Monday, July 1, 2013

Touratech Rally 2013

This was our first motorcycle rally.  We learned about the Touratech Rally when we purchased our motorcycles.  Touratech is a manufacturer and a reseller of motorcycling accessories particularly for Adventure motorcycling.

Map of routes taken.
Wednesday, June 26. We left from Olympia under cloudy and threatening skies for our first destination of Yakima via Mt. Rainier National Park and White Pass.  My bike was particularly loaded up since Kim's bike didn't have panniers only a top case.  So I was responsible for the majority of the gear.  We would be camping for three nights at the Rally and at a motel - in transit - for two nights.

Our first destination - Mt. Rainier National Park - was reached under a heavy drizzle and low clouds; not much scenery today.  The Paradise road is a winding and curvy route up to Paradise.  There are many 10 mph hairpin turns.  I was excited to return to this road since the last time I traveled it on a motorcycle was with my Kawasaki 750.  A past feat on this bike - albeit illegal - was traveling the 12 mile Paradise Road from the entrance near Longmire to Paradise in about 12 minutes.  That was not going to happen today. Today the road was wet and a sheen of oil could be seen on the road surface.  I took it slow and easy.  Corners that before I had doubled in speed were done at the recommended speed limit.

The mountain was shrouded in low clouds and snow was piled up deep alongside the roadway.  We made a couple of stops for pictures and to celebrate our ride, but we didn't stay long because it was cold and wet.  We traveled down the curvy Box Canyon and on to Highway 12 towards Yakima.  Our next stop was for lunch at a small resort by Rimrock Lake east of White Pass.  After lunch we continued on to Yakima for our first night. We found an absolutely great Mexican restaurant called Antijito's. The food is excellent and a bit different than what you normally get at a Mexican restaurant.

Bikes and tent at Touratech Rally
Thursday, June 27. The next day we traveled to Selah and the curvy Yakima Canyon Road - State Touratech Rally.  From here we went through Ellensburg and to US 97 crossing Blewett Pass and down towards US highway 2.  Turning left onto Highway 2 towards Leavenworth and then in Leavenworth a right turn on to the Chumstick Highway to Plains.  The Chumstick Highway is great motorcycle road with a great mix of curves and turns with a few straights.  We reached the Touratech Rally site in Plains early afternoon and set up camp.  It was fun watching all the other riders come in.  We made a nice supper and relished our first night camping in so many years.  Generally we always went traveling on our boat, but now we were camping and sleeping on the ground.
Route 821.  This is a great motorcycle road full of big sweeping curves.  We stopped at a roadside rest area and met a couple of other riders on their way to the

Adventure class. I'm the second rider. 
Friday, June 28. Our first day at the Touratech Rally was to explore the vendor booths at the rally and take an introduction to off-road riding course offered by PSSOR.  The day started out hot and as we progressed through the introductory course it got even hotter.  The rule was you had to wear your full riding gear for the course.  We learned how to work the clutch-brake-throttle all at the same time, how to do slow speed turns, ride standing up, and more. You never got going enough to cool down and so it was exhaust from the heat. However, the class was interesting and we learned a lot about adventure riding.  By the end of the class we were both exhausted and wanted to have a relaxing afternoon and evening.  We it took easy by riding out past Lake Wenatchee to the end of the White River Road.

Saturday, June 29. As a result of yesterday's class we were going to tackle a longer more challenging route today.  There were many rally routes - easy, intermediate, and expert.  Most riders joined groups to do the rides.  We chose to do the various rally rides un-guided versus traveling in a group.  Today we were going to do an easy rated ride called the Eagle Creek Loop of about 40 miles.  I downloaded the GPS track and off we went.  The first part of the trip was back down the Chumstick Highway toward Leavenworth until you came to the Eagle Creek Road.  We turned left onto the Eagle Creek Road and followed it many miles until it changed from pavement to gravel.  The road was easy to travel and we had no problems.  Our new riding skills from the class were being used.  I was not used to the GPS and as a result got side tracked on to another road that lead us up to Sugarloaf Peak.  We traveled up to the peak where an abandoned USFS lookout was located.  The view from Sugarloaf Peak was amazing.  As we were leaving the lookout one of the organized rides came up the road.  We pulled over to let them pass. What I didn't realize is that Kim hit a small limb and tumbled.  The guy in the vehicle said, "Are you going to help her?" I had no idea what he was talking about. Next thing you know there's a crowd of folks helping Kim get back up.  Wow, I felt like a complete dumbass not helping my own wife back up on her bike.
View from road up to Sugarloaf Peak. Beautiful!

We got back on the correct route and wound our way back towards Plains. The rally organizers placed various geo-caches along the rally routes.  Finding a geo-cache increased your odds of winning a rally prize each evening; so we stopped and found the geo-cache thus increasing our odds at winning.  In some places the road was muddy from this morning's rain showers.  I took a tumble when I hit a deeply mud-rutted patch.  I quickly learned that my tires were definitely not suited for riding in mud.  Finally we made it back to our camp.  Being very hot from our ride we decided to ride to Lake Wenatchee State Park to take a shower and have lunch.  The shower was so refreshing and wading in the cold waters of the lake definitely cooled us down.  We returned to the Touratech Rally feeling completely refreshed.  We made a nice camp supper and enjoyed the evening campfire where Kim won a nice rally prize.

Sunday, June 30. The next day started out very hot.  We broke camp and headed to Leavenworth for fuel and breakfast.  By the time we finished breakfast the day was already hot. It was good to get back on the road because the breeze kept you cool.  Unfortunately, as the day got hotter and even though we were riding, we were roasting in our heavy riding gear.  As we drove down the Yakima Canyon I noticed the temperature gauge on my bike go from 90 to 100F.  Again we stopped along the Yakima river for a drink and to cool off.  We were joined in the shade by a couple riding a Harley.  We got to talking about the heat and riding gear and he showed us a scar from an accident were he wasn't wearing riding gear. Although it was unbearably hot, we felt safer wearing our heavy riding gear.  The Harley rider was only wearing jeans and a tank top.  Guess it is important to look and be cool. When we got to the motel in Yakima, I cranked the air conditioner up to full and we fell asleep under the cooling air.

My bike at Chinook Pass
Monday, July 1. We started our final leg home a bit early to take advantage of the morning cool temperatures because the day was forecast to be hot.  Again temperatures would be in the 90's to 100 degrees and above.  This time instead of traveling Highway 12 over White Pass, we took State Route 410 over beautiful Chinook Pass.  We stopped at Whistling Jack's for breakfast and then on to Chinook Pass.  We stopped at the pass and enjoyed the cool temperatures.  The pass still had plenty of snow.  We continued on down SR 410 into Enumclaw.  Just outside of Buckley we turned left off of SR 410 to travel various county roads to go to Yelm and the back roads back home. These back roads were welcome alternatives to the busy highways.

We had a great six days of our first real cross-country motorcycle adventure.  We learned a lot about road riding, Adventure riding, and enjoying camping again.
All variety of bikes were at the rally

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