Cascade Locks, Oregon to Issaquah, WA
Approx. 250 miles
This day had me questioning where all my motorcycle training had gone. We left our hotel and immediately went over Bridge of the Gods which is a cool, metal grate bridge high above the Columbia river. The tour leader and one of the more experienced riders had advised us to treat the metal grate bridge like gravel – keep a loose grip on the handlebars and let them float. I had no issues with the bridge and it was a wonderful experience to be so high above the river, enjoying the view and the early morning sun. However, shortly after the bridge I came close to dropping the bike not once, but twice. I don’t know why, but both times I had grabbed the front brake in a panic and almost put it over. Now, I know better and was certainly taught better than to do that, but my brain seemed to throw out all the training and went straight to panic mode. I spent the rest of that day talking to myself when I needed to slow down or stop. I made a point to rest my right hand across the throttle and brake, pointing fingers out straight to ensure there were no more panic stops. So frustrating!
After leaving Cascade Locks we took an unplanned detour for about 30 minutes. It was a nice ride along some scenic waterway and there was a brief regroup stop to reset the GPS. One of my tour mates took this photo of me and the bike at that stop.
Once we were back on track, we spent the rest of the morning riding some tree covered Forest Service roads. I appreciated the cool shade, but parts of the road were really rough and pot holed. I saw a doe, some snow on the shady north slopes, lots of waterfalls and some beautiful wildflowers We also stopped at an overlook of Mount St Helens and of course, I had to take a photo of the bike there!
It was good to find a more maintained road for a while, but I also started to feel the heat of the day. In the early afternoon we found ourselves in Mt Rainer National Park. We only had a brief stop here, where I actually did drop the bike. I had stopped where there was too much slope to the side and as I put my right foot down, there was nothing there; over I went. My tour mates helped me up and thankfully the only one bruised was me! The bike went over on its crash bars and the Giant Loop bag on the back. My day of feeling like I didn’t know how to ride had just reached a new low and it was very discouraging.
Of course, I got back on the bike after some water and rest. There was no other option but to regroup and put this day’s mishaps behind me. We stopped one more time for mid afternoon water and snacks and I took the opportunity to move closer to the front of the group instead of near the back where I had been. I enjoyed riding a bit closer to the speed limit than some and it was nice to move closer to people who rode similarly. This was one of the longest days for me, not in terms of miles but just in how I was feeling on the road. I was very happy when we reached Issaquah as I knew the hotel could not be far away now! Everyone was so tired that we didn’t even stop for gas as we usually did, we went straight to the hotel to unload and have some dinner.