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Northwest Tour & Trail and Friends
By Historian, Tom Niemela, 8/4/2001

So who is NW Tour & Trail and where did they come from, you may ask? NWT&T was created by me in an effort to continue the promotion of dualsporting. I had started the first Black Dog Dualsport in 1991 when the Northwest Off-road Racers Association (NORA) was in its second year. At the time NORA was hosting the now-defunct Lone Squirrel ISDE, and the current Monkey Butt Cross Country Race. The Black Dog continued in NORA for a few years until around 1996. At that time it just became too much of a hardship within NORA to have three events so close to each other and the volunteers were nearing the burnout stage.  

Not wanting to lose the, by then, popular Black Dog, and still wanting to promote dualsporting, I created NWT&T and reached out to my arsenal of close friends for assistance. Since then it has really taken off. Along the way various friends have helped out and have either stuck with it or had a brief involvement, but all of them have helped to make the events what they are today.  Working with these people has kept it above all else, fun.  There is NO WAY this event could continue without their help. I owe them all dearly.  

FYI, the Black Dog had its first year in '91 and got its name from my faithful old pooch (Australian Shepherd and Black Lab mix), "Beamer". She lived a fairly long life, was a great biscuit burner and lived to chase Frisbees, ride in the back of the pickup (and bark the entire time!) and ride on the motorcycle (Yes, Martha, the motorcycle - on the tank). She suddenly and mysteriously came up ill in about 1995 and went to the big Milk Bone in the sky. *sheds a tear*  The first few Black Dog events were held at Gary Roe's shop, Hillsboro Motorcycles, in Hillsboro, OR, and has since then transferred to the Mt. Hood National Forest, where it remains.  

The first Rat Dog was held in '99 with the combining of two goals: we wanted to host another event in the Tillamook Forest and Beaverton Honda/Yamaha wanted to have their very own event.  In keeping with the "Dog" theme, the Rat Dog name came from a friend's little rat dog named "Patch". They love their little dog dearly, but I have to admit, under the word "ugly" in Webster's dictionary, they have a picture of this dog. 

So there's the history, but now you need to meet the people who have been integrally involved over the years (hope I haven't missed anyone). I plan on posting a small description, and hopefully picture, of each person. In no particular order, they are:

  • NORA M/C: When NORA was formed, it was a super club.  It was created to help promote more off-road events, since many events were declining. Over the years, many of the members have gone on to other things, but I still have fond memories of great rides, events, and friends, specifically Dave Cady, Stevie Ray Branstetter, Dennis Craig, Frank Wildgrube, Tom (& the boys) Ginsbach, Todd Heinle, Tony Hobkirk, Mark Krieger, Blake Landon, Dave Lund, Rick McAlister, Jerry Morrell, Melissa Nourigat, Jack Parkinson, Gary Roe, Kent Seguine, Larry Smith, Ben Steele, Vance Walker, Leroy White, Kent Alsterberg, Dan Cunha, John Dunham, Chris Green, Steve Salmon, Randy Beadle, Dan Hatcher, Mark Ruple, Daryl Reid, Bill Rush, Phil Vanderlende, Marty Clough, Ken Murphy and Pat Curtis.

  • Yours Truly: (Tom Niemela) Current scooter is an XR650 Honda.

  • Randy "RandEye" Beadle: Randy started helping out about '95 from the NORA days and has continued to this day.  We have had so much fun riding time together, whether setting up the events or just plain riding.  Randy is also quite the accomplished rider and I can trust him to get through most anything.  He has taken the week off with me prior to the Black Dog off the last couple years and has helped immensely!  RandEye currently rides an XR650 Honda.

  • John "Jobias" Hughes: Man, John Boy and I go way back to college years.  First met him in school about '83 and we've been buds since.  We've both gone through thick and thin together!  Jobe started helping me on the Dog after he bought my old Yamaha XT550 in '91 and has been at each one since '92.  He isn't able to go riding much, in fact, I think the majority of the time he rides is at one of the dogs, but he is always there and always consistent, faithfully sweeping the B courses (and giving me a ration!).  He currently rides a streeted XR600 Honda after I suckered him into riding that old XT Yamaha down on a serious Lee Riddle invitational trailride one time in Northern California (old Rattlesnake Enduro course).  He made it through the gnarly course (incredibly!), came home and immediately bought the Honda!  

  • Dan "Hatchetman" Hatcher: Danno started helping out around '97 or so from the NORA days and has an incredible knowledge of the Trask area.  Quickly learning the Mt. Hood area too.  In the last few years, Danny Boy has taken the week prior to the Black Dog off for vacation, along with Randy and I, and as The Three Stooges, we spend the entire week exploring, routing and trail clearing the Mt. Hood area together.  We work hard and play hard. Along with being an accomplished rider, Danno also has some incredibly corny jokes!  Danny Boy currently rides a WR400 Yamaha.

  • Jim "JD" Dukes: Jimbo has been helping with the Dogs the last few years faithfully sweeping the B courses with John Hughes.  Together they make another great team and have big fun together.  Jim and I have become great friends over the years, since our daughters are the same age too.  We also both have BMW R100GS bikes and do road riding together.  JD currently rides an XR400 Honda.

  • Richard "Gunny" Claypoole: There's a lot to say about Gunny, and I don't know where to start, regarding his interest in motorcycling.  I'll just hit the high points that he's been the Team USA ISDE Captain forever and knows everyone who's anyone, plus he has years of riding behind him, whether racing or riding in the military.  Cool.  Gunny started helping me with sweep in the middle 90's and continues to this day.  Why we are continually blessed with his support, I'll never know, but bottom line - Gunny rocks.  His current ride is a maxed-out XR650L Honda.

  • Joe & Julie "J&J" Barrell: J&J have helped run checks and other assorted things since about the middle 90's or so.  They are incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, a stone of reliability and are great fun. We go back a long ways.

  • Ron & Loretta Rice, Affordable Trophies: Ron has been making our trophies for like ever.  He always comes through no matter how late I get the info to him, but he always seems to make it.  In the last few years, he's shown up with Loretta and also helped to run checks.  I think J&J kept telling them how much fun they have and coerced Ron & Loretta to show.  It's great working with them.

  • Walt Koch, Frank Noe  &  Jerry Lenz of Beaverton Honda/Yamaha: Over the years, Jerry Lenz (Manager of BHY) has ALWAYS stepped up to the plate to help out with the Black Dog.  There have been many other sponsors too, but none like BHY.  In the last couple years they have stepped up big time with support from the shop, prizes, flyers, etc.  They've also brought along their Dualsport Team of Walt Koch and Frank Noe, who are a great asset to the group.  Fun to work/ride with too!  BHY is the primary sponsor for the Rat Dog. Walt & Frank are currently riding XR650 Hondas.

  • "Dr." Phil Vanderlende: Dr. Phil got his name from the big DR 650 Suzuki dualsport bike he owns.  When he was still living in Oregon, he was an incredible amount of help, was super organized and a great sweep dude (another one from the NORA days).  He never quit got the hang of riding in the mountains though (Michigan is kinda flat, hehe).  He moved back to Michigan a few years back and I sure hope he comes back. 

  • "Dr." Darryl & Rayne Reid: Dr. Daryl and his wifey, Rayne, have helped on and off over the years, even when it was a NORA event.  Daryl can always be counted on to follow through and is a hoot to ride with.  Pretty darned good at adjusting suspension and welding too! 

  • "Wild" Bill Rush: Bill is another one who's helped on and off over the years from the NORA days, and was essential in starting up the Rat Dog, since it was in his back yard of the Trask area.  Super rider (Multiple Team USA ISDE rider) and a lot of fun.

  • Marty "The Kluge" Clough: The Kluge has helped out on an off over the years back into the NORA days too.  This guy knows how to have fun and party!

  • Ken "Mad Dog" Murphy: Ken was the one, back in NORA times, who would always assist me in preriding the courses, run sweep, plus anything else he was asked to do.  Not many people have more enthusiasm than Kenster.  He needs to get another dualsport bike though!  :-)

  • Chuck Sun: Chuckster and KTM have been a major sponsor since about '95.  As you may know, Chuck used to be a factory Honda national MX champ and Motocross Des Nations winner.  He's a pretty good barbeque cook too!  Recently he moved to Las Vegas, but still makes bouts to Oregon.

  • Bob Schwarz: Bob is the one who got me into setting up organized dualsport rides.  I'd been dualsporting for years and years, but he is the one who was my inspiration for events.  Smart, methodical, talkative, and an all around great guy.  I attribute him as being the father of dualsporting to Oregon.

  • Billy Toman: Billy T and I go way back to my early days of racing and visiting with him on his legendary China Hat ISDE. He and Bob Schwarz are like two peas in a pod.  Billy & Bob have stepped up to help in times of need, even laid out a course one year for me when I was on crutches and couldn't ride - thanx guys!

  • Pat "Hockey Puck" Curtis: The Puckster has helped on and off over the years from the NORA days.  Very organized, lotsa fun, kinda flighty (hehe), and often times a schmuck, but a great friend.

  • Steve Doane of Husqvarna/KTM of Gresham: Steve has been very helpful over the years and even cleared out a few obnoxious logs off the trails that I was unaware of until later.  Steve is another incredible resource for our sport and fun to ride with.

  • Gary Roe of Hillsboro Motorcycles: Gary helped me out from the onset by using his shop as a staging area.  Over the years we've gradually moved away from the store (due to too much highway mileage to the trails), but Gary still helps out occasionally.

  • Mark "Ruplee" Ruple: Murk is another old NORA holdout that used to help a lot, and primary Team Butthook member.  Another epitome of reliability when needed.  Mark is a great rider (another Team USA ISDE member), and tons o' fun. He's been out of action the last couple years and needs to get another bike, so we can go riding again!

  • "Rocket" Rick Higgins: "The Rick" has been integral for many trails out of the Hood River area.  Couldn't have made an enjoyable ride for the A riders without his help.  Great fun to go rat racing with to, but watchout - he'll hometown ya on the trails!  Rick's current scoot is a WR426 Yamaha.

  • Joe Lawry: Joe is another integral trail miser in the Hood River area.  I want to be like him when I grow up!

  • Dennis Beechler & Jim Thornton of USFS: Dennis has been supportive of the Black Dog from its first time in the Mt. Hood area.  Absolutely could not have done it without his support!  In the last few years, he has delegated some of the USFS duties to Jim Thornton, who is another great help, and very knowledgeable of the opportunities up on the mountain.

  • Clyde Zeller & Ian Caldwell  of ODF: I've worked a lot with both of these guys over the years in the Tillamook Forest.  Gotta love guys that actually ride, instead of many landowners who don't understand our sport.  These two have continued to promote positive OHV use in the Tillamook Forest.  A tip of the helmet to them!

  • Tami Buedefeldt: Great backup and support, plus a good organizer.  Her and her boys have helped out many times.

  • Chuck Steahly/Steahly Off-Road Products: Chuck has helped out off and on over the years too and is always there as a sponsor.  We've raced against each other many times too!  Now if I can only convince him into getting another dualsport bike!

  • Bill Johnston: Bill has helped out off and on over the years.  He's also an old racing buddy, in fact we go back to about '83.  Great guy and I wish I could ride with him more.

  • Ken "Warmonger" Dobson: Kenster is the one who took the time and patience to teach me HTML.  This site could NOT have been the quality that it is without his help.  Thanx, Ken, you rock!

  • Scott Adams: Scott and his wifey, Francis, helped out for the first time in 2001 at the Rat Dog.  Scott brought a wealth of skills with him such as ham radio support (along with a team of fellow "Hamsters"), first aid support, organizational skills, great chili, plus he likes to ride - both road and dualsport!  Guess that makes up for the fact that he's an attorney.  :-)

  • Lisa Bierlmeier: Lisa has been riding our events for some time, and in 2001, she opted to help run B&C sweep at the Rat Dog, plus brought games down from Vancouver, BC for the checkpoints, PLUS brought some home-baked cookies for everyone, PLUS offered her EMT skills.  All this AND she rides her DR650 Suzuki down and back to Canada.  A true trooper with plenty of heart, skill and enthusiasm! Lisa recently got married and moved to Kansas and that's a long way to ride her DR650, so we're not sure if she'll be back.  We miss you Lisa!