The Dream Roll is the most popular “girls only”motorcycle weekend in the Pacific Northwest. Located in the dense, lush forest bordering the Washington State and Oregon border, this event offers great opportunities to crisscross stunning roads, marvel at breathtaking scenery and forge friendships with strong, rebellious and free-spirited women. Portrait of a unique event that has grown exponentially over the past three years.
August 10, 2017, PDX airport, Portland. I’m waiting for my taxi. I’m loaded like a pack mule. A backpack, a full, 40L tubular dry bag in one hand and my helmet, currently stuffed with a hoodie and a book, in the other. This is the inconvenience of motorcycle trips. You can’t bring a suitcase on wheels! My big bag is heavy and I don’t have a functional handle to lug my cargo around. I do not want any problems getting to the motel. I get into the first taxi in the line, convinced that this is the best plan. Midway, I’m getting warm. The taxi metre is rocketing! I should have taken a couple of minutes to check out the city’s transportation offer. $75 later, I drop my bags in my room, connect to the Wi-Fi and learn that I could have made it from point A to point B for $2.50. The TriMet is a full transport service that combines the bus, subway and commuter train. Damn, I was going to treat myself at the event’s merchandise table…
The next day, I arrive at Eagle Rider early in the morning.
– En route to the Dream Roll? asks the guy at the reception.
– Shall I get your bike?
– What’s that?
– A Triumph Tiger XRx. You’re going to love it!
– Hmm… It’s not what I had in mind. I was told about an Indian Scout or a Softail.
– That’s all I have left, he tells me.
– And where am I supposed to put my luggage?
– You’ll figure it out, I’m not worried.
He’s really sorry, but this is all he has left. Actually, it’s not my luggage that’s bothering me. It’s the bike. It feels a bit like the day of my grandparents’ 40th anniversary when my father begged me to swap my legendary Doc Martens for a pair of oversize beige shoes that my cousin had left in a bag of second hand clothing. Anonymized! Fortunately, I am no longer 14 years old and I will not spoil this trip for a question of style.
I trust the guy and jump on my ride for the weekend. He wasn’t lying, it rides like a charm! This is the first time I ride on this type of two-wheeler and, strangely enough, by the time I reach the first street corner I am comfortable. This motorcycle may not be to my taste aesthetically, but there is no doubt that I will spend some quality time on the road. As for my cargo, I’m doing pretty well. I have enough space on the passenger seat to layer my bags – like a wedding cake.
I take off towards Tillamook Station, the meeting point for the departure organized by Becky Goebel. Becky, with Lanakila MacNaughton, is one of the founders of the event. She is waiting for us with coffee, energy drinks and snacks to guide us to Mount Adams Lodge in Glenwood, Washington, where the Dream Roll is held. I find it nice of Becky to take the time to lead a group. I suspect that 3 hours before the doors open, she must have other things to take care of, but she is here, all smiles. Since there are more than thirty of us, two groups are formed with 30 minutes between them. I leave with the first group. The ride is magnificent. We cross the famous Bridge of the Gods, a steel truss cantilever bridge that spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington State and we follow the water. Half-moon stone tunnels pierce the mountains. The colossal rocks are covered with moss. At each curve, I thank heaven for being there. It’s wonderful.
The temperature rises as we advance. The heat is so intense and dry that you could start a forest fire in the blink of an eye. I’m getting dehydrated, I’m starting to look forward to arriving. We are greeted by Becky’s mom at the registration table. A tiny, friendly woman who looks exactly like her daughter. The area is vast. A large 40-acre corridor of grass and land in the heart of the forest. I find an area to set up my camp.
– Hi, are you alone? Asks a woman wearing a t-shirt and panties. (The weather is really hot!)
– I’m Heather. Set up here with our gang. Make yourself at home. It will be your base camp.
I have rarely seen girls as open, friendly and companionable as at the Dream Roll. Unlike other women’s events, here there are no “cliques.” Everyone mingles naturally. I feel like part of a big family where difference is encouraged and respected. The girls on the site have strong and colourful personalities. I already feel it’s going to be a memorable weekend.
I’m off to explore. There is the Ducati tent which stages the different models of the Scrambler, a novelty this year. I sign up for the road test the next day. I might as well take this opportunity to try one out! There are a few booths with women’s clothing and equipment: Atwyld, Wasted Times, Hinterland, Mosko Moto and of course, the Dream Roll boutique. They have really nice stuff here and I think about the money wasted on the taxi which deprives me of some beautiful pieces. As for food, they have two food trucks, El Rinconcito serving up tacos and burritos and Chicken and Guns which offers excellent smoked chicken. Unlike other similar events, you have to pay for your drinks at the Dream Roll bar. At $5 a drink, the girls choose to go stock up in town and use the cash only bar as a backup.
A mini skateboard ramp is set up in the middle of the tents. A friendly competition takes place at the end of the day. The girls from various skateboard companies such as Skate Like a Girl, Mahfia TV and Skate Witches give us an eyeful. Honourable mention to the girl in the Daniel Boone hat, thigh-high moccasins and forest green bathing suit! She stole the show! Because a costume really pimps a party! In the evening, we danced under the stars to the rhythm of the DJ. The sand rises from the ground and makes me feel as if I am floating on a cloud. Lightening joins the party. A light show in the sky. The girls shout with joy at each flash in the dark night. The moment is simply magical! The whole thing stops abruptly around midnight, when the torrential rain started. But nobody complains, in this overwhelming heat, water is life.
On Saturday morning, I join the Ducati team for a road test. I try the experience with the Scrambler Café Racer. There are four of us. We will go along the mountain on winding roads. 30 minutes of road testing. I appreciate my bike of the moment telling myself, however, that I would never take a road trip in this driving position. In my opinion, a café racer is not made to be taken out of the city. Groups of girls get organized to go and discover one of the three routes proposed by the Dream Roll. Taking Becky’s advice, I choose the Lower Lewis River Falls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I go solo. At the gas station, the sheriff looks at the plan provided by the organizers and suggests another route to get there. Without a map or an Internet network, I follow his instructions religiously and leave without a net in the hope of reaching my destination. It’s fun. The route is amazing. In the heart of an ancient forest, the ground is covered with moss and ferns and the trees are huge, 2 to 3 times the height of the largest trees in Québec’s forests. I stop to take some pictures. A group of women stop for the same reason and ask me to join them for the rest of the ride. I readily agree! Let’s go, girls! On the spot, after travelling down a path in the heart of the forest, to my delight I see spectacular falls! 43 feet high, 200 feet wide. A few brave women jump off the cliff. The cold water awaits them when they reach the bottom. I watch them, amused, I don’t have that kind of guts.
Back to camp, the games of skill have begun. We have the classic slow race and the barrel game. The girls are beautiful to watch. The competitions ended, the bikes are removed from the field to make room for a game of kickball. I stop at the food truck before the skateboard lessons by the invited skateboarders. I had a great time humiliating myself on the ramp because I must have fallen at least 15 times in some very ungainly positions. Where there is ego, there is no fun as I always say. I go back to the base camp at the end of the evening to spend some time with the girls who kindly took me under their wings. I tell myself once again how nice and generous they are, and that you don’t meet people with this quality every day.
Sunday morning rings in the end of the event. Solo departure toward Portland. The girls suggest that I take the Historic Columbia River Highway, a 120-kilometre tourist road built through the Columbia Gorge at the turn of the century. This route has the particularity of being one of the first scenic drive projects in the United States. Warm, wrapped in the trees and the rich and abundant vegetation of Oregon, it is smooth as a race track with plenty of curves. It crosses several stone bridges with magnificent views, multiple waterfalls and dozens of roadhouses to welcome tired travellers. A charming, not-to-be-missed road for anyone who wants to venture into the region.
My journey ends at the See See Motorcycle Café in the amazing city of Portland. A well known address among the surrounding motorcycle community. The See See is divided in two, a boutique space and a coffee shop, but it is also a place for pro riders and events, including the famous One Motorcycle Show. In short, an address to put in your travel book when visiting this part of the country. For the next few days, I reserve a time to explore the city and make a pilgrimage to Cannon Beach, where the 1980s cult film The Goonies was shot. A film I must have seen about 200 times. I’ve been dreaming about this place since I knew I was leaving for the US Northwest.
Of course the Dream Roll does not reinvent the wheel. There are many other exclusively female events that can be attended both in the United States and in Canada. What makes it unique? The good vibrations and positive energies surrounding the event. There is something magical about the Dream Roll. Totally. Something you can’t describe, but you can feel. Is it the warmth, the openness and naturalness of women in the Pacific Northwest? Is it the tone given to the event by the hostesses or its privileged geographical position in the intensity of our planet? One thing is certain, the magic of the Dream Roll works and for this reason the event is at the top of the list of events that I had the opportunity to participate in this year.
The Dream Roll is Moving!
Next year, the event will be held in Crater Lake, Oregon in the National Park of the same name, midway between Seattle and San Francisco. The organizers want this change of venue to attract even more women (we were 800 this year), to discover new routes and make room for new adventures. Crater Lake was created as a result of the eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama volcano 7,700 years ago. No waterways flow into or out of the lake. According to an ancient Amerindian legend, this lake is the result of the confrontation between two great chiefs, one of the world below and the other of the world above. In this new and mysterious place, we can bet that the magic will continue to happen. Long live the Dream Roll!