Recent reader feedback

Hey there…

“The book is amazing! Can’t wait to put it to use next summer. I will be retired and have a Multistrada 1200 that needs to get some miles on it. First up is all around the Yaak!”

Justin Fontaine
Studio City, CA

A great Washington ride

Sept. 15, 2012

Well, we managed to squeeze in a few more good rides:

In mid August we did a little 500-mile over-nighter up to Fort Benton in north central Montana, then back through Great Falls and along some of our favorite roads along the Missouri River to Helena, then home.

Our longest tour of the year (so far) began Aug. 29 and concluded Sept. 5 – eight days, five of which were dedicated to riding (one was for a wedding and two were for visiting long-time friends). We covered 1,800.3 miles end-to-end in absolutely perfect weather: high 40s to low 50s in the morning warming to high 70s and even low 80s in the afternoon.

This trip took us St. Regis, Mont., then over the pass and along the St. Joe River to St. Maries, Idaho. We knew the top 10-12 miles of the Idaho side of the pass was getting pretty rough. Well, in late August, that was all being rebuilt and ought to be awesome next spring. We did struggle navigating 50- to 200-yard patches of loose and deeply graveled roadbed, fully loaded, pitching downhill with the front end tending to head where it wanted.

We made our way to the Palouse Country of east-central Washington, stopping in to see our favorite barista, Melinda, at the Eclaire coffee shop in Tekoa. Then it was to Steptoe Butte, St. Johns, LaCrosse and south to routes brand new to us.

With just over one million square miles in the Northern Rockies region, even after riding the area for 30-plus years it is comforting to know there are still new pieces of excellent, extraordinary, incredible, etc. tarmac to seek out an explore.

We crossed the Snake River south of LaCrosse en route to Dodge (great saloon) and Starbuck, where there was a tremendous flea market lining the highway. Re-crossing the Snake, we stopped and enjoyed a break at stunning Palouse Falls.

We cruised deserted asphalt, some of it pleasantly twisted, through fields of grain, potatoes, corn, onions, alfalfa and fruit orchards to Kahlotus and Connell and finally Othello for the night. The agricultural productivity of the region, possible with Columbia River irrigation water and a hot climate, is stunning.

At Othello, I recalled spending a night here in the third week of September in 1983, 29 years ago. I’d been to the coast on my ’83 Honda CB 1100 F. When I awoke in the morning, it was raining. It snowed heavily as I rode U.S. Hwy. 12 over Lolo Pass and into Missoula, Mont. You just don’t forget a day like that.

We kept west, passing through Royal City to I-90 where we crossed it and the Columbia, then took a pleasant backroad to Kittitas. Oooo, Hwy. 821 south through the Yakima River Canyon was sweet but with an oh-so-slow speed limit…and it was being patrolled!

At Selah we headed west through Naches, then Rimrock and White Pass, Packwood to Ashford (very remote but very rough), and Alder, then north to Sumner for the night. It was a short one-hour jaunt to Green Lake and Seattle the next morning. The wedding was equally short and sweet; the best kind.

We pulled out of Green Lake and the Seattle metro area Sunday morning at 7:20. After fully traversing the state, 12 hours and 10 minutes later, we rolled up the gravel driveway of friends Jim and Diane Bailey who have a place along the east shore of the Pend Orielle River about 80 miles north of Spokane.

That long day had us hitting Bothell northwest of Seattle, then picking up Hwy. 2 at Monroe and running that to Wenatchee. We hooked into Hwy. 91A north along the Columbia to Chelan for lunch.

The route to Chelan was all pleasant enough once away from urbania, but it was after Chelan that we began to hit our stride in terms of remote and rural two-lane, much of it mountainous to boot.

Right out of Chelan we found what is apparently a county road that took us through grain country, even a two-mile stretch of gravel before blacktop resumed. We ranged up toward Bridgeport, then east to Grand Coulee Dam and a refreshment stop.

Ahh, things were looking up as we hooked north toward Elmer City, then east to Hwy. 21, then north through Keller to where we picked up the little secondary to the ferry at the Inchelium-Gifford crossing over Roosevelt Lake (Columbia River reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam). Wow, is that some fine mountain riding!

At Gifford we ran to Addy because the slightly shorter route to Blue Creek was under construction. Woohoo! Though speeds were posted at 50 mph, then 35 at the twisty summit, we, er, pushed it a little over that, heh heh. Talk about getting some wear from the edges of the tires!

Then down into Chewelah, another quick pit stop, then across the Flowery Trail (gotta love that name), past the 49 Degrees ski area, giving a nod to a doe, fawn and little buck still in velvet, then dropping down into the Pend Orielle River Valley at Usk.

At this point we’d covered about 1,400 miles, yet this last 30 miles was the absolute best piece of moto-road on the whole trip … and it was entirely new to us! There’s a reason (actually several) that I journal my trips. This one will call us back!

The lack of motion was welcome

It was dusky – almost dark – as we rolled the last 19 miles up the river shore to our friends’ brand spanking new home. There we cooled our jets for a couple of days with good brews, good barbecued chicken and ribs, and some fine cocktails including a little Sailor Jerry rum with lime and ginger ale.

None of what we rode home was new, but it was all grand: to Usk and Newport, then Plummer, Idaho, Moscow, Kendrick, Orofino, Kamiah, Lowell and Lolo Pass. About 20 miles from the top of the pass, visibility was down to 100 yards due to forest fire smoke. I was afraid we’d run into a road block any minute but we made it over and down into Missoula, Mont., and back home to Butte, our apparel stinking like a campfire.

This tour represents what sport touring is all about: Riding a good bike with a good companion over excellent roads that are both familiar and new, seeing new sights and communities while meeting great people, then taking a break to hang with family while a nephew gets hitched, and hooking up with 25-year friends for a couple of days to celebrate their new home.

Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.

– Cole Boehler

Happy book owners

We love positive feedback from purchasers of “Motorcycling Montana.”

 

This came in today, May 7.

“Hi Cole,
“I bought this book for my boyfriend. He has looked through it and loves it! Smart choice on the spiral binding. He can’t wait to do some of the rides in the book. I think we saw it in a bar that was selling it actually.

“Great Book!

Frances Bonnett

Missoula, MT

We love reader feedback

May 3, 2012

“Cole,

“I just wanted to tell you how much we have enjoyed the book and the newspaper (new – Northern Rockies Rider). The publication was with perfect timing. We are planing a trip to Montana this summer to ride with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law from Willsal (MT). We ride with my parents who are in their seventies, my brother and his wife and my aunt and uncle. We all ride ‘Wings, mom and dad’s being a trike.

” Our trip should start June 23 and end July 3. We are going to ride the Beartooth, a little of Yellowstone and north of Willsal.

 “I want to tell you how much the paper gets read at work. Me and my friends ride but we all ride different brands and we have really enjoyed the unbiased open-minded approach you present  for better motorcycling.

“If by chance you and your wife are free during our trip, we would offer an invitation to ride with us.

“Again, thanks and safe riding.

–Bob Randall

Gurnee, Ill.

Back to the printer

Well, the BMW shop in Missoula, Big Sky Motorsports, ordered a case (16) of “Motorcycling Montana” touring guide books last week, the Town Pumps Convenience stores were shipped over 200 in the last couple of weeks, and today the World Museum of Mining just ordered 10 more. We’re now down to about 100 books so I contacted the printer last week and scheduled another press run for June 1. My sister, Kim, just finished reading proof again, and we are working on improved photo color correction, but will have new files to the printer on time. This means we should have new books in hand by about June 21. I hope the last hundred lasts long enough… but I can see it won’t. Any delay in filling orders shouldn’t be too long.

 

Beartooth Harley Davidson buys 32 copies of Motorcycling Montana

Beartooth Harley Davidson and High Mountain Motorsports in Billings, Montana, had an initial quantity of 18 copies of Motorcycling Montana. They called yesterday and were down to just one book so they bought two more cases (32 books)! This is a top flight motorcycle dealership and they know a thing or two about retailing and merchandising.

In addition, the Town Pump convenience stores in Montana initially ordered 510 copies. We sent them 110 more copies in late February and now have 71 more copies we’re getting ready to ship.

We’re now down to about 200 copies from the initial press run of 2,600 and the motorcycle touring season hasn’t even begun here. Looks like I’ll be talking to the printer in Great Falls, Montana, early next week to set up another run. To maintain my price, I’ll need to order another 2,500. But, man, that ties up a lot of money! Besides, where do I store 156 cases of books? My bikes will not be sitting out in the weather while their parking spots are filled with books! Rent a storage unit? More expense!

Montana: That first ride of the season

Editor’s note: We’ve started a periodical for our part of the world called Northern Rockies Rider. This is a personal column from the editor and publisher, who also published 2012’s “Motorcycling Montana,” the definitive guide to riding the Big Sky Country.

By Cole Boehler

Editor and Publisher

Northern Rockies Rider

Some lucky few who live in the Northern Rockies can ride year-around, those mossbacks over on the coast. The rest of us igloo dwellers anxiously scan long-range weather forecasts looking for the first window of opportunity.

This year in southwest Montana there were actually a few days in January nice enough to get out and ride. Work and other obligations kept me from taking advantage.

In February we saw most of our winter, which wasn’t much but it was cold and the occasional snow meant ice hazards.

As March arrived we had a warm, dry spell forecast toward the end of the first week, high temperatures in the upper 50s and surfaces dry if not clean. Keeping an eye on the weather, I called my brother who lives about 115 miles away to see if he was ready. He was.

The 2011-12 layup had been just been four months and one week – not bad by Montana standards.

The night-before pre-first-ride check is usually a fine time. It is me and my machine in the garage, some tunes on the stereo, maybe a fire burning in my wood stove, a cold brew on the bench. Marilyn is in the house digging out, checking and organizing all the cold weather riding gear.

I had taken care late last fall to make sure the mount would be as road worthy as possible with minimum fuss come spring.

The battery did not need installation or checking since I’d kept it on a Battery Tender. Fresh oil was in the crankcase and a new filter was screwed to the block.

When I went to verify tire pressures, I discovered my digital gauge had given up the ghost over the winter. I dug the old-style pencil gauge out of the tool box: decidedly low-tech but reliable enough.

Then I discovered that the valve in the front tire stem must have been gunked solid or sealed with a dab of ice, for air would not go in. Was I foiled right out of the chute? Much fiddling (and some cursing) and the tire took air. The rear was no problem.

Kaput digital gauge, reluctant stem valve… If anything you own is marginal, winter will reveal it to you. Check this stuff the night before the first ride.

In the past, a few pieces of stray dog food kibble below the bike caused some alarm, especially since we don’t have a dog. Had the rodents made a mouse house in my air box? Investigation revealed they found elsewhere to make a winter nest. No kibble in the vicinity this year.

The oil level was good. Brake and clutch hydraulic fluids were right where they should be and still honey-colored after last season’s change. No leaks were evident anywhere including engine oil and coolant, forks or shock.

Bulbs in headlights, tail and brake lights, turn signals and running lights all functioned properly.

All controls operated smoothly but I noticed a little too much slop in the throttle. A quick adjustment and the slack was gone.

The key slid into the ignition switch. I gave it a turn and the electrics came to life with gauge needles sweeping the dials to indicate a ready state.

I pulled in the clutch and touched the starter button. The engine turned over twice, maybe three times before there was fire in the hole – in all the holes! There was no miss or rough running thanks to a fully charged battery and to treating the gasoline at layup last fall.

I realized I was smiling.

The computer told the electronic fuel injection to enrich the mixture and push RPMs to 2,300 where it stayed for 60 seconds or so before gradually dropping down to 1,100 as the temperature gauge began to register.

I made sure I had it in neutral before working the clutch lever several times to free up likely sticky plates. It dropped into gear with a moderate clunk. Excellent! We’re ready!

It’s 32 degrees when we start the coffee pot the next morning. We aren’t leaving for a couple of hours so it’s warmed up to a balmy 36 when we’re ready to mount. Three layers below the belt, four above. It’s so warm I decide against my silk sock and glove liners. My glasses keep steaming up, though, as we finish preparations.

Two miles from our house we begin an eastward climb over 6,700-foot Homestake Pass. It’s nippy on top, probably 30 degrees or so, but we only have to endure that for five minutes before we begin losing altitude and gaining degrees.

As we ascend, then descend, the summit, we are wary of roadside snow that may have been melting and has turned to ice. We are relieved to find the surface is dry and the sand is gone. We run along at 80 miles per hour, feeling good – really good! The sun is shining, the grass still in brown hibernation. It will be greening up soon enough.

We see my brother is waiting in the bakery parking lot, dabbing his bike with a cleaning rag. We are all smiling and talking. We run into friends at the bakery and visit a bit over steaming cups of good coffee.

Then it’s out onto a two-lane highway and we head south with me in the lead, brother following.

The wind begins to pick up, not bad when it’s a true headwind but more annoying when it’s quartering. We have no wind shortage in Montana and soon it’s beating us. It comes with the territory and the season, a small price to pay to be riding good bikes with good company through awesome country with the roads practically all our own.

We enjoy a hearty brunch an hour down the road. As we eat, I remark to my wife that for some reason I don’t feel the usual lay-up rust in my reflexes and muscle memory.

I’m hitting my cornering lines fine: not too early, not too late, no significant mid-corner corrections. My throttle-clutch-shift coordination is just fine, no clumsy gear gnashing. No extraneous environmental factors are catching me off guard. Why is that? Usually I’m quite tentative on the first ride until “the groove” returns.

Our route takes us more southwest, still battering our way through the gusts. I follow Brother over the next mountain pass which is also clean and dry. We get to scuff the outer edges of the tread. Nice!

Now our route turns northwest and we getting hammered by a side wind. As we head more northerly, the wind comes in quartering from behind. In certain sections it is an outright tailwind and you can hear the engine and exhaust plainly. It feels almost as though we are riding in a total calm.

My brother heads east, we head west toward home, this time over Pipestone Pass. Here there is water running over the surface in places but at 3:30 p.m. freezing is not a threat, even near 7,000 feet. But there is plenty of sand so we ease back down into the Summit Valley, no corner carving here, respecting the limitations of motorcycle tires and just two wheels.

We unload our gear and paraphernalia, then snug the bike into it’s usual spot in the garage. It’s got muddy water sprayed all over the undercarriage and lowers but that’s merely evidence we have been playing today. It can be washed off another time.

The Battery Tender is connected and the cover goes on.

We head into the house and strip off the heavy outer garments and then the under- layers. Then it’s time to grab a cold beer from the refrigerator and drop the end gate of the pickup for a place to sit. We enjoy the spring-like weather and late-day sun as we celebrate another wonderful day of Northern Rockies riding.

Of course, the conversation drifts around to, “Hope the weather is good next weekend. You know, we could take that routes through Deep Creek and over Kings Hill, maybe come back along the Missouri. Yeah, that’s it … as long as the weather holds.”

Damn, that beer is good!

And so is life!

– Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.

Motorcycling Montana News

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated “What’s New.” We’ve been busy with the book distribution and marketing and with the holidays, including an inspiring week in New Orleans. What a place: what food, music, architecture and history!

But now it’s back to work!

Retail book sales were excellent up through Christmas as we were hoping and as was expected: they make fantastic, thoughtful and original gifts for the rider on your gift list. Post-Christmas, we’ve seen a nice bump in sales from those who’ve received them as gifts, then ordered additional.

Now we’re seeing a shift. Most recent buyers are those who are seriously planning to tour The Big Sky in 2012, or who are ordering them for buddies they’re trying to convince to go along.

We took delivery of 2,600 books in mid October. So far a little over 1,900 have been either distributed at wholesale for retail, or have been purchased outright at retail. A couple of dozen wholesalers have re-ordered, including one bike shop that bought a full case of 16 books after having sold their initial order of six. I was on my way to a funeral in eastern Montana on Sunday (Jan. 15) and stopped at a tavern in Columbus that is retailing books; they had started with six, sold them, then bought six more. And so it goes.

Here’s the thing: we’re down to less than seven hundred books and we expect them to be moving out at an increasing clip as the Montana riding season nears. We’ll also be retailing them ourselves at bike shows and events beginning in May. When we get down to perhaps 200 copies, we plan to order more. The re-printing/binding process will take at least 30 days, so there may be some delay in filling orders then.

More importantly, like everything, there is efficiency and better pricing in producing large quantities. A reprint, however, would probably be just 1,000 copies, which means our unit-costs will be considerably higher than when we ordered 2,600. How much higher remains to be seen but you can be sure our second printing will have to carry a higher retail price. The point: if you’re thinking of buying a book, buy it now so you can get initial first-run pricing of $29.95. The CD version is just $20.00 and has no shipping/handling charge.

Reader/purchaser feedback has been very gratifying and very positive. Check it out by pushing the “Feedback” button in the home-page header.

Cant’ wait to ride the Beartooth Highway this spring…

What’s New?

April 30, 2013

Yellowstone Harley Davidson in Belgrade, Mont., is now our top book retailer – having purchased 124 copies! Go-o-o-o-o YELLOWSTONE H-D! (We’re betting Beartooth H-D in Billings will be placing another order soon and will probably top Yellowstone…)

We are about halfway through our June, 2012 second printing and and we will not be doing a third printing. We are hoping they will last through this season and next, because we won’t be releasing a revised second edition until November of 2014. Better get one now while supplies are available.

April 25, 2013

It seems a review of “Motorcycling Montana,” posted on the FJR Forum by Fred Wills in Connecticut, brought quite a few books orders. Thanks, Fred! The review, for you skeptics, was entirely spontaneous. Fred bought a book and was impressed thus:

“I have always had a strong yearning to ride and explore some of the wide open spaces of the Western US on motorcycle, with one of the bigger draws being touring in and around the national parks of Montana, Yellowstone and Glacier. So naturally when I caught wind of this guide book I had to get myself a copy.

“The book is quite a substantial offering. It is a handy 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ page format, convenient size for stashing in a saddle or tank bag, with a 1 1/2” plastic spiral wound binding of 488 pages plus fold out sectional dividers. The guide is printed on heavy gauge glossy paper stock with heavier card gauge stock outside pages and dividers, all with high resolution photos and maps throughout. It is shipped with a copy of the Montana Official State Highway Map as a reference.

“The book is divided into the six major geographical sections of the state: Glacier Country, Russell Country, Missouri River Country, Custer Country, Yellowstone Country and Gold West Country. Each “Country” section has an overview map (on the handy foldout divider) and an overview of what to expect in that region, along with some background info about the people, places, demographics, history and modern day conditions of the area. Then various possible touring routes are laid out, including highlighted map insets, along with the author’s own insights and experiences along those routes. At the end of each section a small area is provided for you to make your own notes.

“The book is not just your usual tour guide, nor just a collection of one guy’s ride reports through the regions, but rather it is a seamless combination of the two. The insights of a fellow rider who has lived, ridden and written about these roads for decades is an invaluable asset to a potential visitor. No doubt, it will help avoid the possible pitfalls, avoiding tourist traffic and boring highways in favor of the local gold nuggets of the secondary highways, byways and local roads and help you be more prepared for conditions and climate when you do make that memorable road trip.

“Though the book is written as a guide book, I read it from cover to cover for the entertainment. I particularly enjoyed the sections about riding in and around Glacier Country, Yellowstone, and of course the famous routes over Chief Joseph pass and the Beartooth Highway. Knowing more about these great rides will make trip planning a breeze, and even more enjoyable when I get out there.

“Scattered throughout the guide are advertisements from various establishments located along the route or region who cater to the needs of the traveling motorcyclist, which sure seems like would be a great resource to have along when out on the road.

“The high resolution photography is all top notch in my esteem, and has me salivating, anxious to get out and experience the Big Sky Country more than ever. I would highly recommend getting yourself a copy to bring along if you’ll be headed that way any time soon, or even just to join me in dreaming of the day.

“Although it may sound otherwise, I have no affiliation to the author or publisher other than knowing him through the forum. I purchased my copy from him directly (from the web site linked to above) with no strings attached. I just think he has done a fantastic job in sharing his insider perspective on his home state with his fellow two wheelers, and wanted to share the opportunity with anyone else who might be headed that way.”

Wow! Thanks for the kudos, Fred!

And here are some responses the review generated:

“Cole even has some routes this old Montana boy didn’t know. Had to buy the damn book … and liked it.”

– Niehart

“Dang it Fred, the other day you screwed me out of 45 minutes when you posted up a link to an oil filter video and today you cost me $35 on a book. I’m riding Montana in July and it should come in handy.

“You’re KILLING me here, Fred!”

– Abercrombie

“I would do another 28 days doing the rides from this mentioned book. It too looks awesome.”

– LAF

“Thanks Fred, very timely post.

“I didn’t know about this book. It will be very useful this year as I plan on doing the Road to the Sun then heading south through Idaho, pick up some tires and bits for my moped, then head home via Wyoming and Montana.

“Ordered my copy today.”

–Kamal

“Ordered the book – awesome resource!”

– David Foley

“I have five riders coming up to Boise from So. Cal. the end of July. We will head out for Kalispell and use that area for our home base and explore from there. This book looks like a great source of information.

“Thanks for the post, Fred W.”

– Fly Bye

“Just ordered mine, thanks for the information!”

– RPrice

Nov. 29, 2012

I was checking some info last week on which retailers are the top sellers of “Motorcycling Montana.”

In aggregate, that would be Town Pump stores. We distribute through 64 of their locations and in total they have probably moved 1,200 books. One store in Shelby, Mont., managed by Connie Bock, has sold 51 books! Wow! The location, near the east side of Glacier Park, has something to do with their excellent sales, but more likely it is that Connie rides, and so she recommends the books to folks who arrive at her store on two wheels. Way to go, Connie!

Now the single best retailer of “Motorcycling Montana” is Beartooth Harley-Davidson in Billings, Mont. They account for 92 books sold! Congratulations Beartooth Harley! They have a nice display near their checkout counter and apparently make many impulse sales.

Yellowstone Harley-Davidson in Belgrade, near Bozeman, Mont., is our number two individual retailer: 76 books! Way to go Yellowstone H-D! And thanks from all of us at “MM.”

Third runner-up is Big Sky Motor Sports out of Missoula, Mont., a BMW/Kawasaki dealer. Their parts guy, Dean, has read the book so recommends it to their many customers. Thanks Big Sky Motor Sports!

Grizzly H-D in Missoula just started stocking the books in July and now account for 54 books! Awesome and thanks!

Now, here’s a surprise: Krisco Liquor in Missoula has sold 51 copies. What? A liquor store? Yup. They display the book prominently near their checkout and recommend it to riders. That’s all it takes, apparently. Thanks Krisco Liquors!

So, back in May we ordered 2,500 more copies from the printer, Advanced Litho in Great Falls, Mont. (They do first-class work.) Of that 2,500, approximately 1,800 remain. We promised folks we wouldn’t do a revised edition until 2015, which we will commence developing in 2014. But we have decided to not do another printing between now and late 2014. This means the remaining 1,800 copies are just going to have to last until then (which is highly unlikely). Depending, this means – best-case for us – the book could be out of print by the middle or end of 2013, and perhaps unavailable for a year or so. You may want to get one now.

Ride hard, ride free, ride well and ride safe!

Cole Boehler, Author

Sept. 15, 2012

Well, we managed to squeeze in a few more good rides:

In mid August we did a little 500-mile over-nighter up to Fort Benton in north central Montana, then back through Great Falls and along some of our favorite roads along the Missouri River to Helena, then home.

Our longest tour of the year (so far) began Aug. 29 and concluded Sept. 5 – eight days, five of which were dedicated to riding (one was for a wedding and two were for visiting long-time friends). We covered 1,800.3 miles end-to-end in absolutely perfect weather: high 40s to low 50s in the morning warming to high 70s and even low 80s in the afternoon.

This trip took us St. Regis, Mont., then over the pass and along the St. Joe River to St. Maries, Idaho. We knew the top 10-12 miles of the Idaho side of the pass was getting pretty rough. Well, in late August, that was all being rebuilt and ought to be awesome next spring. We did struggle navigating 50- to 200-yard patches of loose and deeply graveled roadbed, fully loaded, pitching downhill with the front end tending to head where it wanted.

We made our way to the Palouse Country of east-central Washington, stopping in to see our favorite barista, Melinda, at the Eclaire coffee shop in Tekoa. Then it was to Steptoe Butte, St. Johns, LaCrosse and south to routes brand new to us.

With just over one million square miles in the Northern Rockies region, even after riding the area for 30-plus years it is comforting to know there are still new pieces of excellent, extraordinary, incredible, etc. tarmac to seek out an explore.

We crossed the Snake River south of LaCrosse en route to Dodge (great saloon) and Starbuck, where there was a tremendous flea market lining the highway. Re-crossing the Snake, we stopped and enjoyed a break at stunning Palouse Falls.

We cruised deserted asphalt, some of it pleasantly twisted, through fields of grain, potatoes, corn, onions, alfalfa and fruit orchards to Kahlotus and Connell and finally Othello for the night. The agricultural productivity of the region, possible with Columbia River irrigation water and a hot climate, is stunning.

At Othello, I recalled spending a night here in the third week of September in 1983, 29 years ago. I’d been to the coast on my ’83 Honda CB 1100 F. When I awoke in the morning, it was raining. It snowed heavily as I rode U.S. Hwy. 12 over Lolo Pass and into Missoula, Mont. You just don’t forget a day like that.

We kept west, passing through Royal City to I-90 where we crossed it and the Columbia, then took a pleasant backroad to Kittitas. Oooo, Hwy. 821 south through the Yakima River Canyon was sweet but with an oh-so-slow speed limit…and it was being patrolled!

At Selah we headed west through Naches, then Rimrock and White Pass, Packwood to Ashford (very remote but very rough), and Alder, then north to Sumner for the night. It was a short one-hour jaunt to Green Lake and Seattle the next morning. The wedding was equally short and sweet; the best kind.

We pulled out of Green Lake and the Seattle metro area Sunday morning at 7:20. After fully traversing the state, 12 hours and 10 minutes later, we rolled up the gravel driveway of friends Jim and Diane Bailey who have a place along the east shore of the Pend Oreille River about 80 miles north of Spokane.

That long day had us hitting Bothell northwest of Seattle, then picking up Hwy. 2 at Monroe and running that to Wenatchee. We hooked into Hwy. 91A north along the Columbia to Chelan for lunch.

The route to Chelan was all pleasant enough once away from urbania, but it was after Chelan that we began to hit our stride in terms of remote and rural two-lane, much of it mountainous to boot.

Right out of Chelan we found what is apparently a county road that took us through grain country, even a two-mile stretch of gravel before blacktop resumed. We ranged up toward Bridgeport, then east to Grand Coulee Dam and a refreshment stop.

Ahh, things were looking up as we hooked north toward Elmer City, then east to Hwy. 21, then north through Keller to where we picked up the little secondary to the ferry at the Inchelium-Gifford crossing over Roosevelt Lake (Columbia River reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam). Wow, is that some fine mountain riding!

At Gifford we ran to Addy because the slightly shorter route to Blue Creek was under construction. Woohoo! Though speeds were posted at 50 mph, then 35 at the twisty summit, we, er, pushed it a little over that, heh heh. Talk about getting some wear from the edges of the tires!

Then down into Chewelah, another quick pit stop, then across the Flowery Trail (gotta love that name), past the 49 Degrees ski area, giving a nod to a doe, fawn and little buck still in velvet, then dropping down into the Pend Oreille River Valley at Usk.

At this point we’d covered about 1,400 miles, yet this last 30 miles was the absolute best piece of moto-road on the whole trip … and it was entirely new to us! There’s a reason (actually several) that I journal my trips. This one will call us back!

The lack of motion was welcome

It was dusky – almost dark – as we rolled the last 19 miles up the river shore to our friends’ brand spanking new home. There we cooled our jets for a couple of days with good brews, good barbecued chicken and ribs, and some fine cocktails including a little Sailor Jerry rum with lime and ginger ale.

None of what we rode home was new, but it was all grand: to Usk and Newport, then Plummer, Idaho, Moscow, Kendrick, Orofino, Kamiah, Lowell and Lolo Pass. About 20 miles from the top of the pass, visibility was down to 100 yards due to forest fire smoke. I was afraid we’d run into a road block any minute but we made it over and down into Missoula, Mont., and back home to Butte, our apparel stinking like a campfire.

This tour represents what sport touring is all about: Riding a good bike with a good companion over excellent roads that are both familiar and new, seeing new sights and communities while meeting great people, then taking a break to hang with family while a nephew gets hitched, and hooking up with 25-year friends for a couple of days to celebrate their new home.

Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.

– Cole Boehler

Aug. 10, 2012

My, how time flies!

Where has summer gone?

We have been so busy with our new publishing project – the monthly Northern Rockies Rider – and with trying to squeeze in a few good rides, that we haven’t had time to post here.

We got our new shipment of books and probably 400 of the second printing are now in distribution. This is a second printing, not second edition. We did put some effort into cleaning up the text and expended more effort on further photo color correction, so it is definitely an improved version.

It has been a dry summer but the riding has been good, with the exception of a few forest fires that have put some smoke into the air.

What’s your definition of a “good motorcycle ride”?

Ours is: “We returned without an incident or problem.”

Pretty simple.

By our definition, almost every single ride we have taken qualifies as “good.”

However, beyond “good” we hope to apply adjectives like “incredible,” “awesome,” “spectacular,” “fantastic,” “extraordinary,” “amazing,” “magnificent” and more.

Maybe it’s global warming, but we find early- and late-season rides now seem more plausible than ever before, so we may yet get in another good, long one.

We have to note sewveral trips we’ve taken so far this year that qualify as “incredible, awesome, spectacular, fantastic, extraordinary, amazing” and “magnificent.”

In late April we rode 1,500 miles in Montana, Idaho, British Columbia and Washington, then back through Idaho and home to Montana. We did this with one quite tolerable day of rain and four days of beautiful sunshine, one of which we rode, for the sheer joy of it, in shirtsleeves in 80-degree air!

In May, again in three days of perfect weather, we rode some fantastic Idaho routes: to Boise, then Lowman, Stanley, Salmon and home through Montana’s Big Hole River valley.

In early June we got in a few days and 800 miles in our favorite part of Montana, the northwest corner of the state – the Yak Country, Lake Koocanusa and Flathead lake. Even illness and foul, wet weather couldn’t entirely devalue that tour.

We were busy with work and motorcycle shows and events during much of June and July, so didn’t really get out again until early August.

That time we covered about 1,000 miles in three days. There were six of us (three of us siblings with our mates) on three bikes. That tour covered the Beartooth Highway of Montana and Wyoming, the St. Joseph Scenic Byway and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.

Those three legs would probably qualify for most North American Top Ten lists, and certainly anyone’s Top Twenty list. “Incredible,” yadda yadda…

Ah, life is sweet.

May 5, 2012

Well, the BMW shop in Missoula, Big Sky Motorsports, ordered a case (16) of “Motorcycling Montana” touring guide books last week, the Town Pumps Convenience stores were shipped over 200 in the last couple of weeks, and today the World Museum of Mining just ordered 10 more. We’re now down to about 100 books so I contacted the printer last week and scheduled another press run for June 1. My sister, Kim, just finished reading proof again, and we are working on improved photo color correction, but will have new files to the printer on time. This means we should have new books in hand by about June 21. I hope the last hundred lasts long enough… but I can see it won’t. Any delay in filling orders shouldn’t be too long.

March 13, 2012

Wow, it’s been a long time since we updated our posts here! ‘Bout time!

We’ve been selling the heck out of the books! We wound up with a first press run of 2,600. Well, we only have about 350 of those left and they are going fast. In the last two weeks 123 more books left our inventory. A second press run is probably in the future, but as we’ve noted before, the price will have to increase (because the press run will be smaller and, due to economies of scale, per-unit prices costs well be higher). Buyers can still get the best and only Montana motorcycle touring guide for $29.95 until the first run is gone. Hurry!

We’ve been getting extraordinarily positive feedback as readers apparently appreciate all the in-depth Montana route reviews, fully illustrated with pictures and maps. They also appreciate all the information about Montana businesses that are motorcycle-friendly and that are seeking motorcycle tourist business: lodging, fuel, saloons, entertainment, attractions, dealerships and shops, parts, repairs, tires, accessories, rentals, sales – it’s all included.

We got out for our first ride Sunday – temp was 36 degrees when we pulled out but got into the mid-50s; lots of wind, a little sand on the passes but no ice and very light traffic! We did this loop on our latest Yamaha FJR 1300 which we picked up the day before. We saw a number of Harley Davidsons out, some BMWs, Gold Wings, too. We left Butte, hit Three Forks, rode to Norris, Ennis, Virginia City, Sheridan, Twin Bridges and back to Butte – about 190 miles. Because of the light traffic, early- and late-season Montana motorcycle touring is the best, if you can stand diverse weather conditions.

The motorcycle touring in Big Sky country this season should be exceptional, though fuel costs are worrisome, even though it means bikes are even more practical.

We were at the Euro Moto Show in the Seattle area last week. Lots of slick BMWs, Triumphs, Ducatis, Aprilias, Moto Guzzis, MV Augustas, KTMs… even some Urals! We also sold a couple of dozen books and put on a seminar on the best Montana motorcycle routes.

We’re heading to the S.M.E.G. Motorcycle Show in Kalispell, Montana, May 19, then we’ll have a booth at the Montana Folk Fest in Butte, and booths at the Beartooth Rally in Red Lodge, Evel Knievel Days in Butte, and The Testical Festival at Rock Creek, Montana. Mmmm, rocky mountain oysters!

Gonna be a busy summer. Y’all come to Big Sky Country and enjoy the best Montana routes and riding imaginable.

Cole

Motorcycling Montana

Dec. 16, 2011

Things are really starting to move. We have 85 percent of the writing and the photo and map editing done. The rest will be complete in 10 days. Meanwhile we’ve got three sections of the book built and proofed and a fourth should be done in the next four days.

We expect to have all eight of the book sections — estimated at 480 pages — built by September 9 with more proofing to follow. We have scheduled the first press-run for September19. If things go as planned, the book should be ready for release by October 10. We should be able to commence shipping by October 20.

We’ve been working on this for 13 months and things are on track.

This must be what a pregnancy feels like: the mass of our baby just growing and growing, maturing at an increasing rate until . . . it pops out, complete! Our “due date” is just five to six weeks out and our anticipation and excitement for the delivery grows accordingly.

We hope you, too, are anticipating seeing our baby. It will be beautiful!

Cole Boehler
Editor and Publisher

Cole Boehler, unfortunately, left this earth on April 30th, 2016. He died in an accident on the Jefferson River in Southwest Montana. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, friend, colleague, and mentor.

Motorcycling was a passion to him. He shared this love with many and he will always be remembered through his words, the photographs that he shared, and conversational style of writing that was truly unique.

The last year has been very painful and full of difficult decisions. Without Cole, we will no longer continue to print more publications. When the inventory we have in stock is gone, we won’t be ordering additional press runs.

Remember his words: “Ride hard, ride free, ride well and ride safe!”

 

Motorcycling Montana is the definitive and only motorcyclist’s guide to touring Montana. Nearly 200 routes in 500 pages of informative text, maps and photos in a spiral-bound 8.5” x 5.5” format. Fold it open and slip it into the map pocket on a tank bag or other storage compartment for quick and easy reference. Printed on uncoated paper stock to eliminate glare. Motorcycling Montana is organized along the state’s six tourism regions, delineated with handy “gatefold” dividers.

Makes a perfect gift. Guaranteed to ship within 48 hours of your paid order. Buy online using a charge card or Pay Pal account. Next day shipping; should arrive within 5 days of shipping.
[To order outside the USA and CANADA, contact US HERE ]
$24.95 + $7.50 Shipping. Get a FREE copy of “Northern Rockies Rider’s Top Tours” – a 96-page full color magazine highlighting a dozen of our regional favorites.

Printed Book

Or get both Motorcycling Montana and Motorcycling Idaho
for $36.95 plus $7.50 Shipping and handling.

Buy now with PayPal

Buy now with PayPal

Also available at fuel/C-stores, motels, restaurants, taverns, entertainment venues, attractions and, of course, motorcycle shops. Find out more about the book. . . or view excerpts. . .

About the Book

Motorcycling Montana was conceived years ago, but in the summer of 2010, the time was clearly ripe to push forward with production of the guide. No such comprehensive guide exists for Montana – a true motorcycling Mecca – as it does for other states and provinces. It’s about time.

Motorcyle-Friendly Format

500 pages of informational text, maps and photos in an 8.5” x 5.5” by format, spiral bound so you can fold it open at the page you need for quick and easy reference. We chose an uncoated paper stock for the book’s pages to eliminate glare in bright sunlight or artificial light. We also chose a type size and typeface for maximum readability.

Organized for the Road

The Motorcycling Montana guide book is organized and divided along the lines established by the State of Montana’s Office of Tourism. Six tourism regions have been designated with three spread across the state’s northern tier and three across the south. Handy “gatefold” dividers bound into the book delineate the regions. (See sample excerpts.)

Buy the book

The introductory price is just $24.95 + $7.50 shipping.  (Note: there is no sales tax in Montana!) You’ll also find the guide for sale at all Motorcycling Montana advertiser businesses including fuel/C-stores, motels, restaurants, taverns, entertainment venues, attractions and, of course, motorcycle shops.

 

 

 

 

Next day shipping. [To order outside the US, contact 406-498-3250.] Get a FREE copy of “Northern Rockies Rider’s Top Tours” – a 96-page full color magazine highlighting a dozen of our regional favorites. Buy online using either a charge card or your PayPal account:


Printed Book

Or get both Motorcycling Montana and Motorcycling Idaho
for $36.95 plus $7.50 Shipping and handling.

Buy now with PayPal

Buy now with PayPal

Cover image © Continental Communications. All rights reserved.

“Very few know the motorcycling back roads of Montana like [Cole] does. This will be a must-own for anyone who rides Montana.”

— Montana Sen. Carmine Mowbray, Former Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor

Introduction from the Publisher, Cole Boehler

This book was initially conceived about 10 years ago, talked about in some earnestness six and seven years ago, and about four years ago I decided I would “definitely” do it … “when the time was right.” That’s when I started keeping a trip journal and purposely shooting a lot more photographs.

The “right time” arrived July 1, 2010 when I sold a monthly trade journal I had been publishing and editing for the previous 15 years. The work is now projected to be a steady flow through its initial distribution in October of 2011.

The style

I prefer to write in my own voice, like I’d write a letter, so I hope I’ve written you quite a few “letters” describing the best motorcycle routes in Montana from my personal, subjective perspective. You may agree or disagree with the contents of my road reports, but this is how I see them from my perspective of 33 years behind the handlebars.

Incidentally, I also use the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines employed by most newspaper journalists … unless I prefer otherwise. It is handy to be the writer, editor and publisher.

The organization

The state tourism development authorities awhile ago divided the state into six distinct tourism regions: three in the northern tier and three in the southern. We saw no need to reinvent that wheel so organized our book along the same lines.

The contents

Most highways in most regions are reviewed with plenty of specifics regarding routes and connections, road characteristics, design and pavement quality, scenery, geography, towns and amenities and expected potential hazards. In short, all the information I would want if I bought a motorcycle touring guide for an unfamiliar state.

What we don’t give you is tons of minutia. You won’t find mile-marker-to-mile-marker descriptions of every segment of every highway. We have seen motorcycle guides like that and have showed them to fellow riders who all wail, “Too much detail!” We do give you the important information you need to make good basic decisions, but allow you to discover the intimate details on your own, which is an essential part of the touring experience in our view.

Nor does the book cover every single piece of the tarmac in the state, but darned close to it. The few of these are in the remotest eastern edges of the state, which few would consider riding destinations.

We decided to include commercial advertising for a number of reasons, but primarily because advertising is, in fact, valuable, useful commercial information if the content is correct and relevant for a specific audience. Our advertisers are reaching out specifically to touring motorcyclists and are providing information that should improve your tour and its planning.

The other main reason we included advertising is to generate enough revenue to keep the retail cost of the book affordable. We felt the price needed to be below $30. That’s what we’ve accomplished.

As soon as we get distribution of this First Edition underway, we will begin the process of updating, revising and improving the contents for a Second Edition due three years later.