Thursday, August 28, 2008

On my way to the Rally in Stevenson,WA via NF25

Saturday finally arrived. I had been spending the week packing and getting my scoot ready for the trip to the Columbia Gorge. While it was a long way, my original plan was to go by myself, alone, no riding buddy, no backup, no cell phone service. I may have decided upon Plan "B" if I had an older scoot, but my Kymco Xciting 500Ri was relative new (only 3 months old) and was "up for the challenge", but was I . . . ? I had been mulling over the map and my proposed route for a couple of weeks. I had been advised NOT to take this route by myself as NF-25 was in bad shape due to the extreme winter and heavy rains during the winter. Also warnings on the government website showed pictures of the bad road, and also NF99 was closed indefinitely due to a road collapse, and I really wanted to go to the Windy Ridge Lookout. I upgraded to this larger scoot so that I would have more route options. Being highway capable meant that I could take any road and be able to maintain any legal speed.
I left Vancouver around 7am and headed down Hwy 99, crossed the US/Canada Border and headed down I-5, switched over to 405 at Alderwood, continued south to Hwy 167. Little did I know that Hwy 167 is a nightmare. It is also known as Meridian Avenue and is a major traffic bottleneck area. Dozens of stop lights, stop and go traffic, but mostly STOP. I was having a hard time trying to find Hwy 161. After a while after taking some sideroads I finally found Hwy 161, then south on Hwy 7 towards Elbe


This is the postal outlet at La Grande, doesn't appear to be anything else here. I like to take photos of historic buildings.

I arrive at Elbe and noticed that there were a lot of bikers (and other people) sitting around this place having a hamburger, so I thought that if this place was so popular then the food should be good
Well, I ordered a Burger and it took nearly an hour to get it. So all I can say is if you are in a hurry then this place is NOT for you. And having to wait so long was a turn off, and it really wasn't good enough to warrant the long wait. I was really trying to make time and get to Randle before 2pm as I wanted to get out of the forest area before 5pm, and this stop really put me behind. Next time I will just skip this place and get a sandwich at the Subway at Morton which is only around 1/2 hour further down the road.

Elbe has a little museum and this engine. There is a washroom at the rear of this building if you need one.

We are entering Morton, WA. It's a larger town with more services including a grocery store. At the south end you will find a Chevron Station with Subway attached.
If you are going to go south on NF-25, then you should top up your gas tank here, for the next gas station is nearly 120 miles south at Carson, and the Shell station at Randle (I am told), is not always open.

Randle, WA: the north gateway to NF-25 . A short distance south on Hwy 131 you travel into the forest:

There is not much traffic on NF-25 and often I would just stop and enjoy the scenic beauty, such as this small lake.
This was Saturday afternoon on a summer weekend and I only encountered 2 cars and 2 motorcycles on this whole 80 mile section. The road is rough and the twisties just don't stop. If you happen to run off the road you could go over the cliff, or wind up out of sight in the bushes. cell phones will not work and you are strongly advised to let someone know where you are going so they can send out the search party if you do not make it to your destination.

This road is a biker's dream. There are numerous switchbacks and slow to 20 mph curves throughout the whole (80 mile) stretch.
I have read that some consider this combination of roads (NF25, NF51, NF90, NF30) to comprise the longest length of twisties in Washington state and I have found references to this road on a few motorcycle forums, so naturally, I had to experience this road for myself.

There are a few construction sites (road repair, and tree removal) along the way, and they are replacing this bridge that got washed out during the winter.


The road is badly patched, so there are dips and valleys, so if you are an agressive rider (ie: fast), then you will bottom out on your shocks. It happened to me numerous times. But although it is labelled "rough", it is not really as bad as the roads around Vancouver, BC, where the roads are a mess

On the southern section I came across some people fishing in the Lewis River

I mentioned earlier that NF99, the road to Windy Ridge Lookout was closed approx 6 miles from the junction of NF-25. Here we arrive where the road is closed
This is where then constructed another viewpoint area so that you could view Mt St Helens which is 11 miles away. The road is permanently closed . . . I am told because the NFS does not have the funds to repair the road which has collapsed. For now, motorized vehicles are not allowed past this point, but you are free to walk or bicycle the 11 miles to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint.

Here is the view of Mt St Helens from this viewpoint (from 11 miles away)

I am not sure, but this could be a view of the Toutle River just south of NF99 junction

All in all this was a great day for me. I started at 7am from Vancouver, BC and finally arrived at Stevenson, WA at around 6pm. It took me 11 hours by scooter to get to my destination. And I took the challenge to take NF-25 as my preferred route, alone. I am a cautious sort and let me say that if the weather was not so perfect, or I got "bad vives" of any kind, then I would have changed my route along the way. As I think about it I suppose that I was lucky that nothing eventful happened for 80 miles alone in a forest without the possibility of help, now frightens me a lot.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting ready for the Rally in Stevenson, WA

It's been a busy week. I've been on the fence about attending a large scooter gathering down in the Gorge. It's a long way, can't get anyone to ride with me and I want to take a certain road which is not in the greatest shape. It's a camping rally and I don't camp but I was willing to try. Last week I dusted off our tent, the one we purchased 20 years ago and actually set it up in the back yard to make sure I understood how to set it up and see what condition it was in. Also we have some sleeping bags which I aired out. I also went out to look at camping stuff and purchased a ground sheet. so everything was set until I went on the web to find out if there were any reviews on these places. One review said that there were a lot of trains passing by and they had to toot their horn entering and leaving a certain area, and trains were passing by all night. This I could live with. But as soon as I saw that phrase which said "washrooms could use a little TLC" I made up my mind to get a motel. I got the last non-smoking room which is only about 3 blocks from the rally site.
Since I thought that I was going camping, I spent last weekend trying to prepare my Xciting 500Ri to be able to charge all my electronic stuff, like my cameras/video on the scoot as I didn't know if I would be able to obtain an electrical outlet. But nothing worked. I think that my inverter needs more AMPS than my charging system can supply.
Anyway I'm all set, the skoot is packed, gas is full, all systems are ready and it is definitely easier without having to pack the tent and sleeping bag.
My dilema all week has been trying to decide whether to ride this particular road or not. I have been doing a bit of investigation and find that it is one of the best motorcycle roads in Washington state. It lines up with 3 or 4 other roads which makes it an 80 mile stretch of un-interrupted twisties, long sweepers and technical curves, but it is a remote road in the mountains with no cell phone coverage and is in very bad shape from heavy snowfall. Some parts of the road have collapsed and are closed indefinitely. It seems that the National Forestry department does not have funds to repair/re-pave these roads. Also there are many sections with frost heaves which are not indicated/labelled and there may be lots of gravel and sand on the corners. Actually on one site they say that if you plan on travelling in this area you should let someone know so that if you do not make it out then they should send out the search party. I think my mind is more or less made up and I will attempt to ride this road tomorrow. I do have some parameters which will sway my decision to take another route if conditions warrant.
So I am off to the rally and will be back in a few days, hopefully with some stories to tell. I am trying to keep you in suspense for a few days until I get back. I do not have room to take my laptop and I think that there will be too much vibration for it to survive this trip so I am leaving it at home. I will not be able to update this BLOG until I return later in the week.
When I say "GORGE", I am referring to the Columbia Gorge. This is the waterway between Washington & Oregon States, an hour or so East of Portland. I will be staying in a little town on the Washington side . . . Stevenson, WA. There are rides planned, a vendor area and BMW sponsored Demo bikes available for testing. I've met a few people on the local Maxi-Scoots forum so I will be on the lookout for them. They have actually organized 4 rallies this week for different types of bikes: sportbikes, touring bikes, dual sport bikes & Maxi-Scoots. It's rally week in the Gorge and I'm on my way . . .

Oh, forgot , as mentioned above "no laptop" = "NO posts until I return"
thanks and see you in a few days.

Monday, August 18, 2008

That's not a scooter !

Recently I rode my scooter to Kelowna (from Vancouver). It took nearly 12 hours to ride the 500 kms one way, it's a long story but our group had some mechanical problems and we had a small scoot not able to maintain the freeway speeds necessary in order to take the Coquihalla mountain Highway, so we took the slow scenic route. Rewind to last year when I had a BW250 (Kymco Bet&Win 250). The 250 just did not have enough power to handle the mountainous terrain of British Columbia so I decided to get a larger scooter. My Kymco X500Ri is a highway machine, it has the weight to handle the higher speeds and yet nimble enough for city riding.
When we finally arrived at our destination, a private residence for the Friday evening meet and greet I heard a little voice say "daddy, look at the big scooter". and the response was "that's not a scooter, that's a motorcycle" (a motorcycle in a scooter body is what he meant. This is the 3rd year of the Kelowna rally. The first year I had a pickup truck and brought my Lambretta GP200 SIL. There was no way that I was going to ride a classic scooter that distance. On the way while I was driving my truck I was watching all those motorcycles enjoying themselves on the open highway while I was stuck in the truck. I was thinking to myself that next year I am going to ride up. I upgraded my TNG to a BW250 and when rally time came around I decided to ride up on my scooter. I thought that a 250 was large enough to handle an occasional weekend away, but all the while I was looking at the tachometer and wondering how long the engine would last going 8,000+ RPMs all day struggling up those long hills. I decided that next year I would have something more suited for this purpose.
My BW250 had approx 20 HP, the same power as this
I spotted this at a local car show last weekend. It's a 1906 Stevens Duryea, rated at 20 HP. More or less the same power as my old scooter. Amazing how far technology has evolved since 1906.

then I noticed this:
It's a BOSS HOSS custom motorcycle. The license shows 502HP, if it is a crate V8 engine from GM it might be a 502 CI and may really have 502 HP. I asked the owner how heavy it is and he said around 1340 lbs dry, and don't lean it over more than just a few degrees or you will never get it back up. He said that if it tipped, you would need at least 2 people to bring it up.

Here's a closer view of the powerplant. You can't say engine when you have 8 cylinders of raw power. Wonder how many MPG's you get ? I know a lot of riders with 49's want to upgrade to get their scooter to go faster. Perhaps they should just get the 502HP conversion put into their Ruckus instead.


Here's a view of the "Dash". There are LED's for gear display so it looks like it is an automatic. The owner said you could shift using the foot lever below.

Anyway, back on track. For me a Maxi-scoot fits the bill perfectly. It has enough reserve power to get to out of town destinations without any help from pick up trucks or trailers. You can experience the solitude of the open road and cleanse your mind at the same time. You can hear the roar of the machine and the wind in your face, you and your machine "as one". I never thought about it before but YES, it is a motorcyle in scooter clothing. (and NO I don't need a machine with 502HP, you don't even need a car with 502HP). In view of recent gasoline shortages perhaps it is time to bring back the 20HP car. Perhaps they got it right back in 1906. The faster we evolve the further behind we get.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mark's new maxi-scoot

As local scooterists riding around Metro Vancouver if it weren't for the internet many of us would never have met and would just be riding around solo. We would never have experienced group riding and the comaradarie that comes with a common interest. Our conduit was (registration is necessary to see the posts, to minimize spam). Over the years we have gone on many group rides together and some of us have gravitated to larger scoots. 49's are good for urban/city travel, but now we are able to explore an area further afield.
So it was with Mark. His handle was BWS as he used to ride a Yamaha BWS 49cc scooter. A couple of years ago he was pondering the possibility of upgrading due to his longer commute to work and settled on a Kymco Super 9 (49cc super scooter). It was probably one of the faster/reliable scooters in its class. Needless to say he had to change his forum handle, you can't be known as "BWS" if you ride a Kymco. A few months ago on our forum there was a lot of discussion regarding upgrading to a motorcycle endorsement (called class "6" here in BC). Many of us have motorcycles and have our class 6 licence. Part of the endorsement procedure, at least in the initial stages, is to be supervised by a person who has a motorcycle endorsement. Then when you are ready you get tested for your MST (Motorcycle Skills Test), also known as MSA (Motorcycle Skills Assessment). Until you pass your MST you have to have a qualified supervisor who must see your every move and mentor you on the rules of the road and positioning. I heard through the grapevine that Mark was working on this procedure and had obtained his M/C "learners licence", and without posting his intent finally received his full motorcycle endorsement (class 6 M/C license). I also heard that he purchased a Maxi-scoot, actually a Yamaha Majesty.


Here he is with his new ride, just finishing his shift at work. I think that his scoot is only about one week old when this pix was taken. That's my white Kymco Xciting 500Ri, it was probably only 2 weeks old then. We went for a short ride through Surrey and ended up at Mark's home. We both took delivery of our scoots back in May, 2008 but at that time decided not to broadcast the fact that we both upgraded to new scoots.


That's Mark with his ear to ear smile. Mark wanted to get comparision photos of our scoots side by side. We took a few pictures from different angles, and here are a couple

Kymco Xciting 500Ri:

Yamaha Majesty 400:

Don't you think that they both look very aggresive from this low angle ?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Car & Scooter Service

Last weekend, nothing eventfull happened. Sometimes your schedule is so busy you don't have time to breathe. Others are just filled with routine chores that must be done to allow time for scootering. July was just one of those busy months. I belong to a car club and summer is when all the events happen. Show & shines, White Spot Fridays, then there were those scooter rallies in Kelowna and Bellingham, plus that long ride to Hope for coffee and next week is the scooter ride to Cultus Lake. I suppose this past weekend was just the lull before the storm.
I have also been busy digitizing some of my videos from my miniDV Sony handicam. For some reason the recording section doesn't function anymore, but the VCR section can playback just fine. It does take a lot of time to produce those YouTube videos and I have a backlog of projects being worked on. If you don't appear to see anything happening on this Blog, go to my videos and perhaps you will spot something new posted. Those videos from Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Arches are all from miniDV tapes. Right now I am struggling to post some footage from a recent trip, but am having a really hard time compressing 45 min down to the 10 min max that YouTube dictates. I want to show you the whole thing . . . perhaps I will just make them in sections.
Saturday was not a great day for riding. You would have thought that it was October as the rain was coming down in torrents. Lucky thing I had an appointment to service my car, so I took my car to breakfast to meet the Reverend (Robert). I was surprised to see that he also came in his car and not his scoot. I thought he was a diehard rider. Anyway off to my mechanic who spotted something not right with a certain bearing. When you find a trusted mechanic it is hard to take your car elsewhere, but in the interests of preserving my warrantee on my "new" Honda, I decided that I would take it to the Honda dealer "every other time" to get my car registered in their system. I must say that i have had another warranty repair recently and they stepped up to the plate, no muss no fuss service. So off to the Honda dealer to let them know what I discovered. I dropped of my car and a while later they phone my cell to let me know that they had to replace my right axle as well as the steady bearing (under warrantee, of course). Bad news, the parts are in Montreal and will take a few days to freight in. So problem - it's summer and sunny and hot all week. Not that I don't use my scooter most of the time anyway.

My scooter looks so lonely just parked there all by itself. Three of us ride to work regularly, but I am usually there first, and leave last after I lock up the building and set the alarm system.

I am usually wedged in-between a Harley and a Yamaha XS1100. The scooter is smaller than the Harley, but looks bigger than the Yamaha
My Suzuki SV650 doesn't get used very much but I take it to work occasionally just to get the fluids circulating. This was taken a couple of weeks ago

And this week I took my bike to work again

Saturday was a washout. Spent all day driving around town to get my Honda fixed and by the time I got to Kymco it was late. The Honda dealer is only a one block walk to get here. I had been trying to an oil change since last week but they said they would wait for me to go home to get it. I quickly hopped on a bus and came back pronto.


At least I am now in the que for the lift. Soon the oil will be changed and I will be on my way.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Honey's Doughnut Run: Deep Cove, BC

Robert, the Reverend's scoot had been out of service for the past couple of months and now he is making up for lost time, and leading group scooter rides before summer is over. It is usually his custom to have a common meeting point, so often he posts a time to meet at Vespa Vancouver on 4th Avenue. It was shaping up to be a great day, chance of showers in the morning, clearing by noon, and sunny periods in the afternoon. I met Robert for breakfast in Burnaby and we rode over to Vespa (Urban Wasp)


We finally arrive and are greeted by the rest of our group. James, Tony, Mark, Doug, Robert and myself, eager and anxious to get rolling. Our plan was to travel over the Granville Bridge, take Beach Avenue and Denman through the Stanley Park Causeway over the Lion's Gate Bridge swing over to West Vancouver and take the low route eastward toward's Deep Cove where we would have homemade Sushi (courtesy of the Reverend), and perhaps a snack as well as a Honey's Doughnut.


We take the Seymour Street offramp from the Granville Street Bridge, hang a right and loop back to Pacific Avenue towards English Bay. There is a cloverleaf that does this operation in one smooth step, but the reverend wanted us to take the slower scenic route, after all, we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.


Riding down Denman Street is a slow affair. Lots of pedestrian traffic and stop lights.


After a while we finally arrive at Deep Cove, a little community on the north side of Burrard inlet with a Marina on Indian Arm. It is a small community with a short 2 block main street with stores, restaurants, a museum and coffee shops. What luck we had finding a parking spot large enough for all of us just across the street from our destination (Honey's Doughnuts).


A satisfying smile from our Group Ride Leader, Robert, the Reverend. He's been dreaming of devouring one of these doughnuts for the past couple of months.


After our short break, of about an hour or so chatting and having a snack we decide it is time to head back to town. It was a great day to be exploring the urban jungle of North Vancouver.

This short video clip says it all . . .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gay Pride Parade/Powell Street Festival: Vancouver, BC

Well, my wife doesn't ride her scooter much. We had it serviced earlier this year (a previous post), and replaced the rear tire and rim. Of course, one of the reasons we purchased our scooters a few years ago, was to take advantage of their small size and ease of parking so we could go to events around town. We thought that it would be easier to find parking. On Saturday we re-insured our Yamaha Vino, dusted it off, pumped up the tires, checked the gas and generally made sure that everything was ship shape. We heard on the radio that they were going to be closing the roads downtown soon so off we went, and found a good parking spot close to the action on Davie Street.

The Vino sure looks small between these larger bikes. We were 3 hours too early for the parade so our plan was to have brunch somewhere and stake a spot on the parade route. We found what we thought was a perfect spot on the intersection of Denman and Davie. On the south side, of course so we would not be shooting into the sun, which fools the camera into taking underexposed pictures. The parade was over 3 hours long. We thought that they should have stopped the parade for an intermission / washroom break. Here are a few snaps of the parade . . .





It was a very warm day and we were in the sun from around 10am to 3:30pm. After the crowd disbursed over to Sunset Beach we headed back to our scoots and scooted over to the Powell Street Festival over at Oppenheimer Park, on Powell Street just 3 blocks east of Main street. It was nice to feel the breeze on your face on our ride over. Of course it was easy to find a spot for our scoots. Our Plan was to come here for a quick snack


There were a few food vendors and most had line ups like this. They had traditional Japanese food, Salmon BBQ and other appetizers such as sushi. The best deal appeared to be the beef curry over rice. Hmmmm, large portions and salad too.
We walked around the park for a while and looked at all the handicrafts and also a wrestling demonstration. Finally it was time to ride our scoots home. It's always a good day when the sun comes out, riding our scoots was the icing on the cake.

PS: If you go to my YouTube Page: you will be able to view my Gay Pride Parade Video. Just a sampling as the parade was over 3 hours long.