The Route: The Route It's not exact, but close enough.
Two long days in the saddle. I met a rider at 6am Tim Hortons north of Sumas. The border wait was seconds and Sumas offered our first fuel stop. The night prior I had a surprise birthday party making the trip ahead seem long. Why is it so hard to get sleep before a long trip.
With our GPS synced to a general route we decide to ride the 9 down, take I-5 through Seattle/Tacoma and ride service road 25 clockwise around St. Helens to stay at Longview. It sounds easy when you say it fast.
Highway 9 was closed part-way down so we took a bypass along South Pass Road to Highway 542 with a bypass along Mosquito lake road. Once on Hwy 9 we continued to Arlington where it started to rain. We switched to I-5 and continued south until the rain stopped before Puyallup. We rode through Mt Ranier featuring spectacular views and a smooth road. There's an interesting town before Morton featuring several old trains converted to attract tourists.
Lunch in Morton gave an opportunity to talk to the locals about the passes giving a warning they're likely closed but we tried anyway. Service road 25 is extremely technical with steep elevation changes, broken pavement and dips capable of launching you from the seat while tossing a variety of turns your way. We made it part-way down until reaching a gate closing service road 99 and 25 near St. Helens. As an alternative we rode back past Morton to try the other side of St. Helens.
The switch from twisty to highway coupled with rising afternoon temperatures and lower elevation offered a boring stretch of road until we reached hwy 504 to St. Helens. The road to St. Helens is well engineered with consistent sweepers, massive bridges, smooth pavement and and undisturbed views of nature that changes from old to new growth to barren ash as we reached the eruption site. The final lookout still has walls of snow lining the walkway that tells the story of the eruption.
We rode back near highway 5 and took back-roads to our stop for the night in Longview, WA after 14-15 hours riding.
An early night turned into an early morning as we rode over a long bridge connecting Longview, WA. to Ranier, OR. to continue an hour down the road to preview Northwest Motorcycle School. The students were on day 3 of 4 and were doing fantastic. The course is setup to police-spec dimensions and everyone was making it through one way or another. Along with tight turns students were accelerating hard, braking hard and avoiding each other, instructors and hard obstacles. As they say if you search for the limits of a bike you're going to find them especially with the barriers imposed offering locked brakes, bouncing revs and cones chaos.
Steve from Roadcraft arrived after a couple hours immediately participating, demonstrating and helping the students. During a break I asked to try the course on my bike. The Instructor chuckled and questioned/confirmed... "on your bike"? "You will fall over!" Well, I had an audience, someone taking pictures and a desire to perform. I wouldn't suggest anyone jump into an array of this school's exercises late in the course. Everything was going along alright and I made it through everything without hitting a cone but sure enough a slight hesitation put me on my side. How embarassing.
At lunch-time we wished everyone well and started our ride north. After an hour on the I-5 traffic increased so we took a bypass from Centralia along old Hwy 99. At the end we took hwy 101 along the water to Port Townsend. We waited 30-45 minutes until setting sail; not bad considering a car wouldn't have made it on that sailing. Once we landed we took our last detour up Chuckanut drive to split ways, cross our respective borders and arrive home 14-15 hours after we started.
It would be nice to break up this wall of text with pictures but we didn't really stop anywhere except for gas. Fantastic weekend.