Washington, Oregon and the California Redwoods

I headed inland through Portland, which seemed to me an overwhelming network of highways, interstates and horrendous traffic. The interstate was backed up for miles. I patiently sat in traffic and duck walked the bike along inch by inch while contemplating the risks and benefits of lane splitting in a state where it was illegal. A group of guys in a truck with a dirt bike in the back and Fox logo decals on the windows gave me a thumbs up as they inched by.

Then my bike began to overheat.

I pulled off the road and let it sit for a few minutes, but it was scorching hot and the traffic still wasn’t moving. As I was debating my next move, an older couple on a Goldwing rolled up next to me. I explained my dilemma and they convinced me to follow them up the side around traffic. “Don’t worry.” the man said “If we get pulled over, I’ll talk our way out of it!” and off we went, passing the cars inching along the tarmac. The previously friendly truck people all gave me the finger as we chugged past. “But it was overheating!” I pleaded apologetically. Oh well.

Eventually we were freed from the jam and I made a beeline for Eugene, Oregon where an old friend had moved for grad school. He kindly let me crash his couch for a couple nights and took me out around the town.

They have an amazing bakery there called Voodoo Donut, where they make all kinds of crazy confections.

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It would have been cool to go this whole trip without crashing…

I rolled into the lovely town of Bellingham in Washington and stayed with Ian, another Adventure Motorcyclist who had done some impressive trips of his own. We chatted about bikes and he recommended I ride the lakeside road out in the morning.

The lake was indeed gorgeous and the road twisted around in tight curves marked 25 miles an hour. I was going about 35, jamming to my iPod and grinning with every turn.

Then I hit one marked 15mph…but there wasn’t time to really slow down. I leaned the bike over as hard as I could, I swear I felt completely horizontal and was just waiting to hear scraping, but the bike kept leaning. I should have just kept going for it, I may have made it, but foolishly I began to wonder what would happen if I slid out. I glanced to the side of the road at the muddy rut that awaited me and next thing I knew the bike bolted up and started heading right at it. Since I wasn’t leaned over, I thought I could hit it dead on and ride it back out onto the road again, but the grass was slippery and the bike spun sideways, hitting the embankment and bucking into the air.

I was suddenly splayed out face down in the mud, with my bike upside-down, backwards, on top of my head. I reached up and blindly pushed the bike off of me, grabbing onto some searing hot piece of engine which promptly melted through my glove and the first few layers of skin.

I stood up and checked my body all over. Aside from neck soreness, hand burn and a killer headache, I was alright.

“Holy shit!” A young guy driving by had seen my crash and thought I was toast. He kindly helped me drag my bike out of the muddy ditch, asking me about a hundred times if I was really okay before he continued on down the road.

The bike is facing the opposite way of my original direction, you can see the pile of dirt where we hauled the bike out of the muddy ditch. I had some nice grassy handlebar fringe for a while too… Continue reading