Moto Fantasy | Dream Chasers

Moto Fantasy Lets You Ride a Classic

By Jack Lewis, Photography by Shasta Willson

Dreamers take a lot of flak in this world. “Real life” is meant to be one big bowl of broccoli, steamed into properly ascetic green mush. Don’t tell the hall monitors that somewhere, out on the high plains, a couple of dedicated riders are doing what motorcyclists do best: cheating life.

“My idea was always that we’d buy expensive motorcycles and people would come and ride them,” Doug Watt explains. “I just made the assumption that it wouldn’t pencil unless I could do it 12 months a year. Then I saw all those riders go by on the 97.”

String straight and deadly dull, the four lanes of Highway 97 are nonetheless a golden ticket to the glories of central Oregon, a rider’s paradise every day that it isn’t a snowboarder’s paradise.

Deciding to make Moto Fantasy the ultimate road riders’ pit stop, Doug and his wife, Gloria, stuffed their lodge’s hangar with interesting bikes—motorcycles you rode when you were just a pup, or have always wanted to ride. Classic Japanese and European iron. Plus a Harley or two. But that’s not all. The hangar enjoys rollaways, a bike lift, a foosball table, and a well-stocked bar. It’s worth a visit if only to pick up tips on how to properly furnish a man cave. Riders be warned: Doug’s premium tequila selection is perilously encyclopedic.

In the great hall over the garage is a chef’s kitchen with a stage for live music. Turns out Doug isn’t only a top-drawer cook and a helluva motorcyclist, but a guitarist talented enough to have sat in with artists you’ve heard of. On the first night of our visit, following barbecued chicken, live music, and bench racing, we followed soft music and candlelight to our Hawaii-themed cabin with its open kitchen, cowboy kitsch, and polished Polynesian breasts as far as our owlish eyes could squint.

While Doug and Gloria hustled through the next morning’s chores, Pretty Wife and I planned our riding day over coffee, eggs, and enough thick, pepper-cured bacon to regenerate a bris.

Although I hadn’t ridden to Crater Lake in decades, it’s perennially awe-inspiring to breach the lunescaped crater’s edge and peer down across the cerulean water. Still, taking the ride is just a nice bike trip.

What made it a fantasy was six chromed and shrieking pipes beneath a gentleman’s touring saddle. Who didn’t lust after Honda’s majestic CBX on the cusp of the ‘80s? Here’s what you need to know: It’s long and heavy, but light on its feet—and light on ground clearance, too. Funny clutch. Wooden brakes. Tillerish bar for a sporting machine.

OMG OMG OMG want. But never to own…just to ride for that one perfect day, looping the deep waters, sweeping past sedan-bound retirees, pegs down under a wide blue sky with Pretty Wife up pillion. A little fantasy to soar; only that, and nothing more.

With a few hundred turbine-smooth (no, really) miles under our rumps, it was time to bring down some serious dinner. During that morning’s chart talk, we had vested Doug’s tip on the best restaurant in Lake County.

You could take a GPS to get there, but it’s not the cowboy way. What you do is blaze through the forest, then sail the causeway across the reed flats and tulees until you drift out, windburnt and throttle-happy, onto the high plains. You pull up at a gas station that looks closed in a town that looks haunted, buy yourself a tank of super (for your CBX!), and ask directions like a man. The motto at the eatin’ house is “no electricity, no credit cards—no kidding.” Having argued with cowboys before, I made not a mutter about reciprocity for my permit to carry a concealed credit card.

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