All around Oregon, a tale of two gear companies


Portland, OR looping to Eugene, OR

348.2 Miles Ridden.

Starting out early from Portland it was a bit over an hour on highway 84 East before I crossed the Hood River Bridge at Hood River, OR in the Colombia river gorge to go to White Salmon, WA and the home of Mosko Moto.  The ride was better than the slog down I5 as the road was following the curves of the Columbia river and though it was cold enough to need my rain gear for warmth, it wasn't bitter.

I had been in contact with Mosko Moto via e-mail as I was excited to see their products up close to the hear about their ideas for if the Back Country 35L quick release panniers could be fitted to my bike.  While the Giant loop Sisku panniers were working, I wasn't really happy with them and the amount of work it was taking to load and unload them everyday, as well as the movement I was getting out of the system.

I arrived mid morning after I managed to get myself lost a bit by not reading my e-mails clearly enough. The shop is tucked away in a detached garage off a side street and only the small "test mule" out front to identify the place.

As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the whole crew and their shop dog who was a sweetheart.

The crew was clearly working away at filling orders, prepping gear for departure to the weekends Horizons Unlimited meeting, and the general goings on of a small business.

Pete took time out of his day to show me some of their bags and talk to me about the trip.  We took a few samples out the bike and looked at what would fit both the bike and my needs.  He didn't try and push his idea of adventure riding and laughed a little bit with me about the current culture of criticizing others for what they ride or what gear they carry because it doesn't fit a certain idea of adventure riding.

We talked about the Giant Loop gear I was currently using and went over pros and cons for what I was doing. Pete was a stand up guy and had nice things to say about Giant Loop gear and how they started the ball rolling on lightweight adventure luggage.  What really made me feel good about the company was that he told me I shouldn't buy the Back Country panniers for my set up due to issues with the interface between the bags mounting system and my current Rally-Raid racks. It really is a mark of a good business when they will turn down a sale and even say to use a competitors product because they want you have to a rock solid set up.

While they are a direct sale company, they have one small supplier near by that they stock for local sales for guys like me to show up at their HQ. So after deciding that the Scout 60 duffel and the Back Country cinch straps were the right answer, I bid good bye and headed for Fun Country Powersports in the Dalles, OR to buy the needed gear.

I crossed the Hood River bridge and entered Oregon for the second time in less than 24 hours.

Fun Country was a well stocked dealer with very helpful folks who wanted to help and were very knowledgeable.

On the way out I was stopped by a guy dropping his bike off who had seen my Alaska plate and wanted to talk.  Turns out he was also a veteran and was interested in the trip.  I gave him the info and flyer on The Soldiers Project before I headed out to find some much needed lunch.

I again used my new favorite tool, Google Map's where locals eat function.  I found Momma Jane's Pancake House in the Dalles.  I had the day's special, chicken fried steak and eggs. It was delicious and very filling, which was perfect since I had only had a handful of dried mango for breakfast.

The patrons took an interest in my gear and and asked about my trip. I explained what I was doing, the route, and most importantly the Soldiers Project.  Several of the patrons tried to make cash donations, but I felt uncomfortable taking cash from strangers without a direct transaction with a paper trail so I sent them to the Facebook page to make donations through the Crowdrise page. It doesn't seem like any of them followed through but it seems like people are at least interested in the cause.

After lunch I made another highway slog down Oregon 97 to Bend. It was a less interesting ride than the morning as I was no longer following a wonderful river road but slogging through aired hill country broken only by the lush green of irrigated farm lands that dominated the scenery.

My trip to Bend was to talk to Harold from Giant Loop. I am super fortunate to have worked with The Honda Outpost in Fairbanks who gave me a great deal on my CB500X and helped me out on getting my Rally-Raid parts, Giant Loop luggage, Michellen Anakee Wild tires, as well as some other kit at a discount because they believed in what I was doing.  In the process some of the pricing seemed to change on the side of Giant Loop after we had already placed the order.  I was upset by it and after talking to John at Rally-Raid I talked to Harold at Giant Loop.  While the specifics of the pricing disagreement are not really relevant here, the fact that the discount was from The Outpost and not from Giant Loop is. When I talked to Harold about it over the phone I had told him I would come in to see him when I passed nearby.

So once in Bend I made my way to the Giant Loop head quarters and began to poke around a bit.  Harold and I talked and discussed some of the ups and downs of the trip and gear.  When I mentioned that the Columbia Dry Bag I had been using was a nice bag but not ideal for my application he got a little upset and actually raised his voice a bit at me.

Rather than escalate the situation I attempted to diffuse it by talking about the bag.  He continued to be agitated and asked who's bag I was replacing it with.  When I answered that it was a Mosko Moto bag he became verbally aggressive and raised his voice again. So that I don't misquote him I will paraphrase his response as being that Mosko Moto had taken so much from him that he couldn't provide any assistance on getting the word out about The Soldiers Project or Expedition Recovery because he couldn't support anything that had Mosko Moto gear in any photos.  His prime argument was that as Giant Loop is a small business that was built from the ground up it was wrong that Mosko Moto is doing well because they were started with venture capitol. While I have no idea how Mosko Moto was started, the reaction was highly unprofessional and disheartening.

I let him burn off some anger before changing the subject to talk about purchasing some zipper lube, clear protective film, and Pannier Pockets from him.  This seemed to ease his tension and around then another rider arrived on a modified Honda XR650L that he had just taken on the Trans American Trail.  The further distraction helped to move Harold away from Mosko Moto and back in a more civil direction.

I purchased the pannier pockets, protective film, and zipper lube (At full retail, which I am not complaining about, but noting) and Harold was nice enough to let me borrow some bike washing supplies and scissors to install the film and get the pannier pockets on.  I had opted to go that route after finding that the Fandango Pro Tank Bag harness had begun to wear through the paint on my tank from the vibration.  Giant Loop had warned about the possibility and it was my own fault for not having applied the film earlier.

I used the film across the tank and the fairing side panels where the pannier pockets would make contact.  It was simple enough to apply, even without a heat gun or application equipment. I could have made the finished process look much better if I had waited, but since it would be covered in the tank bag and pannier pockets I was more worried about getting it done and getting back on the road.

During all of this Harold talked to me about Oregon Highway 242 and told me it was an amazing ride through some of the best twisty roads available.  With his help to set some landmarks, I was able to get the route programmed into Google Maps.

Before leaving Harold shot some photos for promotions with me and the other rider and our bikes. Once the other rider left Harold approached me to say that if I was willing to return the Mosko Moto bag and continue using the Columbia he would talk up my trip and share it with all of his social media platforms but that he simply couldn't do anything if a single Mosko Moto bag was in any shots.  My answer that I would use what was best for me and let him know.  It was not a comfortable situation and only made worse when he told me he felt like I was going against him since he had made me a deal and cut me a break on my gear.  This of course was delusional on his part as all the discount I had received was directly from The Outpost.

I used the late hour as my excuse and departed before he could make any further arguments about my setup or how he had been wronged.

I don't dislike Giant Loop or Harold, but his conduct was very unprofessional and I found his choice to openly state he would support Expedition Recovery and The Soldiers Project only if I used equipment that wasn't right for me highly distasteful.  No one has to support me or my causes, that is his right and choice, but to try and bargain support and use a discount someone else gave as leverage to manipulate a customer is not alright.

*Update* Harold chose to contact me via Facebook to again reiterate his shares and support for a change of gear prerogative. I find the whole concept unsettling as the real reason for this is to help veterans and their families with mental health issues.

I headed off from Giant Loop following the Google Maps directions that would take me to highway 242.

Mt. Hood Peeking through the clouds
The sun set from the observatory
Even with the light fading the road just started to call to me once I turned of route 97 at Sisters, OR. Route 242 was the best twisty road I have ever ridden.  I kept the speeds reasonable due to the many deer I saw at the sides of and crossing the road.

The route wound up to a large lava flow that dominated the landscape and made for impressive views the entire way.

The Dee Wright Observatory
Even with the light fading I had to stop twice to take photos, once at an overlook, and a second at Dee Wright Observatory which was the zenith of the route. I took so long shooting pictures between the two sites that I had to make the rest of the ride in darkness.

I made it to Eugene and the home of Melissa and Mathew, who be housing me, without issue.  I arrived during her book club and got to meet some of her compatriots but was too late for food.  Mathew was hungry though and we went for a dinner at Sherrie's where I enjoyed a turkey burger but left room for pie.

The night would end with me finding my use of my Sena 10C helmet camera still left something to be desired as I had not managed to record several sections of the ride I though I had properly started the recorder for. I want to note I don't think this was an issue with the Camera but an issue with my usage.

Oh well, tomorrow brings a radio interview for the Soldiers Project and the big push for Sacramento, CA.


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