Southern Utah on a Hayabusa and a Sportster


If you don't like to read, you can skip to the pictures, but there's a story behind every one of those bad boys, and I'm going to tell it.

If any of you watched the weather this weekend, you know that the northwest and the intermountain west were all a big swirling low-pressure mess. I awoke to rain in Boise on Friday, but had some faith that it would dry out by our designated departure time of noon. Jeff #2 (I'm Jeff #1) wanted to put in a few hours so he didn't have to officially take a PTO day, but he ended up calling at 11:00 to officially wuss out of the trip. No offense, Jeff #2. This might be Vance's one shot at a trip this summer, so he was all in, no matter what. Some of my best adventures have been in foul weather with Vance, so I knew that I could come home with something to write about. Vance never disappoints. I asked Jeff #2 to PLEASE not cancel the motel reservation in Tropic, and he was happy to keep it for us.

We departed Boise about 1:30 and headed south into the great unknown, so to speak. We knew that we might get soaked... every day. We took the freeway as far as Bliss and turned off toward Thousand Springs and Jackpot. Vance has a gas tank smaller than my bladder (which is the smallest they make), so we had to stop often for fuel. The first was Buhl. We stopped again for gas in Wells, and got about 10 minutes of light rain, which ended up being the sum total of rain for the entire trip. Speaking of Wells... what's up what that five dollar a gallon gasoline? You should change your city name to Bendover, just so people know they are going to get goosed on their way to Wendover.

We pulled into Ely to find NO VACANCY signs lit up all over the place. Good thing I called ahead. We ate a marginal Mexican dinner at a place that we could walk to and called it a day. We got up early Saturday and decided to ride to Baker for breakfast and gas. Even though we bought fuel in Ely, Vance was not certain he could make Milford. We pulled into Baker to find a single concrete platform with a one-pump credit card only fueling station. No breakfast here. Maybe they have food in Garrison... maybe not. Crap. No breakfast today. Go look at a map of Utah. That road between Garrison and Milford is as straight as it looks, and more desolate than any road I have ever traveled. It turns out that today... the winds of hell are blowing across that route. We found out the next day that we had ridden through 50-60 mph 90 degree crosswinds, the entire length of that empty witch of a highway.

The Hayabusa was designed in a wind tunnel... designed to go 200 mph and cheat the wind. I discovered that the designs don't work so well in a 60 mph cross wind coming in at 90 degrees from starboard. I felt like I was riding a 4x8 sheet of plywood. The bike wants to follow a straight line, and the natural instinct of the pilot is to counter steer to offset the effects of the wind. The bikes were leaning 30 degrees to the right to remain in their straight line course. After a while, my neck was getting stiff from trying to hold my helmet upright. I discovered that I could compensate by shifting my left butt cheek off the seat and rotating my body to the right so as to face the cross wind more directly.

At exactly the halfway point between Nowhere Nevada and Nowhere Utah, Vance had had enough and decided that he would try powering his way through the wind. We had been holding steady at 70, and he blew by me at 90, tilted at what seemed like 45 degrees. He didn't get 100 yards beyond me when it looked as if his bike shot off a gigantic confetti cannon. I was trying to get a mental inventory of what was in the air. The wind carried it north and into the desert within a matter of seconds. I popped the throttle and motioned for him to pull over. The wind had literally pulled the rivets out of the latches on his junk-yard motorcycle trunk and the lid went vertical on the hinges. The wind pulled the top layer of "stuff" out of that box slicker than scum off a Louisiana swamp. It turns out that the desert claimed all of his maps, some note paper, a bag of jerky, a right glove, and probably some other stuff he still doesn't know is missing.

While we were stopped getting the lid secured, I decided to take advantage of the pit stop. I faced north (obviously), but the wind was so strong that I could not hold myself against it. It slowly pushed me forward, step by step. I attempted anyway, and realized too late that my body created a big low pressure directly in front of me, filled with turbulent wind trying to fill the void. It went everywhere, like pissing in outer space. I felt some of it on my face.

We pushed on; hoping for breakfast in Milford, but it was not to be. We got gas and headed for Cedar City, where they certainly would have a stupid restaurant. I had 15 choices, and made the wrong one. We both got a chicken sandwich at Burger King, and both pieces of chicken looked like this was their 3rd or 4th trip into the fryer. Oh well, at least they couldn't screw up an icy cup of Coca Cola, refilled several times. As we sat, Vance commented that he felt like he'd just gone 5 rounds with Mike Tyson. I took 3 Advil.

We stopped at the Walmart so that Vance could re-supply. He went in for a bungee net, but came out with a bag of goods... the net, some jerky, a pair of micro fiber towels, a jug of Gatorade, and probably some other stuff he didn't tell me about. I stayed outside and entertained questions about my awesome bike.

A quick jaunt down I-15 and we were on our way into Zion National Park... with 23 million other people. We were out of the wind, so I was happy to share the park with the 23 million.

We came out the other side of the park and turned our route north and back toward home. Jeff #2's room was waiting for us in Tropic, and we were happy to share our "wing" of the compound with a tour bus of Germans. My folks were in town for Memorial Day activities (my grandparents are from Tropic) and we had a nice dinner with my parents at The Pines. If you ever get to ride Utah 12, stop at The Pines for some pie. It's the best. We went back to the motel, where Vance spent the evening wiring his bike for a heated vest that he borrowed from Jeff #2, who by this time had realized that he made a bad decision to stay home... where it was raining. Vance commented how grateful he was that the witch desert road had not claimed Jeff #2's borrowed heated vest.

Sunday was clear and calm as we proceeded east on 12 to Escalante. The section of highway between Escalante and Boulder is called the Hogs Back. It is motorcycle heaven. There's a bike mechanic in Escalante who calls himself the Desert Doctor. In a conversation on a previous trip, speaking of the Hogs Back, he told me: "people come here from all over the world, rent Harleys, and wreck 'em on this road. I haul 'em in." It is an unforgiving road for sure.

Highway 12 ends with a spectacular ride over Boulder Mountain. I think the summit is 9900 something. You go from red desert sand to quaking aspen in green meadows in a matter of minutes. The views from up there are unbelievable. It's as if you can see all of southern Utah from one spot.

The story gets boring after this. We picked up highway 89 at Salina and continued north. We stopped at a Subway in Gunnison for lunch. I overheard a local telling someone about the hoards and hoards of bikers hunkered down at all the gas stations and restaurants in Richfield the day prior. They couldn't ride because of the high winds. I turned to Vance and just said: [cry babies], all of 'em.

I spent the last night in American Fork with my folks and Vance continued up I-15 to Malad where he spent the night with his folks. The ride home on the freeway was not very entertaining, but it was a small price to pay for the opportunity to write this story!

Pics on the next 2 posts...


Red Canyon:

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The "bike parking" area at the Bryce Pioneer Village:

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Vance getting wired for heated gear:

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Perfect Sunday morning:

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The Blues, underneath the Escalante Mountain, or the "Pink Cliffs."

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The Hogs Back:

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Near Calf Creek:

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Boulder, Utah:


Boulder Mountain views:




The coolest building in Manti:



you cant tell me you didnt top her out on that LOOONG stretch of road in the first few, i would have NO self control there....beautiful pics by the way, need to get out that way!!!!!


you cant tell me you didnt top her out on that LOOONG stretch of road in the first few, i would have NO self control there....beautiful pics by the way, need to get out that way!!!!!


Did you read the commentary? Seriously... 70 mph was flirting with disaster in the very worst way. I would not have survived 120 :unhappy:

Lamb busa

50 warming to 70 again
Donating Member
Great pics...that blue is very photogenic

The story about you peeing made Lamb smile.


oRg Gal
Staff member
Absolutely amazing scenary!! That is a ride I'd love to do one day. Thanks for sharing the pics and stories of your adventures!! :thumbsup:


Donating Member
great write-up and pics, that is some beautiful country and even better shared with a friend :beerchug: like Lamb, i started laughing out loud at the mental image of you on the side of the road with drops flying every which way :thumbsup:


:cheerleader: great trip report! :cheerleader:

:beerchug: love the Vigor Blue :beerchug:

Wind sucks! did you wear a stripe down the side of your tire?
:whistle: i bet you did.
I've done the same myself :laugh::thumbsup:

and tell your friend to get a short, good quality, ratchet strap to hold his trunk lid on.
friends, don't let friends, use bungee cords. :rulez:

again, i dug the report. thank you. :thumbs:

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