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Archive for September, 2011

Greetings from Wyoming!


Snowy Mountains, Mirror Lake, WY.

Pictures: Day 4, Sept 23: Torrey, UT – Kayenta, AZ

Full Report: Day 4, Sept 23: Torrey, UT – Kayenta, AZ

Day total: 244 miles
Trip total: 1324 miles

I had a perfect sleep last night. I wake up around 6:30AM, wake up again at 6:45AM, start loading the bike and by 7:15AM I am having breakfast. 45 minutes later the Triumph pulls out of the parking lot. The first stop of the day is only 30 seconds driving away: the gas station!

From here on it is just blasting through the beautiful scenery of the Capitol Reef National Park. I make a short stop at Gooseneck Point, which gives me my first offroad experience. Next, the UT-12 lives up to its promise: what an amazing road! For miles and miles I am pulling and pushing the motorcycle through the long sweepers that this valley offers me. It is more like a little gorge. Following the stream of a river, it seems endless. I am stunned. This is riding. Then all of a sudden it opens up, just to close in on you again. More curves await… Had a lot of fun riding this road!

Suddenly it seems like I am on the moon (I come there every other day or so, that’s how I know). I have to take some pictures here. It feels surreal. Looking at all these weird formations makes you realize that nature has a twisted mind…

Next, I take the UT-95 south. At first, it is just a pretty straight road. But wait till you get close to Lake Powell again… After taking a look from a viewpoint up high, I decide to descent to the water. Amazing scenery. The road cuts through rocks, goes up and down, and offers stunning views of the lake. Thank god for my GoPro camera that films everything!

So I thought at least. As soon as I slow down, I realize I never switched it on. I have to do the unthinkable… And drive the whole road back and forward again! What a shame! Some people look kind of weird as they see me going back up… But I’m having the time of my life. So are they probably, but I don’t care!

I could ride this part of the road over and over again. But I shouldn’t. More adventures are literally on the horizon. The first one is the Mogi Dugway. A small like 4 mile stretch of the UT-261. Unpaved. 10% downgrades. Switchbacks. Do I have a death wish? I met a couple bikers earlier on the 12: “you’re going fully packed downhill of the Dugway on that bike?”. I sure am! I can’t wait actually. I pull up to the top of the road and look down. Damn. That is impressive. Am I still doing this? Should I? No. Do I want to? Yes. So do I do it? Of course!

And off I go. People are watching me as I go down. I just take it easy. Drive like an old man probably. But all that matters to me is keeping the bike upright. I tell myself not to use the front brake and take a steady pace downhill. There’s actually nothing to it. The views are amazing. The cliff that we’re going down on is so steep, and there’s no border. Going over would be fatal. But who cares, you only live once anyway…

I make my way down completely fine. As long as you keep focused and are not in a rush, there’s really nothing to it. I pull over the bike to take some nice shots of the bike with the Dugway on the background. While doing so, there’s 2 motorcycles that stop and ask me if I’m OK; nice to know that you can always count on your fellow adventurers!

Next it is on to another highlight of the day. But not before I reach the Mexican Hat (I could have come up with that…). It is a round rock, that has this large flat one balancing on it. It seems like a head with a sombrero. Nature at its best…

The highlight I was talking about is Monument Valley. I look on my fuel gauge though and notice that it is kind of empty after 200 miles. So I look up a Shell gas station where I meet John. A fellow who has almost finished visiting every state and national park in the country. He is on his way to Florida now… We chat a little and he gives me this book about all the Western National and State Parks that the country has to offer. Very nice John, thanks! That will come in handy for sure!

As I pull into Monument Valley, it looks different from what I remembered. I’ve been here 10 years ago. I don’t see the famous rock formations. I don’t feel the excitement that I was hoping to feel… I decide to ride on into Kayenta, as there’s no rooms available in my original final destination for today. I get a room in the late afternoon and decide to give Monument Valley one more shot.

And there we go! I find the rock formations I was looking for and it is absolutely spectacular! They are called the 3 ‘Mittens’ and feature many covers of travel brochures. The sun is setting, making for a beautiful array of colors (how do you like that from a colorblind person). My SLR camera fires away. It is breathtaking.

Back in the hotel, a nice medium rare 18-oz rib eye awaits me. I eat it like it is a candy bar. It is gone in no-time. During the night I am doing some editing on pictures and research for the next day. At midnight, I’m off to bed.

This is what we ride for…


Look at this!

Pictures: Day 3, Sept 22: Grand Canyon, AZ – Torrey, UT

Full Report: Day 3, Sept 22: Grand Canyon, AZ – Torrey, UT

Day total: 412 miles
Trip total: 1080 miles

After a night long of waking up every 30 minutes or so, I decide to get out of bed at 6.15AM. Adventurous as I am, I didn’t bring anything like an airbed or so. So I slept on the rock solid ground… But what the hell, I am on a trip right! Anyhow, I get up, and start breaking down the whole thing right away. I have an apple for breakfast, and I find myself on the road by 7AM. I stop at every single outlook that I come across among the AZ-64, which follows the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I want to make miles on one hand, but I don’t want to miss out on such special landmark either. Finally I’ve finished them all. On one of the outlooks, I meet Jim. He has a helmet that has the American Army symbol painted on it, together with some stealth bombers. “It offends some people” he says, “but most people see the patriotic value of it”. To him, it “honors all those who fight for our country”. He rides a white Honda Goldwing by the way. I am blocking his way out of his parking lot, so he has to back up. Luckily for him, his Goldwing has a reverse: “try that with a Harley”, he says as he backs up the motorcycle. After a short talk, he takes off. I point my attention to the Grand Canyon again. But with almost 360 miles to go, it is time to get back on the bike as well. As I ride, I see Jim riding. My pace is a little faster so I take over. We wave. And the Triumph takes on every corner that I come across.

The Grand Canyon is home to the Colorado River. There’s also a side river to that one, called the Little Colorado River. And guess what: it has its own mini Grand Canyon too! One that I find a lot more interesting actually. Don’t get me wrong, the Grand Canyon is superb; but I am never as excited  as other people. Maybe I am too spoiled, I don’t know… Well, back to the Little Colorado River. After paying a dollar entrance fee, I park my Triumph and take off to the rim. Where the Grand Canyon kind of goes down in steps, this little gorge goes straight down. I am able to point the GoPro right over the edge…

Then it is on to the Horseshoe Bend. A place that has been high on my to-go list, but I never got there. Until now. It is a short hike to get there (0.8 mile one way I believe), but it goes over a hill and it is all sandy and rocky… Plus it is bloody hot outside. Encouraged by the fact that I see people three times my age on the trail, I decide to leave my motorcycle behind and take the hike. I sweat like crazy but my athletic body (yeah right) taking on the trial without any problem. Once the end is reached, I shoot some pictures, and quickly make my way back. Good thing I brought a liter of water; I finished it entirely on this little walk!

I get on the 89 highway, leading into Utah. I barely stop, I just ride and make miles. It is not that interesting to ride, especially the first part is not. And then there’s roadworks too, for miles and miles. But I get there. I stop for lunch at a Shell gas station. Get myself the nastiest chicken wrap ever. Maybe because it was meant to be microwaved, but faith wanted me not to have one on my motorcycle, so I ate it cold…

The road sweeps on through woods and hills. Nice riding but nothing to what’s there to come. Highway 12! I am super excited as I turn onto this long want-to-ride highway. The start is promising. Stunning views and steep grades and turns. A constant smile sits on my face. A yell every here and there is not uncommon. A great man said it once before: “it’s all about bikes. Always has been, always will be”. So true. Nothing beats riding a bike through beautiful scenery, with nothing to worry about but your fuel gauge and a place to sleep for the night… And maybe speed limits, but that’s about it… I take the speed limits not for granted by the way: I take them solely as an indication of my minimum speed haha.

The 12 gets really spectacular in the last 20 miles before Boulder (heading north that is). I find myself on the very top of a mountain range, driving over the top edge! As I ride it, I decide that I have to turn around and ride it again! It is so amazing… Imagine: there’s a steep cliff on the left, there’s a steep cliff on the right, and there’s a windy road in the middle where you are riding a motorcycle… You don’t want to go wide on the turns here, that’s for sure, as it would be your last!

As I pull into Boulder, it is time to find a place to sleep. ‘No Vacancy’ seems to be the popular term here. I decide to play stupid and enter a motel anyway. “No, we’re full, you must have missed the no in front of vacancy”. Ah. Ok. Really? I ask if they know of any vacancy anywhere. “Try Torrey. It’s an hour drive from here, and be careful, there’s a lot of deer this time of the year”. Deer or no deer, I don’t care. I need a place to sleep. It is 6PM at night, and an hour drive means that I will be arriving almost in the dark here in these mountains. So I don’t give a rats ass about any deer. I speed up the Trophy and fly low (I don’t drive fast) through the canyons. At least for the first 3 minutes. ‘Cause then I come upon a couple of cows on the middle of the road. It turns out to be the first of many encounters.  There’s cow everywhere. Deer too. But as I said, I don’t care. The road takes me to almost 10.000ft high (3.048mtr) and this late of the day, it becomes freakin’ cold… My heated grips are priceless at this moment.

Finally, I pull into Torrey. I drove over 400 miles today. First hotel I try is full, but they direct me to the Best Western. They have a room. Whoohoo! First thing I do is jumping in the shower (well, after I took of my clothes of course), I feel so dirty. Been on dusty roads, had rain in the Grand Canyon, slept in the same clothing as I was wearing the day before and after, sweated like a pig, and had dead flies all over me… Got to love it! But that shower was the second priceless moment of the day. I got myself some dinner in the place across the street, while some locals were playing on the guitars. Perfect ending to a perfect day.



… seems like someone is upset with the authorities. Somewhere in Colorado this is.

Fuel please!

As I was enjoying the mountains in Colorado way too much, I ran out of fuel today hahaha. I made it out alive though :) Amazing day of pure riding. Me like. Don’t like slow RV’s in front of me on these roads. Oh and by the way, the whole fuel thing is on video. Had no clue it was still running. Priceless…

Pictures: Day 2, Sep 21: Las Vegas, NV – Grand Canyon, AZ

Not too many pics here… It will become pics from the next days on. I now have easier access to my camera on the bike :)

Full Report: Day 2, Sept 21: Las Vegas, NV – Grand Canyon, AZ

Day total: 349 miles
Trip total: 669 miles

A nice free breakfast is awaiting me as I wake up. But not before I saw the sun rise over Vegas, through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows in my suite. What a difference would it be with where I would end up this night…

As I exit Vegas, I am heading for the Hoover Dam. It used to be a through road; now there’s a whole bypass built with a huge bridge. I decide to ride the Hoover Dam. Don’t want to pay for parking. I park my bike right on the dam itself; it is still early and quiet anyway. Just as I am about to leave, after I’ve shot my little video, some ranger comes to me being all upset about me parking there… Well sorry mate, I’ll be on my way soon!

I continue my way and am quite surprised to find out that the road is now a dead end. I have to go all the way back; well, at least I get to ride that Memorial Bridge. Nothing to special by the way. I ride for about 60 miles or so when I get to the Oatman Highway. This leads into a little town called, you guess, Oatman. Being a historic route 66 town, they conserved some of the old Wild West. I found myself right in the middle of a gun show for example. There are donkeys walking the streets. And there’s tons of motorcycles. But most important: the road to it is just phenomenal! Small, very twisty and tricky, but how cool! You could almost see John Wayne on the horizon (or Clint Eastwood if you like that better).

From there, it is a rather boring route to the city of Williams, which is the intersecting city for the Grand Canyon. 120 miles just pretty much doing 75mph… Right as I feel that I get pretty sleepy, I get hit by the biggest bug ever in my neck. It feels like being hit by a stone. As I look into the mirror, I can see parts of the bug scattered all over my neck. Well, at least it woke me up completely!

Few hours later I pull into the Grand Canyon. A few rain showers hit the area and there’s thunder too. Naïve as I am, I take off the GoPro hero camera from my helmet. I figure it could act as some kind of antenna and attract the lightning. How does that work actually? Is a motorcyclist safe when he is being struck by lightning? I never looked it up; I have no clue. All I know is that I will look it up as I might find myself more often in these situations. And no matter how much I like riding, I will find some shelter if I could be in danger…

Anyhow, getting into the Grand Canyon. I find all the hotels fully booked. What the hell, that’s why I got my tent with me. And my sleeping bag. And that’s about it when it comes to camping equipment; but it is enough! No need for pots and pans to make dinner; half a footlong Subway sandwich left over from the afternoon will do, together with the apple that I stole from the breakfast this morning! While I am getting my campsite I meet Ritch, a gentleman with a motorcycle, or car, or whatever it is. Built the whole thing himself. Also drove half the country.

I set up my tent, and head for the south rim of the Grand Canyon to catch the last rays of sunlight. It is crowded, but what a beautiful view. The Canyon is breathtaking. It is so immense (that’s what she said). The colors are nice, even for me being colorblind. Afterwards I decide to head back to the tent for an early night. But not after typing this. And not after realizing that I am way too much depending on electronic devices: GPS, laptop, GoPro camera, 2 phones… Luckily there was a restroom nearby. So while everyone was brushing his teeth, I was charging my cell phone haha. And uploading a mobile report on Tomorrow we head into Utah! State nr 4 this trip! I redid my entire route to be able to ride Hwy 12 to Boulder, so it better be worth it! Ciao!

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