Saturday, July 10, 2010

Closing the Loop - Days 15 and 16

Heat, cold and fog, from sea level to rivers to mountain high.  The last two days of the Peaks to Pacific Tour saw so much variety as we crammed in as much diverse terrain and weather as we could before it was all over for another year.

Friday found us headed for the beach, literally.  Not for a swim, although we could have used one, but just to see the Oregon coast with its rugged beauty and enjoy US 101.  Unfortunately, it was crowded on all the roads we chose, meaning we were seriously restricted in speed, sightseeing and corner swooping.   To add to the frustration, there were times when George disappeared into the fog that had formed in places.  Driving into the fog was like entering a walk-in freezer.  It was downright cold, necessitating several coffee stops. 

And if that were not enough, after lunch in a funky downtown Astoria, Oregon, restaurant we encountered record-setting heat.  Even riding along the Columbia River did not cool us down.  To say sweltering would have been an understatement (39 C = 102 F), especially with the all black, waterproof, mandatory motorcycle gear we wore at all times.  We decided several years ago to forgo comfort for safety.  This meant black leather boots to mid-calf, with black Kevlar padded pants with a waterproof liner made of synthetic material.   It felt like I had crawled into a black padded sleeping bag, lined with a black garbage bag and then lying in the sun to cook.  The jacket was also black and lined with the protective Kevlar, making it quite heavy.  Add black non-breathing leather gloves and a full face helmet and you have the package; a sweating black Michelin man.

We managed about 250 miles before hitting the showers at Gregg's and Debi's home in Vancouver, Washington, which has served as an extremely pleasant stopover for tired and smelly bikers before.

Up early on  Day 16, the final day on the open road, we wasted no time (after Starbucks) in moving quickly up Interstate 5 to find Highway 503, the route to the "front side" of Mt. St. Helen's.  Having taken a quick, but eventful, trip up the "back side" exactly 2 weeks early, I wanted to complete the climb up the only other volcano-view route.  It was a great view from the lookout: beauty of devastation straining to recover its verdant and vibrant status.

The only collision I experienced today was inevitable.  My 57th year crashed headlong into my 58tth year.  Ironic.  It seems that every ending also brings me a new beginning.  As I venture into this 59th year of life, I cringe a little.  There is too much to accomplish.  This reality leads to stress and over work, with the consequence of guilt and fatigue because of my Parkinson's disease.  But the year behind was great, ending with a terrific ride with great fellow journeymen.  The year ahead has already started out great, with a great ride, a mountain top experience of encouragement, with a great friend, and then returning safely to a loving and understanding wife, my family, and my future riding partner.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bob,
    Glad you kept it upright on the gravel. It can be so unnerving when that happens, believe me I know. And now you're home safe. We had such a great time didn't we. Already thinking about next year, Lord willing. I'm one Page who considers it a privilege to ride with The Knights of the Open Road.