Hells Canyon – Hat Point (June 16th)

Prior to the gathering, I’d been talking with a gentleman who volunteered to meet up to help me check and adjust my valve clearances at the rally, as I didn’t have the required tools. After managing to wake up, I met up with “Smiling Jack”/Dave and we got down to work.

This was the first time I’d done anything like this. DR650 owners will laugh, because adjusting the valves is dead simple on these bikes, just some feeler gauges and patience, but believe me when I say that this was A Big Deal to me, and that I’m grateful Dave was able to let me do the work myself and step back. Because he did things this way, I was able to gain confidence that I knew the procedure, and I feel like I can do it completely by myself now, which is awesome and empowering.

A bit of a confession: I am routinely afraid, sometimes paralyzingly so, of “fucking things up”, especially when it comes to the bike. I realize that a lot of this is due to unfamiliarity, I don’t really have much experience with the mechanics of it. Some of it is definitely due to fear that I won’t be able to fix it and I’ll have to pay somebody else money I don’t have to do so, or be stuck somewhere, etc. I’d like to be able to tear my bike down and put it back together from memory, but I just don’t have the experience yet. I’m trying to learn. I’m slowly getting there. So if I appear enthused by some terribly mundane procedure, well, that’s why. Like most women, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with learning how to take things apart and fix them growing up. I frequently find that guys will want to fix stuff for me, instead of teaching me how. I don’t like feeling reliant on others for any reason, especially because I am so frequently alone.

While adjusting the valves, my speaker wire exhaust mount was noticed and commented on. It worked better than nothing, for sure, but Dave suggested that we make an exhaust bracket that would do a better job, especially with all of the off-road riding I’d been doing. After a few trips to the local auto parts store, we rigged together a fantastic bracket out of a large hose clamp and a swinging muffler mount (which will appear in a later photo).

I took the opportunity to clean my chain, which looked like it had started to grow fur with all of the dirt caked to it. Gear oil makes a pretty fantastic chain grease – better than the waxes I’ve tried, but it sure does me no favors with dirt.

Adjusted and secure, I headed out for a lazy ride with Dave and “TheFluffy” up to Hat Point. I was cautioned to make sure that I just stayed in first and kept off the brakes on the way back down – it was a fairly steep, but predictable grade. I went for the views and I was NOT disappointed!

At a couple of points I actually started to get a bit more confident. In some spots I stood up, sometimes I was going 30-40mph. I always sat back down and slowed way down for the curves though. More work to do I suppose… I understand the ideas behind steering offroad in low traction, but that’s another one of those things where my brain says to do one thing and my body does something else entirely!

We stopped often to admire the landscape. It was gorgeous.

We got to the top and climbed the fire tower, which was pretty awesome. I remembered that they still hire folks for fire watch duty and thought about what it would be like to live up there for months. I offered the others some trail mix and we listened to the wood creak as the tower swayed slightly in the wind.

This area did not escape the motorcyclists unscathed. “What does that say? AOL? Oh. ADV!”

Our bikes looked so small from up there. The lifeless trees in the distance provided a grim reminder of the purpose of the tower…

On the way back down, I actually did well! I didn’t ride the brakes, and I felt in control. I probably could have gone faster, but I didn’t want to push it too much, I was enjoying the more laid back ride.

At one of the breaks we took, I found that an entire swarm of butterflies had descended on the remnants of a campfire, and busied myself with a game where I tried to see how many of them I could get on my hand at the same time. I think my record was 7 or 8? I love certain bugs, I find them fascinating.

We arrived back into camp just in time for dinner! Catering from a local restaurant, Leo’s, had been arranged. Brian and Margaret had been gracious enough to inform him that I was vegetarian, so he made a vegetable linguini just for me, while everybody else had pork sandwiches and beans. I was grateful that they went to such effort for my sake! I think this is also the night that we took the group photo:

My memory is failing, but I think that this was the night that Sasquatch did a super informative talk about suspensions, explaining how to check if it’s set up appropriately, and what to do if it’s not. I admit that I had no idea what the hell sag or deflection were prior to this, and it made me consider that my aftermarket springs might be a bit stiff for me. Better too stiff than too soft, for sure, but maybe all of my bouncing around WASN’T normal. Hmmm… I guess we’ll see how it rides when it’s loaded down with all my stuff!

At the fire late that night, after most of the normal folks had gone to sleep, Jettn’ Jim and Parepin/Alex showed up. Mark suggested I would get along well with these two and indeed, we had some great chats. Jim had a lot of awesome thoughts about energy, the universe, etc, and we found a lot of common ground. Alex was a nomad like I was, eschewing building “an empire”, as he called it, in favor of chasing dreams.

Eventually I stumbled into bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Thanks to Dave for helping with the valves, leading the Hat Point ride, and taking photos of me along the way! Thanks to John for some of these photos too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.