Featured Motorcycles, Mountains, Mayhem, And Maniacs

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by Jet City, Aug 20, 2021.

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  1. Jet City

    Jet City Senior Member
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    #1 Jet City, Aug 20, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
    How it began this time.

    The news shows that the American west is largely on fire, and climate change has made the air out there hotter than two ghost peppers in a fresh cup of coffee. As I write this, the largest forest fire in California history separates my house in Seattle from my man Flip’s house in California. Despite the fire danger, a couple of weeks ago I set out for Lake Tahoe anyway.


    Three hours south of home the sun slowly grayed out as what was supposed to be 40% chance of a thunderstorm increased to 100% chance. Lightning was sheeting between clouds and occasionally striking down to the mountains on around me; it was trying to rain but not completely succeeding. I was fascinated by the spectacle but not at ease, and tried to stay calm by telling myself that we use “hit by lightning” as an example of something that never happens.


    It started with forest fires (and hazy smoke pretty much everywhere), and here I am riding through the thunderstorm of hail and fire… then I remember that the New York Times (August 5th) reported that the chipmunks at Lake Tahoe have the bubonic plague (this is verifiable, not something I made up (this time)). It is getting positively Old Testament Egyptian. …what’s next? Locusts (messy)? Boils (I hope not)?



    Perhaps it’s best to start the story with some facts, to balance the dubious veracity of the rest of this report. Earlier this year my work situation changed from five days per week to three days per week as I transition into retirement. I’m now only working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.


    Thus, Monday is Monday. Hump day has been moved up to Tuesday, and Wednesday is Friday. Then there are three Saturdays in a row, then Sunday, and Monday again. You get the idea. So it should be easy to get out of town on two wheels, right? It’s easy to blame it on the pandemic, but that would be a lie. Honestly my life with the additional Saturdays is just as full as it was before.


    My fabulous wife would have none of my excuses about all of the things that I should be doing, though. “I’ll go for a long ride someday,” I said and she pointed out that even in my new workweek with three Saturdays there was no Someday. She told me to get on my mad motorbike and ride, to go out into the world because it gives me joy, and new perspectives, and a chance to hang out with friends that I don’t see often enough.


    Thus arose the trip from Seattle to the California side of Lake Tahoe. It's about 900 miles by the most direct route. My buddy Flip has a place there with a big garage and a gas fired barbecue that is almost as big. Some of the California boys would meet us there, and we would spend a couple of days riding in the Sierra Nevada mountains.


    After that Flip and I and whomever else was game would ride to Oregon, and then into the Idaho panhandle. We’d loop back through Oregon, and then I’d go north to Seattle and the California contingent would go south toward home.



    Motorcycles. Aren’t those things dangerous?

    I have a Bonneville with luggage, heated grips, 200 mile range and cruise control. Riding that bike on a long trip would make WAY too much sense, so I took my Speed Triple instead. It’s a 2020 version that I bought last January. Although the holy trinity of Ohlins, carbon fiber, and Brembo are in the house, fairings and luggage are not.



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    Reflect, indeed. Reflecting in Lewiston, ID



    I wore a backpack and a strapped a little compression bag to the passenger seat with Rok Straps. Once I figured out how to eliminate the interference between the backpack and the tailbag it was great. If anything I over packed. As Dad used to say, “If you have enough for a couple days, that’s enough for a week. And if you have enough for a week, that’s enough for a month!”



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    There was no room for my cello but I did have room for (unneeded) extra gloves and a moto themed jigsaw puzzle to contribute to Flip’s collection of puzzles



    Speedy was wearing the same tires from a track day in June. Pirelli Rosso Corsas, they are as sticky as Gorilla tape but have the consistency of those rubber erasers that we all had the first day of elementary school. You could stick your thumbnail right into the eraser and leave a nice half moon shape.


    And every year, you’d lose that eraser about day three (which is also about how long the Rosso Corsas last) and have to use that stupid little eraser on the end of your pencil for the next nine months. My tires had about a thousand miles on them and thus were ready to be lost under the drinking fountain or behind someone’s locker.


    Once I’d arrived at Flip’s, he took a look at my tires and made this funny “uh oh” face and then measured the tread depth. Back = 0.10 in, but the front only = 0.043 in. Would they last the two thousand miles back to Seattle? The thought bubble over Flip’s head said “Dude, there’s NO way,” but his mouth said, “That front tire might make it back.”


    Along the route there was a dealer in Lewiston, Idaho (Mac’s Cycle) that could have set me up with a new front if necessary. But I channeled Joan Mir and got home with the tread nicely worn down right to the wear bars.


    Other than that self-imposed stress over tire wear the Speed 3 was flawless. Comfy ergos for 5’-8” me, heated grips, cruise control, and of course instant power in any gear for zipping up canyons and past traffic. It used absolutely no oil and the chain doesn’t even need adjusted.



    Sometimes nature is pretty things to look at.

    My home state of Washington is riddled with jaw-dropping mountain, desert, and ocean views but I live here. Sorta like being married to a model, most of that beauty has become largely transparent. Once I’d ridden past the places that I know I was smack in the middle of Oregon.



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    Oregon is a state bifurcated by a mountain range, like Colorado, or Montana. It is split in half with Oregon’s west side lush and rainy while the east side is high and dry. This trip was spent on the dry side.



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    In real life that striated wall of rock dominates horizon in this view like the Empire State Building. You just have to trust me here since I take pictures with the competence of my cat negotiating the Apple store.


    As previously mentioned Oregon, California and Idaho are literally on fire and have been for about a month. The Dixie Fire in Northern California is the largest fire in California history and is roughly the size of the US state of Rhode Island. For you Brits this is a forest fire twice the size of the Peaks District.


    So it was smoky as fuck in California, and Oregon and Idaho were also like riding through a campfire. Blue skies turned out to be pretty rare.



    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Jet City

    Jet City Senior Member
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    #2 Jet City, Aug 20, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
    Part Two of Three





    Tribe.

    Once I’d arrived at Flip’s, the rest of the crew came roaring up. Steve, Ken, Bill, Flip and I were in the house. Note the magnificence of Flip’s garage. He is obviously living his best life.



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    Steve fact-checks Flip’s story in real time




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    When you own a Duke, you always have that look in your eye




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    Don’t anthropomorphize your bike, Ken. They don’t like it



    There are few things more idiosyncratic than someone’s choice of motorcycle.

    Steve = BMW 1150 RT. Incredibly competent long day machine and an interesting choice for a guy who is an ace on tiny fast dirt bikes.

    Bill = KTM Duke. Hooligan tool (the bike, not Bill). Bill’s Duke has an evil bark like a demon hammering his way out of a steel drum.

    Ken = BMW 1200 GS. Ken was flogging this through the Sierra mountains on adventure tires, of course.

    Flip = BMW XR1000. A ridiculously efficient way to carve canyons and dispose of straight line miles with a speed that makes you wonder what planet it was built for, cause it obviously wasn’t meant for this one.

    Me = Speedy Three. It looks tiny next to these cats but oozes presence anyhow.


    I’m not sure what these choices say about us all, but once we left the garage we were all five on the same page.


    [​IMG]



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    Ken’s back goes out again; Jim offers him a mysterious glass of something



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    Bill shows us his latest dance moves




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    Bill’s talents extend far beyond riding motorcycles. He is currently sitting third in the Berkeley/Santa Cruz Prius Cup Series. Sponsored by Syserco, his efforts to get Red Bull on board have been for naught but he has successfully signed Polly’s Precious Bubble Tea.


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    Ken refuses to share the stuff he got from Jim and keeps muttering about “staying loose in the saddle”



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    This is one of the two hands that are allowed to touch my MV


    On any trip through the West you see quite a number of Harley riders out there, and a reasonable number of adventure bikes. My heart of hearts lies with the sportbike crew, though. Kenji, Gray, and Dan came rumbling through Condon, Oregon on Italian exotica. They were out sportbiking for the first time in a while and it was a treat to hang out with these three smart, funny knee draggers.


    Side note: My wife saw a picture of Kenji and his MV and said, “That is a beautiful motorcycle!” I told her it was Italian and completely impractical and she said, “Of course it is.”


    The most disappointing part of this trip was that Flip’s cam chain tensioner started to make a LOT of noise and he had to hightail it back to his place before Really Bad Things happened inside his engine. I had planned on having a few days to hang out with one of my oldest friends and ride motorcycles together, but it was not to be. I considered just heading home myself, but pushed on solo and was glad that I did.



    Routes (the important ones)


    Back in the day, I’d log my mileage and fuel stops. However, I’m older now and just can’t be bothered—and of course as we get older we spend more time worrying about avoiding spicy food and weird hair growth than how much gas we are using. Total miles on this trip were roughly 3,300 over nine days.


    All miles are not the same, though. Here are the best four routes I took.



    1. Anatone, Washington to Flora, Oregon


    [​IMG]


    Nineteen miles of well graded, well engineered curves. I rode this north to south and on Thursday morning at 10am encountered… let me see… oh, that’s right! ZERO southbound traffic. None. There are places where the view from the bike is like looking out the window of a plane.



    [​IMG]


    2. La Grande, Oregon to Condon, Oregon



    [​IMG]


    This route above from La Grande to Condon is a long series of sweepers with occasional straightaways and phenomenally light traffic.


    There’s a summit just below the little car in that box on the map where I stopped for a break. It was 95F and quiet. I had a drink, cleaned my face shield, listened to the wind. How quiet was it? After ten minutes I had yet to have another vehicle go by. It was surreal compared to the day to day city traffic in Seattle.


    [​IMG]



    3. Salt Creek Summit, Oregon



    [​IMG]


    This route has a bit of everything. It starts out It starts out fairly wide with a centerline and fog lines and a long series of 60 mph sweepers. Then the curves gradually tighten up and you really have to pay attention. This continues up to the Hells Canyon overlook. After the overlook the road loses its centerline and the fog lines, but it’s as curvy as Jayne Mansfield and the pavement is still good.


    Once you get over the Salt Creek summit, though, it changes again. There are fog lines, no centerline, and excellent pavement! It has a racetrack feel except that it’s down the shoulder of a mountain.



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    This stop sign at the northern end of this road is the cherry on top of a great ride



    4. Sierra Nevada Loop—California 4 and 88


    The five of us did an epic loop through the Sierra Nevada mountains as well. See below.


    [​IMG]



    I’m always wary about giving out the location of a hidden gem, but there is a road on the loop above which is an exceptional opportunity. Freshly paved and with very light traffic, it winds through the Sierra foothills like a cat burglar on a foggy night. It’s like riding on a track—and it has white lines at the edges but no centerline so it really feels like you are on a track. We would not have found it without specific direction from a local rider.


    I invite any reader to ride this loop, which includes the twisty goodness of Ebbetts Pass, the big fast sweepers of Carson Pass and if you choose carefully, that secret route described above. You will rarely have a better day on a motorbike.


    Be warned that this loop also contains this short “road” which is mostly patches. You will have to brave a bit of this foolishness to get to the good stuff. Worth it.


    [​IMG]

    Aaaargh matey we’ve got plenty of patches
     
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  3. Jet City

    Jet City Senior Member
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    #3 Jet City, Aug 20, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
    Part Three of Three


    Bike Trip Miscellany

    Everywhere you go, there is something to see. In Sumpter, Oregon, it’s this handy gold dredge. Keep in mind that gold is pretty much everywhere, but it’s so dilute in nature that getting any sort of quantity of gold together is the trick.


    But let’s say you had about 40 years to destroy five square miles of valley floor that was relatively rich in gold, leaving neat thirty foot tall ice cream scoop mounds of gravelly tailings in your wake. Although your mining machine was so loud it could be heard 20 miles away, well, screw the neighbors. Did I mention there was gold?


    This 72 ton electric gold dredge would be just the tool that you’d need. If you ground away for 41 years, 363 days per year, you’d wind up with a cubic yard of gold. Surprisingly little. Also, you’d have a shitty gravelly desert of a valley.



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    Each one of those scoops holds one ton of valley floor. It seems a little wrong to call it “ore”



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    The business end of the dredge



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    Three things I can’t stand:

    1. Graffiti

    2. Irony

    3. Lists




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    1986 GXSR slabby in a small Oregon town. Ok, it’s a little rough but it has 61,000 miles on it.




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    Are maniacs usually associated with honesty, dignity, teamwork, and responsibility? I suppose that they could be.


    I spent my formative years in Idaho, and the Orofino Maniacs were known for one of the best mascots anywere. True fact—Orofino High School is a stone’s throw from the Idaho State Mental Hospital; it is literally next door.


    Before you start making snap judgments about this complete lack of taste, know this. The high school was there first.


    Northern Idaho is also home to Dworshak Dam, the third highest dam in the United States (after Oroville and Hoover so you don’t have to look it up). I loves me a big public works project so I dropped by. It is 717 feet (220 meters) high.


    [​IMG]

    Dworshak Dam through the usual yellow haze of smoke



    Last but not least. On the way north from California, on the main highway (US 395) south of Burns, I stopped for road construction. It was just me and the monitor guy shown walking across the road in the day glo suit, so I asked him how long. “About 15 minutes,” he said.



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    Here comes the pilot car at last



    So I waited. And waited. And waited a little more. It was hot so I was glad when the pilot car showed up (above) and I could get on my bike and feel air moving over me again.


    Before I slid into the seat, though, I took a picture of all the cars waiting behind me.



    [​IMG]
     
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  4. learningtofly

    learningtofly He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!
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    What a superb write-up to end the day/week with. Really, really enjoyed it :)
     
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  5. joe mc donald

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    Yes like Learningtofly says what a great storey and what stunning scenery. Did you got to Sandi T's school. Or are you Yanks just great story writers. Love the whole trip. Like i was there with you.
    Joe.
     
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  6. Jet City

    Jet City Senior Member
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    Thanks, Tony! :blush:

    I had to break it into three parts due to the 10,000 character limit and of course being a wordy bastard. ;)
     
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  7. MARKYMARKTHREE

    MARKYMARKTHREE Senior Member

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    Great story, thanks for sharing it with us. :)
     
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  8. Ducatitotriumph

    Ducatitotriumph Crème de la Crème
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    Fantastic! What a great post and thanks!
    Very jealous of course!
     
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  9. Chainbiter

    Chainbiter Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2021
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    Great write up and you narrated it very well. Your wife seems pretty dialled in and actually told you to get on your bike and do one, I like her.

    Your pictures bring my secret envy back to the surface, and that's the fact that I'm very jealous of your wide open spaces.

    Don't get me wrong, I love my Yorkshire Dale's and the Highlands of Scotland but you guys can get on your bikes and ride and ride and ride and still have thousands of miles to explore.

    In the North of England I can do East Coast to West Coast in little over an hour and John O Groats to Lands End would still leave you time to lounge about over a 48 hour period.

    Enjoy those wide open spaces, I'll go ride round in a circle again, or I would if it would stop raining ;)
     
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  10. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    @Jet City

    I just ran across your trip thread this evening and loved it! Thanks for sharing your adventures and experiences and observations with us and for the wonderful mix of terrific photos. Keep threads like this coming. Which means.....more riding to take advantage of all those "Saturdays". ;):):kissing_heart: I do have to say, though, I have a Speed Triple, too (2019) and I'm not about to do a trip like this on it. :joy::joy::joy::joy: That's why God made touring bikes. ;)
     
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  11. steve lovatt

    steve lovatt Something else
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    Fantastic write up and pictures - a great way to share your experiences with a nice dash of humour. :cool:
     
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  12. Markus

    Markus Noble Member
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    Great story and photos. Thanks for sharing them with us!
     
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  13. Jet City

    Jet City Senior Member
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    Thanks, Sandi. And you are so right. :grinning: My friends kept peering at me, through their expansive windscreens and their vast volumes of luggage with a mixture of pity and disbelief. :grinning:
     
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  14. Neal H

    Neal H Member

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    The fact you did a trip like this on your Speed Triple is inspirational. It makes me realise I should do more with mine.

    Great write up.
     
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  15. Vulpes

    Vulpes Confused Member
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    Excellent write-up, thanks! I really enjoyed reading it.
    I'll be setting off on a roughly 2000 mile, 7 day trip through the Alps in two weeks time, on my 2005 speed triple. Don't need a Beemer for that... :p
     
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  16. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    This is what I'm talkin' about, Jet! ;):joy: My "Travel Mobile". However, I might actually consider choosing my Speed Triple if I were to do a trip through the Alps like @Vulpes is planning. But I do like my roomy hard saddlebags and my easy on/off portable luggage that sits nicely behind my backrest. Different bikes for different purposes.:):cool:
    Screen Shot 2021-08-23 at 11.07.36 PM.png
     
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  17. Bikerman

    Bikerman Crème de la Crème
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    Brilliant, can't say anything else. :):)
     
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