I got an email from Chris "Hodgy Moto" Hodges asking if I was interested in attending his invitational night ride in an undisclosed area of Eastern Oregon on Saturday night. I saw the names on the invite list with the description that this would be an expert-only ride, and I had nothing planned, so I was in there like underwear!
NOTE: you can also watch the helmet-cam video I created by CLICKING HERE.
Friday after work, I loaded my bike and gear and headed over; since I had a Saturday meeting I needed to also attend in Bend with the Oregon Recreation Coalition (ORC). I pulled into Hodgy’s street around 10:30pm, just as some guy on a scooter was pulling in. He passed me, then pulled into a garage – hey, it was Hodgy. I had no idea he was a scooter punk. We benchraced in his garage for awhile, then headed to town to have a few drinks – it was a great little bar and band!
The next morning I went to the very educational and informative ORC Meeting in Bend, then cut out and got back to Hodgy’s around 2:30pm. Mysteriously, there were new, paper number plates duct taped onto my Honda, complete with unspeakable sayings. Nice try Reid! As I was getting ready, I got a phone call from Ed saying that he wanted to meet us at the gas check, since his lights weren’t installed yet and he discovered a badly-leaking gasket on his bike. I coaxed him into getting his fanny to Hodgy’s and everyone could jump in and get him going once he got there. Joe was getting antsy. Once Ed got there, eight riders were milling around, getting ready, getting Ed ready and asking tons of questions. Knowing that when there is this many riders on a ride, there will be issues, I had brought three portable radios, so handed out the other two to Hodgy and Kent. There were a total of nine riders: Chris Hodges, Tommy Whitcomb, Joe McCormick, Reid Brown, Travis Bamford, Ed Ariniello, Kent Kowalski, Kent’s friend Chad, and yours truly. I knew everyone, but Kent and Chad, and as it turned out; Kent had been to a few of my Black Dog Rides, so I actually knew him too. When Reid wasn’t looking, I installed a brass next to his engine in hopes it would drive him crazy. Oh, and speaking of Reid, I still am half blinded from him forcing all of us to look at his butt-cheek scar from a store hook!
After rescuing Ed’s bike situation (he decided to ride the spare bike - his son’s 250), and a general rider’s meeting, we were finally off. Right away, Ed and I got lost, since the guy in front of Ed didn’t wait for him. Argh. Thank God for the radios! They turned left up the road, and Ed and I had turned right. Okay, now we were all good.
Soon enough we were on trail and having a blast. And it was SINGLE-track trail too! Like how China Hat ‘used’ to be! The dust was frustrating though, as it hung in the air for minutes. After a few miles of this great trail, we all stopped, took a break and had some laughs. This is when I turned on my helmet cam. It was so dusty, we had to space ourselves out quite far, but the trail was top notch.
Soon enough the sun ducked behind the horizon and it started to get dark – fast. We had all stopped again and Hodgy said we would then take a two-track road out to a scenic point, then we could all mount and enable our helmet lights. I then rode next to Hodgy and his monster headlamp – man was that thing bright, especially next to my wimpy 35w stock Honda lamp! This is about the time that things began to go awry. Hodgy and I waited at a Y intersection for Reid and Travis. They showed, so we turned left and went a ways down to a road. After awhile, along came Reid and Travis, so Hodgy and I went up to the next intersection, not too far away. We waited, and waited, and waited. Then we turned around and went back with Reid and Travis. We all four sat there awhile, then decided to go back to the last intersection. Sure enough, the tracks went right instead of left where we were. Dang! So the four of us went in search of the others. We turned right from the road to a trail, went up a short ways, when Hodgy lost his lights. So Travis, Hodgy and I turn into mechanics as we try to figure out why there’s smoke coming from Hodgy’s headlight. We then pull out the radio and find out we are indeed behind the others and we tell them to wait there for us. I just knew the formula for this ride would be chaotic, so I was so glad I brought the radios! It turned out that Hodgy had blown a fuse, so we replaced it and all took off again. By now I had installed and lit up my helmet lights I borrowed from my bud, Kent Lusted – they were sweet! Riding at night is a major kick in the pants!
Since I was basically riding sweep, I was spacing myself waayyyy back out of the dust. Once the dust settled (took awhile) it was sweet! I eventually came to where everyone was – hooray – no more lost people. Tommy’s bike was on its side. Turns out that’s how he parks it, since it has no sidestand – cool. But wait, Joe has no lights – dang! So Kent pulls out a flask of tequila and we pass around the liquid heater and take off with Joe riding by his flashlight and other people’s beams. Then Hodgy’s lights go south on him again. Clearly the only solution was for he and I to swap bikes, since I had both a headlight and helmet lights. I eventually tucked in behind Chad and Ed as we entered into an area that had been recently ravaged by a burn. It turns out that Chad is a relatively new rider and was not having a very good relationship with the extremely soft and powdery soil we were riding through. It was actually very unfair for poor Chad to be in on this ride, as it was fairly technical trails and I just know he was swearing like a drunken sailor at Kent all night long. Add to Chad’s misery that Ed was keying off Chad’s dim, stock KDX200 headlight. This was because Ed’s monster headlight, with the high-wattage bulb (that everyone helped install a few hours prior), couldn’t get enough juice from the little 250 mill to power it, so it was about as bright as a moonbeam! During this section, I noticed a small light off to my right. Was it light coming from a camp trailer in the distance? A hunter’s campfire on the next ridge? Nope – as I got closer, I saw a small flame light up beneath the small light – it was someone smoking a cigarette not more than about 30 feet off the trail! I’m sure nine (mostly), brightly-lit dirtbikes riding by even scares poachers! At one point Chad came out of the forest with all manner of brush in his back wheel, and then Ed came huffing and puffing out of the woods with an over-heated bike looking like a chimney. We then had more laughs, when a few of us noticed a very weird orb light in the distance. What the Hell is that, we all thought? We soon realized it was the MOON! Yup, it was crawling at a snail's pace into the sky with a big, orange hue – awesome!
Hodgy then took us down some road and to a fire-watch tower, but there was only one problem – there was a couple in it (the Forest Service rents out the towers now). Hodgy wanted to stop and work on his lights some more right there and I talk him out of it, since we probably did a major coitus interruptus and scared the socks out of the couple!
Hodgy then directs us onto a killer single track that was very tight and brushy, with logs to hop, sidehills to roll over, and ditches to roll through. I remember rolling along and suddenly seeing a good-sized campfire with a couple hunters next to it. I greeted them as I rode by and noticed their big popguns. At one point Chad had crashed over the edge and I helped him get his bike out and onward, then Ed’s overheated 250 KTM thumper wouldn’t start. I tried my hand unsuccessfully at starting it also – nothing. So we pushed his bike up a ways to where the others were gathered and waiting. Reid eventually yelled out to ensure that Ed look to see that he still had gas. A turn of the petcock and a few fans of the kick lever and the motor fired up – woohoo! Then Travis’ bike wouldn’t start, since the slow riding slowly drained his battery and he (gasp) had no kickstarter! A group push got him finally going and we all continued out of the maze of trail. Reid took off in front of me, attempted to hop a log, spun his rear trials tire, and bonked into the log, almost going for a digger, then resorted to the outrigger. Nice save, Reid! We then split up where three rode the road to the gas check, while the rest of us rode a trail Hodgy had saved to the gas stop. Yeah baby, it was a blast, as my goggles started to fog up. After awhile, Reid said his helmet lights stopped working, so he tried following me for a ways, but that wasn’t working and we decided to swap bikes. That was better. We both came to a spot where Tommy was waiting for us and we continued on – only to find a dead-end trail and no other riders. WTF? So we turned around and backtracked – nothing. A quick plea for help on the radio had Hodgy telling us where the well-hidden trail excursion was and we were off again. Whoa, riding Reid’s little two-hunny was weird, since I’m so used to my heavy four-fiddy!
We all made it to the gas check, where Hodgy had hidden the jugs behind some rocks off the roadside. Hooray, they weren’t stolen! Kent and Chad had taken the road back home, and I’m sure Chad chipped his teeth at Kent the whole way! Tommy felt enough pity for Ed and his moonbeam that he let Ed use his helmet light, since Tommy still had a headlight too – Ed was elated. Oh, and Reid’s helmet lights suddenly started working! And Hodgy’s lights appeared to work now too, if he only used one of the three bulbs!
We hit more trail, more questionable roads, a few DEEP talcum-powder road sections that almost swallowed Reid (nice save again!). I was now finally getting cold and at the intersections Ed and I would wait for the dust to settle, while we lovingly fondled our mufflers for heat. Man, the dust was sooooo bad, but it was a beautiful, starlit night, an almost-full moon, and we were on an adventure! The ride back took awhile, but once we eventually all rolled into Hodgy’s well-lit garage, we all had logged over 70 miles. And in those 70 miles, that darned Reid never once noticed the danged bell. I’m sure I forgot half of all the other crazy things that happened that night, but it really was a blast. We all fought over who was next for the hot shower and all gathered around Hodgy’s big-screen TV to watch this year’s Greece ISDE DVD (that I made a copy of for everyone). People started passing out after 2am. Come morning time, the loggers were up swilling coffee, and Travis just had to give a non-amused Reid a sleeping-bag carpet ride. We all went out for breakfast and then went our separate ways back home.
Thanks HEAPS for a fun rip Hodgy! I still think you lie like a fallen tree about your banjo picking! How can you be a bluegrass rockstar if you don’t even have a banjo at your house? Thanks also to the others who showed up and helped make this an epic ride in their own special way! And for those that didn’t make it (you know who you are!), you screwed up!
PS: all my pictures of the ride are HERE.
Hodgy and I at the local bar on Friday night!
Chad, Kent and Joe
Everyone working on Ed's bike.
Let's go already!
The last known time that Chad smiled that day. Kent keeping his helmet on so Chad doesn't beat him to a bloody pulp!
Ed and Pink Monkey. Hodgy's lights go out - the first time.
How Tommy parks his bike. Hodgy gets a lit crotch as Joe tests his failing lights.
The liquid heater comes out!
Ed's moonbeam overheats. Chad's bike gets some camouflage.
Travis double dangles. Reid sporting his Mickey Mouse ears.
Hodgy's lights go out yet again!
It's dark out there!
Chad stuck as Pink Monkey waits.
Everyone gets ready to push start Travis' bike.
Gas check. Ed happy to use Tommy's helmet light.
Travis showing the number of times he's been in prison, and dirt beards for everyone!
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