Living in Southern California, we find the boiling-hot summer months always bring on a few things residents can for sure count on. Extremely hot temperatures, smog-filled skies and rising gas prices from oil companies taking advantage of travelers looking to get away. Since the Los Angeles region is primarily a desert area, not much riding gets done-unless you don't mind baking in 100-degree temperatures or fighting the crowds at the ever-dwindling Pismo Dunes; which is a bit of a drive in itself for what can be a hassle of a weekend. It's reasons like these that make us think outside the box when seeking places to ride and events to experience that are different from the norm.
If you're faced with the same dilemma that I am during this time of the year, take a look on a map at the state of Oregon. Not only does the Pacific Northwest have great dune riding areas, beautiful scenery and substantially cooler temperatures than SoCal, but it's also home to the almighty DuneFest. This is the largest ATV-based event that I know of that is held anywhere on the West Coast. The event traditionally takes place on the first weekend of August, which means it's the perfect time for me and a few friends to pack up our gear and go on a road trip. The only downside for us is the amount of travel needed to get there as it's a 19-hour drive from our offices, but it's worth every painstaking mile.
Bill Peterson of Battleground,...
Bill Peterson of Battleground, Washington, pushed his limits to a second-place finish in the Amateur Ironman class of the grand prix races held on Sunday morning.
I've happily attended DuneFest for quite a few years now, and the festivities lined up for this year were sure to keep me as well as the thousands of other attendees enthusiastic and happy for the whole weekend. With the festivities kicking off on Wednesday and wrapping up on Sunday, we were going to have a great time filled with some of the best riding the West Coast has to offer as well as plenty of interesting experiences as we soaked in the events. After the two-day drive, we finally pulled into Winchester Bay, picked up the event schedule and got settled into our rental house and prepared for a great weekend.
One of the first things I learned from the information packet was that the town of Winchester Bay would be "ATV friendly" for the first time ever. This meant that during designated times of the day attendees were allowed to ride their ATVs and side-by-side vehicles through town, making it possible to travel from the campgrounds, motels and vacation rentals to the dunes when such access would normally be forbidden. With the trailer and gear unloaded, it was time to hit the dunes and see what the week had to offer.
Not your everyday-looking...
Not your everyday-looking race machine, is it? Many people brought out their custom side-by-side vehicles to compete in DuneFest's UTV races.
As we rode to the dunes from our rental house, I could tell that the campgrounds had not yet reached capacity and the crowds were still relatively small. Granted this was in the middle of the week and not many people typically stay for the full duration of the fest. But this meant less-crowded dunes for us to enjoy and a chance to check out all of the vendors and their goods before it got too crazy. The day was perfect for this, as the skies were uncharacteristically clear and the temperature was just right for a day of slinging sand. A quick stop to watch the UTV sled pull drag racing action ended our day as we rode back to our house.