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Posts Tagged ‘Devils Tail’

I previously blogged about how miserable, weather wise the rally was this year.  And Steve & Eric Folkestad tapped out.

Meaning they surrendered to the weather and the public outcry and decided to move the date of the annual event.

It’s a smart move given the weather over the last 3 years has prevented this rally from achieving its full potential.  The new dates for the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally are now July 12-15, 2013.  Mark your calendar because the Devil’s Tail with hundreds of curves, blue sky and t-shirt warm temps will be a spectacular view.

Speaking of the Devil’s Tail — it can easily lull you into a catatonic state-of-mind during the 20+ miles of curves and may let your attention drift off the road.  Don’t let it!

And speaking of attention span, during this years rally around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday June 9th, at milepost 17, on the Idaho Power Road leading to Hell’s Canyon Dam one person was killed and another injured after the two motorcyclists collided.  I was talking with a person (name withheld) later in the day  about the accident… as their group was the first to come up on the accident and it looked like a sport bike failed to stay in his lane and traveled left of the double yellow center line, where it collided with the other motorcycle.  Life Flight was called in, but John S. McCree, 68, of Port Orchard, Washington later died from his injuries.  According to law enforcement reports it didn’t appear that weather or alcohol was a factor in this crash.  This same group also came up on a sport bike accident a couple hours later on that same road.

The above motorcycle accident along with the one on Highway 7 which occurred just 11 days earlier make this one of the deadliest starts to the “summer” riding season for the Baker City area.  My thoughts and prayers are with the McCree, Mohrland, and the Currey families.

Photos taken by author

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HCMR – “Showers” in downtown Baker City

I’ll get right to the point. 

This year the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally (HCMR) was hit hard with the “Gore Effect.”

Huh?  You may remember this as the phenomenon that whenever Al Gore discusses Global warming it leads to unseasonably wicked cold temperatures, driving rain, hail, or snow mix whenever he visits an area.  I’m not exactly sure where Mr. Gore was located last weekend, but I’m darn sure he had to be thinking about the northwest, because Baker City, Oregon got slapped hard with a cold wet rag right to the face!

If you’re unfamiliar with the rally, it’s located on the border of Oregon and Idaho and Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in North America.  Motorcycle riders come from all over to ride the Devil’s Tail, visit Historic Baker City, Oregon and then travel along the various Hells Canyon Scenic Byways.

So, here is the ASK of Steve and Eric Folkestad, (organizers of the HCMR rally):  Send Al Gore a letter asking that he never think about the northwest or better yet, after attending this rally 4 previous years and having some portion of it significantly disrupted by poor/bad weather let’s move the date! 

HCMR – Temperature kept going down, and down!

This past weekend was the straw that pushed me over the edge.  Unless the date of this event moves out to later in the month/year, I don’t plan to return!   And if the random survey I took with several other riders was any indicator,  there are a number of motorcycle enthusiasts who plan to remove HCMR from their list of early summer (“June-ary”) rides. 

Hey we’re a hardy bunch, but clearly riders would like to guarantee improve the odds of better weather for this great event.  And just because the Sunridge Hotel had the largest crowds in the city huddled around two patio warmers don’t think I’m railing against Global warming. 

Nothing could be more fun in my book – sarcasm alert – than holding a cold refreshment in 40 degree rain while standing six people deep around a patio warmer trying to catch a little bit of  heat.

Don’t make us start a Facebook petition to move the date!

Photos taken by author

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Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Baker City, OR

On Friday we were up early to grab coffee and breakfast before making our way out to the ‘Devils Tail’ and Hells Canyon Dam.

It was rather obvious while eating my scrambled eggs and looking out across the vendor parking lot that there were some hard-living characters who had run wild the night earlier.  They weren’t totally burned out, but obviously moving a little slower.  It got me to thinking about how Harley like virtually every other motorcycle manufacture, is facing a huge, looming crisis; the ageing of its core clientele.  Like every other market they touch Boomers dominate the motorcycle industry, especially for those expensive touring cruisers that generate so much profit for the corporate coffers.

Depending on whose data you reference; AMA states the average age of its members is 48, the American Motorcycle Industry Council’s most recent survey (2008) has the average pegged at 43 years old (up 5 years from 1998) and a JD Power and H-D survey has the average at 49 years old.  It would seem that motorcycling is no longer a young man’s sport.   Based on my observation this morning I would concur and while I didn’t see anyone trading their favorite ride in on an RV, I did see a lot of interest in the Boss Hog trikes and customers lining up for demo rides.  Most were intrigued with how to navigate the parking lot in reverse gear.

Hells Canyon Dam

I’m not sure about you, but I’m the kind of person who gets satisfaction when my mechanical stuff is humming.  It puts a smile upon my face and makes me feel glad all over.  I felt that way on the ride out to the Hells Canyon Dam.  The departure temperature hung in the mid-60’s – cool for eastern Oregon — and looking around the horizon it was clear there was going to be a mix of rain showers and blue sky.  Yeah, we were going to be dancing between the rain drops all day long on this ride.

We traveled out on Baker-Copperfield Hwy (Hwy 86) toward Richland, through Halfway with a brief pit stop at the Scotty’s Outdoor Store just prior to Oxbow as we headed back to the bottom of the canyon.  Hells Canyon is on the border of Idaho and Oregon, and the ride is deep in the valley alongside the Snake River.  Yeah that one — the one where Evel Knievel attempted his X-1 Skycycle jump over the canyon, unsuccessfully, back in 1974.   Many people will disagree when you remind them that the Hell’s Canyon is North American’s deepest river gorge at almost 8,000 feet, 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, but it’s true.

Posse On Devil's Tail

And as a bonus it has one of the most famous rides in the area — the Devil’s Tail — a 22 mile route from Oxbow, Oregon to Hell’s Canyon Dam. There are hundreds of S-curves and twisty’s with picturesque views.  The Devil’s Tail is not for the novice, and requires attention to riding. Last year we talked to a motorcyclist who misjudge the road and dump his bike.  Fortunately they had only minor injuries.

Baker City "Rain Out"

Back in the day this road was used to deliver workers and supplies to the site of the dam construction when it was being built in 1966. Today Idaho Power employees use it to access the dam and outdoor hobbyist use it for recreational access.  At the end of the road the dam and water were nearly level with the road.  As you drive across the dam we were greeted with a loud “whooshing” sound and at the visitor’s center which is a short, but steep ride below the dam we took pictures of the large volume of water flowing through to make hydro electrical power.  It’s a spectacular sight and the close proximity means you literally feel natures power.

Interstate 84 North - Departing HCMR

We reversed directions and headed back to the Sunridge Best Western where we met up with some other riders who arrived late-afternoon.

On Saturday the weather was a mixed bag.  The morning started out partly cloudy with the occasional sun burst, but the Whitman National Forest was socked in with storm/rain clouds which is where the posse planned to ride for a ghost town tour.  We downed some breakfast and remained optimistic the day would bring something better.  It turned out that optimism was sorely misplaced!

Hwy 14 - West of Umatilla

Thinking it would clear later in the day we elected to hang out in the vendor booths in downtown Baker City and wait it out… but, rain is a life metaphor – into every ride a little rain must fall, right?   Well it did.  I know the Folkestad’s like to state that the HCMR has never been “rained out” and I’m not sure what criteria they use, but it started raining around 1pm with showers at first and then turned to a steady hard rain from 2pm through most of the night.  We graced the downtown area refreshment centers and talked shop with the High Desert H-D folks from Meridian, ID.  Downtown was jammed and by the time we returned to the motel restaurant/bar it was packed with wet riders who called the day a total bust.  Good for Baker City businesses, but it seemed the weather conditions were conspiring against us.

Near Maryhill Winery - Goldendale, WA

On Sunday morning you could smell the cool breath of mother nature as we wiped off the previous night rain soaked seats.  Unlike Western Oregon, the majority of the landscape in Eastern Oregon is wide open which allows riders to see the lay of the land and it provides plenty of time to take it all in.  For me I enjoy Eastern Oregon because it’s different.  The people are different (in a positive/good way), the weather is different, it looks different and the roads are different.  It seems that people have a habit of never appreciating a place until you’re about to leave it.   I had some regrets that I didn’t get time to explore the ghost towns, but we were about to point the bikes north hoping for a dry day!

We rode out of Baker City on I-84 and encountered cooler temperatures as we traversed the Wallowa Mountains.  The sun shined brightly and by the time we stopped to re-fuel in Pendleton is was actually warm.  We cut over to Umatilla and rode Hwy 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.  The pull toward home and returning to “normal” life was getting stronger as the pace quickened back to Portland.  We dodged some rain drops near “The Couve” and got home in time to learn that yes, the self-proclaimed “King” — Lebron James — was still not a NBA champion and that my friends means the only place celebrating more than Dallas that night was Cleveland!

In spite of the ‘rain out’ on Saturday the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally was a great experience.  If you have not attended it should be something on your bucket list!

Postcard From Hells Canyon – Part 1 HERE.

Photos taken by editor. Previous HCMR posts: 2010 HERE, 2009 HERE

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HCMRFor the folks who live in Oregon it seems like 3 seasons of: almost winter, winter, still winter as we wait on the final and 4th season – road construction

Now that ‘road construction’ is upon us and warmer weather is getting repeatable it’s time for the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.  It all happens June 12-15 in historic Baker City, OR and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the rally. The rally is open to all bikes and bikers.

BC_MapOn Friday (12th) the Plymouth Tavern, in Plymouth Washington is the Official Lunch stop for the rally.  Being at the east end of SR-14 it is a good location for riders vectoring in from all points northwest.   Jason, the owner, will be serving up specials for HCMR riders and you can check out HERE for more info.    Riders coming from the East may want to consider High Desert H-D in Meridian, ID. as a meet up location.  

A couple of key points to pass along from the organizers after you get settled in Baker City, be sure and stop by the HCMR booth at the Sunridge Ride Center.  They have new Official clothing, registration and info that you can’t get anywhere else.  Additional vendors are located at Ride Center and Downtown, they will be open Friday, Saturday pretty much all day and Sunday till noon.   There are a number of watering holes:  These would include Sonny’s Bar & Grill at the Sunridge,  Golden Crown on Campbell St, Stockman’s Bar, Brew-In-Stein, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Main Event, Geiser Saloon all on Main Street or the Idle Hour on Broadway.  Friday night most riders will want to take the Shuttle (you’ll need your wristband from the registration packet for this) to the Baker High School where hundreds of bikers will be camped.  Eric, co-founder of the rally, will be showing classic motorcycle movies in the campground after dark.

Don’t forget that Saturday is about the RIDES.  With the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, The Devil’s Tail, The Ghost Town – Gold Rush Loop or Strawberry Mountain on the riding agenda there is no time to waste.

If you’re not going to this rally you’ll miss some great rides and fun time!

Photo courtesy Google and Pine Valley Lodge.

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