Posted by: fergy1008 | December 21, 2012

The End of DT

Authored by: Angela Ferguson

Last Thursday we got, what was for us, some sad news. The organizers of DamTour have decided to end that tour series. We are truly saddened by the loss of this tour.

While we have other tour events we’re participating in, DamTour was special. It was the first such event we found. It became the tour around which we planned all our other stops.

I, personally, was devastated to find out DamTour had ended. Neither Steve nor I wanted to talk about it the day it was announced. And, while Steve was able to put together a message for the DT Facebook page, I was still too angry and sad to comment. It felt like childhood when a best friend moves away and you have no say in the matter, can do nothing to stop it, fix it, or to bring them back. It took me awhile to figure out why I was so upset. We are already signed up for 3 other tour events – two of which start sooner than DamTour. What difference does it make if there’s one less? All are designed to take you off the beaten path, on great motorcycle roads. But I came to realize, it’s because DamTour took us away. All the other tours take you to somewhere with people – a restaurant, a post office, a garden, a museum. Places where there are others. And while we enjoy these locations, DamTour usually took us to places where there was no one. Peace, quiet, solitude. Space for reflection, a sense of freedom. And, often, a sense of accomplishment for having made it! DamTour surprised us with it’s diversity of dams – big, small, earthen, concrete, mountain-high, tucked in the middle of a city where people don’t even realize it’s there.

Most groups are about what you ride and/or how you ride. They’re divisive by nature and create a sense of competitiveness. It may not make much sense to “outsiders” but DamTour created a sense of community that stretched across brands, riding styles and state lines. Through the forums, we probably had more contact with DT riders than with our own local Gold Wing chapter. Besides the humorous stories and news about other events, we shared in their adventures. And we definitely relied on them for travel tips! We would never have found Hell Hole, one of my favorite stops, were it not for the written guidance of DamDan. We would have taken some regretful roads, had it not been for a fellow DT rider doing it first and posting a warning to find an alternate route. We showed up at the picnic or the awards banquet already friends with people we’d never met.

DamTour did a lot for us – besides getting us onto interesting roads in diverse surroundings, it exposed us to:
• The Rose City Motorcycle Club in Portland which hosts a variety of tours and rides in which we now participate (http://www.rose-city-mc.org/RCFrameset.html)
• The Hell’s Canyon Motorcycle Rally, where a complete stranger gave Steve the keys to his bike so Steve could go get us a new rear tire that could only be found 75 miles away (http://www.hellscanyonrally.com/)
• A location to which we’re considering retiring that shall remain nameless in order to maintain the serenity we found there
• A better understanding of Iron Butt Riding (we were thinking of trying for a Saddlesore certificate this year, but without DT…?)
• The great book by Lynda Lahman, Two-Up: Navigating a Relationship 1,000 Miles at a Time, where we found relatable stories and good riding tips
• Keith Spicer, who rode from Portland to Panama and wrote a book about it through his Facebook posts along the way (http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2427555)
• How to lift a 900+lb Gold Wing off its side (which has come in handy a couple of times!)
• Matt Watkins, an IBR rider who’s a great writer and photographer which makes for a very entertaining and informative blog to follow (http://mattwatkins.org/ibr09/)
• The still-being-considered idea of going to the “darkside”, replacing the rear tire of the bike with a car tire
• The awesome Canyon Road ride along the Yakima River between Ellensberg and Yakima, a road we may never have taken if it weren’t for the Roza Diversion Dam and one which we now take every chance we get (http://goo.gl/maps/BhKv5)
• The BMR (Big Money Rally), a self-guided tour with a cell-phone twist (http://bigmoneyrally.com/2013/?page_id=5402)
• And so much more!

DamTour started in 2005, but we didn’t discover it until 2010. We’re so glad we had the time that we did but sad that the time was so short. I’ve gone through the DT website, pulling photos and information of the past dams so we may continue, in a small way, our own DamTour, but it will come nowhere close to filling the hole left by the loss of DT and its associated community. I am grateful for all the hard work Cheryll Malisch and Steve Folkestad put into this great event. It truly changed our lives.

Our hope is that, instead of DT ending, this will turn in to a hiatus year. A year to restructure, create a team of people to manage it, and bring it back in 2014 stronger than ever. Maybe that’s a pipe dream, but it gives us something to hang on to for now.


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