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Posts Tagged ‘Lolo Pass’

Mabel's Rage - Bud Clarke (L)

The Band Mabel’s Rage – Bud Clarke (L)

In a remote part of the country sits a nondescript hangar… I’m not talking about the NSA facility in Utah where “The Company” is so paranoid about outsiders catching a glimpse of its e-snooping gear, that server cages are kept in complete darkness and service tech’s are outfitted with lights on their head like coal miners.

An impressive operation, but NSA it’s not.

I’m referring to the Helena Montana Regional Airport where an Alberta native, Bud Clarke, builds airplanes when not riding his Harley.  The firm, Air-Ryder primarily works on “builder assisted” aircraft.  Finishing the final touches on planes built by Lancair, based here in Oregon who manufacture several “high performance” airplane kits that seat from two to four people and can cost upwards to six-figures.

The OilBud™

The OilBud™

But the tinkering didn’t stop with the sophisticated planes, Clarke also invented a unique motorcycle oil cooler called the OilBud™.  The device fits between the motorcycle frame rails and is hidden from view beneath the motor.  It’s built from aircraft quality materials, braided stainless hoses and 6061-T6 aluminum extrusion and a welded in header tank assembly.

Last month Clarke announced an updated design which provides Harley-Davidson owners who’ve added modifications to their motorcycle (i.e. Baker Oil Pans, True-Track, Center Stands and Softails outfitted with ABS) the ability to install an OilBud™ and will keep the oil temperature 30 degrees cooler or more than an engine without the device.

In Helena, Clarke is better known as a guitar player in Mabel’s Rage.  The band’s name is a reference to a scene in the comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” in which Mabel, a tomboy pirate, is getting cinched up in a corset and is quite begrudged.  Clarke for the most part writes the music and lead singer Gina Satterfield writes the lyrics.  I especially like the fact that they are supporting a benefit concert later this summer for Wounded Warriors.

I’ve had the opportunity to ride some great roads in Montana; Route 12, Lolo Pass, Highway 200, Highway 86 and 89 from Bozeman, but I’ve not traveled much in the Helena area.  I hope to do so one of these days.  And when I do I’ll be thinking about Clarke and Mabel’s Rage.

I encourage you to check out the music and if you’re experiencing oil temperature issues to read up on the OilBud™ and investigate the various reviews at Baggers Magazine or Hot Bike.

Photos courtesy of OilBud™ and Mabel’s Rage.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Two words:  Rattlesnake Grade!

The editors of American Motorcyclist magazine used their 230,000-members to nominate and vote on members’ favorite roads. Nearly 100 roads made the ballet box, and the magazine published the top 15 roads in the April issue.

Oregon made the top 15 with an amazing piece of pavement called the Rattlesnake Grade. Typically any rider who’s done this twisty piece of paved paradise will just smile and their face will light up when ask about it.

Here are the top 15 routes and I’ve bolded the northwest routes:

15. Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, Wash., to Enterprise, Ore. (Map HERE)
14. Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland.
13. California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita.
12. U.S. Route 33, Harrisonburg, Va., to Seneca Rocks, W.Va.
11. Natchez Trace, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.
10. Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2.
9. U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana. (Map HERE)
8. California Route 36.
7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee.
6. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. (Map HERE)
5. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway.
4. U.S. Route 550, from Ouray to Durango, Colo.
3. U.S. Route 129 — The Tail of the Dragon — on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.
1. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming. (Map HERE)

There are more detailed descriptions in the magazine which can be viewed online HERE.

Beside truck drivers, no other group puts in more miles and samples more road than motorcyclists and these are some great rides to consider.

Photo courtesy of AMA.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Devils Tower

STURGIS to ASHLAND – We spent some of the previous couple days riding the Black Hills with stunning canyons, small towns and historical landmarks at every S-turn.  It wasn’t all about the Sturgis vendor booths!  As a quick side-bar I want to do a shout out to the owners (Matt) of the Recreational Springs Resort which is a campground and motel and was within a short walking distance of the cabin we stayed.  We ate food at the resort and the hospitality was top notch.  I highly recommend the place.

Posse at Devils Tower

Back to the ride – If memory serves me correctly this was our seventh day on the road as we departed the 70th Sturgis rally around noon.  We wanted to get a couple hundred miles under our belt after doing a brief drive-by tour of Devils Tower and Hulett, WY.   Getting a couple hundred miles west would be a reasonable jumpstart for our return trip home.

The ride out to Devils Tower has a number of long sweeping curves and some beautiful canyons and high plains.  Located in the northwestern northeastern corner of Wyoming the tower rises 1267 above the Belle Fourche River.  Initially known as Bears Lodge, the park has 1347 acres covered in pine forest and grasslands.

Ah, Looks Like Rain?

It is a sacred site for many American Indians (Kiowa, Cheyenne and Lakota).  Reportedly President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument in 1906.  There are over 7 miles of hiking trails of which we did maybe 300 feet in the summer heat and most notable is the 200 climbing routes to the summit.  I’ve been here two other times and there are always climbers trying to summit.  And yes, it was the landmark filmed in the 1977 movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Lightning Storm In Ashland, MT

After a few tourist photos in and around the tower we rode into Hulett for lunch and refreshments to cool down.  With a rest stop completed we headed northeast on Hwy 112 (Hulett-Alzada Hwy).  We hit a couple of rain clouds that “spit” a little on us prior to reaching Alzada at the Hwy 212 junction, but thus far the trip didn’t require us to pull out the rain gear.  Amazing!

That was short lived as we soon witnessed the western sky fill with menacing storm clouds.  The day prior we made motel reservations in the small town of Ashland, Montana.  Not even a two horse town, but it turned out to be a brilliant move.

Ashland, MT - Rain Storm

About two hours prior to our arrival in Ashland the weather situation turn nasty.  Not to let a little rain intimidate us we continued riding only to find ourselves in a drenching downpour, complete with hail, thunder and lightning.  A true gully washer!  The lightning was problematic and on more than one occasion the thunder “booms” had us thinking about the odds of getting struck.  Even more lightning became visible on Horne Creek Butte as we traversed the southern tip of Custer National Forest.  Being from the west coast it’s rare to have/see lightning let alone be concerned about getting hit on a moving vehicle.  [Post Ride: evidently there are a number of motorcycle survival lightning strike stories… who knew?!]   Eventually we made it to the motel as the sky open up with more rain and lightning.  We caught some of the storm action by way of the iPhone video HERE and watched as the gravel parking lot flooded.

Ashland, MT Sunset

In the room we stripped rain gear off and started working to get it dried out for the next day adventure.  AT&T continued to deliver no phone service so the option of working out an alternative ride plan was a challenge.  It was fortunate that a gal from the motel offered to shag us some to-go burgers in her automobile and we didn’t get further drenched seeking out some dinner.  Bikers streamed into the motel only to find it full.

ASHLAND to MISSOULA – It’s often said that a clean bike runs better, but after the previous days drenching downpour and “road foam” we dismissed that rationalization as being one for the vain and continued on with the grime laden motorcycles.

The weather looked questionable so we kept the rain gear handy and put on some extra clothing to fight off the colder temps as we rode though Big Sky country.  We continued west on Hwy 212 and re-fueled near the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  This area memorializes the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian’s last armed efforts to preserve their way of life.  Having been there a couple times in the past we rolled on by and made our way onto I-90.

Eastern Montana is a typical high plains environment which means the area is generally treeless, semi arid and low humidity.  We hit some rain showers which required rain gear between Billings and Bozeman, but by the time we grabbed a late lunch in Butte the daytime temps and summer sunshine returned to the typical August norms.

At Lolo Pass

After a 468 mile day we decided Ruby’s Inn and walking across the street for chicken wings and refreshments at Hooter’s was the only way to go.

MISSOULA to CLARKSTON – This is the link between the Missouri River and the Columbia River through the Rocky Mountains.  From Missoula we headed south toward Lolo and traversed U.S. 12 to the Idaho – Montana border. This 99-mile S-turn filled byway, stretches across north-central Montana and Idaho.  It follows the Lewis & Clark explorers’ route through the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce people. It’s a winding two-lane road through the Clearwater River Canyon, and passes through the Nez Perce National Historical Park.

We stopped at Lolo Pass for a photo op and water break.  Later in the afternoon we grab some lunch at the “Cougar Canyon” station.

More than a few riders have been surprised at just how much fun riding a Harley touring model can be.  While no one would claim the touring models as sportbikes, they certainly can be ridden in a sporting manner.  The key is finding a comfortable pace that carries your speed through the turns with minimal braking.  The combination of excellent two-lane pavement with a multitude of twists and turns made this route a joy to ride.

It was a relatively short day in overall miles, but with the summer temperatures stuck in the mid-90’s most of the day it felt (at least my body did) like a 500+ mile day.  We rolled into Lewiston, crossed the river into Washington state and overnighted at a Best Western.  A nice place and after a long cooling off session in the motel swimming pool the group headed to Paraiso Vallarta for some Mexican dinner specials.

CLARKSTON to PORTLAND – Early in the morning we motored out of town to put some significant miles on the scooters before the summer heat took its toll.  We continued on Hwy 12 to Dayton then through Umatillia, crossed back into Oregon and headed west on I-84.  There was a short stop for lunch to slam down a “Bozo Burger” near Boardman, but it was the only luxury stop otherwise it was gas and go and back on the road.  It was 2,947 cumulative miles later that I pulled into the driveway of home.

Near Hood River

Motorcycling teases us with the freedom to be on the road.  We stop when and where we wanted too, slowed down and experienced the country firsthand.  We breezed through the towering mountains and blue skies and traveled across the plains.  Sturgis for a third-time was a charm!  I hope this travelogue makes you want to get out and ride to new places.

70th Sturgis Rally Travelogue – Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Photos taken during the trip.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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