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Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route (OBDR) 2000

Starting on Wednesday morning August 16, 2000 Tom Myers and Zander Nosler, (both from Seattle WA) rode the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route. The route took five nights and turned out to be 950+ miles. Tom owns Cycoactive Inc / Touratech-USA and Zander is a product design engineer with Teague Engineering. Both in dire need of an adventure, in possession of top-quality X/C bikes, and with the OBDR in a nearby was obvious that riding this Oregon State Parks newly-christened off-road route was a moral obligation! anyone can see......

The OBDR is a mostly-gravel route across the eastern part of Oregon, from Cave Lake, California to Walla Walla Washington. The route was created by the Oregon State Parks department. We learned of it from the OOHVA (Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle Association). The OBDR opened in September of 1999.

Tom was delivered to the trailhead by his wife Lisa on Tuesday evening. For Zander, the trip started earlier on Tuesday morning in Walla Walla. Zander parked his truck in Walla Walla and spread 400 miles of knobby dust along Hwy 395, crossing Oregon on his KTM Adventure to arrive at Cave Lake in 8 hours. Tom rode a Honda XR400, both carrying camping gear (no sag-wagon). Tom is a longtime off-roader. Zander is doubled his off-road experience (and off-road speed) during this one trip.

The first couple days, we checked out all the sights, the vistas, the greasy spoon cafes. Lollygagging, plus the realization that the route would exceed 700 miles **by a lot**, required that the next three days we needed to spend hauling ass.

We missed just a few sections, completing at least 95% of the OBD Route. GPS turned out to be essential in completing the route to the extent that we did, in the time allotted. The sections we missed caused great duress for Tom, but at the time, it appeared like we would not have time to finish anyway, an estimate that was mostly correct as we arrived in Walla Walla only three hours early. Also we didn't know where gasoline would be available.

Zander created the waypoints and routes by following the detailed maps available on the OOHVA website. He used Garmin's MapSource USATopo but found that pretty much all of the roads show on US Roads also. For the most part the GPS coordinates from the CD were excellent, maybe better than 95%. Almost always, the GPS would show an intersection approaching and you'd roll thru it with the GPS showing less than 50 feet error. Amazing - over and over and over again. GPS RULED!!!

Having two GPSs with identical routes allowed us to space out for dust, yet still make all the turns. If the GPS says turn right, and there's an OBDR arrow, then you have two solid positive cues. I could be very certain that Zander (behind) would not miss this turn. Thus I could press on, maintaining the spread for dust. If the GPS says turn but there's no OBDR arrow, then at least I know to leave visible tire tracks, and Zander knows to look for them. It was an excellent system that saved a lot of time and choking.

In some areas, the OBDR has several options. Some of these we programmed as possible routes, some smaller alternatives we neglected usually because of our schedule. Planning the route, we had no idea which options would be the better option. So there were some sections where we chose a different OBDR section than where the GPS told us to go. But we always could see ahead to the point where we expected to pick up the GPS route again.

We had no bona fide mechanical trouble, just two flats, a gas crisis, and a minor electrical problem. No crashes, but Zander's mountainous KTM thundered to the ground on its own a few times. We contemplated cleaning our air filters at around 600 miles, but no opportunity presented itself, so we ran them the whole 950 miles and the bikes still ran great. Next time on a trip of this length we will use No-toil filter oil so we can wash with water!

Click HERE for the photos with day-by-day descriptions.

In 2009, Touratech-USA's President, Tom Myers and General Manager, Paul Guillien, rode the OBDR again. Their trip was documented in in the February 2010 issue of RoadRUNNER Magazine. Click HERE to read the article.

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