Friday, June 27, 2008

Sharin' the Road!

This week's turned out to be busier than expected. The good news is that work required me to take a couple of nice trips on the bike. On Wednesday I rode to a casino on the Oregon Coast. It really was business, I swear. Yes, I was much warmer than in the story Ralph relates. I've made the same trip to Newport many times. The return trip up Hwy. 101 was awesome. We came back on the same road Ralph talks about, as a matter of fact. Katie was with me so it was even better.

On top of all that, I had some evening meetings. Blogging time was hard to come by. So I'm sorry to say you'll have to wait until next week to get Part II of the Great Harley Adventure on the track. There's also some news on the new bike front. That will have to wait, too. It just wouldn't be right to steal the thunder from this week's guest. Even my guest spot is a day late. Yikes!

Speaking of guests, I'm greatly pleased to introduce Ralph from Canby. That's about 45 miles North of me. Ralph doesn't live far from one of the tracks we use to teach the ART course. Without further ado, I'm turning the keyboard over to Ralph.

My name is Ralph. I live in Canby, Oregon. I have worked for the U.S. Postal service for the last twenty years and riding motorcycles is where I find my balance. No one can interrupt a chain of thought while you are riding. The white noise created by the rushing wind is the most calming sound I know. Here is a brief rundown on my biking history. I began riding dirt bikes in the eighth grade. I had a Suzuki RM125 and beat it up pretty good doing some very crazy things. It was a GREAT albeit sometimes painful time in my life. I progressed through several bikes before leaving for four years to Japan onboard the carrier USS Midway. When I came back to the states I got stationed in Washington State. I took the course they offered on base which was co-instructed by a Washington State trooper [man that guy could ride]. I made it out of the class alive and spent almost every day for two years on my Virago. Rain, snow, cold, five miles to base and five miles back.

A brief story about me and my Virago. I had just gotten out of the Navy and was working for my Dad as a brick mason. I lived in Albany, Oregon, and we were doing a job in Newport. Money was tight and my wife needed our one little car, so “no biggy”, I thought, “I'll take my trusty steed to the coast.” Well, whether from youthful ignorance or blind stupidity I took off at 6:00 AM wearing cotton gloves and a nylon jacket in 40 degree weather. A few miles out of Philomath I pulled over and huddled close to my motor to thaw out. Did I say huddle? I meant hugged. I don't think I have ever been that cold before! When I regained some feeling in my limbs I got back on and headed up the mountain, a mountain now thick with fog. I slowly worked my way around the curves with almost no visibility. Suddenly there was a deer right in front of me. A dead deer. I hit that carcass at 40 mph. I'm not quite sure how, but I kept everything upright and eventually made it to the job. When I got off the bike something smelled really good, like a barbecue. It was at that moment that I noticed my motor was covered in venison, and it was about medium rare I would say. I was very fortunate that day and I am pleased to say that in the twenty one years since that incident there have been no major mishaps.

Motorcycles have come and gone. I currently ride an '06 Harley Sportster. It is difficult to explain why I love riding so much. Who can say why a perfect switchback is so exhilarating? Why do I complain about the house being cold then turn around and ride in thirty degree weather and love it? These are questions most bikers can identify with. The older I get the more I'm convinced it is either in your DNA or not. For many people it is probably there dormant, waiting for someone to bring it to life. Such is the case with my son. I have always discouraged Ben from riding motorcycles, knowing if he really wanted to he would anyway when he was on his own. Moving to Bothell, WA, and having work associates who ride gave a jolt to his dormant DNA. I am fortunate that my son respects me enough to listen, and weigh my advice. I just don't think he expected such an onslaught of advice. Though many people told him different things [everyone’s an expert] he listened to me and got a middle weight cruiser.

This is a picture of my son twenty-one years ago and today on his Vulcan 500. In hindsight it looks like maybe I had a little something to do with his liking bikes after all. He has treated riding as a very serious thing and with each month that passes I worry less. I only wish we lived closer so we could share some trips.

Whether you ride a scooter or a Goldwing, you are part of a community and that is part of the lure. Our backgrounds are diverse but we share a love of riding. That to me is what the wave is all about. It is a simple non-verbal way to say “you get it”.

Let me finish with a suggestion and a quote. If at all possible find time to ride the Cascade Lakes Hwy this summer.

Then stop at Manley’s in Crescent City for their famous deep fried chicken. You won't regret it. Remember what Peter Fonda told the guys at the end of the movie Wild Hogs - “lose the watches”.


As a side note, thank you, Ralph, and all like you for your service in the Military!

Good advise from the movie quote. You know, I've tried to "lose the watch". Unfortunately, I'm cursed with an inner clock that is always pretty close. I try to use it to my advantage. In other words, at least I know exactly how long I've been able to enjoy a ride!

He didn't mention it in the post, but Ralph is a fellow blogger. His blog is called "Wolf's Eyes". You can check it out here.

All of my end of the month paperwork that Corporate demands is done. It's time to pack up and make the three and a half hour trip to Medford. Another weekend of getting new riders onto the right path awaits!

I'm always deeply honored when folks write in and want to share their story with us. Don't hold back if you think there's a flood of posts waiting. That happened at first. Now, though, posts trickle in at just the right rate. It's so neat to see this feature able to appear for so many weeks now. Drop me a line at What is it that Tom Bodett from Motel 6 used to say?

"We'll leave a light on for you!"

Of course, I showed up once and it turned out they'd left the light on for someone else. I promise it won't happen here!

Miles and smiles,



Anonymous said...

Ralph, I've ridden the Cascade Lakes Highway as part of a loop that started in Eugene went up Mckenzie hwy then across Aufderheide to Westfir then up Hwy 58 to the Crescent cut off to Cascade Lakes hwy.
Into Bend for lunch then home via Sisters and Mckenzie Hwy. 350 miles round trip roughly.

What a great ride! Gotta love Oregon!

Great story about the Venison a la Virago!


Steve Williams said...

I love the way a Sportster looks and if I was going to have a Harley that would be it. Without a windshield but with the rubber mounted engine. They are for me what the classic American bike looks like.

I checked out Ralph's blog and had to smile reading "Earth to Ralph... You are Old!"

I wonder how many men are in similar situations paying off now what they invested in youth. I find myself in similar territory with a recent MRI, X-ray and EMG, all a response to a pole vaulting injury to my back 38 years ago. For years an annoyance and then...

Dan: I really enjoy the interviews.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Kano said...

We've got a lot in common Ralph. Besides the fact you're only down the road from me and we both have 06 Sportsters, I was stationed in Washington State too. First at Naval Facility Pacific Beach for two years, then at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for two years, then at Ft. Lewis for a year.

Not sure exactly what the Cascade Lakes Hwy. is though I've no doubt ridden parts of it.

R.G. said...

It's a great ride. I think I saw maybe four cars between Bend and the cut off.

Steve Williams-
Those are exaxtly the reasons I chose the Sportster. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

I have thought for some time, after reading your blog , that we have many things in common. We will have to meet up for a ride sometime.

Thanks for the forum. Keep your blog rolling I really enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Ralph, I had to check out Manleys after reading your post.
I just got back from a ride to Crescent Lake - in a round about way - Eugene to Cougar Reservoir, down Aufderheide Road (amazing conditions!!) and then to Crescent. We realized then that Manleys is infact in Crescent Lake and had passed it on the way up, so turned around and got back to Crescent Lake about 15 minutes after they opened for lunch.
Great Broasted chicken special!!

250 miles of excellent riding and a great chicken lunch. Doesn't get much better than that!

R.G. said...

Glad you found it! I made the bone head mistake of referring to it as Crescent City instead of crescent Junction.

Anonymous said...

yeah - it's a wonder we didn't end up down in the redwoods of northern California looking for fried chicken!

Dean W said...

C'mon, Dan- show us the new toy!