Ride North – Week 1

Finally able to write a solid post on our first week on the road – I was out of my laptop for a while, having left it in Crater Lake. Now writing from Seattle! Let’s re-wind to Friday the 20th…

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We left early in the morning from San Francisco with our friends Jameson, Todd, Alex and Rich, which made for a great variety in bikes riding up the coastal Highway 1; we had two Harley Road Glides, a V-Strom, a café’d out four-cylinder Honda CB750 and of course our KLR and Ducati. After some early, early morning coffee we blasted over the Golden Gate Bridge and wasted no time going on to the twisty coastal road. We rode fast; our friends certainly know how to ride.

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We stopped for some barbecue oysters at Marshall’s (highly recommended) to meet up with Rich who had gone ahead of us. As I unmounted my heavily loaded GT1000 I checked if the gravely turnout could support the weight of the bike on the side stand and while it seemed to be okay at first, upon taking three steps away from my bike it slowly started to sink and fell over. With the first bike tipping out of the way, the rest of the week simply had to be good luck!

We rode to Van Damme State Park that day, which has excellent campgrounds near the beach and is just a few minutes South of Fort Bragg.

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Stuart managed to somehow lose his phone on the first day and just as we’d completely given up on his finding it back again ( – we’d assumed his friend Alex might have taken it by accident) a man named Sterling rolled up on a bicycle, asking us “Hey man, these your bikes?”.

Thankfully Stuart’s phone did not have a passcode lock: bicycling down the campground road Sterling found the Samsung phone, flipped through the photos and recognized our motorcycles in the picture gallery. He rolled up and returned the phone. We were overjoyed and offered him a few beers.

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We were lucky enough to be thrown a fantastic send-off party and drank and laughed throughout the night. Van Damme being a family campground, we were certainly thrown some worried looks by the local camping families and their kids as we rolled in looking rather rough, but kept things very respectable and had some very nice conversations with people there the next morning. There’s nothing quite like a packed motorcycle to spark an interesting conversation.

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On the second day, we were truly on our own. The adventure had truly began, and we made great time riding California Highway 1 until its terminus in Crescent City. The roads are incredible in Northern California; from time to time you hug a massive cliff wall with the Pacific on your left hand, and at others you ride through small towns and dense forests with the sun glistening on the road.

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We connected to Highway 101 through a curvy connecting road that cuts a dense forest and mountain range in two, dumping us on the 101 just south of the beautiful Avenue of the Giants, a stellar ride through Sequoia redwoods. A few fuel and stretching stops (and incredibly stellar roads) later, we eventually made it to Redwood National Forest where we camped for the night.

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Our campground was improvised: upon rolling into reputable Redwood State Parks like Jedediah Smith State Park we found the campgrounds were all spoken for as well as being extremely expensive. We cut through some of the roads following the forked river that snakes through Redwood National Forest and found a forest cleaning atop a rocky dirt road.

Amusingly, the locals probably used this area as a shooting range. The ground was littered with shotgun, rifle and handgun shells. When I built a good campfire, a few 7mm rounds that were still live popped in the fire completely unexpectedly, prompting us to ensure the area was cleared of live rounds before we threw some more logs on to roast the asparagus…

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Packing up the next morning we quickly crossed our first state line: we were now in Oregon! One state down, 5 to go.

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I can recommend the ride from Redwood National Forest into Oregon. There were some RVs we were stuck behind at times, but it’s essentially a stunning gorge with very nice mountain views. We spent the night – a long night – socializing with friends in Ashland, dancing a hot Oregon night away and sharing our stories so far. We’d totaled less than 40 miles of Interstate so far; the rest was simply backroads and the most scenic roads imaginable.

With a few hours of sleep under our belt we rode from the chaparral and dry shrubs of South Oregon up the mountain ranges and into thick pine forests to the crest of the Crater Lake rim. Oregon truly blew our mind that day.

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We were exhausted by the time we made it to Crater Lake and took a nap under the shade of some pine trees next to the restaurant and gift shop. Some (surprisingly good) food later we rode up to the rim to take photos and stretch some more.

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As if such a variety of scenery wasn’t enough in itself, the last four hours of the day were spent riding to Bend where we suddenly found ourselves in the High Desert.

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(look, we found the Ride North mountain!)

We’d seen an immense variety of climates in a day and were happy to be generously hosted by my friend Josh Bryant and his fantastic family. Thanks, Josh! His sons and daughter enjoyed sitting on the bikes and hearing about our crazy plans, and we got a good night’s rest and a shower which were badly needed.

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It was fantastic to have a night of true rest in Bend. However, my tranquil feeling was quickly disturbed by the realization that in my exhaustion, I’d left my laptop in the parking lot of the restaurant in Crater Lake. It was fast becoming a trip of lost electronics…

I gave them a call and they agreed to ship it to Portland. Phew. We have been very lucky on this trip, indeed. With my terrible sinking feeling out of the way we decided to head to Portland, with a stop at Smith Rock State Park to photograph some of the incredible High Desert of Oregon. It’s incredibly beautiful there.

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We chatted with several rock climbers who had gone on long adventures of their own and finally got to put in some physical activity that wasn’t leaning a bike into a turn.

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After that, it was a ride to Portland… to await the arrival of my laptop and plan the trip ahead.

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We’re both getting quite good at shooting photos while on the bike. Here’s Stu reviewing one of his shots, while I take a photo with my M (manual focus and settings). Look ma, no hands!

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(sorry ma)

Oh! We also pushed out our very first wallpaper of the week. If you’d still like to receive this, contact me directly to get on the wallpaper-a-week-list! Since this was a Kickstarter reward, to be fair to our backers we still charge the original reward amount ($40) to get on the list.

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We’ll check in next week with Stuart’s birthday (two GSX-Rs are involved, as well as my first wheelie on this ride), arriving in Seattle, and our first venture into Canada!

Quick bite sized updates can be had on the Ride North Twitter, Tumblr or my Instagram as well.


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