A Dual-Sport Adventure Good For The Soul

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.

COMMON GROUND
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.

Rush hour: We had the road pretty much to ourselves during the weekdays (not so much on the weekends) with only a few interruptions.
Varoom with a view: It is easy to motor along so it is important to remember to stop and take in the views. And brothers and sisters, there were plenty of epic lookouts.
Winging it: Once we crossed into Wyoming, we were off the BDR map and following National Forest maps. The riding got more challenging with a number of nasty climbs. BDR would not take their riders on these trails.
Clean start: BDR riding was new to Lance and the guy is already addicted. The bikes didn’t stay this clean for long. August is a dry and dusty time to be riding in Utah.
Local advice: A big shout-out to Eric Porter who lives in Heber City, Utah and mapped out an awesome all-day shakedown ride that included a stop at Bob Redford’s Sundance Resort. Visit Eric’s YouTube Channel and be ready to spend an hour or two. Highly recommended especially if you have young mountain biking rippers.
Luxury accommodations: No camping for us. We only stayed in the best places we could find. Hey, one out of four isn’t so bad. We shared expenses on the ride. I took care of the gas while Lance got the hotels. That’s fair, right?
Lunch break: Lance (far right) with three new friends. These folks asked us to join them for lunch. We did.
In the bag: I’ve been really happy with my Nelson-Rigg Sierra Dry Saddlebags (on the Suzuki) because the weight is low and they are not as jarring as metal cases if you tag your leg or hit something on a tight section. Got to admit, I was envious of Lance’s Giant Loop bag that also worked great.
Lost and found: It is pretty easy to get turned around and that is half the fun. Lance was way better at reading maps and Jimmy was better at understanding his GPS by the end of the adventure.
On the road again: Always a pleasure to exchange notes with fellow BDR riders. This guy started out with a group in Colorado. They were down to two when we met them. You’ve got to pace yourself or risk burnout.
Air conditioning: Finding the Paris Ice Cave in the Cache National Forest couldn’t have come at a better time. The August heat was taking its toll even at 8,000 feet. Walking into the cave is like walking into a freezer. Lance cools his feet.
Uncharted territory: Once off the BDR map, we were following our instincts and watching our fuel level. Speed is kept in check to conserve fuel and to finish each stage without drama. A comfortable pace works best and setting realistic daily distances helps.
Health food: Only the best food was consumed during our travels. An ice cream cone or Bear Claw never tasted so good.
The print edition: Just like the printers that Mountain Bike Action and Motocross Journal were printed on. By the way, that’s my CamelBak’s waist belt, not my pant’s belt. Makes me look like some old dude!
Dusted: Lance only hit the ground once on a powdery downhill corner. The smile tells you all you need to know.
Coming right up: We are already planning our next adventure. This time heading south from Park City to Moab and beyond. Just waiting for the temps to cooperate.
Competitive edge: I didn’t know it, but Lance and his bike sponsor were plotting against me. An intercepted text clued me to their evil plan.

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