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Memorial Day 2008

Our annual Memorial Day tradition becomes epic in proportions as we deal with weather that no motorcyclist should ever have to face | May 2008

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One of the most epic memorial day rides yet

OOur Memorial Day weekend jaunts have become somewhat legendary. A status that we never really wanted or asked for, but what do you do. The 2007 Memorial Day Adventure comes immediately to mind.

Skip Ahead

Into the Cold and Snow

Yes, we said Snow

The list of riders for the 2008 Memorial Day ride was potentially going to be a world-CanyonChasers-record! But stuff comes up, we understand that, but quite a few just got scared away by the potential for bad weather. However, a select few proved themselves to be "Unstoppable" and did the ride in its entirety! To them we give great credit!


The Unstoppables;

  • Dave – Ducati Multistrada
  • Kris – Ducati 900 SS/CR
  • Eric – Honda 919
  • Dawn – Honda 919 [Pillion]
  • Mike – Triumph 1050 Triple
  • ADV-Mike – Triumph Tiger 1050
  • Scott – Aprilia Caponord
  • Ryan – Ducati Multistrada S
  • Jen - Kawasaki Versys
  • Warren - Honda CBR900RR
  • Jon – Honda VFR800
  • Dave (Nephew-Dave) - Suzuki SV650S
  • Brian – Honda Nighthawk 750
  • Joe - Some ugly old dirtbike
  • JDee – Yamaha FZ6
  • Dave (Neighbor-Dave) – Kawasaki Z1000
  • Mindy – Kawasaki Z1000 [Pillion]

Day One Riders;

  • Joe (Joe-Strada) – Ducati Multistrada S
  • John – Ducati Multistrada
  • Dave (SV-Dave) – SV1000-N

The weekend before we were scheduled to depart the weather was ideal. Temperatures in the low 80s and nary a cloud in the sky. Eric and I were teaching an MSF class while discussing how perfect Memorial Day would be if we got this kind of weather - but in true CanyonChasers Memorial Day form, a cold front moved in on Wednesday and started dropping snow! Never to be thwarted we reserved a couple of hotel rooms in Torrey, just to be safe.

Come Friday afternoon, the clouds moved out and big blue patches of sky encouraged us to soldier forth. My nephew rode down from Logan (100 miles north) just for the ride. We installed a set of Zen-Rails loaned him some soft luggage and got him ready to roll.

Nephew-Dave Ready for his very first Road-Trip

A week earlier, Kris had fallen head over heels in love with a 1998 Ducati 900 SuperSport Cafe-Racer. That meant a solid week of lots of garage work, selling the venerable Z1000, and kitting up the SS/CR with a set of Zen-Rails, tank-bag and double and triple-checking everything to make sure it was road-worthy. In either case, Kris was totally excited for the ride.

Kris ready for the maiden voyage of the SS/CR

 

I'm a changed woman -- and rider. I had an awesome time on the trip -- despite the snowstorms, the sleet, and the near-constant rain on the ride home Monday -- and learned several things about riding, about life and about myself.

The first lesson came in the weeks leading up to the trip. I had lots of questions -- about bike prep, camping, and what "emergency supplies" to take with me. Not only was this my first trip with CanyonChasers, it was my first overnight trip on a motorcycle. I had done day rides and commuted, but no overnighters. And I had only ever been camping once before in my life -- about two months before the Memorial Day trip -- and I didn't do any of the tent setup. And we were in an Xterra, not on motorcycles.

Jen all packed up
Asking too many questions about preparation will provide veteran CanyonChasers with much amusement and cause Eric to tell you to "butch up." I don't care, because in extreme conditions or when things go wrong, being prepared can save you time, increase your comfort or even save your hide.

Before the trip, people teased me about bringing duct tape on the trip -- but duct tape is what allowed Warren to use his rain gear. Before the trip, people teased me about wanting to make sure I had the proper tools with me -- but Mike's socket set came out at least three times in three days. Lesson #1 of the CanyonChasers -- Ride Your Own Ride -- applies to preparation as well as the riding. If I go on any other trips with the Canyon Chasers, I will still ask a hundred questions, and happily take the teasing that comes with it, because I'll know that I'm comfortable with my knowledge and preparation.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Saturday morning the weather was back to ideal. Cool but clear! We were delighted. Without a cloud in the sky and reasonably warm temperatures, we rolled the bikes out, started them up and let them tick over to warm up while we donned the last of our gear and gave Jake (the dog) the keys to the house and made him promise not to throw any wild parties while we were gone.

Jake watches us make final preperations

We rode over to the meetin' place (Einstein Bagels) to find that Eric, Dawn, Neighbor-Dave, Scott, Mindy and JDee were already enjoying their breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - or so we are told

We started our own breakfast while the rest of the attendee's started showing up. We were so happy to see the weather was turning out to be just fine. Much of the discussion was regarding all the anxiety that we had endured over the course of the week with everyone worried about the bad weather. ADV-Mike was sure to bring up how he'd said the weather was going to be just fine, and here it was - the weather was just fine.

With preparation out of the way, it was time for the trip! The trip started Saturday morning at Einstein Bros. Bagels, and I was super nervous.

What if I crash? My Versys didn't even have plates yet. I didn't want to "break in" the bike by crashing on this trip! Not to mention that I had no time to be injured, since this trip was the weekend before World Superbike!! My boss would kill me if I couldn't work that weekend.

What if I can't keep up? I was feeling pretty good at the Sport Touring ART four weeks before, but the other people on this trip were good.

preparation
What if I get lost? This was a continuation of the previous concern. What if I'm so slow that I get left behind and then get lost? I had looked at the route several times online, but without having been on those roads before, I didn't "know" the route. I had printed detailed maps several days before the trip, but hadn't looked closely enough at them to notice that the highlighted route hadn't printed. I just had Google maps of the areas we were riding through with no outlined routes! I took a Utah map and highlighter to Einstein Bros., hoping someone would sit with me and outline the route. Luckily, Kris had an extra highlighted map in her bag that she loaned me for the weekend. Boy, did that come in handy!

I was thankful that I was riding over to Einstein Bros. with Mike and Warren, rather than by myself, so that I didn't get lost on the way there and so I couldn't wuss out. I must have been really nervous because I couldn't seem to get the bike to shift. Huh? "Take a deep breath; you know how to shift!" It wasn't until we were on the road out of town that I realized why I was having trouble shifting. It wasn't nerves, it was my new supermoto hand guards. Somehow, they had wiggled a little bit, and the clutch lever was getting stuck on the hand guard bracket. It was taking all of my strength to pull the lever hard enough to scrape past the bracket to be able to shift. This was going to be a long ride...
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

The highlight of the morning festivities was Warren who'd decided to open himself up to lots of teasing by wearing a pair of ass-less chaps. It was very well received, and Warren had no problem hamming it up at every occasion.

Warren and his ass-less chaps

We would be taking the same route we do every year. Now, thanks to the power of Google-Maps - here is the days route:

Three-hundred and fifty miles of riding separated us from our days final destination. Unlike years in the past, we were planning on spending both days in Torrey, shortening the second day to an out-and-back route to Escalante, Utah - but more on that later.

Thanks to the full implementation of the squadron principle of group riding, small groups of three to five bikes would take off and ride on their own.

Eric, Dawn, Scott, JDee, Neighbor-Dave and Mindy (who would form the Neighborhood-Squadron because all the attendees lived in Eric and Dawns neighborhood) decided that it would be best to skip all of the mountain passes and would instead ride down I-15 south to Spanish Fork, Utah to hook up with UT-89 to Torrey. This route would keep them off any high-mountain passes, but sadly we would not see much of them - at least for the first day.

The rest of us, on the other hand started the journey by riding east on I-80, Parleys Canyon towards Park City, Utah. As soon as we left the Salt Lake Valley behind, dark clouds filled the sky and the temperatures dropped dramatically into the mid to high 40's. Proper gear was doing its job of staving off the cold.

At the first mini gas stop in Kamas, I casually walked by Mike and said, "Remember the 1 millimeter of clearance the clutch lever had yesterday when we installed the hand guards? It's gone." Yes, I had broken Iron Butt Archive of Wisdom Tip #5 -- "Avoid adding accessories or doing maintenance immediately before a trip." -- several times over. The day before the trip, Mike had installed heated grips, a relay / distribution block for accessories, a power cord for the heated vest I bought the day before and a cigarette lighter-style accessory outlet so I could charge my iPhone on the bike.

I think Mike reached my bike -- with tools in hand -- before I did. Before I even knew what was going on, he was loosening, banging and tightening the bracket. By the time I comprehended that he was working on the bike, the problem was fixed. Impressive!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Our first canyon would be Wolfcreek Pass towards Duchesne. The bad weather (or the $4.50 for a gallon of gasoline) was apparently scaring off lots of other weekend recreationists as we found ourselves riding very much alone - sharing the road with virtually nobody else.

Following Warren and Mike into the first corners of the year

While the clouds were looking very intimidating, they were not dropping any moisture and the roads were dry enough for us to ride at our chosen pace without worry of traction, or the loss thereof.

Here come the mountains

The weather reports had said that several inches of snow had fallen overnight over 8,000 feet of elevation, so we really had no idea of what to expect as we started the real ascent into the mountains - but it was clear that we would be seeing snow.

Here come the Snow too

Sure enough, before we knew it the tree's looked like they were coated with a breakfast cereal sugary frosting, however, the temperatures were still reasonable and the roads were still quite dry. I turned up my heated grips to keep my finger-tips warm and kept right-on riding along.

Gassed up, we were back on the road and headed for Duchesne. I cried most of the way between Kamas and Duchesne. I feel stupid when I cry, but it’s how emotion comes out of me, so I’ve learned to accept it. It wasn’t until last year, and only because I now work at a race track, that I could watch a professional motorcycle race without crying. It’s just so beautiful and moving...

Anyway, riding along Wolf Creek Pass, I was crying for joy. I was happy and excited to be going on the trip with a group of cool people, I was grateful to Mike for installing my heated grips and power for the vest, and I was happy to be riding with Kris. I know this will sound corny, but Kris really inspires me. She’s an awesome rider, and she’s helpful, patient and sweet. And she likes motorcycle racing! And she’s an MSF instructor!! And she takes motorcycle trips with her husband!!!

riding wolfcreek pass
It wasn’t until we got home from the trip that I fully realized why I was so in awe of Kris. She’s the kind of motorcycle person I wanted to become when I started riding 10 years ago, but I just never made it happen. So it's inspiring to me to see that what I want, related to motorcycles, is possible.

When I got my RZ, I wanted to take motorcycle trips with my boyfriend, but we never did for whatever reason. I have wanted to share motorcycle goodness and adventure with the man I'm in love with since then, and I don't know why I've had such a difficult time finding that -- the motorcycle goodness and the man...

Dave is so lucky to have found a woman as awesome as Kris. And I’m envious that Kris found a guy who realizes how incredibly awesome she is.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

As would be expected the higher we climbed the more snow there was on the side of the road, in many places well over 3-feet of snow ended abruptly at the edge of the road. It was getting a lot colder too. The lack of water on the road can be attributed to the fact that it was just too darn cold for it to be melting.

Despite it all, it was actually a great deal of fun. Our gear (mine at least - Warren may have something else to say) was keeping things toasty and warm - and its not too often that we ride in such conditions. We've lost count of all the rides that have taken place under blue skies and awesome temperatures, but we can distinctly remember each day like today.

I was slowing down to get some more photos of the snow on the side of the road, when Warren made a party foul. Botherd by my momentarily slow pace, he passed me in my lane on the right.

This is the moment of the act - Warren is already streaking out of frame.

Warren Passing on the right

 

Go for glory Warren!

Now kids, don't try this at home. Passing on the right within the lane of another motorcyclist is rarely the acceptable thing to do (unless you are in England or Australia) - and even then it should only be done when the lead rider waves you past. Otherwise, one should always pass on the left.

With Warren off chasing a Sport-Touring sponsorship and the dream of free-tires for life, Mike and I were all alone when we stopped at the summit to take a couple photos of the deep snow. Who would believe that we actually ride in these conditions?

Look at all that snow

Dropping down the far side of Wolfcreek, the snow was soon gone and we were back riding in a more traditional setting. We believe, however, that the poor weather was having other affects beyond people not out driving about. The annual Hanna Town Celebration was not taking place. Every year on Memorial Day weekend, the tiny town of Hanna, Utah has what they call "Hanna Daze". From the website: "Visitors from all over the state attend this event to join in the festivities such as live entertainment, great food, shopping booths, kids activities, live demonstrations, dances, country auctions and more." Sounds like fun. No?

The empty stretches from the eastern toe of Wolfcreek Pass to Duchesne, Utah were sadly uneventful without Hanna Daze to liven things up. We arrived in Duchesne with little fanfare.

We passed a lot of snow on the side of the road (and I think we encountered some flurries) heading over Wolf Creek, but snow was not accumulating on the road, so we made it to the gas station in Duchesne without incident. No one seemed to notice that I had been crying. Whew! We were a little cold, so we piled inside for hot chocolate and coffee. I also gave Mike a huge hug and thanked him for installing the electrical bits on the Versys. I was loving my electric vest! We took pictures and chatted until it started raining on us. It was time to head for Scofield.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

 

Chillin' at the B NANZA

Grateful at having survived the first mountain pass with out any real issue, we huddled beneath the blanket of thick clouds and did what moto-heads do best. Talk endlessly about motorcycles.

Three Black MTS's

We may have lolligagged a bit too long as soon the clouds opened up and a light drizzle began to fall upon us. From left to right, Joe-Strada, Ryan, SV-Dave, John, Warren, Mike, Kris and Mike. As ADV-Mike said "Its raining here, lets go someplace else."

Three Black MTS's

Within a few moments, the moisture falling from the sky started to slacken, but we were already committed and had started donning our riding gear in preparation for the next canyon. Indian School Canyon. A super-fast sweeping canyon with a few technical corners at the top and on the far southern edge.

I don’t think my nervousness went away until we finally made it to Torrey, so I don’t remember much about the roads on Saturday’s ride. If you’ve ever read or watched any of Keith Code’s stuff, you know about the “$10” of attention we have on a motorcycle. Whether you agree or disagree with anything else Code says, most people get the $10 analogy.

[To paraphrase badly... When you’re a new rider, you have to spend about $9.95 on just operating the motorcycle -- shifting and braking. So you only have five cents to spend on going fast and cornering well. As you improve, you don’t have to think about operating the machine (just like you don’t think about breathing), so you can put more attention on cornering, where other riders are around you, etc.]

I was spending most of my $10 on the mechanics of the ride -- setting up for corners (I am not yet very skilled in that area) and keeping track of the others in my squadron. I was also trying, unsuccessfully, to keep track of what roads we were on (in case I became separated from the group and had to find my own way).

I was very grateful that Nephew-Dave was a new rider and was on the trip, and that Kris was keeping her speeds moderate so as not to lose him or lull him into riding over his head. There’s no way I could keep up with Kris if she was riding her pace. But Kris + Nephew-Dave was within my ability. Double whew!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Neglecting to get any photos of Indian School (I don't think any of us have yet to take a photo of Indian School) all we can really say is that we kept up a very pleasant pace until we linked up with UT-6 (the deadliest road in America) until dropping off onto Scofield Canyon and the Energy Loop - a very favorite ride for all of us.

Thrilled to have the treacherous UT-6 behind us, we soon found ourselves at an unexpected stop-light.

Three Black MTS's

What were we to do, but stop, of course and start taking a few photo's of each other.

Brian appears to be having less fun than Jen

Everyone looked to be having a lot of fun, particularly new-comer Jen and her Versys (still sporting a ST-ART tech-sticker). Brian less so - but having not been left behind, crashed or ran out of gas yet he was actually over-the-moon about this years ride.

We soon discovered why the weird stoplight. The bridge was out - er sorta.

BRIDGE OUT

Back to the riding - riding past Scofield Reservoir towards the small, super-small community of Scofield. Apparently the fishing here is supposed to be totally awesome. So much so that George W. Bush comes here to go fishing.

Onwards

 

Here fishy, fishy, fishy

The road meanders along, nothing too exciting, past the reservoir. Only a scant few were out fishing. It looked like a pretty miserable day. One last corner before the gas station.

Following Ryan

Squadron one arrived at the gas station in Scofield. We don't know the name of this business, but we can say they have always been supremely awesome to us. As soon as we stopped Warren starting looking for the rest of the village people.

Warren looking for the rest of the village people

Soon, most everyone else arrived. John, who had just moved to Utah from Puerto Rico was struggling a bit with only owning a perforated leather jacket.

John trying to stay warm

 

As we pulled into our Scofield gas stop, I assumed someone’s bike was having trouble. Why else would we pull into a dirt lot with an abandoned building on it? As we rounded the corner of the building to pull up next to the other bikes, I realized we’d just ridden past gas pumps and the building wasn’t abandoned at all!

We went inside and I discovered that Kris wasn’t kidding when she’d said we’d have lunch at the place where you cook your own hamburgers. I loved this place. Middle-of-nowhere-hole-in-the-wall-abandoned-building-looking place with the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Eleven motorcyclists in heavy gear crammed ourselves into this tiny store and started making hamburgers, eating chips, and cracking open drinks.

Warren Cooking Burgers
Whenever we’d try to pay as we grabbed something off the shelf, they’d say, “Just pay when you’re done.” We even got a lesson on how to use the hamburger cooking machine. I can’t imagine the burgers were anything special, but after the riding we’d done, and how little I’d eaten for breakfast five hours before, that burger was the best I’d had in a long time.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

After our light lunch, we all headed back outside to continue our progress towards Torrey, however, the weather was looking much, much more bleak. Brian later claimed that he was not worried at all, however this photo tells a different story about Brian's state of mind.

Brian is confident

Fear of getting wet prompted the impromptu parking lot donning of rain-gear. Nephew-Dave, new to this whole road-trip riding stuff was pretty impressed with his plastic jumpsuit.

Nephew Dave in the plastic jumpsuit

Kris hates being wet even more than he hates being cold, so she is always one of the first to put on rain gear, with the poise and grace that only she is capable of.

Kris putting on rain gear too

ADV-Mike says "Wearing rain-gear is more miserable than being wet". I tend to agree. It has to be pretty bad for me to bother with putting on plastic suits.

Mike does not like raingear

Warren, who is also new to CanyonChasing, was inspired by the thought of rain gear. He has also just purchased his very first set of rain gear from NewEnough.com (One of our favorite online retailers). However, as soon as he put on his fancy new rain-gear the zipper exploded. Fortunately, Nephew-Dave had read our packing list and had a roll of duct-tape on hand. This proved to be very advantageous for Warren as the duct tape was used to hold his rain-gear closed.

Warren gets taped up

 

With our bellies full and bladders empty, it was time to hit the road again. As we were gearing back up, it started snowing on us. Some people (Mike and Dave!) are too manly for rain gear, but the rest of us busted ours out. Warren didn’t understand that “bust out the rain gear” was a figurative statement, and promptly broke the zipper on his rain jacket. Hilarity ensued as Kris duct- taped Warren’s jacket back together.

The ride from Scofield to our last gas stop in Ferron was full of snow; as in a snow storm. Weird to be wiping snow off my motorcycle visor! Luckily, the ground wasn’t very slushy, so the biggest annoyance was trying to keep the visor clear rather than trying to keep the bike upright.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

There was some light drizzle as I left the town of Scoffed behind, but as soon as I climbed up and past the coal chutes south of town, the world turned distinctly more white.

The world turns white

It was pretty darn cool, until snow started falling from the sky.

Then it started to get cold

My favorite part was the looks on the faces of the occasional car driver. They looked at us like we were completely crazy. I don't understand why.

Car drivers thought we were crazy

My least favorite part was how the snow was sticking to my visor. Normally not one to ever allow anything that could possibly scratch to come in contact with the delicate screen - I was forced to wipe the snow off with my leather glove. It doesn't look so bad from the camera - but from the other side of the visor it was fairly hard to see out.

Wiping away the snow

I was having a great time riding and taking photo's, but then it started to snow significantly harder and I no longer felt even remotely save riding with one hand, in the snow, through corners with virtually no visibility. On the flip side, the cordura double-front Carharts were working out quite well!

Then it really got snowy

At this point there were no more photographs while we completed the remainder of the Energy Loop. As expected, when we reached the highest summit, the snow was really coming down, but as we started to descend the far side, the snow abated and we were soon back on dry roads. I was glad I didn't bother with the rain-gear because I was still plenty warm and the moisture so brief that I was dry before we reconnected with UT-10 to head south towards Ferron where we would be stopping for gas.

ADV-Mike and I were the first to reach the far side and we stopped in the town of Huntington until Warren caught up, then we droned south through the heavily patrolled Emery County.

Arriving in Ferron, Utah

 

The gas stop in Ferron was a sad one for me. Apparently, while parking the bike, I almost hit two other motorcycles. I thought I was at least two bike-widths away and had plenty of room for my wide luggage. Which means my depth perception is even worse than I thought. All these vision problems, and I’m not even 40 yet; sheesh! That put a damper on my mood until Warren told me that his rain gear had ripped in the crotch. That made me laugh and I felt bad for him that he was so cold (no heated gear). I decided to just park extra-extra far away from everyone else for the rest of the weekend and not let my vision ruin my fun.

Warren and Jen
Another lesson learned was that riding with a hydration pack was absolutely the correct decision. Dave teased me about it, but it was so nice to be able to sip water throughout the day rather than having to guzzle at the gas stops. I highly recommend using a hydration pack on long rides, even on cold days. Your body still needs water, whether it's cold or hot, Dave!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Celebrating in our victory (you-know, riding over a cold mountain pass), we stood around and told stories of our glorious adventures. From left to right, Mike, Kris, Brian, Jon and Warren (Drinking his diet coke, of course).

Standing around and telling stories

While sitting around we noticed another flaw with Warren's high-caliber rain-gear, and the answer to the reason why he was getting a very cold draft betwixt his legs.

Another problem with the cheap rain-gear

Ryan tried his hardest to stifle his laughter - laughter that was most definitely at Warren's expense.

Ryan

 

Ducati Cuddle

 

Is it time to go yet?

Finally, we started to think that it was time that we get going again. Jen was ready to rock and roll on her new Versys (that means Versatile System). So we continued south, past the doldrums of UT-10 before connecting to a local favorite UT-72, Whipup Road. Consistent with the afternoons riding, it was fairly cold and fairly wet. So no photographs until we reached our final destination in Torrey, Utah.

Arriving in Torrey

 

We finally made it to Torrey and got checked into the hotel, but not before some drama. As Nephew-Dave, Kris and I pulled up to the front door of the hotel, I looked over to see Kris tipping over. Dave and I both frantically tried to get stopped and get our kickstands down so we could jump off our bikes and help, but Kris was on the ground before either of us could even come to a complete stop. A “Cruiser Dude” about to enter the lobby had seen the whole thing and rushed over to Kris to help her pick the bike up. That Ducati has a “suiside-stand” -- the sidestand is spring-loaded to snap up as soon as the weight is taken off of it. I guess Kris had the stand down but then moved a little bit, which unweighted the stand, and it snapped up without her realizing it.

Joe arriving on his dirtbike
Luckily, neither Kris nor the bike was hurt, and we were able to get checked in without further incident. Kris called Dave and he and the other boys who were staying at the hotel made their way over. We changed clothes and headed over to the Capitol Reef Café for dinner. While standing around in the parking lot, waiting for everyone to arrive and park, Joe showed up on his dual-sport!

Joe had some training class he couldn’t get out of and hadn’t been able to ride down with us. He’d taken a more direct route (more freeway, fewer canyons) and managed to arrive just in time for dinner, even though he’d hit a deer on the way there!! We all marveled at the deer story and then went inside for food. I think the highlight of dinner was Warren, who had walked the one block from the campground to the restaurant, getting cut off after three beers. Warren is a “big” guy and was drinking Utah beer (3.2% alcohol). He wasn’t even buzzed, let alone too drunk to walk the block back to the campground. We all laughed and let that incident entertain us all weekend.

On the way back to the hotel, Mike stopped at the liquor store and picked up margarita supplies. I found the ice machine, and we dove in enthusiastically. Our enthusiasm faded quickly, though, as we realized just how tired we were. I’m not sure we even saw the clock strike 11 before we all turned in.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

We arrived to discover that Joe (aka Taz) had met us down there by taking all the dirt routes between home and here. Taz was telling us stories of drunk driver, hitting deer, running into barb wire fences and bike failures. We though we'd had an eventful ride down, but Taz's put all of our stories to shame. However, all the adventure had made him feel a little bit... uhm...

Taz wasn't feeling so well

Before we headed in for dinner, we stood around, impressed by the 10-year old Ducati - and how well it did for its first day of road trip adventuring, including plenty of wet weather.

Ducati Survival

Sitting around for dinner, we relaxed over a couple of our favorite adult beverages and lots of banter and conversation regarding peoples feelings about the days events.

Brian was totally excited that he'd made the entire day without a single incident such as those he endured the year before. He never fell, never ran out of gas, never got lost and stayed with his squadron all day - he was no longer a "squadron of one", and as such he was feeling quite well about his achievements.

Brian is happy about it all

Mike, being a seasoned CanyonChaser, and Jen adapting quickly to the CanyonChaser riding style of "Semper-Gumby" (Be Flexible), was more concerned over non-gluten menu choices. A good sign actually.

Mike and Jen being funny

Warren was still on the receiving end of a constant barrage of teasing and beratement for his impulsive pass from earlier in the day. Added to the fact that he could still not quite feel his hands, Warren was a little unsure about the whole "sport-touring" concept and was wondering if he should stick to the track and his racing career.

Warren is not so sure

In contrast, Nephew-Dave has a new understanding of his mostly ostracized aunt and uncle (me and Kris) and has fully embraced motorcycle travel as the greatest thing in the whole world - (yeah, he's one of us!). Jon thought the concept of not embracing sport-touring was just ridiculous.

Dave likes motorcycles

After dinner we returned to the hotel, while the brave returned to the campground and we put the bikes down for the night, and got ready for a new day of riding - tomorrow, the infamous UT-12!

Bikes get put away for the evening

A Journey Through Time

Bad Name, Great Road

After rising and shining, it was decided that we best head on over and get some coffee and wait for the rest of the group to coalesce for the ride over Boulder Mountain to Boulder, Utah where we would be stopping at Hells Backbone Grill.

Bikes made it to morning

Kris and I had shared our room with Nephew-Dave and Brian, so we had them in tow as we sauntered into Castle Rock Coffee and Candy. However, both Nephew-Dave and Brian are mormon and therefore do not drink coffee. While in line, Kris and I were making non-coffee coffee shop suggestions so they wouldn't feel left out "you could try a Chi-Tea Latte?" Brian told us that there was nothing good in coffee. Kris and I were confused. But what about the coffee itself?

Brian says there is nothing good in coffee

While waiting for the rest of the group to gas up we discussed the days route. Traditionally, we would load up all our stuff and ride to Panguitch, Utah (Panguitch is American Indian for big fish). But this year we decided to try something different. UT-12 is such a gloriously epic road, that we thought we would just traipse back and forth to Escalante and back. And once again, thanks to the magical powers of google maps, here is the days route.

The morning was gloriously clear as we raced south into the soft morning light. ADV-Mike, Jon and Warren took off, with me riding solo a few moments behind them. Warren was getting lots of chastisement for his "passing on the right" incident the day before and I was feeling pretty bad about it, so I raced up to catch them and escalated the pace just for Warren (who likes to go faster than the rest of us).

Jen on top of Boulder Mountain

 

Sunday morning meant it was time to head to Boulder for breakfast at Hell’s Backbone Grill. That first part of Highway 12 from Torrey to Boulder was Motorcycling Goodness. I loved that stretch of road. The weather was great (no snow!!) and we got to stretch our legs a bit. With my first full day of riding out of the way, I was much more at ease and more comfortable with the Versys.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

For us in the lead group, it was a fantastic jaunt over Boulder Mountain. As we climbed, we found ourselves encased in low-hanging clouds. Fluttering snow and ice clung to our visors as we rallied our way up and over. We've ridden this road countless times in ideal weather and for some reason, riding it now surrounded by white fog was completely glorious. I found myself laughing out loud in my helmet at the joy of it all. My highlight was watching Jon fly around a Volvo Cross Country. They were driving slow and careful and here came a couple of nutters on motorcycles that wouldn't even slow down for snow! I loved it!

Meanwhile back; Kris and her squadron stopped at one of the top overlooks. Nephew-Dave and Jen had never been here before so a stop was needed. Looking off to the east you can see straight into Canyonlands National Park.

Nephew-Dave, Jen and Brian on top of Boulder Mountain

It was no surprise that our squadron arrived first, and we parked our bikes beneath the enormous cottonwood tree's and waited for the rest of the gang to show up. We talked about the awesomeness of the mornings ride while we savored the warmth of not staving off the wind chill from riding.

all ready for breakfsat

Once everyone had arrived we piled into the restaurant where we were warmly greeted and accommodated when several tables were pushed together.

Ryan, Brian, Jen, Warren, Mike, Jon, Kris, Dave, Nephew-Dave and Mike

 

Breakfast

 

I’d heard and read a lot of hype about Hell’s Backbone Grill. The Canyon Chasers can’t seem to say enough good things about it. The food was delicious, but make sure to take out a second mortgage before you go; just my breakfast was $39. Yes, I had three beverages, but still! Even if I’d only had coffee, the total still would have been over $30. For breakfast. For one person.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Without less miles needing to be covered we were at ease enough to really be lazy about getting anywhere. So we just sat around and talked. One topic of discussion is how Warrens better-half really hates this t-shirt, so he only wears it when she is not around.

This is how Warren feels about love

When we grew tired of sitting around, we went outside and began talking about bikes so more, which also included taking lots of photos of bikes too.

Kris' SS/CR

When we had gotten a belly full of that, we mounted up and headed off towards the Burr Trail.

newphew-dave heads out

The road used to turn to dirt after just a few miles, but we'd heard that they've been paving it more and more. We stopped at the traditional point and grabbed a few snaps before a group of us decided to venture forth.

Ready to conquor the world

 

At the overlook

 

With breakfast and picture-taking complete, it was time for the Burr Trail -- another road that I loved. It started out a little bit boring, and I wasn’t sure why folks were so excited about this road. It got more fun the further we went, and then we arrived at the scenic overlook. The views were amazing! There was an open gate just past the turnout, and I guess the road used to turn to dirt there. It looked paved as far as we could see beyond the gate, so Dave, ADV-Mike, Mike, Brian, Warren, Ryan, and I decided to venture into the unknown to see how far we could go.

Wow! That section made the earlier boring parts worth it. We stopped at the end of the road to look around and take pictures. The Burr Trail is now paved almost all the way to Notom Road and the Capitol Reef National Park -- it seemed like the “new” section was almost as long as the “old” section. Sweet!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

While we were off exploring new worlds, Kris and Nephew-Dave had a few moments to just chill out and take a parcel of their own photos. This was Nephew-Dave's very first sport-touring adventure and he was just trying to keep up with all the new experiences. It was fun for the rest of us to watch.

Nephew-Dave

I guess we were gone for longer than we thought as they had plenty of time to push his SV650S into a couple of different locations for various photographs.

Nephew-Daves' SV650

 

At the overlook

 

I pulled in last when we had arrived at the end of the pavement, so I was the first bike in line when it was time to head back. Warren pulled up next to me and I nodded that I was ready. Most of the other boys were still getting their helmets and gloves on, so when Warren took off, I followed. ADV-Mike was right behind me and after a couple of fast corners, I waved him past me.

I stayed with (-ish) Warren and Mike for a few more corners, but knew that if I tried to keep up I would end up lulling myself into riding above my head. I slowed up a bit to let them get a couple of corners ahead so that my brain / ego wouldn’t think I was “with them.” I did try to keep them in my sights to watch their braking points and lines, but eventually the road got curvier and they pulled far enough ahead that I was riding by myself. And it was awesome.

I found a great rhythm to that road, and really found my groove on the way back to the scenic lookout. Dave was the next to arrive, and I was off the bike and had my helmet and gloves off by time he arrived. He couldn’t believe how fast the three of us had been going and that he hadn’t been able to catch me. (Note: In no way am I suggesting I’m anywhere close to being as fast as Dave. It was just cool that for much of the weekend so far, I’d been bringing up the rear, and on that stretch Dave was hauling butt and hadn’t been able to catch me.) I’d had so much fun, I was giggling when I got off the bike. Wow! Had I found my inner fast?
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Enjoying the warm afternoon, we happily hung out while Eric's Neighborhood squadron arrived. This gave us ample time for more bike talk and banter as well as a few more photographs.

Mike ponders

 

Story time

 

As others arrived, we talked bikes and everyone wanted to know how the Versys was doing. Dave noticed that I hadn’t yet turned my windscreen upside-down, as I had talked about doing the day before. The stock Versys windscreen is useless, so I thought I’d turn it over -- partly just for a joke and partly because upside-down, it looks like a sportbike windscreen. Allen wrenches were located and within moments, I had a “custom” look. Dave and Mike pulled the Kawasaki sticker off to complete the customization.

That somehow led to Dave noticing that my suspension was on the “default” setting. Before I knew what was going on, I was on the bike with feet on the pegs while Ryan held the bike up and Dave fiddled with something. That wasn’t enough, so I was ordered off the bike so the toolkit could be retrieved. A few tweaks later, the suspension was deemed “much better” for me and we all geared up to leave.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

While standing around and talking we noticed that Jen had her preload set to zero. All the way soft, so we took a few moments and set her sag. She also had virtually no rebound damping. The rear shock must have been working like a pogo stick. So we went up about two or three clicks, not wanting to make any major changes.

Burr Trail

Then it was time to head back towards UT-12 where we would ride the infamous "backbone".

Once again, Warren was the first to leave, and once again I followed him. Warren quickly pulled away from me, and I was excited to have open road in front of me and no one directly behind, “pressuring me.” I feel like I’m super-slow, and get nervous when fast people are behind me because I feel like I’m holding them up. Okay, I am holding them up, but I feel bad that they might not want to pass me and scare me, so they’ll end up feeling trapped behind me. Eric was behind me, but luckily he was a ways back and didn’t seem to be catching me.

It didn’t take long for me to pick up my pace to where I’d left off on the previous section of the trail. But the bike felt different. It didn’t feel as trustworthy in corners and I didn’t feel as fast. Since I’d never really played with suspension settings before, it didn’t occur to me that the tweak to my suspension would be causing what I was experiencing. I just assumed this portion of the trail was dustier or something, so I slowed down.

Then my weekend almost went sideways; a decreasing-radius uphill right-handed hairpin nearly took me out. It wasn’t a blind corner and I remembered it from the way out, so I knew how much I needed to slow down. I thought I was going slow enough, and I’m pretty sure I got the bike turned and facing straight up the hill, but all of a sudden the bike did a weird lurch and then I was headed toward the other lane. Then I was across the other lane (WTF?) and almost into the ditch. I was on the far edge of the road before I managed to get the bike pointed in the correct direction again. I touched a foot down, but managed to keep the bike upright. I was so lucky there was no oncoming traffic...

What was most upsetting (other than almost crashing and realizing that I’d have been toast if a car had been coming) was that I replayed the scene over and over in my head, but couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I still don’t know. The only thing I could guess was that I wasn’t used to the “tighter” suspension and had done something mid-corner to upset the bike.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

After leaving the Burr Trail, most of us were just going to head on over to the first big pull-out overlooking UT-12. For those who have never made it, the views are quite extraordinary and as such, we find ourselves content to futz around and watch the world go by.

Arriving at the backbone

By the time we'd all pulled in, we must have been quite the site, completely taking over the popular view-area.

Taking over

 

Next up was a petrol stop and then gathering at another scenic overlook to chat, take photos and prepare to ride “the backbone” to Escalante. The stop at the overlook was the first time it was warm all weekend. I had my jacket off but was still too warm, so I removed my electric vest and long-sleeve base layer, and stripped down to my tank sport top. Of course Kris had her camera handy and caught me stripping on the side of the road surrounded by motorcycles. Nice!

jen taking her shirt off
A couple times during the trip, I thought too many pictures were being snapped. (Mostly because I don’t like having my picture taken.) But looking back, I wish I’d taken more pictures and had others take more posed pictures of me with other members of our group. For example, Kris took a really cute picture of me, Mike and Warren, and Ryan got a great one of Kris and Dawn. Now I know that, for future trips, I want more pictures of me with my friends. And while I’ve gotten better about getting up in people’s faces to get the good shot, there is still much ground to be taken.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

It was pleasantly warm, and for the first time, we were finally starting to shed all of our extra layers. It felt great after all the cold we'd already endured. We grabbed several more pics, before loading up the bikes and heading off towards Escalante, Utah, where we'd planed to have one last stop before heading back towards the campground.

SV650, SS/CR, 1050 Speed Triple

 

Shortly after we got back on the road, I noticed that my newly “customized” windscreen had become even more special. It now had a CanyonChasers sticker on it. At the Sport Touring ART a month before the trip, a group of Canyon Chasers were talking about the best places for Canyon Chasers stickers on bikes. I said something about needing to figure out where to put one on the Versys. ADV-Mike replied that maybe I should wait until I’d completed a trip with the CanyonChasers before stickering the bike...so I waited. And then grinned about Dave’s vandalization of the Versys on the way to Escalante.

Okay, I have to be honest here. I didn’t think the stretch of Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante was the cat’s meow. The scenery was awesome, being up on the backbone like that, but I didn’t think the riding was that great. I wanted to do the Burr Trail again. Maybe I was too distracted by my incident on the Burr Trail and wanted to figure out what I had done wrong. It probably didn’t help that on our way back from Escalante, we were stuck for an insanely long time behind slow cars that refused to use the turnouts. Ugh!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Arriving at the first gas station in Escalante, Utah, we bypassed the fishing supplies in favor of some red-bull and some chocolate bars. While having heated arguments over which chocolate bar is the overall best bar of all time, as well as the joyous flavor that can only be had with plasti-cheese nacho's, we decided that perhaps we should have a cook-out back at the campground. Everyone was in favor!

The road between Escalante and Boulder was frustrating because of the traffic, but I was looking forward to the stretch between Boulder and Torrey. As we approached Boulder, I went ahead and passed Kris. The day before, she had told me that it was okay if I passed her and either led the squadron, rode alone or caught up to the squadron ahead of us. I hadn’t wanted to pass before because I wasn’t sure of the routes and stops (see Concern #3 from the beginning), but I knew the way back to Torrey and the campground.

I was still riding at a slower pace, because the bike felt “weird.” If it were a car, I’d say it wanted to push, i.e., didn’t want to turn. I’m not sure if motorcycle handling can be described using the same terminology, but that was the best description I could come up with.

When I had passed Kris and Nephew-Dave on the backbone, Brian and Jon had followed me. Jon followed me for a while, watching my form (I found out later), and then passed me just before Boulder. While we may not always keep a careful eye on the speedo when enjoying the wide-open road, we definitely don’t speed through towns, so Jon, Brian and I puttered through Boulder before picking our speeds up again. I managed to stay with Jon for about 3.5 corners and then he was gone. I pulled ahead of Brian and enjoyed riding alone for a while. It wasn’t long before I caught up to Mike He was as surprised to see me as I was to catch up to him. I found out later he had stopped for a few minutes at the spot where he’d crashed and broken his collarbone a couple years ago.

I fell into formation behind Mike and enjoyed the last little bit of Highway 12 before we arrived back in Torrey. According to plan, several of us stopped at the grocery store in town for supplies. With the shopping handled, I was sent back to the hotel for the tequila and margarita mix. Mike was nice and agreed to drop off the groceries and then pick me up at the hotel so I wouldn’t have to ride back later. My night vision is crap anyway, and getting a ride meant I could have as many margaritas as I wanted!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Back at Sandcreek RV, we were ready to start our cookout. Dawn was first to get in the mood by knocking back a box of wine. Yep, good wine can now be had in boxes. Who knew?

Dawn and her boxed wine

Eric also got things rolling by taking up cooking duties. We love this guy, he's always willing to ride "sweep" (the very last position to help anybody in the event of an incident) and will happily take on cooking duties. We can't say enough good about Eric and we are thrilled that he hangs out with us.

Eric does the cooking

With that the mood was set. Ryan (who came on his first CanyonChasers ride in 2007 - during the ride of doom) is one of the most talented photographers I've ever known, including the professional photographers I worked for in College. He says that the best photographers don't capture the moment, or the light, but capture the mood, the smell and the feeling in the air.

As a result, the following photos are all Ryan's. We won't even bother inserting our snapshots.

Kris

Dawn was getting a little carried away with her boxed wine

Dawn and her boxed wine

Warren cook with fire! Warren cook marshmallow with flame!

Warren cook with fire

Warren then showed us how to properly eat a marshmallow

Eric was stealing affections from his slightly "inebriated" wife

stealing kisses

Jen kept trying and trying to get a photo of Ryan. Dawn wanted to steal some of Jen's talent and tried to get the same shot of Ryan.

stealing talent

As the evening drew on, and the wine, margarita's and beer eased the tensions from the preceding week and questionable weather, the stores became more torrid and ridiculous.

more stories

Even the stoic Scott was finding himself drawn into the stories and laughing despite himself.

Even Scott could not help himself

Torrey is just one of our all time favorite places to visit, and yet it takes Ryan to truly capture the feeling of being there.

Ryan captures the feeling of being in Torrey
Eric enjoys the evening

 

Kris telling her side of the story

Probably my favorite photo of the entire trip involves Jon trying desperately not to laugh, but then laughing anyway.

Jon laughs despite himself

 

Neighbor-Dave and his wife Mindy

I told a story about the moment my parents decided they should best stop partaking in the "herb" - when us kids were running around the house mimicking what we saw.

Dave, what are you doing?

 

reaction shot

You can feel the warmth of the fire and even smell the smoke, cant you?

campfire shot

And then there was me, telling yet another story.

telling stories

 

Dinner around the campfire was a great opportunity for photos. Unfortunately, every picture Kris took of me involved food. I was either chewing, about to take a bite or, in one case, roasting a marshmallow. You’d think all I do is eat!

Ryan takes amazing photos and quickly fell into the role of group photographer. He mostly hung back, observing everything, capturing key moments. That, of course, meant he wasn’t getting into too many of other people’s photos. I’ve been “that guy” before... so busy taking photos that I don’t fully participate in the event. I didn’t want that for Ryan, so I made it my mission to catch him engaged in the group, and without a camera attached to his face. I mostly failed, but my efforts did lead to a cute “camera duel” with me, Dawn and Ryan.

We had a great time around the campfire, eating, drinking and telling stories, but eventually we ran out of light and decided it was time to think about turning in. Back at the hotel, we met Greg and Steve, former motorcycle cops who are members of the Blue Knights. Steve also happens to be the father of Brandon Thomas -- as in “The Sgt. Brandon Thomas Memorial-Veterans Charity Scholarship Motorcycle Rally” that had taken place in Salt Lake City on May 10. Small world!

When Greg found out we were from Salt Lake, he asked if any of us were planning on attending the World Superbike event the following weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele. We all laughed and told him I work there, so yeah, I’d be at the event. That, of course, led to a long discussion about racing and MMP. I can talk for hours about motorcycles and racing, so the conversation only ended because Mike, Warren and Ryan said goodbye to Greg for me and literally pulled me into the hotel room and shut the door while I was still talking.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

This Can't Be Real

Sharing the Road with Snowmobiles

Loading up the next morning, the weather looked good enough, but cell-phone weather reports for Salt Lake City were a lot less optimistic, but living in a western state, one learns that weather reports change often and unexpectedly, so we saw no reason to worry yet, so we moved forth with our day.

Packing the bikes

We headed on over towards the breakfast nook where we'd be eating before our ride home.

Stopping for grub

As customary, riders started to separate with many opting for the shorter, more direct route home via the freeway. In past years, the freeway gets so backed up that despite the much fewer miles, traffic results in all of us getting home within 30-minutes of each other.

As customary, we took the same route home that we took to get here, which meant we started the day by tackling the glorious UT-72 Whipup Road. It was a cool day, but dry despite haughty clouds looking down on us from the horizon. With Whipup Road behind us, we had nothing more than UT-10 to deal with.

UT-10

Yep, that pretty much summs up UT-10. It sucks and it is heavily patrolled. But while I had the camera out, I started grabbing a few snaps of the aforementioned weather.

Mike follows me into the teeth of bad weather

The weather was just so, though, as to tease you with the possibility of it not being so bad - and we'd gotten sprinkled on so much this weekend, that it just didn't seem like such a big deal.

Maybe it'll be okay

We stopped once again at our favorite Sinclair gas station in Ferron, Utah and figured we may as well just head on up and over Huntington Canyon. How bad could it be? I mean, we've already been snowed on multiple times...

Route discussions

We took a very leisurely pace towards Huntington Canyon, and as soon as we started to climb, the road became wet but nothing was falling down on us, so we just kept on going. We should have taken the bright orange state snowplow coming back down the mountain as a sign - but we didn't.

weathers looking a bit rough

The farther up the road, the worse things got. Pretty soon it was snowing fairly well and we had reduced our pace quite a bit. ADV-Mike and Jon took off ahead of the rest of the group and I hung back, racing past the group, pulling off the road and grabbing snaps as everyone rode past.

nephew-dave

 

brian

 

Eric and Dawn

As we neared the top of the pass, things got really hairy! Snow was sticking to the road and if you weren't careful the bike would be pushing a wake of snow. Snowmobiles were coming down the canyon riding on the snow that had collected on the road. I'm not making this up.

When I didn't think things could get any worse, I pulled off into the snow on the side of the road and grabbed a few last photographs before the riding got even worse.

Kris in the snow

 

Eric and Dawn in the snow
Leaving Torrey on Monday morning, we knew we were in for some wet weather. Torrey was clear, but the forecast was calling for rain or snow for much of our route home. We tried to enjoy the roads, but it got cold fast. I don’t even remember much of the first couple hours of the trip because it was just so cold.

Leaving the gas stop in Ferron, I pulled out behind ADV-Mike, Warren and Scott, with Mike. behind me. Heading into Huntington Canyon, it didn’t take long for us to encounter snow. The snow got worse as we continued to climb, and started accumulating on the ground, which meant we were riding through slush.

freaking cold
The riding was difficult, but manageable. I was happy to have Mike behind me in case something happened to me. I did a good job of keeping up with the three boys in front of me until we turned onto Highway 264. We made a couple of sharp turns that required all of my concentration, and by the time I was pointed in the new direction and looked up to check my mirrors for Mike, he was gone. Before I could consider stopping to wait for him, Warren came zipping by me. I assumed that Warren had missed the turn and Mike had followed him to tell him. Mike should be showing up in my mirrors any second.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Several years ago, we ended up in a cloud bank over Huntington Canyon, but it was nothing like this. It looked like a December snow-storm. Wet, sticky snow clinging to everything. It was fun for a while, but as the weather got worse the farther we rode, the more we became subdued in our riding. Soon we were just struggling our way over the mountain.

The snow was so heavy, that it was collecting and sticking to all leading edges of our bikes, gear and faces.

Snow sticking to the riding gear

 

When Mike didn’t reappear in my mirrors, I was uncertain what to do. He’d done this trip several times, so I knew he knew the way. I hadn’t heard or seen anything in my mirrors that looked like a crash. But what if his bike broke? Should I stop and wait? Should I turn around and go back? I really didn’t know what to do and just kept trying to send Mike an ESP signal to hurry up and catch back up to me. In the end, I should have gone back to look for Mike, but didn’t.

I didn’t go back for two reasons. One is that Mike’s a good rider and I assumed he didn’t crash. What I did assume (incorrectly) was that he decided to take an alternate route. If that were true, I wouldn’t know how to find him. This was my first trip to Torrey, and I didn’t really know where we were. I was afraid that I would end up taking a wrong turn and get myself lost. Given the remoteness of the terrain we were in, I wasn’t confident that my cell phone would work. And because this was the first time I’d ever ridden through snow, I was also worried that if I tried stopping or pulling a U-turn in the snow, I would crash. What good would that have done any of us?

So I kept going. But I had slowed down to wait for Mike while ADV-Mike, Warren and Scott had pulled ahead of me, out of sight. I realized I was riding alone. That's when I started to freak out. I didn't know the roads that well and couldn't remember if this was one of the "optional" roads. I had followed Mike (Mr. Fast - 1050 Tiger), so it suddenly occurred to me that maybe we were on some "extra" portion that the rest of the group wasn’t going to ride. I’d already thought that maybe Mike was no longer behind me because he had opted for an alternate route. Without Mike behind me and the boys in front out of sight, if something happened to me, no one would see and no one would find me. I’d freeze to death buried in a snow bank.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

The riding was nothing short of treacherous. For the seasoned rider, its just one of those things you deal with as best you can, but we had several new riders with us, Nephew-Dave was on his first real motorcycle ride of his life and Brian and Jen are still fairly new riders as well. Even going at what I felt were super slow paces would put me miles ahead of the less experienced riders.

Where'd everyone go?

Fortunately, we'd made it so far as so that it was only one steep descent from arriving in Scofield, all we had to do was worry that the Scofield gas station would be open.

I finally pulled myself together by telling myself that the only reason the boys would pull ahead and leave me behind is because they had confidence in me and knew I could handle the conditions and not crash. I kept thinking about American Supercamp and riding around in sloshy mud. “It’s okay for the back tire to be moving around. In fact, it’s completely normal.” I also thought about all other riding tidbits I’d ever heard. “Death grips lead to death.” “Baby birds in your hands.” “Head and eyes up.” “Look where you want to go.” “Lead with your chin.”

I have never been more onboard with or understood "lean off the bike to keep the bike upright" as much in my life as I was on that mountain road. Holy cannoli, did my chin and mirrors get to know each other!! ("Maximum traction, maximum traction, maximum traction...")

I had to laugh when I passed a snowplow going down the mountain as I continued to climb. I also laughed, and considered stopping for pictures, when I passed snowmobilers on the side of the road as I headed into a tight downhill right-hand hairpin that immediately started climbing back up after the corner. At least there was no mountain in the way so I could see what I was heading toward! I eventually found my groove and just plodded along, keeping the bike upright and moving forward, until I reached the end of the road.

I started to panic (again) when I reached the end of Highway 264 and didn’t see anyone. Uh-oh! Which way do I turn? Luckily, I had Kris’ highlighted map in a waterproof case, and after a couple minutes of studying it, figured out where I was and which way to turn. I just hoped the “make your own burger place” was also the gas stop on the way home, and that I’d be able to find it. Scofield can’t be that big, right? I scoured the landscape (as best I could through the snow on my visor), looking for familiar landmarks to reassure myself that I was going the right way. I also had my eye on the big rig behind me, making sure he wasn’t going to run me over. He was approaching when I was getting ready to turn onto 96, but I went ahead of him because I didn’t want all his road spray in my face. Yuck! I also thought that if I went off the road into a ditch, at least someone would see me and hopefully he’d stop to help.

After several tense minutes, I rounded a right-hand bend and saw a familiar dirt (now mud) lot with a couple gas pumps and an old building. Score! When I pulled into the gas station, I was relieved to see the boys' three bikes (and so glad I turned the correct way on 96 -- thank goodness for Kris’s highlighted map!!!)! ADV-Mike smiled and gave me a thumbs-up as I stopped, and that was it. The relief combined with the pain from my hands being numb, and I lost it and started crying again. I must have been holding my breath a little too, because as soon as I got off the bike, I started gasping for breath.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Jen wasn't the only one in Panic mode, during the slippery descent out of the snow both Mike (Speed Triple) and Nephew-Dave had disappeared from Kris' mirrors. Nephew-Dave is Kris' brothers son and one of the only ones in Kris family that has much to do with us. As such, Kris feels violently protective of him and would lay down in traffic to keep him safe. When he was no longer in her mirrors, her mind started racing with fears. "What if he ran off the road?" "Maybe he's buried in snow - and nobody will see him". She was extremely upset, but the cold and wet weather was making everyone's bikes run poorly, they weren't getting hot enough to evaporate the water that was collecting around the carburetors/throttle bodies.

Nephew-Dave's bike was one such bike, so when he saw Mike on the side of the road he stopped to see if he was okay and to ask if there was something wrong with his bike. Nobody fell down, nobody ran off the road into a snow bank.

All's well!

Few folks will understand how glorious a small road-side gas station/snack shack can look when the weather is miserable.

Arrival at last

 

>We went inside, where Warren and Scott were trying to thaw out. I asked if Mike had arrived yet and tried to tell them that he had been behind me but had disappeared. Of course, I was trying to talk to Warren about Mike while crying from cold and relief, so he thought that I was crying because of Mike and gave me all kinds of grief about it later. *sigh*

The folks at the Scofield gas stop were again fabulous. I had collapsed into one of the booths to catch my breath and collect myself. They came over to tell me that they had hand warmers in the restrooms and to help me get over to one. Warren filled one of the sinks with cool water (which felt like it was scalding) to help me slowly warm my hands back up and take away the frost nip. I can’t imagine how cold Warren’s hands were without heated grips and hand guards! Once my hands were defrosted, the gas station folks offered coffee and hot chocolate. With me calmed down a little, we chatted about the conditions outside, tried to dry out and warm up, and waited for the others to arrive.

I think I had cooked and eaten a hamburger and was partway into a bag of Fritos before the others arrived. I was starting to get worried. I guess ADV-Mike was getting worried too, because he was just putting his helmet on to go on an exploration mission when the others pulled in. We were finally all present and accounted for. Yay!

Apparently, Mike had stopped when we turned onto Highway 264 to adjust his iPod or something. I still don’t know the whole story, but I guess Nephew-Dave was behind Kris and stopped next to Mike to ask if his bike should be making the weird noise it was making. Kris didn’t know what was going on, but noticed Nephew-Dave was no longer behind her, and was afraid he had flown off a cliff and was buried in a snow bank. When they all pulled in to the Scofield stop, Kris was still upset. Then she found out I’d been crying too, and that seemed to make her feel a little better
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Once we were all back together at the Scofield Gas station, it was like a hugh sigh of relief. We spent the next while doing what needed to be done. Like drying your book in front of the burger cooker.

Dry the book

Ryan's only riding boots are perforated leather, so he was trying to get the feeling back in his toes, while Mike mostly tried to stay awake in the warm building. Eventually we started trickling back outside to keep from falling asleep or getting to comfortable. We still had a ways to go home.

At this point we had the option of heading to the freeway and dealing with the possibly heavy holiday weekend traffic, or just continuing on our path towards home. Eric and Dawn decided that the freeway was the better option while the rest of us decided on sticking to the planned route.

is this for real?
Leaving Scofield, Dave switched over to protection mode. No more squadrons - we’d stay together and leave no one behind. He would lead and ADV-Mike would ride clean-up. Each of us was to stop if the person in front of us or behind us stopped. That would cause the whole group to pull over without a lot of circling back and without us becoming too separated. People who didn’t want to deal with the weather in the canyons or ride as one group split off and headed for I-15. The rest of us got in formation and slowly made our way home.

We encountered snow again on Highway 191. We pulled over briefly to discuss which route to take and make sure everyone was comfortable with it, and then headed off. By the time we made it to Duchesne for our last gas stop, we were cold and weary but happy to be almost home and out of the rain, sleet and snow. We had 15 or 20 minutes of dry blue sky in Duchesne, but then the rain and sleet started up again and accompanied us the rest of the way back to Salt Lake City. I later learned that snow had accumulated on cars in Salt Lake that day.
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

The ride over Indian School was lots and lots and lots more wet riding. Wetter than I have ever been, ever on a motorcycle. It was so cold and so wet that the bikes couldn't even keep a decent departure. The Ducati's start to read at 105-degrees Farenheit, and still they would just flash "LOW" even after riding at slow speeds for over an hour.

Just keep swimming, swimming

Duchesne offered a rare and brief break from the wet weather and we all stood around sipping hot chocolate and coffee to get some warmth back into our bodies. Warren also had gotten so frustrated with his rain-gear that it was more duct-tape that it was rain-gear anymore. A fresh re-taping offered some much needed jocularity.

Warren's exceptional rain gear

However, Warren wasn't thinking it was quite so funny anymore.

Warren is sad about his rain gear

 

Riding through the snow on 191 and the rain and sleet the rest of the way home, I was with the group and was 100% fine. My visor sucked and it was hard to see and all that, but no freak-out. That’s when I realized that my earlier freak-out on the way to Scofield was because I was riding alone in that mess, not because I was riding in that mess. Last lesson of the trip? Ride with a buddy when riding through the snow on your motorcycle!!

When all was said and done, I had put close to 900 miles on the bike in three days. I saw new parts of Utah that made me appreciate living here even more. I got way more comfortable on my bike and with riding in general. I tore up some fun roads -- with hard bags! -- on my “big dumb dirt bike,” as Mike calls it. I finally went on an overnight trip on a motorcycle. I didn’t wuss out or give up. I didn’t crash (close doesn’t count!). I proved to myself that I’m capable and strong -- even if I do need a hug after riding through a snowstorm. Most of all, I had a fantastic time with an awesome group of people that I’m proud to call my friends.

And... my rain gear worked. Not only was I not wet, but neither was my Cordura riding gear. My $25 Costco rain suit rocked. Next time I just need to add overboots and gloves, anti-fog and anti-snow stuff for my visor (I considered bringing my Smith No-Fog Cloth and Snow Eraser, but caved to the “over-prepared” ribbing), and possibly heated pants and gloves. A wise man once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.”
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Only one more canyon separated us from Park City, then it was just a quick drop down into Salt Lake City and home. In rare form, we looked over at the thick clouds hovering over the tops of Wolfcreek Pass and quickly opted to stick to the lower Daniels Summit Road - a dreary, straight road with little scenery but it was lower in altitude.

Daniels Summit

Fortunately, traffic was pretty light as Daniels Summit doesn't go to any real popular recreation spots.

Folling home

The last photo I took was as we raced past Strawberry Reservoir. Soon after, it started to rain and then snow once again.

the last photo

Nephew-Dave bikes was running worse and worse and was having a hard time climbing any of the mountain passes. Once we got to Heber City, the clouds had pretty much dissipated, and I'd hoped his bike would start to run better, but it didn't. Turns out he had overfilled the oil so oil had blown up into the airbox and had just started fouling the carburetors, so nothing was really wrong with the bike.

Summing up a trip like this is hard to do. Normally we stop for dinner. This year we did not. We all just wanted to get home. Speed-Triple-Mike had a plane to catch and the rest of us just wanted to warm up. So how does one sum up this trip. Well, I think Jen did it quite perfectly.

When we stopped for gas for the last time in Duchesne, ADV-Mike came up to me before I had even gotten off the bike and said, "If the weather forecast was exactly the same for next year, would you do it again?"

Considering I had just spent three days freezing off my feet, hands, face and everything else, plus almost crashing my brand new bike and tip-toeing through snow and slush, that was an easy one to answer: Oh, HELL yes!
Jen, CanyonChaser since 2007

Special Thanks

We Love You Guys!

There are a handful of local CanyonChasers supporters who really stepped up to make sure this trip could happen. If you ever get the chance, please support these folks.

Salt Lake Motorsports - The local Ducati dealer helped us get Kris SS/CR up and running in short order, as well as going above and beyond to ensure we would have legal tags before the trip.

Wrights Motorcycle Parts - These guys have been supplying us with just about everything we've needed for years. This year Wrights stepped up by getting us lined up with some new Olympia Riding Jackets and some Tour Master Rain Gear!

Utah Rider Education - Utah's premier motorcycle riding course provider. We owe Dale a great deal of gratitude because when we take off for Memorial Day, we take a huge chunk of his instructor/rider coach corps with us.

Sandcreek RV and Campground - Our home away from home. Our Torrey trips just wouldn't be the same without spending a night or two with these fine folks. They've consistently taken wonderful care of us from brining us firewood to bringing out blankets, this is the best campground we've ever stayed at, and trust us, we stay at grundles of campgrounds.

Mike - Yep, good ol' Mike, flew in from Providence, RI and still managed to find time to get all of Jen's electrical accessories installed. If you see Mike, tell him he's great!

Ryan - I'm not kidding when I say that I think he is one of the most talented photographers I've ever met. He has a way of capturing the mood and atmosphere better than anyone I know. Because of Ryan we have some of the best portrait's of the CanyonChasers ever taken.

Kris - We jokingly call her the "den mother" but we do so because she is always watching over the entire group, no matter if its the new riders, someone without a zipper on their rain gear or just telling me to shut up already. Special thanks really need to go to Kris most of all.

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