We’ve been traveling now for almost 8 weeks and what I’ve learned so far is that we’re staying within our $100 day budget ( it’s been difficult!) , I don’t miss work or my home (but I do miss my friends and family) sights have been spectacular and that I will cry when I get into an extreme situation.
This past week has been the most challenge for me personally in terms of riding. We’ve had really awesome riding and Sassy Pants has been fantastic in terms of performance. But some of the situations I’ve had both on and off road this week have been, well… let’s say I lust for adventure, not fatality and this week had me wondering …
BDR Day 1: Romanced by the first day on the Valley of the Gods portion of the Utah Back Road Discovery Route (BDR); the road was near perfect, compact gravel and rock, not too steep and spectacular views. We ended the day hunkering down at a small lodge in Bluff with a few cold barley pops and some poolside lounging excited for the next day. Fantastic!
BDR Day 2: We choose the Butler Wash track near Bluff as the map noted our first section choice as mostly silt. The road started out fantastic, but within about 2 miles we began to encounter fine silt. In spite of my handle bars moving under me like they were possessed by the devil and had a life of their own, I felt confident letting my bike do its job. My confidence was short lived. Within a short distance the silt grew much deeper and in an instance, Sassy Pants was on her side, burying me head first.
Have you ever eaten hot silt? Trust me, it’s not pretty. Picture me picking myself up, removing my helmet and silt pouring out. A few spits later to clear my mouth of the nasty grit, I dusted myself off while Tad raced over to help me lift her back upright.
We forged onward through that wash and back to some more management stuff. The road was decent for another couple miles until we came across another section of the deep *&^!! I’m talking 3-5 inches of fine silt with no way around but straight but through it. The farther we got the worse it became, complete with a 2nd, 3rd and yes, by the 4th and final dumping I was in tears mixed with silt eating and more dusting off. By this time we were well past the halfway point. No way in hell we were going to turn around and go back through that crap again.
The further we went the deeper it got and the longer the stretches became. The sun was hot and intense; the exertion of riding and the heat was exhausting me and I ultimately peddled my way through some of the most unmanageable sections. In spite of his own challenges with this road, Tad had to ride my bike up a couple extreme parts as well. He insisted on taking breaks in what little shade we could find (like literally squatted under a bush) as he could see heat and fatigue over taking asI did my best to manage my bike with 10+ miles to go. Tad was doing fantastic (didn’t dump once!); and I’ll tell you right now he was my hero getting through that living hell.
Lethargic, hot, dry and parched, my energy was drained and I was literally on empty. Exhausted, everything seemed to be in slow motion. We eventually began gaining elevation and the silt road (thank God!) began to turn into real dirt and rock for the last 2-3 miles. I felt like I was in heaven as I could actually ride longer than a half mile in 2nd gear.
4.5 hours later, we finally made it to the end of this crappy ass road and hit the pavement. In spite of my exhaustion, I still had a little umph left to do a happy dance. Pavement never looked so good.
BDR Day 3: Excited to be making our way toward Moab, I couldn’t help but feel a deflated level of confidence after our 25 mile sand ride the day before. Tad’s goal was to find something a more manageable for me. You have to realize we are going off maps and have no idea what we’ll encounter along the way and often you don’t realize until you way into it. We rode pavement a good part of the day and found another segment of the BDR that seemed like a good choice. We took off on a road that was mostly uphill and very manageable. I’m thinking right on, I can do this, only to find we took the wrong route and ended up at a dead end. We back tracked and found the intended road.
This road began as your typical dirt road, flat gravel; cool canyons and rock formations. Cruising along, all was great until we began ascending and quickly found ourselves in some pretty knarly terrain. Super steep uphill grade, baby head rocks, ruts and loose debris, I immediately knew this was a “hang on for life” kind of ride. I kept on the throttle and traced Tads tracks the best I could as he coached me (through our headsets). Keep in mind, I’m new at this sport and have hardly any experience on riding beyond flat gravel roads. I listened to Tad’s instruction and guidance as I tried to keep my cool between the “Oh shit, Oh shit, Ohhhhhhhhhh shit!” raging on in my head. I had to stop midway as I needed to just calm down for a few minutes and rest. Once my heart rate decreased a few levels, we continued; turning around would have been even more treacherous than going forward (which is what I’m finding more often than not!). Reaching to top of the hill we came around the corner to find deep ruts with a sheer cliff drop off to the right. I tried not to look over the edge and focused on getting my bike out of ruts and onto the left side of the road to ride it out. Thank God I didn’t literally crap my pants, because I assure you mentally I did. Sorry no pics, it was too knarly to stop and lolly gag. Soon enough we began to descend and the drop off was in the past. The road widened and smoothed out which turned out to be a fabulous the last couple miles down.
We’ve been riding extremely windy deserts for the last 4 weeks, but leaving Moab making our way to North Utah on June 5 was an entirely new wind experience. So forceful it pushed us both across two traffic lanes; I kept going and shot over the centerline. Oncoming traffic in my view, my adrenalin went off the charts with my heart pounding out of my chest. I think we all know what would have happened had there been traffic adjacent to us, or the oncoming traffic closer. We had about 120 miles to go and I was literally terrified for 85% of this ride. I’ve never ridden in this extreme of conditions. One-two punch gusts blowing us all over the place. Entering I-70 was so intense, I was in extreme fear and tears began to flow. Tad pulled us off the first exit where we took a old abandoned frontage for 12 miles to the next town. Resting for bit at a coffee shop, we took off again for the last 60 miles which was just as intense but thankfully no more blowing across lanes. The wind was not just gusts, it was non stop and had been about 24 hours. To give idea, we came across a semi truck driver pulled over because he felt it was too difficult to continue without losing his load. We roll into a Price, Utah hotel for the night and the wind is still raging outside as I type.
I have been scared shitless three times this week. Of course now that it’s over and I still have all my teeth, I can say it was an interesting day in dual sport training. Not fun… interesting in a freak out kind of way.
A fitting quote from Neil Peart – “the adventure sucks when you’re going through it, but think of the all stories you have to tell’. I couldn’t agree more and I have to say this experiences would be part of the “bad’ in the “good, the bad and everything in between”.
Nonetheless, I can say it is adventure and everything in between has been fabulous. I wouldn’t change it for anything.