2009 Riding Trip – Synopsis

Overall: I think this trip was a raging success. Not only did I/we have a chance to venture into uncharted territory, I also got to spend a real vacation with my best friend, Fiona (it’s been a long time coming). Each year I say that I’ll spend less time riding and more enjoying the surroundings – this year I sorta did that. Sometimes it’s hard with so many interesting places to visit to stop and just enjoy the moment, but if you don’t, you miss everything. We had multi-day stops in Vancouver (in my heart I know, my ‘real’ home), Tofino (other-worldy beauty and tranquility) and Newport, Oregon (the gateway to some of the best roads and scenery in Western America).

I’ve also noticed that ‘time in seat’ has made me a much better rider. Each year I become more confident, safer and still get to enjoy the best part of the sport of motorcycle riding – testing your, and your machine’s, limits. I think these riding experiences, including this one, have helped me reach a part of myself, deep inside, that is somewhat unconscious and untapped. Sometimes being alone, or lonely, can help put things back into perspective. You can evaluate what is really important in life – loved ones, friends and certainly personal mental health.

These personal journeys, along with time spent with my riding companions, really do become quite a ‘zen-like’ experience. Being alone in nature, the smells, the sights, the feelings of being ‘in’ the surroundings really is tough to explain to someone who hasn’t done it. There is only the now when riding, even over a long journey such as this for 19 days. You’re not thinking about the past, the future, only what is happening before you – it’s really quite freeing and helps recharge your inner spirit.

Friends/Acquaintances/Hosts: When I signed up for the VFRdiscussion.com online forum so many years ago I had no idea how profoundly it would impact my life. I’ve met some of the nicest, smartest and generally caring people. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of them year after year at meets all over the west. This year I had the pleasure of staying with two of these friends – Tim and Cassie Smith. Their warmth and generosity during my stay in Vancouver, Washington was unexpected and greatly appreciated. It’s great to meet such kindered spirits and folks with similar views and outlooks on life. I think one of the most profound things I heard on this trip was during my goodbye with Tim, loosely paraphrased, “you gotta look after your friends, what else is their…” How true! Words can’t express how grateful I am for their hospitality and friendship over the past couple years and during my stay.

I also had a chance to chat with previous meet buddies Bjorn, Christian, Tony (the boys from Vancouver) and Keith (Newport). All of whom are excellent guys in general and a wealth of information about where to go for rides. It’s with their help that I was able to explore some really neat places that I wouldn’t have normally have thought of based solely on reading a map. So much of the journey, and in life, is indeed ‘off the map.’ That’s why these special folks deserve such respect and thanx – they help us find new places that make our journeys worthwhile. From conversations over the years I’ve taken mental notes of things they’ve talked about and many of which I went and checked out on this trip. Thanx fellers!

The ‘Deets’
Here are some of the details of my/our trip:

Distance: 7799 Kilometres (4847 miles) – more distance in less days than I’ve ever ridden (almost 460 kilometres/day)
Riding Days: 17 days (2 off the bike)
Fuel Economy: Averaging about 40 mpg over the entire trip
Territory: Two Provinces, Two States (Three if you include a few minutes inside Idaho)
Temperature: Low 8 celcius (the day we left Calgary), High 39 celcius (The Dalles, Or)

Repairs/Mechanical Costs: nada, zilch, zero, $0 – pray to the holy god of Honda and my bullet proof bike

Most expensive accommodation: Tofino ($165/night) – worth every penny – one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited, ever…
Least expensive accommodation: Bend, Or ($49/night) – cheap like borscht! – Motel 6/Super 8 are so cheap in the US
Special Mention – Worst Accomodation: Rodmay Heritage Hotel – My heart goes out to the owners who are restoring this place, but $75.00/night felt like about $50.00 too much. This place is old in the worst way – no plumbing, no ventilation and creepy inner furnishings. What an experience. I guess the bad helps us define what is good – this was especially bad.

Best Road: Suislaw River Road (Oregon) – If you get the chance to take this route (and the connecting Smith River Road) – it’s the best road I’ve ever ridden.
Second Best Road: Siletz to Monroe (Oregon) – This is the second best road I’ve ridden to date – beautiful, technical and completely vacant – the quality of a very good road

Things that come in handy on a trip for 19 days: iPod (tunes are an absolute must), raingear/rain booties (bring it and you’ll likely never have to use it, don’t and you are sure to get wet), ziplock bags (keeps things dry, compartmentalized and the stinky clothes away from those that are clean – great tip, Bjorn), a riding companion (Fiona and Tim made the trip far more enjoyable).

Biggest Surprise: Mary’s Peak, Or – I’d heard it was beautiful, but man, it really was. I’ll have to go back with hiking boots next time.
Biggest Letdown: See aforementioned ‘heritage hotel.’ – I remember Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols last words from their last gig – “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated…?”

Fave Riding Tunes for this journey: Sleeping Sickness – City and Colour, Norah Jones – Broken, Eddie Vedder – Rise, Lady GaGa – Poker Face, My Rights vs Yours – New Pornographers, Midnight Regulations – AlexisOnFire

See you on the roads next summer.