Blewett Pass gets heavy local motorcycle traffic due to its cool breezes, quality pavement
What is an escape? Bikers know the answer: It's a road trip. All the realities of home and work are left forgotten for the highway, sky and wind on the seat of a powerful bike.
Here are the rules that my riding buddies, Eric and Tad, and I use: Avoid interstates, crowds (sorry, Sturgis) and the ordinary. We want the feeling of flying over remote, beautiful highways and freedom-becoming part of nature and apart from the ordinary. Luckily, we live in the Pacific Northwest-which has more fabulous biking venues than a Harley showroom has chrome.
For the last nine years, we have ridden our own ride together as we discovered the special places that fit our rules. This trip would be different, because we were taking the wives. Since Eric's and Tad's wives had never been on a long, multiday ride, we would take a gentle approach to this trip. Our simple male logic went something like this: If the ladies like to ride, we get more motorcycle trips and happy ladies.
Would this mean we would need to break our rules? Could the ladies enjoy a trip where we leaned the bike into steep turns, accelerated madly past lumbering RVs and rode hundreds of miles each day? I knew my wife, Sharon, would, but what of the others?
Jack's Saloon is the second-best place to get food in Winthrop.
Author and wife pause in the forest.
Viewpoints abound at the Mount St. Helens National Monument.
It's all in the planning. We would travel roads we knew for certain would capture our passengers' interest with world-class scenery and destinations. We would also get some gear to make the trip more enjoyable.
We picked up some BlueAnt Bluetooth wireless headsets for rider/ passenger communication. These installed in five minutes in our Shoei TZ-R helmets and provided five hours of clear talk time each day. Since the installation required no modification of the helmet, the unit could be pulled out of Sharon's helmet and used for riderto-rider communications with someone else's lid.
If the road doesn't thrill you, the North Cascades National Park has views that will long
I also took my tankbag (Givi T426). It holds 26 liters worth of stuff and did not scuff the tank. I know most people do not want to put big, ugly, black magnetic bags on their perfect gas tanks, but it's hard enough to pack my bike when I'm by myself. This way, when the bike is so tightly packed that not even an extra Band-Aid would fit, Sharon can bring her athletic shoes or I can toss in my favorite anvil, and they fit.
We left on a clear summer morning from Portland, Oregon, and followed one of my favorite roads: State Highway 14 up the stunning Columbia River Gorge. Interstate 84 on the Oregon side of the river is faster, but remember our rule against interstate highways.
After about 90 miles, we turned off WA-14 to State Highway 142 toward Klickitat. Local bikers know about this perfect motorcycle road through the Klickitat River Canyon, but few visitors seem to take the turn. The remote beauty of the Klickitat River fighting its way through the super-hard basalt cliffs gave us all a thrill. Motorcycling is fun; smiles all around.
From Klickitat, we followed the signs to Goldendale and U.S. Highway 97. I think US-97 is worth a trip in itself, but the section from Goldendale to Toppenish cuts through the Horse Heaven Hills and the Yakima Indian Reservation. Terrific!
We pulled into Toppenish after 180 miles on the GPS, riders and passengers tired and hot. We grabbed rooms at the friendly, clean Best Western motel and walked to Taqueria Mexicana for dinner. This restaurant seemed full of locals, has great food and is impossibly clean.
That night, the guys talked about the next day's ride. We would take the fabulous road through the Yakima River Canyon (WA-821). This special place has basalt cliffs rising 2,000 feet above the sparkling green waters of the Yakima River. The rock faces shelter the densest population of hawks, eagles and falcons in the whole state. Bikers love it for the water-smooth pavement surges and twists. Ahh. Forty-five minutes of perfection.
Some roads deserve your utmost attention. Especially heading toward Mount St. Helens on Fo
The view from this rest stop on Highway 14 makes the mighty Columbia River appear peaceful