Monday, October 22, 2012


The concept; take two Triumphs out to the desert in southern Utah, for a little dirty fun.  I already have a '73 Triumph Adventurer for the trip; my companion Conrad Leach bought a '71 Triumph TR6R on Craigslist, and ended up swapping the engine for a '60s Bonneville lump, with a 750cc kit. Rough but good.

It took a few days to get to the canyonlands of Utah from San Francisco; we stopped in Winnemucca Nevada(after a blast up Donner Pass road), then Springville Utah (to visit Jeff Decker).  Today we made it to the Canyonlands, a unique place on the planet.

My favorite of the chain of National Parks strung between Nevada and Colorado is Capitol Reef, which is probably the least visited of the Zion/Bryce Canyon/Moab/Canyonlands continuum, but perhaps the most accessible if you don't want to be led by the nose to the 'beauty spots'.

We picked a motel in Torrey, the Broken Spur, which has just re-opened.  Nice folks, cheap room ($75 for two beds), mind boggling view of red cliffs banking the horizon in every direction. Best of all, it's only 6 miles to the entrance of the Park, and every mile is stunning.  We spotted a dotted line road on the map (Pleasant Creek), and our motel clerk said it was a really good 4WD road, and that we'd have fun on the bikes.
Too bad there's no attitude gauge on the Triumph; this hill was really steep, but smooth dried mud
Always listen to the locals; this road was 40 miles of challenging stream beds, soft red powder, deep rock-lined gulleys, and steep rocky climbs.  It took all of our motorcycling experience to navigate the treacherous 'road' in many spots, without coming to grief or damaging what are basically two road-going 70's Triumphs.  In short, we had a blast.  I encourage you to simply get out there with your motorcycle, and have some fun, wherever that may be, whether an epic desert exploration, or your favorite route to coffee.  Just ride it.
The first creek fording...
Tomorrow we'll head for Bryce Canyon, then Oatman AZ, then LA, where Conrad will leave his Triumph, and I'll head back to...more travel.
I didn't take photos of the worst bits; my hands were way too busy!
Hwy 12...a truly fine piece of motorcycle highway...
Pleasant Creek Road follows the creek itself for'll get wet.
Capitol Reef's amazing banded cliffs...and pink powder trails
After climbing a few thousand feet in elevation, we found the Aspens, and knew we were near the highway...


Loren Petersen said...

Thanks for sharing Paul. If you're ever in Oregon, there is plenty of High Desert to ride and a few of us ride the vintage bikes too. Great post!

ATOM said...

Nice, I bet you guys had fun.

Anonymous said...

Oh the carefree and cavalier life of two unmarried 50 year-old boys. Looks fun.

William said...

Hi Paul,
Delighted to see you've finally got hold of a proper bike.. [for my money the best bike Triumph ever made] well done that man. looks like a great trip. Thanks for this.

Arline said...

Roll on! Have a blast of a lifetime!! It's a beautiful scenery

The Vintagent said...

@Anonymous: We MAKE TIME for the carefree and cavalier! Conrad has a demanding career in London which keeps him in the studio most of the time. We've both raised kids, been in long relationships, and carried mortgages. (And Conrad is eager to point out that I'm 50, and he's not!)

@William: The TR5T is indeed an excellent little bike; I'm just getting to know it as it's new to me, but I've always admired their style. This was the first proper off road test of the machine, and it's just a blast, and very competent in rough stuff. There were hellish stretches, more like the Devil's Staircase than a real road, and I was slightly concerned at times, but the bike never faltered, and I never fell off!

@ Loren: Tell me more!