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Somewhere on CA. Highway 139

Somewhere between Bieber and Sheepshead on CA. Highway 139, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere.

Add to that being kissed with semi-warm September sunshine and you’d be in a place that many of us on motorcycles call happiness.

Sure we could set the cruise control on Interstate 5, but the fun ride to Reno, Nevada for the fall Street Vibrations Rally is coincidently also the shortest route leaving Portland to Eugene (Hwy 58) to Klamath Falls then on OR39 which becomes CA139 through much of the Modoc National Forest and Tule Lake to US 395 into Reno.

Interestingly, OR39 runs through the mixed-up little town of Hatfield.  The California map says it’s in California and the Oregon map says it straddles the state line, which at least in practice, it does.  The actual location of the state line is a bit confused, because Hatfield is an unincorporated community in both Siskiyou County, California, and Klamath County, Oregon.  At any rate, the junction of Oregon Route 39, California State Route 161, and California State Route 139; all three routes terminate at a four-way junction in the community.

If you live in the Northwest you know that the Oregon summer ends and autumn starts for many motorcycle enthusiasts by making the pilgrimage to the 25th annual Street Vibrations Rally.  It’s often the last nice weather ride of the season.  Nothing replaces wind in the face on the Harley-Davidson, a playlist with heavy bass, and a distant horizon when needing a little adventure.  Some may argue that the make and model of the motorcycle doesn’t matter, that the joy comes solely from the open road—frankly, they’re right.

Street Vibrations officially closed on Sunday.  Over five thousand people were expected to attend the multi-day event and from my vantage the number of riders in town for the celebration exceeded that estimate.  There were over 250 vendors with motorcycle gear, food stalls and six stages of great live music!  Most notable was Heartless—a tribute to Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and they delivered the sound and spirit of the sisters classic rock-n-roll songs.   Video snippet below:

 

On Friday we rumbled along the 26-mile route from Reno to Virginia City—called Geiger Grade Road—with thousands of other riders who cruised into the historic mining town.  The route offers several curves along a cliff side and views of rolling hills with sagebrush to the pine tree-covered mountains.  It’s a thrilling experience, but the road routinely catches riders off guard and can become an accident quickly.

We soaked up the 81°F day and continued riding the loop to Carson City Harley-Davidson for more motorcycle accessories, themed art, crafts, apparel, music and ended the day back through the Carson (“wind tunnel”) Valley.  Mainstream meteorology suggests that “windy” conditions are anything sustained above 15 miles per hour, but we joked later that our helmets began inflicting what felt like a wind concussion on that segment of the ride.

I-5 Return Route With Cold, Rain and Wind

Speaking of navigating hazards… they are part of everyday life for motorcycle riders—we’re experienced riders, and typically get the local weather forecast before riding. If extreme temperatures are predicted, we might consider a different route and/or a different departure day if it’s practical. It was clear from Friday’s weather reports we’d be riding through less-than-ideal conditions—read MUCH COLDER and wet.  What?  Rain at Street Vibrations!  We enjoyed the 80°F temperatures  Wednesday through Friday, but now fast-moving storm along with a freeze watch was in effect with heavy rain expected Saturday mid-morning and all day Sunday.  In addition, the Oregon passes would receive snow down to 3500 feet and we had at least two major mountain passes to traverse above that altitude.

Postponing our departure wasn’t an option so, we opted to end the festivities early and leave on Saturday and avoid the worst of the early winter storm.

Estimating wind chill is a complex calculation involving ambient temperature and wind speed.  It goes something like:

Temperature’s Influence = ( ( Predicted High Temperature – ( Temperature Base = Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature – ( Predicted High Temperature – Your Minimum Acceptable Temperature ) ) ) / ( Your Ideal Temperature – Temperature Base ) ) * 100 then factor in Wind’s Influence = ( ( Low, High and Gust Wind Speeds Averaged – Your Minimum Threshold For What’s “Windy” ) / ( Your Minimum For What’s “Hazardous” – Your Minimum For What’s “Windy” ) ) * 100 and finally there’s Precipitation Influence, Minimum Visibility and the wildcard algorithm of Road Conditions.  When in doubt always multiple by 100!

If you tracked all that, then you’ve likely developed a customizable motorcycle weather application for the iPhone and already talking a “deal” with the motor company.  I’m not a mathematics wiz, but I know for a fact that warm and comfortable riders have more fun!  Thirty minutes outside of Reno did not fail to disappoint—bringing heavy black clouds, cold torrential rain, hail showers along with snow on the higher elevations of the Plumas Mountain Range.

Riding in the rain doesn’t make me unique—it’s one of the things you do on the road.  Motorcyclist spend the money on riding gear with features or materials to keep warm(ER) and dry.  But, very cold temperatures and the first major rain of the year in Nevada means the oil rises to the top of the highway in a soapy like mess and combined together makes a person go from “Get your motor running” to “Sux2BU” pretty quick.

No one thought we were “cupcakes” just because we didn’t want to ride in the cold/rain/snow.  Fortunately Harley’s heated gear has gotten far more user-friendly over the last ten years and we pressed through the worst of the weather for 560 miles and now have another story to tell.

Arrest Stats for 2019 Street Vibrations.

Photos take by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Mountain-SnowBack in the “party like it’s 1999” days, ODOT estimated studded tires cause $50M (that’s millions!) of damage EACH year.

The lawmakers in Salem must have salivated at the ODOT estimates while using them as a recruitment tactic to advocate increased license fees or increase road taxes, or pushing legislation that would require those “freeloaders” who use studded tires to be penalized to help cover the costs.  There were even rumors of using Motorcycle fees to help pay for the damages.  There have been 17 attempts by lawmakers to ban or limit those devilish tires.  They debated a permitting system and complained about how there is no mistaking the sound these tires make on the roads… just hearing those sounds provides proof positive that irresponsible citizens continue detrimental road behavior.

Studs Report
Then last Friday, on what is one of the slower news day and largest travel day before the Christmas holiday – ODOT quietly released an updated studded tire report

It’s a miracle!

The costs of repairing studded tire damage is expected to decline.  The study concludes that the use of studded tires in Oregon has declined by half.  Well if that doesn’t just dig a rut into any lawmaker’s “tax ‘em heavy and often” way of thinking.

Yes, that new study of studded tire use in Oregon shows drivers have changed their habits. The study downgrades the current use of studded tires, the amount of pavement damage caused by that use and the cost of repairing the damage.  All good news!  A quick summary of some findings:

  • The number of vehicles using studded tires has dropped by 75%: A previous report published in 2000 determined that about 16 percent of registered vehicles in Oregon were equipped with studded tires; the 2014 survey found a reduction in that number to about 4 percent.
  • The study concludes that the use of studded tires in Oregon has declined by half since the previous survey.
  • The study found wide ranges of wear rates for different kinds of pavements, reflecting the many factors that contribute to pavement rutting.
  • Based in part on an overall reduction in the use of studded tires, the increasing popularity of all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, and the increased use of non-studded winter tires, the research indicates the use of studded tires will continue to decline; therefore the resulting damage to Oregon’s highways, streets and roads and the costs of repairing studded tire damage are expected to continue to decline.
  • In 2012, studded tires caused an estimated $8.5 million in damage (that’s much different than the $50M!) to Oregon highways. This calculation was developed by looking at effective pavement damage—damage sufficient to require repaving before the pavement surface would normally be repaved.

The first question I have is whether we’ll see a proportionate drop in ODOT budget now that we know citizens are preserving Oregon roads?  Studded tires are no longer a tactic to raise fees/taxes across the state, so what’s next – for the Salem masters?

Full Disclosure:  Currently I do not, but I’ve owned multiple sets of studded tires in the past.

Photo courtesy of ODOT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Thermal factors such as air temperature, radiant temperature, air velocity and humidity all contribute to our riding comfort.   Or some would say DIS-comfort?!

My trip in April through the Willamette and Modoc National Forest to Laughlin and then most recently the ride to the Hells Canyon Rally reminded me how stubbornly, Mother Nature refuses us the ability to control these thermal factors.

During those trips, I was plugged in for multiple hours during the day to combat the rain/cold weather and it got me to thinking about my H-D heated clothing.  I’ll do this on occasion as I meander along the highway listening to the engine noise as a musical backdrop.

I bought my current heated vest and gloves back in 2000 after returning home from a bitter cold trip to Reno.  It was during Street Vibrations and it snowed on the surrounding hills in late September.   I recall leaving Reno wearing multiple pairs of socks, long-sleeve t-shirts, handkerchief around the face and ski gloves and it wasn’t enough. Snow was falling on the ground in Susanville and by the time I arrived in Grants Pass I was nearly frozen.  Vowing to never let that happen again I immediately went out and bought the gear for future trips.  I always pack it on the bike if I think the weather has a chance of being dicey where I’m going.

It’s well known that when colder outside temperatures occur, the nervous system restricts blood flow to the extremities to maintain the body’s core temperatures. The toes and the fingers quickly become uncomfortably cold.  Other factors like wind chill aggravate the situation even more. Also, the presence of moisture increases thermal transfer significantly and causes heat to escape more rapidly and cold to penetrate faster.

Clearly the type of clothing we wear, the physical activity levels and individual physiology are elements of thermal comfort we can control.  So, I started wondering… did H-D design and make this gear or was it outsourced.  My search led me to Gerbing’s heated clothing, which is the sole supplier of Harley-Davidson heated gear.

Back in the 1970’s Gordon Gerbing owned a small machine shop just south of Seattle that primarily produced parts for Boeing airplanes. Several of his employees rode motorcycles to work all year, even through the Seattle winter chill and dampness. Gordon made note of their discomfort when employees arrived at work after a cold morning’s winter ride and he decided to look for a way to keep the riders warm. He devised a way to “wire up” motorcycle clothing with heating pads and connect the pads to the bike’s electrical system.

Over the years Jeff and Wendy Gerbing assumed management of the business and it’s a family affair.  As the technology improved they won more deals and then in 1999, Harley-Davidson selected Gerbing’s to be the sole supplier of Harley-Davidson label heated clothing.  Basically the wire inside the garment consists of bundles of stainless steel strands, twisted and wrapped in a thin Teflon-derived coating. They alter the number of these strands in each wire to custom-tune the amount of heat. By using these wires either in a heating pad, in a woven pattern or in a ribbon matrix they can further tune how the heat is delivered to the body.

In the fall of 2008 Gerbing’s moved into a new 30,000 sq ft facility located in Tumwater, WA., and this year they announced plans to expand into North Carolina (Stoneville) with a new plant that will create 158 jobs by 2015.  They will open an 88,000-square-foot facility and the company plans to invest more than $1.2 million in building upgrades and equipment with help from state, county and local incentives.

These days Gerbing’s clothing is not only popular with motorcyclists but includes hunters, fishermen and professional athletes. Among its customers are teams in the National Football League and Major League Baseball as well as law enforcement and the military.  The new facility in North Carolina is also part of a move to relocate the company’s manufacturing operations to the U.S. from China, where Gerbing had difficulty obtaining deliveries on time.

After 10+ years of use, I for one truly appreciate their heated clothing and it’s especially rewarding to hear in this economic climate about a manufacture bringing jobs back to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Gerbing.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Who’ll Stop The Rain?

It’s a reference to the Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR) song that gained popularity in the early ‘70s.  It was written by John Fogerty and originally recorded for their Cosmo’s Factory album. It has a mellow acoustic, folk-rock feel to it that you can sing-a-long, but if you do I doubt you’ll feel good about riding in the rain!

And speaking of rain.  The “Rain Train” won’t stop.  We’ve been plagued with a prominent winter weather pattern the past two months.  It’s walloped the spring motorcycle riding season in the northwest.  I’m not talking about weather that is somewhat imperfect for motorcycle riding…we’re talking about unseasonably cold temperatures, rain gushers, multi-day storms, wind shears, and what looks to be the new normal…riding in perpetual wet.

They’ve switch from measuring the amount of rain fallen in a day to the number of consecutive days rain has fallen!   Sad but true.

Even if you get past all the Gore-Tex dress-up for the wetness, you still have traction and vision issues to confront.  Nothing like hydroplaning on a motorcycle.  Or how about those curves where the surface oil makes it feel like buttered Teflon?

Most riders get use to riding in the rain more by accident than choice.  You depart in the morning for a day long ride with the sun shining then you find a thunder shower sometime later in the day.  I know some of you are saying “what rain?”  Good for you.  When it’s 49 degrees and sloppy,  I say “Wet Ride? Why.”  But, now I’m concerned that the wet weather will continue through the summer.

I’ve resorted to surfing the net for better rain gear because not riding is not an option…for long.

Photo courtesy of AccuWeather.com

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Oregon Medal of Honor Memorial

Oregon Medal of Honor Memorial

Many motorcycling events raise money for charity and support great causes.  

Although not a fund raiser (like many OVMA events), yesterday’s “Free The Colors” ride supported a most worthy and noble cause. In my view the ride felt more about what a riding experience can do for the motorcyclist soul….the experience being one thing, but the rewards are quite another.

Looking out over the large number (80+) of riders winding through the fall foilage of Oregon’s backroads — the wind and sun on our back was inspiring.   The weather being perfect for late October helped pull the ride together.   I made new friends, shared stories and swapped ideas — it was all part of the experience.  When your style meshes and you make connections with Veteran’s it’s easy to see what’s meant by the feeling of comradarie and the community of motorcycle riders.

A few shout outs.  To the NW Vets who showed up to wish the OVMA a good ride showed a lot of class.  Thanks in general to the OVMA and specifically to the West Valley Chapter for all the hard work and safe ride.  A big shout out to the High Desert Eagles chapter who I believe traveled the farthest distance to make the run.  Many thanks to my blog posse for supporting the event and everyone who made us non-members feel most welcome.  

I’m reminded of a quote:

“In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.” John Churton Collins

It was truly my pleasure to help support OVMA, the Veterans and their families.  Be safe and ride free.

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For those of you participating in the Free The Colors Ride, below is the finalized OVMA ride route. The map is only an approximation of the ride route:

  1. (A) Join the ride at the beginning in McMinnville. Leave Shari’s parking lot at 11:00AM SHARP! Be there early.
  2. (B) Join the ride at the first scheduled stop. Leaving the parking lot of K-Mart on Hwy 22 in South Salem at 12:10PM SHARP! Be there early.
  3. (C) Next scheduled stop. I-5 Northbound Rest Area (near Wilsonville). Time will be contingent upon the time it takes to ride from South Salem to the rest area. Riders need to be there by 12:20PM SHARP!
  4. Ride will depart rest area and proceed toward Wilsonville to I-205 North to the Oregon City exit for McLoughlin Blvd to (D) Ross Island Bridge.
  5. Ride will cross over to 99W and proceed to King City. Will then head out on Durham Road back to I-5 South.
  6. Ride will proceed I-5 South to (E) Salem Harley-Davidson

Some other important items being communicated through various channels by the OVMA deserve being repeated:

Law Enforcement will be providing traffic control assistance and the OVMA has expressed their appreciation and gratitude.  This ride is to celebrate the OVMA and its 16 years of service to Oregon State veterans and their families, and to demonstrate their continued intentions to be good neighbors in the Oregon MC community-at-large.

As stated in previous blog post/comments HERE, the OVMA will not tolerate bad actors.  Attitudes should stay at home.  The OVMA will cooperate with Law Enforcement fully and on all matters, as they have in the past.  There is no plan nor was there ever any intent to route this ride anywhere near other MC clubhouse’s or any other organization’s meeting areas.

The OVMA State Road Captain is currently working on placement of riders, and assigning assistant Road Captains, and road guards to assist during the ride.  Flyers will be available and passed out with the appropriate hand signals for those who are unfamiliar with group riding.  It’s predicted we will have large numbers of riders show up for this ride.  If you  are unfamiliar with group riding and/or have a question please ask someone for assistance.

First and foremost is SAFETY along with showing courtesy on the road to others we will be sharing. This ride is about Freedom, Fellowship, Comrades-in-Arms, and Brotherhood.

The theme says it all – “For Those Who Fought For It – FREEDOM has a Flavor the Protected Will Never Know”

Enjoy the ride and be safe out there!

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

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