We called this adventure Bivouac.
A bivouac shelter is any of a variety of improvised camp sites such as those used in scouting and mountain climbing. It may often refer to sleeping in the open with a bivouac sack, but it may also refer to a shelter constructed of natural materials like a structure of branches to form frame may be utilized, which is then covered with leaves, ferns and similar for waterproofing and duff (also known as leaflitter) for insulation. (wikipedia)
When camping on motorcycles you’re limited to a few bits and pieces and forced to strip down to the barest of necessities. A bivouac is just that, camping in its most minimal form. We lived true to this in not only what we carried, but also in how we traveled‑basic planning, solid friends, and shots in the dark as to where we might find ourselves. A six-day adventure. No pre-planned layovers. One final destination: Portland. Actually, two final destinations: Portland and back home to Venice. Simple motorcycles may not have been perfect for the trip but definitely good enough to log the 2500 miles.
We broke this trek into two-day stints. Two days up, two days there, and two days back. Nathaniel Ratliff blasted in our ear buds as we took to road numbers like 128, 299, 5, 110, 99, 26, what have you. But these weren’t the numbers that mattered. The numbers that meant the most were the countless perfectly paved turns along the way through the deserts, vineyards, golden rolling hills, redwoods, and rocky shores of the California-Orgegon coastline. And the number five mattered, too, which was the number of hours until we need our next shot of repulsive energy drink and strip of beef jerky.
Once in Portland, we liaised with our partners in simple back country living‑Thor from SEE SEE Motorcycles, and Benji and Karma from Poler‑at Thor’s amazing shop, a must stop destination if in the Northwest. They invited 40 of their closest friends on two wheels and crafted a weekend camping manifest that could bring tears of joy to a bearded lumberjack. Heading outward, we dropped off the highway, weaving in and out of green timber groves to golden fields underneath classic Portland cloud cover, breaking through to high altitude sunshine with glimpses of Mt. Hood in all her might, and finished off with 78 turns of single lane rubber to tar happiness. Most everyone kept rubber side down with one spectacularly well-executed low side, the only casualty a bit a paint and a bent handlebar.
The camp spot – we have been sworn to secrecy so we’ll give you only a few brief hints and maybe you can work it out one day — was surrounded by 100ft trees, camp fire with 10-pronged skewers, and a reflective lake cold enough to shake anyone’s hangover. The campfire assembly couldn’t be beat with endless tunes provided by our buddy Bill, Smores roasted by Poler, refreshment by House Spirits and Black Star Brewery, dinner on Deus, and brekkie by Stumptown. The Poler gang practiced what they preached, photographing new product in the battlefield and the SEE SEE crew proved their Marshmallow roastin’ and whiskey swillin’ skills. Camp Vibes where in air.
A slow start the next morning was fixed by a few “Coffee beers” and “frothy omelets.” A different dual sport route home was navigated by the legend of Thor over rocks and under power lines back to Portland where we had one more night recovery with new and old best friends. One quick stop off at our friends at West America to scope out the progress on their future adventure and then we finally crashed hard under the stars in a friend’s back yard. A last drop of glorious Portland coffee in the morning and we off we were, back to couch camp with friends in San Francisco and then one last push jetting home down the coast to Venice with a victory shot in front of the shop captured just before our only casualty of the trip, Nevin’s Olympus XA range finder.
Simple good fun with good friends atop two wheels. We called this adventure Bivouac.
Track: Nathaniel Rateliff, A lamb on the Stone nathanielrateliff.com/