Another fine day to Ride. A friend of mine (Lloyd) and
I planned this ride earlier in the week. This is one of those rare "planned"
rides. The initial plan was to ride up to Windy Ridge and back. Around the end of
the week I through in a curve. Or should I say allot of curves! I decided to visit Sunrise (MT. Rainier) on the return
trip. This was his first long trip and his V-Max 650 had only 500
miles on it. Time to change that! Another friend had called me the day
before and let me know a friend of his wanted in on the ride. He was welcome to ride. Our new rider is Mike and he
rides a 2004 ST1300-ABS. Anyone who rides an ST is Ok in my book. The
plan was to meet at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma/Spanaway at 9 AM.
Sunday morning we all met as planned at Sprinker. Lloyd and
I met Mike in person for the first time. As I expected he was a great guy.
Well, he had one major flaw! Or should I say his tire had the flaw. A large construction staple stuck in his rear
tire. It appeared to go in at an angle and didn't look like it breeched the
casing. Our new rider was prepared, and had leak fix in a can and a mini
compressor. I have been meaning to get one of those. He pulled the staple
out and checked for a leak. No Leak! He was good to go. It was time to saddle up
and hit the road.
We rode the usual route down Hwy 7. Just prior to Elbe we rode through a few turns then past the
Alder Damn viewing turn out. A few more turns and miles, we were riding parallel to
Alder lake. I noticed the East end of the lake was very low. In fact mostly
mud. Usually when I come through here the lake bed is completely under water. A few more miles
and we enter the small town of Elbe. This was our first stop. We pulled off
the road and parked across from the old church. This is a quaint old town
that is very photogenic. We did just that, took a few photo's and chatted a
bit. After about 15 minutes we fired up the bikes and headed up Hwy7.
17 mile up the road we stopped for a restroom break and Fuel
for the V-Max. This stop was brief and soon we were on the road. Once in
Randle we turned right on NF-25. Within 3 miles we start riding under the
canopy of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The temperature had crept up
to 82 degrees. The shade was welcome at this point. We continued to navigate
the forest road enjoying every turn for about 8 miles and then it was time
to pull over and rest a bit. I'm riding on a new Rich's Custom seat and it
needs an adjustment. I was feeling a little pressure on my tail bone and
butt. Nice thing about Rich's seats is that he will
make adjustments until it's right for you. Our new rider Mike was feeling
some discomfort as well and he was riding on a new Sergeants seat. As we
rested and talked along side the road, I noticed there were quite a few cars
heading up the road. More so then my last trip up here. I figured it was due
to the 3 day (Labor day) weekend. After snapping some photo's and taking in
some Teriyaki sticks and water we were ready for more turns.
We traveled up NF-25 until we came up on NF-99. This was our
next turn and the road that would lead us up to Windy Ridge. We traveled
under the canopy of the forest for a while then things opened up and we
were faced with great Sun, twisties and a breathe taking view. I love the turns
and the scenery up
there! I've been wanting to add a video of riding these turns for some
time. This time I did just that. 2 versions available! My favorite
version is located at the top of this page. Click the link below to view the 14
MB Windows Media file.
Windy Ridge Video - The other version
Navigating the turns on this road is always a new adventure.
The road conditions are not that great and the road is full of patches,
rises, dips and falling rock, dirt and gravel. I have to say this was the
worst I have seen it. There were a couple sections of road that as we
rounded a turn, we suddenly were faced with gravel, dirt and rocks. The
debris was across the
road from one side to the other. Cars that have gone up before us cleared 2
paths on each side of the center of each lane. This poses a great danger to the
riders that often navigate these turns at a much higher speed. All the more
reason to take it easy on the way up and play in the turns on the way down.
We stopped at all of the view points and snapped some
photo's and took in the sites. Every time I ride Windy Ridge, I find the
devastation amazing to say the least. As you look around on the hillside
around you and below you, trees are thrown about all of which have landed in
the direction of the blast. It looks like they fell up
hill. There are acres of grey dead trees that are still standing. They make up a
dead forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. Visibility has been
decreased today due to the presence of smoke from forest fires. This has been one
of our driest summers and we have had countless forest fires as well as
roadside brush fires.
We soon reach Windy Ridge view point. The parking lot has bikes
of all riding styles and a flow of people heading towards the steep stair case to
the view point up on the ridge. Climbing these stairs is quite a climb
for the average person. I noticed many were stopping to rest multiple times.
My last trip up I climbed and conquered. This time, I sat it out and listen
to the ranger give a narrative of the blast. After checking everything out
and shooting the breeze with some riders we decided to headed back down the
Our next stop would be the little diner at the intersection of Hwy 7 and
NF-25 in Randle.
The ride down was as fun as the ride up. Soon we were
approaching the Adams & St. Helens diner. My back side was ready for a
break. We squeezed our bikes in among several other parked out front and
headed in to eat. This was your typical small town diner right down to the
deer horns on the wall. Our waitress took our order and from there we
waited an hour to get our food. I don't remember when I have waited this
long for a cheeseburger and fries. Mike wanted a piece of pie but was afraid
we would have another long wait. Probably another 1/2 hour. We paid the tab and got out of there. The
food was good but not worth the wait. The wait really bit into our trip
We headed up Hwy 7 to Packwood where we came to a long slow
crawl. Apparently it was rummage sale day's in Packwood. It appears it's a
big festival right down to the funnel cakes! People were crossing from one
side of the road to the other and traffic was bumper to bumper and crawling
from one end of Packwood to the other. Once we endured our share of the pain
and reached the other side of town, things picked up. We followed the road
until we were soon riding on 410. It was getting late in the day and
we had Sunrise to ride. We followed 410 to the park entrance. We entered the park and those of us who didn't
possess a park pass paid the $5 and we were on our way. We navigated
the twisting turns and made our way to Sunrise. We made one stop for photo's
just prior to Sunrise. Great view from this view point and from both sides.
Once we arrived at Sunrise I was glad!. It was all down hill
from here (Literally). I had been on the road since 8:30 AM and it was
nearing 6:30 PM. The other riders felt the same so we stayed just long
enough to snap some photo's and look around.
Soon it was on the bikes and we were heading down the
mountain. We rode our way out of the park and down 410 to Enumclaw. This was
our final stop where we fueled our bikes and said our good byes. Lloyd and
Mike live further north so I parted their company and headed toward Tacoma.
Outside of a the sun setting behind the haze of the clouds, the ride home
was uneventful. The sun looked like a giant fireball setting over the farms
and hills to the west. I really wanted to pull over and take a few photo's
but I was whooped and just wanted to get home. Soon I was rounding my last corner and pulling up in
my drive way. Man that driveway looked good! Looking back it was a great
ride. I must add that Lloyd, for his first long ride, did an
outstanding job. As for Mike... He's a great guy and rides a really cool bike! But then it's an ST1300. :-)