Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..


Last of the Utah ride.. Ogden, glocks, elk & long ride home.

Friday, 10/8/10

On this day, the rest of the gang would be heading home.  I would be riding solo up to Ogden to visit the Daughter for a couple of days, then head home in time to take the Wife to the airport, where she would go to Milan to meet the Daughter.  So this was a very busy couple of weeks.

Here's a couple of pics Tom took..

After the joys of mudville ride:

The next morning, we packed up all our stuff & had another hearty breakfast at Blondies.  I asked them if i could use their hose out back to wash my bike a bit, & they said yes!  Tom took this one of me washing down the wrx.

I got it pretty clean, then loaded up my bags & bolted on the windscreen.  ..ready to go.  My riding buddies headed south back to Az, & i headed north up to Ogden.  After i crossed I-70, my gps routed me onto a nice dirt road.. i took it fairly tentavely.. had my fill of adventures already.  But there were only a few muddy spots, & nothing too long or deep.

Still clean, outfitted for the road..

This was some fun, scenic solo riding..

Then i came to this:

I stopped & walked it, first.. didn't want to get stuck in the mud by myself.  I was ready & willing to turn back, but the ground was firm & had a sandy/rocky base, so i hopped back on the bike & rode across.

After a few miles, this road came to the paved road going to Price, which connected over the mountains to Spanish Fork.  It was fairly cool, & got cloudy as i got to Price.  My bigger tank was giving me a nice range, so i kept going, after a short warm up stop.  The road through price canyon was rainy.  There was snow on the surrounding mountains!  The windscreen did a fantastic job of keeping me warmer.. i would also throttle with my left hand, & warm my right hand by the now open radiator.  The left hand i could tuck between me & the tank bag as i huddled behind the screen.  The extra farings on the acerbis hand guards helped keep some of the wind off my hands, but they still were cold.  I had all my jackets on, plus my silk balaclava.. that & the full face helmet kept my face & head warm (er!)

This is a very nice ride.. very scenic.  Because of the rain & cold, i didn't stop to take any pics, though, but wanted to get to the warmer & sunnier valley at spanish fork.  When i did, i gassed up & took a long break to warm up.

I got on the interstate at spanish fork.  No problem.  The 250 wrx can cruise at 70 all day.  I probably averaged about 75.. i kept up with the traffic, & passed some cars.  I could hit 80-85 if i needed to.  But by the time i got to Provo, all the stress of the week, the cold of this days ride, the drone of the freeway.. all of this made me very tired.  I was having trouble keeping my eyes open.  It was about 3pm, & i was wanting to beat as much of the salt lake rush hour that i could.  But i finally conceded defeat & pulled over to a big mall parking lot.  On the outskirts of the lot were some trees in the little islands.  The ground covered with wood chips.  With my helmet still on, earplugs in, & even gloves, i stretched out & closed my eyes for a bit.  An hour later i opened them.  I would now have rush hour to deal with, but felt much more rested.

A couple of hours later, i pulled up to the enthusiastice greeting of Soshi, their new pup.  Taylor & Mary took me out for a nice olive garden meal, & i got to bed fairly early, still tired from the week's rides.

Sat, Sun, 10/9-10/10
No riding for me, these days.. Taylor had a cyclecross race, so i went along to watch.

Taylor is in here, somewhere!

I thought you were supposed to ride the bikes... Taylor in great form clearing an obstacle..

Mary helped out with tires, wrenches, & also took some pictures.  She didn't ride in this race.

I helped baby sit the dog & took a few pictures.  We stayed & socialized afterward.. i entertained the dog, mostly.  They have a nice circle of friends.. most of them cycling atheletes.. but hanging out with 20 somethings is not for old people.

Taylor had gotten a new pistol, & wanted to take it to the range & show it to me.  I hadn't fired a pistol since i was 20, but went along.  They were both impressed with my marksmanship.  I guess it's like riding a bicycle.  It was a Glock.. and after firing it i decided i needed one, too!  It is a very nice pistol, only 9mm.  I'll look around & maybe get one when i get some extra money.  In 10 or 20 more years i should be able to do it!

Sunday we went to Taylor's grand mother's 80th birthday!  She is a wonderful woman.. quite the character.  I met her at their wedding.  Afterwards, Taylor wanted to take the dog out for some grouse.. so we all went hunting.

The dog, Mary & I were supposed to flush out the birds for Taylor, but we didn't do a very good job.  I got real tired (again!) clambering around on the steep hillside, & wanted to wait at the return point while they continued.  They did flush out 3 deer, which i saw coming down the hill.  I took some pics, but they didn't come out.. too dark, too many trees.  But i asked, how many birds did you get?  I shot 3 deer.. with the camera, of course.

Monday, 10/11/10  Ogden to Sedona.

Mary did not want me to ride all the way home in one day, so i said i would stop & check on a hotel in Kanab or Page.  I left about 9, letting it warm up, some, & hoping the rush hour traffic would die down.  I took the interstate again all the way to spanish fork, then cut over to hwy 89.  It was cool at first, but warmed up some as the day wore on.

By late afternoon, i saw these guys all out sunning themselves..

I'm sure they were part of a private herd.. they were fenced in.

I made good time coming down 89.. made a couple of stops, but kept riding.  I passed a lot of cars & rv's.  It was nearly 4 when i neared Kanab.  I decided to keep going to page, & took a dirt road shortcut over.  It has some washed out spots, especially in the low water crossings, but it was dry enough & i rode it without incident.  It was a little past 6 when i got into page.  I took some pics while riding of lake powell, but the light was dim & they were all blurry.  Too bad.  The late sun was very nice.  I decided i was only about 3 hrs more to home, so why stop now?  I continued along 89 into Flagstaff.  I kept my speed up very well, probably averaging 75-80.  I passed quite a few cars & trucks, but had few pass me.  This is another great thing about this bike.. it will rumble through the rocks, slog through the mud, then cruise down the hiway.  The windscreen was the best.. it really keeps the wind down.

By the time i got up to flag, it was very dark.. & cold.  I cleared an 8k' pass & stopped in Flag to warm up a bit.  I called my wife who was at work.  ..Only about an hour to go.  I made the final ride down the canyon, warming up as the elevation decreased.  It was about 9pm.. about 12 hrs total, around 580 miles.. mostly pavement.  ..nice to be home.


Day 4. No joy in Mudville. Hanksville mud, 10/7/10

Day 4.  No joy in Mudville.

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the mudville 4 this day.  
Tom was staying home so only 3 of us would play.  
But since Bryan was a newbie, & Kim & i were lame,
The sticky mud would be the only winner of this game.

Tom's ribs were pretty sore after the last drop on the right side from the day before.  He found out later he had cracked them.  But he did not complain, just rode the bike out of the most difficult riding i had ever done.  But that minor inconvenience, with the flakey running of the honda convinced him to stay at the hotel this day.  So after a hearty breakfast at Blondies.. & i do mean hearty.. they do not serve a stingy breakfast.. we gassed up & headed for the surrounding hills.  An easy dirt ride to Goblin valley, then a loop around.  This was some of Kim's old riding grounds.  We were all looking forward to riding after he had regaled us with tales of derring do in his long lost youth.  Kim's gps was too small or his eyes too dim for him to see it, & Bryan didn't cotton to that sort of thing, so i defaulted into riding point.

The 'dirt' road into Goblin Valley.  The shiny ground is wet mud.

We crossed a few puddles.. a reminder of the past few days steady rains, though the early part was reasonably dry.  But after a few miles we came upon a longer wetter crossing.  I saw it coming up, and tried to pick up momentum to get through, hoping i would find solid ground underneath the wet mud.  I soon found out why i was appointed to ride in the lead.

I buried it to the axles.  I got off & the bike stood up by itself.. no kickstand.  I walked around it some, looking wistfully back at my riding companions.  Have you seen nature shows where a lion catches a gazelle or water buffalo & the rest of the herd watches at a distance as their hapless friend is eaten?  I was the gazelle in the lion's claws.

I tried several times to walk it out, but only moved a few feet, & sunk it deeper.  I went for a walk to see where the nearest exit point might be.  It was at least a hundred yards in any direction.

I was about in the middle of the mud patch.  It was a low spot where all the drainage from the rains had collected.  The mud was deep & consistent.  Finally, Brian & Kim came out to help.  We picked out a spot that headed toward some high ground.  Bryan pulled with a tow strap he had thoughtfully brought, Kim pushed, & i walked beside the bike spinning the rear tire.  We started to move!  First a few inches.. then it picked up some momentum.. finally when it got in some grass clumps it caught & took off.  I jumped on it while the back was still spinning, & rode it onto high ground.

This was the brown mud challenge.

Kim & Bryan were walking around by my mud road entrance to find a drier, easier way to cross.  Kim did not want to get his jersey muddy.

I yelled across to them that i would ride ahead some more & see if i could find where the road continued.  If it was more of the same, i would have to come back.  I went up more, & could see something that kinda looked like a road.. but it was very rutted.  I gave the signal that there was a road ahead.. one long blast on my fog horn.. then walked over where i could see them.  They must have debated the merits of trying to cross for a long time.  ..or maybe they were eating lunch.  ..or telling old stories of when they got stuck in the mud.. or wondering if they left me would i would hunt them down like Clint Eastwood in Hang 'em High. They stayed there for a while, then finally, i see them turn around & drive back the other way!  They would take their chances that i would not survive to hunt them down.

Right.  It's not like i could run into any trouble on this easy trail.. and i certainly was not going to turn back & cross the mud field alone.  So my only option was to press on.  Tom was not there to inspire & motivate me, & i could only imagine the maniacal laughter fading over the hill as Kim & Bryan disappeared from view.  I checked the rope scar on my neck, grim determination setting in.

OK.  Abandoned by my closest friends, I turned to one who could get me out of this jam..  one who could be relied on in every situation, to not care about mud, rocks, rain, or unsteady companions.  ..who is strong & reliable & can be trusted in a tough situation to keep their cool.  My trusty motorcycle.  It had already taken me through some severe riding conditions the day before.  This was just another routine challenge for the wrx.

A little muddy, but ready to ride!

I walked back to the bike & surveyed the terrain ahead.. not much of a road.. lots of washed out ruts.. some too deep to cross.  I started out trying to follow the road, but it disappeared every so often.  I kept near where it was supposed to be by watching the gps.  I got on the wrong side of some washout ruts & had to backtrack to keep on the road.  There were also occasional puddles in the road.. puddles i didn't want to go through, considering what they can be like, & that i was alone to fend for myself.  I comforted myself with the hope that Kim & Bryan would at least call search & rescue in a few days if i didn't show up.

But at last i made it to a park boundary gate!  The road was pretty muddy & i still did not trust it.  But after opening the gate, i walked around on the road & it felt firm under a thin top layer of mud.  If i could keep moving, i should not sink.  So i sling shot myself back on the road & followed it to the pavement.  This was near the entrance to Goblin Valley state park, where we were planning on turning north to another loop.  Kim & Bryan should be back this way in an hour or so.  They would have gone back on the dirt to hwy 24, then taken it north to the paved Goblin Valley turnoff.  I had taken the scenic route & the shortcut.

This was my last video of the day... i don't know if the card was full, the battery low, or a bad connection in the switch.  But i retired it for the day.  I had gotten enough on video.

I waited for almost an hour.  I got to fill up on fluids.. take plenty of pictures.. ponder life's mysteries, & rest up for the remaining ride.  I even stretched out on my jacket & closed my eyes for  a bit.  They eventually showed up.

I think Kim was upset there was mud on his bike..

I don't know how, but they convinced me that i should go first, again.  We were on an easy gravel road, now, so i did.  It wasn't long before i no longer saw anyone in my rearview mirror.  I waited a bit, then turned back.  Kim & Bryan were watching some antelope on the hillside.  Bryan's sharp hunter's eye had spotted them in the distance.

Then the easy gravel road ended, & we were riding in a wash.  It was wide & firm.  It ran through a bit of water, but nothing too deep.  Mud was thin & was in small patches.  Fun riding.

There was ease in scotty's manner as he climbed upon his ride.
There was pride in scotty's bearing & his beaming smile was wide.
The mud might claim a lesser man, but scotty would prevail.
He'd roll through every obstacle on every hill and dale.

But after a few  miles, we climbed up out of the wash & rode along a semi-muddy road.. it was mostly drained off, but had some spots.  I got through everything by keeping my momentum up &  by keeping power to the rear wheel.  Then we got to the grey mud.  This was the bentonite Kim spoke of in somber tones.  It would stick to the tires, jamb up the chain & sprockets, & cripple the bike.  He told us of many poor souls who had burned out clutches, slid off roads, or gotten lost & never heard from again.  It was the utah bentonite that did it.. lying in wait.. looking innocently easy when dry, only to seize it's victims after a rain, never to release them from it's sticky clutches.  We rode into a section that looked like it had a thin layer we could roll through.

Several spots we cruised through.. sliding around some, but getting through it.  But then we got into a longer section.. i was fishtailing through it, trying to keep moving.  But i couldn't keep it up & went down in the mud.  I picked the bike up, but before i could remount, Bryan came along & tried to pass me.  But the mud was not very maneuverable, & he went down & ended up facing the other way.  I helped him pick his bike up.  Kim approached slowly, riding in our tracks to have better traction.  He did not go down.

Let's not turn back.. this is surely just a short section & will end soon.  Once we get out of it, it will be easy riding, again.  You think?

We mostly stayed out of long stretches of the bentonite, winding along the trail, crossing washes, & avoiding ruts in the road.  But then i came over the crest of a hill with a long grey stretch of road before me.  There was a few hundred yards going down, making some turns, then climbing back up.  I'll keep the wheel driving & my momentum will get me through.

But it didn't.  About halfway through i go down again, slipping in the slick mud.  It is caked & jammed in the wheel, chain, & sprocket.  I had difficulty picking the bike up, as the rear tire would slide in the mud, & my feet didn't have much solid ground, either.  It was about a 4" layer of sticky but slick grey mud.  I had about 150 yards to go either way.  I pushed the bike, spinning the back wheel for a few feet.  I was really having to give it throttle to get the wheel to spin, so thick & jammed up was the mud.  On the hilltop in the distance, i could see the rest of the herd watching as another one of their own is eaten by lions.

I get the bike to rest on it's stand, then walk ahead to see how the road is.  It is slick & muddy the whole way.  I am sweating bullets from working the bike, & drink the rest of my sport drink & most of my water.  I walk back to the bike, the lucky ones still watching on the hill.  I realize if i go on, i will be alone.  They will not cross this mud patch.  Then what?  What if there are miles of bentonite waiting for me over the next hill?  I figure i will have to push back through the mud, climb the muddy hill, & get back on the road we came from.  Once i got back on the watcher's hill, i would not stop, but keep moving & return home.  It was me & the bike.  We were on our own.

I turned the bike around & spun it through the mud a few feet at a time.  It was a grueling workout.  I was fully geared & had to keep the wheel spinning to free it from the mud, but it would fishtail on me, & the front would build up with more mud.  My feet would slip & i dropped the bike a few more times.  My gloves, grips, seat, boots, &  pretty much everything was covered with grey, sticky mud.  I had about 100 yards to go through to get to the hill.  I didn't know how i was going to climb the hill, but i knew i wasn't going to help anyone on this ride.  I would work for a few minutes, then stop.. my heart pounding & my head spinning like the back tire.  I would catch my breath after another few minutes, then go at it again muttering insinuations about the watchers & their moms.  I was probably at it for 45 minutes, though it felt like hours, before i got to the base of the hill.  Then Bryan started down.  Why bother, now?  I'm almost there.  But i probably would not have been able to climb the hill by myself.  The mud was too slick & the back just wanted to spin out.  We wrestled it about halfway up the hill, then Kim came to help, too.  We worked together for a few minutes, & got it on top.  I took off my gear & collapsed on the roadside.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the trails are wide & green.
The temperatures are perfect, their gear is nice & clean.
The riders ride with carefree joy, their bikes remain upright.
But scotty, mighty scotty is undone by bentonite.

I did not take any pictures during this ordeal.  I would have completely covered the camera with mud.  I did see Kim & Bryan taking some on the hill.  I doubt they will post any, though.  This was the grey mud challenge.

The view down the hill, after i was back on top.  The shiny grey mud is the bentonite.

I sat on the side of the road uncharacteristically quiet.  I was panting hard, trying to get my vision back, & catch my breath.  Kim got a tire iron out of his bag & began digging the mud out of my chain & wheels.  I had some trail mix, but couldn't eat after all the exertion.  I finally cooled down.. my vision cleared, & my breathing returned to normal.  We got on the bikes & headed out.  I was going to take off & not wait, but i didn't.  I kept my speed up, but would stop & wait for them to come.  I cleaned off my gloves, boots, & other parts while waiting.. stopping by puddles.  We eventually got out with no further drama.  Back on the main road, i was not going to get on another road that was not gravelled & graded, this day.

Once we got back to the goblin valley pavement, Kim & Bryan wanted to continue the ride.  It was about 3pm by now, but we were only about an hour from the rooms.  Fine with me.  You guys lead the way.

We rode along a nice, scenic gravel road for a few miles.  It was starting to get dark & cloudy again.. rumbling in the distance.. plus the temps had dropped quite a bit.  I put my rain jacket on because it looked like we would not get back before the rain hit.  But we turned back in time, & missed the rain.. only got a few drops.

We got back to the room & i ditched my muddy gear.  I washed off my jacket.. it had gotten covered with mud.  I cleaned up & we headed over to Blondies for a nice dinner.

End of Day 4.

Happy Birthday, Tom!! Day 3, Kane Creek, Moab. 10/6/10

Day 3.  Tom's birthday ride.  Kane Creek.

Not many people are still riding dirtbikes at 70 years old.  It takes a man with grit, determination, & demetia to keep pushing & ride through every obstacle that comes up in life.  It takes guts & real manliness.. like John Wayne turning his back on Bruce Dern in The Cowboys.  It takes a man who sneers at death, scoffs at injury, & considers danger among his most intimate friends.  Tom is such a man.  His physical fitness level eclipses that of much younger men.  His mental toughness is an inspiration to all who ride with him.  He does not give up, wear out, or break down under the most grueling conditions.. conditions that convince most riders to take up knitting or switch to quads.  So on his 70th birthday, what kind of ride could we do to celebrate such a monumental event and milestone in his life?

It had rained most of the  night.  It was still sprinkling & cloudy when we walked next door for a fast food breakfast.  We were planning a short ride in the morning, then trailering the bikes & heading for Hanksville, our next riding destination.  With the rain, it looked like we might be missing the ride this morning.  But after we bought Tom a hearty breakfast.. a $1 muffin sandwich & a coffee.. no expenses spared for this special day.. the skies began to clear!  We might get a ride in after all!  We figured we had about a 3 hour window.  Kim & Brian wanted to ride to arches & look at the rocks.  Tom wanted to do some dirt & see how his bike was running.  I thought we could do the Kane Creek trail.  It was a longer loop, but we could just cut it short & return, or there was a shorter turn off that cut over to highway 191 for a 30 mile loop back to moab.  We checked out of the rooms, leaving our stuff in Kim's truck.  We wouldn't need lunch or much water.. just going on a short, easy ride!  We'd meet back at the truck at 1pm, grab some lunch, then head to Hanksville.

The sun was shining brightly as we headed out on Kane Creek road.. a wide, graded road with stunning views.

We passed a few cars, a couple of motorcycles, but it was not busy, & we had the road to ourselves most of the time.  Tom & I were both dazzled by the majestic beauty of the canyons & rock formations, & we stopped several times to take it all in, & snap some pictures.

We hadn't gone far, & Tom realized his bike was still not running right.  He would later find out the accelerator diaphragm had a hole in it, & was causing the bike to run rich.  It would stall under acceleration, cough & sputter when starting, & it smelled very rich following him.. too much gas going through the engine unburned.  It would start very hard when it died.

After a few miles, we came to a crossroad.  There was an unimproved road heading to the east, which on the map reconnected with Hwy 191 & would take us back to moab.  Or we could continue on the improved road for another hour or so, then turn back to meet Kim & Brian.

Tom's bike wasn't running very well, but he thought we could ride the easy loop back to moab.. it was only about 20 miles or so.

The first part was fun.. had a lot of ups & downs, wash crossings, rocks.. nothing too hard, but still challenging enough to be a fun ride.  Tom could keep his momentum up, so the bike didn't stall.

But it was still running rough.. Tom wanted to stop again to look at it.  He tinkered with it for a bit, & was a little worried about it overheating.

He messed with it a bit, but it wasn't running any better.. so we had to decide whether to keep riding or turn back for the easier road.  We had gone about 10 miles into this part of the trail, & while it had some challenging spots, it wasn't too bad & Tom was not having a problem with it.  ..only 10 more miles or so, we could finish this out & be back at Kim's truck early.. maybe we'd go over to Arches, too & meet them.

The last picture of the riders with color in their faces and their limbs all intact..

Then we ran into a narrow, rocky section.  The honda stalled, so Tom had to get off & manhandle it through the narrow slot.  I helped a little,  getting the back up over some rocks.

I followed, & got through the narrow part, but stalled on the hill.

Now the trail began to follow the creek.. sometimes right down the middle of the water.  Other times, it wound around in the sand.  There were other tire tracks, so we figured it was passable.. at least some other unfortunate souls had come this way, too.

We got through another long section along the rocky edge, & got into sand & water crossings.  Would the honda have what it takes to make it through the sand?  ..got to keep up the momentum & keep the wheel driving in that stuff..

Here we start into the water.. right away there's a small crossing with a steep sandy bank.  Tom get partway up, but the honda stalls & buries the back tire.

I decide to continue along the creek.. not really any better, just different.

About this time, my bike starts to act up, too.  It won't start unless it's in neutral.  I suspect the kickstand switch is the culprit, since i had disabled it & put a jumper in it.  That has happened before.  So now when i stall, i can't just pull the clutch & restart, i have to shift to neutral, then start, then shift back to 1st.

We wrestle with the bikes for 4 or 5 drops in the sand.. lifting them up, getting the rear tire some traction.  It's a lot of work, but it looks like we've only got a few miles to go.  More sand washes.  More following the creek.  Then we get to a section with a narrow ledge with about a 3' drop down to the creek.  Branches are sticking out with dense undergrowth.  No room for error, have to ride the 12" ledge.  I start looking for another way, but Tom goes ahead.  Then i hear some yelling.  Tom's bike slid down the drop off & pinned him against the bank.  I walk over & help lift the bike off.  Now it is in the creek, so he gets it started again, then follows the creek for a bit until the trail crosses again.  I decide to go down a 2' drop & follow the creek, too.  I make it down the drop ok, but get into some deep sand again & drop it.

My video card is full, & i don't take any pictures of the next few miles, but it is more of the same:  a few more drops in deep sand, some boucing around  in the river bed, & a couple of deep pools we ran fairly fast to cross.  They covered us with a sheet of water.

I only brought a small water bottle.  It is gone by now, with all the physical exertion.  I had a small bag of trail mix, but neither of us wanted to eat.  Tom had his camelback, & gave me a cup.  Fortunately, it wasn't hot.. it was warm enough with the work we were doing, but a 90* day would have done us in.

The road starts to climb up away from the creek bed.  We think we must be coming out.  But now the road gets narrower.. hardly big enough for a bike, much less a quad.  We finally come to a sign.. this is a 'more difficult' trail.. glad we know that, now.  There were no signs when we came in.

We considered turning back.  But the trail we had come on was pretty tough already, & we didn't really want to go back through it.  So we pressed on, hoping it would get easier.  It didn't.

This section had some metal tracks for going over some big steps.  I'm not sure why.  There were other bigger steps we had already been on & would come to that were bigger.  But they were nice for getting down to the creek.

I managed to get through the water ok, then had to gun it to get up the sandy bank.  It spun & dug in, but i did finally make it up.  I then watched as Tom followed.  He decided to go a different way across the creek, but he eventually made it, too.  We then rode through the creek for a few hundred yards, with not a few tense moments to add to the increasing drama.

No sooner across this obstacle, than we came to a gnarly uphill, steep, & stepped section.  We got off the bikes & walked it.. trying to decide whether to go on or turn back & ride through everything we'd already done.  I picked out a line, & i thought if i could keep my momentum, i could keep the line & make it up.  I had also put in another memory card in my video camera.. i figured if we were both going to die in fiery crashes in this canyon, i would at least get it on video.  But i didn't turn it on in this part, so intent was i on plotting this section.

I backed the bike up a bit, then hit the throttle & raced up the hill.  You can see the start of it at the end of the last video.  Somehow i managed to actually keep the line i wanted to take & got up the hill in just a few seconds!  I was euphoric!  I was very stressed in anticipation of this climb, and making it was a great relief.

Now it was Tom's turn.  He also gunned it & started up.  I could see him boucing up the big steps & he made it almost all the way up before the ornery honda stalled again.  Fortunately, there was only a short section to finish up.  We wrestled the bike up & rested for a bit before continuing the journey.

The trail we were on was not on my gps.  But i could see on the gps that the highway was only a few miles away.. as the crow flies.  Tom wondered how far if the crows had to walk out, pushing broken down dirt bikes..

We were both getting a little tired & stressed from the constant challenges at every turn.  We knew it would be much later for us getting back, if we did at all.  It was about 3pm, local time, & we were supposed to meet Kim & Brian at 1pm for the trip to Hanksville.  I was getting dehydrated.  It was also starting to cloud up again.. like it did the first day.  The skies were getting very dark, & we could hear distant rumbling.  We fully expected to have torrential downpours added to our list of obstacles.

We tried to keep moving if we could.. didn't want to stop for anything, since we were already late, & we figured Kim & Brian would assume we were dead & go on to Hanksville without us.  I checked for a cell phone signal several times.. nope..  Not in these canyons.

We rode along for another few hundred yards, when we came upon another creek crossing with a steep, rocky climb afterwards.  The rocks had slick moss on them under the water, & this was the hardest section, yet.  How many more can there be?  Each one was harder than the previous one.. was this trail ever going to end?

It was getting darker & darker.. loud crashes of thunder followed the bright flashes in the sky.  We were going to get hammered by the rain, & did not want to spend any more time in this canyon.  We walked up the trail to see what was on the other side... another creek crossing & a sandy bank.  It looked easy compared to what we had to do first.  I was feeling very weak.. the stress, the work of wrestling the bikes, & the lack of water was taking it's toll.  I began to look at some of the rock shelves, thinking we could huddle under one of them & spend the night.  Going back would be even more impossible.. we knew what lie behind, & would rather take our chances on hopefully fewer challenges ahead.

I stretched out on a flat rock for a bit.  I drank some water out of the creek.  This was a critical survival situation for us, & i needed to be clear minded & positive.  Tom could sense my dispair, & exhorted me to press on.  The skies continued to darken & large drops began to fall.  He was feeling very threatened by the rain, knowing it would make our exit from this canyon even more difficult, not to mention flash flood possibilities.  So Tom didn't wait for me to go first, but hopped on the honda & motored up the hill.  This next pic shows some of the terrain, though as usual does not capture the steepness or the step size.  The big step he was about 15' from stalled him & he dropped on the right side.  I ran up & we pulled the bike upright, & tried to get the wheels in a good slot for climbing the rest of the way.  It is a little blurry because of the low light conditions.

We got it up & the wind began to gust extremely hard.  I looked down & my bike had fallen over!  The wind had blown it off the side stand & it lay there, whimpering on its side.  I stood it up & began to psyche myself up for the climb.  You can tell by the headlights & dashlights in the pics & video how dark it was getting.  At the beginning of my climb, you can also see the rocks dotted with big raindrops.  Maybe there was more ahead, but we had to get out of this, now.  I straightened up my handguards & took off up the hill.

I dumped it in the same spot as Tom, falling on my right side.  My new radiator guard was installed just in time.. this ride tested it out.  We wrestled my bike up the hill, mounted up & kept going.. the rain was falling harder, & we did not know what was ahead.

The rain was falling harder.. it was dark.. as you can tell by seeing the headlights on the trail in the videos.  We made it up the most difficult climb we had up to this point, & were hoping to get back to Moab before dark.  It was about 4pm by now.  Bryan & Kim must think we'd fallen off the edge of the world.  We thought that, too, on some parts of this trail.

Here was my bike before the previous climb.  A fierce gust of wind just toppled it.

We were still running along the creek.. in the creek for a lot of it.  Sorry about the raindrops on the camera lens.. it fuzzies out some of the terrain.. makes it look nice & soft.  But it wasn't.  It was sharp & had an edge.

The trail followed the creek a bit more, then started up another rocky/sandy/muddy climb.  We didn't stop to check it out, but just twisted the throttle & climbed up.  After all, we were advanced riders, now.  I was very relieved to see we were at the top, following a wide road, & heading away from the creek.  In a few miles, the road came upon a gate, which opened up onto hwy 191 which took us into moab.  We were very happy to be riding in the rain on pavement, and it wasn't far.  It was nearly 6.  We were over 4 hours late.  We were very happy to see our loyal comrades Kim & Bryan waiting in the parking lot, bikes already loaded.  Kim gave me a cold gatorade which i drank down almost in one swig.  We loaded our bikes into Kim's trailer, kissed the pavement, then took Tom out for his Birthday dinner.  Tom & I rambled on and on, boring Kim & Bryan with our tales of danger & brushes with death.  They were mostly amused, but patiently listened.  They told us they had to cross a trickle of water on the pavement in Arches, & the blow dryer was out in the men's restroom, so they had some grueling experiences, too.  But we all survived to ride another day.  We drove to Hanksville & made it to the hotel by 9pm.  It was wet & muddy there, too.  We drove through the rain.  More fun tomorrow!

Tom admitted this would be a very memorable birthday ride.. one he wouldn't forget soon, & would retell many times in therapy.  I told him God must have a twisted sense of humor to let him do this ride on his 70th birthday, & why did i have to go, too?

Adversity brings out the best & worst in people.  I learned a lot about Tom & myself on this ride.  Tom is a man with dogged determination.  There was no whining, no regrets about what we should have done, or blame.  It was all about what we needed to do, next.. what we had to do to get through this.    Even though we both knew we were in over our heads, Tom kept our focus on the problem of the moment, & how we would solve it.  We both knew we were very close to spending the night outside in the rain, with no relief until morning, no water & no food.  It was not a pleasant prospect.  We were on the edge.. very close to a meltdown.  I felt a mixture of anxiety & anger.  ..a little afraid, since injury seemed very possible, as well as exposure if we broke down.  I was angry with myself for not looking into this ride & finding out what it was.. for assuming a line on the map was a normal navigable road.  Compulsive streams of epithets were coming from my mouth, like a sailor with tourette syndrome.  But it was spilt milk to Tom, & he pressed us to keep going & not give up.  I will remember this life lesson for my next adventure:

Competition Knitting.

End of day 3.

10/10 Utah ride, Moab, Hanksville, Ogden. Mud, rocks, and rain.

Days 1 & 2.  10/4-10/7

I decided to break this up into pieces.  It is too long for one reading. I put day 3 & 4 in separate blogs.

We finally decided to get up to Utah for some riding.  We'd talked about it a lot, but getting everyone's schedule together is no easy task.  Kim wanted to trailer the bikes up.. too much riding up for him.  Ok with me, too.  So Brian, Kim, Tom & i met at Kim's early monday morning, 10/4/10 to head up to Moab.  Kim's Avalanche was an easy ride.. smooth & comfortable.  We checked in to our hotel & decided we had time for a short ride.  We thought Gemini bridges would be close, so hopped on our bikes with minimal gear & was on the trail before 4pm.

It was a nice climb up the switchbacks.. great views, & a rough road to whet our appetites.  As we got closer, the skies darkened.  I stopped several times to ask if everyone still wanted to continue.  We were having fun on the ride & no one wanted to turn back.  Then big drops of rain began to pelt us.  "Forward!" was the cry, so forward we went.  Then hail came down, & rivers began to cross the trail.  'Maybe we should head back,' Tom reluctantly conceded.  By now it was a serious summer monsoon.. cats & dogs.  Big hailstones.  No one had brought a rain jacket.  Everyone was drenched.

We eventually got back on the pavement & made our way to the protection of the motel.  We wrung out our clothes the best we could, hung them up anywhere we could, & changed into some dry clothes to go to dinner.  We walked to a nearby sports bar/restaurant & had a nice if pricey meal.  Back to the rooms, we zonked out early.. get some rest for the next big day's ride:  White Rim Trail.

I've limited my videos in this report.. i got a lot more, but decided to just have a few to show the terrain & riding conditions better.  They are all in HD, so you can click on the HD button on the youtube link to change the resolution.

Day 2.  The White Rim Trail.

We had heard that the white rim trail had gotten washed out by mineral bottom road, & was no longer a loop.  That was very disappointing, but we figured we could still ride one of the classic western dual sport rides in the country.  We would go out by the potash ponds, go as far as our fuel would allow, then come back.  We'd get most of it.

First a group shot:  Kim, Brian, Scotty, Tom.

With all the recent rains, we counted on wet conditions, as well as more rain on the ride.  Rain jackets were packed, & our delicate finery was left in the rooms for another time.

Kim & Brian were on kawasaki klx 250's, Tom brought his honda 650xrl, & i was on the lone yamaha wr250x.  All of them fine bikes for the white rim.  The ride takes about 20 miles of pavement to start, but along the colorado river.. great scenery & an easy ride.  Then it hits dirt & starts to wind through rocks & washes.

It came out on a nice overlook above the colorado river.

It was a great day.. we could see clouds forming in the distant mountains, but we had a sunny start.  ..not too much water in the washes we crossed, either.

Every turn had spectacular views & fun, rocky riding.

Unfortunately, Tom's honda began to give him trouble.  It was sputtering & stalling when he'd open the throttle.  It only ran ok with full throttle.  He was not confident it would make the ride, so opted to turn back.  It started, & he turned back.. missing the white rim ride.  We all wept briefly for him, then hopped on our bikes & continued the ride.

An early stop along the way was musselman's arch.  Kim is an old utah native, & can remember when they used to ride motorcycles across it.. before it became more restricted.  He was happy to just walk across it this time, though.  I figured when he first saw it, it hadn't eroded underneath it, yet, so was an easy ride across.. plus the motorcycles then were just driven by feet & had stone wheels..

It was fun for me to ride the trail the other way around.. i had ridden it from mineral bottom road in June.  It still has the usual scenery to die for.

The trail winds along the rim of a huge canyon.  The rocks are very light colored near the rim.  Hence, 'white rim'.  The road is pretty rough.. lots of rocks.  But it is no trouble for our monster dirt bikes.

The trail follows the rim fairly close.  Sometimes it goes right up to the edge.  ..makes a good photo op.

The clouds were beginning to pile up on us, but it just made the sky more interesting for picture taking.

The klx's were very pretty.. but neither the riders nor the bikes wanted to go very fast.  That was fine to me.. it gave me more time to stop & take pictures while i waited for them to catch up.  My 'mad max' wrx wasn't very pretty, but it was a great adventure bike.. as over 1000 miles of riding it on this trip would prove.

There's not a lot to say..  the vistas were spectacular, the riding was fun & had some challenging spots.  We passed a lot of bicycles & their support vehicles, but no other motorcycles.  It was a tuesday with rain in the forecast.

It wasn't long before big drops began to fall.. with some nice wind & cooler weather.  It rained on us climbing up murphy's hogback, a steep & rocky climb up to more spectacular views.  When it's dry, the trail is very loose, with deep powder to run through.  The rain settled that down, & it wasn't a hard climb..  but it's not for beginners.  There were more than a couple of spots that surprised us.. some high steps we had to climb up.. no time to think about it, just twist the throttle & jump over it!  No major mishaps.. a drop or 2 was all for the three of us.

Here's Bryan climbing up the last part of murphy's hogback.

We decided to make this our halfway point.  We stopped a lot on the way, oohing & ahhing & snapping pictures like tourists.  But our fuel was about at the halfway point, even though i had brought an extra 2g. in my rotopax.

So now we had the long descent.. still a beautiful ride along some amazing rim rocks.  You can see Kim & Bryan coming down.

This spot had a big step going down.. i skipped my skidplate on it going over.  I'd still rather go down these kind of steep sections than up them.

We rode through more scattered showers, but didn't stop as much for picture taking.  Now we were getting hungry & thirsty.. home beckoned!

We made it back before dark, greeted Tom who had been troubleshooting his bike, & called out for a pizza.. i picked it up on the bike, along with a sixpack of polygamy porters.  We did a little under 200 miles,  about 50 of which was paved.  It was a fun ride, amazing views, & interesting situations.. not a lot of nasty mud or steep, stepped rocks.  That would come later.

End of day 2.

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Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.