When the long gray wet period known as winter here in Western Oregon lifts, nobody has to twist my arm about getting outside and soaking up the sun. One of my favorite ways to get out in it and soak up as much of it as possible is to hit the open road on a motorcycle. So when we had full sun and 80 degrees in the forecast, I jumped on our Indian Chief DarkHorse and headed east.
First off, let me gush about the bike. I love this thing. Indian has really outdone themselves in recent years. Of course, they have a rich history as an American motorcycle manufacturer for well over 100 years, but since Polaris took over the brand in 2011 it has begun to make the folks over at Harley Davidson sweat a little. The Chief comes in at 1811cc giving it plenty of power and speed. I was riding solo but it’s well appointed for two-up riding and has all the power to handle it. This Dark Horse version is murdered out in all matte black paint, which makes you feel like something of a badass. It’s got a dry weight of 785 lbs but it sits fairly low with a seat height of 26 inches so it’s easy to plant both feet firmly on the ground, making it easy to handle even for smaller riders. It’s got nice roomy bags and a rear rack to strap on an extra duffel or some camping gear if you’re on a long adventure. It’s even got cruise control, which I didn’t even realize until I got back from my 230-mile adventure.
I left the shop here in Portland and got out on I-5 heading north for Vancouver. I hate riding on freeways, but it was the quickest way to get the Hell out of the city. Once I passed the river, I got on highway 14 heading east and didn’t slow down until I got to the little town of Stevenson, Washington. It’s about 55 miles and it’s been a while since I logged many miles on a bike, so I was ready to hydrate and give my butt a little break. Stevenson is a biker friendly town with several great pubs and restaurants to choose from but I wasn’t looking to settle in for a long meal just yet so after a short reprieve, I continued on through a couple more sleepy little towns until I got to highway 141, just before White Salmon and the Hood River bridge, where I headed north. This first section of highway 141 is a real kick in the pants with lots of curves and an uphill climb so you can get really aggressive in the twisties. I didn’t have any cars in front of me for the first 3 or 4 miles, which was heavenly. The road forks from there and you stay left towards BZ Corner where I headed Northeast all the way to Glenwood. This section is a lot of fun and for a while seems to follow a ridge with big canyons on both sides. I forgot exactly where I stopped and took this picture but it was somewhere between BZ Corner and Glenwood, I believe.
From Glenwood, I continued on toward Goldendale where eventually the road forks and if you stay left, you’ll end up in Goldendale, but if you go right there’s a great twisty road that goes through Klickitat and eventually ends up back on highway 14 near a quaint little town called Lyle. Next time I get the opportunity to ride out here, I’m going to do this loop in reverse as this last section would be even more fun the other way, as it would all be uphill. The pavement is well maintained and smooth and amazing views abound out here. Once back on highway 14, I debated on crossing over and getting on Interstate 84 so I could get home faster, but I didn’t have any pocket change for the toll bridges at Hood River or Cascade Locks so I stayed on the Washington side which is always more enjoyable by motorcycle until you get stuck behind a bunch of slow moving traffic. But if and when you do get stuck behind some slow traffic, just breathe, relax and enjoy the massive views that the Columbia River Gorge provides. There’s no reason to rush back to the bumper to bumper traffic and stress of the city.