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Pipe Dreams: the really long test run

October 16, 2007

“Does anyone know how to get back?”

It was a beautiful fall Sunday, and we were in Granite Falls, over 20 scooters having left Café Racer a few hours previously on a serious quest to see fall colors. At least one bike was suffering from a mechanical problem, while I guess others had decided Darrington was a bit too far away.

Someone did know, and off they went. I’d never been to Granite Falls, but judging from the numerous groups of 2-wheelers ranging from bicycles to Harleys, it’s obviously a popular destination for group rides.


We’d stopped to refuel bike and body; most of the group went to Ike’s, conveniently located next door to the Shell station. This is the Bacon Cheeseburger with a small order of fries and a banana shake. Mmm, MMM!! Starch, grease and lactose… great before a nap, but we had over 40 miles to ride yet.

I was quite pleased not to be part of the group going home. This was the first serious test of the leaner carburetion setup (100 main jet), and so far it was going well. The PX easily matched the pace of the front-runners, showing no signs of fatigue or impending seizure. Faster roads lay ahead, however.

The ride to Snohomish is a nice, easy one in any vehicle. We didn’t stop for antiques, but we did stop at Harvey Field. Doc showed us his airplane, a 1946 Cessna known as a T-Cart (and no, I don’t know why). It’s a small, delicate-looking device covered mostly in a fabric skin. Sharing the hanger was Doc’s 1954 Cushman scooter, which was more interesting to most members of the group, anyway.

We go exactly 500 yards west to Jordan Road and head north. The pace is faster, the twists and turns more numerous, the traffic lighter. There are more trees with leaves in shades of red and gold; there hadn’t been any rain lately, so the leaves on the road were dry, floating stylishly in the group’s vortex, just like you’d see in a commercial for just about any kind of motor vehicle.

The fast people are going faster, but I’m staying with them. I glance at the speedometer, and the needle’s a tiny bit shy of 60. Okay, that’s actually somewhere around 50. The PX’s engine feels vigorous, though not enough to actually go 60. I wasn’t expecting that, but I’m thinking, this is great. And I’m hoping those aren’t famous last words… I have never experienced an engine seizure, so there’s a tiny bit of paranoia. Do you get any warning, or does it just happen?

In no time, we reach SR 530. Not At All Evil K, who led the ride, asks if we want to press on to Darrington. Nobody says no, so we turn right and hit it. There’s just one way to get there; she told us not to worry about staying together as a group, but to go at our own pace.

By now, this has become a pretty familiar scenario. I run with the fast folks for a while, but soon they’re off in the distance, leaving Melissa and Deb, riding two up on the black ET4, and me. No worries. At least there’s not a steady stream of 18-wheelers. Luckily, Melissa knows what I’m doing when I throw on the right turn signal and take to the shoulder, so clumps of faster cars can go by.

I keep forgetting to look for a mile market at the beginning of stretch runs like this. It would be much easier to gauge progress that way. Still, Oso, which is roughly halfway, appears fairly soon. I would love to know why this place is named Oso. Is it a contraction of “oh, so”? If so, oh, so… what?

At this moment, my favorite thing about Oso is the nice new pavement that extends well east of the town limits. If you have to ride a PX 150 fast, a smooth surface means it will be much less nervous.

You’re really in the mountains at this point. I don’t know the names, but the craggy peaks of the North Cascades are simply breathtaking. These are not wimpy little hills, folks, these are mountains. It would be nice to do this at a more leisurely pace. Maybe next time.

What’s the sign up ahead? Darrington!! Yay! It’s not a large place, one you imagine is there because someone decided there needed to be a town right about here. We ride on the main drag and spot a crowd of scooters at a Shell mini-mart.

The PX has made the trip with no discomfort. I’m guessing the 100 jet is going to work fine. I filled up in Granite Falls, and the gas gauge is showing ¾ of a tank. Let’s fill up anyway; we’ll probably be taking a different route home. Melissa says her ET4 has been running poorly, which is why she matched my pace. An ET4 would be much faster, even ridden two-up.

There’s a slower group somewhere behind us, and they haven’t shown up yet. That means there’s time to stretch, and use the facilities at the mini-mart. The line is long. I’m not surprised…

Darrington sight #1

This is a sign that, yes, we’re out in the country. Another one is this:

Darrington sight #2

This is Whitehorse Mountain, the local peak. How would you like to see this from your front porch or living room window? Favicon

  1. Tinker permalink
    October 17, 2007 9:51 am

    Oso is the spanish word for Bear. So did you see any?

  2. October 17, 2007 12:45 pm

    No, I didn’t, though I’ll bet the PX’s exhaust noise would scare them off.

    The Oso Rail Works has the story of how a Spanish-speaking visitor exclaimed “oso, oso” upon seeing a bear, and the name stuck. There’s also info about Whitehorse and Three-Fingers Mountains.

    This is a great trip in any vehicle…

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