Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Royal Enfield road trip: almost 700 miles in one day

Jeff Nordstrom of Yakima, Wash. rides his Royal Enfield fast and far.
Almost 700 miles in one day on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. That's just one of the road trips by Royal Enfield described by Jeff Nordstrom of Yakima, Wash. in a series of emails he sent me. All are impressive, but here's his story in his own words (edited for space) of that long day's ride.

It takes a Bullet 16 hours and 15 minutes to go 699 miles.

That includes two food stops, several fuel stops, and about an hour of warranty service work at the dealership, which was the reason for the trip in the first place.

About mid-May, 2011 the electric starter on my 2009 Royal Enfield G5 Bullet started acting up. I was able to trace it to a failing starter solenoid. I took it to the local Royal Enfield dealer and showed them what I needed. They took my number and told me they would call me when the part came in. After a full five weeks without any word, I called the dealership where I got the RE to begin with. It should be noted that the G5 is also equipped with a kick-starter, so I never missed a day of riding.

The gents at Ural Northwest impressed me yet again. They remembered me right away, and even remembered the bike. They assured me that the item was covered under warranty, and they would have it in a couple of days. They called me two days later and said I could drop by anytime and they would install it — the only problem being that my Bullet and I reside over 250 miles from Ural Northwest.

Several  factors contributed to the planning of this trip:

1. We in the Washington state have some absolutely beautiful roads and mountain passes, some of which I had never traveled;
2. I like sleeping in my own bed, and
3. I am a bit of a masochist.

These factors worked together in the planning of a one-day, 600-plus-mile round trip to get a $20 part replaced under warranty. I also got a couple of oil filters while I was there, which saved me $7 in freight charges.

I set the date for Friday, Aug. 12, and let Ural Northwest know I would be coming.

I had made a similar trip for filters last summer, but then I needed to be home by 5:45 p.m. so my wife could go out to dinner with friends. That resulted in an enjoyable day covering around 550 miles in 11 hours and 45 minutes with too many freeway miles and a sore butt that eventually led to a wider solo seat for Christmas. This trip would not have time restrictions, so I would be able to plot a more leisurely course.

I invited my dad (rider of a 2011 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softtail, and master planner of multiple extended rides every year). He took me up on the offer, but was over-ruled by mom who is always concerned that my brother and I don't do enough together. So it was my brother Jamie who was recruited to take dad's Harley and accompany me.

With brother Jamie on a Harley, Jeff and his Enfield take to the hills.
We met in the church parking lot at 5 a.m. and headed for the hills. We were familiar with the scenic roads around Yakima, so we bypassed those and took the freeway to Ellensburg where we cut across to Highway 97 and Blewett Pass.

Highway 97 is a well-maintained mountain road cut through a semi-sparse pine forest with several creeks and rivers on either side of the road. Even in summer it was cold in the hours before 7 a.m. We took 97 to Leavenworth where we refueled and spent 10 minutes at the Golden Arches warming our fingers before connecting to Highway 2 and Stephens Pass.

Highway 2 has become one of my favorite roads. Also well-maintained, 2 has some spectacular views of the Wenatchee River cutting through the granite slopes of the mostly pine-forested Cascade Mountains on the east side, thick pine forests with snow covered peaks and dramatic drop-offs on top, and any number of beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams surrounded by impassably thick deciduous forests as it descends through quaint little towns on the west side.

Scenery is the reward on a road trip in Washington state.
We turned north on 9, a little congested for the first 30 or so miles, but north of Arlington it gets twisty and passes through some plush farm land and around some beautiful lakes. We were riding through some fairly thick fog from the bottom end of Stephens Pass and several miles up 9, but it cleared by mid-morning.

We stopped for fuel and to shed some layers at Clear Lake and continued north to 542 and took it west toward Bellingham. After about 8 miles, Smith Road meets 542 and leads directly to Ural Northwest. Too bad I missed it and ended up in the middle of downtown Bellingham with no idea which way to go.

Ural Northwest dealership took good care of Jeff's Royal Enfield.
Forty minutes and a few phone calls later we pulled into the lot at Ural Northwest. They had me pull right into the shop and went to work. My brother and I wandered around the shop and admired some of the other bikes they had on hand.

Jeff Nordstrom is 39 years old, married with a 10-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy. He is the packing boss at an apple packing warehouse. The rest of his ride story is coming up.

To be continued.


  1. Anonymous3/23/2012

    630 kms I did with Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark with three stops. One for Tea, Second for Cold Drink and third for Lunch. And at 630 km I reached home otherwise maybe more I had driven. But reading about 699 miles - I appreciate.

  2. Well done, Matey! Distance is not really a problem for Royal Enfields. Only the right frame of mind!.


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