Eastern Wa & Or
[Sorry for not including pics inline. It's just too time consuming for me, so open up another tab and follow along. Some of mine are geo-tagged.]
And my pics...http://flickr.com/photos/wyomingknott/sets/72157605002801700/
The inspiration for this ride was the Pre-WCRM II Warm Up Ridehttp://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php/topic,24219.0.html
out of Seattle. I kinda wanted to go up there for it, but it would have meant 2 nights in a motel, and it would have been very cold on Hwy 20. So I decided to make my own.
I walked out of my apartment at around 7:35am I've been told that this was during the hour of Jupiter, and an auspicious time to begin a trip. Nothing bad could possibly happen. The bike was all ready to go, fluids stowed, GPS booted, emergency supplies packed, tire pressures adjusted. A brand new front tire had just been installed but my rear probably had less than 2,000 miles left in it (Pirelli Diablo Strada's).
When I got the the meeting place it was 7:48am, KenM and EricV were there. I was surprised that Eric was there and ass-u-me-d that he was joining us. I gave KenH a call, voicemail, obviously on his way. Just before we were ready to leave he pulled in. We didn't give him time to rest and we all headed out. As we left, I was confused when EricV, in the lead, went the wrong way.
No worries. I decided that he would beat us to BZ Corner if he went I-84 and followed the GPS for our route down SR-14. We took it easy and passed smokey near Salmon Falls Road. At Stevenson, we took the bypass, so at the stop sign I asked KenM about Eric and found out that he wasn't going to be joining us. We continued on to 141-A and turned left. The rafters were not out yet on this chilly morning. We stopped at BZ Corner for Ken^2 to eat, gas, and be merry. Finally, we started up BZ Corner/Glenwood Road. I noticed a dump truck going up there before us, and knew the road would have some dirt on it.
Honestly, I wasn't feeling "it" as we were going up this curvy, tight, wonderful road with lots of blind corners and little traffic. I was tentative and just poking along but giving it some welly in the occasional corner. When I left home, my right hip had felt really stiff, and despite my attempts to stretch was still bothering me, plus all my movement felt really restricted because of all the layers.
We turned right on Glenwood-Goldendale Rd, eventually one of the Ken's took off at DoD nominalx2 and we made our first run up the canyon, then turned around and did a few more. We stopped at a couple of the turnouts to take pictures of each other riding the the corners. The Ken's quickly tired of this and waved me on. After they caught up, we turned down 142 toward Lyle. It was a little tight when we met one car coming up in the narrow part.
We headed off toward The Dalles for our next stop. I chose our next gas stop at Dallesport. Oddly, there was no one there, the pumps had no power, and I think the sign had nothing on it as well. DoH! KenH suggested a slight change in our route and gas at Biggs instead. No worries. At Biggs we saw our first RCMC500 contestants at the checkpoint there. We gassed up and KenH lead us south on 97 until we turned off on 216. All the way we were passing RCMC folks going the other way - Lot's of Gold Wings. On 216 I noticed a Red Aprilia Futura with hard bags and the original mirrors on it going the other way. I stuck my hand straight up in the air in recognition as we passed. I don't recall seeing that one around town before, and don't know who it belongs to. There seem to be several in the Portland area, I think this would make 6 that I know of, not including mine, and not including another Scott who lives further south.
As we continued to pass all the motorcycles going the other way on 216, we started down the canyon toward the Deschutes River. The colors and rock formations in this canyon were beautiful. Then all of a sudden, there was this stream of cars coming up the canyon - restored hot rods! There must have been 100 of them! I was kicking myself as my camera was out of reach and I couldn't stop. When we got to the Deschutes River, the hotrods had all passed. KenH turned us left on the Deschutes River Road, which follows the river and is used by campers, rafters, and fishermen. It's unlined and narrow, with a 35mph speed limit. Not something you want to speed on, and the views are great, including a falls with native Indians fishing on platforms, just like the old days.
When we reached Bakeoven Road, KenH turned right and led us to a motel/restaurant right on the river for lunch. I was starving! We sat outside, watching the river. KenM and I had burgers with bacon and we both commented on the quality of the bacon. Thick and meaty - they must have a good butcher. The burgers were cooked med-rare and were juicy and tasty. The BBQ sauce was nice, but nothing to write home about.
KenM mentioned at lunch that he was going to need to turn around early, but that he'd come as far as Antelope with us. While we ate, we watched bikes coming down Bakeoven Road and either heading up through Maupin, or going down Deschutes River Road, the way we had come.
As we were leaving the hotel/yummy food place, KenH asked the hotel desk clerk to look up the weather ahead for us. 70ish degrees said she. Yippie, let's get rid of some more layers and, for me, my jacket liner. Wow, my clothes aren't so tight anymore - this is great. So we headed up Bakeoven Rd out of town. Now I was feeling it. As we got past the straight part of Bakeoven I realized that the rest of the road was much curvier that I had remembered. My memory from 1 time on the entire length 2 years ago, was that it was it was a pretty straight road, save for the great part down by Maupin. Not so, it was a great cruise through sweeping corners.
We hit Shaniko (no gas there now) and rolled through without stopping. There was quite a group of bikes parked there, probably for lunch. We turned toward Antelope, which was the first time on that road for me. It's a wonderfully twisty road with good pavement and nice tight corners.
In Antelope there was a group of RCMC bikers stopped and chatting. We pulled off in another spot and said goodbye to KenM. Lucky guy, he got to do that section of road twice. KenH and I continued 30 miles on Hwy 218 to Fossil, past the John Day fossils.
This road seemed like it had a strip of sand down the middle of the lane. It definitely didn't inspire confidence. Also, as I was following KenH, my concentration was going away. I was having to play games to keep my head in it. As we reached Fossil, Ken pulled up at a stop sign and turned his bike off as did I. He said something about not being into finishing the route and having trouble concentrating - I said me too! So we chilled out in Fossil at the general store, having snacks and water.
Ken found a number of folks to chat with at the store. As we arrived, some RCMC and WoW members he knew were just leaving. A few other folks stopped and talked bikes with us and a GiXXeR rider stopped and wanted to know all about the Futura.
Our brains refueled and hydrated, alert, and completely social, we turned North on Hwy 19 toward Condon and then left on 206 to Wasco. We stayed on 206 instead of turning on 97 and continued on paralleling I-84 until Celilo Park where we entered the freeway. But we quickly exited at The Dalles and went over to SR-14.
We immediately started getting some rain and stuff, but it was really light. The weather report I was getting from XM for PDX looked really good - 63 and cloudy. But looking at the sky cast doubt on that, although the weather was moving from South to North. We got to Bingen and I signaled Ken to stop. He had already donned his layers, but I wasn't wearing my water resistant liner yet and I knew I was going to need it. So I pulled up on the main street and parked. We agreed to meet down at the McDonald's after I had re-dressed, and Ken headed down the street. I took a couple of pictures of the weather and 1 of Ken leaving.
After suiting up for the rain, I took off down the street to meet up with Ken. I immediately detected something wrong with the bike.
It felt like a rock was strapped to the tire, it felt unstable, and it felt strange when I braked. Not good. I kept it under 30 and met up with Ken. We looked at it but there was nothing visibly wrong. Then we lifted the front wheel up in the air (gotta love having a centerstand). It was hard to rotate. Then I tried to move the front wheel left-right with the bars cranked over. It moved about 5mm. Smells like bad front wheel bearings.
MichaelP later said that the reason the bike felt fine until I stopped is that centrifugal force was keeping the bearings in place while I was moving. When I stopped, the bearings displaced and the symptoms occurred. Still, the failure must have happened after I turned onto SR-14 near The Dalles, as that was the last time I stopped and they went from okay to not okay really quickly.
We briefly debated riding it back - no thanks. Ken doesn't have a rear seat on his bike, so leaving it and catching a ride back with him was out. I could have got a ride back to Vancouver and left the bike there overnight, but Ken offered to ride back in the rain, hook up his trailer, drive back to get me, and take me home. Wow, well that's quite an offer. Thanks Ken!
I rode back into Bingen proper, and parked in front of the laundromat at around 7pm. That was the end of my ride. Ken had rain all the way to Vancouver. Since I was done, I had a beer or 2 and yet another burger to keep a roof over my head until they closed at 9pm. Then I walked around scenic Bingen and hung out until Ken returned after 11pm. We got back to Vancouver around 1am.
Ken let me hang on to the trailer so I can tow the bike to the shop on Tuesday.http://flickr.com/photos/wyomingknott/sets/72157605012551571/
(exciting front wheel shots)