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You can have it any color you want as long as it’s black

Is that famous saying about Henry Ford’s Model T apocryphal or real? Who knows, but it certainly applies to textile motorcycle pants. It’s next to impossible to find decent pants that aren’t black. I’ve called all the local dealers and none of them have anything in stock and are not aware of any brands that sell pants in a non-black color choice.

I’ve seen some limited reviews and mention of textile pants online but they’re typically only available mail-order direct from the manufacturer. None of the bigger retailers online seem to carry pants that aren’t black, and clothing is something I like to try on in person anyway.

Jackets are easy to find in non-black color choices, but why not pants? Is there some functional reason why they’re always black?

Another motorcyclist killed by a stupid cager

A 50-year old woman passing in a no passing zone caused a multi-car accident that killed a motorcyclist last night north of Salem on Highway 221.

(You can read the news report at KGW.com)

Her car clipped the back end of an oncoming travel trailer, causing her to go into that lane and hitting a 47-year old man riding a Harley-Davidson head-on. The motorcycle then struck a Toyota Tercel with two men inside. Both the motorcycle and the Toyota caught fire. The two Hispanic men in the Toyota were able to get out of the car safely, but apparently walked away from the scene after hanging around for only a few minutes. They haven’t been seen since (if you know who they are, call 800-452-7888. Accident investigators wish to speak with them about what happened).

The guy on the Harley was wearing a helmet but was pronounced dead on the scene. The lady driving the Ford Escort that caused the accident received serious injuries and was flown to by Life Flight to OHSU.

This is yet another tragic example of stupid or inattentive cagers (car drivers) causing accidents that kill motorcyclists. The woman was performing an illegal action that was unsafe and caused the death of another human being. She needs to be charged with involuntary manslaughter or vehicular homicide. She should lose her license for 5 years and be required to perform community service, preferably in support of motorcyclists. Perhaps she should have to spend every weekend for an entire summer volunteering at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s basic rider’s training course.

Either way, what she did was wrong and should not go unpunished.

Beware: Soccer moms in big SUVs

After having lunch with some buddies, I had to ride about a mile away to my credit union. On the way there, a soccer mom in a Nissan Armada cut me off, missing my front tire by about 3 feet. She probably had no idea I was even there. I’m fairly tall when sitting on my V-Strom and I can see most truck and SUV drivers in the eye, so it was surprising she didn’t see me.

Not two blocks later she did it again, this time moving back into her original lane position. Several blasts on my horn made her look in her rear-view mirror, probably ‘seeing me’ for the first time. I noticed she had a young one (soccer mom larva) in a safety seat in the second row behind her.

I wear all the gear all the time (ATGATT) even when it’s hot out, and assume that cars will hit me until they prove otherwise.

I should upgrade the horn on my bike. Maybe install one of those Stebel blasters that crank out 130db of sound. That will be useful when I need to embarrass a soccer mom into paying more attention next time.

Is Spring finally ending?

It was a fantastic weekend to go riding. Finally. Spring around these parts has been reluctant to leave. We’ve had unusually cool and wet weather, with only brief and infrequent hints at warm and dry. Saturday and Sunday were examples of what Oregon weather can be when it’s at its best.

I spent the day Saturday washing both my car and my bike. Sunday I rode to Carver Cafe for a mid-day breakfast of biscuits and gravy (service was very slow; it took them 10 minutes just to take my order and pour me a cup of coffee), then up Springwater road past McIver Park and down into Estacada. I then rode east up the Clackamas River to Ripplebrook.

Of course I didn’t want to go home, so I hung a left up 57 toward Timothy Lake. I turned around where the pavement ended, just past Lake Harriet, and headed back home. I would have ridden all the way to Timothy Lake and looped back home on highway 26 but I had just washed my bike and didn’t want to ride 10 miles of dusty gravel road. I’ll save that route for another day.

I intend to ride to work every day this week. 50 mpg is pretty hard to beat when commuting.

The Road to Detroit

When will the snow go away? It has been one seriously cool (as in ‘not warm’) and wet winter and spring, and the snow is lingering on mountain roads way past their expiration date. For the second time this season I tried to ride my V-Strom from Estacada to Detroit via forest service road 46, but was turned back by snow.

The last time I tried this the snow was about a mile past the exit to Olallie Lake. This time I was able to ride several more miles before having to turn back. 60 miles past Eagle Creek to be exact.

Trip report: North Powder cabin, trip home

Mike trailered his bike to camp and planned to ride home with me. His cold (or whatever it was) had improved enough that he felt able to ride, so we packed up and left on Monday morning as planned. We headed back into Baker City and ate breakfast. Since I tend to ride a bit faster than Mike, especially in the twisties, we decided to maintain our own pace and just meet at the motel in Bend, our final destination for the day.

Although I had ridden the same road from John Day to Baker City, the trip back felt like a brand new route. The views change dramatically when traveling in the opposite direction. Fortunately the weather was quite a bit better than when I arrived. Coming down out of the mountains toward Prairie City I had an outstanding view of the Strawberry Mountains to the south. I stopped at a viewpoint and took some pictures.

I gassed up in John Day and bought a snack, then rode another few miles and took a break in the day-use area of Clyde Holliday State Park near Mt. Vernon. There was construction near Dayville and my delay there was long enough for Mike to practically catch up with me; he told me later that he could see me six or seven cars ahead of him. Once past the junction of highway 19 (where I came from on my way in) the road was brand new to me. I was impressed. The landscape and geology was fascinating along highway 26 and other than few land barges I had the road practically all to myself.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon when I stopped at a Subway sandwich shop in Prineville. Although the temp was 66 degrees, it felt quite a bit warmer. I stripped down to my jeans and t-shirt then headed in for a club sandwich and orange juice. As I was getting my gear on, I saw Mike ride past. I hurried to catch him, and found him gassing up at a gas station halfway between Prineville and Redmond.

While I was in line at Subway I overheard the gal mention it was forecast to rain fairly heavily the next day. I mentioned this to Mike, offering the alternative to riding straight home instead of staying the night in Bend. Although his cough had returned, he was up for it.

The wind was picking up and we could see the clouds stacking up on the west side of the Cascades. By the time we rode into Madras, we had a very strong cross wind. I gassed up, Mike popped some more cough drops, and we continued northwest along 26. The wind really blew us around, hitting us broadside on our left. Once we got into the trees, however, it settled down. I pulled over and put some more clothes on, anticipating colder temperatures going over Government Camp. We stopped there, at the rest area, and chatted a bit, then said our goodbyes and rode our separate ways.

I had ridden over 360 miles, my biggest single-day ride yet, and got home just shy of 6:00 PM. The trip total was about 745 miles and my bike hit 13,500 total.

Trip report: North Powder cabin, day two

The gal at the front desk told me during check-in the day prior that the motel offered a free continental breakfast to their guests. To save some money, I gave it a try. She made it sound like they offered a full spread, but other than some cold hard boiled eggs, nothing offered was above vending-machine quality. In just one hour I was hungry again and went back to get a danish.

My buddy Mike mentioned another guy attending the weekend’s campout was riding his bike via a similar route and was staying in a campground in nearby Mt. Vernon (Clyde Holliday State Park). We hooked up via cell phone and decided he’d meet me at my motel at 9:30 and we’d ride the rest of the way to the cabin together.

Jared pulled up right at 9:30 on his Honda XLR650 dual sport. We greeted each other, headed over to the Shell station to gas up, then rode east on 26. Our first intended stop was Sumpter, a small mining town along highway 7. Sumpter was the location of a gold rush during the early 1900’s that utilized a somewhat unique mining method. They built what looks like a ferry boat with a massive arm that digs on one end with a huge conveyor belt spitting out the rock and gravel out the other end. What’s unique is that the entire mechanism floats. As it digs, ground water wells up and creates a pond around the barge. As it moves forward, it digs out more pond in front of it, and buries the remainder of the pond with its detritus behind it. The entire valley is filled with large piles of gravel and rock.

We got into Baker City and topped off our gas tanks, then headed north on old highway 30 through Haines, then west into the mountains on the Anthony Lakes Highway. They were rebuilding the road so we had several minutes wait. We struck up a conversation with Annie, the flag lady. Everyone in camp had a chance to meet Annie and learn more about her over the course of the weekend. It turns out she’s a famous artist from Bend and one heckuva nice person.

We found camp and made our way in via the somewhat muddy and slick dirt road without falling over (Jared’s dual-sport Honda had no problem. My V-Strom with street tires squirreled around a lot but remained upright). In the spirit of “What happens in camp stays in camp” I’ll not divulge too many details about my stay. We arrived on Friday around 1:30 in the afternoon on didn’t leave until Monday morning. My stay was relaxing and very enjoyable. ‘Nuff said about that.

Trip report: North Powder cabin, day one

I was invited to attend an annual guys/father-son weekend at a remote cabin outside North Powder, Oregon. My buddy Mike and I were planning to ride there and back on our bikes (he rides a 2005 Suzuki Boulevard M50), but he came down with a creeping crud that didn’t want to go away, so he trailered his bike and I rode the originally planned route.

Departure was Thursday morning, May 29. It was raining, of course. My route took me over Mt. Hood via Government Camp, down highway 26 to Bear Springs, where I headed east on highway 216 toward Maupin. A cow elk crossed in front of me but there was enough distance for me to easily slow down in time. The sun came out so I stopped in Maupin and took a refreshment break.

Instead of heading south on 197, I headed south east on Bakeoven Rd. and am glad I did. I had seen it on the map but had never taken it. After getting a report that the road was in good shape from the lady working at the store in Maupin, I took it. The road climbs steeply with narrow turns until arriving at the top of the plateau, at which point it opens up. The clouds came back and by the time I got to Shaniko I had rain drops on my face shield once again.

Rolling through Shaniko and Antelope, I continued east toward Fossil, my intended lunch stop. Passing through the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, the clouds had descended to ground level reducing visibility and began to dump copious amounts of rain. Although I had to slow down because of the reduced visibility, I was comfortable in my Aerostich and actually kind of enjoyed the experience. Because of an exceptionally wet winter and spring, the hills and grasslands were green and lush instead of brown and dry. The scenery and weather combined into something more like the Scottish highlands than eastern Oregon.

I arrived at the cafe in Fossil on 1st and Main wet and hungry but otherwise very content with the ride so far. My usual BLT and coffee was good as usual. The rain had stopped long enough for me to gas up and get back on the road.

My arrival in John Day occurred at 2:40, just ten minutes later than my arrival a year earlier. Yes, I left home at the usual 8:30, but after filling up my tank in Sandy, I didn’t actually leave town until 8:43. Let’s see, I left 13 minutes later than usual and arrived only 10 minutes later. How’s that for precise riding!

I checked into the Best Western, unpacked, and took a nap. By 4:30 my stomach was rumbling so I showered then headed next door to The Outpost for some beer and a personal Mexican pizza which was considerably better than the indifferent service I received from the waitress. Her surprisingly deep voice was disconcerting.

Riding to save the environment

My V-Strom 650 gets an average of 50 mpg. On most longer trips it gets up to 54 mpg. Last week I rode my bike to work every day in an effort to save money on gas (my car only gets 24 mpg). Of course, it rained four out of those five days. By the end of the week I was sick of riding. That feeling lasted five minutes, of course.

I know someone that bought a V-Strom primarily as a commuting vehicle and only rides it recreationally a few weekends a month, if he’s lucky. I bought my V-Strom for long multi-day solo road trips and tours, and am just now getting into the habit of commuting on it.

What’s great about this bike is it will serve each purpose equally well. It’s probably the best bang for the buck of any touring bike available today. There are other bikes that may be more comfortable or have greater luggage capacity for long trips, but they cost twice as much (or more). I’ve got $10,000 into my bike, including all my riding clothes and helmet and just about every farkle and accessory you can imagine (except for a GPS unit; there’s always Christmas). Most other bikes cost more than that before you’ve paid for a single add-on or luggage item.

For me, long trips was the reason for the bike’s purchase. Riding to work is a bonus.

Going really fast without leaving the building

Last night I was able to go really really fast around a race track without ever actually stepping outside. A fellow V-Strom rider buddy of mine named Keven is friends with one of the chief engineers at Motoczysz in Portland, Oregon (pronounced “moto-sizz”). They are a custom race bike manufacturer coming out with a revolutionary new bike called the C1. The specifics of what makes it revolutionary are hush-hush — we had to sign non-disclosure agreements before entering the building — but I can tell you it is definitely not an ‘also ran’ like the big bike manufacturers.

We were given a tour of their entire facility and got to see how they concept, design, engineer, prototype, test, and manufacturer almost every component of the bike (very little of it is after-market). Even if the bike itself were ordinary and uninteresting — two descriptions that definitely do not apply — being able to see their facility and processes was a fascinating treat.

Four V-Strommers outside Motoczysz
After our tour we parked our bikes in front of their logo-painted motor coach and took a group photo. I’m the one on the far right that looks like the Secret Service bodyguard detail attached to the group.