Hey There, my good motorcycle buds!
If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve been on the road the last week, or so.
I just completed the last big ride of the season, and it was fantastic! I’m calling it “Wild and Woolly Ride 2018”.
I tried to blog during the ride, but I have to be honest, after riding all day, and then evening beers, I would get back to my motel room and just pass out. Most of the days were 400+ mile riding days. Yup. I was wiped out. But this I can tell you, I would pass out with a big smile on my face.
So here’s how it went down.
If you’ve seen my previous post ( Let’s Git Wild and Woolly ), you have an idea on where the ride took us. We hardly deviated at all from the plan. We’re talking 7 days, 4 states, and 2,600 miles.
Hell to the YEAH, baby!
Day 1: Bend, Oregon to Pendleton, Oregon – 233 miles
What a way to start a long trip on the bike. Day 1 was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm.
I packed only a small tail bag and tank bag. ( I think I’ll write up a post on how I pack for long rides. ).
I’m tellin ya, I don’t pack a whole lot. A few changes of undies and socks, and my toothbrush. Of course, a tire repair kit, a few tools, some water, and a Snickers bar. Not a whole lotta else. One of the reasons I pack light is because, well, for starters, I just don’t need a whole lot.
Many people haul way too much crap, whether they be going on a motorcycle ride, or just a regular trip. The other reason I pack just a few things is to keep my bike light. I like to flick through the corners, and ride the hills with a bit of “spirit”. Being on a heavy pig of a bike is no bueno.
Ok, so I take off in the morning from Bend, Oregon. I make my way along the 26, to Mitchell, where I stop for my usual home-cooked lunch at Big Mamas. The food is fantastic as always. It’s actually called the Bridge Creek Cafe, but I call it Big Mamas. After enjoying a great chicken salad, I jump back on the bike, and head to the town of Heppner, through the rolling hills of central Oregon.
Did I mention how I like to flick my bike through the hills? You’ll come to a link in this post that will show that better.
I’m not going to describe in detail, every road and highway that I took. I think that would bore the crap outta you. Also, I talk more about the route in my previous post ( Wild and Woolly in Wyoming ). But, I will point out some very memorable roads, and make bucket-list recommendations from time to time. One of those recommendations is the road from Mitchell to Heppner. The 207 to 19 and back to the 207. Very Bueno!
I arrive In Heppner, where I hook up with my two childhood buds. Conveniently, we all arrive within 10 minutes of each other. This was coincidentally fortuitous, as my two buds rode from the Seattle, Washington area, which is a good 6 hours, or so, away. I took this as a good omen of how the remainder of the ride will go.
I’ve known my two buds since elementary grade school, when we would ride dirt bikes together, and cause general mayhem throughout the community. I have no doubt the current residents would not want us back.
A bit of advice, if you have the opportunity to spend time with friends that you’ve known since forever, DO IT! It’s worth way more than you can believe. Actually, it’s priceless. Especially, if you’re all on motorcycles!
In Heppner, we gas up, coffee up, and hit the road to Pendleton.
This is our first time, all riding together. If you’ve ever ridden as part of a group, it’s take a bit of time to synch up. Everybody has their little idiosyncrasies and style. My suggestion, during the first few hours, take it easy, and get to know each other. ( I think that could make for a good future post. ).
Pendleton is a great little cowboy town. Like many towns in Oregon, the people are friendly, chatty, and a real pleasure to be around. Also, most importantly, you can find good BEER!
Day 2: Pendleton, Oregon to Missoula, Montana – 411 miles
Another beautiful, warm, sunny day.
We take off towards the Idaho border, by way of Lewiston. Our goal is to reach the classic Lolo pass, which is just southwest of Missoula, Montana. The Hwy 12 from Kooskia to Lolo is the meat of the fun riding. Heaps of fun twisties through pristine wilderness. Not a whole lotta traffic, including cops. To top it off, much of the highway has been freshly paved. The Yamaha FJ-09 ( Fudge 9 ) was designed for this kind of riding, and disappoint, it did not.
By the way, this piece of riding should be on your bucket-lit.
After thoroughly scouring off any remaining chicken strips on our tires, we pull into Missoula.
Missoula is another great western college town.
Of course, after each day of joyous riding, it’s time for … yup, you guessed it … BEER! And, being a college town, Missoula did not disappoint. Did I mention that motorcycle riding and beer drinking are often sequentially done together. ( Note the word “sequential”, as in … beer AFTER the days riding is over. ).
Day 3: Missoula, Montana to Billings, Montana – 413 miles
This day of riding, truth be told, was probably the most boring. A whole lotta straight and flat. We tried to make it interesting, by choosing a route that winds its way through some hills, but there is only so much that can be done when having to traverse the Montana flats.
We did encounter some interesting towns and sights, along the way.
Here we are, in Neihart, Montana, chattin it up with the owner and proprietor of the “Neihart INCONVENIENCE Store”.
Yes, your eyes do not deceive. That’s an old-school phone booth, in perfect working order. For my young-un readers, that’s how people used to get ahold of each other. ( Sorry, that phone does not support emojis. ). I wouldn’t be surprised if that booth has been used for purposes other than making phone calls. ( If you’re baffled by that statement, ask your parents. ).
The proprietor, I believe his name was Spencer, set me up with some home-made licorice candies. Damn good!
Day 4: Billings, Montana to Buffalo, Wyoming – 360 miles
In complete opposition to the previous day, this day’s riding was probably the highlight of the entire trip. A whole lotta whoop and holler on a radically twisty, and adventuresome road.
For this day, our planned route took us through the famous Beartooth Pass.
If you haven’t heard of The Beartooth Pass, look it up. Here is the description from Wikipedia:
The Beartooth Highway is an All-American Road on a section of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming between Red Lodge and the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, passing over the Beartooth Pass in Wyoming at 10,947 feet (3,337 m) above sea level. It has been called “the most beautiful drive in America,” by late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt.
This description is spot-on accurate.
The day started off a bit on the chilly side. I need to point out, even in early September, the Montana highlands gets real chilly. Bring some extra layers, and Winter gloves.
From Billings, we made out way down to Red Lodge.
Red Lodge is a good town to gas up, partake of some hot coffee, and layer up. Did I mention it gets friggen cold?
For my layers, over my regular shirt, I went with a polypro thermal long sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket, and then my riding jacket, with all the vents closed. Also, a fleece neck gator helped mucho, to keep the cold from working its way down. With all of this, I stayed warm and comfy.
Hear me now and believe me later when I say, you do not want to be suffering cold during this piece of riding. The scenery and riding are too enjoyable to not be comfortable.
Once departing Red Lodge, you will find yourself quickly gaining elevation. Also, in short order, you will be leaning the bike over, into some gnarly corners. Heh, heh. Truth be told, you should prepare yourself to be leaning the bike during most of the day. Make sure your steering column bearings are in good shape. Oy!
Here, you can see what I’m talkin about. I mounted an action cam on my handlebars and captured a bit of the shenanigans:
Alas, eventually, the perfect day of riding came to an end. Another day of great memories, capped off with BEER!
Day 5: Buffalo, Wyoming to Idaho Falls, Idaho – 429 miles
From Buffalo to Idaho Falls, was a fairly interesting piece of riding. We chose a route that took us through the Grand Tetons National Park and the town of Jackson.
Riding past the spectacular Grand Tetons by motorcycle is way better than by car. No surprise there. Just a warning, even after the Summer tourist season, traffic can be nasty.
Speaking of nasty traffic, once leaving the park, our route took us through the ski town of Jackson.
This was a big mistake, as getting through this town was a total shite show.
I’m not sure if going through Jackson can be avoided, but you might want to think carefully on the time of day that you arrive at this ritzy mountain town.
It would seem that this town, as with many picturesque western towns, has filled up with a lotta people, with a lotta money to burn. To support this well-to-do population, an army of worker bees from Idaho commute to the town in the morning, and then commutes back in the afternoon. ( Welcome to in-your-face wealth inequality, eh. ). There is only a single, twisty mountain road to support this commute, and It becomes a parking lot, as the day progresses.
Eventually, after sitting in slow-moving traffic, on what would otherwise have been a damn fun twisty road, we make it to Idaho Falls. Time for … ? BEER!
Day 6: Idaho Falls, Idaho to Baker City, Oregon – 430 miles
Riding through Idaho is always fun and adventuresome. If you like twisty roads through remote expansive wilderness, then Idaho is for you. Our route took us from Idaho Falls, along Hwy 21, through Stanley and Lowman. We then jumped on the 84, to make a quick beeline up to Baker City.
Aside from the riding being heaps of fun, the only memorable part of this day is when we encountered a dead snag of a tree lying over the road.
I must say, this is the first tree I’ve encountered. But, then again, my street riding career is not that long. Only about 3 years. Oy!
I was in the lead, with my two buds behind me, and a guy on a Harley bringing up the rear. The guy on the Harley was just a dude we came upon, and then decided to hang with us for a bit. I was really pleased to have him along, as I don’t see why Harleys and Japanese bikes can’t hang.
Come on, man! We’re all on 2 wheels, trying not to get killed by texting cagers, eh!
Like I said, I’m the lead. I rounded a corner at a fairly good clip, and saw something up ahead, about a 100 yards, or so. It was dang near across the entire road. Of course, I laid on some brake. My primary concern was to not stop so fast, that the dudes behind me smack me in the rear end. With that thought in mind, I laid on just enough brake to not hit the tree. I also was able to steer over to the shoulder at the same time. This allowed my buds, and Harley dude, to see the tree, and brake as needed.
Fortunately, we all came out unscathed. My buds, and Harley dude, worked their way around the tree. While still on the shoulder, I watched for any traffic coming up, so as to wave and try to alert the drivers. Sure enough, a car came around the corner, at which time I started waving. The car stopped, and eventually was also able to get around the tree.
While drinking beers that evening and reflecting on the incident, the only thing I figure I could have done better, was to perhaps, as the lead rider, wave an alert to the dudes behind me, as I was coming to a stop. But, truth be told, I was focused on controlling my bike, while emergency braking, and steering off to the shoulder. It would have been difficult to wave at the same time.
So, there you go, folks. Practice your emergency braking, and trust that your faithful machine will see you through the day. Definitely, do NOT LAY ER DOWN! Heh, heh. I tend to hear that from time to time. “I HAD TO LAY ER DOWN!”.
Day 7: Baker City, Oregon to Bend, Oregon – 231 miles
Well, here we are, my friends. The last day of the ride. From Baker City, in Eastern Oregon, my buds took off bright and early, back to the Seattle area.
My ride, back to Bend, was much shorter. Therefore, I slept in a bit, and generally took my time getting packed up and ready to ride.
If you’ve ever participated in a multi-day group ride, that involves long days of riding, you will probably discover that in order for the entire group to arrive at the planned destination at a reasonable hour, each rider needs to be fairly quick and efficient in getting ready, and getting on the road. Not unlike life in the military, it’s often hustle and bustle.
Being, once again, on my own, it was nice to play by my own schedule.
The ride back to Bend was as fun and nice as ever. I’ve done the Baker City to Bend ride a few times, this season. The route I often take is via the Hwy 7.
Of course, I had to stop in Prairie City for an espresso, and some relaxation in the sun and fresh mountain air.
There’s nothing more blissful than sitting in the warm sun, at a sidewalk coffee shop, in a quiet, little mountain town, warm sun on the face, and a head full of fresh riding memories. Priceless!
Before I knew it, 7 days, 2,600 miles, and two pounds of bugs later, I was back in Bend. Wild and Woolly Ride 2018 was DONE!
This was a great ride, in all respects. Great roads, great sights, great towns, great weather, great shenanigans. But, most important, great riding buds.
If you ever get a chance to do a ride like this, DO NOT pass it up!
A ride like this, I consider to be priceless. Sort of like beating a terminal disease, this is something that even a money bags billionaire cannot purchase. Especially, when it comes to spending time with true friends. As much as people spend time on social media, and making love to their little electronic devices, it’s not the same as hanging out with good riding buds, that you grew up with.
If I were to one day find myself staring up at the ceiling, lying on my death-bed, and awaiting the end to come, this ride is one of the memories that will be floating in my head. Not some corporate office cubicle, not some job promotion, not some piece of software coding that I completed, not some latest big screen TV that I bought. No. None of that crap. This ride is one of many memories that will be wafting around in my noggin.
I hope you enjoyed my post. As always, please like or subscribe. Post a comment. Spread the word about my blog to your buds. All the usual crap.
Thanks for taking the time to read my silly words.
Ride HARD! Ride GOOD! Ride like you know you SHOULD!