Monday, February 23, 2009

February ride to Ripplebrook

The weather was mild and sunny on Saturday so I headed up the Clackamas River Highway (224) to Ripplebrook. There was a moderate headwind coming from the east and very few cars on the road. For some reason, the few cagers I did see were driving very slow despite great road conditions. Some kayackers were in the water enjoying what looked to be some nice rapids.

The air temperature got noticeably colder near Three Lynx, and there was some construction in progress just past the bridge at Indian Henry. Snow was on the sides of the road for the last mile to Ripplebrook. I stopped and took a bio break, then headed into Timber Lake Job Corps to see if the lake was ice free. The eastern half had ice but the remainder was clear. An older gentleman was taking his pole out of the back of his pickup truck to see if he could catch a fish. I'll have to remember that lake for some early season fishing.

The ride back was pleasant and I found myself getting back into the groove on each subsequent turn. I saw a Sherriff heading up-river and was glad that I had been keeping my speed in check. By the time I returned home I found myself jonesing even more for my first big trip of the year, with an as yet undetermined destination.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Planning a birthday ride

The two-wheeled astronaut will be turning 40 this year, and I'm leaning toward a long trip to celebrate. But where to go? I'm a big fan of the HBO show Deadwood and thought about taking a 12-day loop trip there (Deadwood, South Dakota) and back. Or perhaps jaunting down Highway 101 to San Francisco and adding a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to my trip repertoir. What about heading north into Canada?

The possibilities are limited only by time and distance. I get a lot of vacation where I work but because I work in IT it's not feasible to be gone for too long at one time. I think 10 days has been my max so far. If I wanted to be gone longer than that I'd have to make arrangements to get tech support duties covered in my absence. I've also thought about the idea of taking my camping gear to alternate between motels and campgrounds every other night to reduce expenses.

In the meantime I spend many hours in Google Maps planning out various trip scenarios, imagining all that glorious time on two wheels, seeing parts of the country I've never visited before.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Aerostich and Me

"You look like you've been someplace interesting," she said. The waitress nodded her head to the side, toward my Darien sitting upright in the chair next to me, crusted with miles of road spray and grime. "Yeah, we've been around." The next words out of my mouth were related to my lunch order but inside I was smiling, remembering the thousands of miles my Aerostich and I had traveled together. Like a faithful buddy, it would have been apropos to buy it a cheeseburger and shake in thanks.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ride: Willamette Valley Tour

The weather was fantastic for riding, no matter how you cut it. The fact that it was February 4th was irrelevant. It was great to be on two wheels. Period. I gassed up in Sandy and headed toward Eagle Creek on 211, then cut west through the Carver curves. I crossed the Clackamas River and made my way south through the countryside toward Redland. I was taking many roads and routes unfamiliar to me on this trip so I was relying on my Garmin Zumo 450 GPS. When I got to Redland I misread the directions I was given by the GPS and had to backtrack about a half mile before getting on the correct road.

Once I got to Canby I took Highway 99E toward Aurora, cut under I-5 near Donald, and continued west into wine country. The sun was shining and the temps were climbing into the upper 40's and lower 50's. I had to deal with a few slow locals but for the most part traffic was agreeable. During the day a few people pulled out in front of me but only to the point of aggravation, no real threat to my safety. I hit route 219 and headed north into Newberg.

By this point I was getting hungry and in need of a bathroom break and thought by the time I got to Yamhill I'd stop. The small town didn't disappoint. I stopped at Zippy's Pizza in Yamhill and at first had the joint to myself. A cup of coffee, some steak and bean soup, and a BLT made for an excellent lunch. The staff were friendly as well. Marking the halfway point of my trip, I mounted up and headed south on highway 47 toward Lafayette.

I was getting the hang of my GPS and the directions were easy to follow. I rode through Dayton and Unionvale, finally coming into the northwest side of Salem. And then the fun began. There don't seem to be any decent routes east/west across Salem and I ended up riding smack through the middle of town. I passed next to the Capitol Building and noticed that my GPS was trying to take me to whatever it considered the city center before it would guide me to my next destination.

I pulled over and deleted Salem from the route. Silverton was my next destination, and since I knew the route from that point forward that was the only remaining directions I needed. Once reprogrammed, I followed the GPS past the state fair grounds over 25 mph city streets and eventually made my way to Silverton Road heading east.

At this point my left wrist was beginning to hurt from all the shifting I had to do in Salem. On a normal riding day, regardless of miles traveled, my wrist doesn't hurt. All the stop and go riding through the Salem metro area probably trippled the number of times I had to pull the clutch lever and the pain began to show because of it.

I stopped at the small municipal park in Silverton and took a bio break. The rest of the route home was familiar, north to Molalla, then around through Colton to Estacada and home. The day was nearly 180 miles and took five and a half hours. I felt more tired than I normally do on a 250 mile ride, specifically because of the city riding. I learned that it's best to avoid big metro areas, and when I have to ride through them, set waypoints on the outside of town, otherwise the GPS will guide me right to city center. That's no fun on a motorcycle.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chilly ride up the Clackamas

The sun was shining and I had some time to kill before the Big Game, so I hopped on my V-Strom and rode up the Clackamas River Highway. There weren't very many cars other than a few Californians driving 10 mph below the speed limit and the road surface was in good shape. A few turns had some sanding gravel in the center stripe but I was able to slow down and keep in my lane without issue.

It was getting colder as I went upstream so I turned around at Indian Henry campground and headed back home to watch the game.