After a spot of breakfast in the local grocery store down the road from the hot springs, we venture back for our late check-out of the cabin and slip into the hot tubs once again.
The temperatures are already hot and rising - probably somewhere in the region of 37 - 38 degrees celsius. The bikes are loaded up again and we are setting off today to a ski resort called Brian Head. The milage from Monroe to Brian Head - avoiding the interstate, is normally around 105 - 131 miles depending on the route taken which should have taken just over 2 hours. Andrew has sourced an alternative route, through the mountains for us which is marked out as a dotted line on the big Michelin paper map of California and Nevada. Dotted lines on maps usually signify unmarked roads, therefore I have no idea of what to expect, so I expect nothing. Andrew on the other hand is confident that the road will take us up and over Monroe peak down to the town of Koosharem. An alternative for the day's ride could have been to stick to the highways and visit Fremont Indian State Park and Museum. But we rode off and up into the mountains.
It was indeed an unmarked road. Washboard on steroids. The kind of road which is generally more suitable for donkeys, horses and UTVs and Himalayan motorcycles. Himalayan motorcycles with no luggage on them. We were not yet even halfway up to the peak when we felt the luggage slipping. Even the bungees and friction straps were not enough to keep everything sufficiently secure once the bikes had begun piling their way up the rocks and steep and winding stony road. It was bumpy to say the least. However the Himalayan bikes really do come into their own territory on this kind of road and you just have to let the bike do the work and keep the concentration levels up and the bike going.
The pictures and the map give a general idea of what we encountered however, it wasn't as straightforward as it looks. We stopped on three separate occasions to ask random mountain adventurers which was the best, and if we were on the right road to Koosharem. Unmarked roads indeed. It is now becoming apparent to us (Andrew) that this route is not a short-cut and it goes on and on and on. The terrain becomes rockier and I lost concentration at one point and dropped the bike just as a south American looking couple appeared from a little further up the mountain on horse-back followed by their 3 dogs making me think that that is the best way to get around this mountain.
What began as a fun ride turns into a 4 hour endurance challenge. Andrew definitely didn't anticipate this and in retrospect, admits that this perhaps was not one of his better ideas.
We finally make it back onto the tarmac and enter the town of Koosharem which is 105 miles from our destination of Brian Head and another 2 hours in the saddle. The first leg of this journey takes us along highway 62 which is a long road which looks like it's been newly laid. The weather begins to look a bit moody up above and we have no idea as to whether we'll hit what looks like rain up ahead.
One thing we do encounter is what is known as a 'Dust Devil' out here - definition: "a small whirlwind or air vortex over land, visible as a column of dust and debris". We saw the dust cloud ahead of us and were heading straight through the middle of it not knowing how powerful these forces of nature are. Both of us were swept to the other side of the road and thankfully we were the only two travellers on that route at the time. Scary stuff.
The rest of the journey took us along the Sevier river and through Circleville Canyon which was very pleasant riding - nice bends and wonderful scenery straight through the middle of the Canyon and down towards the town of Panguitch from which Bryce Canyon, Zion national Park and Grand Staircase Escalante are accessible.
The final leg of this journey takes us through the Dixie National Forest. We stop at Panguitch Lake to put on extra layers as the elevation levels increase and the temperature drops from 95 degrees fahrenheit (35 degrees celsius) to 79 degrees fahrenheit (24 degrees celsius) and the sun was also setting at this time of the day. The sun setting over the lake was a beautiful sight for sore arses and we finally made it to our cosy ski condo in the out of season ski resort of Brian Head around 8pm. We are in Brian Head for 3 nights which will hopefully give us time to recover.
Sunday August 12 2018 - up at 7am. The day the adventure is born and begins for real. We are leaving the mountain cabin at Tollgate Canyon to meet our man Spero and his good lady wife Shelley a few miles down the interstate so that they can ride us out of town. Getting down the 2 miles of washboard took us longer than the hop along to the meeting point, but we made it and it feels good to be finally leaving Salt Lake City.
Spero is a born biker and hates the interstate, so we're in great company.
We are being escorted to just outside of Richfield. Our destination is to Monroe, home of the Mystic Hot Springs, where we will spend the night. The ride through to Monroe is approximately 183 miles. Spero and Shelley depart company from us around Salina, which is about 30 miles from our destination. We were grateful to have the company up until this point.
The roads are endless - long, wide and interspersed with space, land and more space. The vastness of this country and the enormity of the journey we are planning to make is becoming real. We both are feeling totally blessed that we are able to do this and to take our little Himalayans out and about in the American wilderness. Already we are feeling small in this huge land.
We find Monroe and the hot springs without an trouble. The towns are few and far between. Monroe is a quiet and modest religious town at the foot of Monroe Peak. We have to travel back 8 miles to Richfield to get something to eat, so at the end of our first real day of riding in the USA the hot springs are a very welcoming treat to two saddle weary bodies. The temperatures we rode in today got up to about 37 degrees celsius (100 degree fahrenheit) and getting into a hot bath at the end of the day may seem like lunacy to the cold-loving British race, but it was actually very refreshing, especially bathing under the stars watching the meteors whizz past and having philosophical conversation with a man named Tyler in the next tub to us who was just passing through on his way home from Salt Lake City. Home for him was two hours away - bordering the states of Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Intrepid America and the pioneering spirit alive and kicking.
Day 3 of the trip sees us moving away from the City of Salt Lake to Tollgate Canyon.
We now have our saddle bags slung across our luggage and realise the necessity of having extra carrying capacity as we are most definitely going to need to keep our water supplies stocked high. Everybody we meet tells us that in this Western summer heat (which is hot and dry) we MUST stay hydrated and sure enough we are understanding this.
Our 3rd accommodation is in Tollgate Canyon 8000m up in the mountains. We rode there via the back roads and then joined the interstate highway. Although we intend to miss out the interstate highways for the most of our journeys, there are times when we probably have no choice but to use them. With that in mind, we thought that now would be a good opportunity to give it a go to get to Tollgate Canyon, besides, it was inevitable that we would have to join it for at least a few miles to get to the junction.
Our host Stephanie met us at the bottom of the 2 mile steep and winding 'washboard' road to escort us up and show us the way. 'Washboard' is the term our American cousins use for uneven, dusty, stony and rocky road surface. The Himalayans, now fully loaded, found they were on familiar terrain on the 'washboard' surface and had fun getting up the 2 mile road. Stephanie's husband Tom was there at the top with 2 bottles of water at hand to greet us. All good! Two nights of peaceful bliss in an A-frame mountain cabin with generous hosts and their dog and cat.
So good to be away from the city. We returned to SLC in the morning to do the first service on the Himalayans and then got back to the peace and quiet of the mountains as rapidly as we could.
Later in the day as we were attempting to book further accommodation for our next stops, we were encountering technical 'issues' and beginning to get to frustrated as time ticked by. Just as I was about to reach boiling point, Andrew pointed out that we had a visitor. I stood up and there below our window was a young bull moose stopping by to browse on the sparse vegetation in front of the cabin. At that point, everything else evaporated and we were completely blown away by this visitation and absorbed in the beauty and grace of the natural world. The bull nonchalantly browsed away and I got within a few metres of him to capture some shots. He turned around at one point and looked, but was unperturbed by our human presence. Eventually he went on his way. Magical and literally breathtaking.
This is why we are here. Moments like this are hopefully going to be plentiful and it is the true heart and spirit of America we have come to seek. Moose magic!
After an absolutely delicious feast on raw Lebanese food and a comfortable bed and the chance to lay down proper and rest and sleep, it was time to check out of the first Airbnb and get the Himalayans loaded up with luggage and get them moving and get the miles racked up so we could get the first service done and hit the road for real. We booked four nights accommodation in Salt Lake City so we could finalise the insurance, get some saddle bags, run the bikes in and get the 300 mile service completed. Our man Spero gave us a few great ideas on routes in the Salt Lake area to take to clock up some miles.
Riding out of Salt Lake City was a dream come true. The 3 lane freeways narrowed into single lane roads as we approached the foot of the mountains and I believe AJ and I were both in the same mind as the scenery changed, the urban landscape diminished and we moved closer to the mountains. Fist pumping and arms in the air and the biggest smiles on our faces being out on the road in the heat riding our motorcycles in the USA in t-shirts, open face helmets with little traffic and loads of space. The dream is finally coming true. Here's a few pictures from the ride. We rode about 120 miles from Salt Lake City up to the mountains and down to a little town called Henefer where we stopped for a beer, and snacks and to look at the map outside the only store in town.
Here we are in Salt Lake City, August 8 2018 after a 10.5 hour flight from London Heathrow. First thing we did was to drop off our luggage. We then went to seek out our dealer, Moto United which was a 10 minute walk from the neighbourhood in which our Airbnb was located. Already the vastness of the USA is hitting us. Crossing roads, the V8 monster engines rumbling past and there ahead is the place where our brand new Royal Enfield Himalayans were waiting for us. Moto United.
I conceived the idea of riding bikes in the USA whilst working over the Christmas period 2017. I had spoken to a contact of mine in Nevada City and off the cuff mentioned that I may come over and visit her one day. This is how it all started. I began looking at 2nd hand motorbikes on Ebay as renting bikes for any length of time would not be financially viable. On Valentines Day 2018, Andrew fell in love - with the Himalayan. That was when the adventure really began to develop.
The adventure was actually beginning to become somewhat a reality. We sourced dealers in the USA and as we made a firm but loose plan of where we wanted to visit on this trip, Salt Lake City seemed to be the logical place to get the bikes.
We were given a contact. Spero is our man in Salt Lake City - that's the back of him in the car park of Moto United fixing our temporary licence plates to the bikes. Spero has been our guardian angel in the process of getting our bikes in the USA and we owe him the deepest gratitude. Such a helpful man. So there we were, in our 'sneakers' and non riding kit sans helmets, gloves ready to ride those babies out of the car park in search of our evening meal. Rawtopia is what we found and we ate there 2 evenings in a row as the Lebanese fare served there was so delicious. Our first evening of 35 and already things are looking amazing!
Back in February 2018, I first saw the Royal Enfield Himalayan at Haywards of Cambridge, and instantly fell in love. As chance would have it, I took delivery on Valentine's Day.
I was not disappointed.
The riding experience was everything I imagined. I was so excited by the potential for adventure that this bike offers that I decided to embark on a new adventure.
My chosen venue was the USA, and after some research my ride was to be a five week, three thousand mile clockwise tour of the mid and southwest, encompassing Utah, Iowa, California and Nevada.
After much planning, I have acquired two Himalayans in Salt Lake City and I am flying out on the 8th August to embark on this adventure. I will be accompanied by my partner Mell, who is a rider also, on her own Himalayan.
We will keep you informed of our adventures on this blog.
Andrew Jackson, Euro-Rider Tours.
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