Category: Motorcycles

Supersport 2.0

We’ve been a Supersport family for more than a decade. Nick has put more than 40,000 miles on his, touring the western US. (We even made it as far east as Mount Rushmore last summer.) So it was with eager anticipation that we went to Ducati Redmond’s unveiling of the new Supersport last night. 

I’ll go on record saying that I am officially impressed. Being a naked bike lover, it takes a certain amount of restraint in styling to get me excited about anything with a fairing. This is the perfect modernization of the old bike. I threw a leg over it and loved the Monster-esque riding position. (All day comfort…yay!)

I can’t wait to take it for a test drive!

Matho Tapila Mega Moto Adventure

My new favorite picture of Nick and me

In June, Nick, my dad, Karen, Dave and I undertook our most ambitious motorcycle tour ever. Twelve days, five states, seven national parks, 3100 miles, and only two notable bike issues. Whew!

Highlights included a return to the 99 miles of twisty road leading to Lolo Pass, seeing all sorts of wildlife (moose, buffalo, big horn sheep, grizzly bear, pronghorn, and more), bowls of legendary cheeseburger soup, seeing the Brewery Follies in Virginia City, geysers and thermal springs in Yellowstone NP, showing those WY people how we dance in Seattle, an unexpected visit to a roadside air museum, hilarious entertainment by a singer in Gillette, WY (where Les Canards Sauvages almost got renamed “the water people”), contrasting visits to Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, meeting an artist whose work was solicited for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, walking around Devil’s Tower, prairie dogs, surviving 30+ mph cross-winds, a sobering visit to Little Big Horn, $2 margaritas and evening games of pool, an early morning blast up the Going to the Sun Highway (with no cars!), skinny dipping in Avalanche Lake, rafting the Middle Fork Flathead River, a visit with long-time family friends in Sandpoint, ID (dinner at a floating restaurant!), twisting the throttle through some of Washington’s best roads, being met by riding friends (Mark and Laura) in Winthrop on our last night, and surviving the final day’s ride home.

We live in an amazing country, and I’m so glad I get to experience it on two wheels with friends and family. Watch the slideshow below to see some of the visual highlights. (The arrow in the lower right corner will embiggen it.) Additional pictures by my dad are here.

 

Yellowstone Teton Moto Adventure – Part 1

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Back in August and early September, Nick, my dad, and I went on a 9-day motorcycle tour. We clocked roughly 2,100 miles in five states (Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Washington) and three national parks (Craters of the Moon NM, Teton NP, and Yellowstone NP). Big thanks to my dad for the route map.

We were originally going to trailer our bikes to Boise, ID and ride a slightly shorter loop from there. Two days before our departure, however, we experienced a bit of a setback. We loaded my dad’s broad-shouldered K1300S on the middle of our borrowed motorcycle trailer and quickly realized the trailer was way too narrow to accommodate two more bikes. The trailer was apparently a three-bike trailer – but only if you had skinny dirt bikes. Ugh!

We’d need to go to Plan B. (We didn’t really have a Plan B.)

After a visit to U-Haul 10 minutes before they closed and some quick math, we realized we’d come out ahead financially if we scrapped the trailer plan and simply rode to Boise over two days. We had some ideas about how we might rejigger the route home, but thought the final decision on that was better left until later in the trip when we had a better idea of how we were riding. (Too much planning might ruin the “adventure” part of our Mega Moto Adventure, after all.)

We went home to pack with plans to meet at Aura Bakery the next morning for a proper motorcycle tour send-off.

Day 1 – 277 miles from Kirkland, WA to Pendleton, OR

It’s been said before: all good motorcycle tours begin with croissants and a latte big enough to swim in. This one was no different. Properly fueled, we gritted our teeth for what we knew would be a long, taxing ride to Pendleton.

There is no really good way to get there in a day that avoids freeways, so we sucked it up and rode I-90 to Ellensburg. Traffic was light, the smell of fresh hops was in the air, and the miles flew by. From Ellensburg, we turned south and headed for Yakima and the Columbia River Gorge.

If you haven’t been there, the Gorge is an incredibly windy place, owing to its unique geography and location between a cool Pacific Ocean and hot inland dessert. Somewhere around Coffin Road (the irony is not lost on me), gusting cross winds began buffeting us. Our survival strategy was pretty simple: get low, hang on, and drive faster. (Question for any physics expert reading this: Does the gyroscopic effect of our wheels really keep us on track better? Or is this just a myth?)

We quickly wore ourselves out driving in survival mode, so we stopped at our first roadside attraction – the dinosaur park. What you see here is sadly all that this park has to offer, but it gave us a good laugh anyway.

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From here, it was a short ride to Pendleton, where we traded riding gear for civilian clothes and slaked our thirst at the Prodigal Son Brewery. They offer a Beer Charity board, which seems like an awesome idea that should be implemented at more neighborhood pubs, don’t you think?

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Day 2 – 224 miles from Pendleton, OR to Boise, ID

It was no surprise when we woke up on day 2 to find that Nick’s bike need brake fluid. His bike drinks fluids in mysterious ways, and he usually has a stash of stuff for this occasion. Curiously, his stash did not include Dot 4 brake fluid.

We wandered the streets of Pendleton, looking for an auto parts store. Pendleton, as we discovered, has many more churches than auto parts stores. I don’t think the coffee had quite kicked in yet, though, because all of the church signs seemed to read funny. We found a church for “method-aliens,” “episcopists,” and a “church of the red femur.” Strange.

The ride south from Pendleton goes over two small mountain passes with 55 MPH sweepers that are easily ridden at 70+ MPH – not that I ever endorse speeding egregiously, mind you. We stopped for lunch at a roadside taco truck – my dad’s first. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water for a bottle of cold tamarind soda. Mmmm.

After lunch, we took a detour to the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, ID. We arrived only 20 min or so before closing, which was fine by me. I think Nick could have spent all day here. They had a fly-in event that weekend. We missed the flying, but that meant all of the planes were on the ground for us to see.

South of Nampa, the legal speed limit increased to 80 MPH. (That’s not a typo.) And we cruised into Boise where we showered, watched an arrest take place outside our hotel room door (“too much stupid in one place,” according to the officer), took in the city sights, had drinks with long-time friends Todd and Shannon, and dodged a sudden evening storm on the way back to our motel room.

Stay tuned for the next installment…

Bitter sweet trip to the Methow

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Mike and I made a quick trip to Winthrop last night on the motorcycles. The valley is suffering huge losses due to the forest fires. According to the news, nearly 340 square miles have burned, including many homes.

For those of you familiar with the area, the above pictures were taken right near the town trailhead. The fires are that close to town.

This morning we drove south through the worst of the damage. Fires continued to burn only a few paces from the road in many places.

My heart is heavy.

Heart-stopping IOMTT ride with Michael Dunlop

A few years ago, Nick and I spent a week on the Isle of Mann at the annual Tourist Trophy motorcycle races. The TT is like no other race on earth. Riders approach speeds on 200 mph while negotiating a seemingly never-ending series of bends and hairpins on public streets.

The video below highlights the terrifying experience of riding the 37-mile course from a racer’s perspective. Michael Dunlop whizzes past buildings and skirts along the edge of stone walls. He even comes within centimeters of spectators. It’s an exhilarating bit of footage – just watching it was enough to give me sweaty palms.

The passing move at the Ramsey Hairpin (8 min.) is spectacular, as are the speeds Dunlop reaches on the wide open mountain roads. Woo! Makes me want to go back with a press pass.