I noticed my father had tried calling me several times. It was already too late for me to call them back, they are four hours ahead. But I thought something had gone wrong. I made a quick stop in Oakland. It was rather empty today.
Continuing north on old Hwy 99, the plan was to cross I-5 towards Drain and from there find Territorial and Lorane Hwy back home. But then I came across these wild turkeys by the road.
And worse yet, deer.
It was getting dark, the deer were becoming active, I thought I would be better off taking I-5 and doing the last 40 miles on the slab. I really don’t like riding on a freeway, but I believe it was the safest bet at that time.
That 125 mph must be an error… What matters is that this was a nice long trip in this nice motorcycle. I was out riding for 8 hours and a half, 400 miles of fun. I realized the regular screen does not do the job well when you ride at speeds higher than 60 mph. I will install the Pikes Peak shorty screen. I think it does a lot better in terms of wind turbulence. It may protect less against the elements, but clear wind is a better deal than chopped wind in terms of noise.
And once again we made it home safely. I put the bike in the garage, went inside and got the news that my uncle, my father’s brother, had passed away. André (Tio Benito) D’Agord died peacefully while taking his afternoon nap, at about the same time I was on my way to Crater Lake, this last Sunday, April 21, 2013. Tio Benito was born in November 30, 1931, had a long live but lived quietly and in somewhat close boundaries. I don’t know if he had ever left our state, Rio Grande do Sul. But I know his mind traveled to many places. He never asked much off life or anyone. But the few things he asked off me, I tried to oblige. When I saw him in April of 2012 he asked me for a postcard from Oregon. When I saw him again a few months later, in November of 2012, I gave him a few postcards from Oregon. One of them was of the Crater Lake. Whenever I travel again to Crater Lake I will think about Tio Benito and his gentle soul. Rest in peace Tio Benito!