|Aug 14th 2016, 02:27 PM||#1|
2016 PNW Ladies Weekend Ride Report
Ladies Weekend 2016
“It’s kinda like a slumber party, but with motorcycles!” ~Magpie. Yes, exactly.
If there’s one thing organizing and leading a ride will teach you, it’s to be flexible. This year presented a few hurdles before anyone even arrived. A month out, a training class for work was rescheduled to the week of the event – which meant I’d be out of town during the week that I’m usually getting things finished up around the house and finalizing the details… and not getting home till late the evening before I had 20 people descending on my house. Then, 2 weeks out, I received notification that Hwy 20 would have a bridge closed…. with no local detour – which is our usual route home from Sisters. Visually on the maps, the reroutes looked daunting – but after running the options, I was surprised (and very happy) to find that it didn’t add all that many miles and would likely take right about the same time, as those roads were straighter. Another stroke of luck, they let us out of the class early on Thursday, so I booked it home and got going on what needed to be done.
Friday, Aug 5th – Meet & Greet at Mel’s
While I was out grocery shopping, Ashfoot was the first to hit the road – she was going to take the scenic route incorporating Kings Valley (Hwy 223) into her goal of having lunch at Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis before arriving here at the house. (During one of our conversations mid-week, I was picturing her standing outside the door like in the old Mervyn’s commercials “OPEN. OPEN. OPEN.” Haha) Flat Tail turned out to not have adequate parking for keeping an eye on a fully loaded bike, so she headed on over here instead. I let her cool off for a few minutes and change out of her leathers before we made a quick trip into town for the last minute items. With 3pm creeping closer, my phone started regularly pinging with messages of others setting off. Most would be traveling down from the Portland metro area, with several coming from the Salem area as well.
Back at the house the kitchen flurry began – getting the snacks and refreshments set out for those that would be arriving soon, as well as getting dinner started. While Ashfoot helped with dicing up the onions, I managed to nearly cut the tip of a finger off. Somehow I avoided getting deep enough to draw blood…which was a first. No worries...everything was still intact and accounted for. With the fixings for the chicken tacos taken care of (btw…17 people do not need 6 lbs of chicken…), I got the guac going and kept mentally going over what else needed to be done (which wasn’t really much of anything).
Matt was the next to arrive, followed shortly by Foxyfuzz, KayLynn and Jenn. Then T Enigma, Short-n-Sweet and Harley Rider rolled in. As we were out in the garage working on shuffling things around two more sport bikes rolled in (currently we were a tad outnumbered). This time it was another red Triumph (TT), and a fun little Ninja. As the girls were shuffling their bikes around and getting them situated, something about that Triumph seemed familiar…. Then I looked a little closer at the rider. I’d only seen her head from behind so far, and was busy doing other things as well as directing traffic – but when she turned around, it clicked some…. “Excuse me…. TriumphGirl????”, she turned with a huge smile on her face and said, “YES!?!”. I couldn’t tell if it clicked for her at the exact same moment, or if she simply already knew who I was when she signed up. Either way, she nearly crawled over the bikes between us to come say hi with a big hug. We figured out we haven’t seen each other since my first track day out at Oregon Raceway Park (ORP) 5 years ago! We’d been in the same Green group class together as well… a couple of the very few women out there. The cheery rider that came in with her was her cousin, Ligia, who she recently introduced to riding. While we were quickly catching up, Michelle, Debby, Laura, and Terri came rumbling in on their Harley’s, and a gorgeous Victory. Somewhere in all this flurry, we’d realized we needed to scootch all bikes a bit more toward the back if we were going to fit more in, so the shuffle began. While we were doing this, we noticed there was a bit of a puddle under Foxyfuzz’s Harley… yep, it piddled. I was just happy that it wasn’t oil, as the bikes were pretty tight in there, and not much room to try and clean things up. Oil on her tires in the morning would have been a very bad way to start the day. It was just a bit of gas from a full tank on a warm day, but it did cause some personal humor later in the night. Coordination and team work delivered a bottle of Simple Green and a rag to her from one side of the garage to the other, and over multiple bikes and it was cleaned up in no time.
By this time, there’d been some comments that the neighbors were starting to take notice at all the bikes rumbling down the streets. Luckily, they’ve seemed to like me since I moved in and cleaned up the yard significantly (it’s always the quiet ones ya gotta watch for!! Lmao). Most of the bikes were going directly into the garage, but we had a pretty decent lineup going out on the curb as well from those that were close enough to sleep at home or had opted to get a motel room for the weekend. The next door neighbor used to ride eons ago, and still works on hot rods…. He’d come on over and was scoping out all the bikes in the garage while we were inside. Magpie and Julie appeared next, leaving just Sirena left till the garage door was shut for the night.
Dinner out of the way, and while waiting, we wound up congregating out in the front yard and driveway – taking pics of our handy nip-and-tuck work in the garage and discussing all sorts of things. Questions about the route, new gear that’s been popular this year, and then…. Pokemon. Most of us were on the same page on the latter topic… but then… we notice Ashfoot viewing the flowerbeds through her phone, and BAM! She’d caught some little virtual creature right there in my petunias. Laughing, everyone wanted to know more how the thing worked and what the draw was, to which Ash started demoing it, looking around for the next one to capture. Soon enough, she had an entourage behind her, all of them using the one phone following the path up and down the sidewalk seeking little monsters.
Twilight was descending upon us, so we moved the conversation into the house before we all wound up with mosquito bites, and soon enough Ashfoot had me digging through the one box I hadn’t unpacked yet since moving to the valley, looking for the beach ball – yep, for those of you reading that were at the first 4 years… I’m still lugging that little piece of inflatable plastic around!! This year has to be the funniest and most rousing one yet, and we managed to not spill any drinks either!! This game has been a such a fun way to get to know each other a little better.
More chatter and laughs into the night, combined with stories of various adventures, how everyone knows one another and catching up with familiar faces we haven’t seen for a while took over most of the rest of the night. Somehow the mere mention of people starting to filter through the shower caused a sudden flurry of air mattresses, blankets and pillows to explode in every room available, including under the dining room table! Devices plugged in, showers running, and little conversations and giggles through the house…it was still early by most standards for these weekends, but with so many in the house, it was bound to take everyone a bit to settle down anyway… and of course I was still running around getting silly little things done here and there. Sirena had been checking in along the way, but as late as it was getting, those of us still up were getting a little concerned, so we were very happy to hear her CBR pull up into the driveway. Decked out in jammies, T Enigma, Ashfoot, Magpie and I went out to greet her and help her with her stuff (and cross our fingers her bike would fit in the little sliver of space we’d managed to leave). Hugs first, gear second, bags next… and then to check out her ultra-cool-McGuiver bag rack she’d fabricated just before leaving. Most of the house was quiet by then, several soft purrs of snores were scattered around, and after a little catching up, I was headed to bed myself.
13 Bikes tucked in there quite comfortably
Typically this next section would start off with breakfast, but that’s not happening just yet this time. See… I couldn’t sleep. The route and various things I needed to remember for the next day were floating through my brain. Was I getting up early enough… how early is too early... computer opens and I start reviewing the maps for visual reminders of turns (especially those that have changed from the usual route). Time checks once again. Midnight… 1 o’clock… 1:30… 2 o’clock rolls around. “What’s that smell? Gas? Is it getting stronger? Maybe Foxyfuzz got some on her clothes… No, it really is getting stronger. Crap.” Yeah, around 2:30am I found myself getting out of bed to investigate why my bedroom smelled of gasoline... clear across the house from the garage, and petrified that others were being kept awake by it was well. From what I could tell, the central air unit was either pulling air into the house through the garage door, or it was seeping into the unit itself which is located in the garage. Either way it got stronger inside every time the AC kicked on. So…. There I was, tip toeing through the house, trying to avoid stepping on anyone and making my way through the path I’d requested we leave, intended for the breakfast prep… and hoping I didn’t startle anyone in the dark. It’s times like this, I’m glad my daughter is grown and there’s no longer that one random Lego laying around somewhere just waiting for its moment to shine. Opening the garage door, I was nearly knocked over by the smell. There was a small new puddle on the floor, and I couldn’t help but laugh some, as this was the same bike I featured last year as a tinkler. I quickly closed the door behind me and turned on the garage light, scoping out what could be done. With the last scootching of the bikes, it put Ashfoot’s GSXR, “Nacho”, nearly up against the back door, but it looked like there was a couple inches to spare. So… from the garage stair, I crawled over my Daytona, pulled the clutch in on Nacho, and rolled him forward as much as possible without touching the next one in front of it (sooooo, right about a whole inch haha). Crawled over Nacho and propped the door open some, crossing my fingers we didn’t wind up with some 4-legged visitor in the morning (or worse – an empty garage. I do live in a safe neighborhood, but at the same time, don’t invite chances). Back over both bikes (I’m barefooted, mind you, with less than a foot between the side of each bike), into the house and back through the maze of sleeping bodies. On my way into the living room, I opened the sliding glass door some as well hoping to help air things out inside. Ok…now maybe I can get some rest. Within about 30 minutes, the smell had started to dissipate and I finally fell asleep.
Edited by Mel on Aug 14th 2016 at 03:30 PM
|Aug 14th 2016, 05:36 PM||#3|
92 miles from Windy Ridge, Mt. St. Helens
Z1000 Kawasaki; '84 & '85 RZ350; '76 RD400; '74 & '75 RD350; '66 Suzuki X6 250..a few others
As always, Mel, a great writeup so far, but still, it makes me a bit sad I missed it again this year. But you never know, I might just show up next year on a new FZ-09!
|Aug 14th 2016, 11:40 PM||#4|
Saturday, August 6th – Central Oregon Loop – 340 miles
Just before 5:00am, my body murmured something about being time to wake up. I asked it if we had to, but then the rude alarm clock confirmed that it was indeed time to get up. Quick shower out of the way, FoxyFuzz got the mandatory first pot of coffee going, while I started in on the sausage and eggs. I could hear a few starting to shift around on the air mattresses, but most of the house was still fairly quiet right up till breakfast was ready to start filling the tortillas. (And thanks to someone having an alarm that signaled the end of the world). Everyone seemed to fall in to a decent rhythm between coffee, breakfast, showers, and getting ready to go. Those that stayed in bed a second too long usually missed out on the quick potty openings between showers, haha.
By 8:50 we were rolling down the street to the meet point for the ride. Harley Rider, JoBeth, Michelle, Debby, Laura, and Terri completed the group for the morning. Gassed up, and the rider’s meeting out of the way, we were ready to hit the road.
With a group this size, some of my decisions on the route are based on what’s easiest to get everyone through lights and intersections without cars splitting us up. This year, the initial way out of town taught me a lesson… just because you have been on the road a hundred times, doesn’t mean you’re going to recognize the visual cues if you never run it backward. Yep… within a couple miles of leaving town, I’d already hit a corner that seemed like what we needed, but wasn’t. I’d slowed down quite a bit, hesitated, then went forward – Ashfoot and I were linked with the intercoms, so she asked what was going on. I laughed and filled her in, that I hadn’t realized I’ve never run this particular road in the opposite direction. Shaking my head, the next corner was the one we needed and I felt better after that since it was back in fully familiar territory….at least for a little bit. With the need for the reroute, I also wound up altering the start of the ride, so as to not backtrack on too many of the same roads during the day. We did take our normal route down to Brownsville, but after that, instead of heading down Marcola, we’d go west a little further to the other side of I-5 and down through Coburg this time. (Marcola’s parade was also the same day, and while it was fun the first time, we didn’t really have a lot of time to spare this year) I still managed to miss telling the girls that the green bridge we’d be going over as we passed through Brownsville is the one the kids walked over (and the downtown scene as well) in the movie Stand By Me. They had just celebrated the 30-year anniversary a couple weeks ago and I wound up looking for the penny in the road that I’d read about in one of the articles. Didn’t see it though.
The roads down to Coburg were fairly straight, with plenty of farmland to enjoy looking at. Unfortunately, about half way down Coburg road, I noticed the headlights behind me had suddenly dropped way back. I slowed for about a half a step, then realized they’d stopped, so I turned around and headed back. The first couple were just pulling back onto the road as I went by, and I received thumbs up through the line back to the sweep. Turned around again and buzzed back up to the front of the line as Morgan chimed into my ear that Harley Rider had developed a migraine and had to head home. One of these days, I’ll get to actually ride with that bad-ass woman… but apparently this wasn’t the day, damnit!!!
Past Coburg, we turned back east onto McKenzie View Drive, which turned out to be quite a pleasant road with graceful sweepers swinging left and right, and beautiful green trees lining the roadway. From there, it was back onto familiar roads for most of the rest of the day, taking Old Mohawk down to Marcola, then over to N 42nd to the onramp for Hwy 126 East. Past town, this turns into Stuart Straub Parkway, then Jasper Lowell Road and Pengra Road – all of which are such peaceful roads to meander down, especially in the morning. In Lowell, we turned onto Pioneer Street, and headed down for our first stop of the day at the Lowell Covered Bridge and picked up Kristin, who would be with us till lunch. This stop never fails to amuse me. For such a somewhat out of the way place (from the city), there seems to always be travelers there, and many from other countries. Both this year and last, we’ve had large families approach us and ask to take pictures with our bikes. The women were completely captivated by Jenn’s gleaming silver Yamaha Roadliner – each one inching closer to it with every picture and lightly touching the handle bars by the 4th set. No harm done, but when one of the women was hovering over to sit on the seat, it was time to back things up a little.
Gear back on and back on the road, we joined the line of travelers headed east on Hwy 58 out to Oakridge. It was only a 20-mile jaunt, but a necessary gas-stop for those of us with smaller tanks. The station attendant looked all of about 17 and new, with the islands full and 19 bikes suddenly appearing, as he stated “out of nowhere”. At least we’re quick fills and manage most of it ourselves!
Backtracking out of Oakridge to Westfir Oakridge Rd, we tooled along the gentle road up to Westfir. At the crossing over to NF-19, I saw a familiar sign… “Bikes on Road”, and I instinctively looked up at the sky for a second. You see, the last time we were on this road the same day as a bike race (or ride, or whatever they had going), was that infamous day that we were also hit by a freak storm. Too many similarities, but the sky was nice and the weather was warm. Normally this portion of the road is a nice ride. Flowing sweepers with some agile leaners thrown in and only encountering some rough pavement toward the middle. However, this year that wasn’t the case. Just as you’d get settled in some, the rhythm of the road kept being disrupted by 2-foot wide strips cut across the road and filled in with still squirrely gravel – looks like they’re replacing culverts. Those occurred about every 2-3 miles and continued up into the rough section… “off the gas - gravel, dive for a line through the sunken grade breaks, roll back on the gas…oh wait, no not yet.” A couple of the hits were hard enough that the comms system picked up my “UGG!!”, interrupting Ashfoot’s music. At the tail end of the worst part, she returned the favor with a long groan, followed by a hilarious diatribe about some tank violations. Hopefully, once the construction work is done, they’ll repave and smooth out the other rough spots too… then this will be a pristine road again for a bit.
At the tail end of Cougar Reservoir, we stopped for a rest and to take in the beauty that had been surrounding us, at the Cougar Crossing campground entrance. Just before setting out again, Ashfoot set up her camera for our annual group picture. She came prepared this time with a mini tripod too!
(group photo will be added in the future)
Cougar Reservoir never seems to disappoint, it’s so incredibly beautiful with its turquoise water. This has been a fairly normal water year, so the levels were up as well, and we made a quick stop along the bridge at the Terwilliger Hotsprings, so that Ash could take a couple extra pictures of the group and the lake. From there, it was another short stint over to Rainbow on Hwy 126 for lunch and gas at Takoda’s. The parking lot seemed pretty full, and I worried a little that the complications with trying to make reservations in the middle of a long group ride would bite me in the ass. I told the hostess how many we had and that we didn’t need to be all in the same area if it made things easier for them. Much to my surprise, the entire back half of the main dining room was available – WHEW!!! As they were getting us seated and delivering water, I got word that JoBeth was running back to the Crossing stop, as she couldn’t find her phone and thought she left it there… so glad that Takoda’s was close to there. She rejoined us toward the end of lunch and was able to rest up a bit while finishing the other half of my sandwich. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to find her phone out there. (I was contacted on Sunday by a teacher in Beaverton who had found it out there, and saw a post from me that I’d tagged her in from the ride. Got them in touch and she had her phone again by Monday – YAY!!!). Sirena had wandered around some, and found another happy dancing flower, similar to the one from the 2012 ride. Ashfoot grabbed one as well, and bringing back those memories, and the smile it’s always given me when I see the pictures, I decided I’d take one home too. As I’m writing this, the sun is out, and the silly thing is dancing away on my bedroom windowsill.
Leaving an extra-large tip on the table to thank them for taking a group like us without a reservation (which they did very well too), we made our way back out to the bikes to roll over and get some gas. You know those clown cars at the circus… where they keep piling out of the car…? Getting gas after lunch was kinda like that, except watching the process of them getting into the car. The Shell gas station next door was doing some construction and had one end of the island blocked off, preventing traffic from exiting the other side after filling up, so there was a bit of 3 and 4 point turns to get out (for the cars). To make matters worse, the stereotypical Porsche owner was pulled in there… and rather than doing anything helpful to those around him, he parked nose in to the pumps, and had gone inside to do some shopping while his car sat there. He does not deserve to wear the Superman shirt he had on. Seeing as he couldn’t turn to the right when backing out, he had to swing in near the next pumps back, complicating everything that much more – while we had a line of 10 bikes stretching back on both sides of the mere 4 pumps open (along with other traffic trying to get in there). Anyway, once the douchenozzle left and we were able to get everyone gassed up (and manage to not have anyone backed into this time by non-observant full size pickup drivers….), we headed further east for Old McKenzie Pass on Hwy 242.
The sun was getting a bit warmer, and I was looking forward to climbing in elevation where it would cool off some. Traffic was fair through the first stretch, but enough that going into the tighter sections it would feel a little claustrophobic on those narrow roads. There wasn’t much in front of us, but the pickups on the other side of the road were getting pretty friendly and encroaching over the line quite a bit. Sometimes being up front isn’t fun, since you’re the first one they see – there might have been some swearing at those. The road conditions were fair this day as well. Most of the right handers had gravel in them, so between that and the cars, everyone was pretty alert up all the way up. Arriving at the Dee Wright Observatory, I was happy to see that there was a stretch of parking long enough to get everyone in, and at that point, I was happy to get off the road for a bit. I took the first few minutes away from the group to shake off the nerves and refocus. The sun was out, there was just enough of a breeze to cool us off, and everyone was together – safe and sound. Things were good.
Kids walking by with their parents were in awe of the lineup of bikes and the variety all in one group. A chipmunk was packing his cheeks full of goodies, scampering off to his rock, then returning for more. TriumphGirl and Ligia were taking advantage of the gorgeous backdrops. And then there was Sirena and Ashfoot – ever the competitive goofballs. A footrace was started up the stairs to the lava rock building above, and then with the ever need to win, Sirena started scaling straight down the rocks on the way back, and then hiding among the boulders as to sneak up on us. Crazy how such a barren place can hold so much intrigue, but it is pretty magnificent up there.
Sometimes there’s things you just don’t say to the group on a long ride… like that you’ve been on the road for around 7 hours so far, and by mileage… you’re only half way done. Luckily, the 2nd half of the route would go faster. Traveling down the other side of the hill from the observatory, we found that the road wasn’t in as good of condition as it’s been in the past, and the traffic was still moderate as well. Outside Sisters, we were supposed to turn north on NF-1012, but we wound up passing it up, as there were no signs designating it as such. Within 5 miles of going past it, I knew that had been the one we needed. Google Maps street view hadn’t been much help on the surface of this one, as all the posted pictures are during the winter and have tire tracks going through snow. My intent was to scope it out from the entrance and take it if it looked decent (if gravel. If it were paved, there’d be no question). This fairly straight 2.5-mile forest service road would save us about 10 miles off unnecessarily going into Sisters to hit Hwy 126. We did manage to take the McKenny Butte Rd bypass that I’ve intended to take the past two years that would alleviate the congestion closer to town. One we got on Hwy 126, it should have been pretty smooth sailing all the way back to Lebanon, but the group kept seeming to get separated by cars in the passing lanes. The sun was getting lower in the sky, which would contribute to hindered visibility as we headed west. It seemed like no matter what I did to keep the pace at the speed limit, I couldn’t manage to keep the group together. With the sun lowering, the temps were also dropping, and heading over the pass, they were dropping even faster. Most hadn’t put their layers back on, and my vents were open on my jacket and pants. RickRick had suggested Sahalie Falls for a stop just after Hwy 126 split from Hwy 20, so that was to be our next stop. A few of the gals were starting to shiver though and stopped a couple miles short of here to start layering up. I thought we were gathered back up, but they were gone again when we pulled into the parking lot. I’d heard Ashfoot say something about a car blocking or something, but the intercom was cutting out some. The tail end of the group pulled in a good 5 minutes afterward. I never did wander past the buildings to go see the waterfalls, so I’ll have to go back up there some day to see what’s there. For those thinking of stopping here, it is a nice shady pull off, but the parking lot is terraced on a pretty steep hill, and limited parking. We all managed to squeeze in, but we weren’t exactly legally parked for the most part. While others were layering up, I was debating the next stop or two – where we could shave time, how far was wise to push it at the end of a long day, how much time another stop would add…etc. In the process of all that, I failed to close my own vents, to which I realized within the first mile of getting back on the road. Ashfoot helped get Short-N-Sweet’s bike up the hill and around the corner for her (steep stop at the top, with not much shoulder).
Once she had it up there and was back to her bike, I lead the rest of the line up and around the corner hugging the guardrail as everyone inched out hoping to avoid traffic. Ashfoot and I had figured we’d have enough gas to skip the planned stop back at Takoda’s to at least get to the next town, trying to avoid the shitshow we’d encountered earlier. Another 10 miles down the road, I buzzed into her helmet with bad news though… I remembered seeing at least a couple bikes that had passed up getting gas last time, so not knowing their range – the planned stop still needed to be made. We managed to get through with less complication this time, but the lines were still long, and plenty of cars intermixed.
The last stop in the town of Walterville was bypassed, and I was crossing my fingers we weren’t going to be pushing too many miles in the seat, as we wouldn’t be stopping again until we got to Lebanon. It was only 58 miles, but that can seem like a lot when you’re tired and been on the bike all day long. While I don’t keep a schedule other than the initial meet-ups, we were running a good 1.5 to 2 hours behind the loose estimate I had in mind that we’d be getting back into town, and that also meant close to or after dark. In addition to those concerns, I started wondering how late would be acceptable at the restaurant we were supposed to have dinner at for a group this size (again, without reservations as it’s impossible to give them a time we’d be arriving). From Walterville into Springfield, my mind was on anything but the actual road – 126 through the section from the falls seems like it was really nice, but I don’t remember much of it.
Just past Walterville, we were routed to take Camp Creek Road over to Marcola, but I opted to stay on the main highway instead and use the simplicity and familiarity to make things easier on myself as well as hopefully save a few more minutes. The stop lights in town were challenging to keep from being separated, but we managed to keep regrouping out to the 42nd Street Exit. When I turned to look through the nearly 360 degree off ramp, I was happy to see the full line there all the way back to the sweep. From 42nd we turned onto Marcola to head north, and the battery on my comms finally gave out just within the first two miles after that. It was a pretty simple route back to Lebanon, so I didn’t have too many worries about losing communication with Ashfoot, but that later turned out to be a careless confidence. Most of Marcola was traversed at or below the speed limit trying to keep the group together. I was earnestly watching the fields to the sides for deer and elk, as this was their usual showcase time of the evening. For the most part, it was uneventful, and I was extremely happy to not see any wildlife galloping about. By the time we got to Crawfordsville, the sun was getting low, and the temps were dropping faster. I opted to run us back through Brownsville instead of out to Sweet Home, as it was more direct and shorter to get back. Only taking a quick glance back at the turn for Brownsville we rolled through the little downtown area before heading out the other end for the last stretch home. Twilight was upon us by now, and seeing bikes attached to the headlights became difficult. I’d slowed quite a bit below the speed limit through the long stretches of Sandridge, as I could finally see to what should have been the back (there’s a rise to the road that allows a further line of sight). Nothing. Slow more… nothing. Taking the turn at Rock Hill, I could see about a mile back to the next corner, but I didn’t see any headlights, and we only had about half the group with us. I stopped the bike and waited… nothing…. Nothing … nothing. Shit. Turned off the Daytona and walked to the back of the line to find out how long it had been since anyone had seen the bikes behind them. Somewhere in the 7 miles between Crawfordsville and Brownsville, Ashfoot had noticed further lagging in the back, and had waved those behind her on, with the intent of bridging the gap. Those behind me had misunderstood the wave to mean to keep going, so the message about the pace never reached me up front. I asked the gals to wait there at the intersection, while I ran back to find the back half of the group. Headlights in the distance turned out to be mirages all the way into Brownsville – the last time the end bike remembered seeing the next one back, but no one was there at the intersection where we turned. I pulled across the street to a vacant parking lot and pulled out my phone hoping to get some information on what was going on. I was happy to not only have a message from Sirena letting me know they’d missed something and wound up out at I-5 and would just be jetting up the freeway and back into town, but that everyone was ok as well. The only time I’ve ever had to turn around like that, there’d been an injury… and it’s something I carry with me every single ride (just ask anyone that’s had to sit through one of my safety talks).
Confirmation in hand that things were astray, but all was well, I buzzed back to where I’d left my group. The sun was down now, my vents were STILL open, visor full of bugs and I was ready to have everyone grouped back up again. Our group was within the confines of civilization 10 minutes later, and pulling into the restaurant in another 5 minutes. The wayward ones were still out in the parking lot gabbing, and luckily Ixtapa welcomed us with open arms (it was around 9:30 by then). Food, warm drinks, conversation, and another extra-large additional tip later, we were headed back to the house. The gals staying at the hotel had spilt off when they got to town, opting to rest and let me know that they’d be sleeping in the next morning instead of joining on the ride as planned. JoBeth had already peeled off to head for home as well.
Back at the house, showers got a much later start, and conversations were light, but not quite as lively. It had been a very long day, and everyone was good and tired. After the bikes were in the garage, I went out to prop the door open again as I picked up the smell in the garage when we pulled in, as well as in the house some. Several showers later, I managed to get in there around 1:30 to allow myself not having to get up quite so early on Sunday. Our route was only half the mileage, so we had a later start time… but with the late return this night, it would mean more would need to be using the shower in the morning as well.
Maps and route information pulled back up on the computer, weather apps consulted, and a few discussions among the leads and sweeps about what adjustments were needed… it was 2 am again before I shut off the light and let the pillow do its work.
There were some definite complications during the day, there are always lessons to be learned and improvements that can be made. Again, the ability to be flexible, making alterations on the fly based on the needs of the group, and adapt for circumstances is a must for long group rides. Overall it was a fantastic day filled with sun, great weather, decent roads, gorgeous scenery - and we’ll all have some wonderful memories from it. My little flower is still dancing.
One more day to go - Coast Run up next....
|Aug 16th 2016, 11:38 PM||#6|
Sunday, August 7th – Coast Run – 200 miles
Early morning alarms really need to know their place, and when to be quiet… seriously. Ok, ok – I programmed the time, and yes, I needed to be up – but still, it’s not very nice. With the obnoxiously cheery tone coming from my phone signaling that it was time to get up, I cautiously hit snooze. Today’s wakeup call was 45 mintues later than the day before, but there was still a little gap of time that I could fudge. Unfortunately, it was very small, and that silly part of my brain started reminding me that I had a house full of people to feed soon. Lucky for me, everyone else seemed to be in the same mode. Who’s idea was it to extend this out to two rides 5 years ago anyway?? haha (the 4th year, we actually had one on Friday as well!) Anyway, shells of souls started rustling about some while the coffee was pouring and the eggs and sausage were being prepared for the breakfast burritos. Fruit and other goodies were put back out on the table for snacks and those that didn’t want the meat options. This morning, everyone would need to pack and load as well, so the extra hour till the start time really helped.
Everyone fed, caffeinated, packed and loaded, we pulled the bikes out of the garage and set up to get going for the day. Just as we were shifting into 1st gear to roll out of the driveway, I got a signal from T Enigma that something was wrong. I turned off the Daytona so I could hear her and found that her bike wouldn’t start. A few tries later, and some diagnosis, it was refusing to cooperate. Since we were approaching the time we were supposed to be at the gas station to meet up with anyone else coming in, I sent about ¾ of the group to follow Sirena into town and hang out there. The rest of us stayed while T Enigma worked through the issue. While I had a tender in the garage, it wouldn’t be enough to jump it, and T was certain that a bump wouldn’t do it. Luckily, Jenn happened to have a jump starter device packed away on her bike, so she dug it out and T’s bike was partially dismantled to hook it up… the darn bugger had the battery poles on opposite sides of the bike, behind a couple of cover panels. With the cables just barely able to reach straddling the seat, they managed to get it connected just enough and got her going shortly after. Covers back on and necessary tools stowed in the tank bag, we were on our way. Amazingly enough, even after getting gas, we were still mostly on time as far as having a few minutes till we were supposed to be departing. Since we didn’t have anyone new to the group, my normal morning schpeel was much shorter. We did take a moment to discuss the tail end of the Saturday ride and go over the miscommunications so that everyone was clear for the upcoming day. Some of the questions posed helped us as leaders to understand a couple things that could be handled better as well. Open communication and feedback is paramount to everyone having a good time and remaining safe, so we welcome that with open arms.
We had 13 bikes for the adventure today, and as we were just about to pull out, the 4 gals from the hotel came rolling through the parking lot to get gas for their journey home. T’s bike started right up this time, so we were off – headed out Hwy 34, through Corvallis to Philomath. Our first destination was to be Mary’s Peak off Hwy 34, and I’d informed the gals know that there’d be a chance to play in the corners if they wanted to. I’d pull the group off to the parking lot at the bottom, and they could go on up ahead of us. Warnings about the usual gravel and advisories to just be conscious, but have fun. As we exited Philomath and headed west though, Ashfoot and I were both watching the sky and looking up the hillside… we could only see half the mountain. Damn you Mother Nature!! Both of us tried to think positive that it was just the normal morning mist, but as we approached the Alsea curves (the most fun you’ll ever have in 6 miles!!), it was becoming apparent that those were actual clouds, not just fog. We agreed to wait and see what it looked like up higher and then make the decision on whether we’d make the 20 mile trek up the hill. As we approached the bottom of the curves, I discovered that Ashfoot has keywords… kinda like telling a pup to “load up” or asking if they want to go for a walk. We’d been creeping along at 30-35mph since we left Philomath to ensure as much as possible that we wouldn’t have slower cars to cramp our fun through here, so at the bottom of the hill, I kicked it down to 3rd gear and said “Ok, lets go play!!”. I meant – have fun… what she thought I meant, was the playing up the Mary’s Peak road I’d mentioned back at the meetup, and .005 seconds later she was buzzing by me and ripping up the hill. I chimed in before she got out of reach, laughing and letting her know she just scared the crap out of me (we were also headed into a corner, or just exiting it at the time). I’d already alerted the group that this was one of my favorite roads, so I’d see them at the top – just enjoy it and take it at their own pace. WEEEEEE!!! (Damn I wish that section was longer!!!). I did my best to ignore the impending weather until I got to the top of the section and just have fun.
Cresting the top, well… yep, the decision was made that we wouldn’t be going to the peak. Not only was it sprinkling, but the temps were pretty chilly. Cold is one thing, wet is another…. Cold and wet – nope, just NOPE. I went ahead and pulled everyone off at the parking lot for a quick rest before the longer stretch and to let them know what the modified plan was. Those that hadn’t been on the Alsea curves before were giddy and hoping we’d see more of it. Since we were cutting out the peak, I was very tempted to go back down and run it again…maybe a couple times. It was chilly though, and I highly doubted that we’d get as lucky with avoiding the uphill traffic again, so onward it was.
The rest of the way into Alsea was cloudy, but we didn’t really see any moisture, and I almost regretted cutting out the peak. Either way, we wouldn’t have been able to see anything up there anyway. Crossing into the Siuslaw National Forest though, that regret dissipated. Ash chimed into my helmet asking, “do you see that?” for a half a second, I thought she saw a deer… then there it was, my eyes crossed for a sec and focused in on a drop of water on my visor – yep, it was starting to sprinkle some more. We discussed the options based on how the sky was looking, and decided we’d go till we needed to turn back and as long as the road stayed dry, we were good to go despite the sprinkles. There are several parks along the way, and I figured we’d take them one by one – assess the weather and use them to stop and check with the group if it got wet. Apparently Mother Nature is just as stubborn as we are though and took it as a challenge, but she has a sense of humor as well. The moisture stayed fairly light as we winded our way down Hwy 34, through the forest, past the parks. Traffic was fairly light as well, although there was a time or two that we opted to pass a few cars (or they’d just let us pass). Ash’s GoPro was still out on its mount and she was getting concerned with the increasing moisture, so she let me know she’d be pulling off to stow it really quick and then catch up. I pulled back to about 35mph to keep the group moving forward, while keeping it easy for her to catch back up. For about the past 5 miles or so, we’d also been seeing an odd white light foam in the road, almost like a soap residue. We both settled on the guess that it was probably salt buildups from the ocean, since we were getting pretty close. After we got home, Ash found an article from the eastern side of the continent saying that they were discovering the occurrence with newly chip sealed roads during a hard rain. They weren’t certain exactly what it was yet, but seemed to be oil residues leaching up through the pavement. It didn’t feel slick at the time, but then we were only going 35 through it too, and I wasn’t exactly willing to test it out to see.
At the edge of Waldport the group had stopped to wait for Ash, and I noticed shortly after that I again had no headlights in my mirrors. Rather than turning back, I just pulled off at a driveway and waited for them to join back up and we meandered the rest of the way into town. It had been raining pretty decently and increasing from Tidewater to Waldport, so I’d been debating more route alterations on the way in. We were to stop for gas at the Chevron on the corner, and then we’d have a chance to discuss what the group wanted to do over at the seawall about a block away. As we pulled out and over to the seawall, I noticed Julie hanging out at the stop sign to signal those behind her where to aim at for the next turn (within sight of where we stop, but not from the signal up the road). I figured they’d just got cut off by the short light crossing Hwy 101, or that they’d got stuck with cars coming off Hwy 34, but she’d been there a little too long. Just as I was starting to walk over there, she pulled forward to come and park, and my phone chimed with a message. It was KayLynn letting me know that T Enigma’s bike had acted up again and they’d be over shortly. Rather than risking getting stuck where the service and help would be more complicated, T elected to head up Hwy 101 and strike out for home from there. KayLynn and Jenn pulled in shortly after and after everyone had made use of the facilities, and taken in a view of the ocean, we discussed what we wanted to do going forward. The route had called for Beaver Creek up to Newport (lunch), then Yaquina Bay over to Toledo, and Siletz up to Lincoln City before the last leg on Hwy 18 to our split point at Grand Ronde. As we were standing there, the clouds were high, no rain or moisture falling, and it was almost somewhat warm – so, do we take a chance and run the route as is? Cut off a portion? Play it by ear? Or run straight up Hwy 101 and call it good, hoping that the weather stays mild. Overall, we decided to play it safe and just run 101. Since that made Newport about 10 minutes away, we also figured on pushing lunch up to Lincoln City, since we weren’t exactly hungry yet.
Traffic wasn’t too bad since the weather was muted, so that was nice. As we mossey’d through the lights in Newport, we came across two other sport bikes, who rev’d their engines some at us. Usually I pull the stuck up British bike owner and don’t respond, but the girls behind be played along – so why not, mine sounded better anyway hahaha. As we were inching along, some movement over on the other side of the two guys grabbed my attention. As I looked over, I see Sirena’s bright and cheery Suomy helmet bobbing around in laughter. Ash then piped into my helmet that she recognized the bikes too, some guys from up in the Portland area that they’ve rode with a few times. Turns out, the guy on the right had been a smart ass, hitting the other’s kill switch as we were pulling forward… Sirena saw the move and had snuck up there and hit his shortly after. Never underestimate us girls to behave, that’s for sure.
With the congestion behind us, it was back up to a decent leisurely pace on the highway. RickRick, had I thought about it, I could have run them up that fun little oneway road outside Depot Bay (yep, just realized that as I’m typing this up. Oh well… some other time.) I can’t say that there’s too much love lost with not doing Beaver Creek, as the road getting there has been getting rather rough, but giving up Yaquina Bay and Siletz – well, as we passed where Siletz meets back up with 101, I checked the sky to the east for that extra little kick of regret. We probably could have done that one without getting wet, but there was just no way to tell from Newport what it would be like further inland.
Coming into Lincoln City, we slowly picked out way through the weekend travelers to the north end of town and pulled in at the Pig-‘n-Pancake for lunch. Parking lot was only half full, so we were hopefully in luck (again). I’m not sure how on earth we do it, but even with the cuts to the route, it was 2:00 when we got there – a bit later than I’d intended for lunch, but not too bad. Two large round tables pushed together, we all got cozy and started ordering some warm drinks. TriumphGirl got quite the surprise when her hot cocoa was delivered, and there was about 4” of whipped cream on the top of it… and she enjoyed every bit of it too!! Food in our tums, more pics taken, fingers warmed, plenty of laughs and giggles, and gear somewhat dried off, we were set to get back on the road.
From here, we’d continue up Hwy 101 for a couple miles, and then split over on Hwy 18 to Grand Ronde. Traffic was average, nothing exciting. The road stayed dry, and for that I was thankful – we all still had to get home too (which could be passing back through that rain for me). Gathered back up outside, everyone discussed their plans for going home after the split and grouped up some based on who was going where. Ashfoot and Sirena would take a more scenic route home, hitting Nestucca and Bible Creek, while most of the rest were taking the more main highways home. I didn’t feel done with riding yet for the day, so I was really wanting to go along with Ash and Sirena, but waited to make the final decision based on weather, time and energy when we got to the split (which was only 24 miles away).
We pulled in at Grand Ronde around 4pm, got our last fill up, and huddled around in the corner of the lot to say our goodbyes before heading back out. FoxyFuzz would be leading the majority of those headed into Portland once we started splitting off, so she took the lead on her Harley “Moo”. Her gals were behind her, followed by Sirena and Ash, with me bringing up the rear. Sirena and Ash were the first to split off, with my exit right after theirs. I’ll admit, as the bikes gracefully pulled off in the various directions, it pulled at me some. (and that damn scene from the last Fast & Furious came to mind – cliché…now, yes. But, long ago I started viewing life like a highway – where we travel together on the same paths for a little while, vehicles coming and going to get to their own destinations.) Another year was done before I knew it. We made it happen without any accidents and no awards, with everyone returning home and to their lives safe and sound. Every year, the month before the weekend, I get plagued with worry. Worry that our luck with our rides will run out, that something will happen. I know that we have a great team of women to take care of things and get through it if it does, but that worry still lingers for me right up until the ladies start arriving. It remains with me during the rides, but quiets down with everything else I’m focusing on to push it to the background. Thank each of you for helping to keep things safe and easier to manage from the front. Your teamwork through the day, your awareness of those around you, respecting others and their needs…paying attention to your own, it all contributes to the success we’ve enjoyed the past 6 years. I really, REALLY couldn’t pull these off without all of you supporting each other the way you do, and working together.
Post ride updates – T Enigma made her trek home in one straight shot, which made for a very full bladder when she got home…but she made it. I got a text a couple days later, sounds like it turned out to be a fuse that had blown causing the problems. If they wired her bike like Triumph did mine – the starter and the headlight are on the same fuse (her headlight had been out, rather than dimmed, prior to jumping it).
FoxyFuzz and Jenn made it home right about the same time, in two different directions and was about the same time I got home as well. I was going to take 22 down to 99 into Albany, but saw a squirrel on a sign along 22 saying “King’s Highway”. I debated past the turn off, then turned around opting for something more interesting than the ultra-straight slab I had to look forward to with 99. It was dry the whole way, and I finally got to see the sun for the first time that day just as I came into Philomath. Usually I’m about the last to get home, but this year it was kinda nice getting back before dark!
Ash and Sirena had a great little journey and got home about an hour after me – perhaps she’ll share her report and pics over here when she gets caught up at home.
Julie – having come from the furthest away, checked in with me around 7:30 letting me know she made it home just fine.
To everyone that helped over the weekend (which is every single one of you!!) – in the kitchen, helping pick things up, or put things out, making sure people were taken care of, making yourselves at home and finding what you needed around the house if I missed getting it out – THANK YOU.
Thank you for helping so I could focus on what I needed to for the rides. To Ash and FoxyFuzz – my Second Lead Cat Herder/Helmet Comic and my Duckling Sweep – huge extra thanks to the both of you for your experience and patience, there’s no way I could do this without you guys being my eyes and ears back there on the road and keeping things running smoothly.
Love you all, and I hope to see each of you again next year!!
(btw – next year’s routes will likely be completely different – it’s time for a change and to see some new sites)
|Aug 17th 2016, 07:05 AM||#9|
PDX OR USA
'07 Shadow 600 (Gremlin) & '90 Hawk GT (Fireball)
I can hardly wait for the next go-round... I'll probbaly bring my Redtailed Hawk instead of my Shadow though...
And Shadow's problem is more than just the ignition fuse.
|Aug 17th 2016, 08:30 AM||#10|
BMW F800R, Honda CBR250R
Thanks so much for sharing the ride with your report - almost feels like I was there! I was so bummed to miss it this year. It's wonderful of you to bring the community together like this.
|Aug 17th 2016, 08:54 AM||#11|
'07 GSXR-600, '05 CR85r
Awesome, awesome write up Mel! Loved reading it all! Once I'm able to get on my PC I'll be sure to upload the group photos and the other photos as well! Sorry I'm so late with putting them up
Here is the story when Sirena and I split from the group and took a trek on Nestucca River Road to get home with a little aforemention of Mel's Sunday journal:
Sunday's ride was iffy with the weather. Started out in Lebanon with the sun at our backs and made our way towards the coast. Came across some mist so we decided it was best not to make a run up Mary's Peak where we knew we wouldn't see anything since the clouds were covering the mountain. We continued on and mist turned to sprinkles which turned to rain but by the time we got to Waldport (which was only a few miles away) the rain had cleared up and the roads were dry.
After breakfast/lunch we headed to Hwy 18 and stopped to get gas in Grande Ronde. We decided from here we would split off. Half the group went up 99 to Portland and Mel went South. The weather was looking like it was getting better so I asked Sirena if she would like to accompany me on the interesting route I had created a couple of weeks ago. She said yes!
Since I had never been on these roads, I took it as easy as I could. These were the most technical roads I had ever been on, with no suggested speed signs for the corners, no painted lines in the road splitting the two way traffic (luckily we only saw two trucks) and the ever encroaching dense forest made it too dark for my dark tinted visor. I started to realize why one of the roads was called Bible Creek Road. Because once you are done, you'll be singing praises! We then hit Nestucca River Road and it got harder. Sirena took lead as she knew the road better than I did. Then came the infamous "Pavement Ends" sign with the known 3 miles of dirt/gravel section in front of us. We slowed to under 25 mph and started to trek through. Now THIS was an adventure! The rocks beneath my tires would make the whole bike shift left-right, left-right. I stayed on the throttle as easy and as gently as I could so as not to have my rear tire slide out from under me. I have ridden dirt bikes but riding a supersport on gravel roads is not my ideal situation. As a few cars drove by, they looked at me like I was crazy. I on the other hand had never felt more empowered! Here I was, as a female on her own bike, on the longest stretch of gravel road I had ever been on and I was still trekking through! Pavement arrived sooner than I thought it would and I could have kissed the paved road. I jumped up and down when I got off the bike as I was so excited to reach ground that didn't move. Sirena and I took a short break by positioning our bikes facing the gravel we had just come from so that we could take a pic next to the Pavement Ends sign.
The rest of the road was much better and I was able to relax. 15 to 20 miles later, the reservoir came into view and we stopped for a photo op as another rider headed the opposite way asked us for directions.
Sirena followed me all through Yamhill, Laurelwood and onto Farmington where we both split off to head home.
Thank you so much for tagging along Sirena! I most likely would have been very intimidated by the roads we took and probably would've turned around!
Edited by ashfoot on Aug 17th 2016 at 08:58 AM
|Aug 17th 2016, 10:00 AM||#12|
Wow. That was quite the ride report!
Mel, I'm curious if you've had any time to reflect on why there were so many problems with keeping the group together? What would you do differently next time? Maybe it can help people who want to lead a large group ride in the future.
|Aug 17th 2016, 10:19 AM||#13|
'07 GSXR-600, '05 CR85r
Plus we did not know that guy, he wasn't apart of our group. I thought it was strange that he parked in the middle of the road too *shrug*
|Aug 17th 2016, 11:08 AM||#14|
92 miles from Windy Ridge, Mt. St. Helens
Z1000 Kawasaki; '84 & '85 RZ350; '76 RD400; '74 & '75 RD350; '66 Suzuki X6 250..a few others
Question for Mel (or others):
How many of those little sections of gravel exist on the Aufderheide now? Are they mainly in the south section coming up from Westfir, or do they go on through the entire 62 mile route?
I've been wanting to take Kevin on the route to Oakridge for many years, and I hate to see such a great road spoiled by them if it covers the entire length.
|Aug 17th 2016, 03:58 PM||#15|
The reflection - yes, it has been made - as is done on all rides for all aspects positive and negative. I was aware of some potential things slowing us down, which were just things that we'd have to adjust around - things that couldn't be helped. Those "things" will change for every ride, so I won't focus on any specifics. I hesitate to say it, but I did find out a couple days after everyone was home that there was another unknown situation happening on Saturday as well. The effects of which, I'd attributed to the "things" mentioned above. Had I known it was going on at the time, I would have addressed it, but I can't say exactly in what manner that would have taken, as this is the first I've had to deal with the particular situation...on ANY ride. More than likely I would have asked those involved to remove themselves, so as to not continue to affect the group and the ride itself.
|2016, ladies, pnw, report, ride, weekend|
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