Days 7 & 8 of Crazy-Awesome Adventure II

Greetings from an awesome motorcycle road trip. Day 7 found us leaving “mobbed Moab,” a tourist town in Utah that I recommend avoiding (it is very expensive), and riding to the middle of nowhere.

Our route took us to…

… a short section of Interstate 70, the only road going west (that is, unless we backtracked 70 miles south to Monticello.)

I hate riding interstate highways, especially here in the west where the speed limit is 80mph. I limit my speed to a more comfortable 65mph. Fortunately, there was very little traffic, so we could putter along at 65 in the right lane and let trucks, cars, and speed-demon bikers blow past us.

We stopped along the way to refuel and drink water. Keeping hydrated is very important since the dry air can dry us out quickly.

We took the exit to UT-24 and rode on this completely empty straight road 44 miles to a small town, Hanksville.

Sunrise at Hanksville Sand Dunes

This place served as a waypoint between heavy riding days, and where we could rest up and prepare for a heavy riding day — Day 8.

Day 8 was a big day of riding and conquering my fear of riding on tricky roads.

After breakfast, we rode 40 miles to Capitol Reef National Park. “S” and I visited this park four years ago, but it was raining (monsoon), so we only stopped there to put on our rain suits and ride on.Today, we rode through the park’s scenic road and saw… a lot more rocks.Both “S” and I are rather “rocked out.” But it was a nice ride and helped prepare me for what was to come; that is, riding on curvy, really curvy, roads.

We left the park and rode another 30 miles west to the town of Torrey where we refueled our Harleys and had a nice lunch.

THEN… my self-challenge began. We entered Utah Route 12, a National Scenic Byway, headed west. This is a world-class motorcycle road, well-known to the motorcycle touring community.

The road is deceiving at first — it rolls along gently, at first downhill, with smooth and easy curves. As the road enters the Dixie National Forest, the curves continue with easy turns left or right. You continue climbing in elevation. My ears popped several times.

I was really happy that there was very little traffic, so I could ride slowly and not feel “pushed.” The sun was bright, yet within the forest, it was cool, so we donned our riding jackets.

We stopped at some view points, such as this one:

Larb Hollow Overlook

The road rolls on, climbs and curves, still gentle deep within a forest of pines.

Then we popped up above the tree line. We had reached the summit! 9600ft! Stopped for a photo, hydration, then remounted and rode on.After that… well, that’s when we entered the more difficult part of this road. Yep… the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument lives up to its name. Staircase? Tight turns and as much as 14% downgrades! Also — as much as 1,000 foot drop-offs just a few feet from both sides of the road. There were few guard rails, either. Yikes!Here I am at the Top of the Staircase:I tell ya honestly, if I didn’t have a death-grip on the bike’s grips, I would have bitten off all of my nails. We did have a very interesting view — the “Grand Staircase Escalante” geology is quite different from other geological forms we saw elsewhere on this ride.With the decline in elevation, it got warmer. Time to shed the jackets so we won’t roast.

We took occasional breaks for hydration and stretches (i.e., relieve “Harley butt” for a little bit. Stock Harley saddles are hard and uncomfortable after a while.)

We rode on some 40 more miles on (mostly) straight roads through empty, barren landscapes with a few outposts of towns.

We arrived in the small town of Cannonville where we stayed for the night. Day 9 will find us riding to Bryce Canyon National Park for a quick stop (we were there 4 years ago) and will stay the night near Zion National Park just down the road.

Life is short: overcome your fears and enjoy the ride.