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Dual Sporting

Where to Ride

By John "Dirt Clod" Schofield

I've never been one for conspiracy theories.

Aside from Bigfoot, the Philadelphia experiment, the faked moon landing and the one about the government is storing alien bodies at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, I think conspiracies are ridiculous.

Although, I have to admit, I'm getting the distinct feeling that there is a secret society of dual-sporters out there. It's a tight-knit collection of wanderers that won't talk to anybody unless they know the secret handshake.

You can write, you can call, but they aren't talking.

So compiling the information for this article, as you can imagine, was a bit like convincing someone to undergo elective periodontal surgery.

Anyway, I digress.

After the powerful and moving prose in my last article, I'd like to think there is a sparkling new dual sport sitting in your garage right now. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear it calling to you. ( If you can hear it calling to you, however, you've probably locked one of your kids in there by mistake.)

In this article, we'll briefly touch on set-up tips and ideas on some backcountry adventures.

But first, an author's note.

After my last article I received a number of e-mail extolling the virtues of smaller dual sports (under 350 cc's). They commented that I seemed biased toward big bikes.

Well, that's because I am.

Not because there is anything wrong with small bikes. They are great for trailers and make ideal short-distance commuters.

Unfortunately, as you'll find out later in this article, getting to a decent place to ride in Puget Sound involves logging some highway miles. In my experience highway speeds on a small displacement bike is less than restful.

But if you don't mind vibrating like a caffeinated terrier to get to your destination, happy trails.

I happen to prefer the more relaxed beat of a big bike.

FINAL TWEAKS

There are a couple of things that I recommend every one do to their new dual sport. (This applies to Japanese dual sports only. BMW owners can spend the next couple of paragraphs figuring out how to work the optional toaster oven that came with their new bike.)

First, replace the factory mild-steel bars with some quality aluminum alloy handlebars. Nothing is worse than trying to ride home after a spill when your handlebars are shaped like the letter "n."

Second, get yourself a good o-ring chain. The factory chains are junk. They may not let you down now. Of course not. They'll wait until you're in the middle of nowhere before they decide to fall apart.

Gearing Up

Tank bags, fender bags and panniers.

I prefer to run light with a small backpack. That's because I only go out for day rides. But if you're planning to go for more than a day, you should consider increasing the carrying capacity of your bike. BMW riders can add the capacity of a small armoire on their bikes. There are dozens of ways to do it. Just ask your local dealer for the systems designed for your bike.

Maps

Always carry a map. It sounds stupid to even mention it, but I feel that I have to. Make it a good one. (Bad ones make excellent signal fires, you may learn.) I like the maps the U.S. Forest Service puts out. They're about nine bucks and show you how to get to some of the most beautiful vistas you can see on two wheels.

GPS

Maps are only good if you know where you are. These little lifesavers can pinpoint your location accurately to within three feet. The last three feet you are on your own

So where do you go?

If you make a day of it, Puget Sound is some of the finest off road riding the world has to offer. Just make sure you have plenty of gas and a well-maintained bike. Either that or some comfortable walking shoes.

Here are a several areas worth exploring. My list starts from the North Cascades and heads South.

The Baker Highway

Get off I-5 at State Route 542, better known as the Mount Baker highway. Head up 3600 to Mt. Baker and look out for a picnic. Maybe try 3065 to picturesque Twin Lakes. Taking Forest Service Road 39 up the Glacier Creek drainage gives you access to a network of great looking Forest roads.

Marblemount Mystery

Take Highway 20 to Marblemount. Head up Forest Service Road 1500 past the State Fish Hatchery to Marble Creek, then through Mineral Park all the way up to Soldier Boy Creek. It stops just short of Cascade Pass. (There are rumors there is a way to take this all the way to Stehekin at the top of Lake Chelan. Yes, there is a hiking trail that follows the Stehekin River down into the town, but that is hiking trail, ladies and gentlemen. Not only is it illegal to ride, hikers will certainly pelt you with dehydrated food.)

Darrington Loop

State Route 530 to Darrington: Head south along the Sauk River, turn on Forest Service Road 731 along the White Chuck River until it meets Forest Service Road 2700. Follow 2700 through Rat Trap Pass. (An optional detour down Forest Service Road 25/2500 along the Suiattle River, looks pretty tasty.) 2700 will dump you off at 530 again. You can either head South back to Darrington and civilization or bust a move North until you reach Forest Service Road 17 which goes into the Finney Creek drainage, a veritable hedge maze of Forest Service Roads.

Spada Lake

Take the Snohomish/Granite Falls exit of I-5. Take 9 to 92 and hook South toward Monroe out of Granite Falls. Keep an eye out for Forest Service Road 6126. It ends up at the base of Marble Pass. Or check out the South fork of Spada Lake on Forest Service Road 6124.

THIS MONTH'S EPIC DUAL SPORT RIDE

The ride from Entiat to 25 mile creek on Lake Chelan. So it's not in Puget Sound, it's amazing.

Take highway 2 to 97A just like you're heading to Chelan. Turn off on 371 along the Entiat River. Head up to Forest Service Road 5300 at Mudd Creek. Take 5300 until it intersects 8410. Follow that down to 5900 into 25 Mile Creek. It is far easier to explain than it is to do. If you take the time to do it you'll be rewarded with some awesome vistas and even better riding. Treat yourself with lunch at Goochi's in Lake Chelan. Oh, and a shower. Because you're going to need one really bad.

I will continue to post rides around the Seattle area, South Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula as the Spring progresses, as the snow clears, and as people write me with their favorites. I promise not to give away the handshake. If we post your ride, you'll receive a free Dirt Clod t-shirt.

See you in the dirt. SR!


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