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Old 08-31-2012, 08:33 PM   #1
gumshoe4 OP
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Touring by "scooter"

Last week, I did a tour into the Pacific Northwest aboard my Honda Silverwing.

Before I left, the bike had a complete service, including belt and roller replacement, valve clearance checks, fluid replacements, spark plug replacement, and so on. I also fitted the bike with a 45-liter Givi tail box, a River Road seat bag and a Beadrider seat cover. I left home on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Here is a photo of the bike loaded up and ready to go:



My original plan for the first day was to go up to Chico, then up 36 into Lassen National Park and back down 44 into McCloud, then take 97 into Klamath Falls, but that didn’t happen. There was a huge forest fire called the Ponderosa Fire which was occurring near Lassen all along the route I had planned and the roads were closed, so I gave that idea up.

I left Folsom and headed up Sierra College Blvd over to the City of Lincoln, picked up Highway 65 and took it over to Highway 99 and rode on into Chico, where I made a stop at the Dutch Brothers drive up coffee place…I confess that I have a weak spot for the Dutch Freeze, so I put a Dutch Bros sticker on the Givi Box…yes, I am that cheap and superficial!



The owner of the Dutch Bros was there and asked me where I was going and I replied that I was headed north into Oregon and Washington, but didn’t really know beyond that. He wished me well.

I continued north on 99 into Red Bluff, stopped for lunch and then decided to head over Highway 36 to the coast. You may be aware that Highway 36 is kind of well known, at least here in northern California, because once you leave Red Bluff, there is little else other than National Forest until you hit the coast in Fortuna and because Highway 36 is essentially 140 miles of nothing but twisties. Here’s the mandatory bike and warning sign photo…this sign has been photographed with motorcycles literally hundreds of times, I’m sure:



While proceeding up Highway 36, I noticed that the handling on the bike was a little weird, so I stopped at Cow Gulch Road to check things out.



I was thinking that the tires might be incorrectly inflated, but I’d just checked them before I left and they have never leaked or lost air. Nonetheless, I dug out the Slime air pump, clamped the nozzle to my rear tire air valve, plugged the pump into my battery pigtail and turned it on. It ran for about 5 seconds and then stopped cold. I then did the smart thing and used a pressure gauge to check air pressure. Everything was fine, except for the Slime pump. I rearranged baggage, placing as much of the heavy stuff down low under the seat as possible and that helped handling a lot. Seems kind of trivial, but it worked.

We made it all the way up and over. Here we are at top of the highest point along the route (I think), South Fork Mountain Pass…several views of the area:









Needless to say…36 was a blast…until I got to the construction zone, where the road had been completely desurfaced down to the dirt and gravel on a nice steep downhill section. I then experienced some pucker trying to control the bike on that miserable surface for about half a mile. After that point, there was additional roadwork, with patches, seams, cracks and grooves in the pavement, almost all the way into Fortuna…another 20 miles or so…so that was not really fun, but we came through unscathed.

By the time we got to Fortuna on the coast, I was pretty wiped out, so I spent the night in Fortuna and had a pretty good dinner at a brewpub which walking distance from the hotel room. My distance for the day was 277 miles.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:38 PM   #2
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Next morning, I found that it was quite cool outside and that there was condensation on the bike. I wiped it down with a towel from the hotel, then loaded up. As I was preparing to leave, I remembered that I had my FrogToggs in the trunk, so I dug out the top and put it on over my perforated riding jacket, then headed north on 101 to Crescent City. The FrogTogg top did an admirable job of keeping the wind off me and keeping me reasonably warm, even in the very cool coastal temperatures. My goal was to pick up 199 in Crescent City and run up to Grant’s Pass, then over to Crater Lake. Here are some photos taken along the coast between Eureka and Crescent City:





Also stopped at Requa to see the mouth of the Klamath River. It was a bit fogged in:



I stopped for lunch in Crescent City and then headed up 199 towards Grants Pass. Here are some shots taken along 199:





Somewhere along the way, I crossed into Oregon. 199 is a nice road with some tight turns at the beginning which later become very nice sweepers, but this is a pretty heavily travelled road and there were quite a few trucks and RVs and grooved pavement in some of the apexes of the corners.

Once I got into Grants Pass, I realized that it was getting late in the day and I would not have time to get over to Crater Lake. I took Interstate 5 south to Medford, getting a full taste of very busy interstate with lots of semis. I decided to stay in Medford, having completed 226 miles.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
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The next day, I loaded the bike and headed out of Medford on Highway 62 to Crater Lake. There was a section of the road which went straight as an arrow through dense national forest for quite a few miles. Here is what it looked like:



I’ll discuss the numbers pertaining to fuel mileage and such at the end of this post. On this day, I checked my odometer and decided it would not be necessary to top off in Medford. That proved to be a bad decision and I really started sweating the further along I went, because I could find no open gas stations as I proceeded. I finally made it to Crater Lake and fueled up at Mazama Village…felt a great deal of relief at having a full tank of gas and resolved to always top off whenI was going into remote areas.

Here’s what the climb up to Crater Lake looked like:



Here are some shots of Crater Lake. You can make out Wizard Island, but the far side of the lake is obscured in most of the pictures because of the particulates in the air from the forest fires in northern California and southern Washington.







Here’s a shot of the perimeter road at the rim of the crater. It’s a nice curvy road, but speed is limited to 35 mph…properly so, in my opinion.



Here’s a shot of the bike at one of the turnouts along the perimeter road. I like this photo and it’s now my desktop picture.



I continued on out of the park, picked up Highway 97 near Chemult and headed north. I continued past Bend and stopped in Madras for some iced tea at the local McDonald’s. I had a nice conversation with a local pastor, who told me that he and his wife had a Goldwing trike which they toured on quite frequently. By this time, it was about 4 PM. I looked at the map and figured that I could continue on 97 north to 197 and make it to the Dalles in a reasonable amount of time. There were a couple of things I didn’t plan on, however. One was that this was central Oregon, which is pretty much Plains country where the wind blows prodigiously almost all the time. Here is a photo:



The other thing I did not know before heading this way was that about 3 miles south of the town of Maupin, the road had been resurfaced and there was live gravel and fresh oil all over the roadway all the way into town. That’s bad enough, but added to it was the fact that Maupin sits directly on the Deschutes River and the road descends via a series of hairpin turns into the Deschutes River Canyon before it dumps you out in Maupin. Riding that little section of road was like riding on marbles. I literally crawled down the canyon at or below 10 mph with the rear brake on and the throttle feathered to keep the clutch engaged the whole way down to avoid dumping the bike. It was hair-raising and I was very relieved when it was over. The road cleared and opened up north of Maupin and I made it into the Dalles at about 6 PM. I was exhausted and decided to hole up at the Dalles Inn. Distance for the day was 325 miles.

The next day, I stayed in the Dalles to rest, recuperate and do the laundry.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:46 PM   #4
windburn
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I'm enjoying your ride report

You have my attention, I grew up in Coos Bay Oregon before education and career took me through out America. I also ride a Silver Wing 07.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:49 PM   #5
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On Monday, August 27, 2012, I loaded up and headed east for a short way up the Columbia River Gorge, crossing the river at Biggs. I took some shots of the river at Maryhill, on the Washington side of the river:





I continued north on 97, intending to get to Leavenworth, Washington, a small town in the Cascades which is set up like a Swiss mountain town. The first section of 97 goes through a largely uninhabited area within the Yakama Reservation. It’s two lane, for the most part, and is quite heavily travelled by trucks because it is one of the only direct routes to Interstate 90 from the Columbia River area. I reached the City of Yakima and ended up going into the city center area looking for a gas station, which I eventually found. I then picked up Highway 82 north to Ellensburg:



From 82, I entered Interstate 90 eastbound and spent the next 40 miles or so pushing my way through traffic and around big rigs and fighting the wind, which continued unabated. I exited at a local road, 281, and took it north to Quincy, then continued on 28 into the town of Wenatchee, next to the Columbia River where it proceeds south from Idaho towards the Columbia River Gorge. I got lost in Wenatchee and couldn’t figure out how to connect over to Leavenworth, so I stopped at the AAA and asked. I spoke with a very nice Russian or Ukranian lady…not sure which…who assured me that I was going the right way. She also warned me that hotel rooms in Leavenworth were on the pricey side. I decided to stay the night in Wenatchee. Distance for the day was 289 miles.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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The next morning, I headed towards Leavenworth. The sky was partially cloudy and there was a little spit of rain…pretty nice change from the wind and the heat, so I wasn’t complaining.





Leavenworth was not far. It was a very nice little town. I stopped and had an espresso and wandered around for awhile. Here are some photos:







I thought it was funny that there was a Swiss-German sushi joint in Leavenworth...



I caught 97 south out of town and ran back down to Ellensburg. That section of 97 was a wonderful little run through the mountains…some trucks and cars, but traffic was not heavy, the road was in good condition and the turns were mostly long sweepers. Here are some photos I took near Ellensburg:





There was a large windfarm just outside Ellensburg. The road passed quite close to several of the turbines:



This was also quite close to the large grass fire which burned near Cle Ellum the week before…quite a big area burned. I rode right through it. I picked up 82 in Ellensburg, then returned to Yakima and went back down 97 through the Reservation to Biggs, on the Oregon side of the Columbia. I fueled up and continued on 97 south across the plains, avoiding the route through Maupin I previously described. The wind was really whistling along in this area…I’d estimate a consistent 15 knots or so, with gusts up to 25-30. I stopped briefly in Shaniko, which I recalled from seeing a tour report in one of my motorcycle magazines awhile back, and shot some photos there of the Shaniko barn and the wooden cowboy statues in front of the Shaniko Hotel:





I took 97 into Madras and stayed there for the night. Distance for the day was 298 miles.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:03 PM   #7
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The next day, I continued on 97 south back past the connector to Crater Lake. I stopped in Klamath Falls for lunch, then crossed over into California, passing Mt Shasta on the way into Weed. Here is Mt Shasta…again, lots of airborne particulates from the Ponderosa Fire, which was just south of this area:





I caught Interstate 5 south at Weed and continued past Dunsmuir and on into Redding. There was a 5-10 mile section of Interstate 5 undergoing renovation north of Lake Shasta…the roadway was grooved, patched, cracked and reduced to one lane…and in the areas which had been resurfaced, there was a lot of fresh asphalt and oil on the surface, so I was pretty cautious going through there. A guy on a Harley passed me with no apparent concerns, so I was probably weirded out for no reason, but it was all good and uneventful. Spent the night in Redding…distance for the day was 326 miles.

Next day, I hopped on 5 to 99 south through Chico (stopped at the Dutch Bros again!) to 70-65 through Marysville and back home over Sierra College. I arrived home at 1215…distance for the day was 170 miles.

Here’s a picture of my bug-murdering Givi AirFlow windshield, proof of the lives sacrificed in the completion of this tour:



STATS:

Total distance ridden: 1911 miles
Longest day’s run: 326 miles
Shortest day’s run: 170 miles
Highest fuel mileage: 55.1 mpg
Lowest fuel mileage: 45.4 mpg
Average fuel mileage: 50.1 mpg
Approx safe range: 150 miles per full tank

NOTES:

Speeds varied widely on the back roads and generally ran from 65-75 mph, with bursts to 80+ for passing. Interstate speeds typically were 70-80. I found that the SWing had no serious problem reaching and maintaining those speeds. 80 indicated was about 6200 rpm and there was still significant room to redline. Fastest speed reached was around 90 indicated on a pass around a semi.

High speed handling was OK, but the bike’s light weight, short wheelbase and small wheels were noticeable at high speeds and winds. The bike was tossed around a bit by bow waves from semis, but what bike isn’t , really? Would have liked a bit more weight and power. The small wheels, short wheelbase and lack of fuel tank between the knees made load balance a critical issue in handling on twisty roads…you really have to make sure the heaviest stuff is under the seat down as low as you can get it.

The Beadrider seat cover helped comfort quite a bit, but towards the end of the day, I was READY to get off the bike…things started hurting a bit and shifting position at that time really didn’t help much.

Reliability was excellent. It’s a Honda and it had just had a thorough going over, which explains, in part, the increase in fuel mileage I experienced, IMHO.

In summary, the bike did fine, I did OK and the tour was quite fun, even with some of the challenges posed by wind, semis and road construction. I don’t know if I’d do it again on a scooter…I think a full-sized motorcycle might have been better and more comfortable in this regard…but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t tour on a scooter…you most certainly can.

gumshoe4 screwed with this post 08-31-2012 at 09:14 PM
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:16 PM   #8
damasovi
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amigo, in 2007 I did some of the roads you just describe and you took me back! and I too was almost blown of the highway in Oregon, worst 2 hours of my life!

Very nice post and read. I think you could have done more miles, but it was not about that, was it? all about the ride, stopping, taking pictures and just exploring...!!

Cheers

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Old 09-01-2012, 08:55 AM   #9
cdwise
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FWIW, I found that the worst I had to deal with was the 50mph cross winds on I-25 last summer. Those were manageable but not fun, it was the 80mph gusts that gave me pucker moments not the slipstream from semis. That was on my BV. Semis can be a little nerve racking when they dance back and forth passing each other. I never felt so insignificant on the road as on my Burgman between 9 & 10 pm on I-40 where the big rigs were moving from lane to lane sometimes with less than 20' between the bumper of one truck and the other that was passing it. I don't think anything smaller than a Suburban or one of the big Mercedes 500SL that are built like a freaking tanks would have felt safe, certainly not anything on two wheels. It was only 40 miles from where I entered I-40 to where I was getting off at Santa Rosa for the night but it was scary.

I enjoyed your ride report. It reminded me how lovely the Columbia River valley is. I'll have to make sure I get through there when I go to check off the Pacific northwest on my ride map. Maybe next summer after Amerivespa in San Diego I can make it a big loop back to Colorado.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:39 AM   #10
Brooktown Geezer
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Really enjoyed the pictures and the commentary, Gumshoe.

Thanks for sharing it!
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:54 AM   #11
luckychucky
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Nice Ride

Enjoyed thanks for sharing. I love scooters too. Good thing you had a little bike while riding on marbles. A big one would have been a bigger challenge. Scary on the plastic parts.
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Old 09-01-2012, 04:59 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the very nice comments. I had a blast on the tour and will be doing another soon...except this time, I'll be doing some camping along the way...
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Old 09-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #13
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Nice report and pics Scooters make good touring bikes.

Since you had several times where you had to ride on somewhat challenging sections of road, do you think the BV500 would have been better on those challenging sections??
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Old 09-02-2012, 01:34 PM   #14
John Fabian
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Thanks for writing. Sounds like a great adventure. I'd love to tour up to Crater Lake.
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Old 09-02-2012, 05:59 PM   #15
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Hello,

This is what's neat about these type of posts, you get to see beautiful scenery that are real pictures not postcard generated. You get to read about the riding issues that were dealt with you get to hear what the good places are to eat, the sleeping site issues during the tour, you get to know what routes were good to take because not being totally familiar with the area this helps huge. You mention that you were not sure if you would do this on a scooter again because of comfort now granted it's not a Goldwing or a bike with luxury customized seating but it's darn close, you have options here no matter what. I have a buddy that has taken his 250 Honda Reflex and rode several multi state excursions hauling a trailer to boot without any major issues also. The norms traffic, road conditions, weather etc. are part of the experience and thank you for sharing yours with us on this post.

Keep em coming, I hope to do something like this soon, time will tell.

Ride Safe
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