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Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.10.26 AMThe Pacific Northwest…bounded on one side by the pacific ocean and the other side is the mountainous Rocky’s.

It’s perfect for finding a two-lane crowd-free by-way and rolling past acres of lush forest.  Those acres can turn into meandering hours of riding the countryside on a motorcycle.   In fact, the Pacific Northwest HOG rally will be hosted in the picture-esq Northwest (Portland) in a couple of weeks where we will deliver the aesthetic vision of why we ride!

Welcoming the 1000’s of riders to the adventure will be hot and dry weather.  Not only will they encounter the best weather temps, but they will also have to deal with wildfires.  Yes, the west could be described as being on fire!

Wildfires In Oregon and Washington State

Wildfires In Oregon and Washington State

The fires across the region have forced evacuation, burned down structures and created breathing issues for some.  Twenty minutes outside the Portland metro area the air is thick with particulate and smoke permeates the sky for miles across the region.  In Washington state over a 1000 people have been evacuated in Chelan county.  The Warm Springs fire (Countyline 2 fire) in Oregon has exploded into the largest fire at 36K acres.  U.S. 26 is closed at Oregon 126.

According to NatGeo, on average more than 100K wildfires clear 4-5 million acres each year in the U.S.  In 2014, some 1.2 million acres burned in Oregon and Washington and sadly this year it’s looking like a repeat.

Wildfires In Canada, BC

Wildfires In Canada, BC

In scanning the reports I got to thinking about the last time I’ve taken a motorcycle trip during the summer that wasn’t marred with a wildfire.  Of course it depends on how many miles I’ve traveled, but in a typical week long ride during the summer I realized that it’s been a fair number of years where I didn’t pass near or through a burning wildfire during a ride.  I’ve had multiple trips to Sturgis.  Through Yellowstone Park, through Glacier National Park – both with fires on multiple trips.  There was U.S. Route 550 or the “million dollar highway” that had a San Jan National Forest fire.  There was Beartooth Highway (U.S. Hwy 212) and a lingering wildfire.  I’ve taken a couple extended trips up north to British Columbia Canada and the land of lumberjacks was on fire both times.  In most all cases we were not close enough to see flames, but dark smoke and particles filled the sky for many miles as we navigated across the country.

In Washington and Oregon there are now 31 major wildfires currently burning.  See the map.  In Canada BC, there are even more.

In addition to the economic woes that these fires cause it does makes one wonder whether motorcyclists should even consider traveling the west during the height of the summer fire season.

But, life is for living and I’m not talking about the thrill of a car ride snaking through the marquee Going-to-the-Sun-Road in Glacier.  It’s about feeling small in a very big world and how that is a great thing on a motorcycle.  So, I’ll continue to plan motorcycle trips to ride the west – wildfires and all!  Sure some of my photos will be filled with smoke obscuring the mountain views but, just know that I’ll have a big smile underneath that slightly wetted down dew rag covering my face!

Photos courtesy of the Oregonian and NWCC.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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IMG_3406The World’s Fair came to Spokane in 1974.  Forty years later the first tri-state Pacific Northwest HOG rally came to town and is now in the books!

Several of us rode up and took part in the event along with over 1600 other attendees plus a mix of locals and volunteers.

Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson hosted the PNW HOG Rally at its 11-acre complex. The rally had good music, food, refreshments and local vendors from the biking community.  At one point there were over a 1,000 motorcycles parked on the grass in front of Lone Wolf H-D to enjoy the festivities.

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene

A few shout-outs from this blogger:

  • Thanks to Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson for being a great host.
  •  Kudos to J.T. Hasley (H.O.G. Events Manager) and Bob Klein (Harley-Davidson) for supporting.
  • Terrific job on the printed maps and rides that made it safe and fun.
  •  As a company sponsored riding club how can I not thank Harley-Davidson and Harley Owners Group for bringing it all together.
  •  Lastly, a sincere thanks to the many volunteers who made us all feel welcome and put in some long hot days to make the event a success.
Closing Dinner Celebration

Closing Dinner Celebration

A job well done!

A few of us stopped in at Cruisers on the state line where many roads lead there and one that goes right through the joint.  I’m not sure if my hearing will recover from either the band or the deafening loud pipes as folks motored through.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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red-lightI’m talking about Senate Bill 5141 which was signed by Gov. Inslee and took effect on June 14th.

It states that if a motorcyclist approaches an intersection, including a left turn intersection, controlled by a triggered traffic control signal using a vehicle detection device, and that signal is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle, the motorcyclist must come to a complete stop. If the signal fails to operate after one cycle, the motorcyclist may proceed through the intersection or turn left after exercising due care.

The Washington legislation provided a legal way for motorcyclists to get through a red light and according to the American Motorcyclist Association, 14 other states have passed similar legislation.

In Oregon, motorcycle detection issues remain a problem at traffic lights in both rural and urban areas.  If you’re like me you’ve experienced the frustration and/or jockeyed around so that the auto behind can trigger the light.  And when motorcyclists encounter devices that fail to notice their presence, most riders will proceed through the red light after taking “due caution.”

I’m wondering when the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety will take up the issue?

Many cagers and law makers believe that motorcyclists are at fault in triggering traffic lights so, in the spirit of reporting both sides… the Oregon Motorcycle Manual and the TEAM Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program offer advice on how to position a motorcycle correctly at traffic stops so signaling devices will hopefully register it.

Photo courtesy of the internet.

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Real Time Signs Being Tested

Real Time Signs Being Tested

Drum roll…. it’s coming this summer.  Oregon motorcycle riders will be bossed around by technology.

I’m talking about how the state has money to burn on solar arrays, sensors, LED signs, and computers at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

You’ve likely noticed the construction of those seven full-color, LED, 30-foot wide traveler information signs on OR 217, four in the southbound lanes and three in the northbound lanes.  In addition, there will be five smaller signs on roads leading to OR 217, including OR 99W, Barnes Road and Kruse Way.  The system will  include subterranean sensors, moisture tracking all communicating via advanced computer algorithms that we’re told will fix the congestion-plagued OR 217.

Real Time Signs - WDOT

Real Time Signs – WDOT

What?  Congestion on Oregon 217 with all the light rail, WES and bike paths, how is that possible?

If you’re like me… texting, day dreaming, adjusting the navigation system, eating a bran muffin and chugging down an extra hot vanilla latte while shaving during the work commute… we missed all the lane expansions during the last 30+ years on Oregon 217!   Of course there was no expansion and all the transit geeks in Portland (who hate all things automobile) celebrate weekly that it’s still only 4 lanes.  To be fair, there have been small widening of the shoulders on three sections of OR 217.  Of course there have been several signage changes and who can forget that rutted out mess last year that was re-paved?!

Variable Message Signs

Variable Message Signs

But, what ever happened to the studies for widening 217 or how about that Newberg-Dundee Bypass?   ODOT’s stated goal is to improve transportation operations by first addressing management techniques prior to building additional capacity to a highway.

But I’ve strayed off topic.

There are approximately 200 crashes a year along OR 217, which equates to a crash occurring four out of every five weekdays.  So, ODOT is following the likes of Seattle (clearly they are traffic leaders to emulate!) by powering up strategically placed signs displaying variable speeds and real-time traffic reports based on the weather and road conditions.

When ODOT flips the power switch on that $6.5 million artificial traffic-intelligence project, motorcyclists will no longer have to endure recurring bottlenecks, high crash rates, and unreliable travel times.  We won’t witness panic braking during peak travel times and can ignore those short weaving areas that create erratic changes to traffic speeds due to interchange spacing.  The new flash advisories will tell us if it’s raining (duh!), if a crash has occurred if it’s being cleared and which lane will glide you along with faster commute times to your destination.  At least that’s ODOT’s hope.

Color me skeptical about this “intelligent” system.

UPDATE: July 11, 2014 — ODOT turned-on the first of the RealTime travel signs yesterday on OR 217.  An email message went out highlighting the accomplishment and evangelizing that National studies show that advisory speed signs have reduced overall crashes by 20 percent, reduced rear-end collisions by 30 percent and reduced secondary crashes by 40 percent.

Full Disclosure:  I’ve been disappointed in ODOT for 4+ years now about a proposal to use the Variable Message Signs (VMS) to help make the driving public more aware of motorcycles.  It’s been rejected multiple times.  The absurd viewpoint, especially given the 12 new signs on OR 217 going off /on multiple times a day has ‘artificially’ influenced this writer.

Photos courtesy of WDOT and CalTran.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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PacificNW-RallyEach week motorcycle rally’s seem to rise as the temperatures and if you attend one the smiles are contagious!

I wanted to bring your attention to the first ever tri-state H.O.G. rally which occurs July 24-27th in Spokane Valley, Washington.

No doubt you’ve seen on TV documentaries, rumor or cameo showcases in the media where a rally is deemed a magical place.  It’s hard not to notice the spectacle of all things chrome and leather symbolizing the culture of Harley-Davidson.  Motorcycle rally’s are an American icon and you can’t mistake the looks, the sound and the feel of a H.O.G rally!

Some of you will undoubtedly try and tell me that there is no new blood coming to the H.O.G. rally’s.  That they’ve become nothing more than the equivalent of a state fair.  Conventional, cliche, and common.  And then I always seem to get an email or two reciting the Sturgis Rally statistic… the average age of a Sturgis attendee is about 52 and the only young people there are usually brought in as staff.  So, take your eyes off of the bartender from Raleigh trying to earn college tuition for the year with the pronounced cleavage and take notice of all the AARP people behind her.

My advice is if you don’t have fun at rallies then, give up!  Don’t go because whining is so 1999.

Like many of you, however, I enjoy motorcycle rallies.  It’s that simple.  The people, the energy, the passion, the spirit, the vendors and, of course, the motorcycles. It’s a great opportunity to have real conversations with other enthusiasts.  And, I’m a sucker for information, for your story.  I want to hear everybody’s story.

It’s tough to narrow down a list of things that I like about a motorcycle rally, but after the most important—wind in the face journey—here are a few:

People Watching—The cast of characters you see at motorcycle rallies are unlike people you’ll see at any other type of event, bar none. And the funny thing about it is this – they’re not just hardcore bikers.  I’ve seen kids to grandparents, from plumbers and bus drivers to attorneys and Wall Street traders. From long hair and long beards to clean cut and clean shaven. From party-crazed to people that could be your next door neighbors.

What’s New—Rally’s are the place to find some of the newest bike products and gear. This is where manufacturers and distributors launch new merchandise, show off their stuff and try to start a buzz with their best customers.  In addition you’re likely to get wind of a special place to take your bike for a “once-in-a-lifetime” journey, whether it’s a major ride or a side trip. And you’ll know it’s worth experiencing the ride for yourself because the people at rallies live for this stuff.

Showcase—Motorcycle rally’s are the ultimate place to showoff your bike. This is why many of us spend every free hour riding, cleaning, fine tuning or just staring at our motorcycle. Whether you ride the newest model or decades-old legend, rallies are where like-minded folks can talk about their rides and showoff the latest accessories.

Downtime Fun On The Road—Concerts featuring rock and country bands that I care about. Regional food and refreshments from the best local hangouts. Bike shows and parades. Biker gear and apparel from national and independent brands.

Passion—Riders who show up at a motorcycle rally are passionate about their bikes.  It’s easy to sit down and talk for hours, sharing stories about the sights you’ve seen, the terrain you’ve covered, and the roads you’ve traveled.

What’s your favorite part of a motorcycle rally?

See you in Spokane Valley!

Photo courtesy of H.O.G.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”  said Dr. Clark, Dixie Region Medical Trauma Center.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

You haven’t heard from me for several days because I was on a ride to southern Utah for the annual Shark Week gathering.

Shark huh?

backward-picI’m not talking about the Discovery Channel event this week, but a semi-secret society of Shark Nose owners (a.k.a. Road Glide or ‘Glides’) that meet up on an annual basis and talk about the joy of wrenching and riding a ‘Glide’.  More importantly was the opportunity to ride through Zion National Park and see Bryce Canyon up close.  You know, those sorbet-colored, sandcastle-like spires and hoodoos that look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Mineral Hot Springs

Mineral Hot Springs

So we loaded up the iron steeds and rolled out of Portland early in route to St. George, Utah.  It seems that ‘Gliders’ like to awaken and ride off early.  Not me so much, but I conformed with the posse knowing that the previous 5-days had record heat and getting a lot of miles under our belt prior to the real oppressive heat would be a good thing.

We planned to take three days to cover the approximately 1100 miles to St. George.

On the first morning it was some good and quite riding with the gorge wind on our backs.  The first bit of change was due to a fire near Goldendale, WA., which blanketed I-84 and much of eastern Oregon with a thick blanket of smoke, but we rode on.  We did a quick ‘drive-by’ at the Oregon H.O.G. event in Pendleton, but it was largely winding down on Saturday (July 27th) so we continued heading east.

Downtown Boise, ID

Downtown Boise, ID

The first overnight stop was in Boise which seems to have a perpetual Basque street party anytime we arrive.  I didn’t see any Basque athletes, but supposedly they are famous for their feats of strength.  Something about dragging around a 1500 pound rock attached to a belt.  We did see some husky dudes that likely played on the college football team.  We ate dinner at the Reef Restaurant and enjoyed some refreshments in the Tiki Bar.

Snake River Panorama

Snake River Panorama

We rolled out early the next morning and were making good time on the interstate.  We crossed the Snake River at Twin Falls and headed south on Highway 93.  We decided to overnight in the small copper mining town of Ely, NV.  It’s located at the cross-road of highways U.S. 50 (“Loneliest Road In America”) and U.S. 93.  There is a newer La Quinta Inn that was quite nice and we ate dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant.  There was a group of riders coming in from Cali that all rode Screamin’ Eagle touring models.  It looked like a dealer convention and we chatted with them for a while and share some stories.

It's a long road...

Highway 93 Stretches Across the NV Desert

The next morning (Monday – July 29) we continued on U.S. 93 where the road stretches across the Nevada desert with very few services.  We had a light wind at our backs and I recall Molly Hatchet’s, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounding especially good.

I know, a third-rate boogie band.  But, it was different in the seventies.  It was overplayed to death back then, and the boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today.  You see country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, and southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits.  And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.

But I’ve digressed.

Showers roll across the desert

Showers Roll Across The Desert

In the town of Panaca we took Highway 319/56.  The road continued to be flat and most straight with a few zig-zag’s across the irrigated farm land.  At the Beryl Junction, we made a brief stop at a John Deere farm implement business/gas station and then we rode south on Highway 18.  It was too long and the heat became oppressive as rode down into the valley.  Most of day we were at higher altitudes and it was comfortable, but about an hour outside St. George, Utah it felt like a furnace.

Arrived at Shark Week III

Arrived at Shark Week III

Off to our right I noticed that the afternoon sun was casting shadows on Snow Canyon State Park.  It’s a canyon about 15 minutes from St. George carved from red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains.  Finally we had arrived in St. George.   We checked into the Shark Week III event at the Lexington Hotel and after a day of desert heat we were badly in need of food, showers, air condition and some rest.  Mostly showers!

After showers and some dinner we thought about sitting outside with some chairs in the parking area, but it was too hot.  We did wander the parking area and chatted up the planned events with the other ‘Gliders’.  It’s a great  group of folks and was nice to meet some fellow ‘Gliders.’

The blog post continues HERE which provides more details on the Dr. Clark comment.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Fair Weather Riders

Fair Weather Riders

It seems that May is déjà vu all over again.

It marks the start of the motorcycle safety awareness month which is shortly followed by accident reports or dumb and dumber maneuvers by  motorcycle riders.

The first in Oregon was the 10am arrest of Jessica Peterson (28 years old) on the first day of Motorcycle Awareness Month.  The charges were assault in the 2nd degree, DUI and reckless driving.  Ms. Petersen crossed over into oncoming traffic and struck Chase Dillon Ivey (26 years old) on his Suzuki motorcycle.  At last report Mr. Ivey was in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

The opening weekend of Motorcycle Awareness in Washington state wasn’t any better where 3 deaths in two motorcycle crashes on highway 101 in Western Washington occurred.  In Idaho, just a few days earlier three motorcyclists died.

And as if that wasn’t enough to bring a lot of attention to rider safety and the tragic events, on May 6th on Highway 97 south of Lapine, Oregon, Gregory Zaser (61 years old) was cited for speeding – 130mph in a 55mph zone – on a Ducati motorcycle.  According to Trooper Newcomb, Mr. Zaser had just purchased the Ducati (bagger) and wanted to “see what it would do”…

Spoken just like a true attention-grabbing teenager!

I searched and found nothing mentioned on the Desmos web site about this new break-in procedure from Ducati.  And combine that with the fact that Highway 97 is notorious for wild animals standing peacefully on the roadway… I think Mr. Zaser is lucky to walk away with only a huge ticket!

My point?  Other than calling out Mr. Zaser’s attempt to revive the art of fossilized manliness and giving motorcyclists a bad image?!

We’re coming off 3-weeks of incredibly nice weather here in the northwest and motorcycles have been out in force.  Many riders in the state are fair(er) weather riders and for the first time pulling out their motorcycle from storage.  An experienced rider once shared with me that when you’re riding on a motorcycle you’ve always got to watch out for everyone else around you.  And I’ve noticed more than ever the freeways in the Portland metro area are full of people on the phone – talking and texting – changing lanes or swerving and not using blinkers because they’re just not paying attention to their surroundings.

It’s not my intention to pick on a particular group of drivers or riders, but I wanted to reinforce the conversation about motorcycle safety.  A high percentage of accidents are rider caused and preventable.  Make smart decisions on the road.

Photo courtesy of George Toomer

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