Our pitch to REV’IT! was pretty simple. Covid had squashed most photoshoot plans but our Oregon crew had been vaccinated so we said, send us your latest adventure gear, we’ll get a couple of the latest adventure bikes and one cool custom bike, and we’ll take a trip around Oregon chasing the “magic hour” light and taking cool photos. We’d be our own models for this shoot. No stylists, no motorhome, no producers - just us and a loose plan to find adventure. A dream job really.
A few weeks later a box arrived with two Defender 3 GTX suits, one Dominator 3 GTX suit, three pairs of Expedition H2O boots, along with helmets from NEXX and Bell. Not to mention the right accessories like gloves, hydration packs, socks, and base layers. It was Christmas in June! Phone calls to friends at BMW and Ducati helped set us up with a two of the latest adventure bikes: A BMW R1250GS Adventure and a Ducati Multistrada Enduro 1260. A trip for three it would be.
Matt Sanders - rider #2 - and I have worked together on REV’IT! shoots for a few years and have been friends for years before that. I’ve been wearing REV’IT! gear since I bought my first adventure bike in 2004, which coincided with REV’IT! first being imported to the US. Our third was my friend Matias, who I met the year before in NYC. He had ridden his R80GS to Argentina with a friend and wrote about the trip in the book Two Wheels South and had spent his time in lockdown rebuilding his vintage BMW R100GS for an upcoming trip to Africa.
Matias had shipped his motorcycle to Oregon to be a part of the 1 Moto Show and left it there to take on this trip. This adventure would be a solid shakedown of his new bike build, the first bike from his new company, Myth Motors. For Matt and I, this was a chance to ride the latest and greatest bikes from BMW and Ducati and to explore parts of Oregon that people rarely get to explore. Sadly, the day before we were supposed to leave, on the shakedown run, Matias had a spill and broke his ankle - throwing the trip into doubt.
As they say in show business, “The show must go on.” And with luck, our friend and fellow racer, Scott Rounds - not only a great photographer but also stellar rider - had recently quit his job to be a freelancer and was the same size as Matias. The show did go on!
As Scott readied himself for the trip with less than a day to get his affairs in order, I had the Myth bike on my bike lift in the shop; making some last-minute repairs to a new luggage rack that was far to wobbly to survive a week in Oregon, much less a month in Africa. It was a late night of welding and fabricating but by morning, the bike was solid.
Early Monday, we packed up the Multistrada, GS Adventure, and the Myth R100GS with camping equipment, a change of clothes, and plenty of camera gear. Our plan was to take the back roads to the Painted Hills where I knew a good camping spot. The Painted Hills are one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders and a spectacular stop on our way east to our big goal - the Alvord Desert.
Our initial plan to ride up and past Mt. Hood - the dormant volcanic peak east of Portland - was derailed by last year’s forest fires that had closed many roads. Instead, we hurtled up the main road and into near freezing temperatures at the top of the pass. At Government Camp, we stopped to put in our thermal liners then headed off to a road Scott knew that had spectacular views of Mt. Hood. Not more than a mile down the road, we hit snow as deep as the bikes. There was even a Jeep buried up to its doors blocking the way. Our mountain photos would have to wait.
We made time by heading to Madras, a small town with a grocery where we could pick up steaks, potatoes, and beer. With groceries strapped behind us and 50 miles (80 kilometers) of scenic gravel road in front, we set off to catch the sunset. Sadly, that beautiful road was the site of our first gear casualty. Our autonomous drone tracked us as we rode through a beautiful winding canyon only to hit the sole power line in 20 miles (32 kilometers). Sigh.
Arriving at the Painted Hills, we found the sky an uncharacteristically gray. Still beautiful, but the dramatic light concept we pitched was completely lacking. Patience and luck are close friends, and they came together in spectacular fashion as the clouds finally parted and bathed the red-striped hills in in the golden hues of a postcard. With our first shots in the bag, we could relax with a well-earned beer and enjoy steaks grilled directly on the open coals of a fire…