Beaverton, Ore., Apr. 6 — Officially riding season here in Oregon doesn’t start until May 1, but the folks of the Rose City Motorcycle Club aren’t the type to let the calendar dictate their good works. Offering a variety of rides nearly every month of the year, this club is riding hard, all the while making life a little easier for our local families in the Northwest. The Rose City 250 is the second official ride of the year for the club, typically attracting hundreds of bikers eager to rebuild the callouses needed on your backside to prepare for their longer day rides like the 500, which takes place every May.
Now in its 23rd year, the 250 hums along smoother than a well-tuned hog. Pre-registration and online verification makes for a quick check-in, giving riders the chance to warm up with the hot coffee and sweet treats needed to get the juices flowing before heading out just after sunrise. But the weather was not looking promising at 7:00 a.m. and it showed during signups. Typically this event attracts hundreds of bikes. All makes and models are welcome, but alas, when I pulled in I counted less than 30 bikes in the lot. Besides a great ride, the goal for the event is to raise funds for the Providence Brain & Spine Institute and Vernonia Cares, Vernonia’s food bank. Despite fewer than the average number of riders participating, the ones that showed had bags of canned food. Dollars were flowing at the 50/50 table and raffle-ticket sales were brisk as riders tried for a second chance at that loaded table of swag. To date, this event has raised over a ton of food and more than $50,000 in cash for the Brain Institute. That’s an impressive sum to help in researching devastating neurological diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s.
The 250 is touted as a poker run with a twist. Riders grab their first two chips, maps are handed out and riders are soon on their way. Having been on the 500, the big difference in this ride is the low-key vibe. No timed check-in to start; no manned checkpoints. Instead, this self-guided tour allots more than eight hours to complete 250 miles. All you have to do is hit the checkpoints and be back by the 4:30 p.m. cutoff to vie for the swag. “Eight hours?” you ask—well, that’s a crazy amount of time to ride just 250 miles. Like I said, this club puts some serious miles on their bikes and you won’t be riding for long if you don’t embrace safety as your friend. Coordinators planning the ride sprinkle tips throughout the directions to keep riders on track and cruising along at a safe clip.
Within a few minutes of leaving the Beaverton Motorcycle dealership, suburbia slips away to the quiet back roads of the Mid-Valley. It’s just bikers riding in open country as the ride continues past horse farms and orchards in full bloom. Farmers are out grooming fields for planting—spring has definitely arrived and the countryside is bursting with color. The first stopping point is a tiny green sign in St. Paul, Oregon, and riders are hitting their stride. Small groups are starting to form and it was evident that the improving weather was getting folks out on the road. Passing through towns like Independence and Scio, the ride stayed mellow and low-key as we headed towards Silver Falls State Park. This is a great place to stop for a photo op. Even in clunky boots, it’s just a short walk to a stunning waterfall and a nice picnic spot if you want to use up some of those eight hours allotted for the ride.
My group opted to continue and head towards the small town of Silverton for our break. This is probably the largest town on the ride, with a little more than 9,000 people. Located along the banks of Silver Creek, we spied the Silverton Coffee Station. A revamped 1950’s-era gas station made for easy parking. Small tables outside allowed us to enjoy the warm sunshine making for one of the best riding days thus far in 2014. The staff here is friendly, offering up coffee, pastries and ice cream. And as an unexpected surprise, they also offer kickass handmade, wood-fired breads that fit perfectly in your bags for a perfect complement to your creekside picnic.
Refueled and fired up, we headed north and opted for another great stop in the road at this time of the year—the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival outside of Woodburn. This year’s route passes the entrance to the farm; you can’t help being drawn in by more than 30 acres of glorious color. This is a beautiful working farm with easy-access parking for your bike, and there are tulips of every shape, color and configuration stretching to the horizon.
The ride continued north, meandering through the berry fields, and soon we were heading back into town. The route was comprised of nearly all back roads; often we were the only ones traversing the countryside. Little traffic enabled riders of all skill level or bike type to take the time to enjoy the scenery.
Pulling into the dealership, it was evident that the number of bikes had swelled since the early morning. The more than 125 bikes made for a nice turnout, despite still being a smaller group than usual. The last poker hand was drawn and scavenger hunt cards were deposited as participants hoped to win a little more than bragging rights. Riders ponied up for a free hot dog and stories were exchanged enabling others to enjoy the adventures of fellow riders on this independent ride. Soon the games were underway and raffle tickets were flying in the air as those perky enough to wait until 5:00 p.m. secured new swag. Riders made plans for the next big ride, fired up their trusty steeds and rode off into the sunset, a perfect ending to a perfect day kicking off the “official” riding season.
To learn more about the club, visit www.rose-city-mc.org.
(This article Gear Up and Clear the Cobwebs: Bikers raise food and funds for local charities was published in the May 2014 issue of Thunder Press, West Edition.)