Posted by: fergy1008 | May 13, 2011

Rose City 500 Rain…Rain…go away

          It was time for another ride. Recently, Angela and I had participated in the Rose City 250 where you ride along a pre-determined route of approximately 250 miles of Oregon’s roads. We really enjoyed the day so, when a planned event for this weekend got cancelled, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and take part in the Rose City 500. We were curious not only where they might take us, but also if we could do it…we don’t think we’ve ever done 500 miles in a single day, which is what this ride would have us doing. 

          Since the 500 was on Saturday and registration closed at an early 7:30am, we headed down Friday night and stayed at the local Ramada Inn. We arrived at the event staging area around 7:15am and, as usual, the Rose City Motorcycle Club was very organized. We registered and paid without a hitch, receiving our participation pins, door prize tickets and route checkpoint card, all quickly and easily. The fun thing about these rides are that you don’t get your route information until you’re at a checkpoint. The starting point was at the event staging area – they took note of our mileage and start time, then gave us our first set of route information. The route info gives you turn by turn instructions along with a mileage range and the checkpoint closure time so you can make sure to get there in time to have your route card punched. We had already decided we preferred to ride alone since none of our chapter members were there, and it gives us the opportunity to stop and go as we please. 

 I was a little disappointed in our first route instruction since it had us going about 90 miles down boring Hwy 84. Although Hwy 84 does take you through the Gorge area, the day was dreary and there wasn’t much in the way of scenery to look at. But as I thought about it I realized that the event is around 500 miles in one day so there is going to be some interstate driving involved. After getting on the highway it was just a few minutes before we came to Multnomah Falls. Having plenty of time until our next checkpoint we decided to stop and take in the sights. Although the day was rainy, the falls were still spectacular. Since it was so early in the day, Angela and I had the falls all to ourselves. Staying about 20 minutes we snapped lots of pictures then we were on the road again.

Before this trip Angela had prepared the GPS with potential Wing Washington, Grand Tour, and Dam locations that may be in the area of the days ride. Not knowing our route, she included all 15 locations she thought might be within the radius of the ride. After about 30 minutes or so of riding, I checked the GPS and found that there was a Grand Tour site just up the road and right off Hwy 84. It also happens to be the location where one of our fellow DamTour participants works. Deciding to take the time to check one of the GT sites off our passport we headed toward our new destination. Although the GPS routed us to the general location, the road it took us down dead-ended and it took a few more minutes to find the actual road leading to the site. This particular Grand Tour site was the WAAAM Museum ( located in Hood River, Oregon. 


Arriving on site we were delighted to see other motorcycles also making the detour to get their passports stamped. They were leaving as we pulled in and after seeing that we had arrived 15 minutes before the museum opened, we made the decision to wait. As we were taking a few outdoor shots the front doors opened and a very nice lady leaned out asking if we were here for the Grand Tour. We smiled, said yes we are and she said “come on in and I’ll stamp your books”. Upon stepping inside I mentioned one of the DamTour participants works here. She instantly perked up and said ‘oh, you mean Ken?’  I said yes and asked if he was working today? She informed me he wasn’t but that he would love it if we signed the DamTour posted located in the museum. As we signed the poster and looked around a bit, we got a brief but very knowledgeable personal tour of the museum. Although we couldn’t stay long we enjoyed her company and hospitality. When we are in the area again I would definitely like to go back and spend some quality time exploring this wonderful museum which it is obvious many people have put a lot of hard work into creating.

It’s a wonderful mixture of cars, motorcycles and airplanes.

The museum itself is big, new, and staffed by people that are passionate about their museum. I will definitely be going back. After donning our gear we got back on track toward our first checkpoint. With nothing but highway ahead of us we quickly ate up mileage and arrived at our first checkpoint with plenty of time to spare….remember this wording (with plenty of time to spare) it will come into play later.  

          The second checkpoint, in Biggs, OR, was in a large parking lot associated with a gas station/convenience store/restaurant.

We checked in, looked our new set of instructions and decided to go have a quick bite in the restaurant while Angela did a little map review and pulled info on some locations we might be able to visit along the way. Fine with the food, disappointed by the service, and armed with the knowledge we were going to be able to get a dam and a Grand Tour location in one town along the way, we headed out. This leg was really just a big loop back to the Biggs location which would also serve as checkpoint #3. We filled up with gas as the instructions warned of limited services. We took this as a good sign since limited services means back roads with little traffic. As you can see from the picture below I had time to stop and stand in the middle of a highway and no one passed me in either direction during this photo opportunity. Oh and one other thing…(now don’t tell Mom) but on certain stretches when there is no driveways or civilization around you can really twist the throttle and get the adrenaline pumping as indicated by the number captured in the lower right of the GPS screen. SSSHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Don’t tell Mom or she won’t let me play with Angela anymore.

We traveled along 97 and 206 to reach the outskirts of Heppner, OR where we snagged Willow Creek Dam.

Back on route, we stopped in the town of Heppner at the GT site, Willow Creek Café. We started to take our pictures in front of it, as they were closed and a photo is an acceptable alternate to a stamp in your passport, when the door opened and the owner came out with her stamp.  They’re closed on Saturdays but she just happened to be in the store when we pulled up so she came out to give us an official stamp.

Giddy with success, we continued on our route taking 74 onto 207 toward Lexington, then out of Lexington, taking 207 back to I-84.  

           We had wanted to modify the route and instead of traveling 84 again, skip across the river to travel the Washington side on 14 but we were concerned about how much extra time that might add.  A good decision as following our instructions we arrived back in Biggs, to checkpoint 3, just about 10 minutes before they closed. We had a quick snack of some fruit and trail mix we had in the trunk, re-filled the gas tank and headed out on our next leg. Taking 97 toward Madras we turned onto 216 in Grass Valley and had a BEAUTIFUL ride along that road, down through the Tygh Valley. The sun was out, the road was smooth and twisting, the hills were rolling green and the river was a breathtaking sight.

At 197 we turned toward Bend then rejoined 216 toward Government Camp. As we rejoined 216 we were treated to a beautiful rainbow,

but we also had the realization that we didn’t know how much further we had to travel down this road and it was only 10 minutes to the close of the checkpoint. We knew we were “close” as the next instruction was “arrive at” but we had no idea how far, or how many minutes, until that arrival. I twisted the throttle a bit,

both of us sure the checkpoint would appear over the next rise. Nope. Okay, for sure the next one, we’ll just pick up the pace a bit as we now only have 6 minutes. Next rise and…nope.  Aiiiggh!  Both of us leaning forward, as though that could get us there sooner, and over the next hill…jackpot!  Bikes at a little general store on the side of the road.  The woman who stamped our card made it seem like we had all the time in the world left but, in truth, about 3 or 4 bikes arrived within a couple minutes of us and then they shut it down. We bought a pop, used the restroom and by the time we pulled out, all the other riders were gone. 

Luckily, there were no more side trips planned and we hoped we could make up some time on this last leg of 85-95 miles back to the staging area.  

          We stayed on 216 then merged onto 26 headed for Gov’t Camp. The weather up over the pass was miserable but with our rain gear on the outside and our heated clothing on the inside, we were comfortable enough.

  (Certainly better than the kid on the back of his dad’s sport bike with only a leather jacket and a clear plastic rain poncho bought at the last stop!) We followed some side roads through Sandy and Troutdale taking Graham Rd. to Frontage where things started to look familiar and we knew we weren’t far from the end with plenty of time to spare.  

          We got checked in, went and grabbed a bite to eat, then returned for the awards ceremony. While waiting for it to begin Angela got a quick massage at a table set up in the corner, a genius offering in her opinion. Though its protection is appreciated, the weight of a helmet bobbing on your head and the heaviness of an armored and padded jacket on your shoulders takes its toll. Feeling refreshed, Angela rejoined me just as the too-long awards ceremony began.  They are really well organized but you have to be present to win so there is a lot of time taken with tickets being pulled and names being called of people who have already left. And, while we think its great there are lots of door prizes, they should be distributed separately from the grand prize and awards. That being said – we won, as we have at every event.  This time a reflective “halo-band” for a helmet. Angela also won another award…3rd place for distance.

We’re not sure how we managed to get so close to the actual distance of 482.5 (we were recorded as having 484) since we did those little side jaunts, but whatever. We didn’t win the 50/50 (damn!) but we did get to see the two people who have competed in every year of this event – all 38! There were also some awarded jackets for doing the past 20 years and plaques for having done the last 10.  All in all 275 riders on 238 bikes had a great tour of Oregon and the pleasure of participating in the historical note of having traveled the farthest east one of these rides has ever gone.  

          Tired but satisfied we went back to the hotel and gladly slept in the next morning. We left the hotel about 11 and headed to meet our friend Elle at a well-known restaurant called Pine State Biscuits.


They have been featured on the Food Networks “Diner’s, Drive-in’s and Dive’s” and last year when we were in Portland we passed their other location and noted the line of people outside the door.  We did our own time in the line and just as we ordered a table opened up which Angela quickly snagged (their rules, being a small establishment, clearly state you need to order before sitting).  I got the “Reggie”

they’re famous for while Angela got a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit.  While we both acknowledge they obviously use quality ingredients, overall we weren’t astounded by our food as I think we both had expected to be.  I think my brother Andre’s gravy is better and the biscuit was fine but nothing to slap your momma over. We did agree that the biscuits might be really good with just butter and jam and so we’re going to try that next time we’re in the area.  After breakfast, Elle took us down the street to one of her favorite bakeries, Petite Provence, where I bought a delicious brownie soufflé. Even being full from breakfast I still couldn’t resist taking several bites as we strolled back down to where we were parked.

 We said goodbye to Elle, found a nearby gas station to fill up then headed to score another GT located in Portland just 12 minutes away.  It turned out to be a little corner bar that looked like it probably had some pretty good food.

Still full of biscuits, we simply got our books stamped then mounted up for the haul home.

Having finally found some sunshine after crossing into Washington, around Tenino we decided to veer off-course once again for a Wing Washington location at Wolf Haven.  We took our pics, enjoyed a moment of the quiet countryside, then continued down the back road to see where it would take us.

We ended up taking side roads all the way into Olympia where we finally rejoined I-5 for the remainder of the trip home. As luck would have it, on this Mother’s Day traffic was light and we made it home without any traffic snarls. We arrived home to Rock’s joyful greeting and enthusiasm at having us home.  Angela and I kissed, glad to be home and safe yet again and to have had such a great time. After unpacking and unwinding for a bit it was obvious the animals were glad I was home.

We’re looking forward to the break in travel – just a local ride next Saturday – before heading South yet again, this time to Bend for another DamTour event and double-dam snag with the group.  Here’s hoping for better weather!!

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