Ride North – Week 2

Phew, did the last week fly by. After editing photos at the Panic office and sending off the wallpaper of the week, we said our goodbyes to our generous host James. Having a bit more forced downtime in Portland as we waited for my laptop to come in, we went out to see the city and find cheap (read: free) lodging.

Having drank plenty and met some girls the night prior (of Stuart’s birthday!) that expressed interest in hosting us, we napped our hangover away at Mt. Tabor park (somewhat hopelessly) awaiting a reply to our texts and happened upon a very nice Suzuki GSX-R riding fellow named Danny. Danny was intrigued by our story, asked some questions about the hammock I was lying in as he was about to embark on a honeymoon on motorcycles — a dream marriage, if you ask me — and rode off.

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Less than thirty minutes passed and he came back up the hill, excitedly exclaiming that he told his fiancée all about us and they wanted to host us for the night. Score!

(the girls never got back to us. Maybe another time, ladies!)

We talked and heard about his incredibly inspiring story of recovery from addiction, finding love and now to his new pure passion of motorcycles, being a new house owner and a all the excitement of being a week from getting married. It’s a story and encounter I will fondly remember and be inspired by for a very long time to come. In motorcycles, he found an incredible passion that truly set him on the path of recovery and eventually happiness.

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As if his completely selfless hosting us wasn’t enough, he let birthday boy Stuart ride his flame-spewing (yes, literally, flames out the exhaust) ‘Zombie Killer’ modified GSX-R up to the hill as his KLR 650 was in pieces to get fixed in Danny’s yard and even let him ride another brand new GSX-R down back to his home.

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As I tried to take some photos of the two at the light taking off, I snapped the shot, kicked my GT1000 into gear and grabbed a handful of throttle, flying through the intersection after them with my front wheel in the air. Whelp, my first wheelie on the Ride North was a fact.

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All good things must come to an end, of course: we got packed and left Portland at last, hoping to hit Seattle by day’s end. Portland was fantastic; not only were the people incredibly nice and generous and the food and drink excellent, we had good weather almost the entire time and the place simply felt like a second home.

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As a cherry on top, as we rode out news reached me that my friend Neven was now father to a son. Congratulations, Christa and Neven!

We found ourselves in our first proper downpour but were properly suited up to deal with it and stayed dry. It was sunny and gorgeous when we hit Seattle – in fact, we were nearly overheating in the traffic on the highway. Our full rain gear was extremely hot and it was great to stop and rest our sore butts.

We were hosted by Arthur in Seattle. He’d offered quite nicely through the ducati.ms forums to host us when we’d pass through on the way North and I was happy to take him up on his offer. A Ducati enthusiast and owner of a GT1000 himself, he was by far one of the nicest and most generous hosts we’ve had on the trip. We got made lattés and blueberry pancakes!

We briefly saw Seattle’s nightlife and music scene, had a hike near Cougar Mountain, saw the Dutch qualify for the quarter finals and packed up to head to Olympic National Park. Which meant… our first ferry ride. Bikes on a boat!

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You get loaded first and ride off the boat first as a motorcycle. The motorcycle patrol officer wasn’t too amused by my engine revving and pulling wheelies while waiting so he arrested me on the spot.

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No, not really. He extended his hand and as I reciprocated, clicked the handcuffs on. We were a bit puzzled until he told us to take a photo. Grins all around. We got to the Olympic Peninsula and made good time to Port Angeles.

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(which has the best, cutest new drive-through coffee place called the Silver Spruce Coffee Company, by the way! Go visit them. Seriously)

We tried to get backcountry permits at the Olympic National Park visitor center (they’re mandatory, and the citations for not having one are pricey), but we found they’d just closed. Grumble.

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The visitor center already being closed, we decided to ride up to Hurricane Ridge for a stiff hike up the mountain ridge and find a spot there to cook our fresh bought whole salmon (from Pike’s Place Market, Seattle) and asparagus.

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It was one of the most beautiful days on the ride so far. The ride up was stellar, the hike was breathtaking.

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I made a new friend:

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There was wildlife and stellar views in every direction. Deer basked in the sun like kings of the range, the slowly setting sun glistening on their heads.

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And don’t even get started about the sunset. It must have been an incredibly clear day by Pacific Northwest standards, as we could see Vancouver Island stretching out into the Pacific, cities in Canada sparkling on the horizon like constellations at the base of the mountain ranges.

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We had a fantastic dinner – eventually a deer was even attracted by all the smells and we had to shoo him off before he ate our little camping stove.

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One of the best spots I’ve ever eaten. And boy, does a ride up and stiff hike make you hungry.

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The last light we caught going down made for this week’s stellar Wallpaper of the Week for backers. Again, if you’d like to be part of this list (you get a lossless wallpaper per week for personal use) drop me an email and for the same contribution as our Kickstarter backers, you get all previous wallpapers as well as a new one every week of our trip!

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The next morning we cooked up our last salmon, packed up at the crack of dawn and rode to take the ferry back to Seattle and ride into Vancouver.

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We were riding with quite a few people out of the Peninsula that morning including a group of guys riding nice older bikes who kept us company in a long traffic jam caused by a rather intense traffic accident involving a big truck and a small car on the one road out to the ferry.

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To lift the spirits, closer to the ferry we were joined by a (once again!) GSX-R rider who rode wheelies for about a mile down the road. I barely managed to get a shot trying to keep up while take photos…

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Abou 150 miles later we were close to the border and we were enjoying some of the hottest weather so far. We dressed down appropriately.

We hooked up some music to our helmets and as I was thoroughly swinging out dancing, playing air guitar and air keyboard on my motorcycle I had a sudden moment of panic as my bike cut out at a 70 miles-per-hour limit stretch of freeway. It turns out in my playing the air-synth, I accidentally hit the kill switch on my bike. Yup.

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The border crossing was fun. As I fumbled to grab my papers from the US Customs and Immigration service, the border patrol lady saw me rushing a bit and sternly asked me why I was so nervous. “I-I-I’m not n-nervous” I stammered and a few intense questions about the knives I packed for the trip later I made it across the border. See ya, Lower 48!

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It was Canada Day — July 1st! — when we rolled into town, and the entire city seemed to be drunk. We’ll be here for the next few days and then we’re going up and onwards again.

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Check back next week for the less-visited and less-photographed areas of British Columbia, the breaking of 3000 miles and my impressions of the TRON: Legacy shooting locations. I decided to visit them since my bike (the Ducati SportClassic) was used in the movie. It took quite a bit of riding around between 4 AM and 6 AM!

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