8 days, 5100km, Yellowstone National Park
To say that the ride was awesome would be a gross understatement!
There were 4 of us in the group, Lee, Michael, Ray and me (Hilton).
Our route took us through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Oregon.
Our longest day was 772km
We met at the truck crossing and rode up through the Cascades, ultimately ending the day in Spokane, Washington. We took a little rain through the Cascades but all in all, a great day was had by all, excellent quality roads and some really great twisties were thouroughly enjoyed. We rode 480 Miles (772 Km) on our first day.
Spokane, Washington to Hamilton, Montana via Lewiston Idaho.
I met the Old Spiral Highway and I highly recommend this piece of road to anyone who loves twisty roads. Perfect pavement, exceptionally banked corners and unbelievable view. From there, we crossed the famous Lolo Pass which boasts 99 miles of winding roads. We rode 376 miles (605 km) of some unbelievably scenic and technical roads.
Hamilton, Montana to Cooke City, Montana via Wisdom, Twin Bridges, Ennis and West Yellowstone. We took a wrong turn, completely my fault because I was paying more attention to the unbelievable mountain road than to the GPS. As it turned out, this took us down an extremely twisty and technical road that was one of the best pieces of riding of the day. Once back on track, I learned that the V-Strom kicks ass on the twisty stuff, but on the long straight stuff loaded with bags, it tops out at about 180km/h. This was a really long day of many, many straight roads as we hauled ass to get to Yellowstone. The highlights were Hebgen Lake rd and the roads inside the park. We left the park after dark and spent the night in Cooke City where I had the finest steak I have ever eaten. It was a fillet so tender that it literally melted in my mouth. We rode 406 miles (654 km).
Cooke City, Montana to Teton Village, Wyoming Via Cody Wyoming with a detour up Beartooth Pass and then over the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.
Beartooth Pass is spectacular. It winds up the mountains to an extreme elevation, through some unbelievable hairpins, switchbacks, extreme back-to-back 25 MPH 180’s and roadworks… Highly recommended and one heck of a lot of road, so I thought, until we hit Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. This was my favourite piece of road on the trip, largely due to the unbelievable twistiness of the road. I got off at the top and was dancing around like a crazy person from how much fun I had. The rest of the day was spent running over a lot of incredible pieces of road, back through Yellowstone Park and down to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We rode 337 miles (542 Km)
Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Boise, Idaho via Swan Valley, Idaho, Atomic City, Idaho and Stanley, Idaho.
This was probably the most grueling and least pleasant day. Mostly because we had to cross a lot of country in a dead straight line in temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius. Atomic City sounded pretty cool, the place where the first Nuclear power station was built. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a ghost town and really not worth the trip. Things improved when we got to Craters of the Moon National park. It was really interesting to see the volcanic craters and get a perspective on the power of a volcanic eruption. After the park, we started climbing again and spent the second half of the day travelling through some pretty decent twisties up through Sawtooth National Forest and down through Boise National Forest to get to Boise. We travelled 462 Miles (744 Km).
Boise, Idaho to Clarkston, Washington via Weiser, Idaho, Oxbow, Oregon, Baker City, Oregon and Enterprise, Oregon.
This was one of my favourite days on the trip. The section of road from Weiser to Oxbow travelled along the Oxbow Reservoir which was back to back 25Mph hairpins. No sooner was I exiting a corner when I was immediately sliding across the seat into the apex of the next hairpin. The road is solid rock on one side and a pretty significant drop on the other. This piece of road is a definite must-do. We detoured off the original route at Oxbow and made a straight shot for Baker City because one of the bikes had used up a whole rear tire getting this far. I guess the combination of the hot weather and the soft compound just wore it out really quickly. Baker City was our closest point with a sportbike dealership, so off we went. There were a few sections of great fun on this leg and overall, it was a pretty fun piece to ride. I decided to add a throttle lock to my bike in Baker City while we were waiting for the tire replacement. Unfortunately, I lost the bar-end nut down the handlebar and for the life of me, couldn’t get it out. To make matters worse, a storm was coming in fast and we would have to run from it or get soaked. The guys at the Sportbike store were great, digging out a 6mm nut in an Imperial shop is a lot harder than you would think. We finally found a replacement nut and I took off after the rest of the guys at my best speed. Let’s just say that I was having no fun at all being hit with dime sized raindrops at 180km/h on the freeway, and thankfully it only lasted about 10 minutes before I outran it. By Elgin I was back with the group and had completely forgotten about the rain because we had hit what turned out to be one of the finest pieces of road on the trip all the way into Clarkston. For me, the 20 miles of tight corners and switchbacks was the most fun I’ve had on a motorcycle. I highly recommend this as a part of any trip and definitely plan on doing that piece again. We rode 405 miles (653 Km) and it was a really technical day. The swim in the hotel pool, cold beer and excellent Italian food for dinner were well earned.
Clarkston, Washington to Leavenworth, Washington via Dayton, Touchet and Yakima. We started the day with a quick run over the river and back through Lewiston to give the Old Spiral Highway another go. This road is just too much fun to do only once. The best riding of the day was from Yakima to Leavenworth. Just a great piece of road and a really nice way to finish a shorter day. The original plan was to be in Vancouver by that evening, but over dinner we all decided to go a little slower and spend Friday night in Leavenworth. I’m so glad we did because Leavenworth is a really fun little town. The Bavarian theme was complemented by eating dinner in a Bavarian restaurant named King Ludwigs while listening to an Oompa band and watching folks do the Polka and generally act silly while having fun. We rode 328 Miles (529 Km).
And home we came. Leavenworth, Washington to Vancouver, BC via Winthrop. We started the day with a bit of fun on Rollercoaster Road just outside Leavenworth. A short stretch of road with a fun name. Straight on to Winthrop, through the Cascades and back home. We hit rain on the Cascades and got soaked all the way home. I’m no big fan of riding in the rain so I was totally miserable by the time I got home, where the weather promptly proceeded to stop raining. We rode 294 Miles (474 Km) and it was good to be home. The trip was exactly the right length for me and I could easily do the whole thing again.
Elevation did an absolutely awesome job of planning this trip, herding cats and otherwise being our fearless leader. Sincerest thanks for putting this together!!
Michael and Ray, thanks for being such excellent riding companions, friends and all round fun people to be with.
Here’s a link to Lee’s ride report which has a lot of pictures, for those of you that are interested. Between the four of us we took over 1,600 pictures and I’ll post a few soon.