What is the Rain Run?
Some say that “The Rain Run” is the spring opener for the Washington State BMW Riders’ community. It is definitely low-key. During the dead of winter folks are thinking about shoveling snow off the driveway so they can get down the driveway to their next COVID booster; spring and summer riding is a distant dream, far away on the event horizon. Somebody posts a notice on the WSBMWR FaceBook page asking about the Rain Run, then somebody else says they are going… Hmm. Momentum builds. Often it doesn’t even make the official Club calendar. It just happens.
The Hawk’s Prairie Inn is the traditional meeting spot for the Rain Run. Riders show up around 0800 or so for breakfast and coffee on the designated Friday or Saturday, depending upon whether they are staying for one night or two nights. There are many routes from Hawk’s Prairie Inn to Manzanita. Most folks start out by heading south on I-5 down to Hwy 101 in Olympia, or maybe down to Hwy 6 in Chehalis, or maybe all the way down to Longview so they can cross into Oregon over the Lewis and Clark Bridge. The idea is to maximize fun riding on backroads while getting to Manzanita before the deer and elk come out to play. Or, if it actually decides to rain during the rain run, the idea is to get to Manzanita over nice, mellow roads while staying somewhat dry. YMMV. Most folks ride in twos or threes; this is not a Harleyesque long train of slow-moving motorcycles type of ride. Some folks cross the Sound on a state ferry boat and ride down the Peninsula; there are no rules, just ride your own ride.
I remember my first Rain Run like it was only yesterday… I rode my 2001 R1150GS down to Hawk’s Prairie Inn and went back to back area where the WSBMWR folks were. Breakfast was good. The Club Prez stood up and told everybody to get ready to head out to the briefing in the parking lot. Everybody had to sign a waiver. Then we all stood around to hear the safety lecture. The Prez pointed out the ride leaders. The ride leaders moved toward their respective bikes, and the Prez told us which would be the “slow group,” the “fast group,” etc. I elected to ride in the “half-fast” group, which was to be led by this petite young lady on a black R1100RT. I remember thinking that I should be able to keep up with her, no problem. The roads were dry, so our route leader took us on the fun, twisty, not-so-short route. Doggone, this lady could ride! I was barely able to keep up, but could tell that she was taking it easy. Now I know her as “Tina The Fast.”
We stayed at a motel at Rockaway Beach. Had a great time, and managed to not overboogie during the evening festivities, and had a nice, easy ride home.
How the 2022 Rain Run got started
One Monday in January we were having our usual Monday Hog Ridin’ Fools (HRF) happy hour Zoom meeting, and Tina joined the party, calling in from her winter residence in Mexico. She asked if there would be a Rain Run. Nobody had heard anything about a Rain Run for 2022. She said that the Fools should have a Rain Run this year, even if nobody else was going. We talked about it for a while, and decided that the last weekend in April would work. I made a rez at the Sunset Surf for Beecher and myself for the nights of April 29th and 30th right after disconnecting from our Zoom meeting. I posted our rez details very soon after that on the HRF Telegram chat. Several Fools reserved their rooms at the Sunset Surf for that weekend. I announced our plans for Rain Run 2022 at the next WSBMWR Zoom meeting. As they said in the best movie of all time, The Wild Bunch, “Let’s Go!”
Rain Run HRF Rendezvous
We decided to rendezvous at Southsound BMW at 0940 on Friday morning, figuring we could say “Hi” to Wayne Elston and drink some of that fine SoSo Moto coffee, rather than exposing ourselves to the higher COVID potential of Hawk’s Prairie Inn.
I left Duvall at about 0800, gassed at the Fife Chevron, and got there just about right. Pete rolled in, followed soon by Ron. Wayne showed up on his GS (popping a wheelie), went inside, and brought us out some coffee while we waited for the place to open. Thank you, Wayne! We went inside, looked at bikes, and prepared for our ride.
Friday – The Ride Down
Beech took the first lead. I followed. Pete came next, followed by Ron and Bill. As we passed the turnoff for the Hawk’s Prairie Inn, I started thinking about how the State Patrol likes to park in the center divider down there by Lacey, and slowed down a bit. Beech and Pete motored on. Oh well, I can catch them later. I took the Hwy 101 exit at Olympia and kept an eye out for Beech and Pete. Somehow I had missed the part of the route brief where we were supposed to stay on I-5 down to Chehalis, and take Hwy 6 west through Pe Ell and on to Raymond. Still, it was a great ride, all the way on Hwy 101. Actually it’s 12, then 107, 101 again, then 4 at the Naselle River, then 401 south into Naselle, finally reconnecting to 101 at the Astoria Bridge. All of that was very scenic and I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was a bit of rain, but it wasn’t bad (thank you, Aerostich). Traffic was kinda thick going across the Astoria bridge because they were working on it and had the road necked down to one lane of alternating traffic. Traffic was also moving slowly across Youngs Bay, but it wasn’t a big deal. I gassed at the Chevron near the south end of Seaside and headed out for Manzanita. Rolled into the Sunset Surf parking lot at 14:30. Awright!
Rick was already there, plus a bunch of the WSBMWR guys were there. I checked in, went up to the room, and got into my walking around gear. Saw that Bellingham Bob was there. Also Karen, now retired from the motorcycle tour business. Soon Ron, Bill, then Pete and Beech rolled in. Everybody got settled in then we all walked up to the Manzanita Farmer’s Market. I got a nice sandwich, a couple bags of chips, and some red wine. Cookies for desert. The rain was definitely picking up. We all hung out in our room to discuss our rides, motorcycles, and everything else. Most of us brought out our little plastic cups and we toasted our ride down with a couple shots of Tequila Chamucos.
Saturday – Down Day
It was raining on Saturday morning. We decided to mostly just hang out and walk around town. Some of the guys rode to Wanda’s in Nehalem for breakfast. Beech and I walked up to Manzanita Coffee Company for some caffeine and a bagel. It was too rainy to go on a ride, so we just hung out. The weather gradually improved through the afternoon, and we were able to sit on the bench on the front lawn of the motel and watch all the action on the beach. Lots of happy dogs running up and down the beach. Some crazy people actually went out into the surf. Obviously, they’ve never watched Sharks Happen on YouTube! We walked over to El Trio Loco for dinner. I had the taco salad – it was OK, but not as good as the taco salad at the Duvall Ixtapa, in my humble opinion (IMHO). Lots of bikes in the parking lot. This was the first Rain Run for several riders. The weather continued to improve, and it was starting to look like we’d have a relatively dry ride home. The sunset was magnificent, and I got several nice pictures.
Sunday – the Ride Home
We were up just after daybreak. Had some motel coffee and started to load the bikes. Ron and Pete were up; Bill and Rick were also getting it together. Beech had first lead on the way out on Friday, so this was my turn. My XR caught on the third try (she’s used to living in a heated garage; what can I say?) and after a brief warm up, at approximately 07:00, we rolled out of the Sunset Surf parking lot, up the hill, then north on Hwy 101. Took it easy at first, gradually working up to about 60 mph or so. Somewhere around Arcadia Beach I noticed a vehicle way off in the distance, just sitting on the left side of the road. The man? I slowed down a bit. OH! The guy had stopped to look at the freakin’ elk that must have just crossed 101 and were hanging out on the west side of the road. I hit the hazard lights on the XR and eased past the action. Past the elk, I got back up to speed, but really kept an eye out. We made it over the Astoria bridge, and I followed Garmina’s magenta line back out the same way I came down on Friday. Needless to say, it looked totally different when going the other way! We stopped at McD’s in Raymond for breakfast. IMHO, a sausage with egg McMuffin egg, hashbrown, and a medium cup of coffee is the perfect McFuel for a good morning of mission-oriented riding. Pete and Ron showed up and joined us. Awright! Two options here: join up and ride together, or just take off and each go our own ways? We took off and Ron and Pete rode back via the route that they had already briefed and wanted to take. My route was the magenta line all the way back to Olympia, whereupon we joined the mad traffic of I-5. I was still in the lead, as our breakfast stop wasn’t a gas stop. Lead change only happens at gas stops with the HRF.
We stopped for gas at the Nisqually Chevron (exit 114), fueled our bikes, and switched leads. They had the lanes necked down at the Nisqually bridge, but things opened up very nicely after that. In fact, the average speed was 75+ mph. I bleep you not. Beech and I were riding along in loose deuce formation in the middle lane. I looked in my mirror and saw a WSP in one of those Ford Exploders coming up in the fast lane. No lights. He just eased on by, making people move over out of the fast lane. Must have been in a hurry. Nobody slowed down; we just let him fly on by.
Things kept moving pretty well, even through Fife. Soon we were blasting down the grade toward South Center. Beep, beep, wave; I peeled off at I-405, and Beech continued on towards Mt. Vernon on I-5. Boogied into the HOV I-405 HOV lane. Passed one or two slow movers. 520 (careful now – we’re back in civilization, ya know). Made it back to my secret headquarters in the Snoqualmie Valley at approx. 13:30. Took a break, then got the bike unloaded.
IMHO, the 2022 Rain Run was a great ride. I totally enjoyed the bleep out of it. All you folks who made it are probably agreeing with me right now. Hopefully RR 2023 will be equally as cool.