I like to complete my stories, and this report of my September 2013 trip to the Steens Mountain got side tracked and I never wrote its last chapter. Among other stories already published after my last 2013 Steens post, I had started writing about that United Airlines press release of November and got over my head trying to make sense of what I was trying to convey. It reminded me of the penurious times I spent as a graduate student. Distractions also came from trips to Brazil, then Hawaii, then there was the general laziness from the end of year break and celebrations. Time to get back on track! Therefore I decided to put the United story aside and take care of the riding stories that have been waiting to be completed.
On my last post about this trip, I reported we had camped in the Marsters Campground near Paisley on our way back from the Steens. Here is where the story continues.
I woke up in the morning and as I was setting the bike up I noticed the bark busters were getting lose on the bar ends. This bike is great, but it really shakes everything and anything lose on long road rides. But then, this is all the maintenance this bike needs besides oil changes, air filter cleaning, and tire changes every now and then.
We had breakfast at the same restaurant in Paisley. Looking at these sunny pictures of September last year, and I’m already dreaming of good riding days again.
We split our ways here. Doug and Annie went their way. Chris and I found our way back north. We would be riding together for a while, then I was going home and back to work, Chris would continue riding for a couple more days before returning to Eugene, timing to arrive in Eugene just before his brother arrived from Switzerland to reclaim the bike (the F800GS belongs to Oliver, Chris’ brother). We decided to ride the dirt roads on the range of mountains, called Winter Ridge, that parallels Hwy 31st, south to north, alongside the length of Summer Lake. The ridge starts just north of Paisley, climbs steeply from there. Very quickly we already had a panoramic view of this small town.
We continued north, encountering some hamburgers and steaks along the way. The roads were very smooth gravel. Besides the cattle, I also saw a big cat crossing the road just in front of me at high speed. I had my GoPro camera rolling, and I reviewed the footage many times, including in slow motion, and have not been able to see the animal yet. Need a frame by frame editor to see it. It was likely a mountain lion, a big one.
Road signs need some help.
We eventually ran into Doug and Annie, as they were also exploring the area. After a few more miles made it to the Fremont view point.
Summer Lake was a dust bowl.
Looking to the north.
The bikes: very good, trouble-free machines.
We continued, going down the Winter Ridge at its north end to join Hwy 31.
Once on Hwy 31 we made a bee-line to Silver Springs. We found some shade under the roof of a former gas station.
We had some refreshments, and met the last of the people still on their way out from the Burning Man event. It was here that Chris and I said our goodbyes. He would continue west. I went north from there, following Hwy 31 to 97 to 58 on my way home.
The machine made it home once again.
This machine has been flawless. The total distance for this trip was 1,112 miles (the Nuvi shows less miles, and it probably was because it always took longer then the Oregon to acquire satellites on cold starts). And the bike has 7,118 miles on the clock.
And the tires, my third set for the rears, well, they probably can last another 1,000 miles or so.
Overall, I continued to be impressed with this little machine. This bikes allows me to ride at speeds on dirt roads, speeds I can’t match when I’m riding larger bikes such as my Tiger 800XC. But at the same time I would like if it did a bit better on pavement or on those gravel highway roads. When winds blow perpendicular to or direct against my direction of travel the little machine struggles. I don’t like trucking or trailering bikes much, I’ve done it in the past a couple of times. It is really nice to ride all the way to the riding spots and back and be more self-sufficient, even with the challenges imposed by the little bike.
For this trip I was not completely self-sufficient as Doug carried on his truck my tent and other camping supplies. I only carried the essentials: tools, spare tubes, extra gasoline, and basic survival supplies (food, water, and cold/rain gear for an overnight stay on the side of the road, should I run into mechanical problems). This made my trip to and from the campsite more fun in terms of the motorcycle’s performance, carrying less of a load.
Overall, I was also very impressed by the F800GS. It went everywhere my WR250R went. Although a bit slower, but it was steady and trouble free. Credit goes to Chris’ excellent riding skills, of course. But still, we took some unmaintained side tracks off the Steens Loop and the F800GS did not miss a beat through rocks, sand and ruts. Overall, I left wandering how much better it is than my Tiger 800XC.
Meanwhile, I’m already planning my return to the Steens this coming Summer. Stay tuned.