Anatomy of a Motorcycle Grand Tour

Where they are and how you can play

Long before there were motorcycles, there were grand tours. Dating back to the 16th century, a grand tour was the journey of the sons of noble families through parts of Europe, which often included collecting art along the way and bringing home the newly amassed treasure trove. These journeys could often last up to a year.

Today, in the 21st century, motorcyclists have their own form of Grand Tour. These tours also involve bringing home a treasure of collected photos, validation stamps or receipts from places visited along the way. Grand tours occur during the warmer months and you can hit each destination whenever you want during the period. In essence, you ride to the designated locations, record each visit and if you complete all the locations suggested, you are rewarded with some sort of trophy. It’s a great way to see places you might not otherwise ever visit.

The American Motorcyclist Association hosts several each year which involve traveling to many parts of the United States.

But you may not have all that much free time. For a rider who wants to keep closer to home in the Northwest, there are presently several such events underway that cover Northwest states and sometimes British Columbia. You may not know about them, since they are often under-promoted or held within the confines of club membership. Let’s have a look at what they are.

Rose City Grand Tour

Hardly a tour of just Portland, this tour is, however, put on by the Rose City Motorcycle Club. It’s the granddad of them all, now in its 34th year and, as far as we can tell, currently the longest running grand tour in the Northwest. Registered riders are provided a booklet that includes 25 random locations you must visit in Oregon, Washington, Montana and British Columbia, picking up a validation stamp at each stop. Complete the 10 locations in Oregon and you’re awarded with a finishers pin. Finish more than that and you’ll be entered into their sweepstakes drawing. The awards and drawing take place in late October. It’s not necessary to be a member of the Rose City Motorcycle Club to play.

The Dam Tour

The Folkestad brothers (promoters of the Hells Canyon Rally) came up with the idea for not just another damn tour, but a Dam Tour. For this one, riders must visit a series of dams and photo either themselves, or their bikes with a numbered card in front of each location. Hit all the dams and you’ll get a crystal trophy.

WSBMWR Club Ride

The destinations and theme change from year to year. In 2010, riders had to travel and ID themselves along as many Washington State Routes as they couldn. Thier point total would be equal to the sum of the state route numbers they accumulated. What was the possible point total? A whopping 52,018 points, not counting the bonus points. You must be a member of WSBMWR to compete.

Café to Café Grand Tour

The Cafe to Cafe Grand Tour is put on by Sound RIDER! in conjunction with its sister publication, Seattle DINING! Riders must visit 15 restaurant locations throughout the Northwest. Those who complete all 15 locations get a personalized placard to hang at home, presumably in the kitchen or dining room. It’s not necessary to dine at each location, but doing so earns you bonus points. Awards are handed out mid-October at a special meal gathering.

Do more than one

Many riders enter into more than one tour per year. Good planning, mapping software and a GPS allow some riders the opportunity to plan out their routes well in advance and not miss the location from one tour while on the way to another for a different tour.

But even if you don’t complete a tour, imagine the places you’ll go that you otherwise never would have known existed. And you can keep your tour materials so you can enjoy previous or missed locations in the years to come.

PT/Spring 2010