Bike Trips
History in the making

As with the rest of the United States, I've been watching this slow-motion trainwreck of an election year and wondering how an entire nation can lose its collective mind. Here we have two of the worst candidates for president ever put before the American public and for months we've all thought "it can't get worse than this." But oh yes, it can. And it has. I won't put down all the reasons both candidates of our two major parties are despicable and why I won't vote for either. I also won't quote several commentators whom I respect who have put their reasons down far more eloquently than I could. No, what I'm here to say today is that in the end, we may have to thank Donald Trump for what he's done for American Politics.

Turning the soil
Farmers turn the soil upside down for many reasons, but in general the point of it is to improve the ground for future planting. Weeds are exposed so they can die. Manure is added and though it stinks, it'll help future growth. Insects and other pests are either exposed to die in the light or smothered to die in the dirt. What we're seeing today is no less than the soil of our political system being turned over. To say that the Republican party will no longer be the same is a bit of an obvious statement. People have for decades complained of our limited two-party system and wished for change. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. I don't think the Democratic party will remain unscathed either. It may not happen right away, but I believe we will see that looking back on this year, our two-party system collapsed under its own irrelevance and something new developed.

The new crop
But what will emerge in the "spring?" A split GOP? The rise of the Libertarians? I have no idea and am not going to try and guess. I'm also not going to pretend to be optimistic about our country's future. The vibrancy, optimism, and ingenuity of the past is long gone in a post-ethical, post-moral morass of liberal humanism that has been enveloping our nation for many years. Our country is on the highway to world irrelevance and our future president, Hillary Clinton, will only be "stepping on the gas."

How then shall we live?
There's a very good reason that our part of the world is not mentioned in biblical texts when predicting end times. It's because we're not relevant to that future event. It's a hard thing to accept but as some of us that are Christians can see, our moment in the sun is over. Being faithful and obedient to scripture has never been more relevant however. And we can still be a light in the darkness.

Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17

Category: commentary
Fall is in the air

October is here and with it the close of the riding season is near. For the first time in six years, I didn't take a long trip anywhere. Unless you consider a 1000 mile trip down to Oregon and back a long trip. It was a lot of fun riding with my good friend Tim Pontius. But I've only put a smidge over 1600 miles on the Vstrom this year. I'd have to say for me this was the year of the dirt bike.

Gettin' Dirty
I bought my 2008 Yamaha WR250R earlier this year and have put just over 1000 miles on it this year. There will be probably another day or two that I'll take it out for a spin in the dirt somewhere. Most of the miles came from two different weekends in Idaho with a bunch of my friends from the CMA Fastlane. We ride dirt roads, fire access roads, ATV, single track, and what I've taken to calling "no track" trails. That last is where the trail is marked with tape and led by the guy that marked it out but we're pretty much the first ones down it. Both of those weekends were around 250 miles - we ride out to the fun and have to ride back, usually on highways. Even being on the highways was not horrible. It's nice to know that I can keep up with people on much larger bikes. This year was one of getting used to the bike and getting out there and finding out what I'm capable of. From the Desert 100 Ironman to some tough single track up near Tiger Pass in the northwest corner of Washington. I spent time at the local ORV park practicing a bit this season too. There's a couple reasons for wanting to improve my skills. Certainly there's the fun of tackling tough terrain and coming out on top (that is, upright).

The second reason is that I intend to ride the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route next year. Over the winter I will be acquiring the necessary items I will need to do this kind of trip. Soft luggage from Mosko Moto, a larger fuel tank for the bike, and new Garmin GPS. I have my map of the route and I've already been scaling down my camping gear so I should be ready. It's much more "adventure" riding than I've done before, but it's what I've had in mind for quite awhile. I believe I have the right bike for it too. None of those 500-600 lb behemoths loaded up with another 100 lbs of luggage for me. If I can't lift the bike up when I fall, then it's way too heavy. Besides, maneuvering those monsters up and down slippery roads or trails doesn't sound like too much fun to me. My brother will be similarly equipped and the two of us will tackle Washington's BDR in 2017 and I hope to do Oregon's, Idaho's, and some day Colorado's BDR in the years to follow.

Goodbye Vstrom?
No way! I still love my bike and find it fun and just the right size for highway touring. I still have plans for a trip to Alaska and back and the Vstrom is just the bike for that trip. But the Yamaha is perfect for my backwoods riding and adventure trips here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope to get better photographic equipment and chronicle my little adventures too.

Can't wait for 2017!

Category: riding
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Tom Clark
I'm an application developer for Ministry Brands, living in Spokane, Washington. I also do a little development work on the side. And I love riding my bike all over the country with my friends.

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