Every summer we do at least one group ride. We used to spend the whole week together, but now, three days is about the best we can manage. This year, we chose Oregon and Washington State. Most of the group flew into Portland and rented BMWs. With a fresh Ducati Desmo service, I figured the best use of my time and money was turning one ride into several, beginning with the pre-trip from Denver, CO, to Salt Lake City with my wife. Then, the ride to the ride—solo from Salt Lake City to The Dalles in Columbia River Gorge. The actual group ride was from Maupin, OR, to Cle Elum Lake, WA. After our ride, I’d return to Salt Lake City to pick up my wife and take the long way home through Flaming Gorge.
Over the years, our ride captain has booked us amazing places—rustic cabins, old firehouses, river lodges, and lake houses. We once stayed in an observatory in Osoyoos, British Columbia. It’s just like summer camp, except we can drink whiskey and smoke cigars at night. Oh, and we brush our teeth.
We work on our riding skills, both on the road and in the dirt on the Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR). We avoid the interstate as much as possible. We have pre-ride safety talks and nightly post-ride debriefings and observations. There’s usually a fire, but these past few years, it’s been too risky. For the most part, everyone is predictable as a rider. We’ve done track day togethers, Supermoto and California Superbike Schools. We’ve all agreed to ride as lifelong learners. Not everyone makes it every year, but we all try our best.
How It All Began
For me, these group rides began in 2010 with a phone call. A friend of a friend asked for a favor. I agreed and the conversation ended with an invitation. I’d ride and meet him in Utah. Then, we’d meet up with the group on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. My daily ride at the time was a vintage Moto Guzzi Le Mans III. Its seat was about as comfortable as a metal girder. One of the guys who couldn’t make the ride caught wind of this and had the good sense to forbid it. He loaned me his brand new Triumph Thunderbird 1700, complete with a GPS system. I left wearing jeans and work boots. Just in case, I packed my plastic rainsuit, circa 1992.