2020 Sound RIDER Event Recap

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2020 Sound RIDER! event recap

Two out of four ain't bad - during a pandemic that is

In January I was in Canada working with Rich O'Connor in the Rich's Custom Seats booth during the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. Word of the pandemic was beginning to circulate through the media, but it was well before things went really south.

By March things were getting ugly and lockdown was in the wind. And sure enough, at noon on the Friday just before the Inland Northwest Motorcycle show was scheduled to open, the local health department closed down the weekend event. It was not going to be the best year for motorcycle events.

For the last decade we've run four events each year and participated in another 4-6 events put on by others.

Café to Café - Our event season begins with the Café to Café Grand Tour. 15 cafes spread out across the Pacific Northwest with 7 months allowed for participants to visit each one and document their visit. We looked at the previous pandemic of 1918 and decided to run the event since it does not require group participation. Since everyone has to eat, it was a given riders would get fed one way or another along the way. Participation was 50% of the usual, but interestingly those who completed all 15 locations was close to the usual.

Road Trip - The next event we had planned for late May - The annual Road Trip GPS Tour was designed around a figure 8 version of the North Cascades Scenic Loop. But in early May, things weren't opening up enough to have a group tour be much fun. Imagine getting food to go and sitting around six feet apart in a parking lot eating out of take-away trays. How fun was that going to be? We moved the date to July. But by the first of July things weren't much better so we moved it a second time, this time to late September. And by September most counties were into Level 2 restrictions which made it possible to dine together indoors. Another Boondoggle arose when a chunk of the eastern part of Washington was on fire. There was no chance of moving it a third time, so some of us went ahead with the tour. Indeed, it was smokey and we saw the devastation left behind by various fires. But we did get to enjoy some great riding nonetheless and eat a few great meals along the route in pretty much normal situations.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Wednesday destination. It occurred to me that the tour route included four routes in the Puget Sound that would each make for a great day ride for anyone living or visiting here. Because we stick to the backroads as much as we can on these tours, riders got a unique set of twisties through Snohomish, Island, and Skagit counties. The GPS route and tour book are now available for purchase in the Sound RIDER! Store . I personally can't wait to go enjoy a few of these again when spring arrives in 2021.

Sasquatch Dual Sport GPS Adventure Tour - Initially we'd planned a route for 2020, but early on we nixed the plans. Putting together a 5-day dual sport tour requires pre-riders to ensure segments are open. With things as funky as they were getting, we decided against running that tour at all. Based on what we encountered with the Road Trip tour that turned out to be a good choice. Maybe 2021.

Rally in the Gorge - As summer approached, we watched rally after rally getting cancelled. Here at home we saw the annual Leavenworth event cancelled, but the one that really hit home was when they cancelled the BMW International rally set for Montana this year where we had signed on to be a vendor. In mid-July I could see some light coming through with many counties moving to Level Two restrictions. Would August be better? I waited. When the first of August arrived, I checked the Oregon regulations and we opted to scrap our rally as well since the state wasn't going to move to lesser restrictions that month. Let's hope we see an event in 2021, but for the safety of all, if we have to put off a large group gathering another year, your health means more to us than any economic outcome.

As we get closer to 2021, we're already selecting cafes for the grand tour and even contemplating releasing a book of prior cafes used in the event over the last 12 years. If a Sasquatch or Road Trip tour are in the cards, we have route plans already drawn up. And if we can do the Rally in the Gorge in 2021, it will happen. We miss our "summer home" in Hood River!

Tom Mehren/November 2020


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