I’ve said many times how very blessed I feel to live in the Pacific Northwest, as we have such a ridiculous abundance of outstanding places to ride. The near-perfect combination of beautiful scenery, super fun and twisty roads, endless variety, and hardly any traffic. Yes, it rains and snows sometimes, and we do have a real winter when riding is nearly impossible, but other than that – perfection!
The more I ride in the region, the more challenging it becomes to find new roads to check out. It usually means traveling just a little further to get to the new spots. That’s what I decided to do this past weekend. I’d heard great things about the North Cascades National Park in northern Washington. I’d even read more than once that it’s considered one of the best motorcycle routes in the entire USA. So, I put together a plan to make a quick weekend ride up that way.
Friday afternoon after work I drove my pickup (with the Ducati in the bed) to Yakima (about 5 1/2 hours), and spent the night there. Early Saturday AM I headed north. Most people heading north from Yakima toward Ellensburg would take Hwy 82. But I learned a long time ago to avoid freeways like the plague while on my rides, and instead to find more interesting (and hopefully twisty and picturesque) alternatives. I looked on the map, and behold a parallel route called “Canyon Road” which looked like it might have good potential.
It sure did! Wow, what a fun road. Canyon Road was the perfect name, because it snaked along a river through the canyon, offering fun riding and great views, for around 25 miles. Hardly any cars on it, which made it even better. I took a couple of shots in the early morning light.
I continued on up Hwy 97, which was a beautiful ride through the forest. After passing through Wenatchee, instead of riding north on Hwy 2 or 97, I took another twisty diversion – this time up the steep and fun (and deserted) Badger Mountain Road. FUN! Speed limit was 50, but it seemed more like an 85 or 90 road to me. Just saying.
Views of Wenatchee toward the top were pretty cool too.
The ride north on Hwy 97 was nice, along the Columbia River. I’d taken photos there on a trip a couple of years ago, so I didn’t bother with them this time. The light wasn’t as good this morning for it, either. I was getting pretty hungry for lunch when I got to the cute little town of Twisp, so I stopped at a bakery there called “Cinnamon Twisp.” Probably the best Turkey Club sandwich I’ve ever had. Seriously, that good. And a really great chocolate chip cookie and iced tea to go with it. Perfect!
When I got to Winthrop, I was astounded at how many motorcycles I saw in the cute little town on the eastern end of the Cascades. That place was hopping! Mostly Harleys, but lots of other bikes too.
Finally it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The ride up into the North Cascades, on Hwy 20. It didn’t take long before it start to get really awesome. And I kept seeing bikes. So many bikes. It felt like I was heading upstream on the road to Sturgis. Mostly Harleys, for sure, but lots of BMW GS’s, and a few sportbikes and others. Moto Central. Quite a few cars, but it certainly never felt crowded.
Roads were mostly pretty gentle. In contrast to my usual rides, I never felt that much need to go crazy fast. It was just so beautiful and majestic, that I wanted to slow down a bit and take it all in. Crazy, I know! But look at this place!
Definitely one of the most scenic places I’ve ever ridden. It would be pretty amazing earlier in the season with more snow on the peaks too, I’m sure.
Anytime I can stand in the middle of the road to take photos, you know it’s not exactly crowded.
As I took in the view toward Ross Lake, I managed to turn this one into a bit of a selfie.
The views continued to be astounding mile after mile. A very awesome place to ride.
Toward the bottom of the hill near Diablo, the road was blocked by a worker holding up a stop sign. Didn’t seem like construction, so I figured there must have been an accident. Sure enough, when they finally let us through, they had just loaded a fallen (and badly damaged) Yamaha onto a flatbed. 😦
My original plan had been to loop around and spend the night at an Airbnb place in Skykomish, but my wife was not too far away at a dog show in Kirkland, so I rerouted to go have dinner and spend the night with her and the dogs instead!
On Sunday, I rode another beautifully scenic highway (Hwy 2) toward Leavenworth. I found another really fun and twisty diversion (207 and 209 near Chumstick). Awesome!
Leavenworth was a really charming Bavarian-style mountain resort village, and quite busy! From there I traveled south back toward Yakima, and got a chance to ride that amazing Canyon Road one more time. Even better this direction!
Although I’d planned to head over toward Mt Rainier to ride some roads I’d previously done, one of them was closed due to fire, and it was kind of smoky in the area anyway (not great for photos), so I decided to head home after the 650 miles or so I’d done in a day-and-a-half.
Another great northwest riding experience, for sure! Once again, very grateful to live in this part of the world.
A couple of weekends ago, we were overjoyed to have all three of our kids home for a visit, along with the lovely young girlfriend of one of our sons. Because two of them live in San Diego, and one in Florida, we don’t get to see them often enough! When we do, it’s always absolutely fantastic.
After each of these rare family reunions, it’s not uncommon for us to regret not having taken any group photos. I wasn’t going to have that this time around! I told everyone early on, that Friday night we’d be taking a group photo, and it wasn’t optional. 🙂 Oh – and it would be the whole family, including the “furry grandchildren” – all six of the dogs. Maybe even Toast, the cat! To make it easy on everyone, rather than going to a park or some exotic location, we decided to just sit on our deck in the backyard.
One of my favorite shots from the evening was of our daughter, with all the dogs and Toast. It was funny how her blonde hair matched up so nicely with all of their golden fur – even Toast!
For the family photo (including me), I’d set up the camera on the tripod, and some basic lighting with flash and a softbox, and got all the settings ready. We then asked our son’s girlfriend to just press the shutter again and again, while we tried to make sure everyone was sort of looking at the camera (and not looking down at the dogs too much!). As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible to find a photo in the dozens we took, where everyone was a) looking at the camera; b) looking happy; c) not blinking; etc.
I liked this one a lot. It certainly wasn’t perfect from a “posing” standpoint, but it captured nicely all of us having fun, and how much we all love being together. I’ve got a big print of it hanging in my office now!
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!
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.
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!
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:
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!
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.
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!
Hard to believe it was the same location where I got this shot last year:
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.
Saturday I’d head north toward Eugene, with hundreds of miles of moto-greatness along the way.
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!
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.
Spent the final night in Springfield, near Eugene, before heading back to Bend on Sunday morning.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
Weather was cool, but sunny. As I rode past Mores Creek, I just had to stop for a few photos:
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!
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.
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.
Other than frozen fingers, it was an absolutely great ride. Hardly any cars, only one deer, and no speeding tickets!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
East of The Dalles, it’s much more dry and prairie-like, compared to much more forest-y to the west and north.
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.
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:
As usual, the Gorge was spectacular. The roads were pretty empty, as you can see, which is always nice!
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:
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.
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:
No, I just stopped for the photo, I swear.
The road north toward Klickitat is awesome, and it just keeps getting better and better.
This section is a little bumpy, but so spectacular and fun.
I turned left on Glenwood Hwy, and couldn’t believe how majestic and beautiful the mountain was in the distance.
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!
Even a panorama can’t do it justice.
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:
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.
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.
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…
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:
Butter steals her ball back from Rico:
Jelly and her grandma, Joy:
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.
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.