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.
Andrew "AJ" Jackson of Eurorider Training and Mell Rose.
AJ's Check List
*Motorcycles x 2
*All weather clothing/boots - windproof, rainproof as well as cool and warm layers.
*Panniers for carrying extra loads.
* Friction straps and bungees - multiple & spares.
* Chain oil and lube
* Acquired jump leads
* Puncture repair - fix a flat in a can
* Lots of monies
* A ball of string
* Rucksack for daytime carrying capacity
* Flexible attitude to life and journey
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