Wednesday 26th July
This week’s installment is a bit late. Not that we have a rigid publication schedule of a post per week – they may be more frequent at times, and often less.
This past 10 days we have been playing catch-up. Now, well over a month into the trip we are pretty much back on track and making some steady progress without feeling a great need to rush. Total miles traveled so far since un-crating the bikes at Anchorage stands at 6350 as of today. However, as you will realise from previous posts not all the bikes have the same mileage under their tyres!
The biggest and best news is that Tom is reunited with Ian and I, and we have been back as a three-man team for 9 days already. His KTM 1290 Adventure was shipped out to Calgary in double-quick time and it all went without a hitch. Tom liberated the bike from Calgary air freight, arriving there at 8 am on Monday 17th. He then had a “quick” oil change that seemed to take all day, and did not escape Calgary until 3.30 in the afternoon. Ian and I had expected him to catch us after a short ride for us on the Tuesday, but tom being Tom, he rode until nearly midnight to join us in Helena, Montana that night. Having survived various close encounters with the wildlife in the gloaming, he has now resolved not to ride after dusk.
A quick resume of our progress since the last update – we do not intend to detail every day’s ride but this will give an outline:
Monday 17th Ian and I leave Whitefish for Helena. Tom joins us there.
Tuesday 18th Helena to Big Sky, Montana. Fairly short ride.
Wednesday 19th Through Yellowstone to overnight at Thayne.
Thursday 20th Thayne to Green River, Utah.
Friday 21st Down the Flaming Gorge to Ridgely, Colorado.
Saturday 22nd Along Colorado River to Moab. Two nights “rest” here, but it’s not enough to get a blog post written!
Monday 24th Back into Utah to Mexican Hat.
Tuesday 25th To Kanab, UT for two nights in order to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon today.
If there is a theme to this part of the itinerary, it has to be the most unusual and spectacular geology throwing up the most amazing natural rock sculptures, some of which are in some photos below. Utah is a bizarre State; an inhospitable and arid region that is home to the Canyonlands, Arches National Park (NP). Bridges National Monument, Bryce Canyon and Zion NP amongst others, and part of Monument Valley and endless rock formations that anywhere else would be feted as destinations in themselves but struggle to get a mention here.
Our initial plan had been to stick as close to the Continental Divide as possible by taking some off-road itineraries. Events have made that not possible or wise, to the evident relief of Ian. The roads themselves however have provided more than enough entertainment, and Tom and I did find ourselves one gnarly gravel road to satisfy that urge.
Further update on bikes and riders:
Ian’s Honda has not been behaving properly since his crash, despite the repair which, it must be said, was done in double-quick time. It has a sophisticated automatic gearbox, which normally works brilliantly. But it is now stuck in a super-economy mode, and is almost continually in top gear making the bike very sluggish and a bit of a pain to ride. Otherwise, despite not being quite the shape Mr Honda had intended, it is working OK. As is Ian himself! His injuries have mostly healed and the mashed toe will not require amputation after all.
Tom’s KTM is a great bike, very fast and capable. He now leads the pack whenever he gets bored of hanging back with us. And mostly we ride together, with only one episode of “where’s Tom?” that will be familiar to regular riders! And it must be said, I share the blame for that. Sorry Tom. Tom is back in good spirits.
My Triumph has given me a number of causes for concern, but I’m not too worried. Some I have mentioned: leaking fork seals (fixed by cleaning them out with a home-made scraper); frightening leak from the radiator that appears to be fixed with a RadWeld-type stuff – normally considered a temporary repair only but it has been good for 4000 miles so far; a warped rear brake disc that needs replacing (Georgina will bring me out a new one from the UK when she joins us next month); and most recently an oil leak from the right side of the crank case. And to think that this was the “sensible” bike choice – capable and above all reliable! But this is a long journey and we will all need to nurse our bikes so that they can look after us in return. All bikes are booked in for servicing and repairs and new tyres (for Honda and Triumph) in LA, which we will reach at the weekend. Regarding myself, my torn calf muscle was a right pain both literally and figuratively for two weeks. But over the past 2-3 days it has made big progress and I can now do an impression of walking rather than hobbling.
We do seem to need to spend a lot of time planning the itineraries for the next day or two, and finding accommodation, sharing finances and sorting out our photos. For me this leaves precious little time for writing – to family and friends, my diary, and of course this blog. There are a number of observations that we would make concerning the nature of life in far-flung northern Canada compared to the various parts of the US we have traversed, but I fear they will have to wait for a few days.
One thing I will mention though is the incredible warmth we have had from almost everyone we meet. People from all walks of life from fellow motorcyclists to grandmothers ask us where we are from and what we are doing, seemingly every time we stop. From being rather pleased with ourselves at having grandiose ambitions, I find myself down-playing our adventure a bit – no need to over-egg it! So I say to anybody we have met and who has taken our blog address: Thank you for your great enthusiasm and support. Whatever else this adventure may be about, it is without doubt a great way to meet people!