We set a record this year for the hottest July on record—ever. All we need are a couple more days over 100 degrees, and we’ll set a record for the hottest year in Utah. Despite how beautiful it is on the way into work in the mornings, from the seat of my motorcycle, I’ve experienced the high temps on my commute home every day.
In addition to the oppressive heat, afternoon thundershowers have followed me home more than once over the last five or six weeks. I don’t really mind riding in the rain, but it does make the bike dirty—which is kind of a pain (despite my desire to keep it spick and span, I’d rather spend my time riding, than shining up the chrome). So when the good folks at Timponogos Harley-Davidson announced they were sponsoring the 15th Annual You’re Not Forgotten Toy Drive bike wash, it seemed like a good idea to make a short trip to Linden, get the bike washed, and put a few miles under my feet looking for some relief from the heat—and if it’s for a good cause, all the better.
A cold Diet Coke later, I was cruising up Provo Canyon headed for Kamas and the Mirror Lake Highway. The Mirror Lake Highway is one of my favorite mountain passes and probably one of the coolest places in Utah when it’s hot down in the valley. I didn’t even mind sharing the road with the Tour de Park City bicycle racers.
This is no revelation to anyone who spends any time on a motorcycle (or a bicycle for that matter), but your sense of the road and your surroundings is much more intense when you’re not insulated from your environment in a climate controlled cage. I’ve come to really appreciate the smell of the pines or a recent thunderstorm on the wet pavement. Smell isn’t the only sense that seems heightened from the seat of a motorcycle either—at least it seemed that way as impatient motorists recklessly tried time after time to pass the racers on blind corners on double lines. Two or three times I found myself on the right shoulder trying to avoid the consequences of their reckless impatience.
The ride into Evanston was uneventful. After stopping for a cold soda and a short break from the road, I climbed on Interstate 80 and pointed the bike home. I exited the freeway at Echo and rode through Coleville to Wanship on a little stretch of the Old Lincoln Highway (the first transcontinental highway). Although it’s now been consumed by Interstate in most parts of the country, the first road across America turned 100 years old this year. Riding the few sections of the old road I’ve been on, it’s not hard to imagine what it would have been like bouncing along those narrow roads in an old open touring car. They were less concerned about making the roads straight in those days. The old roads tend to follow the contours of the land—which makes them much more interesting from the seat of a motorcycle.
Back on the Interstate at Wanship, on the push past Park City and over Parley’s Summit the temperature climbed with every mile that passed underneath the bike. I’ll admit, it was really too hot to spend so much time on the bike this weekend, but sometimes you just gotta put some miles behind you.