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2012 NW Moto Odyssey: Part 2

A new bike, an extended riding season

We're back for part 2. If you missed part 1, click here.

The rally went off without a hitch thanks in part to the great support from people like Bruce, Connie, Emily, Paul, Harvey, David Hough, CMA and the Skamania Events and Recreation staff. But summer was far from over.

The Sasquatch Dual Sport Tour was on the horizon. Our adventure this year was to ride the Idaho Bucket List. Getting there proved to be its own little journey. Sunday the head wind was so strong I had to switch to reserve on my NX650 at 75 miles and wasn't sure if I'd get to the next gas in Pendleton. Usually I do this between 100-125 miles of range. I also didn't think to turn my clock one hour ahead to mountain time, and got a scolding from one rider when we arrived for early check-in that night.

The tour included Hells Canyon, The Magruder Corridor, the Lolo Motorway and the elusive Chinese Wall. And while fires burned just outside of the edges of our route, we never had to re-route as a result. Every day was awesome. I would do that trip again in a heartbeat!

In 2011 we rode to the top of Slate Peak in Washington, the highest point you can take a motorcycle in the state. So of course we had to match that in Idaho, this time riding up Railroad Ridge to the Chinese Wall. There were two major differences this time. First, the road was a lot worse and the easiest way to master it was to ride the bike in first gear all the way from the mining company yard below. Those who attempted shifting back and forth found themselves stalling out and having more trouble controlling the bikes across the rugged terrain. The second concern I had was the elevation. Slate Peak was a piece of cake at just 7,000 feet. The Chinese wall was at 10,000 and I was unclear if my 1988 Honda NX650 was going to do well with such elevation. It did fine.

The tour ended in Moscow, Idaho, on a Friday afternoon and Connie and I made it out to Othello where we spent the night before returning to Seattle. I have this little anti-90 route I like to take where I avoid I-90 as long as possible using nothing but back roads from Vantage to Snoqualmie Pass. I had all day to ride, so Connie took the support vehicle home and I played. I had a chance to tour the burn zone of the recent fire that ripped through Ellensburg and Cle Elum. Then I did a little exploring along the west side of Lake Kachees. And the trip had been so fun I just had to add a little icing to the cake, riding up to Keechelus Ridge before dropping back down to Snoqualmie Ridge and heading home. What a perfect nine days on the road!

Once home, I headed down to Hinshaw's to pick up the NC700X I had ordered last January over the phone from the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. During the Sasquatch tour, all the bodywork had been expertly painted at Sikwerks. I picked up the body work and delivered it to Hinshaw's where it was mounted and I finally had a new bike!

The inaugural ride was back to Idaho, this time for the Happy Trails Adventure Rally. Tim Bernard had asked me to do a slide show about adventure touring in the Northwest and it was quite fun putting together all the images. While I was there, I scouted a route and a few of us went out Saturday and rode some of the many dirt roads on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. During my scouting I picked up my first flat on the new bike, quickly fixed it with a vulcanizing rubber insert and proceeded to enjoy my time on the road.

Summer ended and the weather remained mild. I decided to put together a tribute ride to David Hough (Proficient Motorcycling) and the PM250/250 was born. Dave is down to one bike, a Kawasaki KLX 250. I have a 250 as well. Come to think of it, so does Rok Straps Rolf. So I pulled together anyone I knew with a small bore dual sport and off we went for a two day trip on the Olympic Peninsula. The route was estimated at - you guessed it - 250 miles. But that got shortened when the weather opted not to play well with us. After 70 miles we were soaked and it wasn't even lunch on the first day yet. We re-routed, got lunch and headed up to the night's destination, Sol Duc Hot Springs where we stayed in cabins. Several hours of bench racing ensued in the hot pools that afternoon as we warmed our bones back up. The next day we toured Lake Crescent and then road onto Ediz Hook for a full-blown view of the Olympics.

And the year still wasn't over. Back to the Gorge again, this time to partake in Museum Week, a week devoted to getting area kids into the museum at Maryhill. With budgets tight, this is one of the only field trips some of these kids will get all year. Our Gorge Kids Explorer silent auction we run during the rally funded several busloads of kids to go out to the museum from The Dalles and enjoy the art. This year that included works by David Hockney.

The weather was good and I rode the NC700X along the backside of Mt. St. Helen for the first time. I've ridden this road so many times I know it like the back of my hand, so this was a good chance to see just how the bike performed in comparison to others in my stable. The NC was a stunning performer and the ride confirmed I'd bought a bike that was right for me and my riding style.

I overnighted in Stevenson and in the morning made the ride out to Maryhill. I left at 6 a.m. and reached the Stonehenge replica at 7 a.m. in time to scope out a few pictures which I shot just as the sun rose.

Oh darn. Out of editorial space again. Come back next month for part 3.

TM/Winter 13


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