Hey there, my moto friends.
After a somewhat mild Winter in central Oregon, the riding weather has finally arrived!
It’s Friday morning. I’m sitting down at the desk to do some coding. I look out the window. Hm. It’s looking pretty dang nice out there. I take a look at the weather forecast. The next few days look to be sunny and warm. Perfect riding weather!
Decision made! I’m outta here!
My trusty 2-wheeled steed is ready to go.
Most experienced riders know, Winters are great for catching up on bike maintenance. My Yamaha FJ-09 has a new clutch cable, new coolant, clean air filter, and fresh oil. It’s ready to rock and roll!
I decide on a casual 2-day ride to Alturas, California. From Bend, the route to Alturas that I decide upon will go South down the 97. I’ll then head Southeast, on the 31. Hook up with the 395 South. Cross the Cali border, and pull into Alturas, just South of the border.
The first day will be nice and casual. About 230 miles. For the second day, I’ll be taking a lengthier route back, which will come out to about 400 miles.
I pack my tail bag and jump on the bike. As always, the Triple 850 purrs right to life. The grumbling power plant beneath me sounds, and feels, like a caged beast that has been cooped up for way too long.
The ride down the 97 outta Bend is not terribly exciting. Although, during the Summer it can get interesting, with the hordes of RVs fighting their way down to Crater Lake, and parks further South. But, during this time of the year, there are hardly any RVs to be seen. Glorious! I crank the throttle and release the caged beast.
In short order, I pull into the little timber town of La Pine and decide to stop at one of my favorite cafes for lunch. The Red Rooster is a classic small town eatery, that serves up some delish home cooking. The day’s special is fish, chips, and slaw. Sounds good to me. As expected, it was delish.
With my belly full, I jump back on the 97, and just outside of La Pine, veer onto the 31.
The ride down the 31 winds its way through some timbered hills and then eventually flattens out into the Southern Oregon farmlands. It’s very pleasant and enjoyable riding. Especially, as with the RVs, the bugs have yet to make an appearance. This part of Oregon doesn’t see much traffic. Actually, most of Oregon doesn’t see much traffic. The Southeastern part of the state is one of the most remote parts of the lower 48. I’ll get more into that when I talk about the return ride back to Bend.
I arrive at the little farm town of Paisley. I’ve been on the bike for about an hour, or so. Time to stretch the bones, and recharge on some caffeine.
I love these little coffee shacks. You can’t see it in the photo, but there is a little sitting area nearby. While ordering my coffee, I will often take the opportunity to query the barista about the town history, road conditions, things to see, and so forth.
This particular barista warned me about some possible stray cattle, up the road a bit.
If you’re not the type to open up and talk to people, you should try to work on that. The locals can be a wealth of knowledge.
After enjoying a tasty mocha, I’m back on my trusty friend, heading through the farm fields to hook up with the 395.
The part of the 395 that runs through Southern Oregon and into Northern Cali, is a little bit twisty. On 2 wheels, twisty is synonymous with FUN!
Just after crossing the state border, I see Goose Lake in the distance. This is a fun bit of road that runs along the shore and offers up some nice views. I decide to pull over, snap a photo, and take a short break from the noise of wind. It’s very quiet and peaceful. Damn! Life is good!
After soaking in the scenery, I’m back on the highway. I look down at my gas gauge and see that it is blinking. I also see that my trip odo is nearing 200 miles, since my last fill up. Ah crap. I’m nearing empty!
Now let me tell you, running out of gas in this part of the country is no joke. On this stretch of the 395, which is fairly well-trafficked, it’s not too big of a deal. Also, I have a cell phone signal, which eases the stress a bit. But, as I will be explaining later, there are parts of my return trip where running out of gas, or breaking down, will really set you up for a “messed” up day. ( That’s the family-friendly way of saying it. ).
Fortunately, the FJ-09 is designed exactly for this kind of long distance touring, and being a Japanese bike, it’s mega reliable. I have about 40 miles in reserve, give or take, which should get me to some gas. Sure enough, after about 30 miles, as I arrive just outside of Alturas, I see a station. As I often say, my trusty friend keeps me safe.
After filling up, I pull into the motel parking, check-in, strip off my riding gear, and prepare to hit the nearest brew pub, for a couple of cold pints. Ah yes, this is one of the traditions that I love about riding.
Alturas is a typical little Western farming town. Big ride streets that were designed to accommodate carriages and horses. Old, brick buildings built in the Victorian style.
I find the one, and only, brew pub in the Niles Hotel, right smack dab in the center of town. As is often the case, the locals are friendly and chatty. I really enjoy picking the brains of the old-timers, and trying to imagine what life was like, before smartphones, zombie-millenials, Twitter Presidents, and Kardashians. It sounds like a wonderful time. Hell, what am I talking about? Being close to 52, I remember those days well. Oy!
Morning comes and I’m back on the bike. I make a quick stop at the Niles Coffee Company for my morning dose of caffeine and yummy hot berry pastry.
For this second day of riding, I’m going to head North on the 395, through Burns, go further North on the 395, and just before John Day, I’ll turn off onto a remote country road that ends up in Prineville.
If you’ve never ridden the Oregon 395, it is a very choice piece of riding. Especially, a curvy, hilly section that runs along the shore of Lake Abert.
Now, the thing about this type of riding is, while very fun, the rider must keep in mind the remoteness. If you run out of gas or break down, you’re in for a long day, as there are not many vehicles that will be passing by. Also, there is no cell phone signal. If you pull a corner wide, and run off the road … well, let’s just say it could be awhile before you’re discovered, if ever.
With that being said, the riding is … GLORIOUS!
Once you get past Lake Abert, it’s straight, high desert riding all the way to Riley. We’re talking sandy flats, with very little roadside vegetation, that critters might be hiding in. If you need to clean out your fuel injectors, this could be a good time ( if you get my meaning. Heh, heh. ).
In quick order, I make it to Burns. I fill up, grab some lunch, and then continue up the 395. Did I mention that it’s easy to run out of gas out here?
Just after Seneca, I turn off onto the Izee Ranch Road. Another supremely choice piece of twisty, hilly fun riding. Once again, very remote. Don’t run out of gas, break down, and certainly don’t go down.
After a couple of hours of some of the funnest riding, I pass through Paulina. It takes all of about 10 seconds. By the way, during the entire 2 hours, I saw one pickup truck. Probably, a couple of ranchers on their way to tend to a fence.
I make it to Post, which is officially the center of the state of Oregon. It’s a one-building town that consists of the post office and a cafe. I highly recommend the meatloaf sandwich.
After Post, I find myself in Prineville. I fill up and enjoy the pleasant riding back to Bend.
So there you have it, my moto friends. I know this post was a bit lengthy, but good trip reports often are.
Cheers. Ride hard, ride safe, and most important, enjoy life!