Bike Trips
Snow - too much of it!

When will it leave?!?! By the end of January here in Spokane, Washington it looked like we'd be getting an early spring. All the snow from December was gone and while the rest of the country was getting smacked with blizzards, we were looking at warm weather for the month and possibly an early riding season.

Then February hit. It was officially the third snowiest February on record. This is what it looks like out my front door today --->

It's going to take some seriously warm weather to melt all that! It can happen, but it doesn't look likely as this morning's 17 degree temperature bears out. I know, I know - I live in the Pacific Northwest where we get normal winters with snow and everything. I've lived here all my life, so yes I get it. But for the past 20 years or so, by March spring is well on its way and my thoughts turn to the new year's riding season. Where will I go? What trips will I take? Who else has rides planned? It's hard to think about when there's that much snow out.

I love planning trips. I guess it's the anticipation of interesting places to see, great twisty roads to ride, or awesome mountain trails to climb. It just gets my blood pumping with excitment. I have a couple trips planned already. Another trip into Canada over Memorial Day weekend and a circumnavigation of Washington State later in the summer. You sit down at the computer and pull up Google Maps and start getting a rough idea of where you want to go. Then you do some research on the specifics: road conditions, camping spots, interesting out-of-the-way things to see. Suddenly the trip takes shape right before your eyes. You make sure you have maps ready and maybe GPS tracks entered into your Garmin or other GPS device. Then you just have to wait for spring.

I'm still waiting. As are my other riding buddies. I've already re-watched the "Long Way Round" and "Long Way Down" series, as well as a lot of Lyndon Poskitt's "Races To Places". Tonight my brother and I are going to a local bike shop for a little food and then watch "Why We Ride", probably commiserating with other riders over the snow.

Yes. I'm whinning. But you have to admit - it's justified!!!

Category: travel
2014 Riding Season Ends

I took my last ride of the year today. It was a short one. Just shy of 100 miles, but pretty nonetheless with golden tamaracks standing out against a sea of firs and evergreens. This has been another great year of riding. Several short trips surrounding my long trip through most of the states in the western USA.

That trip to Colorado had me riding against backgrounds of snow and desert/plains in the same day more than once. It was everything I had hoped it would be and now all future trips will be measured against that one. Only a slight mechanical difficulty marred an otherwise excellent trip. Great company, great music (Telluride Bluegrass Festival), great roads, and great scenery. I know not all trips end up hitting high marks in all categories, but for me, this one did in spades.

Why is it that riding a motorcycle has such an appeal to me? Is it the risk? I think that is one component - the knowledge that to ride aggresively but safe requires skill. The practice that leads up to that skill adds to the enjoyment. When I'm taking a corner and I hit the apex perfectly then power away smoothly, that is something I work for and when I get it, there's an "ahhhhh" moment. Connecting corners gives me that same feeling I used to get snow skiing in knee-deep powder. Is it the scenery? Well I could get that in a convertible. On a bike though I definitely experience it more viscerally. What about the adventure? For me that is a pretty big component. Seeing new places, riding roads I've never ridden before, and sharing it with others who want to see it from the seat of a motorcycle. I suppose it is all of the above and something a bit undefinable, perhaps "gestalt" is the right word to use. Whatever words you use to describe it, I love riding and will continue to do it until I'm just too dang old to do it any more.

So the bike is put away for the winter and I will make plans for next year. A possible trip to Death Valley in the early spring has been talked about by my brother and that holds great interest for me. But that is tempered a bit by the fact that two of my three kids are getting married this year so motorcycle adventures will probably (properly) take a back seat to those two events. We'll see how all this meshes together in 2015!

Category: travel
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Tom Clark
I'm Chief Technical Overlord for Behind The Gavel, living in Spokane, Washington. I also do a little development work on the side. And I love riding my bikes all over the country with my friends.

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