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Memorial Day 2007

Il Disastro Memoriale Di 2007 | May 2007

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Saturday morning I woke up early despite having been at Kris and Dave's place late Friday night. I needed to drop off some camping gear that I was lending Kam, but we ended up staying late talking bikes and enjoying a beverage. It was 1: 00 a.m. by the time I had packed my tail and tank bags and put them on my bike so I could roll out in the morning with minimal effort. It's not like me to be awake so early, but I was excited to get going. I had been looking forward to the trip for months.


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Incident 1. Mindy "High-Sides" into the "River"

Don't Let The Facts Ruin a Good Story

The list of riders for the 2007 Memorial Day ride was larger than any other CanyonChasers ride; at least for the first day. Over the course of the weekend record high levels of attrition would reduce our number from 27 to 7 remaining riders. Survival of the fittest? You be the one to decide.

Attendees;

  • Ryan – Ducati Monster 695
  • Dave – Triumph Speed Triple
  • Kris – Kawasaki Z1000
  • Eric – Honda 919
  • Dawn – Honda 919 [Pillion]
  • Mike – Triumph FrankenTriple
  • Mike – Triumph Tiger 1050
  • Steve – Honda RC51
  • Brandi – Honda Civic [Chase Vehicle]
  • Scott – Aprilia Caponord
  • McKinley – Aprilia Caponord[Pillion]
  • Paige – BMW F650GS
  • Jon – Honda VFR800
  • Joe – Ducati Multistrada S
  • Kam – Suzuki SV650-S/N
  • Brian – Honda Nighthawk 750
  • Brad – Ducati Multistrada S
  • Chris – Honda VFR800
  • Alex – Suzuki SV1000S
  • Gavin, AKA Shannon II – Suzuki SV1000S
  • Neighbor-Dave – Suzuki Bandit 1200
  • Mindy – Suzuki “Can’t Get Enough” Katana
  • Matt – Suzuki GSX-R 750
  • Barton – Triumph Daytona 675
  • Jim – Yamaha FJR1300
  • Dave – SV1000-N
  • JDee – Yamaha FZ6

In addition to the large group, we turned the keyboard reigns over to Ryan. This was Ryan's very first Canyon Chasers experience - and his first sport touring experience for that matter having completed the MSF course (with Eric as his Rider Coach) the previous autumn.

Breakfast Gathering

I had only been riding street bikes for about eight months and this was to be my first multi-day trip. Because I had a few extra minutes I took a spin around the neighborhood before jumping onto the freeway towards the Einstein’s where the group was meeting. I had never had so much luggage on my bike and wanted to get used to how it felt before heading off with the group.

This year's Memorial Day ride was to be one of the biggest ever, and with 20 some-odd bikes crammed into the parking lot on Saturday morning it looked like it would be. I stopped to top off the small fuel tank on my Monster and then headed up to grab a bagel and O.J. with my girlfriend Erin (who wasn’t coming with me). The last few bikes trickled in as Erin and I studied the route on the map Kris had provided. I noticed that the trip would take us to a few places in Utah that I had never been, including the famous Hog's Back road (also known as the Devils Backbone). It was overcast but not cold and the forecast for the weekend was more of the same. Kris had promised me snow (I hear it's almost a given on the Memorial day ride), fortunately it looked as though her promise was to be broken.

Quite a few people would not be able to join us for the entire weekend, but still wanted to at least start out. So the group looked larger than it actually was. Jim on his FJR, Matt on his GSX-R750, Barton on his Daytona 675 and Dave on his SV1000 were all planning on turning back at some point during the first day. In other words there was already some level of planned attrition.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

FZ6 in Utah

Finally it was time to get going and I geared up with an extra layer under my leather jacket. I knew we would be headed over Wolf Creek pass right away and it would probably be colder as we gained elevation. I assured Erin that everything would be fine and that I would ride safe all weekend and see her on Tuesday. I waited as the bikes behind me cleared out, clicked into first gear and rolled out behind Eric and Kam towards Parley’s canyon. As we charged toward Park City two things became obvious. First, I was going to need all 695cc’s of air-cooled V-twin power I had beneath me and second, this was going to be a seriously fun trip.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, or maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing. While heading up Parley's Canyon on the first leg of the trip, a quick glance across the wide median to the west bound lanes revealed a moose...yes, as in Bullwinkle...strolling down the shoulder of I-80. Also, by this point we had also lost one rider who decided to turn back before we had tacked on even 50 miles because he felt that he wasn't prepared... he may have been the smart one!
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

This was Mindy's first solo ride with the CanyonChasers. She had attended the last two Memorial Day jaunts as a pillion, but a recent acquisition of a Katana 600 had her out riding on her own. Wanting to look all lady, she insisted Neighbor-Dave paint the bike pink; which he did in a no-holds-barred sort of way. Once complete the bike was so pink that no one would ever mistake the gender of the operator. What's more, Mindy insisted that her life’s motto be emblazoned across the tail-section of the bike. Honoring his wife’s request Neighbor-Dave scrawled “CAN’T GET ENOUGH” in dark pink letters along both sides of the bike.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Wolfcreek Pass

We headed up towards Wolf Creek and the group was already broken up into smaller squadrons. We paused at a gas station on highway 40 to verify the route and as I pulled back onto the road I inadvertently slipped in between Mindy and Brian….a sign of what was to come. Neighbor-Dave, Mindy, me and Brian (in that order) were riding Wolf Creek at a moderate pace. It was the only canyon road that we would travel on this trip that I had ridden before and I was enjoying the familiar turns.

WolfCreek Pass - Highway 35

As we headed into a tight left hander near the top, Mindy got into the turn way "wobbly" and I watched as she went wide, stood her bike up, hit the gravel shoulder and flipped over the pink Katana and into the drainage ditch on the outside of the road. I pulled off and ran back and help. By the time I got there Mindy was lying in the ditch under the bike and Brian was trying to lift the pink Kat off her. I was relieved to hear her say that she was okay. Brian and I managed to get the bike upright and it wasn’t long before Kam and Neighbor-Dave circled back around to help.

We made sure that Mindy wasn't hurt; she had a small cut and her shoulder was sore but that was the extent of her injuries. She noticed a large hole in Neighbor-Dave's fleece jacket where the hot exhaust had melted it. Mindy looked at her husband and calmly stated "I ruined your jacket". We rehashed the accident and someone threw out the words "Mini High-side" to describe how she had gone over the top of her bike.

JDee and Dave

After Mindy had a chance to calm down a bit we pushed the pink bike up onto the road and surveyed the damage. The throttle was sticking and a few things were bent and scratched, but the bike started right up. After a discussion of who was going to ride what bike and what the best plan would be, Neighbor-Dave and Mindy decided that they would head back home and meet up with the rest of the group in Torrey on the one remaining bike. Mindy jumped on Neighbor-Dave’s bike, and Neighbor-Dave jumped on the pink Katana and they were gone.

To add insult to injury, a week after our return to the duldrums of daily life, both Neighbor-Dave and Mindy's flaming pink Katana were nabbed from their front yard. Stolen, swiped, snagged, thugged. Why anybody would want to steal a intensely pink Katana with "Can't Get Enough" declared on the bodywork and how they plan on unloading the "hot" pink bike is beyond us. But if you happen to see this bike, be sure to notify the authorities.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

We waited long enough for Kam to get a picture of Neighbor-Dave on the pink bike then headed off towards Duchesne where the rest of the group would be waiting. We pulled into the gas station and Brian explained why we were so far behind. McKinley asked what happened all she heard was "High-side into the river." Running pack to her parents McKinley informed the group that "Mindy had high-sided into the river" Which gave everyone a visual of something much more serious. I assured everyone that things were fine and that they would be meeting us in Torrey. I also learned that another rider had already dropped out of the ride as well. The attrition had begun.

The general manager of the local Ducati haunt, Salt Lake Motorsports, had been extremely excited to attend, but was worried that showing up as the Ducati Shop Guy riding a brand new red, white and blue VFR800 would result in a great deal of consternation by other canyon chasing motorcyclists. Of course, this was not in the least bit true, but when you added in the fact that Chris’s new riding gear had not yet arrived, today was the very first time he’d even started the motor on the VFR and the local Ducati Shop relocating to a new building Chris was a bit distracted. He made it to the top of Parleys Canyon and decided that his head was not in the game and bailed.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Gassin' up in Duchesne

Incident 2. The Eric Armada Loses a Member

If a Squadron is Good, an Armada Must Be Better

The first group rolled out of Duchesne and we waited a few more moments before joining them on the road. The group was now a lot bigger and contained a number of riders that were unfamiliar with the route. I think we all just followed Eric because he knew where we were going, and the "Eric armada" of Saturday’s ride was born.

fast sweeping corners

The group was soon strung out along the sweepers in Indian Canyon with each rider going at their own pace. The wind was a battle and I was flogging the Monster trying to keep up with some of the bigger bikes. Eric was waiting at the turn-off towards Scofield to make sure that we all made the turn. Everyone did with the exception of "Joe-Strada" who must not have seen the group and blew right past us and continued on 191 towards Price. I wasn't sure if he was trying to take the shortcut to catch up with the group or if he really hadn't seen us. The rest of the group was there so we decide to go on and headed off towards Huntington Canyon. This would be the road where I realized how bad my suspension setup really was. I was bouncing all over the place on the potholed, rough shortcut road towards highway 96.

Last year in Indian Canyon, we were facing the strongest headwinds that I've ever encountered on two wheels. Riding my V-Strom at the time, I was basically on a big brick, with smaller bricks for panniers and a motor that, while strong and torquey, lacked the horsepower to maintain a steady speed against such an onslaught of wind. This year though, with the new Tiger and its brilliant 1050cc Triple... not to mention a relative lack of wind... I was able to keep the pace and I headed out ahead of the group to enjoy the sweepers. At the turn off to Emma Park road, which cuts a small section of Highway 6 out of the route, I decided to continue on straight. While Emma Park is a shortcut, what it shorts is a beautiful set of curves that are the finest arcs on the portion of Highway 191 that's a part of our annual route. I caught up with the rest of the group at Scofield... a bit dismayed at the voluntary avoidance of a beautiful stretch of pavement.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

Hey! Where'd you guys go?

Brian had been in my mirrors for the last few miles leading up to the turn off onto the dreaded Highway 6. After a while I noticed that Brian wasn’t right behind me anymore. Because we were riding at a pretty fast pace I assumed that he had fallen behind a little, but had no idea what had actually happened. By the time we reached our rest stop by the reservoir I had no idea where Brian was and started to worry about him. We waited for a bit and Joe-Strada, who had missed the turn off pulled in and explained that he had realized his mistake and turned around to travel the same roads we had. He hadn’t seen Brian. In a way it was a relief because at least we knew he hadn’t crashed, but we all wondered where he was. Eric called his cell phone and left a message because he didn’t answer.

Meanwhile back with Brian...

Brian on the Nighthawk

 

Brian was our former next door neighbor. For six years he would lustfully watch Kris and I embark on our moto-holidays while he struggled to get his business off the ground. Five kids, a mortgage and a blossoming business hadn't left Brian with much time for any recreational activities. It wasn’t until Kris and I had moved away that Brian decided that he must have a bike. He started out by taking the MSF course then hunting down a bike. He found a very sensible 1993 Honda Nighthawk 750 and spent the better part of the season getting the bike and his riding up to speed. However, his choice of luggage was probably not the best option.

On a shoe-string budget mandated by his domestic CFO, Brian purchased an enormous wet-weather bag from REI and simply bungied it to the back of the bike. It held all his kit but the mass amount of weight over his rear axle resulted in a high-speed wallow/wandering feeling from the front of his bike, limiting his speeds significantly. So it was no wonder Brian found himself farther and farther behind whenever highway speeds were in order.

While the gang had dispatched the Emma Park Road – Brian lagged behind as his bike would shake its head defiantly any time he surpassed 60 miles per hour. Growing anxious as his squadron disappeared beyond the horizon, Brian found himself compelled to keep up – right up to the point where he needed to make and 30mph 90-degree corner to link up with Highway 6. Brian’s lack of experience reared its ugly head and Brian found himself in a corner, going way faster than he knew how to negotiate. Doing what most new riders do in a similar situation, Brian stood the bike up and was hard on the brakes until his front tire found the gravel on the side of the road, and just like that Brian was picking his bike up and surveying the damage. Of course we knew none of this and what was soon to come…
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Huntington Canyon

We continued up Huntington Canyon, which is my new favorite road in Utah. The riding was fun with lots of fun sweeping turns and alpine views. It was getting a little cold and I was concentrating on the corners in the unfamiliar road. My muscles were getting tense and I was ready for a break. We stopped for fuel in Ferron and Eric tried to call Brian again. He still didn’t answer. It felt good to get off my bike and stretch for a while. Kris and Dave said that we were almost done riding for the day and even though I was having a lot of fun, I was just about ready for diner and a campfire.

Jim aboard his FJR1300 rode with us through Scofield and then turned back towards home. So far we had dropped Chris, Matt, Barton, Neighbor-Dave, Mindy and Jim. And we still had no word on Brian. Dave and his SV1000 rode with us until the gas stop if Ferron and then turned back, vowing to stop if he saw Brian and thus reducing our group of 27 riders by seven.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Tar Snakes and Torrey

Feels Like Riding over Gummy Worms
sweepy corners

The next highway started out hot and flat, then grew more curvy and fun when we left highway 10 behind us and took to Highway 72. It was cuvy and fun until the "tar snakes". UDOT had sealed the cracks in the road with tar, and it made for a slippery ride for two wheeled vehicles. I had never ridden on them before and I was a little nervous when the handlebars started to twitch as the front tire slid over the hot tar on the road. I didn’t even know it was the "tar snakes" that caused the twitch and thought that maybe my front tire was going flat. Then the tar got worse and my rear tire started to slide a bit as well. I was terrified. I slowed down but tried to keep enough speed to stay with the group because did not want to hold anyone up. I was relieved when the tar snakes cleared up.

Tar Snakes or Gummy Worms?

We left Highway 72 behind us then onto Highway 24 and not too long after that we pulled into the campground in Torrey. I was pretty tense from the last stretch of road and was definitely ready to get out of my riding gear and relax for a while. It was also good to hear everyone else complaining about the tar on the road as well. At least it wasn’t just me.

Out ahead of Jon and Dave and having gotten by Scott and Paige, I was having a blast on Hwy 72, but remembering that I had been warned about the sloppy road repair work that had soiled this beautiful road. The southern half of 72 was coated with gooey ribbons of patch tar which, in the warmth of the afternoon, made no attempt whatsoever to hold on to motorcycle tires. I did my best to pick lines that would avoid the worst of it through curves, but couldn't always navigate through them. Keeping my arms loose, I slowed down a bit and let the bike do what it needed to do to get through the mess.

With the front sliding around a bit before catching proper pavement again in most corners, I cursed the hideous decision to lay down the snakes. I'd rather ride on cracked pavement and wait for them to resurface the road in the winter. We passed the snakes and made it to the Fishlake road where Dave, Jon and I paused for a bit before heading around the lake. The stunning curves were empty of other traffic until we got around to the resort area and getting stacked up behind a group of cruisers on the far side who weren't too keen on our passing. But before long, we each found our moment and leap-frogged the entire group and continued to make our way to Torrey.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

Reparing Brians Bike

We all checked into the Sandcreek Campground and set up camp. I had not seen A lot of the riders for most of the day, but once gathered up in Torrey we compared notes on the days ride. Everyone (except Brian) had a good days ride in spite of the tar snakes, but "safely riding the speed limit" had taken its toll on Alex's tires. The topic of conversation in camp was tire wear. Ever hear of using duct tape for added tire life? Me neither.

We were the last (almost) to arrive at the campground because of our added jaunt over Fishlake. I was very concerned about Brian, but did not want to be the guy who called his wife so instead we tried to call Brians phone again. My phone wasn’t getting a signal, nor was anyone else’s. That is except for Kam; from Wisconsen. His phone was getting great reception.

I called my voicemail and thankfully there was a message from Brian. According to his message he had "a spill", taken a wrong turn, ran out of gas, turned around to keep following and was not 40 minutes behind us. We opened a few brews and waited for Brian to arrive and hoped nothing else had gone wrong.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Reparing Brians Bike

Brandy, Dawn and I went on a beer run and we all began setting up camp. I was impressed when I heard that, after all that had happened, Brian was only about 40 minutes behind. Sure enough about 40 minutes later we heard the Nighthawk pull in carrying all 6 feet 9 inches of Brian. He told us all about his daily adventures. Taking care of our own, several CanyonChasers grabbed Brians bike, rolled into a suitable work area and began emergeny repair. We swarmed all over his bike surveying the damage using whatever we could find to restore the Nighthawk to roadworthy status. After everyone was settled into camp we walked to the restaurant for diner. The food wasn't bad and the company was exceptional. Everyone recounted their adventures for the day and we debated the merits of tiered licensing for motorcycles.

More attrition had already been planned. Alex's rear D207 was shot and would be lucky to get him back to Salt Lake while still holding air. Gavin, riding Alex's wife SV1000 would turn back with Alex. Brad and his black Multistrada S was going to run chase with them just to make sure everything was okay – we were pretty sure that Brad saw this as his chance to get away while the getting was still good. We were now down to 17 attendees, having lost 10 participants the first day.

Steve's rear tire was in as bad a shape as Alex's but had the advantage of having his wife driving the chase vehicle. Rather than ride back with Alex, Gavin and Brad, Steve opted to leave his bike behind at Sandcreek Campground and drive along with his lovely wife. This decision would prove to be one of the luckiest moves of he trip.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

CanyonChasers Trivia

After dinner we went back to the campground and built a fire. Kris had hauled all kinds of prizes for "Canyon Chasers Trivia". (With my backpacking and alpine climbing background, I usually take a minimalist approach to traveling. Dave and Kris on the other hand each had a kitchen sink in their panniers.) After the newbies (including me) had all introduced themselves, Kris quizzed us on everything from who had forgotten their toothbrush to the nicknames given to various CanyonChasers on past trips. She had all kinds of prizes including chocolate bars, fireworks (Kam’s Favorite), and toothbrushes for those who had forgotten. Her bike must have been twenty pounds lighter after she dished out all the awards. We stayed up pretty late laughing and telling stories around the campfire with a cold beverage. It was a perfect way to wind down from the excitement of the day.

Boulder Oatmeal

Steamy, Dreamy and Creamy
Ryan, the author, riding to Boulder, Utah

 

Before we would even break camp in the morning, we would loose one more rider. JDee would get news that his freshly hatched first child was ill and mom was rather concernd, so he loaded his FZ6 and beat-feet for home. JDee had wanted to attend the Memorial Day ride for the last three or four years and this was the first time that he didn't have family in town visiting and his wife actually insisted that he go. Sixteen of us now remained.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Utah's Highway 12

Around camp Saturday night I first heard of the infamous "boulder oatmeal" which, I was adamantly informed was not just oatmeal... but a steamy hot apple covered orgasm in a bowl. It was so good in fact that Mike (The Mike on the Triple - er FrankenTriple) was willing to be up before dawn to make the ride to the Hells Backbone Grill in Boulder. I was skeptical. The group slowly began stirring early Sunday morning and packing the bikes. As promised both Mikes were chomping at the bit to get to Boulder. The only thing slowing Mikey down was the Franken’triple, which refused to start in the morning cold. After moving the bike into the sun to let it warm up and nearly draining the battery, flooding the engine, cursing, and foot tapping the triple finally grumbled to life. We rolled out towards Highway 12 and Boulder.

the Burr Trail

 

The northern half of Highway 12 over Boulder Mountain was in exceptionally good condition. The last several years it had been so cold that we had actually worried about ice at higher elevations. This year it was delightful. I was wearing my heated vest, but had forgotten to even turn it on and did not even notice. Mike on his 1050 Tiger, Kam on his SV650, Jon on his VFR and I had gotten into the lead and enjoyed a brisk pace over the desolate road, savoring the exemplarily condition of the asphalt. Kam had never visited the west before so we were sure to slow the pace and point out the stunning views to South.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

The Burr Trail

The riding was fun and I was feeling good and rested. The stretch of road to Boulder is not only full of divinely inspired curves, but also full of divinely inspired scenery. I was content to be the last rider in the group and take in the surrounding sights of southern Utah. We arrived a little behind the main pack at the Hells Backbone Grill. The “boulder oatmeal was - well... oatmeal. Better than your average oatmeal, but still just oatmeal. It was explained to me that I must just not get it having not been on a frigid cold Memorial Day ride of years past. Oh well.

Kris on the Burr Trail

We decided that it would be a good day to take in some more of the southern Utah scenery on the Burr Trail, which is more or less a single lane ribbon of road surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and desert. The riding was slow and there were lots of cameras out. We stopped at an impressive scenic overlook and lost some layers of clothing because the day was getting a lot warmer. (Where was all the snow I kept hearing about?)

Mikes Tiger lead the pack onto the Burr Trail. I hadn't ridden this road in several years and Mike took a decidedly sedate pace. I pulled my new SD800 Canon camera out of the tank bag and started playing with it. Kam who was behind me, also pulled his camera out and starting grabbing snaps of our ride. The pace was slow enough that I did the duration of the ride in third gear with my left hand managing photo duties. As a result we have scads of photos of this short stretch of stunning road.

We futzed around at a pullout overlooking the controversial Grand Staircase National Monument, grabbing even more snaps while we mulled about. We then headed back towards Boulder where the plan was to ride up to "The Backbone" where we’d likely grab even more scenery photos. Brian and Ryan, with the shortest fuel range would grab a quick tank of petrol in Boulder then catch up with us. That was the plan anyway...
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Incident 3. Bumper Bikes

Beware of Rabbits, Especially the Dead Ones
Riding the Burr Trail

One problem with taking my Monster on long trips is the short range. As we headed back towards Boulder I knew that I would need to stop for gas, so I told Kris and Brian. Just past the Café in boulder there is a Sinclair station just off the road and up a steep gravel drive. As we neared the turnoff up the hill I dodged a dead rabbit in the road and followed Kris onto the gas station driveway. It was a tricky spot where everything came at you pretty quickly; around the road-kill in the middle of a gentle curve followed by a quick right onto a gravel covered driveway.

I got on the brakes fairly hard to scrub off some speed before the gravel when I felt a jolt and my back tire broke lose and started fishtailing. Brian had run right into the back of me! I kept my eyed up and level with the horizon until the monster settled down then I heard the crunch of the Nighthawk hitting the pavement. I threw the stand down and jumped off my bike.

By the time I got to Brian he was getting up and hobbling around. He had banged his knee pretty hard but seemed to be more or less okay. Steve and Brandy had been following in the Civic and were already checking out Brian and the bike to make sure both were uninjured. The enormous dry bag Brian had strapped to the back his ride had once again saved the bike from a lot of damage. I don’t even think the back end touched the pavement. The shift lever was bent more severely, and the mirrors and tank had a few more scratches, but the Nighthawk seemed to have absorbed the second encounter with the ground pretty well. Brian had another hole in the knee of his pants and he was once again covered in dust, but had once again come out unscathed.

The rest of us stopped at the most scenic of pullouts to wait for Brian, Ryan, Kris, Steve and Brandi. Only they didn’t show up. We guessed they were taking their time gassing up and were probably having a drink before catching up. At first we were frustrated that they were getting a drink while we all waited in the sun, then as time progressed we started to worry that maybe something had happened. Mike climbed back on his Tiger and rallied back to Boulder to get a status report.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

By the time Kris had come back to investigate, it occurred to me that with Brian's bike on the ground, mine parked ten feet away and the Civic on the shoulder just before the turnout, we had managed to block the entire intersection. A pickup slowed to pull into the gas station and the driver shot all of us a dirty look. Satisfied that Brian was ok. I moved my bike, Kris went to call the group on a pay phone at the gas station (No cell phone reception) while Steve and Brandy went to work on the Nighthawk.

broken

Den-mother Kris came down the hill from the gas station with bottles of water for everyone, and we all took a break while Brian rehashed the accident. The vintage Nigthawk was upright, but wouldn’t start. Steve’s diagnostic prowess failed to identify the problem, but Kris kept saying he should check the sidestand switch. The switch that kept the bike from running with the kickstand down had been damaged, preventing the engine from starting. All that was required was a Leatherman tool and some electrical tape to short the wire and trick the electrical system into allowing the bike to start.

Bumper Bikes

It's a good thing that Steve and Brandy had decided not to go home, I think it would have taken me a lot longer to track down the problem and figure out how to fix it. I filled the Monsters small tank with petrol and Mike came back on the Tiger to see what was going on. He informed us that the rest of the group was waiting for us not too far ahead.

Waiting on the Hogs Back

We all rolled out and made it about 1/4 mile down the road before Brian's bike quit again. He pulled off the side of the road ahead of me indicating that he had lost power from the engine. I rolled my eyes in my helmet thinking what could have happened to the battered Nighthawk this time? Steve and I looked at the engine for a few minutes before discovering a disconnected vacuum line. Again, we were lucky that it was a simple fix.

The group was waiting at a scenic overlook just before the backbone. We told our story to the group and showed off the re-repaired bike. As I was telling Dave about the collision, Steve was checking out the tail of my bike. The next thing I heard was "Uhh Ryan". Steve motioned for me to check out whatever he was looking at. I feared the worst but the only damage was a bent reflector on the plate holder. Steve went to bend it back but I stopped him. I decided it was going to stay bent.

The Hogs Back

It's Like Riding down the Spine of Satan
Utahs Highway 12

Despite having been a southern Utah resident for close to 6 years, I had never been to the area known as The Hog's Back - Coined "The Devil’s Backbone" by local riders because of a confusing sign just past Boulder. I had been looking forward to seeing what had been described as "the most impressive roads anywhere". I wasn’t disappointed. The Hog's Back follows an extremely exposed ridgeline of high desert terrain that winds into an open valley miles below. There are no guardrails, no fences, no shoulders... nada between a long hard fall down steep cliff bands on each side of the winding tarmac. If you can calm your nerves enough to enjoy the view it’s breathtaking. But don’t enjoy the scenery too much!

Cornering

We rode the backbone and the sweeping turns in the valley below all the way to Bryce without incident. We were planning on grabbing something to eat for diner before taking on the final leg of the days ride to Panguitch. Half the group wanted pizza while the other favored the buffet. In the midst of debating where to eat, Kris got a phone call and the look on her face told me it wasn’t a good thing. I later found out that Dave’s parents who were riding their Harley in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had a run in with a nail that resulted in a 60-mile per hour tank slapper and a high-side.

Standing in line at the tourist buffet in the tourist hell of Ruby's Inn, Kris checked messages on her cell phone. Concerned look. Raised eyebrows. "Dave's parents crashed!" Exit stage left. The rest of us stood around a bit stunned after she stormed out... but also hungry... so we went through the buffet and ate quickly while wondering what could happen next.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

Mike and I were talking about some bad luck Mike was dealing with (that didn't involve blowing up the motor on his SV650 and the FrakenTriples reluctance to start) and had planned to grab a pizza at the cheap-eat-ery on the north end of the tourist trap stip when I saw Kris running towards us. She looked urgent. She blasted through the doors and announced "Call you sister, you’re parents were in an accident". I stepped outside to make the call and learn that my parents had blown a rear tire while traveling about 65mph near Jackson Hole. Being Harley folk, my parents don’t normally wear kit, but the cool weather had encouraged a more responsible level of gear.

The bike eventually high-sided, throwing my parents onto the unforgiving tarmac. My mom landed on her face and was only wearing a half-helmet and it appeared that she had probably broken her pelvis. It turned out the injuries weren’t near as bad as initially expected. I planned a trip to my parents home on Tuesday to discuss the merits of armored riding gear and full-face helmets. Surprisingly, my mom was very receptive to the idea of protecting her mouth and teeth while my dad was not, claiming that he gets claustrophobic in full-face helmets.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

After diner we took it easy and perused the shops at the resort. Most everything was overpriced of course, and I couldn't find anything interesting anyway. We were disappointed to find the small wine store closed for the holiday. I fueled up the monster again and sat in the shade for a while to let dinner settle. We talked bikes and the topic of Mike’s Triumph came up. He was thinking of selling it and we debated how much he could get out of the FrankenTriple after all the mods he had done. No one was in too much of a hurry, but we finally split into two groups and rolled out.

Incident 5. The Ninth Life of the Franken'Triple

He Done Blew Up
I advised the group heading up over to see Cedar Breaks to stop at the second turn-out. The first one comes with a nominal fee required to see the sights, but the second one is almost as epic and is free of charge. They departed and left us to sit in the shade and come to terms with what was already the most eventful CanyonChasers ride since the Fourth of July ride of 2002.

Having calmed our nerves we decided that we should head to Panguitch and meet up with Eric and Dawn who headed that way almost an hour before us.

Mike and I took the lead and made a left turn back onto Highway 12 that would take us through Red Canyon and then to the KOA. Red Canyon is a magical series of sweeping corners and pristine tarmac that even tunnels through the mountain in a few places for utterly epic riding. The only problem is that heavy traffic usually degrades the ride into a frustrating series of emergency braking maneuvers while tourists dart and dodge into and out of the myriad of scenic pullouts. Mike and I were behind a few cars and beyond that all I could see was clear road. I decided that a few well timed passes and some strategic speeds could possibly grant a unhindered ride through Red Canyon. I made a couple passes that required edging up onto triple digits to make the pass safely and noticed that Mike was no longer behind me. He had just told me of his desire to slow down so I thought nothing of his absence in my mirrors.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

I had taken Jon, Kam and JoeStrada up to Cedar Breaks to take in the view and get a few extra miles in (even though I was tired and originally planned on not taking the long way to the sleeping place). We found the second, no that second, the other second pull out and took in the view before cruising down past Panguitch Lake and the KOA, where we were told that we couldn't yet be told what happened, but that it was good and we should prep for the story by figuring out which bike was missing... I didn't really even have to look.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

My strategy worked and I only had to deal with a couple of cars as I relished in Red Canyon without any panic moves. When I got to the far side, the road opens up into a long down-hill straight that T’s into Highway 89. I found a pull-out and waited for the gang. I was waiting for less than five minutes when I recognized a Suburban I had passed just as we were leaving Ruby's Inn. The Suburban was pulling in to talk to me. Although its only happened once, I always fear that the vehicle is pulling over to scold me for their perception of my passing skills.

The Suburban rolled down the window to reveal four little old men, all wearing various World War II Veteran hats embroidered with "Pearl Harbor Survivor', "Iwo Jima Survivor" and such. I was immediately put on alarm however, when I was asked "Were you ridin’ with that other fella’ on the red bike?" I confirmed that I was. "Well, he had a bit of trouble back there. His bike exploded! There was smoke and flames and he’s lucky to be alive." Needless to say I was stunned. The image in my mind was quite graphic. It was nothing like the picture to the right, despite what my imagination was telling me.

I thanked the four heroic men for their time and concern and rode back towards Ruby Inn carefully keeping myself from speeding on the way back.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Death to the triple

While a few riders opted to take the longer Cedar Breaks route, most of the group was ready to get to the KOA for a change of clothes and a cold drink. Dave and Mike were riding a few miles ahead of Kris, Brian, and I. It was probably only 10 minutes into the ride to Panguitch when brake lights started to light up on the cars ahead of us. My eyes rolled in my helmet again as I saw a cloud of smoke and white steam ahead of me. I had no idea what was causing the smoke, but knew in my head that it had to be one of the CanyonChasers. As the cars and RVs ahead of us cleared out I saw Mike and another stranger dousing the Franken’Triple with bottled water. It wasn’t until I had pulled past them and hopped of my bike that I noticed the skid mark that led up to the smoldering Triumph.

Mike is happy to be alive

By the time I reached the scene of destruction, the stranger was pointing out the connecting rod poking out the bottom of the engine. With the fire out, and Mikey standing on the side of the road, there was nothing left to do but survey the damage. The Harley rider gave Mikey a stout handshake and congratulated him on riding out the locked rear tire to stay alive. Further inspection of the FrankenTriple revealed a silver dollar sized hole worn through the threads in the now flat rear tire. The only thing I could think to do is take a lot of pictures. Mike walked back down the road to admire his work, while Steve got out his GPS and paced off the swerving skid mark; 600 feet from the defunct rear tire.

Triple Engine Blow-Up

Dave was pulling in as the gang began to push the bike up the road to the closest service station. Permission was asked and granted to leave bike until a trailer could be summoned to cart it home. Once again it was a good thing that Steve and Brandy were there in the Civic. We unloaded the luggage on Dave’s bike and piled it into the back of the overflowing Civic. Kris jumped on the back of the Dave’s green Speed Triple for the two-up ride to Panguitch, while Mike climbed aboard the Z1000 after promising Kris he wouldn’t blow up the motor. (Mike had just blown up the motor on his SV650 at a track-day a few weeks earlier).

Panguitch

It Means Big Fish, Which is Fitting

By the time we reached the KOA Eric and Dawn were in shorts and t-shirts settled into their cabin. The campground manager started making rounds in his golf cart to take us to the office to check in, and everyone was in flip-flops and gathered around the picnic tables in no time. It was a perfect night temperature wise, and it felt good to relax and enjoy the chance to shoot the breeze. Kris and co. went for beer and hot dogs to roast over the fire, but came back with beer and roast beef sandwiches instead. Anything would have tasted pretty good. The Cedar Breaks group rolled in and Mikey enthusiastically retold the story of why we were short another bike.

Mike retells the tale

 

 

 

Joe-Strada

 

Joe, or Joe Strada as we’d been calling him, was a last minute addition to the ride. None of us had ever met him before and knew very little about him. Brad had actually met him at the Salt Lake Motorsports when he was buying the Multistrada. Brad had just bought a Multistrada so he was excited to talk about the merits of the plucky looking duck. (Hence the Joke “You have a Multistrada? I have a Multistrada” – based on a conversation we’d had with a hotel owner in Chemainus, Canada several years ago. But I digress).

Turns out Joe’s wife had just died from complications from cancer three months ago. They used to always go for a motorcycle ride over Memorial Day weekend and his wife had always loved the Multistrada – which was one of the reason’s he’d purchased the bike. Talking with Joe, I was very much honored that he had chosen to ride with us.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Sean's Guzzi

Another rider, who had heard of the goings on at the KOA, rode up on his vintage Moto Guzzi in completely yellow riding gear. He introduced himself as Sean and stayed a bit to chat. We all walked over to admire the Guzzi, and he checked out the rest of the bikes in the group as well. He turned out to be a real nice guy, and promised to see us again next year.

I had been toying with the idea of a new bike for some time. Not that I had any objection to my Triumph, it had actually been a delightful bike, but the fact that Mikes had literally blown up, I was starting to feel a bit nervous about it. Mikes and mine has the same mileage and the same maintenance schedule and the same motor oil and everything. Honestly, I was using it as an excuse to let my eye wander. I was excited about the new 1050 Tiger and always had a soft spot for the Multistrada. Now I had each of them sitting side bike side with two generous owners allowing me to climb from one to the other. I’ve always been delighted by the triple motor, but the Multistrada was much easier for me to get my feet to the ground. Either way, I was having a great time discussing the complexities and advantages/disadvantages of Italy and England’s solution to the same problem.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Suspension Adjustments

As Dave debated Multi vs. Tiger with Joe and Mike, Steve and I began to chat about the ride and how my bike had performed. I told him that the one of the things that I wish was a little better was the suspension. He asked the obvious "well have you adjusted the preload on the shock?" to which I replied, "Adjust…?" You see I had no idea that I could make adjustments to my suspension. (Keep in mind I’m a total newbie to street bikes.)

fixed it

You see the M695 has fixed front forks, with no adjustment possible. I had asked once at the dealer how a suspension redial would best be done and they had simply replied that a new spring was in order. So somewhere in the early weeks of ownership I had heard "non adjustable suspension" and not given it much thought. Steve walked over to the Monster and pointed out all the ways in which the rear shock could be dialed in. After I was finished feeling stupid I jumped on the bike while Steve measured how far the tail sagged under the weight. (About two and a half inches - about and inch is optimum.)

Camground Fun

Tools were procured but as a spanner wrench was not readily available Steve and Co. resorted to using a claw hammer and a screwdriver to adjust the preload on the rear shock. Not having any clue what was going on, I went back to what I know how to do and went to get my camera. I jumped on and off my bike and took pictures as Eric and Steve played with the settings. When they were satisfied that the preload was set about right and the damping had been tweaked just a bit, we put the tools away and went to chat around the fire. I was assured that the bike would handle much better on the next days ride.

campfire fun

We stayed up a while longer standing around the small fire pit. The conversation again wandered from tire wear, to which oil was best. True confessions of buying cheap tools at below par tool stores were told. We were laughing and having a good time to the point where the campground host visited us with his flashlight and asked that we quiet down. I finally went over to the cabin and crashed, setting the alarm on my cell phone to wake me at a decent time in the morning.

The Long Ride Home And Mini Incident 6

RVs with "Rent Me" Pasted in the Back Window
breaking up into smaller groups

 

Mike had called Alex and arranged for him to use his truck and my trailer to come down and fetch the trail of broken bikes. Alex in true Alex form promised to be on the road by 0600 (as in Oh my gosh that's early) and bomb down I-15. Steve and Brandi would hang out at the KOA with Mike while Alex made the drive then follow along back to Torrey to fetch Steve's RC-51 in addition to Mikes grenaded triple.

Scott, Paige and McKinley were opting for the more direct route towards home and were going to run north on Highway 89. With the group reduced to 10 riders and nine bikes, things were starting to feel a lot smaller.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Red Canyon

When my alarm went off on Monday morning, I wasn't at all ready to get up. I hit snooze once or twice before deciding that I should probably get up and get going. I wanted to have time to catch a shower before heading out. I hadn’t bothered to take one thus far in the trip, but with the southern Utah heat of the day before, I really needed to rinse off the stink. By the time I had stumbled to the showers and back the rest of the group was standing around with their bags pretty much packed. Dave came pounding on the cabin door thinking I was still crashed out in bed. Good thing I was at least awake if not packed and ready to go.

towards Boulder, Utah

We gassed up and headed out towards the backbone and more Boulder oatmeal. I was riding with Mike and Jon for a while, but soon fell behind. The little Monster is just no match for Jon on the Cheetah (Yellow VFR) and Mike on the Tiger. Even Pinning the throttle WFO (wide -- uhm... open) on the straights approaching the backbone couldn't keep me in the squadron, and I soon gave up to ride at my own pace. I focused on my position and riding technique as I pushed my riding a little and got a feel for my new suspender settings. While the bike was tracking better in some of the corners, rough roads were still sending the back of the bike bouncing.

Hells Backbone Grill

 

Mike, Jon and I were the first to arrive at the Hells Backbone Grill, we waited in the cool shade, enjoying the quiet morning – until one patron decided that it was a good idea to tie her dog up in the center of an open yard, devoid of any shade or water. The owner then disappeared. The little dog was not happy about the abandonment, but I think it was the lack of shade or water that really distressed the little quadruped. It soon started with an incessant high-pitched and very shrill yapping. Mike, Jon and I tried everything we could think of to quiet the dog all with limited results. The patrons on the patio were obviously as irritated as we were at being forced to listen to the yappy little dog protest its current situation while the owner was nowhere to be seen.

Finally, I'd had enough and my empathy for the little dog enduring the heat and the attack on my audio senses so I walked out into the field and released the pooch from his tether. He immediately became silent and rushed to the shade where he began to happily rifle through the tall, cool grass. Feeling quite proud of myself for my Samaritan ways, I spied the owner as she returned not so impressed with my actions. She looked like she was going to say something until Mike stood up. Clocking in at over six feet tall, few people complain about us when Mike is around. Size has its privileges.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Utahs Highway 12

I got stuck behind a train of 6 "Rent Me!" RV’s just before the backbone. I rode along in first gear for as long as I could stand it, and then pulled off at an overlook for a few minutes to let them snake ahead. By the time I reached the Café in boulder, the group was waiting for me in the shady parking lot. Kris and Brian pulled in just after me, and we all went in for breakfast. Choosing something other than the boulder oatmeal, I ordered the southwestern style eggs and toast called Chile-Migas. It was absolutely delicious, and I despite the peer pressure I recommend it over the oatmeal.

After breakfast Dave and Eric went back to work on my bouncy suspension. Dave is apparently pretty good at feeling out a good suspension setup by bouncing a bike around and more rebound damping was added. We fired up the bikes and started out towards Boulder Mountain, but not before Kris lost her footing in the gravel parking lot and rested the Zed on its side. Luckily the damage was just a dusty bike, and the she was up and going again in no time. I stopped for fuel and rolled out behind Brian. The bike felt a lot better! Once again I focused on my riding and got used to the new handling of the suspension.

Kam wanted to grab a few snaps of he vistas on top of Highway 12 so we pulled off to accommodate him. A tour bus brimming with Europeans had just disembarked from their traveling coach and we were immediately surrounded by several vacationing Brits who were ecstatic to see us on some of the finest engineering accomplishments of our friends on the other side of the pond. It brought a great deal of joy to my heart to discuss British motorcycles with a 70-some year old British woman and her husband who kept rolling his eyes and apologized for his wife.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Bye Jon

After we parted ways with our British friends, we continued up Highway 12 and stopped in Torry for fuel and more attrition. Brian was heading off to tackle I-15 in order to get home for a family function, and Jon was splitting off from the group to wander Colorado for a few more days of riding.

If highway 72 was slimy on Saturday, it was scary on the much warmer Monday. It felt like we were riding on gummy worms as we slid and skited our way north over the miserable riding conditions. Its tragic that this crap is allowed to be put on our roads, but its hard to complain when its really only a problem when traveling at speeds faster than the posted limit. Perhaps this is Utah’s new anti speeding measures?
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

Lubing Chains

After some hydration and a chain lube session in the parking lot of the Torrey Phillips 66, the remainder of the group headed off towards Highway 72 and more tar snakes. After another quick gas stop in Ferron, we headed north again for my new all time favorite road, Huntington Canyon.

Uber Cool Shot

Eric and Dawn were riding behind me, which normally makes me a little uneasy. I don’t mind following riders that are faster, but sometimes feel crowded by faster people behind. Soon though, I was riding the fun sweeping corners of the canyon and enjoying the twisty fun road. Eric and dawn stopped at one point to take some pictures and I got a ways ahead of them. Still enjoying the corners I blew right by the turn off towards Scofield and the next gas stop. It didn’t take long to figure out my error. I wasn't catching Joe Strada or Kam or Eric and Dawn. I pulled over, checked the map in my tank bag, and headed back to catch the turnoff that I'd missed.

Huntington Canyon

 

Entering Huntington Canyon, we had Kris up front again, after the "slow" squadron had essentially disbanded with Brian's departure. I'm betting that the chances of seeing a Sheriff in Huntington Canyon are about 50/50 these days, so I took the 3rd spot and just cruised at an easy pace... also to let Dave and Kris ride together, which seems to not happen too often on Memorial Day. I kept them in sight, but hung back a bit.

Up above the reservoir, I exited a curve to see a white Durango and light bar of one of Emery County finest. Checking my speed, I was only a few mph over coming out of the curve and felt that I shouldn't provoke any ire. As we passed, I gave a quick nod and checked my mirrors... his brake lights were on, but he entered the curve and disappeared. I continued on sedately for a bit, then picked up the pace to fall back in behind Dave and Kris.

Once we reached the gas station in Scofield, we waited a bit for others to catch up... and waited... and waited. Assuming that someone got nabbed by the copper, we were expected to hear that tale when Joe-Strada pulled into the station. But he flicked his visor up: “Kam had a spill!” Dave and I looked at each other and simultaneously identified the corner that bit him... we knew exactly where to go.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

Incident 7. Kam, Meet the Mountains... Mountains, Meet Kam

If You Love Something, Set it Free
Awesome View of great corners

I was riding at a pretty good pace (which for me is still pretty slow) to catch the group. I got to the turnoff and got back onto the right road. Only there was a problem. As I rounded a tight right-hander the first thing that caught my eye. Eric’s bright orange helmet sat neatly on the outside shoulder of the road. Immediately I knew something must be wrong, as a helmet on the side of the road is a sign for "Motorcycle Down".

Skier Down

I came through the corner to see Dawn and Kam standing on the side of the road. But there wasn’t enough bikes to match all the riders. I shook my head as I passed Dawn and Kam, parked on the right hand side of the road and walked over to see Kam covered in grass stains and dirt. He had gone into the corner too hot, decided to stand the bike up, and hit the gravel on the shoulder. Most of his speed had been scrubbed off, but the problem was there was a steep embankment right off the side of the road.

push

The SV had slid a good 20 feet down the side of mountain. Kam appeared to be okay but his shoulder was sore. Fortunately, he was standing up and looking pretty good. Eric had gone to survey the mountainside in an effort to figure out how to extract the bike. We slid down the hill on our asses to assess the damage. The radiator was bent, the handlebars were a little tweaked and the bikini fairing was trashed. Other than that nothing was wrong. The bike was dirty, but nothing else was broken. The levers, pegs, frame, all perfect. The tank wasn’t even scratched. Frame sliders kick asses.

damaged SV

 

it'll buff right out

 

Kam's okay

Eric, Kam and I picked up the SV and pushed it to a point where the slope back to the road was much less steep. A truck full of guys had stopped to help but it was still slow going pushing the little bike up the steep hill. It wasn’t until Mike brought his size and strength to help that we were able to get the bike back onto the tarmac.

Kams shoulder

The repair work began with zip ties, a Leatherman tool, duct tape and a little Honda polish from Eric to make her shine again. The incident was recapped roadside while we worked out the kinks. Apparently when Kam went down he was afraid that nobody had seen him. So he rushed back up to the roadside waving his arms to flag down the bike ahead. Also, afraid that his tank bag was scratching his tank, Kam had gotten creative and padded the paint with a pair of britches. Post accident they had ended up piled on the blacktop smack dab on the double-yellow line. Many jokes were cracked about mothers insisting that a clean pair of shorts were taken on all motorcycle trips... You know, just in case. We gave Kam a hard time about the situation. Shared a few laughs, and prepared to get moving again.

Mike took the SV a hundred yards down the road to make sure things were operational. (Amazing how small a bike can look with a big rider.) Assured that the bike was rideable and Kam’s shoulder was operational, we rode at a reduced pace to the reservoir where I would once be the only one in need of fuel. Rather than taking the canyon roads with the wounded bike, Kam split-off on Highway 6 to get home to Provo, making him the next rider to drop out of the ride and reducing our numbers to a mere 6 bikes and 7 participants.

The Last Leg

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The shortcut to Indian Creek was once again evidence of how different my bike was riding, the new suspension settings kept the bike stuck to the road. It was getting cloudy as we rallied through Indian Canyon to Duchesne where we made the last fuel stop before Wolf Creek and home. The temperature wasn’t too cold but I was tired. I was, however, still enjoying the chance to be on familiar roads as we started towards Hanna. Dave and Mike were ahead of the group while I rode between Kris and Eric and Dawn.

The frequency of "incidents" was cause for alarm and I was certain that the next incident would be mine. I've never been one to be superstitious, but sometimes you just get those feelings... We turned onto Highway 35 and started our ride towards Hanna and eventually Park City. The road is serpentine enough to be enjoyable, but it travels through farmland and sticking to the wisdom of "don’t speed where people live" we sauntered along keeping our eyes peeled for local constabulary.

As we left Hanna in our rear-views I snapped an up shift and thought to myself "huh, that felt different" but just kept riding. As we got to the best part of Wolf Creek I pulled another up-shift and felt something distinctly not right. I immediately knew what it was – a broken clutch cable. I looked down at the lever and watched it flap back and forth without hardly any tension. I’ve had clutch cables break before and most times they fray badly but are usually good for one, maybe two more shifts before they completely fail. I hoped I had one or two shifts but figured the best course of action would be to save those last couple of squeezes in the event if I actually had to stop. Up-shifting without a clutch is easy – it’s the down-shifts that are tricky. Starting out is almost impossible without a good grade to get the bike moving.

Distracted, I stopped thinking as much about my cornering and more about which revised route home would run me through the fewest stops. Any option I could come up with still passed me through several stop lights and a couple of stop-signs. Mike flew past me. “Noo! Don’t leave me Mike!” Not wanting to waste a shift, I kept the bike in third gear and using the brilliant torque curve of the triple was able to keep a decent pace. When we got to the far side of Wolf Creek, I blipped an up-shift and caught up to Mike and conveyed the situation by flapping the lever back and forth. Mike diligently took up sweep and provided loyal backup support for the next fifty miles we’d have to travel without coming to a stop.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994

 

weather

It was getting cloudier and colder the farther we got into Wolf Creek. By the time we reached the summit it was cold and raining an almost frozen rain. I guess Kris was right when she promised that I would be cold on the ride. I had never ridden in rain for more than a few blocks in the city so I slowed way down. I was feeling pretty sketchy on my first cold wet canyon road, particularly after a long day of riding. As we passed the same tight corner where Mindy had taken her off-road excursion, I caught a flash out of the corner of my eye to the right.

I glanced over long enough to see a fawn in the trees just off the side of the road. Knowing that there would be more deer, I down shifted aggressively and got on the brakes before the corner. The thought that flashed though my head was that there was no #$%& way I am going to go down in the same corner Mindy had, even if I have to ride the rest of the canyon in second gear.

Almost there...

The lower we got on the west side of the mountain the less rain fell. Soon we were low enough that the clouds were thinning out and the sun began to show through as we neared Park City. We picked up the speed again and I began to relax a little. The only problem was that I had taken my sunglasses off and the setting sun was now right in my face. Really it was a very beautiful sight, riding into the sunset almost home at the end of a long weekend of riding.

Incident 8. Clutchie No Workie

Shifting is for Sissies

The closer we got to Park City, the more law enforcement presence there was. A few strange things happened. A pickup pulled off as if to flag us down, and several emergency vehicles passed us going the opposite direction, back towards the canyon. We arrived at the restaurant to find Mikey waiting alone. Knowing that Mike and Dave were way ahead of us, we began to wonder what could have happened to them. Joe arrived and we sat at the restaurant and ordered warm drinks and diner. It wasn’t long before Mikey was on the phone with Dave. As the conversation began, it didn’t sound promising from Mikey’s end. As soon as "No @#^& way!" came out of his mouth I could see the blood drain from Kris’s face. As soon as he noticed he gave Kris and "all ok" sign and finished talking to Dave.

With Dave in the lead, we put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the group heading back up and over Wolf Creek Pass towards the final stop of the night... a dinner to reward the survivors! As we approached the summit, Dave slowed down quite a bit and I soon passed to take in the last curves of the trip. As the road flattened out on the west side of the mountain, I slowed down to let Dave catch up. He pulled up on my left side, feverishly pointing at something, but I couldn't tell what. I slid around to his left to get a better view and could see him shaking his clutch lever. Those shouldn't shake, by the way. I gave a quick look to the sky in disbelief, then fell in behind Dave so he could lead to wherever he wanted to go... which was home.

We took a couple out of the way turns that would minimize the chances of having to stop at a traffic light... made our way down the freeway through Parely's Canyon (no moose this time) and on to surface streets where we timed traffic lights and rolled through stop signs. We made it about 50 miles from Wolf Creek Pass to Dave and Kris' garage without coming to a stop.

Rolling down his street, Dave was able to find neutral and coast into his driveway where there was much congratulations and celebrating. After calling the rest of the group to update our condition, we hopped in the car and headed back up to dinner. After chow, water and recanting, I relished the car ride back to the garage where I picked up my bike and headed home... after jokingly suggesting that Dave follow me in the car to my garage to make sure nothing bad happened.... at 11pm I rolled in to the garage and got off the bike... the last moving motorcycle of the weekend.
Mike, CanyonChaser since 2005

 

Almost there...

So there we were, Joe-Strada, Eric, Dawn, Kris, Dave, and I had been the only riders to finish the entire route. The biggest Memorial Day ride in the history of the CanyonChasers had ended with just seven riders at the table (Including Mikey) and four bikes in the parking lot. We chatted for a while over the meal and joked about going to Hawaii for next years Memorial Day and wondered if Brian and Kam and the rest of the riders who had split off from the ride had made it home alright.

Incident 9. All Downhill from Here

Eat and Get Gas Here
Hey, where'd they go?

We left the restaurant for the short ride down Parley's Canyon with everyone splitting up and going at their own pace. Not even 1/4 of the way down the canyon my visor turned orange with light. I looked down at my dash to see that my fuel light had gone on and the trip meter was counting down miles of range. I had been so hungry and so relieved to have finished the ride that I had forgotten that the last fuel stop had been Duchesne. With nowhere else to go now but down the canyon, I slowed down a little and tried to keep the revs low to save fuel. I made it all the way down the canyon, passed a closed gas station just off the exit and headed for my house. Not two blocks from my garage I felt the bike lose power. I was pretty much done by this point, so I parked in a safe spot, pulled the bags off the bike, marked the way-point on my GPS, (I wanted to calculate the absolute range of the bike), and walked home in the dark. I dropped the bags on the floor and stripped my riding gear off as I walked in the door. Took a shower and went to bed, glad to get a solid nights rest.

I woke up the next day and took a gas can to the service station near my house and retrieved the empty Ducati. I was amazed how much fun the trip had been, despite the problems and setbacks. My bike had done pretty well, and I wasn't as sore and tired as I thought I might have been with my stock seat and low handlebars. At the next local bike night as we were telling our war stories from the trip I told my tale of running out of gas at the last possible point in the ride. It got a pretty good laugh from everyone but me, even though I think I will be laughing about it soon enough.

Incident 10. Our Discussion on "The Man"

But I Was Only Speeding A Little Bit

It wasn't until a week later that we learned that while riding home as a cute family unit, Scott and McKinley were pulled over and ticketed for speeding. Scott was upset because it was the only time all weekend he was going [only] fifteen over the posted limit.

Lessons Learned

As If We'd Ever Learn
Ryan

The Top 10 Lessons Learned on my first CanyonChasers ride

  • You never leave your wingman! Sorry Cougar….errr Brian.
  • Tar snakes are poisonous.
  • You can fit a lot of sh– er, stuff on a Z1000.
  • Unless you have ridden 500 long hard miles, uphill through two feet of snow in the frigid cold… Boulder oatmeal is over rated. (try the chila migas instead).
  • Gravel + front brakes * target fixation = Monster 695 / nighthawk 750.
  • The SV650 is a remarkably durable machine.
  • Triples are death traps.
  • Wolf Creek isn't as much fun in the freezing rain.
  • No matter how hungry you are, don't forget to feed the Monster too.
  • Sport touring is the most fun you can have on two wheels.

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