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Nampa Idaho to Wilsonville (Portland) Oregon 0 to 476 miles

First things first. Weed is legal in Oregon because after riding through the city it’s clear that if the population wasn’t stoned there’d be dozens if not hundreds of road rage deaths, the city engineers would be swinging from streetlights and all the Republicans would be saying “Oops. Legal weed Portland wasn’t that bad—this is what real anarchy looks like.” Well, at least while I was in town. Portland is pretty, it lovingly nestles into the landscape and the bit of downtown I bushwhacked through was very clean and easily negotiated until you try to interface with the freeways and things get flat f*cked up.

My unfortunate unflatteringly view of things could be due to events earlier in the day. It was hot and it was miserable and I thought I was going to run out of fuel even with a 7.7 gallon tank. We made the decision early on to run up 84, catch 82, and then run down along the river from Kennewick to I-5 in Washington so we could run hard and not worry about going to jail for speeding in Oregon. That was one of the only things we got right. You can roll Washington 14 like the start/stop straight at Road America: pin it and go. The only catch is that there are absolutely NO SERVICES for over a hundred miles which wouldn’t have been a problem if I had fueled up in Umatilla…or anywhere except BAKER CITY, OREGON.

I did a lot of mental match before we lucked into a river crossing and found a truck stop. For context we were at 220 miles on the tank and the trip computer was telling me I was getting 35.4 miles per gallon…I was getting familiar with the Lord due to prolonged conversations and that was a good thing. Remember, this is along the Columbia, there’s nothing but cheat grass and wineries (and NO GAS) for a hundred miles AND it was 90 degrees. I was figuring that if we ran out of gas it may have been a long wait for help sitting in the sun with only about a liter and a half of water.

The Lord looks out for fools and small children.

I dropped 4.8 gallons of fuel into the tank at a Pilot truck stop. Dear Honda, 220 divided by 4.8 is well over 35.4 miles per gallon. Try over 45. I was freaked out for no reason. I coasted down the hills for no reason. I slowed to 70mph for no reason. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

About 60 miles east of Portland the biome changes and trees start to appear, things get green and a certain amount of lush sets in, which is nice, IF IT’S NOT 95 degrees and you’re wearing too much jacket. I was in a pissy mood going into the rose city. By the time we got into the hotel we were pretty fried. Tomorrow is a new day though and we’ll hit Voodoo Donuts for Mychal Allen and see what we can find to do beside re-hydrate.
 

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Hey Crash, beer isn't good for re-hydration. Just in case you are wondering.:D
 

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Nampa Idaho to Wilsonville (Portland)
The Lord looks out for fools and small children.

About 60 miles east of Portland the biome changes and trees start to appear, things get green and a certain amount of lush sets in, which is nice, IF IT’S NOT 95 degrees and you’re wearing too much jacket. I was in a pissy mood going into the rose city. By the time we got into the hotel we were pretty fried. Tomorrow is a new day though and we’ll hit Voodoo Donuts for Mychal Allen and see what we can find to do beside re-hydrate.
If you were on the Oregon side for 60 miles and missed the Multnomah falls you were asleep. The falls at Multnomah are something worth stopping to see. You can walk to them from the interstate at a rest stop in the center of the road or take the old road that includes tons of twisties to just come up on them. I only found the rest area a couple of years ago because before that I always used the frontage road to come to them.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If you were on the Oregon side for 60 miles and missed the Multnomah falls you were asleep. The falls at Multnomah are something worth stopping to see. You can walk to them from the interstate at a rest stop in the center of the road or take the old road that includes tons of twisties to just come up on them. I only found the rest area a couple of years ago because before that I always used the frontage road to come to them.
No. I was impaired by heat and the fact that on a Saturday afternoon every single parking place was full. Pretty though. Didn't know the secret trail. Will try to look for it if I come that way again.
 

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Wilsonville, OR Local Miles 476 mi. to 593 mi.

Well I apologize to Portland. Seriously stoned civic planning leads to this amazing, ethereal, one lane bridges that sweep through the sky to deliver you to various locations and connect with other thoroughfares in long graceful curves. I grew up in California and I know what big, flying crossovers look like but these things in Portland are really cool. It may be that the earthquake standards are different but these flying roads are small, elegant, and even delicate. Weird, whacky stuff.

Today’s real surprise was the huddled (and not so huddled) masses of humanity that live openly on the streets. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and there you had these open spaces under large elevated freeways and you’d find camps of homeless—but folks tended to concentrate in the same areas. Here, in Portland, bodies are everywhere! Clearly “this is my space” kinds of things where it’s not an overnighter. It’s like a “this is my 12 square feet…I’ll be back later” kind of thing. I can’t really describe it well because I can’t compare it to anything except maybe a couple of post-apocalyptic 80s movies or music videos. Even odder was the reaction of people in town because, even with the ever-present humanity sleeping on the street, people didn’t seem to notice. It’s like the homeless or whatever you want to call them, they are invisible to the average citizen. Middle class looking folks step around, over, between and almost through people sleeping on cardboard or, as some seem to be a little higher in the order, those sleeping on actual mattresses under the REI sign. I thought I got around pretty good and there wasn’t a time when as I thought, “OK, that’s the end of that” and we’d turn a corner and BOOM! Three shopping carts with blue tarps spread over them and between the cars, under the tarps are two women in their 30s.

I can’t fathom what I saw. Even now I’m thinking maybe I hallucinated the whole thing.

Back to magic roads in the sky I do enjoy the bridges and waterways. There’s a ton of light rail and I found myself riding in a lane between two trolley tracks for extended periods of time. I understand better now that pucker moment that changing lanes over tracks can cause. I encountered no problems cutting out of the lane and over the steel. Unfortunately I never did find a grated bridge to ride across and was again cheated of the opportunity to look through the deck and see water beneath.

On a stop at Voodoo Donuts we pondered our next move and in a sugar addled state we saw a picture of the Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem. Thinking, “HOLY FLIPPING FLAPJACKS, that’s UGLY!” we got on the bike and headed south to the state capitol to be frightened and amazed. Yes. It’s that freaky ugly in person. It looks like…well…I don’t know.
Eventually we returned to the hotel and I took a long leisurely soak in the hotel pool. It was 98 when we rode into town yesterday and it was 90 today. I’m a Cali kid and I like water. It was the natural place to be. Saw a gi-normous hummingbird taking hits off a purple vining flower. Mrs. Crash and I relaxed until the rest of the Idaho STAR motorcycling delegation arrived. We had a nice dinner and tomorrow we go to a small track in Canby for “advanced training”. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) More later.



Yes. I find this hideous. It's like some dude standing on an unfinished fire hydrant.
 

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Canby Or, cart track, 593 mi to 643 mi

Well, they say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks but I’ll tell you this, an old dog recognizes his old tricks when someone else breaks them out. To put a finer point on it I’ll say that I got to ride under the supervision and tutelage for the absolutely superb TEAM Oregon. We were treated to the TEAM Oregon Advanced Rider Training which is 2 hours of classroom instruction followed by 4 hours on a very well kept go-cart track. Not a drifting track but a go-cart track with a great surface and kept in excellent repair. We brought 13 riders of all different skill levels to the show with us. Our objective was to work cornering, braking and swerving. We all learned, we all improved, kudos to our hosts. If you live in Oregon take the ART course.

My big takeaway was this:

Instead of looking for the exit of the turn you’re in, look for the entrance of the next one because that’s where your exit should be.

This also helps with flow and smoothness because you’re planning and living a little further in the future and that keeps you from getting into that terrible place where you’re half a turn behind yourself and things are getting tight and dangerous. It’s really a whole life strategy that leads to the idea that you’re going to get there anyway so control how you travel.

Now about that old dog and his old tricks. Coming to the close of the session we were just circulating around the track practicing our line selection and suddenly in the air this old dog smelled competition. It perked me up and I could feel the urge to track down the person in front of me and slap a pass on them on the one straight that was a passing zone. Old dogs get to be old dogs by knowing when to back up. I had another rider slap a particularly ugly pass on me and I thought “OH, so this is one of those kind of rides”. See, back in the day amongst the redwoods around Alice’s a dirty pass was a dirty pass. It was one thing to show a wheel and then wait for the dip of the other guy’s front as they pulled up and let you by. Likewise you could simply make a graceful pass that didn’t cause anyone to feel like they were getting cut off or stuffed.

So I got what I interpreted as a “Let’s do this thing” pass. And the old dog in me growled and braked later and started to run…until I realized that the person who had passed me was now less that a bikes length behind a very kind, lovable woman in her 60s who I would consider a “Motorcycle Grandma”—a nurturing, insightful woman looking to improve her craft—one who was not expecting to have 600 pound motorcycle wedged up in her shoulder blades. And she got pushed and pushed and I started thinking “I’m part of beating up Nana!” so I backed up and did everything I could do to get separation so I wasn’t part of what was clearly making this poor lady appear a bit nervous.

Yes. I know freaked out when it’s riding in front of me. I can smell it.
I also know focused to the point of exclusion of reason and emotion. I can feel it closing down my own mind.

I had passed this same woman a couple of times, usually by closing in the last turn and then scooting by as she motored modestly down the straight. Just quick and clean. I’m not an executioner in this kind of situation I’m a surgeon. Do no harm. It was right then when I was tipping into the last corner (a 220 or so degree modest sweeper with a nice bank) I realized that Grandma wasn’t getting set up, she was simply getting pushed. Rather than back off and load up in the turn our pusher was parked on her six planning to just do a raw horsepower pass that would mean it would happen later and potentially ugly near the end of this short straight.

And I realized I didn’t want any part of things. This was degenerating into a flight down a mountain road with little regard for anyone or anything other than ego.

I pulled off into the pit and parked it. Things weren’t going to get better out there. I could smell it happening out there in other riders, in throttle and braking that was no longer smooth but now was pushing to get up someone’s pipe so you could feel fast. It had the potential to be a really bad scene. As I popped my helmet off I realized one of the most experienced riders I know, a true hero for the craft was standing there in the pit as well. I walked over and said, “I’m not going back out there” to which he replied, “Me neither.” We discussed how stupid was setting in. Pride was turning throttles and grabbing the brakes.

We were becoming impaired.

Right at the moment we looked up and the TEAM Oregon guys stopped everyone and announced it was time to circulate the track and have an Instructor follow us for an evaluation. Smart boys, those Oregon fellows. When all was said and done and we were debriefing as a group the lead Instructor made an interesting comment he said we had hit “the point of diminishing returns” and that after that things could really go to hell.

Smart fellows those TEAM Oregon guys.

Tomorrow it’s back on the bikes for the ride home to Boise.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wilsonville Or to Nampa ID, 643mi to 1119mi

Leaving Oregon we decided to burn it home on Interstate 84. The question was how to get to it. We were going to have to go north a little and that meant potentially hitting the AM commute into Portland proper. The decision was made to head around Mt. Hood, through Government Camp and then join 84 on the west side of the Dalles. It was a great idea. Until we started climbing into the mist and drizzle. And the temperature dropped to 41 degrees as the altitude climbed to 4000 feet. It never rained proper but it was wet enough to consider rain gear but not desperate enough to force a stop. “We” were 4 instructors and the lovely Mrs. Crash on the back of our bike. We wound up and around the foot of Mt. Hood and as we went I noticed that the mist and clouds were thinning. I grew up with fog and microclimates and I started to get excited that we were going to turn a corner and leave the wet behind. We did. Wow, did we! Literally we turned a corner and there stood, unencumbered by mist or fog, Mt. Hood. A brilliant blue sky made the rock and snow of the mountain POP. I have only seen Hood from a distance and to be riding along with it looming over us was spectacular.

The entire ride up through Mt. Hood County was green and alive, it looks like you expect Oregon to look like. There even was a couple of log sculptures of Bigfoot lurking in the mist during our drive in the drizzle. I grew up around western rainforests. I love lush and green. All the way up to the Dalles we were in an element that I really dig. I’ll be frank, southwestern Idaho and Oregon east of the Dalles is a bit of a wasteland until you understand how deserts work and can appreciate the browns, greys and blues that make up the landscape of the high desert. The rainforest around Hood was comforting and homey for me; I’m used to dripping trees and fog-filled forests. What a treat to step out into clear sky and see the mountain lording over us.

Once on I84 we got down to grinding out miles. I will admit to rather robustly attacking the climb up out of Pendleton with Mrs. Crash gracefully riding behind me with a trust that rendered her invisible to the handling of the bike.

In the long run the trip home is always a dangerous thing. With horses you worry that they’ll learn the bad habit of “running back to the barn”. This means that they become almost uncontrollable and once they sense they are going back to the barn the takeoff on an uncontrollable gallop. Once this habit is formed it can be difficult to break. It’s dangerous for the unsuspecting or beginning rider. Think of it as the horse’s throttle getting hung wide open; it can be a bad scene. Likewise on that trip home, excited to be there you start running to the barn. The big question is can you realize you do it and break yourself of the habit. For me, when I realized I was smacking the clutch pedal up with my gloved fingers and wondering why my turn signals didn’t come on I knew it was time to start being really careful.

I actually stopped about 12 miles from home to hydrate and refresh myself. I wanted to keep running back to the barn but I knew it was a bad idea. This trip, for me, was like that--raising my self-awareness. I was more in touch with where my head and body were at in order to perform at the best possible level. I believe that having Mrs. Crash on the back and at the track was the transformative factor. I thought about myself from a step away, thinking about her safety, situation and feelings. Yup it’s mushy stuff but as usual, she’s making me a better man.

Fun Photos from Farewell Bend Ore:



 
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