My First Motorcycle

My First Motorcycle

Set the wayback machine to the summer of 1962. A friend of my older brother’s gave me a ride on his Yamaha 250 YDS 2. He was careful to explain what we were going to do, how I was to deal with it, and how a motorcycle handled. He rode with skill, and at a controlled but exhilarating pace. When I got off the rear seat I had as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had. It was obvious to me that I was meant to ride motorcycles.

A lack of funds and strong parental dissent (as in a loud “no” every time I broached the topic) left me to reading everything I could find about motorcycles.  By 1967 I’d desperately wanted to own and ride a motorcycle, every day, for 5 years. 

This was not entirely bad, as I was slightly more mature by the age of 20, and my reading had given me a lot of information about motorcycles.

Except how to ride one.

Things changed that spring. My mother was diagnosed with the terminal cancer that would lead to her death in September. My parents carefully planned world was shattered.  Everything they thought they knew, and everything they’d based their life around was thrown into a cruel dumpster. 

One day, when I inquired about getting a motorcycle, again, their attitude had become “Why not?”

I paid $400 for a slightly used  (400 miles) 1965 Yamaha 250cc YDS 3 motorcycle, resplendent (to me) in glistening blue and white.  The ride home was perilous, as the owner merely gave me the keys and wished me well. He was selling the bike because a car had turned left in front of him with no warning. This scared him so badly he did not want to ride any more.

With utterly no training other than what I had read about plus the knowledge of how to drive a stick shift car, I lurched into traffic, killing the engine at every stop light. My Dad was laughing at me in the rear view mirrors. He was a little desperate for humor at that time.  And, there was little traffic.

I was soon riding it virtually every day, including weekly visits to a girlfriend doing nursing training in a town 45 miles away. In Minneapolis, this meant that by mid-November I was learning a lot about hypothermia by direct experience on these jaunts.

By spring my father had dealt with my mother’s death by abruptly selling the family home and moving to Seattle, giving in to the plaints from Boeing people who’d been trying to hire him for years. He left behind a very nice 1963 Mercury for my use. I had gone from no college transportation to a motorcycle and a car in one year.  On a visit to him I mentioned that I would like to ride from Minneapolis to see him that summer.

To my utter astonishment he thought this was a good idea.

On to the planning.  Virtually nobody took cross country rides on small bikes in those days.  Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written one year later and based on a trip where he used exactly the same route I did from Minneapolis to Seattle, including stops at identical campgrounds. Reading the first half of his book was a weird experience. Second half as well, for different reasons.

With the confidence of having no idea of what you are doing I ordered a fairing from some guy named Craig Vetter, based on a small ad in the back of a “Cycle World” magazine. Those first fairings were not the large touring models that made him famous and rich, but essentially road race fairings with taller windshields. The fairing would not fit with the front fender installed, so off it came.  A 250cc two stroke with a racing fairing and no front fender – a perfect touring bike!  A rear chrome luggage rack from Webco completed my preparations.

I added big blue Yamaha crossed tuning forks decals to the sides of the white fairings. Not many folks knew that Yamaha got its start as a musical instruments company, and crossed tuning forks was their logo. In fact, most did not know what a tuning fork was. Nothing much has changed there, but at the time I felt a little smug in my nerdiness.

I knew what a tuning fork was because my older brothers, both musicians, had borrowed one from the high school band director to tune the two loud horns in our 1949 Buick to create the most discordant two note blast achievable.

The fairing arrived the same day I purchased an engagement ring. The fairing cost $140 and the ring $143, the most money I had ever spent in one day on anything other than the bike.  The wedding engagement lasted two weeks, so the Vetter fairing was the wiser purchase.

A guy living across the alley with a 305cc Honda Superhawk had virtually the same trip idea I did, so he would join me.

The trip was the most amazing experience of my life. We camped, we rode, and we had adventures. We separated in Idaho as Jim was off to Grass Valley to see his own parents.  Shortly after that my luggage rack fractured, and was repaired by a welder at a feed store in small town, He left the rack on the bike and held a piece of cardboard between the rack and the seat. He would remove the cardboard just before it burst into flame as he welded, while I looked on in horror. With the rack welded and no damage to the seat, I was on my way. I think I argued him up to be allowed to pay him $1.00.

Jim rejoined me in Seattle a week later, and we rode back to Minneapolis. Nothing went wrong with either bike the entire trip. That was fortunate, as we carried no tire repair kits or tools or pretty much anything else I would have to have with me today.

The following spring I packed up my new college degree and all of my possessions in a twin axle Hertz trailer and hauled everything to Kirkland to begin my teaching career.

The 2nd day here I removed the fairing and did a deep cleaning and wax job. I also took off the cylinder heads to “de-coke” them and plied a torch on the baffles to burn off the two stroke oil.  With the bike running perfectly, I took off for a test ride wearing penny loafers, shorts, a shirt, and my helmet and gloves.   I had such a great time on a winding back road behind Newport that I turned around to ride it again.

I arced into a 25 mph corner at about 60. The left peg began to drag, but I did that all the time, so that was not a concern. It began to fold up, and I had done that a couple of times. Then the peg mount dug into the asphalt and began to jack the rear wheel off the ground.

Hadn’t done that before.

I attempted to put my foot down and “dirt track” around the corner, which probably would not have worked, but at that point I ran out of pavement and the bike and I flew into a ditch.  I ended up sitting in the ditch facing back in the direction from which I had come, the smoking remains of my best friend next to me. A two inch sapling at been cut off with the sharp trunk jutting out of the ground – three inches away from my neck. Wisps of dust circled around me mixed with the odors or hot dried grass and two stroke oil.  A ten year old kid ran up and said, “That was cool. Can you do it again?”

From all of my reading, I knew what to do.  I began to feel for broken bones, starting at my feet. Then the legs, my ribs, and up to my arms. Just as I was starting to think I had gotten away with it my fingers found the huge lump in my right shoulder. 

The kid led me to his mother’s house and she, a nurse, immediately called Overlake Hospital and the best surgeon she knew.

He came in to the emergency room and rotated my arm in a full circle. Ouch. Then he did it again.  Bigger ouch.  He then delivered the news: a separation and a needed operation.  I uttered a four letter one word response that starts with “s” and the nurses were deeply offended by my language. One of them proceeded to prepare my shoulder for surgery with a metal bristle brush, scrubbing out the gravel and leaving a patch that looked like raw hamburger caressed with a fork. 

The operation led to eight weeks in a sling, destroying any chance at a summer job and doing away with my plan to spend ½ of my year’s salary on a new Z 28 Camaro.  I still want one, but now it would be a retro-mod and would cost $120,000 rather than $3,500. I also spend a lot of time staring into space pondering my own idiocy.  The bike had survived, except for broken front forks, and I sold it to a guy for $100. 

I don’t know what happened to the fairing, which I’d left off for the test ride, and that is a pity, as it would be worth a fair amount today.

That was my first ride, and my last crash.

 Yamaha YDS 3 of 1965




Copyright 2015                David Preston

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Measles, Lane-Splitting, and the Media of Hysteria

Measles and Lane Splitting – Hysteria vs. Logic

Two topics in the news are of interest, not so much for their content but for the manner of coverage.  As ever, the media prefer to focus on hysteria rather than logic and facts.

 Lane-splitting, which allows motorcycles to ride between lanes of cars in high density traffic, has been introduced in the Washington legislature, again. Lane splitting has been legal in California, or to be more specific not illegal, for over a decade.

Measles was eradicated in this country in 2000, but now is back, thanks to a weird movement among some groups to opt out of having their children vaccinated. The result is a growing number of cases of a disease which can be fatal. A disease that disappeared from our shores fifteen years ago.

You will note on Facebook and other media a number of polls by TV and radio stations and others seeking your response to the lane-splitting concept. Most of them are phrased to lean you toward a negative response, as in “Should this controversial concept be made law?” 

Lane-splitting is not controversial at all to the people who use it and those in charge of enforcement, as in motorcyclists in California and the California Highway Patrol.  Until recently, the CHiP had a website page recommending the practice and offering guidelines for use. That has now been taken down due to public pressure brought by non-motorcyclists who find the practice irritating or frightening, and besides, “It looks dangerous.”   

Analysis by the CHiP in the early years showed a decrease in motorcycle involved accidents and fatalities once lane-splitting was allowed, but nobody in the media wants to focus on that.

 Here is what happens. There is a traffic jam. Motorcycles are sitting for long minutes, and are hard to see by a car driver who is also texting or talking on his or her phone. The driver sees what appears to be an opening ahead and dives into it, not noticing there is a motorcycle there until it is too late. Lane splitting replaces that with a practice that appears to be more dangerous with a system that actually reduces accidents.

And what about the rain we have here?  First of all, being allowed to lane split does not mean you have to. Secondly, you will notice the number of motorcycles on the road declines precipitously (note the pun!) when it rains. 

In 13 years of leading motorcyclists aboard all brands on group rides I reached strong conclusions about who rides in the rain.  I have no data, but I can tell you that the motorcycles you are most likely to see in the rain are Harleys, Triumphs, and BMWs. I had some group rides at Cycle Barn where everyone who showed up was on a Triumph.  Over time, BMWs tended to dominate at Ride West, which makes sense, as that was the brand sold by the dealership.  HOG chapter rides take place rain or shine.  Cycle Barn sold most brands of new bikes, and almost 50% of a BMW dealership’s sales are used bikes, so there was a broad spectrum of choices.

In short (too late?) the people who ride in the rain are, almost without exception, men and women with a lot of experience on high demographic bikes with all of the latest in gear.  Those are the people who would be riding in the rain. Of that small percentage an even smaller percentage would choose to lane split.

The problem is that almost all of the “discussion” of this topic is being conducted by people who do not ride, and that includes most legislators.  Most people look at riding a motorcycle as incredibly dangerous, where many motorcyclists know it is an activity that entails risk, which is far different. Risk can be reduced by training, equipment, experience, and focus. People in cars see motorcycles moving between lanes and have no concept of the greatly improved visibility, maneuverability, and acceleration and braking capabilities found on a motorcycle. And they are not interested in that. It looks dangerous, therefore it is, and must not be allowed.  Then there is the historic aspect of people resenting someone else who appears to be having fun.

The debate in government circles will be lopsided. Motorcyclists are only about 3% of the motorized population, and their numbers will be swamped by those in opposition who are made uncomfortable by the concept.  Media will show videos of lane splitting to show how dangerous it is, to the mind of a non-motorcyclist. There are also horror stories of motorcyclists lane-splitting in the wrong place at far too high a speed.  The overall reduction in accident rates will be mentioned rarely, if at all. Tough sell.

The measles scare is even more out there.  It is not that the measles vaccination is experimental or controversial.  It has been used for almost half a century and has saved millions of lives. There is simply no question of its efficacy. That is not true for all vaccinations, perhaps, but certainly for the measles vaccination.  In other areas of the word, 400 children die every year from measles. Parents walk many miles and stand in long lines to have their children vaccinated.  Close to the horror, they understand. They get it. Americans, in our relative wealth and arrogance, have chosen to forget.

Now we see politicians such as Chris Christie and Rand Paul twisting this into some sort of parent’s right to resist government intrusion.  In the case of Rand Paul, if he were not a nationally recognized politician his words would be dismissed out of hand as those of a kook, which he surely is. But he is spectacular, so he continues to receive wide dissemination of utter inanities.

Simply requiring vaccinations as a matter of law is probably not a good idea.  One of the prices of living in a free country is that people have to be allowed to be ignorant, and to make stupid choices. Mandating vaccinations would simply foment underground resistance.  “I’ll show them,” will cry the ignorant, and then defend their parental rights while children die.

As with cigarettes, the answer lies in education.  It was never made illegal to smoke, but learning came from massive educational campaigns in the media and on cigarette packs paid for by the manufacturers as a way out of massive civil law suits. We have come, in just a few years, to where the sight of a person smoking a cigarette, in many areas, is almost shocking in its rarity.

In the fullness of time, measles will once again be eliminated. As traffic grows more congested, lane-splitting will be allowed, eventually, as it saves time and effort for both motorcyclists and drivers of cars. And saves lives, as does vaccinating for measles.

The question is, as we are spoon fed the lurid and spectacular by a media that panders to the lowest common denominator, how many people will die while we wait?


Copyright 2015                      David Preston

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The Stupidity of Comcast


The Stupidity that is Comcast

It is no news that Comcast is one of the great evil empires of our time.  Fabled for poor customer service, poor communications, and excessive cost, it awaits the rise of a better, cheaper, and more customer-service directed competitor.  Long overdue.

Why am I still a customer? Because I have not (yet) found a more compatible provider that can bring me both local channels and the smaller cable outlets that offer programming of sports car and motorcycle programs and racing. 

Today Comcast have exceeded their own customer service ineptitude and launched into a state of sheer lunacy.

My mother in law is 88 years old. She has raised six children, five still alive, five sons and daughters in law, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild.  I am the closest to her by distance, little more than a mile, and so it falls to me to come to her assistance when small problems arise.  I do not mind at all, as I could do her a small favor every day of the year and not come close to repaying the many kindnesses she has shown me.

Recently she’s been receiving an onslaught of letters and robo-calls urging her to upgrade her equipment. She does not want or need to upgrade, and the calls make her nervous, abashed, and distressed.

Today I rode to her house to call Comcast and attempt to call off their marketing dogs.  I was surprised that I was speaking to an actual human in only about three minutes. It was all downhill from there.

I wanted to get the letters and calls to stop, but first there was a much bigger problem. The account is still in the name of her husband, who passed away 5 years ago. Being a good customer, she called a year or two back to change the name on the account, and was told the only way to do that was to drive to her “local” Comcast office and make the change. That never happened.  I was told today that no changes could be made, even as minor as stopping the dunning of her with these calls and letters, without changing the name on the account.  Without that, they would continue to send communications to a man dead all these years.

To make the change, she would need to come to them with a copy of his death certificate.  I replied that this was ridiculous, and the nice man offered to give me a FAX number she could use for that.  I asked what were the odds that an 88 year old woman would have access to a FAX machine.

In looking at her bill, I see that she is paying for phone, cable TV, and Internet services. The Internet charge is $50 a month, for a computer that has not been touched in 5 years.

Why would she not just cancel all the accounts? Because she is 88, and change is daunting. She is not all that concerned about the money – she just wants to be able to watch her TV and have a phone.

In short, Comcast has had no problem with sending bills to a dead man for 5 years. As long as the checks come, there is no problem. They are not concerned with billing her for $3,000 of Internet access she has never used.  But to offer her aid, or support, or anything at all – that is out of the question.

Next week we will drive to their office, with the death certificate, (assuming she can find it) and attempt to halt the letters and phone calls. I will also see if we can drop the Internet connection and retain the phone and TV.  That may be impossible.

I hate Comcast.

Addendum – took my 88 year old mother in law in to Comcast today to change the name on her account, armed with the death certificate for her husband, as demanded my Comcast.  That took about 45 minutes, as we were handed off to a trainee who was learning how to use the system.  At the end, the experienced guy gave me a receipt and wrote a phone number on it. All we had to do, he said, was go home and call this “direct line” and we could activate her computer, phone, and both TVs again.  Good news, her bill is going down by $25 a month, although the reason for this was not explained. Bad news – I believed him about the direct line part.

Back at her house I spend an hour trying the “direct line,” which actually sent you into one of their myriad phone menus, none of which sent you to “activate.”  On two occasions I reached a real human who went to work on the problem. The first one was cut off and the phone went dead. The second was cut off by a 3rd real person, who went to work on the problem until the phone went dead. On four other occasions I worked through several menus until a computer voice told me I would be transferred, … and then I was cut off.

After an hour and a dozen calls, I gave up on the “direct” phone line and called 1-800-Comcast, and eventually found a guy who could fix the problem.  Can you imagine how stressful this is for someone who is 88 years old?

Total time elapsed – almost 3 hours.

 At some point poor customer service lapses into parody.

I still hate Comcast.

Copyright 2015            David Preston

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Guns for Gun Enthusiasts

Preston Enterprises

High Performance Writing

TO:                  Gun Enthusiasts

FROM:            David Preston

RE:                  Dealing with Proposed Gun Control Legislation

Executive Summary:

Presented here is a pro bono analysis of the negative attention directed at gun enthusiasts from governmental, social media, and other anti-gun groups that presents workable solutions.

The problem is determined to be not a legislative or social issue but an image and marketing issue.

My Background:

I am not a gun enthusiast, but as a motorcyclist I can understand the appeal. The technology, the art, the thrill of operating high performance equipment, the need for training and care in use – all of that resonates with me.  My parents were NRA members, and in the early days of their marriage, competitive shooters. As a child I gawked at the jackets that hung in the closet, festooned with pads and sewn on badges from various local and state contests they had entered.  I read the NRA magazine each month.

My first experience with a real gun was hilarious in hindsight. A girl friend in college lived in a small town, and when I visited for a Sunday afternoon meal I was invited out to the back yard for some target shooting. I was given an enormous hand gun that seemed to weigh about ten pounds and directed toward a target nailed to a tree 50 yards away. I could barely hold the gun straight and worried that I would miss not just the target but the entire tree. Instead, I hit the bulls-eye; evidently rarely done.  Pure random chance and chaos theory. The girl’s father took an instant disliking to me that was intense.

The Situation:

All over this country there are calls for restrictions on the ownership and usage of guns of all kinds. These range from proposed legislative action to social media campaigns and media blitzes whenever someone uses a gun inappropriately. The position of the NRA has been that no changes of any kind are acceptable, and that anyone who wishes to own a gun should be able to do so. The 2nd Amendment to the US constitution is usually cited as the rationale for this position.

The Problem:

The problem gun that enthusiasts face is not at all what it appears. The problem is not with legislation, social media, or protests by non-gun enthusiasts. The problem lies with image and marketing.

Marketing Background:

I worked in the motorsports industry for 14 years in a position of “soft” marketing that entailed newsletters, e-mails, customer support, and customer and dealership events.

 More importantly, I attempted to teach writing to teens for over 30 years, and that is where most of my expertise in marketing was gained.

When you attempt to teach English, you’re trying to sell a product to a demographic that does not want it.  You deal with that by offering it for free. Even at that, the product is hard to use, and requires a lot of study and practice. Assigned practice tasks are not easy, and most of the feedback you receive for your efforts will be perceived as negative, even if the intent is helpful. You will not be skilled in the use of the product for many years, and will in all likelihood never reach a position of professional status. The odds are that you will not enjoy using the product – ever.  This is ironic because the ability to use the English language will affect your life positively several times a day. In your teen years this is often impossible to comprehend.

In both retail marketing and teaching the ultimate truth is that perception often trumps reality. All products are marketed to create a positive perception, and sold with the intent by the purchaser that the perception will become reality. This is why middle-aged men purchase red convertibles, with the perception that this purchase will rekindle their youth and power. The reality of life rarely intrudes on the purchase decision, and this can be applied to almost any product area you wish. When I get all togged up in my motorcycle gear and go out for a ride, my perception is that I look cool. There is no evidence to corroborate this, and I yet hold on to the perception because it is more comfortable than reality.

Gun enthusiasts need to understand the role of perception and how it differs from reality to move their sport forward.  In fact, they need to understand this to help gun enthusiasm survive.  Perception is important both as applied to gun enthusiasts and to those in opposition.

The gun enthusiast perception is that the problem lies with those opposed to gun ownership and use. The reality is that the problem is being created, and perpetuated, by… gun enthusiasts.

Here are some of the perceptions of those opposed. Most of these are not true, at least not in their entirety. Others are open to interpretation. None of this makes any difference at all, because the perceptions of society are what drive change.

Murders are out of control.   In fact, the rate of murders committed in this country has been declining for years.  Many of them are committed without the use of a gun.  Neither of these facts makes the slightest difference.

 Gun enthusiasts are careless. In our area, a gun owner strolling with his pistol in a Costco store (a danger zone?) took it out of the holster and dropped it on the floor. What is the perception of others in the store that day?  How will they react from now on to the phrase “careful and reasonable gun owner”?

A recent report by the TSA pointed out that 2200 guns are confiscated at airport terminals by passengers checking in every year.  83% of them are loaded.  The usual response is that the gun owner “forgot.”   To the public, any gun owner who is capable of forgetting that he or she has packed a gun before a flight, loaded or not, is a person who should not own a gun.  If this many people forget they have a gun, how many also forget to leave the safety on, or make sure the gun is not operable? How many of them forget to clean and otherwise maintain their weapon?  The gun enthusiast response to this is that most gun owners are careful.  The public doesn’t care, as 6 guns a day confiscated, every day of the year, offers a powerful rebuttal.

To conclude, the line that most gun owners are careful and responsible, which is certainly true, should be dropped and never used again

School massacres committed with guns happen far too often.  Easily defended, as even one is far too many.  The perception is that there have been hundreds of them since Columbine. Makes no difference if that is correct or not, or even what the actual number is.

School massacres are not new. In the early years of the last century a school principal in Maine was upset because the teacher he was having an affair with was breaking up with him. He loaded the basement of the school with dynamite, chained the doors shut, and then watched as he blew up and burned to death virtually the entire population of children in the town, as well as the teacher.  Due to the relative lack of media presence over a century ago, most people never heard of this atrocity.

 These days every incident is reported in excessive death by a media that lives on the expression “if it bleeds, it leads.” Railing against this is useless, as that is the reality.

It is also counter-productive to stick to the party line that each school massacre is an “isolated” event. There have simply been too many of them in the last decade for that description to have any credibility.

There are too many guns. The actor Liam Neeson made the news recently decrying the “fact” that there are over 300 million guns in America. There is no possible way to estimate the number of guns in this country, no matter what sort of statistical analysis you use.

This makes no difference.  300 million is as good a number as any. Could be more, could be less.

To the non-enthusiast public, that means that you could destroy one million guns a year and not run out for 300 years, even if no more guns were produced.  Whether or not there are “too many” guns is a matter of perception, but that we will never be without them is a fact.

The NRA is corrupt. The perception is that the Board of Directors of the NRA is dominated by powerful executives who are employed in the arms industry.  This is a clear conflict of interest, as your goal in such a career is to maintain and increase sales of guns.  Whether or not the NRA is in fact dominated by such people is moot, because that is the perception.

The NRA owns many members of congress.  Whether or not this is true, it is now being used by opponents who are willing to take on the NRA and its political muscle at the ballot box. A candidate can now receive funding from multiple sources based on a pledge to oppose the NRA. The NRA is now transitioning from a political influence to a political issue, and that is extremely dangerous.

Guns are too easy to get ahold of.  You cannot legally go out and purchase and airplane and fly it without proof of successful completion of a course of instruction.  It is difficult these days to do the same thing with a motorcycle. Or a car. The difference is that while an airplane, motorcycle, or car can injure and kill others if used inappropriately, none of them is designed to do so.  You can argue that not all guns are designed to kill, but that would be an exercise is nit-picking and a waste of time.  And yet there are very few constraints on gun ownership, and any that are proposed are denigrated viciously by gun enthusiasts.  Why?

I confess I’m stumped on this one. I’ve heard the argument that requiring education, licensing, and registration of gun owners is an intrusion on freedom, but can this be taken seriously?  In a society where most money changes hands electronically,  and most communication happens by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other mass social communication device was invented this week, the concept of “freedom” is becoming quaint. There pretty much is no thing. Unless, of course, you choose to live totally off the grid, and if you do that you are no longer participating in the cultural debate, and thus, your “side” will lose, whether you are there to see it or not.

The phrase used so often is “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” For those opposed to guns, this is easily turned around to be a good idea.  Why not ban all guns so that all who own them are criminals?   Not feasible, surely, and yet history shows that in a democratic society where people elect representatives to enact laws in their interest, literally anything is possible.

Early attempts to limit smoking were also mocked as impossible.  Initially, smokers stood up for their rights to smoke on planes.  A few flicks of ash later, someone smoking a cigarette, even in public and outdoors is becoming a rare sight.

And yet, there are still smokers who enjoy their cigarettes, or pipe in my case, and their ranks you will find the solution.

The Solution:

In order to win a war, you must be willing to lose a battle or two. To win the hearts and minds of the people, you must create the perception of being a reasonable group with ideas that support and bolster society.

To do this gun enthusiasts will need to embrace limited change. Through the creation of proposals for change comes control of those changes, or at least valuable influence.  By making small steps toward control, massive and destructive changes out of the control of gun enthusiasts can be avoided.

Let’s start with automatic weapons.  Just as nobody needs a motorcycle, nobody needs an automatic weapon. Not for home defense, and not for hunting. However, they have an attraction and I am told they are thrilling to use. Why not propose that automatic weapons can only be sold to licensed shooting ranges and the like, and only used on the premises? Not eliminate them, but ensure they are used in a controlled environment. A fallback position would allow private ownership, but only if the weapons are stored at a registered facility. There are electronic and other ways to ensure the weapon would be deactivated if carried away from the register facility. Gun enthusiasts should go beyond supporting this concept to be the ones proposing it.

Gun enthusiasts need to be in favor of mandatory education and registration of guns. As motorcyclists did decades ago, gun enthusiasts could be the ones who create the classes. In motorcycles, this was so successful that most states have now ceded both the education and testing of motorcyclists to private firms owned by motorcycle enthusiasts.

Gun enthusiasts need to be in agreement that school shootings are a problem.  They do not need to provide the solution, but admitting there is a problem would ramp up perception that gun enthusiasts are willing to confront reality.


The Result:

Over time these changes would result in fewer people with guns, and fewer gun enthusiasts. This would actually work for the better for gun enthusiasts.  I have seen this work with motorcycles. Back in the 1960s and 1970s motorcycles became very popular in this country, and for a while everyone who was anyone had to have one.

In retrospect, this was not good, as many of the people who got into it were ill-equipped in temperament or ability or intelligence to operate a motorcycle. In those days I had people refer to me as a “Hell’s Angel.” A principal of the school wanted me kicked out of the student teaching program because I rode a motorcycle. People often asked me about my “murdercycle.”   On one occasion a man tried to run me off the road as a “fun” way to impress his date. All of these incidents had nothing to do with the reality of me, and everything to do with the perceptions of motorcyclists at the time.

In short, an inclusive approach that places all gun owners in the same tent is a mistake that will, prove disastrous in the long run. By allowing and assisting in the efforts of social and government forces to weed out those who are never going to be able to come up to the standard of “reasonable and careful,”  gun enthusiasts will be able to preserve gun ownership and use for a smaller percentage of the population.  That population will disappear from an almost daily appearance in the mass media.

When was the last time you read a newspaper article or heard a politician railing at the dangers and destruction to our society wrought by motorcyclists?

Will this hurt the NRA, manufacturers, and gun shop owners?  In the short term, absolutely.  That happened in the motorcycle industry as well, but over time we have seen that dealerships that were not well run disappeared.  Manufacturers re-thought and re-tolled their offerings, and they are still here and still profitable.  Motorcyclists today are fewer in number, but better educated and better customers.  And to the perception of the public, no longer a threat. 

In fewer numbers lies the salvation of the gun owner, as opposed to a large and uncontrollable mob that, much like lemmings, will march off a legislative cliff they do not see coming.

I’m off to smoke my pipe or ride my motorcycle.


It’s all about the perception, boss.


Copyright 2015                                   David Preston






Posted in Education, Equipment, Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | Leave a comment

And now – the ride down Mt. Erie

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Riding Up Mt. Erie

Many people have never been to Mt. Erie. It is a scenic vista just south of Anacortes, and the road to it can be hard to find. Well worth it, however, if you like a challenge. The road to the top is very narrow, and open to traffic in both directions, although there is usually little.  Today, January 26th, 2015, was warm for the Seattle area, but the road was damp in most places and had lots of sand and gravel and mud here and there, and bumps, and occasional moss. It is a road to be ridden carefully.  Here is the video.  This is on the way up, and I will post the down video tomorrow

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The Top Ten Motorcycle Fallacies

10 motorcycle fallacies – in order

I haven’t irritated or offended people in quite some time.  I never write to offend on purpose (almost never), but sometimes it happens.  This may be one of those times. 

You have been warned.

Certain truths we hold to be self-evident, the “we” being motorcyclists. Trouble is, many are not self-evident, and probably not true. Doesn’t seem to stop people believing in them. Alas, believing in any of the fallacies below can cost you money, time, credibility, or much, much more. 

They’re listed in order from most dangerous to your health, wallet, sanity, or ego down to the least.

  1. Loud pipes save lives.

This one makes me froth at the mouth, which is not a pretty sight. “Safety” is the “reason” cited by many to mount exhaust systems that serve mainly to irritate the neighbors, anyone else not into motorcycles, and many people who are.

We do have to explain “loud.”  Many companies make accessory pipes which allow the engine to breathe a bit better, possibly increase power a tad, and do make more noise. If memory serves, they are legal (in this state) to be sold as accessories, but not as original equipment. My own Triumph Speed Triple has “off-road” pipes. I suspect they are merely the stock pipes with about 40% of the exhaust baffles removed.  Louder than stock by a bit, but unlikely to be considered objectionable. 

For decades Harley-Davidson made millions marketing “Screaming Eagle” pipes, which to me made the bikes sound about right.  They were so successful at this that a healthy percentage of Harleys had Screaming Eagle pipes installed at the dealership before the customer took delivery of his or her brand new motorcycle. Harley was selling two sets of pipes for one bike, and the profit margin on accessories was higher.  I asked once if there was not something we could do that would be better environmentally and economically than tossing dozens of brand new exhaust pipes in the dumpster. At that time, nobody had a better idea. Everyone who wanted a stock system had one, and there was no known use for brand new stock Harley pipes.

Harley-Davidson chose to stop manufacturing “Screaming Eagle” pipes a few years ago as part of their laudable effort to make motorcycle noise less objectionable. At the same time, the stock pipes seemed to get louder.  A cynic might wonder if they’d been designing stock pipes for decades that were intentionally “too” quiet, in order to spur sales of the Screaming Eagles.  

We can separate such pipes from the truly loud. For decades you could buy pipes that had no mufflers at all, gambling that police officers had better things to do that write a noise citation. If you did get a ticket, you could request a court date and then show up with the stock pipes back on, etc.  

There’s a brand called “D and D,” and I liked to refer to them as “Dumb and Dumbers.” Back then, many of them made a whole lot of noise while not improving performance at all.  

These days most manufacturers have computer design programs that make stock exhaust systems that are very hard to improve upon from a performance standpoint, and noise restrictions are ever more stringent.

None of which deters a whit people who believe that loud pipes save lives. After all, they’re not that interested in performance. They’re interested in noise.

Loud pipes don’t save lives because the noise is going out the rear of the bike, or perhaps the side, and the motorcycle is moving away from it. Almost all threats to the motorcycle are coming from the front. We could explain the Doppler Effect and how sound travels, but why bother? Those who cling to “loud pipes save lives” are similar to people who rely on Fox News. They will believe what they want to believe, and facts so often just get in the way.

  1. A motorcycle is cheaper than a car.

This concept has been iterated by generations of first time buyers as a “logical” argument for a motorcycle purchase, usually presented by the intended rider to the funding source for the motorcycle.

It is true – up to a point. The point where the motorcycle is purchased. 

Unlike a car, motorcycles do not have fenders, windshields, a roof, and other such accoutrements that offer protection from the elements. With a motorcycle, those go on the rider, so just as the bike is purchased comes the expense of gloves, helmet, boots, jacket, and more.

Unless you skip all that and plunge ahead, where the first small mishap will teach an enormous lesson in the cost of preparation vs. the cost of folly.  Presuming you survive to learn it.

Motorcycle tires have to do a lot more work than car tires with a lot less surface area available, and they are made in smaller numbers. The result is that they are both more expensive and do not last as long. At least there are only two of them!  Insurance is more expensive. And on and on.

A particular motorcycle MAY be less expensive than a car, but that motorcycle is probably not the one the earnest shopper wants to purchase.

  1. Listening to music improves the ride.

Not to go all legal on you, but in this state listening to music with two ear buds is illegal.  One ear bud, which hardly anyone uses, is legal, but still lethal. There are a few reasons for this.

There’s a tendency when listening to your favorite music to ride to the music rather than the road. The people who designed the road were not listening to the same song. I know a highly experienced rider who holed the transmission case of his BMW because “Highway to Hell” did not match the terrain.

It is my belief that riding a motorcycle requires all of my attention and (limited) skills, all the time.  There is nothing else that I do that requires 100% of my focus, both hands and feet, and most muscle groups.  Sex, maybe, but I’m unlikely to indulge in that for six or eight hours.

I once had a chat with a colleague who liked to listen to music. He at one time was a rising star in professional baseball, before an opponent delivered a cleat job to his knee that ended his career. He described to me how intense pro ball was, where every day every single thing was watched, and any error was disastrous to your ranking with the team. I asked him if he ever wore ear buds at bat, and of course he said no. Riding a motorcycle is far more important than hitting a ball, so why give away a percentage of concentration and hearing to the “opponent,” in this case people in cages?

  1. You’re more likely to crash in the rain

I don’t have any data on this, but I led people on group rides for thirteen years and never had a crash in the rain.  It seemed to me that people slowed down in the rain so much that they were actually safer.  On dry days there were some people who would blow by me and walk away, and I was fine with that. On wet days, the same people would rapidly disappear in my mirrors. I was slowing down in the wet, but nowhere near as much as most people. As long as the tires on your bike are good and you are careful of painted lines, etc.., you’ll be fine.

  1. Chaps offer protection

Chaps are an item of motorcycle gear probably mispronounced by 98% of the people who wear them.  They were originally designed as leather covers for the legs to protect cowboys riding through areas of chaparral bush, covered with hard and spiny bark that could tear denim pants.  The brush was pronounced with a soft “c”, as in shaparral, shortened to “shaps.”  They have now been appropriated by motorcyclists who pronounce them as “chaps” to such a degree that either pronunciation is acceptable.  You can bring this up the next time you’re on a ride with friends who ride cruisers, the most common demographic for chaps. This will ensure that nobody speaks to you for the rest of the day.

Chaps do provide additional warmth and protection from stones and that sort of thing, and rain.  Except that, because they are worn over pants and have no coverage in the crotch area, they are woeful in the rain in an area that you most want to keep warm and dry. I am also concerned with the integrity of the belt-like attachment system in a crash, although I’ve never seen any data on this. The saving grace is that most cruiser riders do not ride in the rain and rarely crash, so perhaps it’s a wash.

The real function of chaps is that they make almost anyone, male or female, more attractive to others. I purchased a set for my wife at one time because she enjoyed riding on the back of any Harley I was riding in a charity event.  As a side note, Susan liked charity event rides because she felt safest, despite my assertions that they were the most dangerous type of riding I did. Cruising along with dozens or hundreds of others you do not know, all on heavy machines that neither turn nor stop all that well. Some of the entrants are sitting on machines that are moving, rather than riding them.  High alert riding for me, while she leaned against the back rest and enjoyed.

In any case, when Susan put on her new chaps, she remarked “Wow – these really accentuate your butt!” 

I replied, “What would be your point?”

Becoming?  Yes.  Safety enhancing?  Not much.

  1. Tennis shoes give you a friendlier look

This one goes all the way back to the introduction of the Honda Gold Wing. Early adopters wanted to separate themselves from the image of (then) Harley riders, so they all (and I do mean almost all) mounted a stuffed animal on the luggage rack so all would know they were friendly. They also took to wearing tennis shoes to get away from the stomping engineer boots worn at the time by Harley enthusiast. Tennis shoes worn on a motorcycle that weighs over a thousand pounds with rider and passenger is not friendly. It is stupid.

  1.     Motorcycles help you attract women (or men)

I had a female friend who got into motorcycles as her next adventure. She bought a Harley, and was delighted to find that anywhere she went she was welcomed into any group of Harley riders.  She thought motorcycles helped her to meet interesting men.  I’ll admit the Harley helped, but the real reason was that she was attractive.  After two years of this, she switched to golf.

Motorcycles can help you attract others, but only others who are motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are a very small demographic. The vast majority of folks do not get motorcycles, do not like them, or actively fear them. You’d be better off with a new hat.

  1. Chicken strip width is an indication of rider skill

“Chicken strips” is a phrase that refers to the portion of the tire treads that show no wear.  Because motorcycles lean over in turns, the treads, unlike on a car, wrap around the tire and extend up the sides.  At the extreme, race bikes or track day bikes ridden by the adept will show wear all the way to the edge of the tread and at times small shreds of torn rubber. This is at the track. 

On the street,  no chicken strips or very narrow ones simply indicate a rider who is riding over his or her head, and a crash is imminent. You cannot corner that aggressively in a world with stray dogs and people backing into the road just past the apex of the corner. At least not for long.

Some posers have been known to take a file to the edges of the tires to make them look more used, which is just silly. 

I’ve had many people make sarcastic comments on the width of the strips on my tires (one to two inches), which they felt belied what they assumed was my “expert” status. My reply is that they are exactly the right width. For me.

  1. You know how to ride

If you’ve been riding for a number of years, you’re probably pretty confident that you know what you’re doing. You are correct, up to a point.

That point is where you take an advanced riding class or attend a cornering clinic. I started doing this when I’d been riding for 40 years. I attended several classes with customers as part of my job entailing customer support.

I presumed, in my folly, that such a class would review many things I’d known for years.  But no! Each time I took such a class, and even when repeating a class, I learned something new. Brand new. As in a concept or technique I’d never considered before and now use every day. 

I am not referring to a class for racers. These were all classes held for street riders on street bikes, and in one case, on the street. You may know how to ride, but you never know everything. If you have not taken such a class in the past two years, you need one.

  1. You have to have a “touring” bike to tour.

My favorite for last.  Over the years I had literally hundreds of conversations with customers who dreamed of the “big trip,” a concept whose definition varies from a three day ride to one lasting several years. It seems everyone wants to do this, but many are thwarted because they do not own a “touring bike.”

In the beginning, so sayeth the elder, there were no touring motorcycles. There were motorcycles. If you wanted to go on a long ride, you did.  My first such ride took place in 1968, a 4,000 mile trip from Minneapolis to Seattle and back.  My “touring bike” was a 250cc two stroke Yamaha YDS 3.  My buddy rode his Honda 305.  And.. we were camping. We had a fabulous time I can still recall with detail after almost half a century.  Three years later I rode a Honda 450cc street scrambler from Seattle to Florida.  Last summer I repeated the Seattle to Minneapolis and return trip in the opposite direction on my Triumph Speed triple. And so on.

If you own a motorcycle, you can tour on it.  You may need to pack less than on a true touring bike, and you may ride more slowly, or get to ride faster, and you may cover fewer miles in a day.  In other words, you can adapt, especially with cell phones and GPS available and a warren of road choices.

You don’t need a different motorcycle, you just need time and money and the attitude that you will have a great adventure.

And you will.


That’s my ten. Do you have others to add?



Copyright 2015                          David Preston



Posted in Motorcycles | 2 Comments

The Cure for Tardiness

The Cure for Tardiness

Student tardiness can drive a teacher up the wall, and you may wonder why.  Let me explain.

Teen scholars are an exceptionally volatile bunch, and that makes sense when you think about it. In your teen years your body is changing on virtually a 24-7 basis. You are not the same person today you were yesterday. Your emotional growth is also raging, and mood swings are more the norm than the exception. Student activities can interact with classroom work and either enhance the learning environment or destroy it. For example, a winning football team can elevate the entire school, even for those who are not interested in sports. The last few days before a big dance will render most educational efforts null and void.  A student may fall in love, or out of it, several times a year.  His or her friends will have opinions on this.  Issues in the home get in the way. Students are distracted by thousands of new concepts and possibilities flooding the brain on a second by second basis, whereas most adults have learned to filter out a lot of this stuff while they are at work.

If you walk into a meeting of other adults at work a minute or two late there is a pause, or not, and life continues.  In a classroom, you disrupt the fragile attention spans of 30 others.

This is most obvious in junior high or middle school classrooms, but is also evident in classes of any age level up to the later college years.

I’ll use junior high for my examples, although middle school is currently in favor. To review, junior high is a phrase that usually refers to grades 7-9, while a middle school houses grades 6-8. There are sound educational philosophical reasons for either arrangement, but the real driving forces are the educational fad of the decade blended with population bumps that swell or diminish a particular student distribution.

Teaching junior high has some comparisons to stand-up comedy. In both, the first five minutes are crucial. You have to grab the attention of the audience, deal with any distractions, and herd the entire group in the direction you want to go. If it was easy, everyone could do it.

Toward the end of my career I was conducting experiments using a small stereo system. I could alter the mood of the entering students by the choice of music playing when they walked in. I was getting to the stage of selecting a song to fit the lesson plan for that class period when I chose to retire.

Additional factors in play were the direction for the class on the board when they walked in, plus something of interest that might be off-topic and/or weird, and greeting as many students as possible in a personal way, the latter often hampered by other issues.

When a student enters class a minute or two late, all of your efforts go out the window. Some are able to come in quietly and unobtrusively, but they are rare. Some are tardy because they need attention, and entering with a bang, so to speak, will get that attention.  When we feel the need for attention, at some point negative attention is better than none at all.

In addition, the teacher needs to take and record roll, for both legal and safety reasons. This takes time, and the tardy student sucks more time away from your magic window of being able to get things going in a positive direction.

Some success was attained at Juanita High School for a few years in my sophomore classes.  At that time the curriculum was directed by a theme, and the key word was “choice.” All stories and plays and novels contain characters that make choices, and those choices dictate what happens next. Shakespeare made a good living with this concept.  To my mind, the “choice” concept (not mine) was brilliant. I had dozens of sophomores who, by the end of the year, were able to transfer the concept to their own lives and begin to take responsibility for their own choices, whether ill or good, and to understand just how deeply our own choices imbue all that we do. I could pick on a tardy student for an example, and run them through all of the choices made prior to the class that created the outcome.  Of course, this program of study was so effective it was tossed out in favor of the next great idea in just a few years, my strident objections to the contrary.

I had created a cure for tardiness much earlier, discovered by accident. One year at Kamiakin Junior High, the counselors had a problem. Due to the dizzying number of factors they have to deal with in trying to put together a schedule, they ended up with far too many students who needed an English class 6th period.  No matter how they sliced and diced the data, someone was going to have an enormous class.

In addition, 6th period (the last one) is the worst possible hour for an English class. The students, in most schools, have been under the “control” of an adult five times already.   Some of those adults are brilliant and fascinating, and some are horrible.  Keep in mind that the rankings may change for each adult each day depending on the student, due to the factors above. Students are mentally and emotionally tired, and here we go again with – English.

So I volunteered.  I ended up with a 9th grade class of 37 meeting five days a week during sixth period.  No matter how I arranged the desks, I could only fit in 32 chairs.  This problem turned out to be the solution.

I did have some advantages.  The counselors knew this was going to be a considerable challenge, so the 37 students were hand-picked. Almost all of them had taken my class in 8th grade, and all of them wanted to have me as a teacher again.

Today’s exercise in pounding on the obvious: this was not true of all students.

I always used seating charts, as it was the best way to reduce the time required for roll. In addition, I changed them on pretty much a weekly basis, moving people around either at random or to help solve one social problem or another. Faculty meetings are great for this, as you can make a new seating chart while retaining enough focus to be aware of anything you actually need to listen to.

The result of the lack of desks?  Students quickly figured out that to be late was to lose your desk, and be relegated to a folding chair at the side of the room. The most aggressive were the “floaters” for a particular seating chart, who would make sure they were in class in time to grab any desk not occupied at the bell. Usually there would be at one or two students absent, which made things easier.  Attendance became something of a game, and actually created competition and humor.  In fact, partly because the students had been hand-picked, it became more of an “English club” than a standard class, and was my favorite period of the day that semester.

It just occurred to me the other day that here was an opportunity I failed to use to my advantage for the next dozen years or so. What if, each year, I had removed desks from my room until there were three to five fewer than the class count?

A noble experiment I wish I’d conducted.

PS:  If this sounds in any way negative, let me add that I chose to teach junior high school out of college because I like junior high age kids. Still do.  This may have been because I had a terrific, successful,  and educational time when I was in junior high, or because I sensed my own immaturity. Turns out that in 1969, if you wanted to teach English to junior high students, were male, and wanted to coach, you could pretty much get a job anywhere in the United States. I only applied formally to one school district  (imagine that today!) and turned down a job offer (after a 15 minute interview) as a high school English teacher and assistant hockey coach in Minnesota.  English teachers who could play hockey were evidently extremely rare, and that was what the principal needed.

Imagine the repercussions of that choice had I gone the other way.


Copyright 2015                  David Preston

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The Finest Motorcycle Road Trip Plan of All – Maybe

When I worked at Cycle Barn, and for my first year at Ride West BMW, I led two separate 3 day rides that tended to be my favorite rides of each year.

The first took place in June, and was called “Lolo Pass – or not.”  This consisted of a one day ride on more or less back roads ride to Clarkston, in the south east corner of the state. The 2nd day was used for a ride over Lolo Pass for those who had not done that. After a couple of years I developed a 2nd option for those who had done Lolo at least once. This was a ride to a little-known town called Elk River.  Elk River is a  dead end ride, unless you have an adventure bike, but the ride out and back are priceless.  Miles and miles of winding curves along a river, with virtually no traffic and thus minimal State Patrol presence.

The Idaho State Patrol evidently spends its human resources on Lolo Pass, where one of our number got a ticket for 2mph over the limit while couple rode by on their Harleys drinking beer, helmetless, wearing shorts and t-shirts.  Legally. Bah and humbug.

The 3rd day was a ride back across Washington, where we often were able to get lost with amusing results.

This ride grew over the years, and expanded, as there are dozens of options. One year a separate group made a 4 day ride out of it, spending the first day romping over the North Cascades.  At its peak almost 40 motorcycles made the trip, but I was never riding in a group larger than ten.

The fall trip was to Bend, Oregon. Once again, a one day ride to Bend with at least some corners along the way. The second day was a 300 plus mile loop to the west of Bend, and the 3rd day a meandering route back.  The last time I did this one I was gifted a tremendous return route by Gary Thye, Ride West owner Keith Thye’s brother, Oregon resident, and all around fine human being.

Fast forward a couple of years and a snafu ensued with Tom Mehren, publisher of Sound Rider magazine.  That debacle is detailed elsewhere on this site, but it was four years ago and deserves to be left in the past. The upshot was that, after years of promoting Tom’s Rally in the Gorge event, and many hours spent assisting with its operation, I found myself banned from the event!

I felt this was unfair to an extreme, and the assault on my reputation did not rest easy.  One day it occurred to me that I could combine the two three day rides into one spectacular 5 day adventure.  I thought it would be fun to offer this the same week as the Rally in the Gorge, but Ride West management thought that would just be mean.  My wife agreed that the plan was riddled through with spite, so I abandoned my nefarious plans.

It dawned on me the other day (I can be very slow) that I have never done this ride. I hope to remedy that this year.  What follows are the route plans, which you are free to use. However, I am not sure they are entirely accurate, and I have not included my preferred motels.  I’ll check it over more carefully and add the motels, should the ride come to pass.  After the route directions, I have added some highlights of the ride.

Elk City and Bend –  5 day trip

Day #1         Home to Clarkston           8am brekkie           9am start

  1. 9:00 AM depart North Bend McDonalds (fuel)
  2. EAST on I-90 to Ritzville Exit #221 – RIGHT on SR 261
  3. Across SR 261 into Washtucna (lunch at Sonny’s) (fuel)
  4. SOUTH on SR 261 and LEFT (still SR 261) to Starbuck (fuel)
  5. Through Starbuck to US 12- LEFT on US 12 (East) to Clarkston               

Day #2         Clarkston to Elk River to Clarkston  6am brekkie  7am depart

  1. NORTH on 5TH ST toward DIAGONAL ST/WA-129 0.1 mile
  2. SLIGHT RIGHT onto DIAGONAL ST/WA-129 0.3 mile
  3. DIAGONAL ST/WA-129 becomes US-12 (into IDAHO) 0.4 mile
  4. RIGHT onto SNAKE RIVER AVE                                   0.1 mile
  5. RIGHT onto DIKE BYP. 1.9 miles
  6. LEFT onto MAIN ST/US-12 E. US-12 E. 72.3 miles
  7. Pause for fuel.
  8. Continue to follow ID-13. 15.1 miles
  9. SLIGHT LEFT onto ID-14. 49.6 miles
  10. End at Elk City, ID (fuel) 64.85 miles
  11. Return on ID-14.                                                   41.0 miles
  12. Slight LEFT on MT IDAHO GRADE ROAD 9.6 miles
  13. LEFT at STOP on Main Street
  14. Grangeville, ID Bishop’s Bistro (food / fuel)               51.41 miles
  15. Through Grangeville to
  16. RIGHT onto US-95 N. 37.2 miles or so
  17. LEFT at “Winchester” sign – gas station also (fuel)           
  18. Continue on small road to WINCHESTER GRADE
  19. LEFT at STOP (T) on US 95
  20. LEFT at US 12
  21. Return to Clarkston

Day #3         Clarkston to Bend – 6am brekkie – 7am depart

  1. South from Clarkston on SR 129 through Anatone
  2. Pause at Bogan’s Run for ice cream
  3. Into Oregon on Oregon 3
  4. RIGHT on 82 at ENTERPRISE  (fuel)
  5. LEFT on I 84 at LA GRANDE
  6. RIGHT on 7 at BAKER CITY
  7. RIGHT on 26 at BATES
  8. LEFT on 126 at PRINEVILLE
  9. LEFT on 97 at REDMOND
  10. Bend
  11. Exit 137 for Revere Ave – merge onto NW Wall – right on NW Harriman


Day #4         Depart 8am

  1. LEFT out of Motel
  2. RIGHT at LIGHT onto NW Revere
  3. LEFT (North) at LIGHT onto US-20 (US 97 Bus.) for .3 mile
  4. LEFT (West) onto OB Riley Road for 1.6 miles
  5. Right to become COOK AVENUE
  6. LEFT on US 20 to Sisters. Fuel at the Shell station

Stroll to breakfast

  1. Continue west on Highway 126, McKenzie Highway. 

Stop at the observatory at the Lava Fields

  1. Continue west to Rainbow. (about 45 miles). LEFT at T 
  2. At NFR 19, take a left (you can only go left) towards

Cougar Reservoir.  Also Aufederheide Scenic Highway

  1. STRAIGHT at STOP (covered bridge to your right)
  2. Oakridge – fuel and food, then SOUTH or EAST (however it’s marked) on SR 58.
  3. 35 miles or so – LEFT at Crescent Cutoff road.  (County Road 61)
  4. LEFT at County Road46 (Cascade Lakes Highway)
  5. Arrive at Bend (85 or so more miles)

Day #5         Depart 8am 

  1. NORTH from Bend on 97 to WEST on 20 to SISTERS
  2. Pause in Sisters for breakfast and fuel.
  3. WEST from SISTERS on 20/126
  4. RIGHT on 22
  6. becomes NFS 46 – becomes 224
  7. 224 to Estacada to I-205 to I-5 to home


Seattle to Clarkston:  Lunch in Washtucna.  I LOVED stopping at “Sonny’s” for lunch.  Washtucna has very few operating businesses, and Sonny’s has little to recommend it as a dining establishment.  But I loved the fact that “Sonny” greeted you at the door, took your orders, prepared the food and served it. One year we had about 25 people who showed up at about the same time (several of them had used different routes to get there) and afterward Sonny was outside smoking a cigarette and looking exhausted. We also had many memorable conversations with local residents.

In Clarkston: Just across the river is “Old Spiral Loop Road,” the finest stretch of pavement in the state. It rises from the river’s edge up and up and up for about 13 miles with dozens of corners, several of them hairpins. This ride can be done in the late evening of the first day or the morning or evening of the 2nd. It is magic.

To Elk City: You will think you are in a dream. Spectacular scenery of woods and rushing river water, and over 50 miles of corners, in each direction.  Lots of room to spread out, and one year I marveled that I was “leading” about 30 riders on this route and had been riding by myself for almost an hour. Some go faster, some slower, and some pause for pictures…it’s all good.

Grangeville:  “Bishop’s Bistro,” assuming it is still there, is highly recommended for good food and a sarcastic waitress.

Winchester Grade:  Finest road in Idaho. You find it by turning left off the main highway at the tall pillar with the pink Cadillac impaled on it.  (!) This road runs downhill for 15 miles or so. There is no traffic, and lots of hairpins. These grab your attention because there are no guard rails on the outside of the corners – just a long view into a lot of empty space. A bit of caution is advised.

To Bend:  You stop at “Bogan’s Run” after a 50 mile ride down the slopes of what could pass for the Swiss Alps, but warmer. By the bottom you will have earned a break. You have ice cream here because – everyone does!

The route from “Bogan’s Run” to Bend I have ridden in parts, but often when I did not know where I was, so there are many details along the way I will remember when I get to them.

Bend:  The motel we used had a large expanse of lawn and tables, and a covered pool. Bend also has a lively night life with micro-breweries and jazz clubs and such. I preferred a picnic dinner from the local Safeway and a lounge on the lawn, but those who walked the few blocks to the entertainment raved about it.

Sisters:  We always stopped for fuel at the Shell station in Sisters because it belonged to the brother of a friend. Good a reason as any. There are several excellent choices of breakfast fare.

Lava Fields: Be sure to catch the abrupt left turn leaving town so you do not miss the ride to the Lave Fields. Spectacular ride and pause to climb the lava tower for the scenic views. After that the ride gets better! The road is closed off to long trucks, as the hairpins are too sharp. One year a corner had highway workers with leaf blowers getting rid of pine needles that might cause problems. Bravo.  Pause to rest at the end – you will need it.

Cougar Reservoir:  Another great place for a break. Followed by 60 miles or so of intensity to reach Oakridge.  The ride back to Bend is peaceful, and by now you will be grateful for it.

Final Day:  Another several hours of winding roads with no traffic through forests and farmland.  Once you reach I-5, your last task is to hope for mild traffic for the freeway slog home.


Copyright 2015                  David Preston






Posted in Motorcycles, Rants and Raves | 1 Comment

Book review – Head Check by Jack Lewis

Book Review:  Head Check                  by Jack Lewis

Once again, I must present a few caveats.

  • I know and admire Jack Lewis.  He has done me several kindnesses.
  • Jack and his wife Shasta introduced me to the concept of publishing e-books through Amazon 
  • In a sense, I owe every sale of the 7 books I have published through Amazon to them.
  • I’ll be appearing with Jack and a 3rd author at a book signing event at Ride West BMW on January 24th.  This event was originally set up for Jack and the other two of us to take part.

In other words, I owe Jack several favors.  And I fully believe that none of that affects this review.

This book is a series of essays on (mostly) motorcycles and everything that goes with them, many of which have been published previously in Motorcyclist magazine and elsewhere.  No harm in that, as I’ve published two books of essays with the same previously published basis myself. An added attraction to this one is the addition of pieces that magazines rejected due to length.

There are two groups of people who will enjoy this book, for similar but opposite reasons.

Motorcyclists often have a hard time expressing their passion for bikes to others who do not get it, or have not gotten it yet. If you’re really into motorcycles, you quickly learn (or in my own case learn slowly) to temper your remarks and tone them down a bit, lest your enthusiasm overwhelm and drive everyone else away.  This book gives you a wonderful personal space to hear your own passion expressed more clearly and with much greater creativity and specificity than you could probably muster yourself. It’s a fun roller coaster ride to an area of your soul that you normally keep hidden from others.  Once there, you reaffirm that you are correct in your passion and this part of your soul is a wonderful place to be. 

Another of Jack’s books is “Nothing in Reserve.” It is based on his experiences in war and the aftermath, and I can also highly recommend it as one of the most gripping books I have ever read.  I believe it ranks with Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead as one of the finest works of literature in this field. 

Nothing in Reserve is also a good sub-title for this book. You get all the passion, the concerns, the dangers, and the joys of motorcycling. Pure, unvarnished, and raw. The actual sub-title for this one is “What it feels like to ride a motorcycle,” and that is where the 2nd audience jumps in.

If you love someone who’s into motorcycles, and have a hard time understanding the passion, this book will make the thinking of deeply engrossed motorcyclists clear to you.

Not all of the essays deal purely with motorcycles.  Some of the side-topics get into military issues. There are parallels between riding motorcycles and combat, and some positive and some tragic. Although these pieces can occasionally get a bit preachy, they’re still captivating reading. After all, “A good preachin’ shores up your life. Whether you attach a religion to it or not is your choice.”   Who said that?  Actually, I did, but it sounded sort of Samuel Clemens-ish, didn’t it?

All of Jack’s books are available as e-readers from Amazon, and the two mentioned here can also be ordered as paperbacks. Get yours now before the rest of the world discovers Jack’s talent to the degree he deserves. 

Copyright 2014      David Preston  

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