Hells Canyon Ride, July 10-14, 2014

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Brian Gordon put together a great ride to Eastern Oregon, home of the world famous Hells Canyon.  This is a canyon carved by the Snake River that runs along the Washington & Oregon borders with Idaho. There were 10 of us leaving from seattle, our fearless Leader Brian, Manny Manny permitted by weather, along with his older brother David, The Brazg Brothers Ron & Clive, Myles H-K, Steve Lewis, Matt Golden, Marc Sweet and Your’s Truly, Andrew. It was 8:30 kickstands up at The Factoria Starbucks, and I barely made it in time for a pastry and a coffee- Frank and Harvey were in attendence for a first day escort.  Our departure was a predictably pell mell affair, but we all got out, and not too late either.

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The ride out of town was mellow, with Brian keeping us off the interstates.  We rode by Crain Corner with some great views of Ranier, and then to Crystal Mountain on 410.  Had a long wait at a construction site that appeared to be all traffic control and no construction, but it was very well organized… Lunch at Whistling Jack’s high up in the mountains.  Breakfast actually, that’s what they were serving.  I guess we did make some decent time.

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That was the end of the road for Harvey and Frank, after we ate those guys came with us to the 97 split and split. We took a short stretch on the interstate, but then got off for 395 and 244 for some spectacular windy scenery.  Lots of old wood barns rusting in the sun and long hot stretches of pretty roads.  We stopped in Ukiah OR to dust ourselves off.  Real hot and dusty at that point. .

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We enjoyed some more curves and some great countryside, and then soon enough, we were in La Grande, OR 375 miles from Seattle, our home for the next 3 nights.  Marc’s Friend Mike met us at our hotel, having taken a quick 2 day ride from LA to meet us.  Now we’re 11 bikes. We tried to explore some nightlife, and found Ten Depot St., the upscale bar in town with prime rib and live music.  Music sounded like a marching band with a trumpet and a trombone along with drum bass and guitar.   Meh.  Myles, Matt and I tried to discover the happening part of town on a Thursday night, but struggled.  We did find a long lost relative of Ned’s that ran a ranch with the best and craziest beasts on the Oregon prairie, Ox Vey Ranch

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Next day was kickstands at 9am- I had to get a couple of parts for the Guzzi, and figure out why I was leaking oil.  Gave me a chance to enjoy a solo ride downtown, where I had a delicious breakfast and talked to a bunch of locals about their car show that was starting up later that night- real friendly.  One of the guys had his 1954 Willys Ace Deluxe Sedan parked out front.

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Then we were out- first stop was Baker City to check out the rally, which was pretty underwhelming,

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although they did have scantily clad carwash available…

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And then we were on the road again, headed for the Hells Canyon Dam- an amazing road with tons of curves, riding along the snake river up to the Dam at the end of the road.  Unbelievable.

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I rode ahead a couple of times and got some killer shots of the group roaring down the road

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Man, it was hot

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As we got back down from the dam ride, we hung out at Scotty’s gas station, that had no gas, but did have a sink that the lady at the counter encouraged us to dunk our heads in, and a nice place to cool off for a while…

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Back home to Le Grande, I got David to come with me to the car show and I got to jump in the river.  This Chevy Truck won my best in show among a pretty solid field.

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And then we headed for surprisingly good Mexican food.

Next morning, I decided to fashion a leg guard out of duct tape and Dutch Bros Coffee cups to keep the oil that’s now spraying all over my left leg off, especially given how scorching hot it was.

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By Joseph, OR it was working good, and we all had a nice coffee stop and checked out this scenic mountain town.

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They had an unused stretch of RR track there that they had fashioned bicycles to ride on- no steering, just sit back and cruise…

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Then it was onto the highway to the Hells Canyon Overlook to see if we could make it through rumored gravel and construction stretches without Brian forever cementing himself in the ranks of Bruce Lobree, master of questionable route choices. Fortunately for us and Brian, the road was actually pretty good, with some potholes here and there but mostly good shape.  At the Hells Canyon Overlook, we heard about around 15 gravel stretches further ahead and decided to head back to Joseph for lunch, rather than pressing through to Halfway on the other side, site of lunch the day before.  We did check out the overlook and get a passerby to shoot a group shot-

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I pulled ahead on the way back and stashed my bike next to what I thought would be a perfect spot for a video- room to park, sun facing the right way, S curve to highlight the action.  I can’t post the video on this free wordpress site, but I can send it to anybody that asks.

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Forgettable lunch back in Joseph, and then straight back to La Grande- Where a much bigger crew was convinced to rub elbows with the locals and jump in the river to cool off after a long day in the saddle.  Both Brazg brothers, Matt, David and myself could all be seen reclining in the river, uttering ahhs as the dust and vibration melted into the cool flowing water. BBQ dinner was mediocre but serviceable, and after some Dairy Queen and some cars from the show in the parking lot and on the roads, we called it a night- all of us a bit sad to head for home the next day.

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Clive’s bike was having charging problems, and Matt was having some fuel cutouts that were getting both of them worried, so we set the route home via Kennewick, site of the Tri-Cities Harley dealer.  Matt’s bike had some hiccups on the way, but Clives seemed to do fine, and by the time we got to the dealer, all decided to just press on for home.  After some t-shirts of course.

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We stopped in Yakima for lunch at Mel’s

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And after that, half of us headed for I 90, and the rest took 410 back by Crystal and home. A great trip had by all, really enjoyed the scenery and the company.  Look forward to get back out on the road some time soon with this bunch of guys.   Respectfully submitted, Andrew Reichman Tribe MC

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