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My UnRally Story

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First, a couple of things.


If you enjoyed the Best Western, the staff and the facilities in Moscow, please post your comments on TripAdvisor.com. They told me that what gets posted there really helps them. And they also said don’t be afraid to single out and name individuals who were particularly helpful. I did it, and it was easy.


Second, a SUPER congrats to the Canadian contingent who organized and ran this event. It was flawless (except for a little rain), and the quality of their preparation showed in all of the details. I always say that the last Un was the best one ever, until the next Un. This one, though, was truly one of the great Uns.


Third, Module Masters. We’ve had some discussions about them on the board. They rebuild ABS modules for Mercedes, BMW, Audi, GM, Japanese cars and bikes, and now even Harley. Sage Rider (Michael Pryzbylo) and I got a thorough tour of their facilities in Moscow, and we came away mightily impressed. Prices vary based on the model of ABS module, but they are very thorough, have an excellent reputation, and give a 5-year warranty with their rebuilds. Tyler George, a senior technician and graduate of UI/Moscow’s EE program gave us a tour, and we also met and spoke with owner Gavin Curtis. MM does both electronic troubleshooting and rebuilds (where possible) on the ABS motherboards, as well as the mechanical rebuilds on the ABS pumps themselves.



The UnRally


This Un journey began with my typical pre-sunrise start so that I could be rolling as the dawn broke. For a pre-ride breakfast, I threw back a palmful of nuts/sunflower seed mixture, and a piece of jerky, sufficient to keep my tongue entertained for a few hundred miles trying to liberate the flotsam and jetsam that such combinations create. Leaving SoCal at 5:30A, I wrapped a cool and overcast US395 around me like a soothing blanket, and made excellent time, bumping into a fellow traveler and board member (Cornelius) some 80 miles before Bishop. We made excellent time together, our paces matching up almost perfectly, and before we knew it, it was time to split up. At Bishop he headed to Reno to see friends. I took US6 to US95 and continued toward my goal of Winnemucca, NV.


In Hawthorne, NV, I guess I ticked off one of the local constables when I entered the last of their decreasing speed limits about 10mph too hot. He didn’t say/do anything at the time, but I suspect he saw my borderline misdeed and must have radioed ahead about this wild lawbreaking BMW rider, since one of his friends shadowed me for a good 5 miles as I left town. I obediently stayed below the slower posted speed limits on the twisty part of 395 that edges Walker Lake, keeping an eye on the dark green car about 100 yards off my six. Eventually, though, I got the all clear in the form of a quick U-turn, and as the road signs picked back up to their two-lane 70mph limits, I got back on pace.


Gas and an uneventful lunch in Fallon, NV ($9 for a Subway Salad. . .REALLY?), and I motored into Winnemucca at 2:30 with 603 miles showing. I’d averaged 64mph, which was outstanding, mostly due to quick food/gas stops as well as Nevada’s generous speed limits on some pretty good and reasonably empty roads. I suppose I could have gone further north, but there’s really nothing between ‘Mucca and the state line, with even less on US95 through Oregon. It was early, but I was done for the day. A nap and a bad dinner choice (food sucked. . .I would learn of better places to eat on my return), and it was time to call it a night around 9PM.


I was up at 4A, failed at trying to go back to sleep, gave up, showered and loaded up the bike. With the more northern locale lending to an earlier sunrise, I started chasing the broken yellow line at about 5AM. Today’s miles would total about 100 fewer, so I stopped for breakfast at the White Horse Saloon in McDermitt, NV, where the waitress was more interested in regaling the cook with her familial problems than tending to the needs of the few brave souls who entrusted their gastronomic stability to their combined cooking/serving skills. I had two eggs and bacon, delivered with a side order of attitude on a loud plate in lieu of the well-done hash browns I’d ordered, and something akin to thick milk pretending to be gravy atop my otherwise impermeable biscuit. I ate the eggs and bacon, then moved over to the gas station to top off the bike (as well as complete breakfast with more nuts and jerky from my on-board stash). I was hoping to gas up and vamoose before the waitress across the street shut up and counted how much she was getting out of the seven bucks I left on the table.


My first shock came about 200 yards north of town. That’s where the signs read, in sequence,


Speed Limit 70mph

Welcome to Oregon

Speed Limit 55mph.


Holy brake dust! What exactly was different about this asphalt that hadn’t been present 100 yards earlier? Oh well, I am a proponent of states’ rights, so I carried on at about 10 over, and just kept an eye out for good hiding spots. I found a few, but they were not occupied, nor were there any Enforcers traveling south. Much as I’m glad there weren’t, at least the occasional blip from my V1 would have lent some interest to what is one of the most relentlessly boring stretches of highway I’ve been on in a while.


At long last I crossed into Idaho, and back up to 65 mph roads. At my first gas stop, Nora and Vlad came rolling up to refuel, and we rode the rest of the way together. It was a good trip, albeit a slower one than I’d been on, what with lunch at a sit-down Mexican restaurant, and a slow paddle through sections of Hell’s Canyon recreation area on US95. You see, it was Sunday afternoon at the Church of Salmon, and the inhabitants were on an upstream pilgrimage. Cars and trucks were parked everywhere but on top of each other. People swarmed like rats about the banks of the river, the streets, and in and out of the stationary vehicles. Getting through Riggins, ID, was like riding a trials course. But I will admit that the area is exhilaratingly beautiful. Water both slammed and rolled over the wide river’s rocks, spraying high as well as lending foamy edges to the undulations. Fishermen cast from the rocky shorewall, while Native Americans were legally allowed to net fish using long poles. Anyone not there to catch their limit (us) seemed to get a scowl from those who were, as if we simply didn’t understand the importance of their sport. Or for those who rely on their catch for sustenance, that critical factor either. On the latter, they were wrong. But one can understand the intensity.


The deeper we got into northern Idaho, the more impressive the terrain, as early signs of the Palouse region’s hilly topography made themselves known, starting about 3 feet north of Lewiston. We’d averaged a tick less than 50mph, and a light mist capped off yet another perfectly cool traveling day. We rode the last miles into Moscow and stumbled through a quaint downtown area looking for the left turn that would lead us to the Best Western. We arrived at 4:30. I checked in, dumped my stuff in my room, and headed for the bar. I greeted, and was greeted, by friends old and new, faces to finally go with screennames, and people to whom Wurty still owes a beer. Interestingly, the sheepmaster himself couldn’t make it to this Un, despite not living far from Boise. He’d been roped into organizing the Emmett, ID, Raspberry Festival (or some such) and had prioritized the placing of bunting around his home town’s park above the joking, lying and glass clinking taking place to the north. However, I know how much he revels in his newfound civic commitments, so sin forgiven. Besides, he doesn’t own anything resembling a streetbike these days.


As has been said above and by more than me, the organization of the event was virtually flawless. The Un Team, the hotel’s management, and the Best Western staff were beyond reproach. Each guest even got a free drink ticket for each day’s stay. And not once did I see anyone take advantage of the constant shift changes at the front desk (ahem!) to secure additional tickets (here’s the part where I explode in flames). However, since I don’t drink much, the extra tickets ended up in the hands of someone whose name I won’t mention because I might someday need to replace my custom-molded speaker earplugs.


As for the riding, I’ll leave that to others to show and tell. Having spent years traveling most of the U.S. extensively with sales reps I’ve been tasked with managing, the Palouse region has absorbed my footprints more than a few times, although admittedly I’ve seen the more spectacular tourist vistas by car, not motorcycle. Instead, I decided to enjoy my time away from the rat race, relax and engage many a similarly minded sloth in conversation about two-wheeled exploits, both real and imagined.


Each day of this event started with a generous hotel-supplied hot breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits/gravy, oatmeal, muffins, toast, bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, self-made waffles, and cereal). And Mrs. Caddis was right. The cereal dispensers were a PITA. The only pox on what was, for the price, perfection. After my mid-morning gastro-nap came the first round of creative recollections of past speed deeds, followed by lunch (gotta admit, the chicken at the hotel was tough, but the club sandwich, the burgers and the pasta were good). Next came the greeting of the early ride returnees, followed by the first drink-ticket beer of the evening, dinner, and then more bloated regaling of two-wheeled accomplishments, well and increasingly lubricated.


And so it was for a couple of days, except for our time at Module Masters (see above). Others can talk of the weather if they wish, though the 1.5 days of steady drizzle really left no one soaked thanks to Mr. Gore Tex, Señore Venturi, and that old reliable gal, Poly Urethane. For most, the drizz didn’t even rise to the level of an inconvenience. And the dry/overcast last day had everyone scrambling to ride to their favorite spot, except for Lolo Pass, where the past day’s moisture, at elevation, had been heavier and white, creating treachery for those daring passage on a mere two wheels.


Our group meal on the event's last evening, Wed. night was wonderful. It was Laney’s birthday, so we had a great big cake in addition to pretty good dinners featuring Flat Iron Steak, Parmesan Chicken (actually good I was told), and Tuscan Chicken (my choice), which of course was sourced from the rawhide aisle at Petsmart. It just wasn’t my lucky week on the food wheel. I gave a short presentation, mostly marveling at the week’s camaraderie that at times even had people engaged in opposing-view political discussions that left not a feather unruffled. That was the true spirit of the Un, manifested. We held the very first Un 13 years ago so that people could put faces, handshakes and hugs, with the screennames of the people they’d been writing to on this new BMW “bulletin board.” This year’s event did much the same. It’s amazing how well we all get along when we see that there’s a REAL person on the other end of whatever we type, and we can look into their eyes when we say what we say.


I took a short stint at the mic. Then the Un Team’s Mike Cassidy took over and introduced every single member who had helped put this event together. They all got a big round of applause, which was well deserved. Mike raised a glass to all of those who helped make the event possible, to all who made the trek, and last but not least a special toast to all those who didn’t make it.


The Palouse region had been having its best Spring in a long time, according to the area’s residents. Our three days of overcast were an anomaly. And so it was, as Thursday’s departure dawned bright and sunny with a promise of nearly 80 degrees. I left a tick after my usual sunup departure, and enjoyed a wonderfully cool and bright morning, riding the Hell’s Canyon road midweek as it was meant to be ridden (at least at my aging version of “meant to be ridden”). Even getting through southern Idaho and the dreaded Oregon stretch of US95 before the warmth really came into play, made the ride to Winnemucca about as friendly as a spring desert day can be.


I avoided the White Horse Saloon, figuring lunch probably wasn’t much better than breakfast some days earlier. I cruised into Winnemucca about a half hour after Sage Rider, who’s bikeless, left a little bit before me in his cage, and apparently has a bladder the size of a Norwegian oil tanker. We both expected I'd catch him on the road. We were both wrong. We’d each booked rooms the same older, clean, and affordable motel in ‘Mucca. And this time we ate at the local casino, where the BLT’s are about 5” thick and the salad bar does the concept proud. As Michael and I returned to Chateau du Thrift and gathered at the sumptuous plasticarpeted veranda of my single-story, park-in-front room, settling into Wal-Mart's finest molded plastic chairs for some EOD commiserating, Bill Walker rolled in about 10 minutes too late to grab the last room. Bill found lodging down an unlit side street at some place we dubbed Dark House Manor. We, having already dined, later met him for just bubbly hops while he ate what he said was a pretty good ribeye at the Toasted Tavern. We offered to walk him home, but he declined. So we watched him walk trepidatiously down the dark side street, toward his motel, black cats and goblin eyes at every turn, eventually disappearing into the mist amid heavy organ music. I hope he's alright.


Friday I followed Sage Rider to his home in Minden, NV, in the Carson Valley. I got a wonderful tour of the area, which I really want to go back and visit with my missus. Mike and his bride, Gwen, joined me for a good BBQ dinner that evening. The next morning I was off at a rather tardy 6:30, exited the valley and rode past Topaz Lodge (and lake), home to UnRally IX (organized by Michael along with Dave Swift). Slithering up, over and around the beautiful Sierras on a serpentine journey carving up US395, I arrived in Bishop, where MickeyD had my name on an Egg McSomething. From there, the ride across the CA desert is something I’d rather not relive in detail. Let’s just say it got to 100 degrees in two spots, and hovered around 97 most of the way. It was tolerable, but stretched the definition, especially in one of Duluth, Minnesota’s finest riding suits, vents agape no less. Eventually, I descended off the high-desert plateau and down into the cooler 85-degree confines of the SoCal basin I call home. I rolled in around 1:30, having made it from Bishop to my home on one tank of gas and three bars left on the RID. For an older ‘99RT, that’s some pretty good mileage. Silver lining.


And so ended a great ride, a great UnRally, and a great time with friends. I have received one, and soon possibly two proposals for next year’s UnRally in the eastern half of the U.S. The Admin Team will be reviewing and coming to a decision soon, so that dates can be announced and those of you who have to book vacation time well in advance, can do so.


So, until next year’s event, this year’s was the best Un ever. Another thanks to all.

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Enjoyed the visual FB, you do it very well! :thumbsup:




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Bill found lodging down an unlit side street at some place we dubbed Dark House Manor. We having already dined, later met him for just bubbly hops while he ate what he said was a pretty good ribeye at the Toasted Tavern. We offered to walk him home, but he declined. So we watched him walk trepidatiously down the dark side street, toward his motel, black cats and goblin eyes at every turn, eventually disappearing into the mist amid heavy organ music. I hope he's alright.


I'm fine, except for these two puncture wounds on my neck that I don't remember getting, and a sudden strong aversion to sunlight. I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm in Lone Pine tonight, and I expect to get home tomorrow.

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I hardly have time to wax my car....


...and you wax eloquent. :clap:

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Well done Fernando. You are a close second to Jack Riepe. Enjoyed the visualization

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