The ABTOR Returns, Minus the AB and TOR

The ABTOR Returns, Minus the AB and the TOR

In about 2002 I invented an event called the ABTOR.  This came about through requests from Cycle Barn customers  (where I worked at the time) regarding the annual “Oyster Run.”

The “Oyster Run” is held on the last Sunday of September every year, and is a mass migration of some 15,000 motorcycles to Anacortes. It is sort of a shorter and milder Washington version of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  I had some customers who had been there and done that and wondered if we could not do something else that involved more riding.

The Oyster Run does appeal, at least at first. The first time I went it was a wondrous spectacle of more motorcycles than you will see at any other event in this state, I’m pretty sure.  There are bikes of every possible brand, vintage, style, and description, plus a few contraptions that pretty well defy description. There is no organization outside of the town of Anacortes, and you get there pretty much by any route you choose.  The first year I went I set off with a customer and just rode in a meandering manner north, until we ran into a large group of motorcycles, and then simply followed them.  A lot of the attendees tend to stop often at a bar and have a beer and some, (no points for guessing) oysters. I don’t drink on a motorcycle, and don’t care for oysters, so my riding partner for the day and I hop-scotched from group to group until we reached the spectacle.  The first dark cloud was that I don’t enjoy riding with people who have been drinking much of any amount of alcohol.   The second was that I saw four crashes on the way into Anacortes, which was more than I had seen in my 35 years or riding to that point.  The second year I went with a small group of three or four, all of us with wives on the back. As Susan rarely rode with me, that made it special.

By the 3rd year I was ready for something else, and eagerly accepted the requests of the customers.  My Cycle Barn Sport Bike Club was growing by leaps and bounds, and sport bike riders are usually not fond of large masses of metal moving relatively slowly. What I created was named the ABTOR, which was an acronym for “Anywhere But The Oyster Run.”  The initial route was conceived by Mark Ramirez, at that time stationed at the submarine base on Hood Canal. He knew the roads well, and come up with a route so spectacular I never actually knew where I was for most of the day. Over the next decade I made small adjustments to the route until it was pretty much perfect.  It was always one of the highlight rides of the year.

Ironically, this one route and one event brought about virtually all of the crashes I ever had to deal with in 14 years of leading customer rides. There were, if memory serves, five of them.   Four of them occurred when a group of “fast guys” passed me (which was OK) to go off and play. What was happening was that someone who was new to riding but thought they were highly skilled would follow a group made up of those who actually were highly skilled, and pain and financial suffering resulted. Fortunately, the injuries from these incidents were not disastrous. A broken forearm was the worst.  After a few years I started telling riders they were welcome to pass me, but if they did not they were more likely to not crash. The other crash was a gentleman riding two up on a Triumph Rocket III who hit the brakes a little too hard in a corner, and that one resulted in a broken rib and a collapsed lung.

All of these incidents happened within two miles of each other on one particular road – DeWatto Road. I began to have a phobia about that road. Eventually a customer mentioned that if I reversed one looped section, the most problematic corner would change from a decreasing radius downhill corner to an increasing radius uphill corner.  Brilliant!    Never had a problem after that.

I should add that I led customers on rides for 14 years, averaging about 20 rides a year with distances from about 100 to over 3,000 miles. The groups varied from fewer that ten to a dozen to over 30. Almost all of the miles were not on freeways, but on the roads with the most corners I could find, and took in sunshine, rain, and almost snow at times. The number of crashes was blissfully low.

This week a couple of friends invited myself and others to ride the Kitsap Peninsula this Saturday. Two days later it sunk in – this would be a perfect time to resuscitate my favorite route!

We will gather before 8am on Saturday at the Edmonds Ferry terminal and be off for a grand ride.  You are invited to join, but you might want to copy the route directions below.  Sometimes a lot of people show up for these things and the usual line is “I’ll just follow Dave.”   That works for a group of up to ten or so (with some tricks I have developed) but once past 15 it becomes impossible, even with someone volunteering to ride sweep at the end.

Or, those with the requisite skills and equipment could make up a GPS route from these directions.

On the other hand, it is a peninsula. Getting lost is sometimes the way to have a better adventure!

ABTOR Route Directions

Edmonds ferry  ( arrive before 8am)

  1. 104 off the ferry                      (Becomes BOND RD)
  2. RIGHT            on                    NW LINDVIG WAY
  3. LEFT               on                    VIKING WAY
  4. RIGHT           on                    SHERMAN HILL RD.
  5. LEFT on                                  CLEAR CREEK RD.
  6. RIGHT            at                     HALF MILE RD (flashing yellow light)
  7. LEFT               at                     OLD FRONTIER ROAD
  8. RIGHT            at                     WESTGATE RD (white fence with flags)
  9. LEFT               at                     OLYMPIC VIEW
  10. RIGHT            at                     ANDERSON HILL RD
  11. RIGHT            at                     SEABECK HWY –   Seabeck-Holly Rd

Pause at Seabeck

  1. LEFT               at                     DEWATTO RD W
  2. RIGHT at                               BELFAIR-TAHUYA ROAD
  3. LEFT onto                             North Shore Road
  4. RIGHT at                              LIGHT on SR 3 to fuel– Belfair
  5. RETURN on                         SR 3 to LIGHT
  6. STRAIGHT onto                 OLD BELFAIR HIGHWAY
  7. LEFT at                                DEWATTO ROAD
  8. RIGHT at T                         DEWATTO ROAD
  9. RIGHT at                            S EABECK HOLLY RD

Lunch at Seabeck

  1. LEFT at                            ANDERSON HILL RD
  2. LEFT at                            OLYMPIC VIEW
  3. RIGHT at                         WESTGATE RD
  4. LEFT at                            OLD FRONTIER RD
  5. RIGHT at                         HALF MILE RD
  6. LEFT at                            CLEAR CREEK RD
  7. RIGHT at                         SHERMAN HILL RD
  8. LEFT at                            VIKING WAY
  9. RIGHT at                         NW LINDVIG WAY
  10. LEFT at                            BOND ROAD to ferry

100 miles – ferry to ferry


Copyright 2016   David Preston

About david

I am a 73 year old motorsports nut who lives in Snohomish, 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 own, at the current time, a Triumph Rocket 3 (2020) and a 2016 Ford Focus ST. What else would you like to know?
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