“Check is in the Mail”

Well, maybe not a check, but I did drop all 200+ rally packs in the mail this morning. They are headed your way now. Let me know if something is not right when you receive yours.

I also updated the web site to post the full destination list, all the sample images and a .gpx file with destinations. You can start poking around and planning your rides for April 1st and beyond!

That’s about it for this week. But it is probably enough for this week, too πŸ™‚

Almost Ready to Mail!

We hit a significant milestone this morning – 200 riders registered! And to think that I believed I would be lucky to see 50 riders this first year. Almost all envelopes are stuffed, stamped and addressed. I have a little more to do and will drop them in the mail later this week.

Next weekend is the big reveal…all 30 destinations will be posted on the website with sample pictures and a .gpx file for GPS users. You will be able to download the destination list, the .gpx file and a .zip file with sample images. The rest is up to you!

One request I have for all of you. I recognize that once your flag arrives and the destination list is released that you will then have all the tools to head out. Please remember that the rally starts April 1st. I am releasing the destination list early this year because I want to make sure that those of you that signed up for the very first year of a new rally can see what we have planned and hopefully recognize that this is a legit effort. I am relying on your integrity to not go out early and try to get destination pictures before April 1st. There is no prize for first place in this rally.

I encourage you to take your flag and bike and go practice when the weather allows. Go ahead and send those practice pictures to pnwgrandtour@gmail.com. Go out on a windy day and practice attaching your flag to your bike so that the number remains visible for the scoring team. Have some fun and show us some cool shots.

As always, send your questions to the rally e-mail, use the contact form on this site or just comment on this post. I will get back to you as time allows.

New Info Added to Website

I added a page to the rider resources menu called Linky Links. I added links to a few riding pages I find interesting and I hope you find them interesting, too.

Here are some numbers from the rally:

  • 195 riders registered so far from as far away as Texas, Alaska and Missouri! I don’t want to hear any complaining about how far away the destinations are…LOL!
    • WA – 92
    • OR – 87
    • ID – 6
    • CA, TX, CO – 2 each
    • NV, MO, AK, AZ – 1 each
  • Of the 195 riders registered:
    • Harley (75), BMW (31), Honda (26), Yamaha (21), CanAm (8), Kawasaki (7), Indian (7), Triumph (7), KTM (4), Suzuki (3), Victory (3), Ducati (2) and Aprilla (1) are all represented!
  • Donations to the YMCA so far – $730 (thank you!)
  • Number of teasers released – 3…

I haven’t received registration fees from 8 riders who registered and indicated they planned to pay by mail. If you are one of those riders and haven’t sent it, or if you did send it and haven’t heard back from me, please get in touch (I send a separate email when I receive your check/cash). I will send reminder e-mails to those 8 riders separately. I am getting ready to mail out your flags, but I will not send the package until your registration fees are received.

Most of us have been hit by snow over the last day or so – I had a solid 10 inches or so in my yard yesterday afternoon. Days like those make me dream of riding in warm, sunny weather…it’s a little way off. So, to help you pass the time until all destinations are released, here’s a little teaser of one final destination before I post the full list in 2 weeks.

Riding in northern Nevada poses several unique challenges, especially to riders with limited gas range. Quite simply, there just isn’t much of anything civilized about northern Nevada. It is beautiful country, and I always enjoy my time in the area, but you have to have a plan for filling up. I have ridden around in northern Nevada for hours and seen absolutely no other sign of human life.

It is a strange place for this destination, but somehow a memorial to long distance riding lives in the area outside of Gerlach, Nevada. Full disclosure – the road to get to the actual memorial is a tough piece of dirt. Heavy bikes should be very cautious in particular, and be advised that cell service is spotty at best. Know your limits and don’t push them to visit the memorial. It may be a long time before anyone drives by to help!

So, in light of this challenge, the actual destination will be located nearby in beautiful Gerlach (LOL). Gas? Sometimes. Food? Most of the time. People nearby? Maybe. For those who brave the trip out of Gerlach to the memorial, that location will count the same as the location in Gerlach (one or the other is fine).

So why should you visit the memorial instead of Bruno’s, or maybe in addition to Bruno’s? It can have some meaning to those who are passionate about long distance riding.

All right, that’s it for teasers until the end of the month when the full list is posted on the web site. Dream on, dreamers!

Why the YMCA?

You guys really humble me. Through your generosity, we have raised $670 (and counting) for the YMCA. I honestly can’t say I knew what to expect. I knew we would get some donations but never imagined it would grow so well.

So why did I pick the YMCA? There are many worthy charitable organizations out there deserving our help, but my personal experience with the YMCA helped me decide to use our resources to help them. The YMCA is so much more than a fitness center. My association is involved in all kinds of outreach programs to help bring a sense of community to areas that don’t receive the same level of attention. To be honest, we could all be better people by following the YMCA’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.

Disclaimer – I am a full-time YMCA employee (as of about 2 weeks ago). But I haven’t always been an employee. I was a member of my local YMCA for about 8 years, and the facility was essentially a very nice fitness center for me. About a year ago I volunteered to be a part of my Y’s Advisory Council and began to discover all of the really cool stuff going on in the background. Once that seed was planted and watered I decided to go back to work to try to make my small part of the world a better place. Here are some examples of the YMCA’s impact from my area:

  • When our state closed down except for essential businesses, the YMCA offered child-care for essential workers and first responders. Β Kids spent structured time learning, playing games, doing physical activities, and enjoying meals provided by the YMCA or the school district in a safe environment. Many people of decent means don’t really consider the impact of closed schools on nutrition for the less fortunate among us. The Y delivered, and donations like ours made that possible.
  • The Y offers financial assistance to low income households to ensure they have the same access to top-notch programs offered by the Y. Those “scholarships” are funded by donations from people just like us! I have personally screened and approved several families in my short time in the job, and every one of those families was grateful and deserving. Your generous donations helped make this happen!
  • Many low-income families in our area were faced with a unique obstacle when schools closed and classes went virtual – no or poor internet access. With the prospect of having some of those children left behind in the learning process through no fault of their own, the Y took the initiative and outfitted several camp busses with WiFi capabilities and then drove those busses into the neighborhoods to give the families the access they needed. The project was called “Y On The Fly”, it was very successful and donations from people like us made it possible.

There are many worthy charitable organizations out there, and there is no obligation to donate to the Y to participate in this rally. I wanted to share why the Y is so important to me and I hope you are somehow inspired by stories like these and find your own way to make a difference. The Y is my choice, and I appreciate the generosity of this group more than I can possibly say.

And next week…one final destination reveal. And it is a good one, trust me πŸ™‚

Picture Taking Guidance

Flags are ordered and on the way to my house, stickers are here, destinations are picked and being reviewed, riders are signing up at a very nice rate – all systems are go! We are planning to ship your rally materials at the end of February, and the full destination list will be posted on this website (in the rider resources section) at the end of February, too.

So now that a lot of the heavy lifting is done, let’s talk a little about how to take a good picture that will show us you were at the right spot! Our thought process on reviewing your efforts will center on giving the benefit of the doubt to the rider. In short, your submission DOES NOT have to be an exact picture match to the sample we provide. It should capture enough of the object shown in the sample to allow us to know you were at the right place.

You must ride a motorcycle to the destination. The bike does not have to be the one you gave me during registration – I only asked about it out of curiosity. How can we be sure you travelled by bike? Your ride and the flag must be in your submission photo. This is really the only absolute we have at this time. No flag, no credit. No bike, no credit.

So what is the best way to make sure you can get a good picture? There will be challenges. The flags are good quality, but they will get blown around by the wind. It is useful to have some way to attach them to your bike for the picture. I have used a bungee cord, chip clips, cloths pins and other methods. Some have found creative ways to attach the flag to a cloths hanger. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this, but the problem will most certainly present itself to each of us over the next several months.

I like to position my bike so that the bike is between myself and the object I am trying to photograph. I have had good success attaching my flag to both windshield and trunk. A couple examples are included below. I have worked hard to find locations that will allow for this approach while also providing options to keep yourselves safe. Unlike the Tour of Honor, none of our locations will require multiple pictures. There is one location planned that is a short walk (like 25 feet) from a safe parking area, and for that one I elected to not require your bike in the picture (you still have to ride to the destination). Read the notes for each destination for specific guidance.

Here’s an example of attaching the flag to the windshield. In this case, the destination object might be the memorial and flags in the background. As you can see, we can easily tell you made it to the right pace even though the memorial doesn’t occupy a large portion of the picture. I used chip clips, but the wind wasn’t really blowing.
Here’s an example of using the trunk to hold the flag. In this case the memorial in the background would be the bonus object. As you can see, it would be very easy for us to verify you made it to the right spot.

Questions? I anticipate there will be some coming our way. Let’s get them out there and answered as early as possible. You will have your flags in early March (mailed at end of February) so there should be plenty of time to practice the best way to position the flag on your ride before the rally starts on April 1st. You can ask questions by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post, by using the contact form on this site or by sending an email to pnwgrandtour@gmail.com. I will answer as time allows and consolidate info on the FAQ page.

Our goal in getting this out to you is to improve your enjoyment by reducing your frustration. Practice a few before hitting the road. Send us a picture of your bike with the flag – we enjoy the bike pictures!

Feel free to practice taking pictures and even send them in to the email – pnwgrandtour@gmail.com. We will ask you to include your rider number and destination code in the subject line (your submission will not be rejected if you forget – it just makes it easier for the scoring team members). For example – your email subject line might look something like these examples (info in parenthesis is not required, only provided here for descriptive value):

  • 001 WA1 (Rider 001 at destination WA1)
  • Rider 001 at WA1
  • Tim Allen 001 at Forks (WA1)
  • 001 Forks, WA

As you might imagine, the options are fairly extensive. The important bits for the scorers is the rider number and destination.

Finally…no destination teaser this week, but I do have a sneak peak at what our flags will look like this year πŸ™‚

Destination Teaser…

I have posted 2 of the planned destinations on our Facebook Group in an effort to build enthusiasm and give an idea of the type of areas we want you to enjoy. I’ll recap the first 2 now, and offer up the 3rd site to keep your interest high πŸ™‚

First Revealed – Washington

The first one revealed was the Gold Star Memorial located in Forks, WA. There is a lot of good riding no matter how you decide to approach this location. Forks has an interesting background as the setting of a popular series of vampire movies, but at its heart it is just a small coastal town with a small town feel. Here’s the snippet from the destination guide all registered riders will have access to.

An example of the way you can expect the destination guide to present the information.

As you can see, we plan to provide the GPS coordinates as well as a description of the object and the requirements for a successful picture (in this case the notes say to get a picture of the memorial with your bike and flag present). We will spend more time on how to take a good picture that includes all required elements in another post. You really just need to read the notes! Here’s a picture of the memorial from last year’s Tour of Honor. Yes, that is my ride πŸ™‚

By the way, use this link if you would like to learn more about the Gold Star Memorial.

And use this link if you would like to learn more about the Tour of Honor motorcycle ride.

The Gold Star Memorial located in Forks, Washington.

Second Revealed – Oregon

The second destination I revealed was located west of Bend in the Cascade mountains. I absolutely love this area of Oregon! Warm and dry during the summer months, the area around Bend has plenty of good motorcycling roads to choose from. And Bend offers a wide variety of places to eat, sleep and be merry when the time is right πŸ™‚

The Dee Wright Observatory serves as the destination.

As you can see from the Notes on this destination, I will offer advice when it is appropriate. Disclaimer – you are responsible for your own safety. I work hard to find locations that offer a safe place to park and snap a picture, but you are the “boots on the ground”, and thus must make decisions in your own best interests.

The Dee Wright Observatory is located in some of the best riding available in Oregon.

This highway crosses the Cascade Range between Mt Washington and the South Sister, and the views are absolutely magnificent. This road is like a few others I have planned in that you need to check to see when it opens. It is seasonally open and you will not likely be able to visit this destination until sometime after the rally starts – it could be as late as July!

Third Revealed – Idaho

This 3rd destination is a new reveal! Idaho is one of my favorite riding areas. The state is so varied in topography that endless options exist. Flat and rocky, mountains, lakes and rivers – it has it all! US-95 between Boise and Lewiston is a particularly desolate area that is famous for very warm (hot?) weather in the summer months. The destination along US-95 we have planned for this area is a very popular put-in location for week long raft trips of the Salmon River.

Hells Canyon along US-95.
Hells Canyon – the name just says hot!

White Bird, Idaho is a very small community that caters to the outdoor crowd. Head south towards Riggins and follow the canyon carved by the Salmon River. Head North towards Lewiston and you quickly leave the river behind and travel up and down rolling mountains.

We might give you another teaser in the coming weeks. The entire destination guide will be released at the end of February on this web site. At that point there are no more teasers, just day dreams about rides to come πŸ™‚

Updated Registration and Payment Process

One option that many people have requested is the ability to register and pay on this web site, and I absolutely agree that this is a useful option to have. I apologize to the 90 riders who registered already, but I have figured it out and have changed the registration and payment process to make it easier and more efficient for future signups. Riders do not have to download a form, fill it out, scan it or take a picture of it and then email or snail mail it to me anymore. You also don’t have to write a check or go visit another website to pay the registration fee.

The website now features a link at the bottom of the Rules & Registration page (I put it there to encourage riders to review the rules before registering). Click the button and the rider is taken to a registration page where all the pertinent information is entered into an online form. Note – none of your personal information is stored on this website. Your personal information is sent to me and stored elsewhere.

After answering the questions and submitting their registration, the rider is sent to a payment page where they have the ability to select how they would like to pay (PayPal or credit card processed by PayPal). You do not need to have a PayPal account to use this option. PayPal just handles the transaction and sends the money to the rally. Can you send the payment through the mail? Yes, that will remain an option for those not comfortable with online payments. Instructions will be provided on the payment page.

Once registration is submitted and payment is made, the rally will send a confirmation email with rider number and additional information. This is going to make life more simple for all of us!

It’s Been a Busy Week!

The rally is now up to 83 registered riders as I write this post! It has been a very exciting week watching the electronic and mail registrations arrive. I want to express my gratitude to those of you willing to take the leap of faith that this event will be a good time. I can promise you that I am doing everything I can to make sure that is possible!

So what else is happening in PNW Grand Tour this past week?

  • Stickers are ordered, and if I believe my e-mail from this morning, they are in the mail to me.
  • Rally flag design has been finalized and the flags are ordered. They should arrive in plenty of time to get in the mail by March 1st as promised. The flag is the most expensive part of the rally, and probably the one thing riders will hang on to from the rally, so we wanted to get it right. I think you will be very happy with the flag design!
  • The 30 destinations are picked and we are going through the process of proofing them to make sure you have an enjoyable experience. I plan to e-mail them to you at the end of February and will post them on this web site as well.

Hopefully that will keep you interested for another week or so until I can post some teaser pictures of the stickers applied to a matte blue FJR someone left in my garage πŸ™‚

Finally, I have been working hard behind the scenes to improve the website design and improve user experience. The big improvements I want to implement are the ability to register and pay from the website without having to print, fill out and mail/email. And based on some samples of handwriting I have received, it will be a better experience for me as well…LOL. No changes yet – keep this bookmarked as the official site.

Feel free to leave some feedback as you find the time. I added a contact form to the “Contact Us” page to make it easier to provide comments.

My plan next week is to provide you some examples and tips for taking your pictures at the destinations and then getting them to us at the rally. Stay tuned!

What is a “Grand Tour” Rally?

I have been asked this a few times, and based on some of the posts I have seen on the Facebook group page, I am guessing there are some questions about what a Grand Tour style motorcycle rally is all about.

In the most basic sense, this Grand Tour style rally is a self-guided, self-paced trip to explore some collection of the 30 destinations I plan to provide the riders. Self-guided in the sense that there are no rally organized group rides, and self-paced in the sense that you choose when and where you want to ride, and even how many destinations you want to visit. We give you 30 choices – you chose the ones that are right for you! Will some riders visit all 30 destinations? Yes. And some may only visit a few. It’s up to you!

The approach to this style of rally is pretty simple. You ride to the location, take a picture with your bike and rally flag in the frame and then e-mail it to the rally at your convenience.

I have also been asked about the philosophy used in picking the destinations. Our approach for 2021 is to provide you with great riding in some of the most beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest. The destination proves you made the ride, but the ride is really the important part of this obsession of ours. We tried to adhere to a fairly simple approach when picking destinations:

  • Avoid locations near interstates.
  • Avoid dirt/gravel roads, but when dirt is involved, provide a safe alternative nearby that doesn’t involve dirt roads.
  • Choose objects that are easy to find and sometimes provide some interesting history.
  • Choose objects that allow for safe parking and picture taking opportunities.

So why are the destinations being kept “secret” until the end of February? There is a lot of work involved in picking destinations that meet the above criteria. We need time to make sure the destinations are quality locations.

Be patient – we will have a lot of fun this year!

Registered Riders

If you are registered for the rally then you have a rider number assigned – I sent individual e-mails as I signed people up. If you don’t recall your rider number, take a look at the rider list (menu item at top).

This is the official web site for the PNW Grand Tour rally. You will find the bonus locations (when released), rules for the rally and frequently asked questions (these will evolve over time I am sure). I will also have sample images for every bonus location posted there once locations are released. I plan to maintain a running total for riders and bonus sites.

The Facebook page is fun and will be maintained, but your official source of info is from this web site and from me via e-mails. Our Facebook group has expanded rapidly and it is difficult to keep up with individual posts, so please don’t rely on that medium to ask your questions. As questions come in I will update the FAQ section so others benefit.

So far we have 45 riders signed up. I anticipate more will sign up once bonus locations are visible and that’s fine. For those of you who have already registered and paid, thank you for the vote of confidence. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Please feel free to get in touch with me with questions or concerns as we move ahead. My goal is to maintain enough communication to ensure you know we are thinking about the riders.