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

Final Ride of a Great Season

Well, I thought I was done riding for 2017. I certainly had nothing to complain about – it’s been a fantastic season, where I got to ride thousands of miles on amazing roads and racetracks, from February all the way to November. One of the best seasons ever for sure.

However, after trying for years to coordinate schedules with my awesome friend Etienne, from Quebec, so that he could come out west and do some sport-touring with me in the Pacific Northwest, we were finally able to figure out a time when we could make it happen. Only problem? It would be the second week in December! Not exactly prime riding season in Idaho, Oregon or Washington. Too cold, too wet, too unpredictable.

So, where would we go? As I learned last February, the closest location with great motorcycle roads and halfway decent weather this time of year, would be Northern California. Etienne would fly into Sacramento, I’d drive down from Idaho with a couple of bikes, and we’d set up a base camp from where we could ride a few different routes over three days. We set it all up very quickly, over the course of just a few days. As the date grew closer, the forecast got better and better. Afternoon temps would be near 70 – 15 degrees above normal! The nights and early mornings would be pretty chilly, but we could handle it for the opportunity to ride nearly 800 miles of California’s best.

On Saturday morning I picked up Etienne at the airport, and we drove a few hours to the little town of Boonville, where we’d rented a small house on vrbo.com. It turned out to be a really good spot for our base camp, comfortable and convenient, in the middle of all sorts of vineyards, with nice little restaurants and a market nearby.

On day one (Sunday), we’d head north toward the redwoods, and then circle back down to the west on Hwy 1 from Leggett to Rockport, which is a legendary stretch of road. We’d then hit a few other amazing roads and enjoy the scenery on the way back to Boonville.

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The first road we did every single day of the trip was Hwy 253, between Boonville and Ukiah. An absolutely outstanding road! Super twisty and hilly. We had to wait until around 10 AM to get started every day, because it was cold! It was in the low 30’s when we woke up, and just barely was getting to around 40 by 10. Oddly, it seemed that everywhere we went, as we climbed hills and mountains, the temperature would get warmer, and as we descended, get really cold! Totally backwards from what we would normally expect. And many of the corners on the twisty roads we encountered stayed in the shade all day this time of year, meaning they were sometimes quite frosty and slippery! So, we’d go from blasting through corners at a high rate of speed up on top of the hill where it was warm, to needing to tiptoe through similar corners toward the bottom of the hill. A few scary moments, but we managed just fine.

It was so cold as we went north on Hwy 101 on Monday, that we stopped in Willits for coffee and an early lunch. We continued north through some beautiful redwood country to Garberville. On the Butler motorcycle map, it showed a highly rated road between there and Alderville. We only made it a few miles up that road, because although fun and scenic, the surface of the road was incredibly bumpy. We stopped toward the top for a couple of pics of the view, and enjoyed the warmth of the higher elevation (?).

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We turned around and headed toward the road we were most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. Leggett to Rockport on Hwy 1. HOLY CRAP!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! Definitely one of the best I’ve ever experienced, ever! So beautiful, so challenging, so diverse, with fantastic flow start to finish. And when you get to the end, an absolutely spectacular view of the ocean! So completely awesome. Etienne and I were fist-bumping each other after that one. Incredible!

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We wished we had hours and hours to play on that road, but daylight wouldn’t last that much longer, so we had to head south. We did take a little detour east on the road to Branscomb, which was also very fun – remote and tight through the forest.

We continued south through Fort Bragg and ultimately turned east toward Boonville on 128. This would have been a really fun road through the forest too, but by now it was getting pretty cold and dark, which made it quite an adventure! We even came across a car on its side, being moved out of the way by the CHP. We blazed back to Boonville as quick as we could, and found a nice pizza place for dinner.

Monday we decided to go inland, on a route that would take us around Clear Lake, and south toward Lake Berryessa.

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We traded off on the bikes throughout the three days. Because Etienne is more of a track rider than street, I’ve got electric heated gear I can plug into the bikes, and his is not and therefore not quite as warm. So, in the mornings he’d ride the Multistrada, with its tall windscreen and heated grips, and I’d plug my gear into the Aprilia, which offers a bracing blast of fresh, cool air. 🙂

I’ve said before that I can’t imagine two better bikes for the type of riding I do, and with each trip I feel that way even more. The Multistrada with its luggage and comfort for multi-day trips, and the Tuono Factory for shorter, hooligan blasts on great routes.

Etienne really enjoyed both bikes, particularly the Aprilia. We both agreed that it’s completely SICK! It does whatever you want, whenever you want (except heat your fingers), it’s ridiculously fast with instant power, and the sound is completely euphoric.

Lots of fun roads this day, but the best was Hwy 175 between Hopland and Lakeport. On the east side of the lake, we stopped for a photo near Lucerne.

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When we returned to Hwy 175 westbound in the late afternoon, we stopped to take in the views over the vineyards. Beautiful!

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Probably the best part of day was heading back to our home base in Boonville, over the hill on Hwy 253. It was nice and warm, and we were just ripping it up! Just fantastic, so much fun.

On Tuesday morning, when we once again ascended Hwy 253 for the final time, I had to stop for a photo.

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On Tuesday, our final day of the trip, our route would once again go north to Willits, then over to the coast on Hwy 20 to Fort Bragg. It was really cold up there near Willits, but as we descended toward the ocean, it got progressively warmer. The road was pretty slippery early on, and we were being quite careful, but as the temperature rose, so did our speed – and we had a blast! This road was very similar to the one we rode Sunday between Leggett and Rockport, absolutely gorgeous and incredibly fun to ride hard. Just awesome!

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We had lunch in Fort Bragg, then headed south on Hwy 1 along the ocean. The road was unbelievably empty. We’re just rolling along at a very brisk rate of speed :), I’m looking at the beautiful Pacific Ocean, and thinking “Holy crap, it’s December! This is nuts!” And it was. But so great!

We turned east at Stewarts Creek, and headed toward Cloverdale. This road was completely insane. I’d done it back in February, so I knew that it started out bumpy, hilly, dark and crazy – but gradually got smoother and faster, ultimately becoming the closest thing to a racetrack you can imagine! In the early part, I was imagining that Etienne was behind me thinking, “What the deuce? This can’t possibly be the right road.” But by the end I knew he was loving tearing it up with me.

We stopped in Cloverdale for fuel before riding the final 30 miles or so back to Boonville. We happened to look at the rear tire on the Multistrada, and saw that it was long past done! Oops! I knew when we started the trip that it was a little worn, but figured it’d be more than enough to make it the 800 miles or so that we might do. Er, apparently not the way we were riding. Yikes! Thankfully, it made it back to Boonville without incident, and we loaded up the truck and began the journey home.

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Just before I dropped off Etienne at his hotel at the Sacramento Airport, we had to stop so he could sample another California institution – and he quite enjoyed it! 🙂

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I drove to Reno Tuesday night, and then the rest of the way home on Wednesday. I arrived back home to a reminder of how great I had it the last few days with my pal Etienne. Snow!

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What an amazing time we had. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity, and especially glad I could experience all that greatness with my incredible friend. Can’t wait to do it again!

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Play Hooky

– especially when it’s a Wednesday in mid-October, and the forecast is calling for mostly sunny with high 60’s, and the forecast for the next couple of weekends is cold and wet, and your desk isn’t quite as cluttered as usual, and your Tuono Factory is calling your name loudly and lustily.

Trackday time! Well, my “street” version of a trackday. Throw the bike in the back of the truck, drive a couple of hours to a spot in Oregon which has an abundance of great riding options, all of which will be free of any sort of traffic whatsoever, with the possibility of some nice fall colors along the way. I picked a very twisty and fun route that would lead me to 276 miles of speed, tire edge shredding opportunities, and beautiful scenery.

Most all of the route was on roads we’d done on various days during our recent NW Touring adventure, starting from Baker City, snaking north to Medical Springs and over to La Grande, west to Ukiah, east to Sumpter and Unity, then back over Dooley Mountain Highway to Baker City.

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Really interesting to see how much the scenery has changed since we were there just a month or so ago. Beautiful fall colors all around, and even less people on the roads or camping than we saw before. In other words, almost zero! Several points along the way it was almost eerie, and I knew I’d better be reasonably careful, since it might be a while before anyone else came through.

I wound up stopping a lot for photos, because the scenery was just so pretty. I travel very light on the Tuono, since I don’t have any luggage for it, and didn’t feel like lugging around a backpack all day. I just shoved the Fuji camera in my jacket pocket, and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t need a flat tire kit or any tools. Or especially the most important items every responsible motorcyclist should travel with. You know – bike polish and clean rags.

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After spending a couple of hours at the office early in the day, I left the house around 9 and got to Baker City around 11 (10 local time). The first hour or two were still pretty cold, with temps in the low 40’s! I had to stop in La Grande for a cup of coffee to warm my frozen fingers.

Once I headed toward Ukiah, the scenery got even better.

 

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Yes, standing in the middle of the highway because there was just no one out there.

In the higher elevations between Ukiah and Sumpter, there was actually a decent amount of snow along the road, which I wasn’t expecting! And I don’t much like the reminder that my riding season is almost over.

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The new forest growth through there is really pretty, as they rebound from brutal forest fires several years back.

 

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And it sure was nice to have the air not be filled with smoke this time!

The Tamarack trees really jump out versus the other pine trees this time of year.

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I got some fuel in Sumpter and headed toward Unity. I always love this view along the way.

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Here’s the same spot when I went through there back in April on the Multistrada:

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I like this old barn north of Unity:

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This was my first trip in a couple of years along the Dooley Mountain Highway, and the first time I’ve seen it since the devastating forest fire. Shocking! I cannot believe the transformation. The road has always been incredible to ride, but you could never really see the road off in the distance, because the trees were all so tall and thick. Not anymore! Unbelievable, and really sad.

 

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I made it back to Baker City around 5, and loaded up the bike and drove home. All in all, just a fantastic day of riding. It never really warmed up as much as forecast, so it was quite cool all day long, but it didn’t matter. I rode as fast as I wanted — er, I mean comfortably within the speed limit, enjoyed every mile, and soaked up the beautiful scenery.

The Tuono is just so completely SICK!! I can’t get enough of this little beast. So tiny, so ridiculously powerful, amazingly comfortable, and with a sound that’s downright holy (or is it devilish?). Anyway, I’m incredibly grateful to have had one more opportunity to get a fun ride in before the coming several months of winter!

Cold, Wet, and Completely Awesome

“So, you did a 900 mile ride over the past two-and-a-half days. How was it?”
“I got rained on quite a bit. It was mostly really cold, with lots of wet roads. Even got snowed on a little bit!”
“Sounds like it wasn’t much fun.”
“No way! It was completely AWESOME!”
And so it was. FANTASTIC! Huh? Even with rain, cold and snow? Absolutely.
Now that October is upon us, for those of us in regions that have four seasons, that means riding season is drawing to a close. Always a bummer. Knowing this, I definitely wanted to try to find a few days where I could go for another ride before the weather starts to get too cold. I thought it would be great if I could see some nice fall colors along the way, too, which always makes for beautiful scenery and compelling photos.
As the weekend approached, and I thought my work schedule might allow me to get away for half a day on Friday, I considered various routes that would have decent weather, be reasonably close to home, and preferably something I hadn’t already done this season. I settled on a loop that would take me on about 900 miles of favorites, much of which I hadn’t yet done this year.
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I was able to sneak out around 1 PM from work on Friday, which enabled me to ride the 250 miles or so from my home near Boise, out through Lowman, Stanley, Challis, and on to Salmon, Idaho, near the Montana border.
They call this spot between Lowman and Stanley “Grandview.” Easy to see why.
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Last time I was in Stanley was six weeks or so ago, on the ill-fated flat tire trip on the Aprilia. It was so smoky from all the forest fires, that I didn’t really take any photos of the scenery, which is usually spectacular. Fortunately, this time was more typical. In fact, there was already even some snow on the Sawtooth Mountains. As I approached Stanley, I just had to stop to take a few photos.
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I continued along the incredible road (Hwy 75) between Stanley and Challis, along the Salmon River. One of my favorites in Idaho, it’s super twisty and fun. Just don’t let your concentration falter – a mistake would mean you and the bike would be swimming.
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As Hwy 75 comes into the Challis area, and meets up with Hwy 93, there is a particularly gorgeous section of rocks along the road, with big signs warning drivers (and riders) to watch out for Bighorn Sheep on the road. I’ve never seen any, though it would sure be cool to see them.
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I headed north through Challis and on to Salmon. Another absolutely spectacular road for motorcycles. Beautiful canyons, pretty trees changing colors, and hundreds of great corners. Fantastic. I wanted to take even more photos, but it was getting pretty late, and I wanted to get there before it got too dark.
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The next morning it was pretty cold, and the forecast where I was headed in Montana and Idaho was calling for a few showers here and there. I was really glad to have heated gear, because as I climbed the beautiful mountain highway near the border of Idaho and Montana, the temps were dropping into the high 30’s. At least it wasn’t raining. Yet.
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On I went up into Montana, up through Hamilton and ultimately to Lolo, where I turned to the west to traverse the always incredible Hwy 12, back down into central Idaho. The skies ahead looked really dark and heavy. I pulled over to move my camera from my canvas tail bag (somehow I managed to lose the rain cover it used to have) to my hard side case on the Ducati, to protect it from the rain. I put the radar detector in there, too, since it’s not designed to be water-resistant. Of course this meant I had to be careful not to speed. Hahahahahahaha, I tried to write that with a straight face, I really did. 😊
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Despite the rain, I had to make the obligatory stop for a photo at the classic sign.
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My timing was perfect, as less than a mile ahead it started to rain on me. A lot. For hours, and hours. It wasn’t raining that hard, and the sun kept trying to peek through, but it was very wet. And pretty darn cold (low 40’s at best). I stopped at a little riverside café about 20 miles in, to have some lunch, and mostly to dry out and warm up a bit! It helped a lot.
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Thankfully, my Klim GoreTex gear really did a great job of keeping me dry throughout the trip. It was really nice not to have to keep putting on or taking off rain gear, as I’ve done in the past. This stuff is expensive, but totally worth it.
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One good thing about this sort of weather is that it often leads to really great light conditions for photos, and cool, dramatic skies, which I always love. There was also almost no one on this incredible road – cars, bikes, police – nobody! I was having a ball, zipping through all the thousands of corners, trying to be as smooth as possible in the wet conditions. It was completely wonderful. Only saw just a couple of deer, thankfully.
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The 99 miles flew by, seemingly faster than the other few times I’ve ridden this road. I just loved every minute. The scenery was breathtaking. I stopped a bunch for photos, and it was tough to avoid stopping even more. It was just so perfect.
I stopped for fuel in Kooskia, and decided to travel out toward Elk City, on another one of Idaho’s best motorcycle routes. Once again, virtually nobody on the road at all. 60 miles or so each way, of just flying from corner to corner, taking in the beautiful scenery while being completely at one with my bike. Incredible. So much fun.
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I decided I needed to grab a photo of this sign for Mrs. Whip – the Golden Retriever lover. I’m sure it must be her favorite name for a town ever. I think the population of this town is about the same as the number of Golden Retrievers in our house – six.
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I was really glad to be able to go out and back on this road to Elk City. It’s just so beautiful and fun!
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I headed back toward Kooskia and then north along the Clearwater River to my evening destination of Orofino. I went a little out of my way for two reasons. First, this road (Hwy 12) along the Clearwater is fantastic, and I also love the hotel where I’ve stayed before along this route. It’s the Best Western Lodge at River’s Edge. It sits right on the river. Check out the view from my room balcony – so great! They have a nice restaurant there too.  Super comfortable, and not at all expensive for how nice it is.
Looking up river from my room:
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and down river:
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On Sunday morning when I went out to my bike, I found there were two complimentary bottles of water next to the bike, with stickers on them which said, “Have a safe ride, with compliments from Best Western River’s Edge.” Really nice of them! I’ll definitely be back, that’s for sure.
Forecast for Sunday’s route, heading south through Grangeville, McCall and back to home was generally pretty cool and wet. I was really glad for the heated gear once again, because at least half of the ride was around 40 degrees or less! Early on, I wasn’t sure it was working, because I was feeling pretty chilly. But it was, thankfully, otherwise it would have been unbearable.
More beautiful scenery along the Clearwater River
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It got colder as I headed up the hill toward Grangeville. This road is super fun, but I had to take it pretty easy, because I thought it might even be icy in spots. When I got to the top, it was just 35 degrees.
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The skies were sort of trying to clear, and I was hopeful that this meant I’d have super dramatic skies when I got to the top of White Bird Summit, which has an absolutely incredible view. Sure enough, it was pretty great. I couldn’t rip my gloves off fast enough to get to my camera. Unfortunately, they’d put concrete barriers up along the edge (they weren’t there a couple of years ago, last time I was up this way). This made it impossible to get a good photo with bike and the view, but I still managed to get some pretty good images of what a spectacular vista this is.
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As I descended the massive grade (2,700 feet in seven miles of road), the temperature went up ever so slightly.
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I rode on through the beautiful canyon along the Salmon River into the cool little town of Riggins, home of lots of outfitters for rafting and fishing. I stopped for fuel, and found a nice espresso café where I could warm up and get a hot drink and some food. It definitely did the trick.
I got back on the bike and headed south toward McCall. The roads were still soaked, and although the sun kept trying to get through the cloud cover, it wasn’t really happening much. As I climbed the mountain from Meadows toward McCall, it got colder and colder, and next thing I know – it was snowing? Yep. 33 degrees, and light snow. It was even sticking to the trees a bit, but thankfully, not to the road. I had to stop for a pic, since I don’t often (okay, never) ride in the snow.
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About halfway through the little resort town of McCall, the sun came out a little more, and it was mostly dry the rest of the way home. I got home early enough on Sunday afternoon that I had time to wash my now-filthy bike (sorry, baby!), and check out my photos.
So, although the weather was a little crazy, it was still one of my favorite rides of the year. No question that part of the reason had to be how much we riders cherish every moment of those final rides of any season, knowing that soon the bikes will be put away for a few months, replaced by snowboards or work in my case.
Again, I’m so grateful to live and ride in such a beautiful part of the world – warm or cool, dry or wet!

Sarah & Donavon

A few months back Sarah, our Administrative Assistant, asked if I’d shoot photos at her upcoming wedding to Donavon. Not only have we been extremely fortunate to have Sarah working with us, but her brother and dad have also worked with us for many years, and are some of the best people you can imagine. The whole family is just wonderful. So of course, I was honored that they would ask, and happy to do it. Thankfully, Vanessa agreed to assist me as she’s done so many times before, and her help is always invaluable.

The wedding was beautiful, and the atmosphere was fun and relaxed, which perfectly matched the bride and groom and family. It was at the Alpine Ponds venue in Meridian, which was quite nice.

It was a great pleasure to capture memories from their magical day!

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Long Moto-Weekend with Friends

Had a blast with five great friends over the past weekend (Friday-Sunday), tearing up central Oregon’s finest roads (not to mention a little bit of Idaho and Washington too!). I’d invited a good friend of mine from South Carolina to fly out and ride one of my bikes (we traded off regularly during the ride), as he’d never been out to this part of the country, and had heard so many great things about riding here. We also rounded up several other good moto-buddies from Idaho and Oregon to come along.
We planned all sorts of different possible routes, but forest fires mostly dictated that we go ride some of the fantastic, secluded routes in central Oregon. We decided to use the “base camp” approach, renting a house near Baker City, OR, where we could all stay and use as a launch point for three separate great rides, with almost no overlap of rides. The house was a little bit removed from town (about 12 miles), but absolutely fantastic. Huge, comfortable, with deer and elk all over the place. https://www.vrbo.com/557042
The routes we chose gave everyone an incredible variety of terrain and riding styles, from fast and flowing, to tight and twisty, deserts, lakes, rivers, forests, plains, everything. And lots of deer and cattle to avoid!
On Friday we ran this route:
We’d originally planned to go all the way to Antelope, to catch the incredible Shaniko-Fossil Highway, but ran out of time and instead went for a quick zip north on Hwy 207 outside of Spray, which is an unbelievably fun stretch of road. One of my favorites.
I told the guys I’d already taken a zillion photos along these routes, so we’d only stop if they felt they wanted to stop to take any (so we didn’t stop much for photos!). We did get a couple on Friday:
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On Saturday we decided to run this route, which would take us north up into Washington along the spectacular Rattlesnake Pass. We also did a quick diversion over to the Snake River between Oregon and Idaho near Oxbow, OR.
Hwy 86 along the river was a fantastic way to start the day. We got some fuel near Oxbow, then rode over the hill to check out the Snake River along the border between Oregon (right) and Idaho (left):
We then climbed the hill into the deep forest along Wallowa Mountain Road, and stopped at the Snake River Canyon lookout point. Thankfully the smoke from the fires had cleared a little bit, so the view was pretty nice.
Very entertaining group – and some great riders too! In the photo we’re all pretending to like each other and look like we’re having fun.
We had lunch in Joseph, and then headed through Enterprise toward Washington. Before long we were at one of the all-time great motorcycle roads, Rattlesnake Pass.
My buddy from South Carolina was blown away by all of the areas we covered, and particularly loved it here.
On Sunday we climbed the hill from Baker City through “Little Alps” and the Anthony Lakes ski resort (over 7000 ft elevation). It was chilly, but beautiful. We rode more amazing, twisty roads, and had an absolute blast. We stopped for lunch in Heppner, then headed back through the forest and deserts, making our way to Baker City, where we loaded up and headed home.
Over the three days, we rode exactly 1,123 miles of greatness. Enjoyed cool, and very beautiful weather. Ate some good food, shared a lot of laughs, and kept it safe despite some rather spirited (okay, IOM TT pace) riding. Can’t wait to do it again!

North Cascades Ride

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Anytime I can stand in the middle of the road to take photos, you know it’s not exactly crowded.

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As I took in the view toward Ross Lake, I managed to turn this one into a bit of a selfie.

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The views continued to be astounding mile after mile. A very awesome place to ride.

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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!

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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!

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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.

The Golden Girls (and a couple of Golden Boys)

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!

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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!

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First time for everything, I guess…

Friday evening my buddy Tommy and I talked about taking a ride together on Saturday morning. Tommy lives a few hours from here near Sun Valley. He and I used to race together, and have done a good bit of touring together as well, but we haven’t been able to make our schedules work to get together for a couple of years. So, Saturday we decided we’d meet near beautiful Stanley, ID. He’d ride up from Bellevue and I’d ride from Eagle, we’d meet up in Stanley, and then ride together out to Challis and have lunch. The road between Stanley and Challis is one of my very favorites in Idaho, super twisty and fun along the river.
I brought a Camelback backpack with me on the Tuono, mostly for hydration since it was due to be in the high 90’s later in the day. I also brought my camera along, hoping that there would be less smoke in the mountains compared to home, where the valley has been socked in with choking smoke from regional fires for a week or so. If anything, it was way worse up in the mountains! Usually the view of the Sawtooths when you get to Stanley looks like this:
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However, Saturday you literally couldn’t even see the mountains due to low visibility from the smoke. So, the camera was pretty useless.
We had a great ride out to Challis and had lunch at a little cafe I really like there. We turned around to head back, and were having another fun ride along the river. We slowed down a bit as we approached a road construction area, and as we passed a slow truck in front of us, something just didn’t feel quite right with my bike. Steering felt very odd. I was trying to figure out if it was some waviness in the road, or even my imagination, but it persisted. I pulled over to check the tires, and sure enough, the rear was going flat – fast.
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Big hole in the tire from a puncture – not sure from what. It would suck for this to happen anywhere, but it was really a bummer where we were. No cell service at all, and about halfway between the tiny towns of Stanley (population 69) and Challis (population 1,000).
Oh sure, I’m smart enough to have a motorcycle flat tire patch kit. However – it’s kept in the large side cases on my touring bike, the Multistrada. No room for anything on this one! Tommy didn’t have one on his Yamaha (though now says he will in the future).
We rolled the bike off to a slightly safer spot, and considered the best options. I have AAA coverage, but I knew it would take them many hours, and couldn’t really fix the tire anyway.
Ultimately, Tommy rode back to Stanley to try to get some help. He remembered that he had a buddy there who runs a rafting company. He was able to borrow the guy’s pickup with ramps, and come back out to pick me and the bike up, and take us back to Stanley. I called Mrs. Whip and told (okay, begged) her to drive the 2 1/2 hours to Stanley in my truck to come pick me up. The mechanics at the little service station in Stanley tried to put a plug in my tire so I could maybe try to limp it home, but couldn’t get it to work.
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So, I spent the next few hours relaxing and waiting in Stanley for Mrs. Whip, who finally got there around 7 PM. We loaded the bike up and headed back, arriving home a little before 10.
Of course, I’ve had bikes for many years, and I’m sure I’ve ridden at least 100,000 miles on them – and never actually had a flat before! Got a nail in the tire a few years back, but it never went flat. First time for everything, I guess. I’m just thankful that it went flat and I noticed it in a very slow section of the road, rather than in a more dangerous spot. And I’m glad Tommy was along for the ride too, otherwise it would have been that much tougher to get some help.
[Knocking on wood that it’s another 100,000 miles or so before the next time this happens…]

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!