Adventures in the American Southwest
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  1. #1
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Adventures in the American Southwest

    So, after 6 days of riding in northern and central California https://www.bcsportbikes.com/forum/sh...-Ride-May-2016, and after numerous remarkable roads (most of them pretty demanding), the time came for 'something completely different'. Friday May 20, 4 of us remained ( Carl, Dahl, Scott, and I); our friends had now all headed back north; and roads eastward beckoned. But first there was the small matter of getting out of California... It's a BIG state...
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 11:27 AM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
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  3. #2
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 1: exiting CA

    We had stayed the nite in Visalia ( Econolodge: not special, but clean and cheap, plus enclosed off-street parking; dinner at Red Lobster was surprisingly good), and in the morning Scott and I packed a few things that seemed surplus and UPS'd them home ( note to self: the heated vest should NEVER be considered surplus!), then hit the road about 9am.

    A short run east on 198 got us to Yokohl Rd, which winds up into the grassy foothills typical of the south end of the Sierras. The terrain is beautiful and parts of the road are superb, but quite a bit of it is 'extra-goaty' too, with rough and sometimes broken pavement. Still, it's better than the highway (imho, anyway).

    Dahl 'trucking' on Yokohl Valley Rd

    IMG_4792 (1024x767) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Yokohl Valley Rd - awesome terrain, sometimes not so awesome tarmac...

    IMG_4796 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    An hour or so of this and we were dumped out onto CA 190, where we made a short jog west into Springville for fuel and and early lunch - potentially pretty deserted country lay ahead.

    CA 190 is also known as the Western Divide Highway:
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoi...fsbdev3_059482
    In its lower section, it twists up thru the valley of the Tule River; then it runs south on a crest at 6500-7000 feet elevation; and finally it drops into the Kern River valley, transitioning into near-desert terrain. I had badly wanted to ride this in 2015 and in also on a So Cal week in 2013, but both times weather and/or conditions were wrong, so I was excited to finally get the chance to 'explore'. I was also a bit worried, as the high country had only been open a week, so I worried there would still be a lot of grit on the road. As it came to pass, there WAS grit on the lower sections, but the upper road was perfect - go figure!

    Western Divide Highway - excellence in the lower valley

    IMG_4818 (2) (1024x694) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    ...but watch for the grit, Scottie!

    IMG_4832 (2) (1024x620) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Jee-zuz, wasn't that great!

    IMG_4836 (1024x758) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    (p.s. I've gotta go back some time, a bit later in the year, when Sherman Pass is open, but that's up at 9000 ft and usually not open till June...)


    The descent into the Kern valley is mostly sweepers till you get to Johnsondale, then tighter road leads into the relaxed terrain north of Kernville ( one of my favorite small towns in CA, btw).

    Upper Kern valley

    IMG_4850 (2) (1024x598) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    At Kernville, the terrain ( and the trip) changed. Ahead lay dry country, sweepers and long straights with few tight sections, more of a focus on scenery and less on actually riding... and wind! Seems it's almost always blowing in the desert, eh? Certainly was for us, as we wound our way up thru one final climb to Walker Pass on CA 178, then dropped into the desert at Inyokern. About 3 hours of 'droning' followed, south on US 395, then east on I-40, all thru flat desert country bracketed by parched hills: inspiring in a way, but not my favorite. Finally, just before twilight faded, we reached Needles CA, and given the rather scruffy appearance of most of the alternatives ( and the length of the day we'd put in), we opted for the last two rooms available at the Best Western - the most expensive of the trip, at US$175 a pop! After settling in, the neighbouring Juicy's River Cafe provided about the only available supper, which unfortunately was NOT very good. Still, sleep came easily, and now the wind was at our backs...

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Econo...d34.849505!3e0

    615 kms 11 hrs
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 12:39 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    day 2: central Arizona

    Soon after leaving Needles, you leave CA and cross the Colorado River into AZ. And immediately, we exited from I-40 onto a very cool chunk of 'Historic Route 66', the "Oatman Highway". This runs thru desert flats almost to the old mining community of Oatman, then twists and turns magnificently, on fresh new pavement, thru a band of hills, till debouching onto the flats again south of Kingman AZ.

    Route 66, south of Oatman

    IMG_4868 (2) (1024x739) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Yup, it's the desert...

    IMG_4873 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Share the road, Oatman style. And, no, they were NOT moving!

    IMG_4882 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Perfect...

    IMG_4892 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Yup, it really IS that good!

    IMG_4895 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    We had a little diversion looking for fuel on the way into Kingman, and found ourselves in front of a very sketchy gas station-cum- truck-stop - cum- "Gentleman's Club" before thinking the better of it and carrying on deeper into town. Then it was about 80 miles southwest on US 93, the "Joshua Forest Scenic Parkway", which featured a few clusters of the aforementioned vegetation and pretty incessant headwinds. So, typical desert, then... The turn on AZ 97, east towards Prescott, brings about a welcome change, with a wonderfully undulating road and entertaining curves for much of the next 50 miles.

    AZ 97

    IMG_4907 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Eventually one comes out onto the more highly travelled AZ 89, and about 20 miles of really superb riding gets one to Prescott, a lovely tourist town where the nearby Phoenix-dwellers can come to escape the heat. After a near-miss at the gas station, where a drug and/or booze addled blonde in a pickup actually ticked the corner of Scott's luggage, before getting into a cross shouting match with her even more addled male companion slumped in the passenger seat, we enjoyed a fine lunch at Bill's Burgers, we headed east again. AZ 69 and 169, plus a bit of I-17 got us to Camp Verde. Here we broke away from traffic again, into higher, deserted country. Payson came and went, then we ran about 80 miles east thru the forest and grasslands of the Mogollon Plateau to Show Low AZ, home for the nite. America's Best Value Inn turns out to have an ugly location ( kinda the back lot of a gas station on the edge of town), but the rooms are impeccibly clean, so - for one nite - all was tolerable. Pizza and beer got us fed, then sleep beckoned. Oh, and Scott discovered he had a nail in his rear tire...

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Needl...34.2542084!3e0

    650 kms 10 1/2 hrs door to door
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 01:29 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 3: retreat for re-tread

    My original plan had been to carry on east from Show Low to Eager AZ, then ride the superb Coronada Trail ( US 191) south, then break east, etc, etc... But that was all too ambitious anyway, so the nail was in some ways a welcome reset. The tire had held air overnite, and some phone calls had revealed the desired round black object at GO AZ Motorsports in Scottsdale, so the day opened with a wonderful 90 miles southwest on US 60, to Globe. Well, except for car, who lit off north to explore the Grand Canyon etc on his own - perfectly understandable, since it was so temptingly close.

    US 60 is almost entirely a 'nice' ride, but the 8 mile section down into and back up out of the Salt River Canyon, about mid-way, is absolutely superb.

    Salt River Canyon

    IMG_4935 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_4939 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The first 30 or so miles of US 60 leading from Globe towards Phoenix is actually really nice, but it's crowded, so enjoyment is limited. Then it's flat, then freeways... and it's hot, too. But GO AZ is soooo impressive when you get there! It was opened as a 'dream' motorcycle dealership a few years ago, by a guy named Bob Parsons, who made a fortune with Go Daddy, the domain names king. The facilities are huge ( 3 buildings, test track out back, etc), and the service and attitudes are top-notch. It's actually worth a visit, just to see how motorcycle retail can be done, if all the right elements fall into place.

    GO AZ

    IMG_4953 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    the culprit...

    IMG_4955 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    While Scott was getting his bike re-shod, Dahl took the opportunity to slap on a new front too, since it was available, then we buggered off north, back into the cooler heights, returning to Payson for the nite. America's Best Value drew us in again ( nothing to complain about), and the local 'legend', the Beeline Cafe ( serving since 1962, and shows it! in a good, stylish way..) pretty much next door, served us well for dinner and breakfast.


    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Show+...34.2295983!3e0

    We somehow covered 400kms that day, despite being in the shop for a really big chunk of it...
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 02:03 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    day 4: to Navajo country

    Last time I tried to ride into Flagstaff, I got caught in a full-on blizzard ( late April a couple years ago), and had to bail back to lower altitudes at Camp Verde pronto! So I was looking forward to this morning, with a return engagement scheduled.

    There are superb approaches to Flagstaff from Prescott, via Jerome, Cottonwood, Sedona, etc, but those were rather out of the way for us, so we took AZ 3 past Mormon Lake as the direct alternative, and this was quite wonderful in its own way: high, forested, deserted, much of it freshly repaved. Lovely...

    AZ 3: not a bad way to spend part of your morning!

    IMG_4977 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    We didn't actually see much of Flagstaff; we just kinda rode by all the touristy spots, then it was off into the wilderness to the east. Navajo Highway 15 stretches about 120 miles east across a flat, open, dry plateau - a very unwelcoming landscape indeed - with little to interrupt the distance except a few very run-down looking Navajo communities. Not a great place to live, I suspect...

    Navajo 15

    IMG_4986 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Dry country

    IMG_4990 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    'Dry' country? Despite 'no liquor' policies on native lands, there were hundred - nay, thousands - of empties along the roadside...

    IMG_4996 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    The final 20 miles or so of this 'crossing' actually get really pretty, with a band of red sandstone cliffs bordering the highway maybe half a kilometer back, and green grass supporting some ranching. And the terrain maintains its gentle disposition as you join US 191 for the run up to Chinle AZ.

    The famous "419.9" mileage sign on US 191. Dopers kept stealing the "420"...

    IMG_5002 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    Chinle is a town with limited accommodation possibilities, so we ended up in the Best Western again. This was very nice ( altho the water supply was shockingly silty), but expensive of course ( $140, shared for 3). At least there was good food in the adjacent restaurant.

    Scott and Dahl relaxed, but I had heard great things about Canyon de Chelley, so I spent a couple hours in the late afternoon exploring and taking snaps. The canyon really is awesome, and being there in the spring, when the vegetation is still green, made for a wonderful contrast to the streaked red rock cliffs.

    Canyon de Chelley

    IMG_5008 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5036 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Payso...36.1544483!3e0

    425 kms 8 hrs
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 02:45 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 5: Monument Valley and into southern Utah

    Amazing Scenery Day!

    From Chinle, we ran northeast about 80 miles to Kayenta, much of it on the quite scenic Navajo 59. Then it was north 20 miles or so to Monument Valley, one of the great wonders of western North America. Dahl suggested tea at Gouldings Lodge, and we spent a wonderful hour soaking up the ambiance before setting off into the valley itself.

    El Capitan (yes, same name as in Yosemite), north of Kayenta AZ

    IMG_5045 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Goulding's Lodge

    IMG_5066(2) (1024x637) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    One knows, of course, that this spectacular desert landscape has served as the backdrop for generations of western films, but the landscape itself, 'in the flesh', is much more impressive than I thought it might be - vast and extraordinary. And still with a pleasant tinge of green, this early in the year...

    IMG_5074 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5084 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Self portrait

    IMG_5098 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Monument Valley straddles the eastern Arizona - Utah border, and from there we began to work our way back north and west, headed 'towards home' - the trip had passed its apogee.

    The logical way to get north is to take UT 261 north from Mexican Hat. This is flat at the bottom and flat at the top, but features a 3 mile, 1500 ft climb on gravel as the route picks its way up the face of an impressive scarp at the "Moki Dugway". No issues, but not exactly sportbike heaven!

    IMG_5184 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    UT 95 offers great riding in an awesome landscape, all the way from where you join it near Natural Bridges National Monument, to its end at Hanksville. However, the section near Hite, at the crossing of the Colorado River, and especially as you work up the North Wash, is an absolute joy. Sweepers do not get better, nor do they occur in better surroundings! Shame about the wind - couldn't really fully turn it up, with uncertain buffetings going on, unsettling dynamics. Still, for me, this was one of the highlights of the trip...

    IMG_5217 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    There's not much of interest in Hanksville, except for a store / tourist centre built into a rock. I suppose it stays cool in the summer...

    The run west on UT 24 to Torrey is really good too, and has a superb canyon section about two-thirds of the way toward the destination. Here we were lucky enough to have booked into "The Broken Spur", which was a wonderful place, with nice rooms, reasonable ( tho not cheap) pricing, good food, and impressive views. This was one of the best nites of the trip.

    The Broken Spur

    IMG_5232 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Chinl...38.2994011!3e0

    490 kms 12 hrs door to door ( much sightseeing, many photos)
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 04:12 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 6: across southern Utah - canyons galore!

    Utah State Highway 12 runs 124 miles from Torrey UT ( Hwy 24) to Hwy 89 between Panguitch and Hatch, and passes thru some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.
    http://www.scenicbyway12.com/

    ...and it was frikkin cold when we set out at 9am! Then we climbed to about 9400 feet... The aspens were nowhere near budded out, and there were remnants of snowbanks in sheltered gulches. (Did I mention I sent my heated vest home? Rookie error!)

    IMG_5243 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    A sharp descent takes one down into the little burg of Boulder UT. It was tempting to ride the Burr Trail eastward, out and back ( i had done this, complete, a few years ago, and it's perhaps the most 'charming' canyon I've experienced), but we continued west into the Grand Staircase - Escalante wilderness. This other-worldly region is criss-crossed by a maze of canyons and barren rock swells , and was one of the last areas in the USA to be connected to 'civilization' by road. It's still 'way out there', in all senses of the word!

    IMG_5260 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5268 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5255 (2) (1280x362) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    The scenery chills out a bit over the next 40 miles to Tropic UT, where we had a lunch break at Clark's ( a good BLT, always my 'test'). Then in a few miles we climbed to the entrance to Bryce Canyon. This is one of the most spectacular sites in the area, but when we were confronted with having to pay US$25 each for entry, we succumbed to 'canyon fatigue' and turned away. Luckily, there is a side road to "Fairyland" before the paid portion, so you can enjoy a 'touch' of what the 'real' canyon is like for free. And if you were ambitious, you could walk a couple miles of trail and get to the 'famous' views on the cheap...

    'Fairyland', Bryce Canyon

    IMG_5280 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    After all this scenery, you might think the day was over, or at least could not be topped. Well, you'd be wrong! Just another hour and a half down the road lies Zion National Park, and the 15 mile traverse of the park from the east entrance to Springdale is EASILY worth the twenty-five bucks! Fact is, I'd love to go back, and spend several days, wandering canyons, climbing mesas for views, and soaking up the atmosphere. This is a sandstone Yosemite, much more varied, and in many ways more interesting. Again, the word 'awesome' comes to one's lips...

    IMG_5299 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5301 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5312 (1024x698) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    After a cold drink and a long lie in the shade on some cool grass in Springdale, we rode our last leg of the day, down into St George, where the St George Inn and Suites provided comfy accommodation and the Black Bear took care of food and drink needs. How much scenery can one absorb in a day? I don't know, but this had been excessive!

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Broke...37.0876016!3e0

    390 kms 9 to 5.
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 05:07 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    day 7: into the desert: Nevada

    Nevada does not sit high on most people's lists of great places to ride, but that is to not appreciate more subtle pleasures than twisty roads. Fact is, I'd submit that US 50 is one of the 'great' motorcycle rides of western North America, and even worthy of repeats. The highway runs across 'the grain' of the land, and broad desert valleys are intercalated with varied crests, each with a distinct character, and all featuring entertaining riding. It is NOT just flat, straight, and boring!

    Nor is it always hot. It was nippy when we left St George at 6:45 am, and it got colder as we climbed onto the plateau to the north. There is a surprising extent of agriculture around Enterprise, then the country dries out as you break west thru Modena, out of Utah and into Nevada. By the time we fuelled in Panaca, the air temperature was almost reasonable, but the cold desert wind accompanied us all the way north to Ely, and beyond.

    US 93, south of Shoshone

    IMG_5328 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    At Ely, we split up. Dahl continued north, riding for home, while Scott and I bore off west, aiming for the truck and trailer in Sacramento, still a long way away. And it stayed cold, with fresh snow plastering the heights on each ridge that we passed thru, especially in the higher eastern section of the route.

    Somewhere on US 50. Raingear for warmth...

    IMG_5340 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Dropping into Austin NV. Great curves...

    IMG_5356 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    As you make your way west, the elevation drops, and finally, round about Cold Springs, it gets to be 'warm'. And, for a few miles, very 'desert-like':

    IMG_5383 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    There were some jets 'at play' somewhere near Fallon, and it turns out this is where the Top Gun school is now located. And then it was into civilization... and terrible traffic on I-80 for the final 20 miles or so into Reno. We took refuge from the gridlock is the first available lodging, a Super 8 attached to a casino in Sparks. The rooms were OK, but the only food available was in the casino, and it was quite dire. Still, we survived, and the end of the trip was perceptibly close as we drifted off to sleep.

    map: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/St.+G...39.5236294!3e0

    this was a big day: 830 kms 10 1/2 hrs but mostly 'easy rolling'
    Last edited by doser; 06-12-2016 at 05:56 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  11. #9
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 9: the final leg

    There's not much to say about the final leg: 200 kms and 2 hrs on I-80, then the confusion of getting the right exit to access the RV storage: there is both an 'I-80' and an "I-80 Business Loop" in Sacramento, and neither the overhead road signs nor google maps are good at telling you which is which, and where to bear off. Still, eventually we regained our spot, retrieved the truck, and headed for home. Outa Scaramento at 11:30, we stopped for a bite at Bartel's Giant Burgers in Redding ( reasonable, but nothing outstanding); and later at Shari's Pies, right off I-5 in Salem Oregon ( convenient, good food, better pies). Then it was onward overnite, with a two-hour exhaustion stop at a rest area south of Bellingham. By that point, the rain had started. We'd not seen a drop for the previous two weeks, so we knew we were close to home...

    Welcome home!

    IMG_5386 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    1500kms 17 hrs
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  12. #10
    Posing with conviction Array heisenberg9's Avatar
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    Thanks for the inspiring report. Putting this on my list!

  13. #11
    Registered User Array bandito's Avatar
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    Well done D. Thanks for sharing!
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  14. #12
    Registered User Array m_grewal52's Avatar
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    wow epic! thanks for sharing

  15. #13
    Registered User Array CanadianBird's Avatar
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    Thank you! Great pics. I am especially interested in the Moki Dugway. Can you give a bit more detail. Lots of info on the net but I have never met anyone who has actually ridden it. More pics if you have them. Cheers. Great adventure for sure. Trailering the bikes is a great idea.
    Full Yoshi SS, Galfer wave rotors, Goodridge steel lines, Hel oil lines, Corbin GFL, Penske rear, RaceTech front, Hids, Givi hard bags with full lighting kit, Dyna Coils, K&N, Samco rad hoses, 9500ix/iQ, Pazzo, some bling, some CF.

  16. #14
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    ^^^ no problem Carl. that is 'no problem' on the Dugway. it really is pretty casual, altho you'd want to be careful with a fully laden street bike on a descent. it's not very steep except for high grades on the inside of the switchbacks, and the gravel surface was pretty smooth - few washboard sections. maybe that gets rougher later in the season, who knows? I'll put up some 'visuals' later...

    (and now it's later)

    The Moki Dugway - not horrendously steep, good gravel, big drops

    IMG_5177 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5182 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5190 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5192 (2) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    enjoy...


    it reminded me of the switchbacks on the Burr Trail (absolutely wonderful ride, but about 20 miles of gravel; again very good surface tho)

    Burr Trail

    IMG_8200-25 by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_8208-25 by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_8227-25 by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_8237-25 by Don Serl, on Flickr

    did this is descent, no troubles. it felt like a very long way from gas in Boulder UT to Ticaboo - but it's not really!

    https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Bould...37.6727859!3e0
    Last edited by doser; 06-17-2016 at 08:41 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  17. #15
    Registered User Array CanadianBird's Avatar
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    Thanks
    Full Yoshi SS, Galfer wave rotors, Goodridge steel lines, Hel oil lines, Corbin GFL, Penske rear, RaceTech front, Hids, Givi hard bags with full lighting kit, Dyna Coils, K&N, Samco rad hoses, 9500ix/iQ, Pazzo, some bling, some CF.

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