By Tim Glassett
Wanting to get one last good ride in for the year my wife and I decided to ride to Street Vibrations in Reno this year. We left on Thursday September 22nd from Rainier Oregon right on the border of Washington state.
From Rainier, we crossed the Columbia River into Longview WA where we got on I-5 headed southbound. We generally prefer back highways, but the alternative route took up too much time, so we rode I-5 about 160 miles or so to Eugene where we took Highway 58 headed into the mountains.
Highway 58 is one of my favorite stretches of the whole trip. It’s got great scenery, a huge reservoir, and it’s a 2 lane highway that doesn’t have a ton of traffic. (usually)
Just outside Oakridge Oregon, there is a stretch of river along the road just as you begin to ascend into the mountains. If you stop on a particular side pullout, there is a little trail that leads down to the river, and it is an awesome spot for a rest. Water is crystal clear, has great shade and is really private.
After leaving this break spot we began ascending into the mountains rather quickly. Once you reach the top, you are over 5000 ft in elevation. One of my favorite parts of this transition is that the tree’s slowly go from green Pine trees to the reddish orangey ponderosa pines. With very rocky peaks in the backdrop, it is unlike the scenery we are used to in the rainy Pacific Northwest.
After about 85 miles on highway 58, it turns into highway 97 headed into Klamath Falls. This is a great stretch of road to make time as there are really long open straight stretches with good visibility. If you like rocky mountainous type scenery like I do, this is a great road to ride on as well.
Just outside of Chiloquin Oregon is Collier State park. It is also a really good spot for a break. There is a drinking fountain there that must come from a private well or something because it is some of the coldest tastiest water ever. I’d say “or perhaps I was just really thirsty,” but I’ve been there several times and always feel the same about it.
After 80 miles down highway 97 we arrive in Klamath Falls, our midway stop where we slept overnight for the ride.
We left Klamath Falls early the next morning headed to Reno. My newer Crazy Horse jacket from Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing kept me really warm in the crisp mountain air. It has a removable liner that is one of the most effective I have ever had. Also nice is that the liner has an MP3 pocket in it. Then later in the day when it gets hot, I can remove the liner and the jacket has four zip open vents that allow air to flow through. It is honestly one of the best all-around riding jackets I have ever owned, and I’ve owned multiple.
This was my first time doing this stretch of road past Klamath Falls, and I was not prepared for how much of nothing is out there. Between Klamath Falls and Reno, there is really only Susanville California, and with the exception of a couple of gas stops, that’s about it.
About 100 miles south of Klamath Falls on US-139 in the middle of nowhere as we were heading around a corner was a huge cow right on the edge of the road. I thought to myself, boy this far out with no houses, it could be a while before anyone finds that cow.(When we drove back through the following Sunday, that cow was still there too, waiting outside of the gate for someone to let her back into the field.)
We stopped at a Subway for a quick bite to eat and hit the road for the final 85/90 mile stretch to Reno. This final stretch was through some very hot weather with hardly a tree or any shade anywhere. About 30 miles outside of Reno, we were needing to stop for another quick break as two days on the road were starting to take their toll, and my forearms were getting tired too. (it was really windy through there as well). There was no shade to be found anywhere, so we stopped on the side of the road and sat in the shade of the bike for about 5 minutes by some “painted hills”. It would have been a really nice stop if it hadn’t been so darned hot.
We hopped back on the bike after just a few minutes and rode the final stretch into Reno. I noticed in the extreme heat and altitude, my bike didn’t have near the power it usually has. I almost thought there was something wrong with it, but upon reflection decided it was probably normal and to be expected under conditions.
We arrived in Reno and checked into the Circus Circus hotel, which we had reserved several months back.
The front desk clerk asked us if we wanted a high floor or a low floor. I said “high floor” and we got one of the 26th floor looking in the direction of the strip. It was an excellent view for sure.
Part 2 to be continued.