A change of jobs and the ability to take vacation whenever I wished allowed me to be able to go to the rally this year. I have seldom been able to choose time off in the summer to allow attending rallies, so this was a treat. Once I decided I was going, I made the choice to ride my new 2009 F800GS there, afterall, its under warranty still, and need as many miles as possible to fully flesh out any problems.
The next decision was how to maximize the potential of the GS in getting there. A bit of online research turned up an interesting route known as the Oregon Backcountry Discovery route. Perfect. I started aquiring maps, GPS tracks and trip reports from others who had dared to take this route.
There are a number of sections to this route and my trip would see me starting in Walla Walla, Washington at the north end, and ending in Sisters not far from Redmond. This would have me travelling over three seperate portions of the route. The remaining sections lead further south and end up in northern California.
I spent quite a few hours compiling the routes for my GPS, using the various sources I had found. It would be quite difficult to follow the route without the aid of a GPS. Many of the roads were poorly marked and confusing to find even with GPS. The roads on the route varied from short stretches of highway or paved roads to well maintained gravel FSRs to jeep tracks that barely qualified to be called a road at all. Toss in some spectacular scenery, some interesting lookout towers and other attractions and a couple of river crossings and it was a perfect GS tour.
All the planning paid off with only a few deviations from the mapped route; some for fuel stops, some for roads that disappeared and had to be backtracked on to find a passable one. It was a true test of my GS and of me.