Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | TSTM

Cow Country Poker Run July 2010

Every year the Trailsmen Motorcycle Club in Oregon organize several 'Poker Runs' in Tillamook State Forest. A 'Poker Run' is race where at the end you draw from a bag of poker chips and if you pull a special colored chip you win a trophy. The entry fee is around $20 and everyone who finishes does recieve a finisher's plaque. The poker run is setup with two courses, the first of which was the easy course and about ~30 miles and the second is ~40 miles and is designated as the hard course.

I have been riding in TSF for several years now however had never participated in any events. The July 2010 Cow Country Poker run was to be my first event as well as one of my fellow rider's, Ankur. Ankur and I were joined by another rider, Howie, who drove down for the weekend from Seattle to ride in TSF. I brought my 1984 KTM 495MXC, Ankur rode his 1998 Kawasaki KX500 and Howie had a 2009 KTM 300. We met near Lydia camp early in the morning and rode to the starting point.

After parking our bikes near the starting line we walked over and signed the waiver. We all chose the ~40 Mile Hard course since we know the area and 40 miles should be no problem. Once the payment and the numbering was taken care of we each pulled our bikes out into the center of the road to be inspected. Your OHV tag is verified and a wire is stuck into your silencer to make sure you have an approved spark arrestor. Now we were all set.

The first part of the course followed the fire road west from Lydia camp towards Jordan Creek. At the top of the hill we encounter the first trail which was a new single track trial none of us had been on before. We took our first break at the end of the trail where we ran into a few other riders one of whom was riding an ATK 406 Special Edition. After some chit chat about bikes we were on our way again!

Aside from the first few trails, the majority of the next sections of trails were black diamond 4x4 trails with large boulders as well as Jeeps we had to dodge. We quickly made it to the first check point which was not the half way point as we originally thought but only about one quarter.

We caught up with our third riding partner, Howie after making our way around the clear cut mountain side trail near Gummy Worm. He was taking a break and having some lunch so Ankur and I also took rest here. The poker run is a relaxed race as any finisher has equal chance to win a trophy. Even though, Ankur got fired up to go once a guy on a Gas Gas 250 came past us while we were resting!

We all geared up and took to the trails. Here we were already past the 4x4 trails and into more of the Quad and Dirtbike trails heading back towards Browns Camp. This is where we ran into problems. We were on Clyde's Trail near Browns Camp parking lot when Ankur's bike died. He attempted to start it and even I attempted to start it but it wouldn't start. Most likely, he was out of gas! This is about 20 to 25 miles into the 40 mile race and Ankur's KX 500 with the stock 2.5 gallon tank had run out. I told him where Browns Camp parking lot was and he would have to push his bike there. Since he ran out of gas we had thought we were close to the finish line and perhaps it was at Browns' Camp. Afterall this was our first poker run and given the length of the course I didn't think it would loop all the way back to Lydia camp!

I said I would just continue the course since we were far from the truck and once I got to the truck I would just bring back gas or the truck. A few feet after leaving Ankur I also ran out of gas however my KTM 495 has a large tank and I was able to switch into reserve. Now it was scary, I didn't know how far I could go on my reserve tank and I was still following the course. I attempted to be light on the throttle though and took it easy. Looping towards Rodger's Camp parking lot on Mark's trail a guy behind me recognized my KTM 495 from thumpertalk and asked me a few questions about how it handles. I told him the 1984 KTM 495 is mellow compared to previous years and he nodded adding it didn't look like I was fighting the bike.

On my way again going up Mark's trail but not lead foot to attempt to save some gas I was greeted by a group of riders comming down the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I didn't know at the time but my back axle had started to come loose and I had lost my back brakes! I encountered the riders on the turn and I was taking the outside loop and without being able to change direction quickly or lock up my back brakes I leaned to the side and hit my front brakes lightly. This caused me to lay the bike down on the right side but since I was not going that fast and I was able to slow a little bit it was quite easy. The riders were not part of the poker run and either ignored the arrows or did not see them pointing the direction of the race.

I picked my bike up and continued there from near Rodgers camp I looped back all the way to near Lydia camp. However, by this time I was on fumes at the entrance to Chute Trail. I was near the finish line and I could have made it however I was unsure if I could make it back to the truck afterwards! I just went 15 to 20 miles on reserve tank and so not even knowing if I could reach the truck I took to the fire roads. Easy on gas I actually made it and at the truck looking into my tank there was no gas to be seen! I filled up my tank and thought I might as well just finish the race since I'm here and its one last trail.

I headed back to Chute trail and finished it. Howie was waiting at the end and said he was there for 45 minutes waiting! I told him about Ankur running out of gas and my own pitstop and detour I had to make for gas before returning to the race. Everyone gets a finisher plaque and draws a poker chip out of a bag. A red chip gets you a trophy while a blue chip gets you nothing. Unfortunately, I pulled a blue chip but I at least got the finisher plaque. Howie and I drove back to the trucks where I filled up some water bottle full of gas for Ankur and Howie packed up to head out. He had a long drive ahead of him to get back to Seattle. I took off to find Ankur and gas up his bike.

Ankur had been waiting for about 2 hours when I got him and gave him about a liter of gas. I told him we could just go and finish the race to get the finisher plaque so that's what we did. Ankur did run out of gas again on the trail and I used the liter bottle to drain gas out of my KTM and fill into his KX. Ankur was able to finish the race and a plaque but by the time he finished the trophy drawings were already over.

Later on FaceBook people were commenting on Ankur running out of gas. I said that Ankur did run out of gas and he kept running out of gas but he was able to finish the race and get a plaque. After Ankur finished the race at about 10:30pm he went to the Trailsmen's house and knocked on the door while he sat on his KX500 in full gear. A guy in his underwear answered the door and Ankur said "I finished the race, I want my finisher plaque".

About Tillamook Single Track Magazine

Tillamook Single Track Magazine is an online e-magazine...

Learn more »
Contact Us!

We welcome your feedback!

Send Your Comments, Questions, Events or even Articles

Email: motors(at)opferman(dot)com