40 Years Later in Utah...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScottFree, Jul 4, 2021.

  1. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for the entertaining report. Enjoyed it all. I agree about the bridges. I love the old iron ones. Happy Birthday to your wife.
  2. Cow Boy Brad

    Cow Boy Brad brad1098

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    Good stuff. Thanks for taking the time.
  3. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

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    Well done! Let's not be waiting 40 years for the next one . . .
  4. modiorne

    modiorne Adventurer

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    Thanks for taking us along, and sharing the memories and thought processes. Happy Birthday to the missus.
  5. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

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    The Morning After...

    It is a strange and quiet morning here. No getting up, packing, riding... it feels abnormal after the last two weeks. And, with the wife at work and nobody else around, it actually feels a bit lonely, which I can't say I ever was on the trip. Didn't Aztec Camera say something like that: "They call us lonely when we're really just alone..."

    Anyway, I updated some of the past entries with more pictures from 1981. After a couple days I want to write the epilogue, consider what questions this trip answered, what questions remained unanswered, and where do I go from here? Do I (re) pick up "adventurous" motorcycle riding at the tender age of 67, or am I better off considering this trip as a nice conclusion to a portion of my life? Is there a better way to do this kind of thing--a real quick look at the stats shows 15 days (of which 6 were spent just getting to and from the fun stuff), 4000 miles (of which 2000 were spent just crossing the prairie), and barely 300 of those miles actually off-road, maybe 200 of them on actual interesting dirt (as opposed to good old midwestern gravel). Lots to think about.

    For now, there is still stuff to do, and I've been somewhat lazy about getting started with it. The boat is still covered and on the trailer, which is not good with the grandkids arriving tomorrow. Of course, the river by my house is only slightly more boatable than Lake Powell at the moment, which is why I'm a bit reluctant. Oh well. Gotta do something. Will reward myself with double-dark Wisconsin chocolate ice cream later...

    Look for the epilogue next week sometime. And thanks for coming along on the ride.
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  6. JonBu

    JonBu Been here awhile

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    Really enjoyed this, thanks for sharing your ride with us. :)
  7. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem Supporter

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    enjoyed thx and happy bday wifey!!
  8. DrPayne

    DrPayne Not a doctor

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    Great writing, great pics, really, thank you for sharing. Loved the story. Or rather, stories.
    staticPort likes this.
  9. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Thanks for the report. Loved it. I went out that way a few years ago on my NC700X....it was my ride of a lifetime. Now I want to go on the Hima and follow your tracks.
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  10. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

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    It's a great ride. I want to go back sometime and ride Valley of the Gods and Hell's Backbone (the 1933 route). Maybe Cathedral Valley, if I can find somebody else to come along to spot me (or just laugh and help me pick the bike up) through the water crossing.

    I read your RR from that trip. Fun! The NC700X (manual transmission version) was on my short list of possible "Utah Bikes," but I ultimately settled on the Himalayan.
  11. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    the NC is a very capable machine, but the Hima was a better choice for your trip.
  12. Loadtoad101

    Loadtoad101 Been here awhile

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    Regarding credit cards. If you are going to make a journey such as this, I did 2 years ago, make sure you have a couple of credit cards and debit cards. You have a good chance of losing one as you did, or you will get your card hacked during your travels and find the cc company has frozen it! I had that happen in Idaho Falls on my trip. I was down to one card and 2000 miles from home. Not a warm fuzzy feeling.
  13. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

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    Oh, yeah. I had two: the credit card and a debit card. When I realized I had lost the credit card, it was no big deal to pay for things with the debit... except, of course, for gas. Seems the gas stations like to slap a "hold" on some ridiculous amount of money, like $75-100, as soon as you insert the card (I guess it's some kind of insurance against the card being declined after you've filled the tank), and these can hang around for a week or two. Not an issue when you've got a credit card with tens of thousands in headroom, but a PITA when it's real money in your bank account being tied up. So I did the pre-pay, fill, go back and get change thing for the rest of the trip. Kinda funny. I'd hand the guy a ten and tell him I'd be back for my change in a few minutes. The Himalayan never took more than eight bucks worth of gas at a time, even in Colorado and Utah, where the gas prices made IL look cheap.

    Funny thing: the bank issues a new credit card number within 48 hours of my call. I didn't have them attempt to ship me a replacement card because I had the debit with me and didn't want to have a replacement credit card chasing me around the West. I found out that I could use the new credit card number for making hotel reservations online, and when I got to the hotel, the clerk just asked if I wanted to leave it on the card. No request to actually see the card. Interesting.
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  14. Clef

    Clef n00b

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    Thanks for the engaging stories, it was a great read. Funny to see how some things haven't changed in such (for me) a long time. The Himalayan seems like a good bike, I recall ItchyBoots (Dutch moto traveller on YouTube) was always very happy with it. It does look a bit odd to me though, no sure what it is :-)

    Looking forward to the next adventure!
  15. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

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    Epilogue

    It's been a week since I got back, and already the memories of the trip are starting to recede into a dream-like feeling. I look at the photos and ask myself, did I really do this? Funny how that works. Six, maybe seven years of preparation, all sorts of obstacles, one aborted attempt, and when the trip finally happens it's over just like that. Normal life returns with a vengeance. And I wonder what's next.

    So let's wrap this thing up, at least until I stitch that GoPro video together into something suitable for YouTube (don't expect a big video series--the GoPro was operational a whole two days out of the trip, so there will be, at most, one Shelf Road and one Shafer Trail video).

    By the Numbers
    • Distance: 4048 miles.
      • Longest day: 405 miles (Big Springs, NE, to Denison, IA, on the way back)
      • Shortest day: 80 miles (Moab to Moab via Shafer Trail and Gemini Bridges).
    • Amount of "transportation" riding (getting to the Rockies and back): 6 days, 2000 miles
    • Miles ridden on dirt, gravel, disintegrated pavement or some other form of pavement-free roads: a paltry 300 or thereabouts. Seems disappointing, but this was never intended to be a "via as much dirt as possible" trip, not with only two weeks and the destination being over a thousand miles away.
    • "Highway" (interstate and similar) miles: only a couple hundred. The longest sustained stretch of actual interstate was 40 miles from Cheyenne, WY, to the Nebraska border, where I picked up old US 30. There were a few stretches of four-lane US 30 in Iowa, but these only had a 65 mph limit (compared to 75-80 on the interstates), so they were not all that bad. And the stretch of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was posted 60.
    • Fuel economy: average 65.7 mpg. The Himalayan is a sipper, not a guzzler.
      • High tank: 82.1 mpg, from Cotopaxi, CO, to Gunnison (mountain roads and some dirt, 20-45 mph mostly)
      • Low tank: 55.8 mpg, from Cheyenne Wells, CO, to Colorado Springs (~60-65 mph the whole time)
    • Speed: the Himalayan's speedometer displays an average speed; I am not sure exactly what it means but think it's the distance traveled divided by the time the ignition is turned on (so it takes into account time spent stopped at lights). Highest was 57 mph, after the run from Cheyenne Wells to Colorado Springs. Lowest was 33 mph, after the ride up Shafer Trail (where I probably only ran about 10 mph) and the return on US 191 (55-65 mph). Most of the time I averaged between 40 and 50 mph.
    • Temperatures: ranged from low 50s to over 100. Coldest was leaving Gunnison on the morning of the sixth day, when it was probably right around 50 and I needed the electric grips. Hottest was Moab (of course). Highest heat index (I think) was not Moab, but the afternoon of Day 3 in Arnold, Kansas, where the temperature was over 100 and the humidity was a sultry 40%, giving a heat index of around 113 (in contrast, that afternoon Moab was 106º with a humidity of 8% and a heat index of "only" 99).
    • Days of rain: only three, and they were partial. Day 1 in Iowa (showers as I approached Ottumwa), Day 8 leaving Moab (till about Monticello), Day 9 around Henrieville, UT (short but intense monsoon rainstorm). There were a few other brief sprinkles, but none that justified putting on raingear.
    • Grams of dust collected by the Himalayan's air filter: 3 (yes, I weighed it before and after)
    • Number of times I said, "oh crap, I'm way over my head here": lost count.
    • Number of times I turned on the TV: zero.
    How Did The Bike and Equipment Work?

    The Himalayan ran like a champ. It is not a fast bike, but it will get you there and it was not as much of a hassle to ride on highways with 65-75 mph speed limits as I had feared it might be. Stay off Interstates, as they attract people who are in a big hurry. Most of the two lane roads had light traffic and/or frequent passing lanes.

    More important, the bike took to the off-road stuff very well. Particularly after I (literally) got off my ass and started standing on the pegs. Despite the bars being a bit low for peg-standing (something I will remedy), to the point where I rarely attempted to use the clutch while standing, the bike quickly became nearly invisible, more like an extension of my body. Just point and go. Use that torque. As many have noted, there's a fairly big gap between first and second gears, and there are speeds where it feels like you're revving the engine in first and lugging it in second. In truth, "revving" turned out to be only 3000 rpm, out of a 6500 rpm red line.

    Maintenance along the way: two chain adjustments, four chain lubrications, and I added about a half quart of oil along the way. Maybe half of that was just in getting the oil level correct after the change I did just before starting the trip. The bike is now about 1000 miles overdue for a valve adjustment, but not making any top end noises.

    Tires: with 41-4200 miles on them, the Pirelli MT-60s worn down to "street tire" tread depth. The rear has about 2.5 mm left (out of an initial 7.5, I believe), and so can probably go about another 1000 of pavement before it's legally used up. This is not terrible, but given the relatively high price of the tires, it's no bargain. The MT-60 is an OK tire (certainly better than the "universal trials" tires that were on my XT500 forty years ago), but unexceptional and not worth the price when there are cheaper and better dirt tires (like the Shinko 244, $110 for a pair) available. One of my early draft plans had included a tire change stop when I reached the Rockies on the fourth day. Next time I take a trip like this, I will probably do that.

    Now What?

    I left figuring there was a 50-50 chance I would return from the trip and say, "there, that was a ball, it was great fun to go revisit places I went in my wild and crazy youth, and now I don't need to ever do that again." That didn't happen, and not just because I left some of the roads on my "to ride" list (Valley of the Gods, Colorado route Y11, Hell's Backbone, Skyline Drive in Utah) un-ridden. I found that not only could I still ride dirt and even "4WD" roads, I rather enjoyed it.

    Which means I should probably stop saying things like "I don't ride dirt for the sake of riding dirt; I ride dirt to get to special places you can't reach unless you ride dirt." It does sound kinda silly--try replacing the word "dirt" with the word "twisties" and see how dumb it sounds. Still, I note that the dirt road I enjoyed the least (John Brown Road west of Gateway) was also the least scenic. A lot of it was just a dirt road through some scrub forest with little or nothing to look at, and I have no great interest in riding it again. The two roads I enjoyed the most were Shafer (challenging in places and staggeringly scenic) and Land's End (not so challenging, but enough to be fun, and again spectacular scenery).

    So what's next? Haven't decided yet. As I noted in the Numbers, I didn't do all that much off-pavement riding on this trip. It might be fun to try something that strings together a lot of unpaved stuff into a single ride. Since I live outside Chicago, the obvious candidate is the TWAT. I've ridden the southernmost 150 miles of it (see this RR and this RR from the Summer Of Plague), but I understand it gets a bit more difficult (sand, etc.) in the middle part of the state. I've also got this book of rides from the State of Arkansas, went on parts of a couple of their "Dual Sport Adventure Rides" on my BMW back in 2018... I like Arkansas, and notice a section of the TAT crosses the state. Might be good for a trip. Either of these is a good possibility, as I have a tradition of making a trip to Arkansas in late September to say goodbye to summer, and then a trip to Wisconsin in early October to say hello to fall. And I'm definitely going to get back out West on the Himalayan (not going to wait another 40 years this time).

    The Official Guidelines for RR's say that these things should be complete stories, with a beginning, middle and end. I think that's where we are now, the end. I will drop one more post when I get the GoPro video edited, but beyond that, it's a wrap. It was a great trip, I made it back in good shape (well, with a few more aches and pains), and am starting to look forward to the next adventure. All's well with the world.
  16. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

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    Well ridden and written; thank you, Sir!
  17. TNC

    TNC Candyass Camper

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    Anyone who didn't enjoy your trip and story, Scott, is a hopeless curmudgeon and have no soul...LOL! I really did enjoy it, and mostly because you covered some of my favorites in southern Utah. That's a magical place IMO. I take a few more gnarly routes than your trip covered as a rule, but I'm on a 310 pound, long travel, DS bike that I tote to Utah and ride out of a base camp in more remote BLM and forest areas. But I don't care if it's mostly pavement or not, your trip was awesome, and the telling of it was a real pleasure. Thank you.
  18. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

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    Hey, thanks! Glad people enjoyed the ramblings. I figure that if I bookmark the stories, when I'm old and sitting in The Home drooling on myself, I can read these stories and look at these pictures and say, "wow, what an exciting life that guy had, what great adventures he went on... I wonder who he was?"

    But seriously (nah)... it's nice to know other people enjoyed going along for this ride.
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