Getting Dirty in Oregon
We spent the morning chasing Sean Gerhardt, astride his mountain bike, off of Mount Ashland and now are spending the afternoon chasing him on his moto up the dirty, mountainous roads east of town. Gerhardt has mad skills on both sets of two-wheeled whips, but if you met him at the coffee shop instead of on the trails around Ashland, it would be hard to believe that under his untroubled and mellow personae lies a first class hucker.
Kali: Things on two wheels?
Gerhardt: I’ve always been fascinated by things that propel themselves on two wheels and motors just add to that even more. I really have a fascination with ‘flow state,' adrenaline and just having a good time.
Kali: Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Gerhardt: I grew up in Southern Oregon in a really small town. My graduating class was 97 people. There wasn’t much to do in my small town. Motorcycles were actually a big part of a lot of people's lives where I grew up, not necessarily mine because my family couldn’t afford to get me a motorcycle at a younger age. Once I was old enough to afford one on my own it gave me a deeper appreciation for motorcycles in general just growing up not having one.
Kali: What kind of motorcycle do you have?
Gerhardt: I have a BMW F700GS.
Kali: What was your first motorcycle?
Gerhardt: CBR 600 Honda? It was between my brother and we lived in Oahu, Hawaii. I commuted to work on it almost everyday on a freeway and that’s just how I was introduced to motorcycles after my brother taught me to ride them when I moved there to live with him when I was 19. The whole year I lived out there my only mode of transportation was a motorcycle. I remember one day I had to ride home from work in a dreadful downpour rainstorm and I just remember being incredibly frustrated the whole time that I was riding in puddles and the cars passing me had no sympathy and they were just going their normal speed and splashing massive puddles over my head. I had never been in a situation like that where the cars are creating tsunamis and soaking me on a motorcycle.
Kali: Are there any motorcycles you want to try out or own in the future? What are they?
Gerhardt: I’d definitely love to own a motorcycle geared more towards enduro riding but is street legal. The WR250R has always reached out to me just because I do love the really rough stuff. I love trails and climbing hills and 475 pounds of motorcycle sometimes is a bit much to be doing that stuff on. So if I got another motorcycle it would be something lighter, something with more torque not as highway centric but a little more catered towards the dirt.
Kali: Do you have a favorite trail to take your motorcycle on?
Gerhardt: I don’t have a favorite trail but I do have a favorite route that is common in Southern Oregon. It goes up and over Mount Ashland from town and then you come down into the other side through the apple gate. A really cool loop that offers amazing views and it ends at a lake. You can ride up the river and visit wine country. It's a beautiful place to ride. I have a lot of favorites here. Another loop I like to do is 80 miles of four different lakes you pass through up into the mountains on old logging roads and dirt roads. Where I live no matter which direction I go there is a stunning route to take so I’m very fortunate to have that at my fingertips.
Kali: If you have a day off to ride, are you riding your moto or your mountain bike?
Gerhardt: If it’s a whole day off I’m picking both. One in the morning, one in the evening or ideally I’m connecting them both and riding my motorcycle to my favorite mountain bike trail.
Kali: After riding your mountain bike does it feel weird to ride your motorcycle?
Gerhardt: I like to see them as two different tools but it's really the same thing, both have two wheels, one is heavier. It's really just about learning the weight, how much you can lean it, throttle it, or how you can use your brakes on downhills.
Kali: How often are you riding your MTB bike? How often are you riding your motorcycle?
Gerhardt: During the summer months I put in a lot more hours on my motorcycle than my mountain bike. It’s hot and I don’t want to sweat that much. Being on my motorcycle lets the breeze in and I usually ride up to the mountain lakes. It’s a beautiful ride.
Kali: Where’s the furthest you’ve taken your motorcycle?
Gerhardt: I have taken it to the point where I thought it was gonna run out of gas. I only travelled about 500 miles that day. I went to see some waterfalls, camped out for a night and hit some hot springs.
Kali: Do you plan on doing a road trip?
Gerhardt: I have a desire to go see my family in Malibu, California but the hard part about that is I want to be able to strap my surfboard on there. I just haven’t figured out a safe way to do that yet.
Kali: What tips would you give someone getting into adventure riding or someone who’s never done it before?
Gerhardt: I would say you learn the most from consistency, from going out even if it's just your local gravel or dirt roads, whatever it takes to get you on the motorcycle more. Feel it, understand it and put in the hours it takes to really learn what it is to be on a motorcycle of any kind whether it be an enduro, an adventure, or even a street bike.