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Posts Tagged ‘Highway 97’

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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Antelope, Oregon Garage 

Antelope, Oregon Garage

Near Antelope, OR (Wasco County) there are some beautiful motorcycle roads.  I’ve traveled this county a few times and the route just off the Dalles California Hwy is a peaceful sagebrush filled valley with rolling hills.  The roads are Antelope Hwy (H-293) and the Shaniko Fossil Hwy (H-218).  If you’ve not driven this part of Oregon then I suggest taking some time and add it to your ride list. From Antelope you can start a scenery loop ride to the “painted hills” section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Antelope has a sorted history and if you’ve been in the northwest any length of time you’ll remember how the town became famous in the early 1980s as ground zero for Rancho Rajneesh (Big Muddy Ranch) – a self-proclaimed prophet arrives with thousands of enlightened red-robed followers to start a colony with the sex guru – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.  All wearing a 108-bead mala (necklace) where the color of beads hold significance as it designates each person’s level of sexual inhibitions as they merrily went about their day.  Known as “Rajneeshees” the folks on the inner-circle had a Tantra-esque belief in the power of sex as a door to samadhi’…a vehicle to the last step of enlightenment. 

wasco_countyAs an aside,  the Bhagwan used three Rolls-Royce automobiles as collateral to buy the Martha Washington Hotel in Portland, which they renamed Hotel Rajneesh. The Bhagwan collected many Rolls-Royce’s (93 at one count) and every day, he drove one of the cars into Madras to buy an ice cream soda. Highway 97 became a tourist trap, with people from all over the country stopping to take a look-see at the “Rajneesh show.”  In July 1983 the hotel was bombed and the cult became paranoid.  Equipping the Antelope compound with 150 security guards, semi-automatic weapons, tear gas grenades, riot guns and helicopter recon teams.  There followed a traumatic but semi-successful name change attempt of the town, use of the state’s own laws against itself, a plot to kill the federal prosecutor in Oregon, immigration fraud, several lieutenants convicted of crimes and the departure to Europe with lots of donated money.  The Bhagwan eventually returned to India in 1986 and died of heart disease in Poona on January 19, 1990.

Today Rancho Rajneesh has been converted into a modern Christian Youth Camp.  I believe it’s called “Young Life Ranch.”  The roads (Muddy Creek Road, Burnt Ranch Road, and The Gosner Road) into the place are rough/gravel and not recommended for heavy weight motorcycles.  There are now huge buildings, locked gates with signs posted on every tree and gate.  There is a private 4000 foot aircraft runway along with a super oversized pavilion filled with RV’s.  There is also a large go-cart-track with banks and a graded perimeter.  The youth “compound” is not open to the public.  All road gates are padlocked.

There is a plaque topped by an Antelope at the base of the towns post office dedicated to those who lived through the “Rajneesh Occupation” of 1981-1985.

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