Joined: Mar 2007
Location: redmond wa
5 days of racing, roosting, rusty bridges, bruises, wipe outs, bent bits & laughter
*All photos (except 1) were taken with the new Nokia Lumia 1020; all video shot on a Polaroid XS100 HD camera.*
And so all good things must come to an end, they say. I hate them for making this adventure wrap up, but in all honestly, I was ready to come home yesterday. We packed so much into 5 days, it’s amazing. Met new friends, saw old friends, saw amazing things, rode on a closed road with no speed limits, explored amazing forests and parks, enjoyed some history, samples some truly creative and tasty micro-brews and had my mind blown by the amazing scenery.
Enough with the preamble, though, let’s get into things, shall we?!
Ceremonial start with dog approval of the Discover Pass...
Actual start from the garage at work...
Bought the bike, what, just over 3 weeks ago now. Spent most of the time breaking the bike in, harassing the dealer to order my owner's manual and buying farkles from a co-worker's STen.
As luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend the Rally in the Gorge by SoundRider last week, and so the STen got the nod for transport.
So on went the soft bags, tools were packed, stock Tourance EXP tires (90/10 road/dirt) were swapped for K60 Scouts (60/40 road/dirt).
Topped up the tank with premium go-juice and pointed myself south on Tuesday around Noon.
9 hours later I found my hotel in Stevenson, WA. Went down the route through Puyallup, between Mt. Rainier and St. Helens, devoured Windy Ridge along the way, and if I may say so, holy cow that's a fun little road! Views were spectacular the whole, sunny day. In fairness, I took it easy on the new gal as I was still working through the last 200 miles of the break-in period, but the roads were empty - EMPTY for almost my entire day's riding in the Park.
Empty, but OMG, more frost heaves and splits than I could shake a stick at. Luckily the Super Tenere was just the ticket, swallowing up the bumps and fractures as if they didn't exist. All the while encouraging me to scrub precious rubber from the outsides of the soles of my boots.
This was my crash pad - you can se the Tenere next to my patio, with my windows open facing the train tracks...which were BUSY... :)
Naturally, after sucking down 3 litres of water enroute, I was STILL dehydrated, developed a wicked headache and managed to drive THROUGH Stevenson and not realize I was IN Stevenson...LOL Turned around in Camas, about 25 miles further West and backtracked.
For the rest of the week, I hung out with a trio of Victorians from British Columbia who , as it happens, headed back home today via the WABDR. We toured The Dalles, found little gems on both sides of the Columbia River that taxed man and machine, and explored the mountains, seeing moose/elk/deer - I didn't really see what they were, and they rudely leaped back into the trees before I could suss the differences!). Accidents during the week were few overall, and limited to myself in our little group. Never, I repeat NEVER, utter the words "I'm going to play" when nearby a motorcycle - kiss of death I tells ya! (video below)
As seen in the WABDR video...
Wrapping up the week, the organizers secured access to Mary Hill Loops Rd for us for the afternoon. Sports bikes in the morning, then Scooters (I sh1t you not), then the Adventure Bikes - we all had ample time to sample the most amazing road I've EVER ridden! FAWK! It's an epic 2.5-ish miles of fresh asphalt, well kept, narrow gauge, two-lane stacked with increasing/decreasing radius turns, short straights and elevation changes. (Well, it's uphill or downhill depending on which way you're pointed. ;)) No guard rails, just you, your steed, your skills, your courage and your wits. Run whatchya brung - no speed limits, no police, no passing; timed intervals between riders to avoid congestion and at least 1/2 of the turns would afford you an epic view should you venture forth from them at speed...of the terrain racing up to meet you in the ravine.
I managed 12 runs on Saturday (6 up, 6 down) and let me tell you, I scrubbed rubber off my boots, came within 1/8" of the edge of each tire while cornering, saw my "lap times" improve by almost a minute from first to last runs (they weren't timing, but we were. ;), almost overran a Goldwing who left 4 MINUTES ahead of me...talk about a Sunday drive...sheesh...and generally had a blast! Yes, the Tenere will pull wheelies, yes it can sport tour, even with street/trail tires and yes, it’ll just keep coming back for more. It’s NOT a sport bike, by any means, and I had to laugh at one guy complaining how he was never able to get past 4th gear…LOL I rarely even saw 3rd on the hill! Average cornering speeds for the adventure bikes were between 20 – 40 mph, while my personal top speed on the one kinked straight was 89 mph, then heavy, and I mean HEAVY on the brakes – downshift, slipper clutch doing its thing, chirping the rear tire, front R-6-sourced brakes just flat grabbing my eyeballs and pulling them from my sockets, and as if by magic, 89 mph becomes 29 mph in a few heartbeats (very aggressive, adrenaline-fueled heartbeats, I might add), throw everything over hard left, grab the throttle like it owes you dinner and a movie, and “lift off”…attack the next corner!
Enjoy 3 minutes or so of running up Mary Hill Loop with me: http://youtu.be/wTgUWx8Tdwg
By the end of things, I could feel the K60s squirming, the traction control light was my BFF, always in my grill and wouldn't shut up about the lack of traction it was managing at the rear end of this Silly Wagon. Sport and TC1 were the perfect combo to keep things quick enough, while masked in a silk veneer of sanity.
...all while hauling a 1 gallon Rotopax with gas and a Giant Loop Mojave bag filled with tools, and my camelback strapped on top of everything.
Slabbed it for 3 hours mostly on the I5 yesterday to get home. SR 14 to the 205 is a beautiful ride, then it’s typical I5 banality that even the mighty S-10 struggled to enliven. I was passed by a police cruiser (on the inside) once. I looked over to see the officer grinning at me and giving a big thumbs up.
What did the Tenere think of it all?
· "Oh, you WANT to shred that rear tire playing racer-boy - sure, lemme help!"
· "Look, I can keep this up all day...or until my tank runs dry. Best you don't look at the fuel economy gauge as neither of us really wants to admit to single digits while having this much fun, do we?"
· "OK, so you just drove me through the trees, laid me down in the dirt, bent bits of me and now the Sherriff says it's another 50 miles or so to Vancouver, WA if we stay on this "trail" - I SAY LET'S GO!!!"
I can honestly say - I wouldn't have enjoyed the trip as much on my FJR. This Super Tenere is simply an amazing bike. Went everywhere, did everything, and is turning out to be the single best motorcycle of my life. Even when I wiped out, it proved to be super simple to set straight again, and has since shrugged off my fumbles and gets on with things as usual.
...oh, but avoid talking about how potentially vulnerable the shift linkage is during a lunch break, as it turns out that within 20 minutes you'll pretzel it wiping out and prove the conjecture accurate. Now, that said, you can easily remove said linkage, reindex your shift lever from its "new" position around 12 o'clock to a more normal 8:30 or so, then wrap a strap around that bent rod, wrap the strap under your foot, apply pressure and bend the shift rod back to almost 100% straight again. Easy peasy...and including time to chat with a friendly Sherriff who happened by in the middle of the outback, you're mobile again in well under an hour, with only a couple small bruises, and some rash on your left engine guard to show for it...that, and a short video proving how anti-climactic the entire event was... ;)
(Erik and Robin from Victoria, BC, who along with Ken (not with us) are doing the WABDR this week.)
...and here is that video - skip to the 14:15 location to see the wipe out, or enjoy a stroll through the forest with us prior to the "event"... http://youtu.be/7jy-5ZS_u-4 It is not dramatic, so don’t expect endo’s and crash-up-derby action.
Once the leaves were picked out of the windscreen, I was left with the profound impression that this bike is a quality product. I love it!
More random pics...
Pictures from the week are all here on Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/88346269@N07/page1/