Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Eagle 2 has landed !!

The 1200GS has just landed in California! Here is it coming off of the truck. Word has it that it's quite the torque beast, lofting the front with ease!

Now.. it's time to get about the business of doing some riding!!! Nice looking machine those new Beemers are!! Make me want to go our and ride my 6 year old beasite right now!!

So my riding partner has his bike and is getting his street-legs back and I'm getting my dirt legs back on my beasite up here. The rides are ON! CA and points south HERE I COME!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sportbike Northwest - The full saga (w/ pics!)

1999 Cagiva Gran Canyon packed up and ready to depart Bremerton WA. 8:00am Saturday morning August 27th 2005. Bungy cord holding the tail case together because it tends to 'open' itself out on the highway. A feature I find a little less than desirable but easily worked around.

Several hours later. Stopped at Wakeapish Snow Park (not much snow at the moment though). Wakepish is at the base of Windy Ridge (FR-99) which leads to....

.. Mt. St. Helens. Volcanic Monument. It's the closes you can get to the volcano (about 4 miles) with a motorized vehicle. Before it started errupting again this past fall you could hike to the rim of the volcano (shown as the organge zone in the lower part of the map).

Still at Wakepish. Find a nice shady place to park the bike and take the first real break of the day.

That's me, writing some notes in my logbook. Still need to practice with the camera timer and framing myselt but since I had to balance the camera on the handlebars I think it came out OK.

Heading down the 'back side' of FR-25 I came across one very scary example of motorcycle.. riding? Hard to call it riding they were all over the road. That person and not business riding that road much less putting his passenger in peril as well. I hope they made it off the hill. Sheesh.

Later on I thought I would find another fine examle of horrible mountain driving after having to smell smoked brakes for the couple of min it took me to come up on the back of this white minivan. Sheesh. I guess some people never heard of 'downshifting'. Amazing... where did these people get driver training!??!

Another fine example of moutain jackasses. These were not driving poorly, they were simply driving WAY under the already too-low speed limit. It's one thing to put along the mountains at 35 MPH, it's another do do it at 25 MPH! This is the sort of stuff the causes crashes.. coming up on a vehicle moving way to slow. They probably should not have been on the mountain either. Learn to drive or stay home, PLEASE!

Here are the hikers (picture featured in my logblog). These guys were 2100 miles into a Mexico-Canada hiking trip and changing shoes for the 4th time. This is to be thier 5th and last set of shoes for the trek. Wished them luck.. I think they needed more of it than I did. Notice the guy on the left, I think those stripes are where the backpack kept the sun from fading his shirt! It was nice chatting with you guys!!

Here are some people canoing/kayaking on the river near the fairgrounds in Stevenson. Interesting culture there. Lots of the time a woman would pull in with a kayak on top of her SUV (riding solo of course) then a guy would pull in. They'd chat for abit then speed off (I mean really SPEED off) with kayaks still alot the vehicles. Maybe it's some sort of mating ritual where they show each other the kayak and decided if they meet each others requirements then head off to the speedy-motel to.. do whater kayakers too??

Campgrounds on Saturday afternoon. A LOT of 200+ participants stayed in hotels around the fairgrounds. Wimps! It was pretty quite when I got there at 2:00pm.

David Hough (in the blue short, left) speaks with a couple of the Poker Run participants that were starting to filter back into the fairgrounds. I guess under WA state law you can't have just a Poker Run as that would be 'gambling' but it must be a game of skill. Thus the dart-board for the last checkpoint. More worthless government regulation

WOW! It was so warm one of the posts near the walkway burst into flames! Hard to see there but it is on fire! We never did exactly figure out why it was burning but it was speculated that a cigarett was pushed out on the wood and eventualy caught it on fire. Some people..

Ah yes, the trains. Moving frieght up and down the Columbia River is a big BIG business by the number of trains I lost count of. Here pair of Candadian Pacific loco's drag containers west.

Bikes continue to filter back into the fairgrounds. Here a small group of riders discuss the day's ride and wait for dinner to start cooking at the event center.

Still quiet at the event center.

Just a bit of the wonderful backdrop to the fairgrounds and SBNW 2005 in Stevenson. Serious good roads out in those moutains!

Dinner is served! Crowd quickly gathers as the BBQ's come alive and we have some real impressive (for a cookout) food. Nice work to the company that DONATED the food and time to come out and cook for 200+ people! Hat's off to them!

Part of the Pacific Northwest VFR Group. Er.. forgot the guy's name on the left. Next is Mary at the table, then er.. another guy who's name I forgot and in the front is Joe (who loaned me $20 the next morning so I could eat). Oh yes.. and the guy in the maroon shirt in the back. He was the one who had the 'Air Kill' and dended up covered with rabbit meat and guts after a hawk didn't quite clear the road. The local farmer's daughter would not answer the door for the guy in black leather and 1/2 coverd with blood and rabbit body parts but the farmer appeared suddenly with a bucket of soapy water and scrubber for him to cleanup. Great story about how they were finally hosed down in the guy's front yard, picked the meat bits off the bike and then continued on thier way to the next checkpoint.

Another shot. I just liked the subject mater.

Post dinner getting ready for the big raffle (and I do mean huge.. must have given out 50 prizes - including some helmets and communications systems!). David Hough is on the far right in blue short and hat. Beer keg is just barley visible on the furthest right. We all hung up the keys for dinner. No irresponsible riding happens or would have been tolerated. A good group at this event!

Night time was a bit like a bike show with some interesting imports. Excellent weather was enjoyed by all!

More bikes. That is Bruces tow vehicle there in the background. Very nice and patriotic! I need to get one of those!

Group milling around during a break in the door prize givaways. Thank goodness for perfect weather. Not too hot not too cold.

Dave Presont from Cycle Barn fame (also hosts a radio show on biking) was the Memcee and a pretty witty one at that. Had most of the crowd rolling in laughter.

Dave telling more stories. Or big screen there in the background where we watched "On Any Sunday" after the giveaways were over.

Cut to next day. Dave's GS all set up for LD riding.

Mary's VFR. She won and award for best paint job. It's very professional looking and just about everyone though it was factory. Pretty nice, picture does not quite do it justice.

Here we are on one of the secret roads. What a great place to live and ride. I'm truely blessed!

Bruce pulling up on his CBR929RR as I snap away with the camera.

Mary rolls up a little while later. Everyone grinning ear to ear. And it was just the first road of the day!

Taking a break in Stabler after Secret Road #1 and getting some water we meet up with Rich (in blue) on his DL650 (far right). Nice guy Rich and very smooth rider who schooled me all the way down FR-25!

Out between Wind River and FR-90 on Curley Creek (if I recall corrctly). Fresh pavement, lots of traction.. lots of boot scraping traction!

Another short of the basically deserted, feshly paved bit of tarmac heaven.

As I said.. it's not always easy to get those moving shots.. here I get more of my camera than anything else!! I guess the secret of those action shots is out.

Final shot. Mt. St. Helens from somewhere on FR-25 as I am rolling down into a most excellent left-hand sweeper. What a great day, what a great trip! One for the books no doubt!

Sportbike Northwest - Logbook unedited

Saturday - August 27, 2005

08:15 - Departure
0 Km
Heading to Sportbike Northwest in the Columbia Gorge. Was out there on Thrusday to pre-register.
Return today to participate. Gagiva Cran Canyon packed. Depart Bremerton, WA 34,158.4 Km.

09:45 - Deer Creek, WA
71 Km
Lovely ride so far. Luggage OK, no worries! Next stop, Randal?

12:15 - Wakepish Snow Park
284 Km
Weather started to turn crappy in Oly.
I-5 traffic nasty to Chahalis and 12 East. Weather getting gloomier heading East.
Had to pass a clusterfuck of Hardley Ableson's in Morton. Damn people stopped all over the road, pulled out right in front of me!
Weather improved a lot as I approaced Randal. Did not seem to need gas so continued onto junction FR-99.
Damn cluter-f of Hardleys' coming up the valley. Shitload of noise. Those things are truely annoying. CRAP! They are pulling into the same stop area. Time to leave Wakeapish. Next stop Stabler? I hope I don't run out of gas!
Max speed 70 MPH.

13:30 - Stabler, WA @ Wind River Road
371 Km
Pushed the tank to 300 Km. Needed 4.4 gallons to fill it up (Getting about 42 MPG).
Met two guys hiking from Mexico to Canada! They were changing shoes. 690 miles on the sets they were changing out. It was the 5th and last pair that they were putting on. Very impressive! Took a picture of them. Bike running like a champ!
Had to pass some vehicles.
Goldwing / Voyager 2-up. Horrible lines and braking mid-corner. I hope they made it safely off the mountain.
Smelled brakes and 8-10 corners later came upon a minivan smoking it's binders down the mountain. It stank.
A while later came upon a slow-poke in a car with MTB bikes mounted on top. They finally waved me past. They were going UNDER the 35 MPH speed limit.
They were all so slow I took pictures of each of them.
Max speed 97 MPH.

14:10 - Stevenson, WA on the Columbia Gorge
391 Km
Not as many tents as I'd expected. Bruce is out at Mary Hills Loop checkpoint. Area is sort of a ghosttown at the moment. No worries it's more the journey than the destination (and the destination is fine itself).

Trip Stats
Odometer 391 Km (240.8 miles)
Stopped time: 1 hour 11 min.
Moving time: 4 hours 32 min.
Total time: 5 hours 43 min.
Moving Avg. V 53.2 MPH
Overall Avg. V 42.1 MPH
Sunrise 06:21
Sunset 19:56
Moonset 16:08

Wow, the GPS even has tidal guides built in. This thing is cool!
The two hikers had already covered over 2100 miles hiking the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) over the last 4 months from near Tecate Mexico. That's pretty hardcore. One of them had ridden down in Baja and suggested to stay off the roads at night because of lunatic truck drivers and to watch for bumps in the roads that can launch you out of your seat. Sounds like a hoot and a half! Time for a nap or to find some food. VERY hungry. I hope some of the VFR group return before 6:00pm!

23:08 - SBNW
Having a great time! Bruce bought the group a batch of extra raffle tickets. Invited to participate in a Lane Sharing roundtable on Sunday morning. First half of M/C camping going better than I had expected. Blankets instead of a sleeping bag working out OK.
Joe game me some info on REI gear for M/C camping. Ned to make a list and hit REI.
We'd just finished watching "On Any Sunday". Wow, what a well shot and narrated movie. No wonder that 35 yeas later it's still the pinacle of M/C movies! Must buy this when I get home!!
Tired, more writing in the morning. Hopefully I get some sleep!! Not sure how well I would be making out if Joe had not helpmed me figure out this baffling tent $ loaned me a flashlight to setup the tent and write these notes. THX JOE!

Sunday - August 27, 2005

03:05 - SBNW
TRAINS! FUCKING LOUD FREIGHT TRAINS! Been going on for what seems like forever. COLD!! I must get as sleeping bag. Blankets along SUCK! Might as well bio-break. Brrrr.

06:51 - SBNW
Finally got some rest! A tad hungover from a couple of beers at the beer garden!?! Not sure why, maybe headach is alergies.. feel like $10 otherwise! Off to get breakfast.

20:35 - Bremerton, WA
826 Km (516 miles)
After a great day of riding with Bruce, Mary Lee and a guy we met named Rich, I finally returned home. A little tired but really feeling rejuvinated!!
Getting lost trying to shortcut from Elbe to Olympia was just icing on the cake. Had to get lost at some point! Skys opend up to rain min. after I got my gear inside the house. Perfect timing.
First M/C camping trip into the book!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Into the Blast Zone - 740 Km St. Helens style

It all started out Wednesday with a post to the local Ducati forum about a mid-week ride to St. Helens. Having just picked up the new bike and wanting to really get a feel for long distance riding I signed on and played wingman for (most of) the day.

Traffic was horrible on both sides of the sound but by some weird cosmic alignment both of us arrived at the meeting point in Tacoma literally at the same time. It was just going to be that sort of day.

After powering down some questionable food at a place that I won't talk about (<cough>Mc Donalds</cough>) we fired up the machines and headed to Randal for our first fuel stop of the day.

Bong on the very cool Ducati Multistread 1000 and myself on my 904 Cagiva we took the 'back roads' bypassing Spanaway (and who would not want to bypass Spanaway?) and hooking up with Hwy 7 just south of the major congestion.

After dispatching a few cars at the start of the Le Grand curves I quickly found myself with a clear road and the need for some speed. It was time to put the GC through it's paces. Being used to a Ducati SBK I was not expecting much. What a sad underestimation of this machines (and I suppose my own to a small extent) capabilities. I soon found myself at impressive lean angles, Dual sport tires digging into the pavement with NO complaints (a big thumbs-up for the street maners of the Metzler Tourance tire, it massively exceeded my expectations - more on that later).

The Curves once again paid out there glorious bounty, leaving smils on our faces as we rolled though Elbe on our way to Morton. But not before taking a little detoure a pal of mine had shown me earlier this spring. Sorry, not spilling the beans on that, gonna have to go riding with me!

Taking Hwy 12 east out of Morton and into Randal for our first fuel stop of the day. There we met up with a few other bikes, a pair of which that had just come down from the mountain. One of them with tires so worn out there were cords showing and quite a few miles before they would be back home! Just glad it wasn't me with the tire! Just a quick note for anyone stopping in Randal, the bathrooms are currently out of order so don't plan on wetting down a shirt or even washing your hands. A porta-potty is all there is for the time being. Ick.

The afternoon was growning long. It was nearing 3:00pm and there was still the matter of a volcano to deal with. Assembling our gear and reloading onto the bikes we made haste up FR-25 towards the FR-26 cut-off. This is the road into the back secions of the blast zone. Not far off FR-25 we are confronted with this sign. Certainly the indicator of great things to come.

The road paid great dividens as we made our way up to Norwary Pass and back down to FR-99 (AKA Windy Ridge) what many consider to be the Holy Grail of motorcycling (at least in the Pacific Norhtwest). Personally I think there better road surrounding the mountain, FR-26 being one of them.

On second thought. Maybe not better but certainly different and quite excellent. I did have one of my best days on FR-99 yesterday (again, more on that later). For now here are some pics from our ride up FR-26:

Bong took the lead up FR-26 (you can just barely make him out in the picture, if you look close and use just a tiny bit of imagination. This is near the start before the first section of gravel and well before reaching the Blast Zone.

Driving into desolation.
The weather was perfect. Here was are heading down one of maybe a hand full of straight sections of this road. 1.5 lanes of nearly private paradise. Had to imagine anything more peaceful and soul refreshing than this.

Bong heading into a nice gentle right-hand turn as we near a clearing. Along the way were are treated to great open vistas of valleys below us as well as tight little single-lane pavement winding through the forest. It has a lot of everything.

For the most part the road is paved (and exceptionaly smooth in some places) but it also includes some of thes surprise gravel patches are sections where the pavment is completly missing. Don't let this road suck you in the first time out because there a few sections where nice sweeping corner heads into a decreasing radius turn.. with no pavement! Keep your wits about you and you won't find yourself dirt-surfing.

I included this shot just to show that it's not always easy to shoot action shots while riding a 500 lb. bike on a seldom maintained road. It's hard to tell for sure but I'm going about 45 MPH here and it's just about 3:30pm. I'd liking the old-school dash on the bike.

Finally we reached the blast zone. Bong is stopped up ahead taking in the view. You should be able to see the road trailing off along the side of the valley walls and up around the next hillside on it's way to Norway Pass. We are almost there!

Stopped along the side of the valley and taking it all in. Two trusty Italian bikes having proven thier worth (and versitility). They are both quite amazing yet farily simple air/oil colled 2-valve machines. The silver (Multistrada) an evolution of it's older Cousin parked just behind.

Finally at the top of Windy Ridge. Just about 4 short miles from Mt. St. Helens crate and deep within the blast zone. What was unique to these photos compared to many I'd taken before was the lack of ice (always present on the mountain in the past) and a thick white smoke emitting from the newly formed lava dome. It's facinating to watch a mountin rebuild itself within your lifetime much less with a matter of a few months! Every visit sice it's re-awakening last year has show noticable changes.

After a short break to the top (the bathrooms are closed here as well) we saddled up to make the full decent of FR-99. Dragging boot sliders and foot pegs I hammered the Gran Canyon down the mountain with a grin so wide I think the two ends met at the rear of my head!

This is where the tires really proved thier worth. It's not an aggressive street compound or design, nor a great dirt tire but so far I have been very impressed with it's road handling abilities, allowing me to attain maximum lean angle (draging some parts of the bike) and giving no hint of reaching thier limits. The little hubs on the edges of the tires are now gone (I just smile thinking about how I managed to do that)!!

After a very spirited (but responsible) jaunt down the moutain, Bong (who was originally going to head north back to Randal) decide to head down FR-25 with me until we at least reached the FR-90 turn-off towards Carson.

Carson you might ask? Carson is at the end of another set of incredible curves but also nothworthy is that it's right at the edge of the Columbia River Gorge. I truely wonderful sight to see!! Just a west of Carson in Stevenson, the 3rd Annual Sportbike Northwest rally (which I'd won a free ticket too - $90 value) is being held. Thursday was early registration day and since I was only 70 miles or so away (with great highway in between) it was a no-brainer. Off to the rally to register, get my t-shirt and goodies.

The crowd was very small considering it was Thrusday and the early registration day. But there were a lot of bikes orbiting the general area almost all packed with gear and tents. Sure looked like they were taking the scenic route to the event (sort of like myself).

Once I completed registration I headed out west towards home. It was getting dark and I still have my day-time only tinted shield mounted up. I made haste towards Portland but not before stopping to snap a picture at The Bridge of the Gods crossing the Columbia River (one side in Washington, the other in Oregon).

Then it was back on the SR-14 west, to 205 and eventually I-5 north. After suffering a 90 min. delay on SR-16 at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (construction.. always construction) I managed to roll into our hilltop compound just about 1/2 past midnight. Tired yes, but mentally alert and quite happy. I slept very well that night!

Here is the full route map. 740 Km (about 460 miles), many counties many hills, 1 river and 1 volcano. All in a day's ride. Ready to do it all again!

So basically, I did!