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bwhip's (and latebraker.com) photos and adventures

Ahhhhhhh…

Mostly because of being so busy with work, I haven’t been able to take a multi-day moto touring trip since my Northern California adventure all the way back in February.

Finally, this past long weekend (Thursday-Sunday), I spotted a window in my calendar where I thought I could make it work. Mostly I blame the calendar on my wall in my office, which in July features a photo I took last year at this time, when I took a fantastic trip to the Oregon Coast and beyond. Looking at the photo every day for the past couple of weeks has been making me want to go on another ride like that!

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So, after reviewing some potential regional route options, looking at weather forecasts, I ultimately decided to do almost the same route as last time, because it was just so unbelievably great. It would also be nice to go cool off a bit at the coast, as temperatures in the Boise area have been around 100 for weeks. My plan was to drive over in my truck to Bend, OR (about 5 hours or so) early Thursday morning, then unload the bike and start my journey there. I checked with a few friends, but no one was able to come along, mostly due to my usual short notice in spontaneously planning these trips!

I didn’t take as many photos this year, mostly because I’d taken hundreds of them last year, and I had almost nothing but bright blue skies and harsh sunlight the whole trip. Beautiful and pleasant, but a few clouds are definitely better for photos!

Thursday afternoon’s route was fairly direct from Bend to the coast.

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The weather got cooler and cooler as I got closer to the ocean, which was wonderful! Some fun twisty roads along the way, too – a nice warmup to the amazing roads I’d be shredding the next few days. As I drove south along highway 101, I had to stop for a quick selfie to show that I’d achieved the goal of being back in my calendar!

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I spent the night in Florence, OR, which was really a nice place to stay. My little hotel was right on the Siuslaw River, where it meets the ocean. I had some good seafood for dinner, and slept well thinking about the 400 mile route I’d cover on Friday.

Friday morning before I left Florence, I went out on the back patio of my hotel room, and saw this amazing view of the fog lifting over the Art Deco bridge in Florence:

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I rode south, and took a slight detour inland to Coquille, so I could ride the really fun road between Coquille and Bandon I’d discovered last year. It was early and the weather was cool, and the fast and flowing corners were a great way to wake up and start the route!

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At Port Orford, I remembered a beautiful view from up on a hill over the ocean, so decided to grab a pic of the new bike there.

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It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and I felt so blessed to be able to take in such spectacular views along the route, while enjoying motorcycling on amazing roads. I remembered taking some nice photos last year at a really majestic spot just a bit south of Gold Beach. However, when I got there, it was shrouded in fog!

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Hard to believe it was the same location where I got this shot last year:

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Oh well!

I headed south into California, up through some massive redwoods to the northeast and back into Oregon, and then dropped back down on a super-twisty mountain road into California near Yreka. The tires were getting quite a workout today!

As I went further east, the weather changed from the cold (!) 50 degrees with fog I was experiencing at the coast, to almost 100 degrees. It was hot! I stopped for a few photos at a picturesque desert canyon near Yreka. But stopping and posing the bike was getting really hot, so I headed toward my evening destination of Ashland, OR.

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Saturday I’d head north toward Eugene, with hundreds of miles of moto-greatness along the way.

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Just outside of Ashland I found a really awesome road I’d not yet tried. The Green Springs Highway (Oregon 66). WOW! Dramatic, steep, tight, twisty fun! Another great wake-up ride! I was glad to have the opportunity to ride it up-and-back, as it was super fun (and empty!).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It absolutely blows my mind how many unbelievable motorcycle roads there are in Oregon. It’s astounding. We’ve all been on touring trips where there were incredible sections, but a good bit of boring, straight, uninteresting terrain in between. But I just did nearly 1200 miles over a few days, and almost all of it was utterly fantastic. I feel so fortunate to live so close to such a moto-mecca!

Hwy 138 east of Roseburg (N. Umpqua Highway) is super fun. Along the river, fast and flowing, empty and gorgeous. Reminds me a good bit of Lolo Pass, but not as long and with less traffic.

I had lunch in Roseburg, then continued on to some all-time favorites. Tyee Road is a hoot, and although it wasn’t on my planned route, I had some extra time so I decided to take a detour up the hill on Upper Smith River Road. Holy crap that is a great one! Lots of first and second gear hairpins, steep and fun. And the view toward the top is WOW!

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I’m glad I don’t have to pick an all-time favorite moto-road, but if I did, a possible winner would be the Siuslaw River Road near Lorane, OR. I don’t have the words to describe how utterly brilliant this road is. Just the perfect mix of fast, slow, flowing, tight, dark tunnels of forest, brilliant sunshine, it has EVERYTHING. And soooooooooo much fun to ride! It’s so rare that I love a road so much that I double back and do it again and again, but this one I must! And I saw maybe two or three other vehicles in the hour or so I spent there. Completely awesome. Motorcycling heaven.

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Spent the final night in Springfield, near Eugene, before heading back to Bend on Sunday morning.

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It was a bit chilly for the first couple of hours as I made my way through the deep, dark, remote forest between Westfir and Cougar Reservoir. Around 48 degrees! Thank goodness for heated grips, because even with them my fingers were frozen. Still, I knew it’d be in the 90’s at home, so the cold didn’t bother me too much.

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Another new route I’d have the opportunity to try this time, which I hadn’t before, was the Old McKenzie Highway, which runs over a high pass toward Sisters, OR. I can’t wait to do this one again! The first part of it was just NUTS! I’ve been on some tight and narrow corners before, but these were unreal. I was literally laughing inside my helmet as I climbed the mountain, testing the edge of the tires again and again. Hairpin city! Look at this:

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The map doesn’t do it justice, because it doesn’t show the elevation changes, the scenery, and the fun. WOW! Four stars for this one, for sure.

Up at the top, there are beautiful views of the Sisters mountains through some surreal looking lava fields.

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I made it back to Bend around 11 AM, and loaded up the bike in the truck and headed toward home. Thankfully, the (used) rear tire I’d mounted just before I left had just enough to get me through the trip!

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Just an absolutely perfect four-day getaway. I couldn’t be more grateful. I sure wish friends could have come along to share in the fun – but hopefully next time!

The Lowman Loop

I was hoping I’d get some time for a ride this weekend, but between weather and home and work projects, I wasn’t sure how much time there might be. I was working on a deck painting project this afternoon, when it began to rain. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it certainly wasn’t helpful for painting. Soon, the sun was back out and I started thinking about going for a ride. I knew the roads might still be a bit wet in spots, but it seemed to be drying out pretty quickly.

I decided to grab the Tuono and go for a ride on one of my local favorites – the “Lowman Loop.” It’s a 150 mile loop from the Boise area, north on Hwy 21 past the Lucky Peak Reservoir, and then up over the mountain past Idaho City and over to Lowman. Then, back to the west to Garden Valley and Banks, and then south again to the Boise area on Hwy 55.

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Weather was cool, but sunny. As I rode past Mores Creek, I just had to stop for a few photos:

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The section of road south of Mores Creek Summit is absolutely fantastic, really fun to ride. My fingers were losing feeling because it was so cold, but it sure was fun!

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As usual, the Tuono was absolutely sublime. This bike is so brilliant. The sound is so glorious! The power is ridiculous. Corners like it’s on rails. And comfortable! I just couldn’t love it more.

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I began the descent toward Lowman, my fingers ready to thaw out in the warmer air of the valley below. One more stop for a photo, showing the spectacular view from the top, including the road I was about to descend.

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Other than frozen fingers, it was an absolutely great ride. Hardly any cars, only one deer, and no speeding tickets!

Beat the Holiday Traffic

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is upon us. A beautiful time of year! Moderate spring temperatures, everything turning green, and long hours of daylight. Let’s hit the road and head for the hills!

Nope, not me. Well, at least not on the actual three days of the holiday weekend. Any holiday weekend. Just too many people on the roads. Too many RVs. Too many knuckleheads. Too much law enforcement! 🙂 I go on rides to escape from crowds. From traffic. From people. Nice, open roads, where I can really ride. Ride fast. And maybe stop for a few photos along the way.

Sundays of a holiday weekend aren’t too bad, since most of the cars and trucks and RVs are driving on Saturday or Monday. Still, I try to avoid riding on holiday weekends. But I was really, really needing to go for a ride. Lots of long work hours and stress, ready for a nice, long ride. Multiple days would be great, but no time for that this month, anyway. But I saw a window of time, and nice weather on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, so I decided to go do some riding!

My “road trackday” format seemed to be the best option for a one-day getaway. I’d get up early in the AM and drive 160 miles or so to central Oregon, to my bike launch point near Austin, OR. Then I’d ride on some of my absolute favorites in that part of the world – about 360 miles of incredibly fun roads with great variety.

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I started on Up Middlefork Road, an old favorite I hadn’t ridden for a couple of years. Just as I remembered it was beautiful, tight and twisty. Weather was perfect, a little cool starting out, but lots of sunshine. And the road was absolutely empty.

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After warming up on that fun road, I headed south on Hwy 395 to Long Creek, where I stopped for fuel, knowing it was a long way to Condon, my next gas opportunity. I rode west over the hill toward Kimberly. Another really fun, empty road with lots of great corners, and some beautiful views.

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After rolling through Kimberly I picked up Hwy 19 toward Spray, and then turned north on an absolutely AWESOME road – Hwy 207 from Spray to Ruggs. Sooooooo great, especially from south to north, where the road flows up the hill just spectacularly. Like your own private racetrack. I absolutely love this road. I often have to stop at this one particular hairpin for a photo, though this is the first time I shot from this particular perspective, which I liked quite well.

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Absolutely beautiful scenery, and an incredibly fun place to ride a motorcycle!

From Ruggs I turned east on another one of my all-time favorites – Hwy 206, the Condon-Heppner Highway. For some reason Google Maps wouldn’t let me connect from Condon to Ruggs, but I had no trouble getting through. Not sure if it had been blocked before due to construction or whatever, but it was smooth sailing Friday. As you can see, the terrain changes from dense forest to barren desert in just a matter of a handful of miles.

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We swear these roads must have been designed by motorcyclists. Fantastic.

I stopped in Condon for fuel and lunch. Not a lot of food options there, but I found a pretty decent sandwich at the combination flower/card/sandwich shop. For real.

After lunch I headed south down the canyon toward Fossil, and then west toward Clarno. This is another spectacular stretch of road that photos could never do justice. Between Fossil and Shaniko is pretty legendary in Oregon among motorcyclists, and it’s easy to see why. I find it flows especially well when traveling west to east.

At Clarno there are some amazing rock formations that draw a lot of visitors in cars and on bikes.

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Imagine mile after mile of twists and turns through scenic canyons like this, with hardly anyone on the road. Yes, it’s like that. Unreal.

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At Clarno I turned around to begin the homestretch back to the east, and my truck. On the way to John Day the scenery and roads continue to be incredible. Cathedral Rock and Goose Rock were so beautiful I just had to stop for photos.

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I made it back to the truck in Austin after 365 miles of twisty thrills, gorgeous weather and amazing scenery. Made it home around 9 PM. A long day for sure, 325 miles in the truck, and 365 on the bike. But totally worthy it. As I drove home I could see all the cars, trucks and RV’s headed for the mountains – just as I was leaving. Perfect! Just the way I planned it. And best of all – no speeding tickets! 🙂

Once again I can’t express how grateful I am to live near such fantastic motorcycling opportunities. And grateful to have absolutely brilliant bikes on which to experience these roads.

Making the Most of My Trip to the Dealer

My Aprilia Tuono Factory continues to be my all-time favorite bike, after about 16 months of ownership and 4000 miles of perma-grin. However, recently I was having an issue where a warning kept popping up on my dash: “URGENT SERVICE.” Not what you want to see when out on a ride. Each time I’d punch in the code and try to figure out what the problem was, but it never would tell me. I’d reset it, and then a couple of rides later, it was back again. Finally it got to the point where I couldn’t get it to reset, so I figured I’d better get it to the dealer for service.

Only problem? My closest dealer is six hours away in Portland. I worried that I’d load it up in the truck and drive all that way, only to find that it was some little thing like a loose connector, or worse, that it was something major and I’d have to leave it there while parts were ordered and make a return trip. Oh well, that’s the price you pay for owning an exotic bike in Idaho I guess.

I loaded up the bike Thursday night and got up early on Friday to make the drive. As I drove out of town, I’d had to stop for a photo of the beautiful, stormy skies overhead:

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A little thunder and lightning, a little rain, but not too bad of a drive over to Portland. I hoped it would be a quick and easy service, because then I’d have a little time on Saturday morning (maybe even Friday afternoon!) for a ride on some of my favorite roads along the Columbia River Gorge near The Dalles.

They hooked up my bike to the special Aprilia computer, and found that it did in fact have a problem – a throttle position sensor was bad and needed to be replaced. They happened to have one available, so they were able to fix it in about a half hour and send me on my way, which I really appreciated!

I stopped at a motel in The Dalles, and unloaded the bike. It was super windy, probably gusting around 40 MPH, but it was pretty warm so I decided to go for a ride over the bridge into Washington, to explore some roads on that side of the river, which I hadn’t tried before (to the east).

The Columbia River Gorge is spectacularly beautiful, especially when so green as it is this spring, and when it’s not raining! I had to stop several times along the way for photos.

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East of The Dalles, it’s much more dry and prairie-like, compared to much more forest-y to the west and north.

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It was fun, and the bike was incredible as always, but the wind absolutely kicked the crap out of me. Heading east wasn’t bad, as I was with the wind, but up on the ridge by the wind farms, on the 40 mile return trip, my face and neck were getting hammered by the headwind.

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I had dinner at a brewpub in The Dalles, and slept well, anticipating a hopefully-less-windy ride on Saturday.

The next morning it was cold and windy – but not as terribly windy as the previous afternoon. I set out hoping to make a nice loop in Washington of roads I’d ridden before – west along on the Gorge for 30 miles or so, and then north through Carson up the Wind River Road, and then west on Hwy 90 over to Cougar, then back across to the east over to Trout Lake, Glenwood and Klickitat – with some AMAZING twisty roads along the way.

As I looked across the Gorge, I could see Mt Hood was absolutely blanketed with snow:

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As usual, the Gorge was spectacular. The roads were pretty empty, as you can see, which is always nice!

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As I climbed the hill toward Carson, my fingers were getting colder and colder on the chilly ride. I decided to stop for a quick espresso mostly to warm up my fingers!

I stopped at one of my favorite spots north of Carson, in the deep, dark Gifford Pinchot forest for a couple of photos:

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The climb up the mountain from there is incredibly fun, though my frozen fingers and the cold, somewhat damp roads kept my speed below my normal aggressive pace. The snow along the side of the road got deeper and deeper as I climbed.

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When I got to the top and turned left on Curly Creek Road, I saw signs indicating that Hwy 90 and others in the area were closed due to snow. Although I was bummed that I’d have to turn around and reroute, my icy appendages weren’t disappointed in the least, and happy to head back down to the Gorge, which now seemed comparatively warm.

I decided to head over to Hwy 142, and head up through Klickitat from the south instead. The sun was coming out, and I was finally starting to regain some feeling in my fingers, which is always nice when trying to operate clutch and brake levers. I kept seeing these interesting stores all over Oregon and Washington, the likes of which we don’t have in Idaho. This one had a sign that was a little less subtle than their competitors:

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No, I just stopped for the photo, I swear.

The road north toward Klickitat is awesome, and it just keeps getting better and better.

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This section is a little bumpy, but so spectacular and fun.

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I turned left on Glenwood Hwy, and couldn’t believe how majestic and beautiful the mountain was in the distance.

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The descent on this road is utterly fantastic for motorcycling. It’s impossible to decide between stopping to really take in all the beauty of the surroundings and shoot some photos, or twist the throttle and test the grip of those tires around the corners. My recommendation? Make a few passes both directions and do it all!

Just look at those curves ahead!

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Even a panorama can’t do it justice.

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After taking the shot above, I heard some other bikes coming up from the left, so quickly slowed my shutter speed to try to get a shot like this:

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After spending a fair bit of time there, I decided it was probably time to head back to my truck in The Dalles and make the long drive home so I wouldn’t arrive too late. I was cruising along on Glenwood Hwy, not going particularly fast, when it happened. Oops. I guess maybe I was going a little faster than I thought. Dammit.

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Every once in a while, the authorities are nice enough to just give a guy a warning to slow it down a bit. Unfortunately, this was NOT one of those times, so he gave me a nice little souvenir to take home from my visit to Washington. Oh well, Lord knows I have earned one or two of these over the years.

On the way back down the hill toward Klickitat, I saw the incredible view of the valley, this amazing road, and the wildflowers in bloom, and had to stop for just one more pic.

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Despite the ticket, I had a great time in Washington. First time riding these roads on the Aprilia, and it was just amazing. I’ll be back! Maybe I’ll move the radar detector mount from the Ducati to the Aprilia first, however…

 

Beautiful Dogs in Beautiful Light

Last Sunday late afternoon, we were blessed with some really lovely light, so I suggested to Mrs Whip that it might be a good night for some dog photos. Although the nearby trail she selected wasn’t particularly picturesque, we managed to get a few nice photos of the dogs at play on their walk.

Here Jelly races toward me with a big stick while the others look on:

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Butter steals her ball back from Rico:

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Jelly and her grandma, Joy:

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Jelly posing:

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Hells Canyon – Quite Heavenly

Last weekend was busy, but I managed to sneak away for a few hours on Saturday afternoon to take a little ride out to Hells Canyon, along the Oregon-Idaho border. The two hours or so between the Boise area and there is fairly boring farm country, but once you get there, you’re rewarded with fun, twisty roads, and lovely views. With everything turning green as spring unfolds, it was especially lovely. Of course I snapped a few photos while out there.

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Really loving the new Multistrada so far. Very comfortable, sounds awesome, and of course it’s fast and fun. Looking forward to many more miles on her.

Finally!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve had a full day to just relax and go for a ride. Between work, a home remodel, and weather, it’s been since my California trip a couple of months ago – way too long!

I was able to get enough work done yesterday to feel okay about taking today (Sunday) off, and the weather looked decent, so it was finally time! I decided to do my “track day” format, and load the Multistrada in the back of my pickup and drive a couple of hours to Baker City, Oregon, and do a nice 280 mile loop of some nearby favorites.

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I got to Baker City around 9:30 local time, and it was cool and mostly cloudy, and as I climbed the hill toward John Day, the temps dropped to around 40 degrees. Thankfully, my heated gear was keeping me nice and toasty. The snow-capped mountains in the distance were really beautiful, so I had to stop for a quick photo.

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As I approached Prairie City, the view was just amazing.

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There was almost no one on the roads, anywhere along the way. Probably because it was Easter Sunday. In fact, I saw only two motorcycles the whole trip, despite the fact that it was actually pretty warm, climbing to around 60 in the afternoon. It was pretty awesome to have the roads pretty much all to myself (not that they’re ever that crowded in central Oregon anyway).

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Since my previous trip, I added a couple of improvements to the bike. After putting the full Akrapovic exhaust system on the bike, I found that the fuel mapping was not what it should be. Okay, but a little rough, and sometimes “stumbly,” especially at lower RPMs. It didn’t seem that a remap was possible (at least not easily), but I did find some info about a dynamic mapping system called RapidBike, that continuously adjusted the mapping on the bike, to instantly adjust for weather, altitude, whatever. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of info available on it, I decided to hook one up and give it a shot. I also found that the “touring” windscreen that came with the bike was completely inadequate, with lots of wind buffeting that was driving me crazy. So, I decided to try the touring windscreen made by Ermax.

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The bike was transformed! It was really good before, but the RapidBike system mad a huge difference. The power delivery was always great, always. Low RPMs, high RPMs, colder weather, warmer weather, climbing hills, deceleration, whatever, whenever. Just fantastic. No issues whatsoever. I’m a believer.

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The windscreen was a big improvement too. I’m fairly tall (6′ 2″), and if I sit up totally straight I still get a pretty good wind blast, but with my normal (slouchy) posture, it’s pretty darn good. Much, much quieter. My face shield hardly picked up any bugs, because the taller screen was getting most of them, which was also good. And man, without all that wind noise, I sure hear that thunderous Akrapovic exhaust note just fine! It’s pretty loud! I’m glad I put the noise reducer insert, otherwise it would surely be too much. I think in it’s current form it’s perfect. Bold, earth-shaking, bone-rattling – but not completely obnoxious. Just right!

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Now that the bike is fully broken in, at several points along the way I decided to really put it to the test, twisting the throttle to the max. WOW! This bike completely kicks ass. How can a bike this comfortable be so fast, sporty and fun? It’s amazing. The sound with the throttle wide open climbing a big hill from 6000-8000 RPM or so is just unbelievable. I absolutely love this thing.

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What a great looking bike, too. The scenery was beautiful, as you can see. But I think the bike was equally stunning!

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It was a great way to spend this Easter Sunday. Some moto-therapy was just what I needed. And I’m so glad the modifications have worked out so well. I’m looking forward to a great season on this amazing machine. Now, if work would just settle down a bit…

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Couldn’t Think of a Better Way to Break In the New bike

I bought a new bike in late December, just before Christmas. I decided to upgrade the Multistrada I’ve loved so much (for six years and 34,000 miles or so), and I bought a 2016 Multistrada Pikes Peak edition.

While I never expect to be able to ride much in the winter months here in Idaho, this winter has been ridiculous! Snow upon snow upon snow upon temps around zero, which never seem to end. So much so, that I haven’t been able to put even one mile on the bike since I bought it. And once the snow does melt, the roads are a complete mess of water, sand, salt and chemicals. No thanks.

So, I spent the last few weeks dreaming of riding her, and performing a few mods like an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system, some engine and radiator guards, a super high decibel horn, etc. All dressed up with no place to go.

This past week, I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I looked on the map, and checked weather reports, trying to find the closest area I could that would be reasonably warm, dry, not take too long to get to, and give me some opportunity to at least do a bit of winter riding. I don’t mind it being a little cold – I’ll ride with temps in the mid-30’s to mid-50’s and not have a problem since I’ve got good heated gear to wear. Southern Utah? Nevada? Coastal Oregon? Northern California?

Best alternative seemed to be California for sure. About a nine hour drive to get to the Sacramento area, which could be a good launch point for some fun riding over two days. I’d drive over Friday, ride the weekend, and drive back home Sunday night and Monday morning. Kind of like so many of the trackday weekends I’ve done in years past, to Thunderhill or Spring Mountain or wherever. Only this time, my track destination would be the streets of northern California.

Forecast looked wet for Friday, but just cool and sunny over the weekend. Good enough. I didn’t love the idea of my new baby getting all wet and dirty in the back of my pickup driving over in the rain and snow, but I figured it would be worth it. I surveyed road condition reports online, and found that several of the routes I was thinking about were blocked due to mudslides, from the massive amount of rain and flooding they’ve been having. Finally I planned a route of about 600 miles, narrowing it down to roads that looked like fun, and seemed to at least be passable.

The route I wound up doing was a little different, caused by a muddy detour. It wound up looking like this:

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Friday morning, off I went. As I passed from Idaho into Oregon, it just looked cold and snowy ahead.

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As I approached the Reno area, I started seeing highway signs saying that I-80 was closed at the state line to all trucks. I went online and saw that there was also a big detour from the highway due to a mudslide. Wonderful. Still, I’d come this far. I was going to find a way to ride this weekend. Going over Donner Pass was kind of nuts. Snow and sleet, with lots of mud and debris all over the road. Nasty!

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As we descended along the detour route, the sun came out and it warmed up into the low 60’s, almost magically! Felt so great to see sunshine, green grass, and know that soon I’d be riding. I stopped for the night and sampled some regional farm-to-table cuisine:

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I could hardly sleep from excitement (or maybe the double-double in my gut), but finally morning came and I loaded up the bike for my ride. It felt surreal to be actually getting on my new bike and riding it for the first time, this time of year, on a long tour of some new terrain. I was very happy, to say the least!

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As I rode, I familiarized myself with the new bike, noting the changes from my previous-gen Multi. Lots of similarities of course, but lots of differences too! I love the new color display, which is bright and full of easily accessible information. Really nice. Seat seems to be a little more comfortable, giving a bit more room and options on sliding forward or back a bit – certainly more than the old one did. I need to figure out a better touring windscreen. The Pikes Peak little carbon fiber one looks cool, but it was noisy! Brakes seemed to be significantly better – very impressive! Suspension felt plush, but way too soft for the type of riding I was doing. I’ll have to do some adjusting there. Power was outstanding, and the sound through the trapezoidal Akrapovic was positively badass. I was worried that if I tried to stay at least close to the recommended break-in RPM guidelines, I’d feel completely hamstrung, but the bike has tons of power all through the RPM range. It’ll do around 90 in sixth gear before even hitting 5500 RPM, which was generally plenty (or so I’ve heard).

Oh yeah, and finally having a bike with electronic cruise control was fantastic!

It wasn’t long before I hit the twisties – and it felt SOOOOO good!

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This particular road was pretty rough, but it didn’t matter. It was still a ton of fun, and they’d just get better and better as I went along. But it had been months since my last ride, so it just felt awesome.

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One thing I did notice in a hurry, was how flooded it was everywhere over there! Wet roads with lots of residue from very recent mudslides, roadside waterfalls, and roaring rivers of brown, full of mud and debris. All the land completely saturated and wet.

I proceeded over the top of a big mountain, on a fast, flowing and empty road that was really nice (Hwy 162 / Alder Springs Road). On the map it looked like it would take me on a twisty journey through Covelo and ultimately over to Fort Bragg, my destination for the night. I climbed and climbed, and it got colder and colder. I started seeing a bunch of snow on the sides of the road. Okay, I’m ready to descend now! Suddenly, I saw the dreaded sign which read “PAVEMENT ENDS.” Crap. I don’t mind a dirt road, as long as it’s not that long, and not that treacherous. But not this time of year, especially not this wet year. Deep mud and snow. No chance.

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Time to turn around and reroute. Views heading back down the hill were sure nice!

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I stopped in Willows for some lunch at the Mexican joint near Thunderhill Raceway, and planned the reroute. I’d head south and pick up Hwy 20 along Clear Lake, which would take me all the way to Fort Bragg. Clear Lake was bigger than I expected, and pretty to ride around.

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I finally got to Fort Bragg, and reached THE END.

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The end of my riding day, and the continent. Thankfully, they had that special place where Ducatis are frequently known to congregate… I just hoped no Ducatisti would see how dirty my baby was, and kick me out of the Ducati Owners Club.

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Thank goodness just down the street was a car wash, where I could remedy the situation, at least enough to get me through the next day.

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Sunday morning it was pretty cold in Fort Bragg – about 34 degrees when I left the hotel around 7:30 AM. But the sun was coming up, and Hwy 1 was remarkably empty, which I’m sure is quite unusual! It was so great to be able to enjoy that spectacular stretch of road in relative solitude.

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Spectacular! What a gift to be able to enjoy such a cool bike with this kind of scenery, riding a kick-ass fun road – in February??! Very grateful for sure.

At Stewarts Point I turned inland on a very odd little road, that just didn’t seem quite right. It was really narrow, bumpy and steep, heading into a deep, dark forest – so dark that I couldn’t see the road (or its potholes and other dangers) without opening my dark visor. But when I opened the visor, it was so cold that it made my eyes water. Was this really a road that would take me over to Cloverdale like the map showed? It was really primitive. Kind of fun at the very slow speeds it required, and certainly interesting. But I sure didn’t want to get 20 miles into this thing and have to turn around because of some log across the road, or mudslide or other problem. I decided to keep going, and it got better and better. Smoother, wider, with the most amazing diversity. Bright sunlight and broad views, and then back into dark, tight and twisty sections. Amazing!

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This closeup view of the map will give you an idea of just how twisty this awesome road is – 45 miles of corners!

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I fueled up in Cloverdale, and headed north on 128 to Boonville. Now this was a FUN and FAST road. The flow was amazing! One of my all-time favorites. So great.

The stretch of Hwy 175 between Hopland and Lakeport was INSANE! Super hilly, tight and fun. I happened to come up behind a couple of other guys on bikes – one on a Yamaha FZ and one on a Harley, both wearing jeans and hoodies with their helmets and gloves. I figured I’d be past them pretty quickly (hopelessly competitive sort that I am). No way! These guys were flying – even the dude on the Harley! There were quite a few muddy corners due to all the flooding, and Harley dude would twist the throttle hard coming out of each, sliding the rear end and throwing up a roost, and having all kinds of fun. Later on the flat sections, FZ guy was doing these massive stand-up wheelies, for like a half mile each. They were nuts, but they did know how to ride a little!

All in all, day two of this trip had to be one of my favorite riding days ever. I sure don’t think I’ve ever ridden that many corners in one day, that’s for sure! Wow, unforgettable.

I finally made it back to the hotel and my waiting truck, and began the journey home. Ultimately about 680 miles of the greatest break-in period I could imagine. Good weather, a bike that was even better than I’d hoped it would be – and all of this in the middle of winter. And my exhaust system was so happy it decided to turn some pretty colors for me.

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It will still seem like forever to our actual riding season up here in Idaho, but this trip definitely helped make me a little less impatient for its arrival.

Goldens in a Winter Wonderland

Our dogs LOVE the snow, and last week we had a really nice snowfall – so it was time to grab the camera and take a walk! Eagle Island State Park was a nice setting for some fun shots – both still and action. We also snapped some Christmas photos at home with the new litter of puppies experiencing snow for the first time, which was fun. Our daughter and her boyfriend were in town from San Diego and made a snowman, so we grabbed some photos with the dogs and Toast the cat as well. I hope they make you smile!

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Groovy, Jelly, Rico, Joy and Butter

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Joy

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Jelly

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Jelly

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Jelly

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Jelly

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Butter’s Litter #3 – Four Girls and a Boy

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Toast had to photobomb the group

Office Christmas Card – An Homage

Every Christmas season, our commercial construction company tries to come up with a creative card to send to clients and friends in the industry. We get so many of the same tired, cliche cards, that we always want ours to stand out a bit, and have some personality to them.

This year, I had the idea that it might be fun to try to replicate the famous photo of the construction workers high above New York City, having a lunch break while precariously perched on a beam, during construction of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza building back in the 1930’s. Lunch on a Skyscraper

It’s become a truly iconic image, especially in the construction industry, and I knew that if we could pull off something similar, it would bring a smile to anyone who knows us. The original image has the city in the background at a particular angle, and shows a bunch of Central Park. I looked online for a similar background photo, but they either weren’t the right view, or the right angle, which I felt was important to evoke memories of the original. Finally I found a photo which could legally be reused (thanks to the original photographer of that image, Jerry Ferguson), and was about the right height and angle. It wasn’t Central Park, but I didn’t feel it was super important for anyone who isn’t completely familiar with Manhattan.

We found a steel beam at one of our jobsites, and set it up so that our feet could dangle appropriately. There would be seven of us on the beam rather than the original 11, and we weren’t going to try to dress in costume or anything like that. We figured we’d just be ourselves, but put ourselves in a very similar scenario to invoke the original. I carefully set up the tripod with my camera to be at about the same height and angle as the original, and we began the short photo session.

We tried a bunch of poses that were true to the original (pretending to light a cigarette, conversing, opening the lunch boxes, holding a liquor bottle, etc., but in most of those you couldn’t really see our faces that well. We finally settled on one where we were all looking toward the camera, and sharing a laugh (surely over something inappropriate that one of us had said).

I then went to work in Photoshop, and did my best to capture the spirit of the original, while still making it easy to see all of our office staff, and their individual personalities. Everyone we’ve shown it to so far has gotten a big kick out of it – so, mission accomplished! Now, just 12 months to figure out next year’s clever card… 🙂

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