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Posts Tagged ‘Corvallis’

I-5 (S) In Route To Team Oregon – ART

“June Gloom” – It’s a southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer.

We should be so lucky in Oregon!

Our “May Grey” was followed by a full on rain storm today.  Surprise, the first week of June is heavy rain and to top it off there is the forecast of snow down to 3000 feet in the cascades.

It turns out that I took the day off work and planned to attend the Team Oregon Advanced Rider Training (ART) with some rider friends.  In the paperwork, Team Oregon made it very clear.  Regardless of the weather, rain or shine the one-day course would happen so come prepared.

You see ART is not a high speed, racing-oriented class, but it provides riders a chance to build skills on an enclosed track while getting feedback from expert instructors. It’s designed for the rider who has at least 12,000 miles of current, on-street riding experience and includes 4 hours of range (riding) instruction including cornering, braking, swerving and traction management.

Advanced Rider Training Is Cancelled

So, I put on the rain gear and departed the house in heavy rain to take on the morning rush hour traffic.  Merged onto I-5 with the visible oil sheen and “rooster tails” from semi-trucks while watching a couple of folks on their cell phones – I suppose they had to tell friends just how wet the roads were – to arrive 35 minutes later at the Pat’s Acres Racing Complex and learn that the instructors cancelled the class!  Huh?  And get this… because the track was too oily and wet.

Are you tracking with me here?  It’s Oregon!  Duh.  I just spent the morning on an oil slick I-5 corridor accelerating/braking in stop-n-go traffic, making lane-change transitions, passing semi-trucks while thinking about my traction judgment and then safely existing the freeway and smoothly cornering through the curves of the Canby ramp only to find out that Pat’s “little race track” has an oil sheen and the rain made it slippery when wet!  Are you kidding me?  Really.

Who are these people?!  Isn’t the idea of this course to help riders improve judgment and skills by linking turns and choosing better lines in the rain. To get better in the type of weather conditions that are fairly routine in the Northwest.  And to practice on a closed course vs. on the interstate, right?   So let me get this straight.  The weather is too challenging to learn, but it’s okay for riders to head back home in the very same conditions that required them to cancel?  Worse yet was the fact that several people had called 30 minutes prior to the start of the class and obtained confirmation that it was still on.

I’m sure the Team Oregon office in Corvallis didn’t appreciate my phone call.  But, they did hear my “pull your head out” message and where to send my refund!

Photo taken by author (GoPro Helmet Camera) 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.

Who is Michele O’Leary?   A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing.  The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated.  But wait there’s even more…

The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.

First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle!  It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither.   As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented.  Is that good?

I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles.  My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety TacticsSpotlight On ODOTWanna Be Policy Makers.

Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation.  Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer.  Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…

And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.

Photo courtesy of Picasa.

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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

There are so many interests groups out there these days. Sometimes the noise level and the drum beat volume gets so loud that you can’t determine if they’re about discrimination or empowerment.

As a “wanna-be” policy maker I planned to get more involved in this year’s safety efforts and do more than just sit back and pontificate via this blog that May is the celebratory occasion.   But, sometimes making a difference is harder than you think.  You might recall back in February I blogged about reaching out to the various city and state government entities to advocate the usage of the “Amber Alert signs” during Motorcycle Awareness Month.  My ask was they display the words: LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES or something to that effect.  I wrote the “Gov”, but I suspect he read one of my previous “Lazy Ted” enough with the higher taxes for the working folk posts and…I got a non response, response?!  I even sent a number of emails to Oregon State Police and ODOT in hopes of getting a positive response, but was shot down in a blaze of blogging glory.  Don’t these people know who I am?  Interestingly OSP has time for a cell phone campaign, but has no enforcement effort tied to Motorcycle Awareness Month.

It’s my view that as these type of issues become more complex, these representatives are not empowered or entrusted to make on-the-fly changes and this becomes problematic whenever public servants are ask to make modifications contrary to the initial intent or it is in question with the letter of the law on sign usage.  Oh well…what seems clear cut and logical to me isn’t to them.  So be it.

But, there is good news!   There will be more visibility this year for motorcyclists because the Motorcycle Safety Program and Vehicle Safety Equipment Program Manager was successful in obtaining billboard placements around the state (see above photo). This is a FIRST in Oregon and the messages will be specifically targeted to make drivers aware of motorcycles.

The billboard placements will be on I-84 @238th, Hwy-97 (somewhere – not sure just yet) and I-5 at Keizer. Unfortunately these billboards won’t go up until June due to advertising timing. It doesn’t sync up with Motorcycle Awareness Month, but June works and is better than nothing.

The are other placements too.  They include: Transit in Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. There will be print and radio ads available to all markets and Water Closet media placements will be at “motorcycle friendly establishments” in Portland and Eugene. There is also web banner logo’s available for groups, organizations, bloggers and motorcycle dealerships to use on their website or blog. All of the placements will be up throughout the summer months, starting in May (except billboard).

All this is coming exclusively from the hard working folks in the ODOT Transportation Safety Division!  A major shout-out to Michele O’Leary for the efforts on this front and helping make Oregon a little safer for motorcycles.

Important to note is the motorcycle rally on the State Capitol that is being sponsored by BikePac this Saturday, May 1st. ODOT’s role is to read the Governor’s Proclamation that May is declared to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The rest of the event is coordinated by BikePac and ODOT is not affiliated with any other part of the event.

Lastly, there is a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and if you have the opportunity I am sure they would appreciate hearing from motorcyclists.  Their next meeting is July 16th and you’ll find logistics and email information HERE.  They always have an open spot on the agenda for any motorcycle group, organization or individual to come and speak.

Photo courtesy of ODOT and used with permission.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Rather than talk about riding I thought I’d talk about a ride.  Finally!  It’s remarkable that we had a nice day so that day is imprinted in my mind.  

On April 12th the Northwest experienced some terrific weather and we took a spin on the “Black King”.  The weekend arrival of warmer temperatures meant a long-anticipated return to the road for a lot of riders.   I did my standard “pre-flight” check looking for signs of weather cracking on the tires, checking tire pressure and fluids before setting out.

We decided to head down the Willamette Valley along State Highway 99W.  Pinot Noir is typically the draw of traffic for chats with winemakers and your typical tourist attraction with more than 40 wineries on this loop. Many think this ride is like Napa Valley in California 25 years ago. The 84-mile stretch of countryside between Newberg and Monroe is awesome in the Spring.  The rains, and we’ve had more than our fair share this year, mean the fields are blooming with wildflowers and the bugs were out in force.

At the start of this ride Portland’s suburban sprawl takes too long to fade to countryside which happens just south of Newberg. This end of the Willamette Valley has the region’s highest concentration of wineries (about 25) and snazziest tasting rooms.  We rode and enjoyed the sites versus sampling wines.  We cruised by the alpine-style Steiger Haus near picturesque Linfield College–the Youngberg Hill Farm Inn and drove close to the llama farm at Spring Creek until we ended at the McMenmins in Corvallis.

We were at the new McMenmins on 2001 N.W. Monroe Ave. which borders the OSU’s campus.  Go figure!  This is the 2nd pub in Corvallis and they continue to keep the existing Corvallis location at 420 N.W. Third St., open.  Founded by OSU grads Brian and Mike McMenamin, the highly successful brewery, restaurant and hotel chain is a mainstay in the Northwest for Ruby and Hammerhead Ale.

We had a cold Ruby and continued our tour of the valley via I-5 North as the sun was starting to set and we’d seen plenty of bugs.  It was a great ride and nice to put a couple hundred miles of wind in your hair.

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