Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

This last weekend, I was fortunate enough to take off a couple of extra days and enjoy the wonderful weather that they were having in the Columbia River Gorge.  With the highs in the mid 60’s and above, it was looking up to be a perfect weekend to spend riding the near by forest roads surrounding Hood River.

And while I did get to spend some amazing time exploring on my own, I’d like to take some time to first write about Adventure Sidecar, located in Odell, Oregon just south of Hood River.

While my original intentions were to meet-up with Vernon Wade, owner of Adventure Sidecar to do some riding up in the mountains earlier in the day, I was caught up in a visit from my Cousin, a large brisket being smoked for afternoon supper. And it is pretty hard to resist a slow cooked beef brisket.

So when the food was down, and everyone seemed to be in their lumbering after supper state, I decided it was best to see if Vernon was up for that ride.

A quick phone call, and some easy negotiations to persuade him that it was best to drop what he was doing and go on a ride, and I was on my way over to his house.

Now the first thing I took notice to, as I came up to his house, is how I passed it. Address be damned, that driveway was on the intersecting road, not on the main road.

After a quick turn around, I parked my bike outside his gate and waited for Vernon to let me in.  I recognized the Evil Rabbit gate from a post on Advrider some time back. I just never really placed it until then.

The third thing I noticed, was the sidecars.

I had seen Vernon before on one of his sidecars in Odell earlier this winter, just after a snow storm. I had seen photo’s of him on Advrider, and through all this, I never realized that he didn’t own just one sidecar, but an entire fleet.

Now, I’ve personally never seen so many sidecars, especially owned by any sane individual.  And I must say, I was excited.

Getting Ready to Search for some Morels - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC
Getting Ready to Search for some Morels - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC

I’ve personally wanted to build a sidecar for some years now. I actually got the idea some time back when thinking of doing a winter time motorcycle trip, and how a sidecar could be very useful.  Especially the whole staying upright part of riding.  So seeing all of these sidecars really got me thinking about it all over again.

After quick introductions, Vernon finished up his task (for the most part), and begun wheeling in the bikes into the garage all while carrying on friendly conversation.

He then asked if I had ever ridden in a sidecar, in which I answered no. I’ve wanted to, and I’ve wanted to spend time around them, just never got the time so to speak.  With that he offered up I put my XT in the Garage, and we go up into the mountains in his hack instead.

Now I was really excited.

At this point, I really couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

So with that, we put up the rest of the bikes, he grabbed his gear, and off we went.

As we drove up the road, he began to give me instructions on when to lean, what direction, etc.

It didn’t take long for me to really get into it. Coming from my road racer background, I understood the reasoning for it, and gave it my all.

We went on awhile, and he’d stop every so often, telling me about certain roads, where they went, which ones to enjoy, which ones to avoid. We made a couple stops on the way up the mountain to admire the scenery, snap a few pictures and continue on.

I think the biggest disappointment that came out of that afternoon was my camera.  I was only able to get a few pictures. The rest of them were corrupted. It seems as if my Camera is on its last leg, sometimes taking several power cycles to get it to turn on properly and take photo’s without problem. In fact, only 3 photo’s came out of Mt. Hood. None of the side car. Luckily for me, Vernon took some pictures!

Eventually we made it to the top, and Vernon showed me some Morel hunting grounds. All the while looking to see if any Morels had poked their way out of the ground, he continued to tell me about Adventure Sidecar, and continued to intrigue me.

Vernon just isn’t some insane Sidecar Fanatic, but a sidecar safety instructor as well, which explains the large fleet of sidecars.

An instructor of the S/TEP Program, Vernon offers class’s through the Hood River Community Education through the year. Here is an excerpt from his site on what S/TEP is.

The S/TEP class (Sidecar/Trike Education Program) is a nationally recognized training program for those interested in learning about safely piloting a sidecar or a trike on the street. The basic program is designed to provide the rider with knowledge, confidence and driving skills practiced in a safe controlled environment.

This course provides classroom instruction on riding, protective gear, defensive driving, accident avoidance techniques and a comprehensive course handbook. A full 8 hours of the program will be practical skills demonstrations and an opportunity to practice the driving lessons on a protected, off-street range.

Sheering a Valve Stem is never a good thing - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC
Sheering a Valve Stem is never a good thing - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC

What interested me the most about his program, which makes it more unique than the others ones I have seen offered, is he does his in the dirt.

Still holding to the standard outline, the course is set up exactly as it is supposed to be, and your times must still be within the same given times as if you were on pavement.  This kind of course I feel would be a confidence booster to those who complete it.  Dirt is fun, no matter what you are driving or riding, and it looks especially fun in hack.

So as we continued on our route that afternoon, with another stop at another location to look for Morels, he also talked about his upcoming sidecar tours he will be hosting this year which will start off as the Advanced S/TEP class, followed by a day and a half tour of either the Western or Eastern Columbia River Gorge, depending on what date you attend.

With the final spot scouted out, and no Morels to be found, we began our trek back down the mountain. Taking a rather rutty, washed out road, it wasn’t log before Vernon realized something was wrong.

Halfway down, it seems we sheered the valve stem off of the rear tire on the KLR.  It was at this point, Vernon realized something else as well. In all the confusion of working on the bikes, me showing up, and deciding to take 1 vehicle up the mountain, he forgot to grab his stuff sack with the spares.

Do I at all look worried that we are miles from anyone with a flat tire? Nope! - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC
Do I at all look worried that we are miles from anyone with a flat tire? Nope! - Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sidecar, LLC

Several miles from civilization on top of the mountains, we slowly descended, me ever patiently watching the rear tire, making sure it didn’t come off of the rim.

After a couple stops to let the tire cool, and check everything else, we eventually made it back to his place. Luckily, Vernon lives just at the bottom.

To be frankly honest, even with the flat tire, this ended up being the most exciting afternoon I’ve had in a long time. I got to meet someone else who is passionate about motorcycles (in his case, Sidecars), who is a great individual with some amazing stories to tell, and the amount of fun I had riding in the sidecar just had me grinning ear to ear, and I look forward to the day that I can finally build my own.

I look forward to spending more time riding around the Gorge with Vernon, and hope that one day I can have him train me when I get a sidecar of my own.

If you would like to know more information about Adventure Sidecar, and the class’s they offer through Hood River Community Education, please take a moment to visit their website at http://adventuresidecar.com

Furthermore, I would like to again thank Vernon for allowing me to spend the afternoon with him, and for him taking me out for a memorable first ride in a sidecar.  I seriously had an absolute blast, and not even a flat tire was going to spoil it for me.  Thanks Again

Until Next Time

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