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Trials and tribulations of May rides


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I took a 2930 mile (4725 km) ride the third week of May down to Utah and back. 


Always worthwhile to go for a ride, but my luck with early season (or late season) rides in the mountains is pretty spotty.  


My original thought was to go to the Weaverville BMWST ride in California.  But two rather widespread (and deep) snowfalls the last weekend of April and first weekend of May made travel through the Canadian and Montana Rockies pretty treacherous.  I could have trailered the bike to Spokane and left from there, but I intended on returning via the east slope of the Rockies and it would take an extra day to retrieve the car and trailer. 


So I shortened my planned route with the intent of visiting a few sights I have missed on previous trips to Montana, Idaho & Utah.  And attend my first Torrey get-together in over 10 years.  


After a nice Mother's Day brunch with Linda and her daughter I left for Montana and my first night's stay in Choteau, MT.  Other than the usual winds coming off the Rockies it was a pretty unremarkable 6 hrs on the road.  Obvious deep snow up in the mountains and some snow still left beside the road in the foothills.  Especially at altitude on the Duck Lake Road (MT 464) I use to avoid the slowdowns on US 89 on the east side of Glacier Park (US).  There was a Honda GW group staying in Choteau on their way back to Alberta after their first organized ride of the season.  Not a particularly friendly group so no stories to swap.   


The next morning I went by Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area but most of the flocks that stop there on their migration north to nesting grounds had moved on.  A few ducks, Canada geese and swans were all I saw. 


Later in the morning I used a route detour I have intended to take for many years.  Although I-15 from Great Falls to Helena is a pretty nice ride along the Missouri River and Prickly Pear Creek, the Old US 91 (AKA Frontage Road & Recreation Road) follows the Missouri at river level and twists and turns a lot more.  A much more interesting ride from Cascade to the climb over the Nevada Mountains.  
I'm not sure how to describe this oddity:  


If you have never been to Montana, fly fishing is the unofficial state sport.  And I was riding by some prime streams and rivers including the Missouri, Jefferson and Madison Rivers.  


Lots of fishermen (and women) in drift boats and waders in the Missouri.  A few eagles, swans and pelicans too.  


The entire Madison River valley from Yellowstone to the confluence with the Jefferson River has over a dozen protected access sites for public and commercial fly fishing activities and many fishing lodges. Ennis is in the middle of it all and is well worth a stop for a meal, coffee and walkabout.  The town is filled with metal sculptures and other artwork, many dedicated to fly fishing (and trout).  


Just after crossing over Raynold's pass I spotted an adult eagle chasing away crows from an unfortunate prey.  He/she wouldn't stay around for my attempts at a photo.  Lots of snow still in the trees beside US 20 from Henry's Lake to the drop-off from the Yellowstone plateau down to Ashton.  Hard to imagine that area was an active volcano caldera (over a million years ago).   


Stayed the night in Rexburg, ID.  Even a decent Mexican food truck (actually a bus).   


The next day was a chance to pick up an out-of-the way National Monument stamp at Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Lava flows from as recent as 8000 years ago, similar to lava flows on the Big Island of Hawai'i.  Well, except no ocean or beach.  The lava tubes were still closed due to winter ice. 


On the way there I had to pass through Arco, ID.  A very unique little town with memorials to US Navy submarines (there is a conning tower from the decommissioned and scrapped SSN-666 "Hawkbill" in a park) and "Atoms for Peace".  If the name seems remotely familiar, Arco was the first American city whose lights were powered by a small nuclear reactor on July 17, 1955.  Unfortunately, the only fatal nuclear reactor accident in the US also occurred nearby in 1961 (SL-1 Reactor Meltdown).  


Then it was on to Twin Falls, ID.  Site of the Perrine Bridge over the Snake River, the only US public bridge that allows BASE jumping without a permit.  There was one jumper packing his parachute in the Visitor's Center parking lot, but the winds had picked up too much for any further jumps. 


A short diversion to Shoshone Falls (one of the "twin falls"):
 Followed by some Interstate time on I-84.  Quite a few heavy thunderstorms were in the area, precipitating a fatal accident near Hazelton that had the westbound I-84 lanes closed with all traffic detoured onto a parallel county road.  I-84 from Burley, ID to the I-15 intersection in Utah is subject to pretty strong crosswinds with lots of warning signs.  At one point I was getting ready to pass a FedEx triple trailer that the driver was having trouble controlling in the wind.  Although the cab was in the right lane, the third trailer was pushed all the way over into the passing lane!  Had to wait a mile or so until there was less wind and the FedEx driver had better control.  While passing through Salt Lake City my Zumo 660 decided to misbehave due to the GPS Week Number Rollover issue and go into night mode a couple of hours early.  Sort of destroyed my shopping plans but at least I was able to find my accommodation. 


To be continued.....


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  • 10 months later...

OK, I finally have time to go through photos. 


Who couldn't use a bit of diversion right now? 




Woke up in good time the next morning.  Drizzle and cool but nothing too bad.  All the high elevation roads (Alpine Loop, Mt Nebo Loop and Huntington/Eccles Canyon) were either still closed or didn't look like good routes unless the sun came out.  Time to head south, I guess.  So onto US 6 over Soldier Summit (snow beside the road & just a few degrees above freezing) and down Price Canyon.  Quick bite to eat in Price & on to Green River and then Moab.  Warmed up a lot as I lost elevation & moved south.  


Short diversion onto Potash Rd.   Always nice to ride beside the Colorado River.  






A few people climbing on Wall Street (including one family practicing together).  




But it was time to head down to my reservation in Bluff, UT.  After dropping off my stuff I headed further west hoping to catch some good lighting towards sunset in the Valley of the Gods.  Went to the west end  (at the bottom of the Moki Dugway), but someone was stuck in the sand about a mile in and I thought it was best to turn around. 


At least I finally got into Goosenecks State Park.  







Really good meal at Comb Ridge Eat and Drink.  


Time to move onto Torrey the next morning, but first was a little diversion to Natural Bridges National Monument.  I must have ridden/driven by the entrance to that NM at least 4 times previously but I've never had time to check it out.  Walked to a couple of the bridges for some exercise, but it warmed up quite a bit as the sun got higher.  I should have brought more water! 




Sipapu Bridge: 






Kachina Bridge: 












Owachomo Bridge: 




And then the last few hundred kilometers to Torrey with stops at the Colorado River/Hite Bridge overlook and Capital Reef National Park. 






But the weather had taken quite a turn at Hanksville with a sudden drop of about 20º F and high winds with blowing sand.  


The usual arrival to Torrey, but it was a pretty small group.  Some opted for the burger truck (Capital Burger) and most of us wandered down to Red Cliff to supper.  Some visiting and rough trip planning during and after dinner. 


But the weather forecast was for plummeting temperatures over the next 2 days and snow above 7500 feet, so flexibility was important.  


Mike C

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Thanks for the great pics; folks who haven't wandered out west cannot grasp the scope of such great places.  Whenever June ride pics start showing up I'll share some snowy pics from the Icefield Parkway...life is such an adventure; especially when you're out there motorSyckling.

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Well it didn't get quite as cold as forecast that night, so a couple of groups were going to head out in the morning.  One to Fish Lakes and the other was going to try US12.  


But first they had to deal with Randy's tire problem:   



Brian T was a hero picking up that tire and getting to Torrey (through some hail/snow, I might add) in time to get Randy back on the road in the afternoon!  


Meanwhile, after some breakfast and coffee to warm up, a group of 7 bikes were off to Fish Lakes.  Pictures courtesy of Candi & Terry N (RecentConvert).  












Got pretty close to freezing at the summit, but still a nice ride.  


Unfortunately one bike got caught in a hailstorm in Capital Reef Park that afternoon and had a slow speed sideways trip into some gravel suffering a punctured valve cover.  For more details see Randy's post above.  


Well, the forecast for the next day was snow in the afternoon, so most of us decided we better get out of there before we got trapped.  


The next morning a combination of some welding by a local that Bob (Killer) Palin knew and some JB Weld had the valve cover holding oil.  So all the bikes were now ready to hit the road.  




That valve cover repair lasted without a leak for the nearly 600 miles from Torrey to Fort Collins, CO.   At Whip speeds!  


The rest of us worked our way home, most with some ice or snow delays.  


All chronicled well in the Home safe from Torrey Thread

Next up for me?  Death Valley in the fall.  Maybe more pics to come.  


Mike C


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