2011 Adventure-Touring Expedition – Day 2

August 24, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

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Red rock and high desert defined the second day of riding here in the 2011 Motorcycle USA Adventure-Touring Expedition. The heat fever hallucinations from yesterday’s brutal 450 miles have subsided, as temperatures dropped to the high 90s. And while the weather was more forgiving, we would have risked triple-digit heat again for the views snapped heading through Utah’s Highway 12.

Bryce Canyon rests just south of the 12, but riders get a good taste of the red hoodoo rock formations on the regular highway. The stretch beyond Bryce, between Escalante and Boulder, is epic – words and photos don’t do it justice (but you can see our best effort below).

One particular stretch of Highway 12 had us chasing a ridge, of sorts, as the road curves along the top of a thin butte with steep canyons dropping off on either side. Keeping eyes on the road is a challenge given the scenery, and there’s also the art of dodging 25-mph motorhomes driven by European and Japanese tourists (who aren’t looking at the road either…)

Red rock formations on Utahs Highway 12.
Red rock formations on Utah’s HWY 12 near Bryce Canyon.

As great as 12 was, the surprise of the day, at least for me, was Highway 72 from Loa to I-70. It’s about as out of the way as a thoroughfare can be, which explains why we saw herds of cattle wandering across the road on the open range. Red rock gives way to Aspen groves and green mountains with rising elevation. The road is absent of many tight technical corners, but loaded with high-speed sweeping curves. Our five-rider troop attacked 72. What an amazing road.
Crossing I-70, terrain changes back to arid desert, as we followed Highway 10. Right now we’re holed up in Price, a gritty mining town almost smack dab in the middle of the state. The trip odometer rings in at 750 miles.

On the docket tomorrow: Peeling through 80 miles of dirt, then skirting through the High Uintas Wilderness. We reckon the day will end somewhere in Wyoming or Idaho… We’ll let you know how it turns out.


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