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Archive for the ‘Fall Rides’ Category

I’m talking about the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe who are the native people of Death Valley.

Death Valley

Destination: Death Valley

With multiple weeks of nice weather, our posse departed Portland, Oregon early morning on September 17th with a cold front and threat of rain and the occasional spit of rain drops in the face. We haplessly listened to the V-Twin’s drone on as we traveled east on Interstate 84 for 426 miles.

Long delay due to overturned semi on I-84

Long delay caused by an overturned Concrete semi on I-84

We arrived in Boise late afternoon which was hosting Oktoberfest in the Basque Block part of the vibrant downtown!  We enjoyed some island fare and refreshments on the rooftop tiki patio at The Reef.  Crowds gathered in the closed off streets for authentic German biers, food and of course the occasional chicken dance.  And in what has to be one of the best Idaho cover bands — Pilot Error — rocked the crowd most of the evening.  Here is a video of the band doing a Def Leppard cover with Derek Roy as lead vocal and the awesome Roger Witt – on lead guitar.

As the evening wore on it seemed filled with young college kids who were trying hard to “be” the club scene.  Like those videos produced by I’m Shmacked.

Idaho Basin

Snake River and Great Basin area

The next morning was a continuation east on the mind-numbing straight road of Interstate 84. However, we really clicked off the miles to Twin Falls doing the freeway speed limit which is now set at 80 mph!  We rolled along and were surprised by how many 18-wheelers tried to pass us.

As a side bar, you might recall that in the mid-1970s, Congress established a national maximum speed limit by withholding highway funds from states that maintained speed limits greater than 55 mph. Do you remember the “I can’t drive 55” days?  The requirement was loosened for rural interstates in 1987 and completely repealed in 1995. As of today, 41 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Oregon state legislators who seem to know more than the average citizen about how to protect us from ourselves just recently increased some rural interstate speeds to 70 mph.  Texas is the fastest at 85 mph.

Idaho

In route to Ely, NV

But I’ve digressed.  This part of our arid motorcycle journey took us on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway which runs through the Snake River Canyon. We rode through bright green irrigated fields, crossed the Snake River, saw a waterfall spilling from the top of a high bluff, and watched windmills turning in the stiff wind.  As we headed further south on U.S. Route 93 we split the Great Basin that covers most of Nevada and part of Utah. There were mountains to the East and West, and the traffic thinned to an occasional tractor-trailer hauling freight or cattle.

Our ride ended that day in Ely, Nevada, which was founded as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express, and later became a booming copper mining town.

We parked the bikes and enjoyed a nice dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.

On the Lonliest Road

On Nevada’s Loneliest Road

The following day we were up early and continued our ride south on one of Nevada’s loneliest roads.  I’m not sure about you, but I find the Nevada desert to be immensely beautiful and awe-inspiring. Even though most of the roads are flat and straight, the scenery is grand and I always enjoy the ride.

Just a few miles south of Ely is a turnoff for the Ward Charcoal ovens.  We didn’t travel down the eight miles of gravel road, but there are beehive-shaped stone kilns built by Mormons around 1876 to produce fuel for the silver and lead smelters serving the mines on Ward Mountain.  As you look across the valley at the Big Basin National Park, there is the 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak standing off in the distant.

More Lonely Road...

More Lonely Road…

We traveled the mostly straight 240+ miles and finally rolled into North Las Vegas and could see the skyline of the famous Las Vegas strip.  Speaking of the city that never sleeps, our posse picked up a lot of traffic at the U.S. 93/I-15 interchange and were immediately greeted with a dude on a sport bike weaving in and out of lanes.  Then adding to the traffic drama he started to split lanes at full on freeway speeds.

I must have missed that part of the training about how motorcyclists should always make sudden moves in heavy traffic!  Most people who’ve had any experience driving in and around Vegas know that it can be a bit treacherous. Cages with locals that always seem to be in a hurry and cabbies are out in force all day and night driving fast and cutting across multiple lanes.  Add to that the tourists trying to navigate a new city on the freeways and it’s a perfect storm of distracted drivers.

After all the traffic hustle and bustle I was looking forward to parking the bike for awhile and relaxing around the pool for a day.  That evening we took on the “clickers” (i.e. porn panderers) who stand on every corner of the Strip and aggressively try to shove advertisements for adult entertainment in your face.

Selfie

Departing Las Vegas

Don’t take me wrong, Las Vegas has world-class restaurants, cool bars, amazing entertainment and great weather, but after a couple of days of breathing air freshener the casinos pump into their ventilation systems to mask the reeking of camels, cigarillos, cigars and those slot machines going ding-ding-ding… I’m ready for some fresh air and wind in the face!

We did have an opportunity to walk through the sprawling Harley-Davidson dealer across from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  We checked out the new Milwaukee Eight touring bikes and spent some time chatting with a knowledgeable sales person about the 2017 differences.


It wasn’t too long (about 48 hours) and Las Vegas was in our mirrors as we rode out into the desert on Hwy 160.  We departed the city early so that we could tour through Death Valley before it got too hot.  It was still in the high-70 degree range as we departed.  We increased altitude going through Red Rock Canyon National Park toward Pahrump as the desert landscape morphs from sandy, rocky terrain dotted with low brush and creosote bushes.  Big stratified rock formations and hills define the valleys in the distance, closing in on the road periodically before opening up to a wide expanse of flat desert floor. It’s a wonderland of muted color.
Rearward pic

Looking back on Hwy 190

We fueled up in Pahrump which is an interesting town.  Like in the rest of Nevada, gambling is legal in Pahrump, and there are several casinos to take advantage of that fact. But, unlike Las Vegas, the casinos in Pahrump are present but not dominant. They’re smaller and a little less intimidating.  There might be some wisdom in staying overnight in Pahrump instead of the hectic scene in Vegas. Certainly the traffic situation would be a lot less stressful.

At the Death Valley junction we turned west on Hwy 190 and headed for Furnace Creek where the Native American tribe known as the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California are located.

Initially it was was quite comfortable, but as we descended into the valley it felt like someone was turning up an oven.  It was still early and the temps were in the high 80’s but by the time we stopped in Furnace Creek it was 100 degrees.  Surprisingly hot for the end of September, but the scenery is spectacular!

Death Valley

Death Valley – Timbisha Shoshone Tribe

It’s some of the best “landscape” on the planet that looks a bit like you’ve arrived on Mars. There’s nothing growing out there higher than your knee yet it will be forever etched in your memory as not just one of the greatest motorcycle rides ever but one of the most beautiful.  At one place in the park you can look down at one of the lowest points on earth at -280 feet in one direction and up to the highest point in the continental U.S. in another (Mt. Whitney, at 14,494).  It’s an amazing color contrast.

Existing Death Valley

Exiting Death Valley

We scurried on out of the national park and headed toward Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395.  The first real town you come to is Lone Pine. In the early to mid 20th century, the area around Lone Pine, particularly the Alabama Hills, which lie between the highway and the Sierra range, was a popular setting for western movies.  Just west of town you’ll get another nice view of Mt. Whitney.

By the time we rode through the Inyo National Forest the desert heat had faded and we were getting hit with cooler air.  Much, much cooler as we gained altitude and it started to spit rain drops.  Not enough to soak the road or require rain gear, but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable.  Our ride on this day ended at Mammoth Lakes which is a ski and outdoor-sports town.

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Surprisingly it rained most of the night, but the sky cleared up in the early morning and we departed Mammoth Lakes with the temperature only in the high 40’s.  A brisk start to our riding day as we continued north on Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra’s.  We rode around Mono Lake, and we climbed to another 8100-foot ridge, which offers a great view back to the Mono basin before starting back down past the turn-off for Bodie.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

The last real town before your reach Nevada is Bridgeport.  We stopped at the Bridgeport Inn, for breakfast.  A nice place built in 1877 and about 23 miles from Mono Lake.  It’s a family run historic period Victorian hotel, old Irish pub, and fine dining restaurant.  After warming up a bit we continue our ride and crossed into Nevada about 50 miles after Bridgeport. Aptly named Topaz Lake covers the state line next to the highway as you cross.

We arrived in Reno for the start of Street Vibrations 2016. Downtown was rumbling with motorcycles of all shapes and sizes for the fall rally which marks the last big motorcycle rally of the season for the west. There was no shortage of vendors and having been to the event a number of times we repeated some of the events over a couple of days.

The Posse

The Destination: Timbisha Indian Country Posse

Part of the posse departed early Saturday morning and some headed out late morning to return back to Portland.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t take many photos on the return trip from Reno as I’ve been on these roads a lot over the years and just focused on riding home vs. scenery.


In summary, we traveled over 2100 miles in 8 days with no mishaps, tickets or mechanical malfunctions. What more can you ask for?

 

Street Vibrations UPDATE:  There was some disappointing  news surrounding Street Vibrations which I learned of upon my return.  Jeffrey Sterling Duke, 57, of Georgetown, Calif. was shot to death on Interstate 80 near Truckee on Saturday night.  According to law enforcement he was semi-associated with the Vagos Motorcycle Club and his Facebook page noted that he was a Green Nation Supporter.

According to officials three motorcyclists rode up to the victim and fired multiple gunshots before taking off.  It’s not clear if this shooting is associated, but you might recall that five years ago this past weekend, members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs exchanged gunfire during a deadly brawl on the floor of a casino in Sparks.

Randy Burke (Road Shows) applies some media “spin” and explains why the Street Vibrations Rally is not to be blamed for the shooting.

Photos taken by author.

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From South Sister – The Pole Creek Wildfire

Not all summers are created equal.  This year the northwest has experience an incredible summer.  With warm and dry conditions continuing across the West we’ve also  experienced a record breaking number of wildfires.

Let me repeat that…  This is one of the worst wildfire seasons on record for the west.  Almost 7M acres or more than 10,000 square miles have literally gone up in smoke!

In a few days I’m headed to Street Vibrations in Reno and it looks like the posse will be “dancing” around the wildfires and smoke no matter which direction we take.  If you’re heading toward central Oregon there is the Pole Creek Fire burning 6 miles southwest of Sisters.  It’s scorched over 16,000 acres and only 10% contained.  In fact, I was in Bend this past weekend and when traveling on Highway 20 burning trees were visible from the roadway.  This fire has fouled the air throughout the Willamette valley and the folks in Sisters have been told to remain indoors.

Smokey Air On The Deschutes River – Bend, OR

If you are riding to Reno from Washington there are more than 240 wildfires burning in that state with the largest near Wenatchee.  If traveling down the I-5 corridor south there are a half-dozen fires in northern California of which most are in the Shasta National Forest area.  If you prefer Highway 395 as the route to Reno be aware that in northern California there are a couple of fires near the city of Likely.  Even Susanville has a 25 acre fire burning a couple miles out of town.

If you’re looking for more information check out HERE on the various forest fires status.  Yep, the Reno ride this year will be about smoke and dodging the forest fires.  Let’s hope the criminal element of motorcycling don’t stink up a good event.

Ride safe and see you at the Street Vibrations Rally.

Bend photo taken by author.  South Sister photo courtesy Mo Brethower.

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

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Starting in 1994 with only 1,500 bikers participating, Street Vibrations has grown into the nation’s 6th largest bike event.  It was estimated (no info supplied on how) that slightly more than 25,000 motorcycles attended Street Vibrations in 2010.  About the same as previous years, however, hotels like the Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, the Nugget and Atlantis all reported shorter stays for guests on average vs. other years.

During the event period there was an increase in motorcycle accidents.  It’s unclear if the increase was attributable to the split-event in Sparks which many riders complained about.  Here is how the stats break down:

Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) arrested 39 people of which 21 were DUI arrests.  There were 15 accidents investigated, which included 2 fatal crashes, including one with a motorcycle.  In total there were 8 injury crashes and 5 crashes involving property damage only.  NHP didn’t report which arrests involved only motorcycles.

Reno Police reported making 72 arrests for various offenses stating alcohol was a factor in most.  They handed out 533 traffic citations and placed 4 people in civil protective custody (public intoxication).  They also handed out an additional 428 traffic warnings.  There were 6 stolen motorcycles (which the Pepper Mill Casino seemed to be hit most often) and 10 stolen tour packs (saddle bags).

Stealing saddle bags? That is just down-right mean! I hope they set up sting operations in the future to take down the jerks.

In addition, there was a brawl reported between 30 people (unknown if it was bikers?) that left one man stabbed in Sparks and was sent to the hospital.  The Carson City man was treated with multiple stab wounds which were non-life threatening.

Speaking of large groups… it’s unclear if related to last month’s HAMC and Vagos MC shootout in Arizona (Chino Valley, north of Prescott) where 27 people were booked on charges ranging from attempted murder to participation in a criminal street gang and where more than 50 rounds were fired between the two clubs… but, there was an extraordinarily large mass of the “Green Machine”, and the “Red & White” along with support clubs like the “Miscreants” on the corner of 4th and Virginia Street on Saturday.  I was on the street at the time and the atmosphere was most tense, it looked as if a confrontation would explode similar to scene’s from the problem-oriented “Hot August Nights” event.  Even the few LEO’s looked somewhat threatened.  Fortunately no confrontation occurred and within a half-hour the groups had mostly cleared out.

And speaking of the Reno police, they worked a lot of overtime and were paid based on a grant called “Joining Forces”.  The “Joining Forces” grant program is one of the many Nevada Office of Traffic Safety’s proactive safety initiatives coordinated directly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide grant funding for special enforcement campaigns, education, equipment and training throughout the calendar year.  There are currently 28 law enforcement agencies in Nevada that participate in this program. Some of those enforcement campaigns include DUI saturation patrols and checkpoints, speed enforcement, traffic signal enforcement at identified high-accident intersections, and crosswalk & pedestrian safety enforcement initiatives.

Lastly, is my rant about the fact that Nevada has over 49,000 miles of road and nothing is more treacherous than the I-80 and U.S. 395 interchange (known by locals as the “Spaghetti Bowl”) in downtown Reno.  Motorcyclists have seen at least 2 years of congested traffic flow from this construction project, but more important is trying to navigate through or ride over and avoid the deep crevices and cracks in the concrete.  It’s dangerous for motorcycles and get it done already!

Stat sources: Daily Sparks Tribune #1#2News 4Carson Now.

Photo’s taken at the event.

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The Sands Hotel (Orange) From Silver Legacy

Previously I blogged about how Street Vibrations 2010 turned into Street Frustrations 2010 HERE.

Sure, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that can go wrong with any major event the size of Street Vibrations and after months and months of hard work the folks running this event know if they just pulled off another stunning performance or if it’s all over in minutes after it starts.  Unfortunately it was over before it started…

I wrote a letter to both Reno’s Mayor Bob Cashell and to Randy Burke of Road Shows Inc., who is the event producer.  I want to thank them both for a quick response and am sharing the information I received:

Reno Mayor – Bob Cashell via Marcia Morse

Mayor Cashell asked me to thank you for your comments and let you know it was not the City of Reno that changed the format for Street Vibrations.

It was the promoter, Randy Burke with Roadshows.  His contact information is: http://www.road-shows.com/contact.php . The City of Reno will be meeting with him soon to discuss this situation and get back to the regular format for next year.

We are sorry that this has happened to a wonderful event and promise to make next year a better year.

Marcia

Marcia Morse
Administrative Secretary to
Mayor Robert Cashell
P.O. Box 1900
Reno, NV  89505
775-334-2001
775-334-2097 Fax
morsem@reno.gov

Randy Burke – Road Shows Inc.

Thank you for your input about Street Vibrations Fall Rally 2010.

The City of Reno provided us with our downtown Reno layout in January 2010. After five revisions, we agreed to their plan. We had heard from our bikers that they wanted bikes, not vendors, on Virginia Street. We were wrong, shame on us.

We will meet with the mayor of Reno next week to discuss bringing vendors back Virginia Street for 2011.

Best Regards,

Randy Burke
Roadshows, Inc.
admin@roadshowsreno.com
775-329-7469

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Street Vibrations 2010 - Thin crowds at the split event!

Formally known as Street Vibrations…

As thousands of motorcycles descended into Reno, NV for the annual Street Vibrations motorcycle rally they were met with what will be surely known as the motorcycle rally debacle of 2010!

Our posse arrived on Thursday (23rd) afternoon.  Checked in to the hotel and walked out on to the street to take in some of the action.

WAIT.  Where are the vendor booths?  Why are cars traveling on so many of the side streets?  Where is every one?  Why are people standing around doing NOTHING on Virginia Street?  We walked three blocks and someone remarked how we’ve yet to see any law enforcement patrols?  WTF?

Sparks Victorian Square - Thin crowds at the split event.

Street Vibrations is the fourth largest motorcycle rally in the country, but you wouldn’t have known that by observing the thin crowds on Virginia Street.  Crowds that mostly wandered around wondering what to do.  It turns out that the information released earlier about vendors being expanded into Sparks really meant — ALL of the vendors were moved to the Sparks Victorian Square this year.  Only the convention center contained vendor booths.  With the exception of a handful of food vendors and a couple official t-shirt booths ALL OTHERS where moved to Sparks.

On Friday we headed to Sparks to check out the vendor booths in Victorian Square.  The traffic control folks were sending everyone into a dead-end parking area.  There were 25-30 bikes at a time getting jammed up with little room to maneuver or turn around creating a blockage that overflowed onto the street.  Dumb.  We finally got parked and walked around.  The feel of the area was nice, clean and open, but the crowds were thin.  Sure you could drink, but are you going to when you’ve got to get back on the motorcycle and ride to your hotel?  Not likely.  Whose idea was it to promote drinking and driving?  Where were the shuttle buses?  Dumb.  And while it’s true they expanded a number of vendors, I don’t know about you… I didn’t go to a motorcycle event to look at scented candles!   The Simms, Kuryakyn, Performance Machines, Mustang Seats and Metzler booths were well attended, but most others were fairly spotty.

Street Vibrations 2010 Event Map -- Split event booths at Sparks/Reno

I met/talked with several vendors in both locations as well as some attendees to get their reactions.  NONE liked the set up.  Not one!  I ask casino employees/pit bosses and they all balked at the setup.  The local Reno H-D dealer attendance was much lower than previous years.  People had front row parking available in the dealer parking lot.  Unheard of in previous years.  H-D employees had NOTHING good to say about the new arrangement.

I received a mixed bag of finger pointing.  The first reason was about how the Reno Police were greedy in what they wanted to charge for crowd control.  The cost couldn’t be passed on to the vendors so, the events producer decided to move it to a lower cost area (i.e. Sparks).  Then we heard that the event had become too big.  We heard that the city council was trying to “Get Back The Streets”… meaning that the days of blocking off streets from residents and creating traffic jams for locals were over.  We also heard that there wasn’t enough parking for motorcycles and then I heard that it was the bikers fault because they wanted to park/drive on Virginia Street… blah, blah, blah.  It seemed like reason de jour.

I’m somewhat convinced it was about $$.  At the end of the day it always seems to be about $$.  Whether it’s law enforcement costs, city liability, promoter margins or [make your excuse here]… it typically comes down to someone not getting enough $$ or someone paying too much $$.

MEMO TO: Randy Burke (Events Producer (Road Shows)) and Bob Cashell (Reno Mayor) – WORK it out.  The split event sucks!  Street Vibrations started on the street and should stay on the street.  It’s just that simple.  Don’t correct this debacle and I predict a fast decline and the end of Street Vibrations.

If you attended and have an opinion (good or bad) then please send an email or contact Mr. Burke HERE or Mr. Cashell HERE and let them know what you thought of this years rally.

Photo’s taken at the event.

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As a society we tend to think that more is better. More megapixels must result in better photos. More square footage must mean a better apartment. More calories must mean a better meal. Often times–save the last–we are wrong.

If you’ve ever attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally you likely noted the dizzying array of vendors, hucksters and hacks demonstrating the various trash-n-trinkets – more isn’t always better.  And what if less is not only MORE, but a competitive differentiator when it comes to rallies?  Thanks to Barry Schwartz we have a name for the phenomenon – the paradox of choice – a notion that posits that fewer choices make people’s buying process easier and they are happier with their buying decisions.

Street Vibrations in Reno is certainly no ‘big-box’ or mega outlet like Sturgis.  And it’s only half the chaos of Laughlin River Run.  That’s what I like about it!

I have the view that people connect with motorcycle craftsman i.e. “artists,” not executives.  We’re certainly not drawn to huckster hacks selling us on something we don’t need or want.  Artists speak their truth, from deep down inside.  They talk about their craft.  The philosophy and inspiration behind it.  Nothing is more powerful and you bond.  It’s as if your listening to a song and feeling what the artist is expressing.  And if the artist does this more than once, you become a fan.

Clearly I’m a Street Vibrations fan.  Largely because of the quality face-to-face time with the motorcycle craftsman – “artists” in the vendor booths.  True,  I’m also milking the last remnants of fall riding before the long cold and rainy winter sets in, but this motorcycle rally fulfills my entertainment, shopping, and information needs.  So, as motorcycles roar out of the Northwest in route to Reno… I’ll be one of them.  I’ve done this trip a number of times (blogged about in 2009 HERE; 2008 HERE; 2007 HERE) over the last 10 years.  It’s never boring and always a great experience.

Twenty-ten looks like we’ll be dancing between the rain drops for part of the ride as our posse helps bring the $$ to the local Nevada economy.

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