The motorcycle group with which I ride has a Spring tradition – The Pelican Run. This will be my second trip with these guys for this annual ride to Pacific City on the Oregon Coast. Here’s a link to my friend Randy’s blog which the tells the Genesis of this ride.
March 20, 2012
This year, the ride takes place on Saturday, April 21st, and Sunday, April 22nd. We conjure the ride and route on our group’s website. Our forum is where we, through discussion, pushing and shoving, hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth and, ultimately, by political maneuvering and the swaying of opinions, divine a route. Miraculously, through the mêlée, the guys with the strongest opinions and regional knowledge map out great routes for us.
There are only a couple of hotels in the destination town, so there is no controversy in that aspect of the planning. This will be a great early-season ride if the weather cooperates.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
At 7 am on Saturday morning I awakened at Marv & MaryLou’s house. I stayed over on Friday night after work so I could make an early start with Marv for the annual Pelican Run. I woke up with enough time to get my things packed away and get them securely stowed on the bike. We hit the freeway and met with the rest of the group at the southbound weigh station near Fife. Already there and waiting were Marty, Larry, Larry’s co-rider Kathlene, Dean, and Randy. Doug pulled in right behind us. We all greeted and caught up a little before getting our kickstands up and heading down the road. We got off the freeway after just a few miles, and caught some nice back roads on the way to our breakfast break.
The weather was warming quickly. The sun was out and the trees were opening in light green foliage to gather in the light. It was a very peaceful ride to Castle Rock.
We met Don and David in Castle Rock, and that completed the list of Riders that would be heading for Pacific City together. I had a nice vegetarian omelet for breakfast.
We set out on the road in warm dry weather. We followed all two-lane roads to Longview, where we crossed the mighty Columbia. Our route was great. Randy had put together the GPS file we were following. He, David, and I took turns leading the group.
In the planning phase of the ride there had been some question as to whether Bald Mountain would be passable. George warned us that there may be snow. It turned out he was right. I was leading the group up Bald Mountain road. It got narrower as we climbed. Trees and branches were hanging out into the single lane road. I kept noticing there were traffic directions painted on the road surface, oriented for drivers moving in the opposite direction. This gave me pause, because it was a narrow winding road with few turnouts, and very little room to dodge if a car or truck were to come barreling around one of the many blind corners. About 5 miles from our turnoff onto Bald Mountain we came to a full stop, confronted with a road covered with snow. We all took a couple of minutes to contemplate the gravity of George being correct before we turned-tail and rode back down to Nestucca River Road.
Randy took the lead. We knew there would be a couple of miles of gravel to traverse before getting our wheels back on pavement. We all managed to get past the gravel safely, and were promptly rewarded with one of the sweetest roads we had been on yet this year. The west end of Nestucca River Road is blessed with smoothly flowing curves and river views. It was Nirvana.
When we did the turn-around at the snow-closure, Don had mentioned that he was getting low on gas. When we arrived at the gas station there was one fewer bike than there should have been. Larry and Randy set out to take a splash of gas back to Don so he could make it to the gas station.
After an extended break at the gas station, we resumed the ride. We were less than 30 miles from our final destination in Pacific City. The traffic leaving Beaver was a little heavier than what we had been experiencing since breakfast. When confronted with slow-moving traffic, our group’s protocol is for everyone to make a safe pass at their earliest opportunity. We had a point at which I, Marty, and Marv were the last three of the group, and we had a long wait to pass two cars that were meandering along. By the time we got around them, there was no sign of the rest of the group. Apparently, Randy had made an audible call at the last stop that he was going to lead the group straight to Pacific City via Highway 101. The GPS route that we had loaded was a more circuitous route that included a few really great roads. That was the route that I led Marty and Marv down. We would repeat these roads the following morning, but well worth it to ride them in both directions.
Upon arrival in Pacific City we greeted Mark, the remaining attendee of the event. Everyone except tea-totallers Marv and I headed off to have cocktails. Marv and I got cleaned up and joined them. We went to dinner, soon after.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
The morning in Pacific City was so peaceful, we took our time gathering ourselves. Shortly after waking Marv and I heard the sound of a Ducati in the parking lot. Marty left early. We found out later he wanted some solo time.
The group of drinkers had apparently stayed late at the tavern for some prolonged party activity. We all sat around the motel parking lot listening to the reverie. I made a slow process of packing my gear up for the return trip.
Randy, feeling a little under the weather, asked me if I would lead the ride home. I made the adjustments to my GPS, and we were on our way. We took a couple of roads that are old favorites to us – the Miami River Road, and Oregon Highway 53. We caught Highway 26 east to Camp 18. It’s part restaurant, part logging museum. They have large rooms, large tables, and large portions. I had a very satisfying omelet.
Randy decided that he had had enough of the winding, curvy roads we covet, and announced that he was going to take the slab home. I was surprised when we caught up with him at the Birkenfeld General Store along Highway 202. He and Don rode with us a ways. Don peeled off and headed for Portland. Randy turned off in Kelso and headed for the freeway. David peeled off in Kelso to head for his home in Vancouver too. The rest of us took two-lanes up to Centrailia. Larry split off there, and the rest of us took the freeway home.
This was a good ride. Everyone seemed to have a good time.