Lance Sallis and I have been talking about a dual-sport ride for over a year. Lance, of Central Texas Restorations fame, is a long-time friend who lives in Austin, Texas. He also has a place in Park City, Utah. Since Austin averages around 104 degrees during August, we wisely agreed to meet in Park City and follow the Backcountry Discovery Route north to the border of Wyoming (and it would turn out, well beyond).
This was Lance’s first time on a Backcountry Discovery Route. He borrowed a Running-When-Parked Yamaha 450WR after promising the bike’s owner a thorough overhaul. This guy made out like a bandit. In addition to engine and carb work, Lance treated the bike to new tires, chain and graphics. It looked new when we departed Park City.
We left a world besieged by a pandemic and a society incredibly divided along political and ideological lines. We figured the ride would get us away from CNN versus Fox, protesters versus rioters and Trump versus Biden. And it did it in ways that we weren’t expecting, leaving us a bit surprised and more than a little encouraged.
Lance is the most naturally inquisitive person I know and it didn’t matter who we crossed paths with. We were going to be friends before Lance was through with them. And we met a lot of people on the roads and trails including hunters, campers, fishermen, cyclists (mostly on gravel bikes), park rangers, motorcyclists, ATV riders, UTV drivers, 4×4’ers, ranchers and the folks running rural convenience stores and burger stands.
Not one of these people cared about our political beliefs or leanings. They didn’t look at us like we were bubonic plague carriers. They wanted to know things like where we started, where we were going, how many days would we be riding, if my Cycle Products West jersey was original or a replica, how Lance got dirt all over his back and, in the case of one group, if we wanted to join them for lunch.
I’ve had great times riding Backcountry Discovery Routes. In these trying times, I enjoy riding them even more. In the immortal words of Steve McQueen, “Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I start seeing people out there having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look.”
By the way, Lance is now addicted to the BDR rides too.