Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt III

Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt III – August 15th – 17th,  2014

This year’s edition of the Scavenger Hunt would be different for me – my first time attending as a participant instead of as the representative of Ride West.  I ended up taking on the task of corralling most of the door prizes, and we ended up with more than ever.  Possibly because I no longer felt awkward about contacting friends at other dealerships who are competing with Ride West!  Accordingly, I gathered large boxes of cool stuff from Nelson-Rigg, Lynnwood Triumph, Smokey Point Cycle Barn, and I-90 Motorsports.

A special note for Kerry Deaton at I-90, who forgot all about the door prizes until too late Thursday night. Instead of accepting my “That’s OK – next time,” he chose to get up early Friday morning, ride with the door prizes from his home to where some of us met for breakfast to deliver some amazing gifts, and then turn around and ride to work at I-90 in Issaquah – probably about 80 miles all told. Full respect!

I was certainly assisted by Ride West, as I took them the door prizes Thursday morning, added other prizes and some Riders stuff, and also dropped off a large bag with my camping gear.  All of it went in the Ride West events van. This was such a help, as taking camping gear on a Speed Triple plus door prizes plus… won’t work.

Three of us left brekkie together, while Bill Hucks chose to take the short route across the pond on the ferry.  Bill is the techno-whiz source for the event, and had earlier delivered his computer and assorted accoutrements to Deb Shiel, who’d be taking her truck.

Donna Gaross was to go with us, but a late emergency at work meant she had to take the ferry later in the day.

And so we were off.  Tony Basile with his Ural sidecar (which also carried his pizza paddle for duty Saturday night), Robert Okrie on his BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, and me on my trusty Triumph Speed Triple, which would cross the 40,000 mile mark during the weekend.

The initial plan was to follow a complex route Tony had laid out that would take us east and then south – skirting the traffic horror that is I-5.  Just in case, I placed an old school actual paper map in my tank bag.  Good thing, as Tony and Robert’s “smart phones” proved to be having an idiot day and would not show the route.

As is the theme for my trips this summer, it was raining – counter to all the forecasts. Still believing in the forecast (and why?) I did not put the liner in my Rev’It! jacket, and was soon entertained by water soaking into my turtleneck and shirt combo.

Additional amusement came from following Tony. For one thing, he would often loft the right wheel of the sidecar just for fun. Even better, his tail lights featured a Ural-specific “random” function. Sometimes both taillights would work, and sometimes only one. Sometimes there would be a brake light, and sometimes not.  Took me a while to figure out what I was seeing, or not seeing.

At one point Tony turned on a small highway I was pretty sure dead-ended in the middle of Mt. Rainier, but I’d never actually followed that highway so maybe…  As we passed Carbonado and a sign saying “No Gas from here on,” I realized Tony was directionally challenged, so I caught and passed the two in front and whoa-ed us all down for the first of several U-turns.

For the rest of the day I relied on my map, gradually turning to mush inside the Nelson-Rigg tank bag, which is water proof but not humidity proof. I was determined not to lead the ride, as I did that for 14 years. Whenever I knew an intersection with a turn was coming I would pass the pair in front of me again, lead them through the turn, and then wave them by.

In this fashion we managed to make the 80 mile trip (if you use the ferry) into a 230 mile day of great fun!

Once at the Cove RV Park and Store, we set up camp and met up with friends old and new.  Tracy Jeffries had already arrived with the Ride West van and all of the stuff for the event was set up, so all I needed to do was fetch my gear bag out of the van and erect the tent, etc. Spoiled!

By evening many of the participants had arrived, including Mary McGee – the “star” of the event. At the age of 77, with more than 50 years of racing on her resume and personal friendships with virtually everyone of note in sports car road racing, motorcycle road racing, and motorcycle off-road racing, Mary is a treasure horde of stories that go on forever. I knew she would inspire all Saturday evening with her stories, as she did last year.

We used Deb’s truck and Mary’s rental car to ferry those interested to the Gooeyduck restaurant for their $14.99 prime rib special. A great time, assisted by watching the end of a Mariner’s game  (they won), and then the first half of a Seahawks pre-season game that looked more like a highlight reel as they crushed San Diego.  We had a lot of time to watch, as the service was beyond slow and finally reached full ineptitude status.   My little group was served first, so I’ll leave the bitter complaints to others, but I doubt we will return.

One of the fun aspects of the evening was getting to meet “Flank Steak Kay’s” new fella. She earned the name the first year (she’s an amazing cook) and each year brings ever more of her famous flank steak for the Saturday night potluck, and it always disappears in minutes.  We teased her that we had not met this “Rory” person yet and had not “approved” of him. That went away in very short order. What a nice man!

We spent the evening watching last week’s Moto GP on the “big screen” attached to a wall and played from Bill’s computer.  With his Moto GP subscription there are no commercials, and we even substituted the commentary (which we could replicate with more wit) for a background of various funk – jazz music.  Awesome!

Saturday morning again this year Kay volunteered to make breakfast for all for a donation to Riders, and Rory was there to help. In addition, one of Rory’s sons and his wife drove in to assist, and the 4 of them fed thirty of more people an amazing repast – with Riders for Health getting the entire take of the donations.

For the actual event, you could choose from a variety of street or off-road routes, or make up your own.  You can ride in a group, as almost everyone does, or go solo. You get a list of “targets,” with varying point values, and in the evening you sit down with a “judge” (either Bill or Deb) to go over your pictures.  Creative cheating and bribes are encouraged.

My street group consisted of Tony with his Ural,  Mike with a 2nd Ural  (how many events have you attended with TWO Ural sidecars?), Donna on her Ninja 500, Bill Hucks on his Honda CBR 250, Phoenix Rudner on his BMW R 1200GS with his dog Tapas in a backpack, and me on my Speed Triple.  Eclectic.

I recommended that we first stop at a flea market fund raiser for the local fire brigade – 8 miles or so down the road at the fire station. My group had stopped there last year and had a fun time and also scored a lot of points with pictures of items.

You might think it would be pretty easy to find a flea market at a fire station right on the road you are riding, but Tony made it more complicated. Eventually they all joined me there, as after Tony’s 2nd wrong turn I chose to just ride to it and wait for them.

We were heading for Lake Wynoochie, which I’d never heard of.  Actually, I had heard of it last year, rode part way there, and promptly forgot all about it. Part of the way there I figured out that my map did not actually show all the roads – hmmm.  Accordingly, in a remote area Tony paused at a house with a fellow with a Harley in the front yard and asked him for directions. He informed us that there was a boring way and a great way.  The great way featured lots of twisties, but also “about 5 miles” of dirt road, but he assured us it would not be a problem.

The Honda CBR 250, the Kawasaki Ninja 500, and the Triumph Speed Triple are not your first, 2nd, or 83rd choices as dirt bikes but hey – let’s check it out.  When we got to the dirt section Tony on his two wheel drive Ural and Phoenix on the BMW GS 1200 led off. If the going got rough they would see it first and we could always change our minds and take the boring route instead.  As it turned out – no worries – and we rode to Lake Wynoochie for a lovely break and fantastic scenery.

On the way back I was being a good boy and following obediently, as I had been for two days.  But really, the road was perfect, there was no traffic or population, and the Urals cruise at about 50mph.   This does not abide…

Finally I pulled out and passed and headed down the road at a pace more suitable for a Speed Triple.  Phoenix caught my drift, and followed me and then passed me, which made the GoPro video I was creating much more fun!  Eventually we came to the turn back onto the dirt, and I turned sideways and stopped in the middle of the road for the others behind to see me when they arrived and for Phoenix, when he came back after blowing by the turn.  We regrouped in a few minutes, traversed the dirt section, and had a pleasant cruise back to camp.

We spend a lot of time consuming a lot of incredible food. Tony made several pizzas in the outdoor oven, there was Kay’s flank steak, and the owners of The Cove RV Park donated a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of fresh crab!

As Deb and Bill did their judging duties, Deb asked me to come up with “Special Awards” for folks who did not win the contest.  She wanted 3 or 4, but I came up with about two dozen.  After representatives from the two winning teams (there was a tie) duked it out in a spirited game that involved tossing two balls attached by a string and trying to loop them over one of three horizontal cords on a rack (harder than it sounds) we began to dispense the special awards.   I don’t recall all of them, but the ones I do remember will give you the flavor.


Highest Speed Attained Award:              Phoenix

Loudest Riding Pants Award:                  Kurt (this was actually a compliment. Kurt wears orange and white off-road pants and primarily white boots. They still looked that way when he returned.  If I’d ridden off-road for a day I’d look like someone dragged by a horse through a swamp)

Best New Boyfriend Award:                    Rory

GQ Style Award:                                        Tony and Me (matching shirts and shorts)

Best Photographer Award:                     Gary (a perennial award)

Best Inappropriate Language Award:      Mary McGee

Most Farkles Award:                             Tad (Also meant to be a compliment, as he’s added a lot of function to his BMW GS 800 Adventure.  Later I was told of the chrome made-in-China highway pegs he’d added –   oh good grief!)

Tardy Award:                                             Ruth – who arrived after all had returned

Best Ural Technology Award:                 Mike (fuel injection!)

And many more…

I think every person got something in the way of a door prize (one of my goals) and after that I auctioned off several items that had been donated by the participants (!), including two bottles of “Dirty Girls” wine, and four (!) bottles of Scotch, Brandy, etc.

And then for the highlight of the evening, as Mary McGee entertained all with stories of the famous and infamous from her decades of racing. As she did last year, she mesmerized all.  Amazing human being.

As the night ebbed on we watched more motorcycle videos from Bill played on the wall, and enjoyed the bonfire with a wagon load of wood also donated by The Cove. Conversations flowed back and forth, and I am sure the dirt riding folks have many a tale to tell that I missed out on.

Sunday morning was a treat that I’m kicking myself I forgot. For those who remembered to get up at 5am, or were able to, Bill played the Moto GP race from Brno LIVE.

People got up at their own sweet pace, and packed up slowly, still enjoying the whole atmosphere. Tad made individual cups of his “2nd Crack” home roasted coffee, with all the French press and filter and etcetera ephemera he’d brought with him.  About the time it occurred to me to help pack up the Ride West van I realized that others had already done all that!

Many went up the road a bit for a farewell breakfast, but my group chose to just ride to the ferry. Even that was special, as the crossing was slowed several times by – we never found out. The ferry would slow, or even stop, and the fog horn blew repeatedly. There was intense fog, and a lookout crew member at the bow. When we finally reached Edmonds a crew member was pointing with his arm, as evidently he could see the pier better than the captain could in the command house.  Eerie sunshine lit up the fog and made it all look like a movie set.

But no worries – we were ashore and then home.   And now the wait for next year.

There are many things that make this event special, but what stands out to me is that everyone brings something special to the party.  As I picture each person in my head, I see them smiling, and usually helping out in some way.  Display areas are erected, food is prepared, clean-up takes place, and a multitude of tasks are completed with ease, but never alone and never with the need to be asked.

In addition there is the generosity. People pay the entry fee, bring more to the potluck than they can consume, donate additional items of value to be auctioned off, and participate in the auction.  Gary Stebbins even raised his one bid for one item because he thought it should bring more!

Mary has promised to return, and healed from shoulder surgery, she will be riding a street bike next year.  What do you intend to do when you are 78?


David Preston                              Copyright 2014



About david

I am a 69 year old motorsports nut who lives in Bothell, Washington. After a 31 year career as an English teacher, I segued into a self-created job in the motorsports business. Now retired, I was involved in customer relations for Ride West BMW in Seattle, after almost 10 years of similar work for the Cycle Barn MotorSports Group. I have been married forever and have two grown children. I own, at the current time, a Triumph Bonneville T 120 , a Triumph Thruxton, a Fiat 500S and a VW Tiguan. What else would you like to know?
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