Ride report: Chase the Snake (CtS) June 16-18, 2006

Overall it was a terrific ride. Great weather, save for the first hour
pulling out of Portland. Lizbeth looked less than thrilled as we were
starting out. On the ride home she was the one to suggest taking a
more fun route home than 84. She had as big a smile on her fast as the
rest of us.

I don't know all the roads we took but it was almost the same route we
took last year. 400 miles on Friday to get there, it was fun. Friday
night we arrived at the Thompsons around 6:10 (left Portland at
9:20am). I hurt in places I didn't know could be so sore. But it went
away with a beer. Had some tasty food, said hellos, checked out bikes,
more people showed up. Then I decided I wanted to check in and relax
at the hotel. So I led Adrian back to Pullman. I walked down to meet
the others and share a birthday drink with Chris and Lisa Denzler. I
helped Randall close out his tab and walked back to the hotel to join
the group sitting around the parkling lot chatting. Randall suffered a
minor reaction from long legs, short chair on a slight decline and too
much alcohol. Gooz the Cabana Boy extraordinaire made sure he made it
home safe and sound.

Breakfast was nice as usual on Saturday. I really like their potato
cakes. They also put up with all us biker scum piling gear everywhere
and taking over half the restaurant. Saturday was great. I originally
was planning on going with Gooz's "easy" ride cause I wanted less than
250miles. We ended up all (cept the dual sporters) going up the spiral
highway together.  My first time so I was focused on not flying off
the edge more than what line to take or going fast. I think Gustavo
passed most the group on his way up and he started quite a ways behind
us. I remember what the road looked like going up but didnt dare look
at the view til I was parked. But it is sure beautiful. The view is
nice too : )

After 15 minutes of chatting at the top we all went off on our rides.
There was the hooligan group, the pie group, the dual sport group, Ted
went off by himself and Gustavo led a group to Rattlesnake grade. I
decided at the very last minute to switch from the hucklberry pie run
to the Rattlesnake grade. The spiral highway left me wanting more. I
really enjoyed the hucklberry pie road but did it last year so wanted
something new.

So off we went. Dual sport leading the pack, 3 big tourers following
closely (Rob, Chuck and David Mather who Gustavo seems to have
forgotten about already!) and Lucky screaming along behind. We went
back down the spiral highway, They had to wait probably 1 -2 minutes
for me at the bottom (reference point). Then headed through
lewiston/clarkston to the rattlesnake grade. I had heard Tony and G
talking about it last year and had the impression it was really far
away. Not at all though.  I hit the rev limiter 3 times during the
trip and all was during passing (yeah I figured out downshifting helps
as long as I only downshift to 5th and not 4th cause 4th hits the rev
limiter about 3/4 way past the vehicle in question). It was no big
deal, just slowed down slightly, I lessen the throttle slightly and it
jumps back up, easy peasy.

When I saw the yellow triangle warning sign that said 25mph curves for
the next 13 miles I knew we had arrived. Lots of 25-35 turns (someone
in WA keep labeling their 35 turns 20's !) either that or 20's dont
phase me anymore like they used to. Somewhere during the rattlesnake
grade I learned how to ride my new bike. I couldn't find the limits of
traction. It just wanted me to lean farther and go faster without the
slightest feeling of being out of control. It feels so light and
nimble compared to my SV. I kept remembering scraping pegs on my SV at
much less lean angle but not with the ninja. Only once when I cut an
uphill turn at a bad line did I scrape a feeler.

Then lunch at boggons oasis. The sweetest older guy was downright
thankful a group of motorcyclists came in! He said a couple times how
much he appreciates the riders coming in for lunch. I even broke my no
sugar rule and had a blueberry shake. mmmmmm. best ive ever had.

Then it was back up the other side of the rattlesnake grade. I got
faster during lunch apparently. Chuck went up first then I followed
while the rest the group was putting on gear. I tried to lose Gustavo
but he caught up much quicker than I thought possible. He stayed
behind to watch my lines. I always turn in too soon and I knew I was
doing it this time too. There was also a bit of gravel so I was being
conservative. Finally I figured out I would learn alot more with him
in front and mostly kept up to follow his lines (he graciously went
slow for me im sure). Then it was over, I was ready for more though.
On the way back down we stopped for a couple pictures and it was the
first time I saw the beautiful view.

Then back over the the rest the rattlesnake (or maybe it was two
roads, not sure) on the way home. Gustavo and Dave took off ahead of
me. Rob and Chuck were behind me. I gave up trying to follow the
leaders and led my own pace. My bike just _loves_ to lean, I felt like
I was leaned over all the way but I knew I wasnt. I tried going as
fast as I felt comfortable and I had soooo much fun. Rob later said he
had a hard time keeping up with me but Im sure he was just beng nice.
I heard Tony and Gustavo went up and down it twice last year, in
retrospect I wish we had too. I already miss it. We hit the spiral
highway on the way back and this time I passed a car going up. Still a
bunch of fun, even better when you know what to expect.

David Mather and I went back to the hotel to get ready for the party.
We both were hoping for rides to the Thompsons. We got there and the
only bike in the lot was Alex's cruiser. I figured the pie group had
finished earlier (it was around 4pm) and was already at the thompsons.
The same assumption I made last year and it was wrong then too. We got
to the thompsons (Gustavo gave me a ride but David had to drive
himself) and we were the first. Lizbeth and Julie were hanging out

That was when we heard there had been an accident. Joe had hit a deer.
He was OK. That was all we knew. John had taken the trailer to go
retreive the bike and his son-in-law. We hung out for a bit. Finally
sitting down to eat when the truck with the concours arrived. I had to
go check it out. It was pretty amazing (and smelled bad too). The most
amazing thing was the smile on Joe's face as he was pulling his torn
up gear out of the back of the truck and checking out his laptop
(which was in a smashed up hard bag but seemed to fair quite well).
Pete did a nice job bandaging him up too. Leah (his pregnant wife who
went with us on Hmarc's pie run last year) handled the whole situation
admirably. By the end of the evening they were both laughing at the
Venison Vaporizer jokes.

I got a ride home from Gooz on his Kbike. The hotel chat group was
just starting up. We were all very tired saturday night. Chris had
already sacked out. Lisa stayed up and entertained us with stories
told well for a while. I couldn't keep my eyes open so left Steve,
Gustavo, Pete and Brett and went to sleep (it must have been 9:30 and
most of us were in bed already!).

Sunday morning I woke up rested and refreshed. Packed up the bike and
headed over to the Thompsons for breakfast. It was mainly just the
oregon folks there for some reason. Brian, Julie, Tony, Gustavo,
Lizbeth and me. Plus Rob Scott, Kyle and the Thompsons. We had a nice
meal and chat then were on the road. Left around 9:15. We just had to
stop by the spiral highway one more time, it was on the way. This time
they waited about 3 milliseconds for me to catch up! Guess I did get
faster. Even Lizbeth said she looked back and say me leaned over
hitting a curve, someday Ill get a picture.

The ride home was uneventful, long and mildly boring compared to the
roads all weekend. The scenery was beautiful but I had just learned
how to ride my bike and was anxious for more twisties. But we all were
in a hurry to get home and prepare for the week. 

It was a ton of fun yet again. If you have ever thought about going to
CtS and havent made it out yet you should. Its worth it. Its like a
touring group and training class combined with a party with friends
all rolled into one weekend.

Total mileage: 1080


Picures can be found at the following locations:

  • http://www.buhacoff.com/CTS20061.htm
  • http://www.buhacoff.com/CTS20062.htm
  • http://chuckhartshorn.zenfolio.com/p441099498/

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