Bend, Oregon to Cascade Locks, Oregon
Approx. 210 miles (due to rerouting for fires)
While this was technically day 2 of the tour, it was our first day riding together as a group. It was also my first time throwing a leg over the rental Vstrom and heading out on it. There had been so much going on the evening before (and I was so wiped out from the travel chaos) that I didn’t take it out for a test ride. There was a nervous energy amongst the group as cases were loaded and bikes started. We were excited and nervous. Would this group come together well? What was ahead of us on this journey we were embarking on? I’m sure on this morning there were more questions than answers in everyone’s minds.
We rode through some beautiful areas on mostly two-lane highways. We skirted some forest fires and saw some off in the distance. One snapshot in my mind is a fire burning its way up a dry hillside, not too far in the distance. It wasn’t a large fire but it was clearly visible. It was surreal to see the flames so clearly from the highway. I wondered how many firefighters were working that fire and how many people were evacuated from their homes. I can’t remember ever being quite so close to a wildfire before and I had to be careful to pay attention to the road and not just the scenery.
After lunch in The Dalles we continued our journey toward Cascade Locks and had a chance to ride the Rowena Crest, a nice twisty road with a beautiful view at the top! Trying to back into a parking area on this tall bike I almost dropped it and realized I was going to have to change my approach to parking. The rental Vstrom was a little tall for me and I was not able to put both feet down firmly. My Vstrom is lowered and has a lowered seat, so this isn’t an issue at home! After a couple of close calls, I started getting off it and pushing it (with help) into and out of parking spaces. I hate that feeling when the bike starts to go sideways and I am desperately trying to save it before it’s too late. Because this was not my own bike, the feeling of panic was even worse.
This day also brought my first group ride on the Interstate, which made me excited and anxious at the same time. I’ve done a little interstate riding near my home, but to this point I had avoided it on purpose. There had been a discussion at lunch about which route to take and the majority voted for interstate for the last portion of our day. Our nervous energy from the first day had taken a toll and all of us were ready to make this day an early one, so I-84 it was for the last portion of the day.
I didn’t realize until we arrived in Cascade Locks that the end of the movie Wild had been filmed here. A few of us indulged in desert before dinner since the famous ice cream shop was closing in a few minutes! We had a nice dinner at a brewery nearby with a beautiful view of the Columbia river and the Bridge of the Gods that we would be riding the next morning. All in all a good day and many memories were made. A relaxing evening was just what I needed to rest up for the next day’s adventures and another long day of riding.