Day One: Home to Bend, Oregon

16 May

A1.jpgI’m returning to Oregon again, and I couldn’t be more excited. Last year, I explored Western Oregon, and I had a great time riding along the beautiful coast. The year before that, I rode through the Northeastern part of the state. This time, I’m starting out in Bend, and riding in Central Oregon. I’ll see high desert, deep forest and beautiful lakes. I can’t wait.

 

My early morning flight lands in Portland, and I take a puddle jumper to Roberts Field, Redmond Municipal Airport. I collect my luggage and climb into a cab for the 18-mile ride to Bend, where I’ll pick up my steed for the trip at Wildhorse Harley-Davidson. My cab driver, Billy, is a very interesting guy. He’s new to the job, but clearly really enjoys his work. I hear a little bit of his story – Growing up in John Day, Oregon; 10 years in the Army, serving in Germany, Japan and the Middle East; then back to civilian life, eventually finding his way to his current profession. Billy’s going to do very well as a cab driver, I can tell. He’s got the gift of gab, and he’s a good listener, too.

It’s been two years since I last rented a bike at Wildhorse H-D, but Kelly in the rentals department recognizes me right away. “You’re that writer guy, aren’t you?” I’m flattered – and the fact that I’ve rented from the dealership before really expedites the whole process. My information is already in the computer, and we don’t have to spend a lot of time getting oriented on the bike. The bike, which by the way, is a gorgeous, a Big Blue Pearl Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited with just 2,000 miles on the ticker. I load my gear into the saddlebags and TourPak, strap on my helmet, pull on my gloves and I’m ready to go. Kelly will hold onto my suitcase for me for the week while I ride through Oregon.

A2.jpgI’ve had a long day of travel, but I’ve got a very short ride today – just across town to the BEST WESTERN Inn & Suites of Bend. I check in to the hotel, and I’m thrilled to find out that they have an outdoor swimming pool on the premises, because it’s really hot today. I ask the cool front desk clerk for a dinner recommendation, and he’s a font of information. Bend has a plethora of small breweries and brew pubs, and it seems that everyone has their favorites.

I check in to my room, and head out to explore Bend. I decide to jump on the bike, even though downtown Bend is walking distance from the BEST WESTERN. Bend is an incredibly livable city of 75,000. The Deschutes River runs right through town, and there are parks and green spaces all over the place. Over the past few years, Bend has made an effort to replace many of its traditional traffic light controlled intersections with traffic circles or rotaries, which can be confusing to the uninitiated. Once you get the hang of a rotary, it’s great, and much more efficient than a traffic light.

Bend is a very active, health conscious place. Bicyclists and bicycle shops are everywhere, along with yoga studios, gyms and massage centers. On a hot day like today, the people of Bend are out in their parks, wearing their bathing suits and soaking up the rays. It’s quite a fine sight to see.

A3.jpgIt’s time for dinner. There are many brew pubs in Bend, but the granddaddy of them all is the Deschutes Brewery & Public House. Founded in 1988 by Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewery was one of the pioneers of the craft brewing movement. Many of the other brew pubs in Bend are descendants of Deschutes, owned and operated by alumni of the original. The downtown Bend location is Deschutes Brewery’s flagship, and was recently renovated and expanded. It is a big, yet comfortable pub, with an open kitchen and an unfussy, yet sophisticated menu. The brewery’s beers are the stars, but you don’t have to drink in order to appreciate the ambiance and the food. Since I have to climb back on my bike after my meal, I limit my beer consumption to a sample of Twilight Summer Ale, a seasonal selection. It’s delicious. So is my Garlic Burger. It’s a good thing I’m traveling solo.

I’m back at the BEST WESTERN Inn & Suites of Bend now, and the weather is breaking. The sun is still out, but is hidden behind dark clouds as a thunderstorm rolls through town. I stand out on the covered walkway outside my second floor room and watch the lightning strikes in the distance as the storm moves across the edge of the Cascade Mountains and into the Deschutes Valley.

I retire to my room, and fall asleep listening to the staccato patter of rain on the roof. Tomorrow, the real riding begins.

Miles Ridden: 18

NEXT: DAY TWO: BEND TO LAKEVIEW

Day One: Home to Bend, Oregon

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