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I've hinted at but not documented this trip. I'll post each day in its own post below.
Overall the goal was to travel out and meet up with my father and a friend that live in Michigan. We originally planned to meet for the MC rally in Sturgis SD, however due to covid concerns we abandoned that plan and decided that northern New Mexico would be our destination. Just prior to the trip New Mexico still had mandatory quarantine orders and so we changed plans again and headed for Flagstaff Arizona.
The trip was a total of 9 days and I covered roughly 4k miles I think. I didn't record exactly how many I had when I left or when I returned, but it was a lot of riding and a lot of fun. This was my first long solo trip - in the past anytime I've done a multi-day trip I've usuaally had non-riders accompany me and therefore have a chase vehicle that can carry most of the essentials.
Its going to take me a day or two to get everything documented and posted up so please be patient.....

These were my planned routes - you'll have to read below to see how well I stuck to them, and for details and pictures.

Gardnerville to Flagstaff

Flagstaff to Gardnerville
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Day 1
Actual path traveled
10hrs - 620 miles - 62MPH average

I left my house at about 7am after finalizing the packing of gear. I headed out east across Nevada. Anyone who's ever driven in Nevada will appreciate that there is rarely a direct route to where you want to go, so my path took me past Walker Lake, Hawthorne, Tonopah, a short southern detour into ash springs for gas and then continuing into Caliente, Pioche, and finally stopping for the night in Cedar City.


Roads - 395 - 208 - 339 - 95 - 6 - 375 - 93
Between Gardnerville and Caliente everything went smooth. I found out that running across the dessert at or near triple digit speeds reduces the fuel range on my XSR to about 90 miles. I did not plan out any fuel stops, instead using the highway signs to approximate the distance to the next town and then deciding if I had enough fuel to make it or not. This worked out fine but it did lead to short detour when I reached the junction of 375 and 93. Ash Springs was a bit south (wrong direction) but I didn't feel confident that I had enough left to make it all the way to Caliente. Nothing spectacular here - some nice wide-open space roads as you'd expect from rural nevada. Roads were clean, dry and smooth. Not much traffic outside the small towns. 375 is known as the 'ET highway and skirts area 51.

This is Walker Lake just north of Hawthorne Nevada.
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HWY 6 east of Tonopah
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The ET Highway - 375 skirting the north edge of area 51.
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I made a few short detours to hit some of the Butler G1 and G2 roads:
G2 - 317 South out of Caliente also called 'Rainbow Caynon Road'.
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Along this road I pulled over for a photo op with some old mining equipment in the background and had a massive tip-over. The shoulder where I stopped was tall (about 3ft above the surroundings) and unstable. When I started to dismount the shoulder broke away and both me and the bike fell over & down. I was pretty pissed, but after gathering my wits for a few minutes recovered and carried on. The major damage was that the headlight shell broke (headlight dangling by the wire harness), Radiator took a hit and was bent, and none of the stuff on the left switch worked. I also got a pretty massive bruise on my thigh, but I promise no one wants to see a picture of my pasty white hairy legs. I rode into Caliente and stopped at the combo ACE/Napa in town to make repairs. Amazingly the radiator wasn't leaking, but the radiator fan apparently shorted internally so it wasn't working. Headlight was fixed with a series of zip-ties from my bags to hold it up in place. Left switches were fixed by re-connecting the plug inside the headlight shell and washing the sand out of them. Overall this took about 2 hours, mostly fiddling with the switches trying to get them reasonably clean and re-assembled.

Radiator bent but not leaking!
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Aside from the tip-over this was a cool little road. I would not recommend anyone riding it fast. It has a significant number of 'dips' where flood waters are allowed to cross the road. The result is that just about the time you reach an entertaining speed you'll see a 'dip' sign followed by sharp drop and the road may or may not be covered in loose sand & gravel. Scenery was nice. Traffic was non-existent. If you are in the area check it out - but I wouldn't recommend going to far out of your way to ride it.

Rainbow Canyon Road - south of Caliente Nevada
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G1/G2 - 322 east from Pioche and returning via Eagle Valley Road.
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I didn't find this road very entertaining. It could be partially because I was still angry about my tip over. Surfaces were ok, the expansion joints are pretty rough along 322. I enjoyed the section along eagle valley road more then the section along 322. Eagle valley road is a sort of narrow caynon road - posted speed limit is low (40 i think), not sure about Law enforcement presence. Like Rainbow Canyon above this route is more about the scenery than about the curves, and the scenery isn't really that spectacular. Again - if your driving past check it out, if not do not go out of your way. You have to take 322 into Pioche for Gas, there is none along 93.

Eagle Valley Road
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After this I doubled back to travel 319 / 56 into Cedar City Utah. Nothing really notable here - just more of the same empty roads. I had planned to do some back-country camping east of Cedar City Utah outside of 'duck creek' but I didn't arrive in Cedar City until around 7pm. It was already dark and I was dirty & sore from my tip-over. I decided to get a hotel room so I could shower and get a solid night sleep instead of trying to setup camp in the dark.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Day 2
Actual Path Traveled
No stats today - phone died 3x so I didn't get a good track in Rever

I left the hotel in Cedar City at around 7am. I was up early and before I left I spent about 45 minutes fiddling with the radiator fan, took the bike down the street to a car was and rinsed most of the dirt off, and topped up the gas tank. Then it was back to the hotel to re-load all the gear. The route today was again mostly east from cedar city through Duck creek, Bryce, Escalante, Fruita, Hanksville, Bullfrog, Halls Crossing, and finally ending just outside Blanding.

Roads 14 - 89
Leaving out of Cedar City I headed east on hwy 14. The road climbs up through some canyons which are pretty scenic. Road surface was really nice and I'd highly recommend this route to anyone. If you ride it in the early morning like I did be prepared for dropping temperatures, I had to stop and put on warmer clothes about 1/2 way. Also be on the look out for deer, I had to stop for crossing deer twice and saw some on the shoulders a few more times. I missed my planned turn north on Mammoth Road and decided to just run up 89 instead. 89 was nice, nothing spectacular, just a 2 lane highway.

HWY 14 Just east of Cedar City
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Roads: 12 - Johns Valley Road - Old Escalante Road
Turning east off of HWY 89 onto 12 towards Bryce the road has some nice curves and then opens up into long straights through some flat grass lands. The thing I remember most about this was that it feels like your in the middle of nowhere except for one thing you can see out in the distance. No roads seem to go in that direction until later, on Johns Valley Road you pass a sign that says 'landfill'. I suppose it solved the 'not in my backyard' problem but it does make me hate what we're doing to our planet a little bit. Turning right onto Old Escalante Road had me double checking my Map - I didn't realize it was an unmaintained gravel road, but I went ahead anyways. I passed a trio of big ADV bikes going the opposite direction at this intersection, other than them I didn't see any other vehicles along this part of the trip. I really enjoyed the drive up this dirt road - big overlooks, no one around, partially following a little creek, and the surfaces weren't too bad, mostly just a gravel road. I did discover that riding 20-30 MPH is not fast enough to provide cooling without a radiator fan. I had to stop once on the ride up and let the bike cool as the temp was up to 220, grabbed some water and granola and chilled for a little while enjoying the scenery. I noticed on the ride 'down' that my rear break wasn't working quite right.

John's Valley Road - wide open spaces.
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Old Escalante Road
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Escalante:
I stopped in Escalante for fuel and decided to grab a sandwich at subway. Just before leaving an older dude on a rat chopper pulled in and commented on my rear tire (which was worn out). I was planning to get the tire replaced the first day when I arrived in flagstaff, I knew it wouldn't last the whole trip. Turns out that this guy runs a little MC repair shop out of his garage a block off of main street and he had a tire, and he was willing to mount & balance it right then, at noon on a Saturday. I decided that this was a sign and it was better to act when the opportunity presented itself than wait and hope to find something later. I refused to pay the $100 he wanted to charge me for mounting, on top of the tire cost, and we negotiated a better deal. I spent the next 90 minutes watching him work, eating my sandwich and trading stories. Nice guy, prices are a little high but not too bad, he's also the only option for quite a distance in any direction.

Just outside Escalante
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Roads: 12 - 24
Heading out of Escalante I continued north on 12 which is a beautiful road. Smooth, clean, twisty, Scenic. Best of all it has regular straight spots with passing zones so you won't be stuck behind an RV for the whole route. Highly recommend this road. Probably my 2nd favorite road of the trip. Turning east again 24 starts off in more of the same green canyon land but then opens up into what I think of as the stereotypical utah desert-ish canyon. Not much out here and the scenery gets pretty boring by the time you get to Hanksville.

HWY 12 North of Excalante
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Roads: 95 - 276
South from Hanksville to Bullfrog this is a lot of nothing. Road surfaces are really nice, wide open spaces, rolling desert canyons. I followed a group of guys from Phoenix on slingshots for most of this section. I was tempted to go a lot faster than I did, but it is a long way between gas stations out here an I knew my range was < 100 miles at high speed.
I faced another choice here - my original trip called for me to go south to Halls Crossing and then ride the ferry north into Bullfrog and then take Burr Trail road back to Escalante. Burr Trail is a trail - I love riding this kind of stuff, gravel back roads through scenic country, but I knew it wouldn't be fast and I had no radiator Fan. I was also behind schedule in the day because of starting off in cedar city, and stopping to get the tire replaced. In addition to this my Dad driving out from Michigan was going to be in Kayenta AZ the following day - I could meet up early if I adjusted my plans. All together I decided to skip Burr Trail and ride the Ferry south across lake Powell instead of north.

Lake Powell Ferry at Bullfrog
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After riding the Ferry into Halls Crossing the ride on 276 & 95 east is mostly high desert, pinyon and juniper forest. The road is smooth and there are some nice sections of curves just west of HWY 191. All along this ride I was looking for possible camping spots. I rode all the way to the junction of 95 & 191 in search of gas. The gas station here is the most run down, falling apart gas station you've ever seen. After filling up I doubled back to a little valley that had some cottonwood trees growing along a dry river wash. I setup camp high on the bank there and spent the night. For anyone who hasn't done any back-country dispersed camping in a tent in an unfamiliar area it is an experience you should try at least once. It was quiet, lonely, exciting, and awesome.

HWY 95 - Juniper & Pinion as far as the eye can see.
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Camp, my hammock in the foreground looking east, the bike is just the right of the drain culvert.
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Camp looking west from the bike.
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Overall it was a good day, but I went to sleep disappointed that I hadn't taken Burr Trail, even though I knew it was the right choice. I was also regretting the fact that I hadn't been able to visit Natural Bridges National Monument as planned. I decided to skip the national monument because I wanted time to setup camp before dark, and it would have added at least 30 minutes in the wrong direction when I reached the junction.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Day 3
Actual path traveled
5hrs - 284 - 57MPH average

I got an early start on day 3. I woke up at about 5:30AM and decided I was too cold to go back to sleep. Anyone who has ever tried camping in a hammock will understand, With the air able to flow beneath you, and the fact that your body weight compresses your sleeping bag which basically cancels most of its insulation value can make a cool night into a 'very cold' night instead. I was prepared for this, but it was so hot when I fell asleep that I couldn't stand the extra warmth, and given that it was nearly morning when I woke up cold I decided it wasn't worth it trying to go back to sleep. Thermometer on the bike said 38(F) when I checked it so it was pretty cold. I was basically improvising today, with no real plan, other than to try and meet up with my Dad somewhere along the route. My path ended up being mostly south south-west including: Natural Bridges National Monument, Mexican Hat, Kayenta, Tuba City, Cameron, Flagstaff, and ending in Mountainaire.

Roads: 95 - 275
See the last part of Day 2, same roads. Lots of juniper & pinon pine. I was getting an early start so I decided to double back to Natural Bridges National monument, which I really wanted to see. The road through the park is nice, with overlooks into the valley containing the natural bridges. I spent an hour and hiked down and back to the first bridge. I had the park all to myself at this early time, didn't see anyone else except for a park service employee cleaning the visitor center on my way in.

Sunrise on my way to Natural Bridges
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A Natural Bridge
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Roads: 261
After wrapping up my sight seeing I called my Dad to find out where he was. He had spent the night in Cortez CO, and was going to be heading across AZ on HWY 160. It sill looked like Kayenta was the best option for us to meet up before reaching Flagstaff. I double checked my maps and HWY 261 is basically the only way to get there. This is also a Butler G1. At the start of 261 there are several warning signs, narrow road, twisting roads, RVs & Trucks not advised, etc. I was pretty excited but the first 30 miles are basically straight across some rolling hills, juniper & pinion forests, much the same as 95. Then suddenly the pavement ends and you face a narrow gravel switchback, which was cool but not nearly as fun as if it had been paved. The gravel portion is narrow and winding, but it is also well maintained, shouldn't be a problem for anyone at a reasonable speed. At the bottom the scenery changes to more typical desert, and the road continues straight for another 30 or so miles. If they ever pave this section it will be awesome as it is basically in the middle of no-where so you'd be able run Up and down at a good pace with little concern for other traffic.

The interesting part of HWY 261
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Roads: 163
More of the same - this is a butler G1, if you like wide-open space type views this is a great road, but it is long and straight. This takes you through 'Monument Valley' which I didn't find very impressive, its very similar to a lot of the riding I did on day 2 through south west utah.

Monument Valley HWY 163
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Roads: 160 - 89
Met up with my dad in Kayenta, which is in the Navajo Nation. I was a bit worried here because I had to try 3 gas stations before I found one that had the 'pump' on for self service. Navajo Nation is locked down, including all the gas stations being closed, but I didn't expect them to turn off the pumps so that self-serve was also unavailable. Hwy 160 & 89 are rough. Some of the worst roads I'd ridden on the entire trip, and also boring. Straight and desert everywhere. Maybe the rough roads are on purpose to help keep you awake? Took 89 south directly through flagstaff and then into mountainaire where our AirBnB was.

My Dad was not riding all the way from Michigan:
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Overall today was probably the most boring 'riding' day I had in the whole trip, but it was nice to get off the bike and do a little hiking. I wouldn't recommend anyone going out of their way for either of the G1 roads, 261 or 163, although they make a fine alternative to the major highways if you happen to be traveling between Kayenta & Bluff or Blanding. I did finish early, arriving at the cabin around noon. Spent the rest of the day doing some laundry, stocking the fridge with food, and visiting.

Our Cabin:
IMG_20200920_122009_01.jpg
 

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Reserved For Day 4
 

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Reserved For Day 10?
 

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I am really excited to read about this. I never have felt anything quite like when I went on my long trip. You look like you found some nice spots, a shame you took some damage.
 

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What a great ride on some great roads! I love those shots where there is nothing but rolling hills and prairie as far as one can see. Amazing! I shall now live vicariously through your posts since I got no real long rides in this year.
 

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What a great ride on some great roads! I love those shots where there is nothing but rolling hills and prairie as far as one can see. Amazing! I shall now live vicariously through your posts since I got no real long rides in this year.
Yes - the wide open spaces make for some great pictures, although you get a little numb to them when you live where you drive through areas like that on a regular basis.
 

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I am really excited to read about this. I never have felt anything quite like when I went on my long trip. You look like you found some nice spots, a shame you took some damage.
I was pretty upset about it when it happened - more because of how stupid I was than anything else. I should have known better. In hindsight I'd rather ride, enjoy the places and the bike, and fix what needs it than not go on the trip at all. It also made the trip a bit more exciting - the damage was a conversation starter at several stops with other riders, all in all just part of the adventure. My biggest complaint is that the broken fan caused me to skip 2 of the back roads I was most excited about, I knew the bike would overheat and having to stop and worry would stress me out so I skipped them.
 

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I was pretty upset about it when it happened - the damage was a conversation starter at several stops with other riders, all in all just part of the adventure.
Good way to look at it. (y)
10-20 years from now, that ride will stand out in your memory because of that event.
 

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Had surgery hard to type, more in a week or so.....
 

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Had surgery hard to type, more in a week or so.....
Oh shit. hope it was unrelated to the trip...

I rode about 3500 miles week before July 4th out through canyon city, CO, lake powell, zion national park, moab UT, grand junction co and to/from kansas city. Similar area but was a hell of a good time.
 
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