Tag Archives: Utah

Early Evening in Kamas Valley

Kamas ValleyI was feeling a little cooped up and claustrophobic, but only had a couple of hours to blow out the cobwebs with some wind in my face, so I decided to point the bike towards the Kamas Valley. The area is the gateway to another couple of great rides—the Mirror Lake Highway and the road over Wolf Creek Pass—but it’s also a beautiful ride through pastoral landscape and a decent destination when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s a great ride for after work.

Like many rides in the area, it starts by climbing up out of the Salt Lake Valley through Parley’s Canyon. I opted for the Brown’s Canyon Road rather than the Interstate to Wanship due to the construction, so jumped on Highway 40 for a few until the Park City exit on Hwy 248. Another five or so minutes and I was on the Brown’s Canyon Road. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I pretty much had the road to myself.

Dropping down into the sleepy little town of Peoa, I took a right and headed through town toward Oakley and Kamas. The temperature was ideal and my mesh riding jacket was all I needed. Everything was green and lush as I passed the ranch houses and cabins approaching Kamas. If I’d had another half hour, I would have continued on to Francis and around the south side of Jordanelle, but I was running out of time and jumped back on 248 toward Park City and home.

Mesh JacketThis time of year, on days when the weather is warm, a mesh riding jacket is just the ticket. Several years ago I bought this jacket and have come to really like it. It’s a great alternative to a vest, let’s the breeze blow through, and still offers some protection. What’s more, when the weather gets really hot later in the summer, adding a hydration vest underneath turns it into a great air conditioner.

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Filed under Gear Review, Utah Rides

Skull Valley

Skull ValleyAlone on a Friday after work I decided to peal off a few miles and headed into the west desert. It’s not the most scenic riding, but there’s something about the lonely roads and early evening on the open range that is relaxing.

The weather has been nice this week and I didn’t feel the need to layer up as I headed southwest toward Eagle Mountain and Cedar Ft. It’s just about the perfect temperature for spending a couple of hours on the road.

The road to Rush Valley is along part of the old Pony Express route and I can’t help but think of what it must have been like galloping through the sage brush headed to California. I’m cruising along at 65 or 70 mph in relative comfort compared to what they experienced. I’m sure they could appreciate just how vast the desert landscape from Utah to California really was (and still is) on horseback.

The mountain pass after the town of Rush Valley toward the military base at Dugway doesn’t gain much altitude and is far too short, but is a fun little part of the ride—the highlight really. Dropping down on the other side I noticed a spur labeled “The Lincoln Highway.” Last year was the 100th Anniversary of this first transcontinental highway and while I knew part of it still remained as sections of dirt road in the west desert, I hadn’t noticed this little section before.

There were cattle along the highway which is one of the hazards of riding on the open range so I eased off the throttle a bit (I think I’d lose in a head-to-head with a big steer). There aren’t many ranches between Dugway and the Interstate. It would sure be a lonely place to live, but there is what looks like one very big cattle ranch out there.

It’s pretty much Interstate riding once you hit I-80. The speed limit is now 80 mph headed across the desert toward Lakepoint. Since I live in the south part of the valley, I jumped off at 201 and headed toward the I-215 belt and home. The longer days make a two or three hour ride after work enjoyable and a great way to decompress after a busy day at work.

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Searching for the Sun: Bullhead City, AZ to Cedar City, UT

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 8.58.35 PM303 miles of “I could do this all day.”

The warmer temperatures in Arizona made it easy to hit the road early as we mounted up for the ride back to Cedar City. At about 55 degrees at 7:00 am, we decided to put some miles behind us before breakfast and thought we might stop in Searchlight for our bacon and eggs.

The ride from Bullhead City to Boulder City was pleasant, but once we left Boulder for the ride along the lake it turned into pure bliss. The road reminds me of a canyon pass—without the pass. I think one of the things I like about roads within the National Parks is that they tend to follow the contours of the landscape, hence they tend to be perfect for riding a motorcycle. This little stretch of road has become one of my favorites. When we were done and found ourselves in Overton, I couldn’t help but think, “May I have some more please?”

After a a brief stretch on I-15 again, we left the highway at Littlefield and points north. Another great little road. As we pulled off at the junction to Gunlock, we stopped the bikes, and I realized I got exactly what I had asked for in Overton.

I don’t think I’ll ever take I-15 though the gorge again. At least I’ll need to be in a pretty big hurry to do so. This was such a pleasant way to ride from Las Vegas into Utah. A great way to waste a couple of days in February or March. We’ll definitely do it again.

The ride through Gunlock up to Veyo was another beautiful ride along the river bed and past the reservoir. The temperatures remained pretty constant throughout the day as the low temps in the morning in Bullhead City were the high temps as we got closer to Cedar. We stopped there for lunch before continuing north to Enterprise and into town.

We had dinner at a great place up Cedar Canyon called Milt’s. My fillet was melt-in-your-mouth tasty.

We’ve ridden in more scenic territory, but we’ve never ridden on highways that were any more fun that what we we’ve done over the last couple of days. We’ll head up over Cedar Canyon in the morning and drop down to Hwy 89 for the ride home. I love riding on 89. It will be a great way to wrap up our search for the sun.

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Riding the Open Range in February

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 12.22.25 PMEvery ride this time of year is a bonus, but pushing 60 degrees in the middle of February has me thinking of Spring. It was surprisingly warm as we pushed south and west past Cedar Fort and Eagle Mountain toward the west desert and the open road. Our objective was lunch in Delta, but we tend to take the long way to get just about everywhere we go.

The temperature dropped a little as we past the old Pony Express stop at Faust, so I pulled over in Vernon to add a layer and put on some warmer gloves. The forecast was for cloudy weather, but no rain. Although we stayed dry for the entire day on the road, it looked like it was raining or snowing in the mountains all around us.

In addition to Kelly and Phil, one of Kelly’s friends joined us today. He was on a Triumph Rocket—which looked like a very nice bike. He’d bought it just before the start of winter, so like us was glad to be on the road in February.Delta

We stopped for lunch at a little Mexican restaurant called Mi Rancherita. The service was friendly and my two chicken enchiladas were good. I’d stop there again.

Phil and Kelly have both recently installed the new Daymaker headlights to their bikes and riding behind me, Phil’s light profile was bright as could be. Kelly was the leader today, so I never road in front of his Road Glide, but the light’s on Phil’s Ultra Classic were definitely brighter than those on Randy’s Triumph.

IMG_3131Chilhowee Leather is a great place for leather goods I found a couple of years ago. I’ve purchased a number of things from them over the years and haven’t been disappointed yet. I’ve been hunting for some winter gloves to fit that space between a pair of unlined gloves and my heated gloves, but what I’ve been using was too stiff and just weren’t very comfortable. Chilhowee makes a number of glove styles out of deerskin—including a gauntlet style with some kind of fleece lining I decided to give a try.

These are great gloves. Lightweight, warm, soft, what more could you ask for. In the winter I like the idea of a gauntlet so there’s no chance for wind to blow up my sleeves and these gloves were great. They fit the spot I was looking for perfectly. And, everything Chil Livingood says about the fit and feel of deerskin is spot on. There is no question, this is where I’ll be buying gloves in the future.

After lunch in Delta we retraced out steps until the turnoff to the old mining town of Eureka. There were 20 or 30 bikes in town as we rode through. We obviously weren’t the only guys taking advantage of the bluebird day.

I noticed it looks like the ice on Utah Lake is starting to thaw. Hopefully there will be more days like today before winter gives up the ghost. Who knows, maybe spring is on the way after all.

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Provo Canyon, Daniels Canyon, Wolf Creek Pass, and the Mirror Lake Highway=Epic Day in the Saddle

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 9.58.05 PMKelly and I left shortly after 8:00 am. We headed south thinking we’d start with Provo Canyon. The beautiful Provo River meanders alongside the road but “progress?” has changed the way the river flows and the nature of the drive. As a kid I remember my parents being excited about improvements they were making to the highway. Widening the road, smoothing out what was once a winding ride along the Provo River. I have to admit, as beautiful as the drive through Provo Canyon is today, I can’t help but wonder what it was like riding through the canyon 50 years ago.

With Kelly in the lead, you never know where you’re going to end up, but I can guarantee it’s going to be a fun ride. The plan was to cruise through Midway, skirt the south end of the Jordanelle Reservoir to Francis, and head over Wolf Creek Pass, but Kelly skipped the turn in Midway and headed for Heber and US Highway 40 instead. I haven’t been over Daniels Canyon and past Strawberry Reservoir for several years. My grandparents used to live in the Uinta Basin and we’d driven over this stretch of highway hundreds of times. Although US-40 isn’t an Interstate like I-15 over Parley’s Canyon (which is how we came home), like Provo Canyon, it sees  a lot of traffic.

The temperatures started to rise as we dropped down into Fruitland before the turnoff to Tabiona and Wolf Creek pass. I shed my jacket, had a bottle of water, and talked about bikes with Kelly for a few minutes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Tabiona this way, I usually treat this ride as an out-and-back because the pass is so beautiful. The climb up Daniels out of Heber and around the north end of Strawberry was much prettier than I remembered. I was glad Kelly decided to take us this way.

TyandKellyTemperatures dropped as we climbed the pass to the summit, but the escape from the heat was a welcomed relief as we cris-crossed our way down the other side into Francis. The mountain valley’s in Utah are beautiful and some of my favorite riding.

We stopped in Kamas for lunch in a cafe neither Kelly nor I had been to before, The Gateway Grill. The place definitely caters to the tourists, but my cheeseburger was tasty and the service was good. I’ve been looking for a good place in Kamas and will stop there again.

Over lunch Kelly suggested that instead of calling it a day and heading home, it might be a good idea to take the long way over the Mirror Lake Highway through Evanston, Wyoming. I didn’t need to be back early, so I was all in—it never takes very much to convince me to add a few more miles. The road from Kamas to Mirror Lake and on to Evanston is beautiful. After stopping at the summit of Bald Mountain Pass for a photo, we dropped down the other side headed for Wyoming.

We hit a couple of my favorite northern Utah rides, spent six or seven hours in the saddle, and had a great time. If you like to spend the day in the saddle, you’d love this ride out of Salt Lake. Wolf Creek Pass and the Mirror Lake Highway are great rides in and of themselves, but tie them together and you have an epic day.

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The Bear Lake Loop

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 1.38.00 PMCresting the pass over Monte Cristo from Huntsville to Woodruff, I think I smelt the rain showers to the south east before I could see them in the distance.  Other than a slight sprinkle, I didn’t see any rain, but I could tell the rain had beat me to Woodruff. It feels like the seasons are getting ready to change.

The smell of freshly cut hay on the road between Woodruff and Randolf reminded me of time I spent during the summers as a kid on my Grandparents farm in the Unita Basin. I would sit on the fender of his old tractor as he cut the hay. It’s amazing how something like a smell can queue up so many memories.

Dropping into Bear Lake Valley the temperature warmed and the bustle of people on the lake having fun looked inviting, but I pushed on up across the Idaho border, past the lake, and to the crossroads—right to Jackson Hole or left to home. A beautiful ride through rural Idaho countryside turns into a very fun canyon ride as you drop in elevation.

Riding into Preston the same fields that were green and lush earlier this year are now golden as the sun beats down on my face. I’m definitely not in the mountains anymore. The ride over Soldier Summit was beautiful looking at the hills of fields bracing for the end of summer and what will shortly come. I always forget what a pretty section of highway the climb out of Logan can be.

It looks like most of the road construction through Ogden and Clearfield is finished, making for an uneventful ride home. I’m looking forward to my upcoming ride with my friend Steve around Yellowstone and the Bear Tooth Pass later this month. If this ride is any indication, it will be a pretty couple of days.

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Sometimes It’s Just About Miles Under Your Feet

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 7.47.48 PMWe 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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 6.39.41 PMA 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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 6.39.19 PMI guess it’s just too hard to enjoy the beauty of where you are when you’re in such a big hurry to get where you’re going.

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.

 

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