Sunday, March 19, 2006

Today I went on a group tour up to the observatory at Mt. St. Helens National Park today.

Thought it'd be a moderately large group, as the ride leader had posted it in several messageboards.

Got up this morning to a beautiful sunny sky. Rode south on the I-5 to get to the meeting point.

Uneventful, little traffic, and most people actually pulled over out of the fast lane to let me through.

Got to the meeting/staging area....Wow. The nice weather had brought many riders out of hibernation. Must have been 40 bikes there. Primarily cruisers, but a few sportbikes as well, a rat or two, and a few DP singles.
Here's but a slice of the lot...

Got the ride meeting out of the way, somehow I ended up leading the procession away. Mellow ride to start, I had with me a 'busa, an interceptor, a twin honda sportbike (rvt?), a FZ1, and a dude on a new sportster that surprised me how well he kept up, even on the 100mph+ blasts. We made up the fast group.

As we climbed up the flanks of the mountain, you could still see the path of destruction the mud flows took, creating their own valley.

The temp started dropping, the snowbanks along the sides of the road got thicker. The road remained bare, though. We got some high speed runs in, swapping places, trying to avoid the slight amount of silty dust between the wheelgrooves.

Amazing scenery, I'd never been up this side of the volcano before, I preferred the (closed for winter) twistier backside of the mountain, Windy Ridge.

These roads were well made, nice, constant radius sweepers, new pavement, bridge decks that were close in height to the surrounding asphalt.

We were buzzing along, we came to a long straight bridge, no oncoming traffic. I was doing about 110, when the busa guy decided to take point. Those things are fast.

Nearing the top, the road started to have the occasional rivulet of water running across it from snowmelt. Unsure of the actual temp (Gerbings heated gear insulates well) , I slowed, expecting a bit of ice. Nope, just water.

Got to the top, pulled off the helmet, and soaked in the view. Warm, sunny, no jacket required. Nice.

Shot the breeze with the guys for a while, then the main group arrived about 20 minutes later. Everyone milled around the lot, until a security dude drove up, stating this was a Fee area and unless we all were going to buy passes, we were unwelcome.

Self Portrait...
We suited up and left. The run down the mountain was cool too, but there was an increasing auto presence that made our progress more labored than before. Still fun, though.

Completely random shot of a fellow Valkyrie rider..

We blasted down a few twisty two lanes on the way home, then I and a buddy peeled off the main group for the ride home, dancing through the pylon course that is I-5 on a nice Sunday afternoon.

Got home, pulled off the gear, said a little prayer of thanks to the gods of heated gear, and had a coffee. Realized my arms were pretty sore from wrestling the beast up and down the mountain all day, but it was definately worth it. Nice ride.


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