2011 Adventure-Touring Expedition – Day 9

September 1, 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.

It’s over… mostly. Day 9 of the 2011 Adventure-Touring Expedition saw two of our five rider contingent roll into MotoUSA’s Medford, Oregon HQ – with three riders still on the loose. An early flight necessitated the departure of Justin, our editor/photographer, so I accompanied him in a 450-mile beeline from Ontario, Oregon to Medford.

It was a long road home to MotoUSA HQ - more than 2500 miles of freeway  backroad highways and off-road adventures.
It was a long road home to MotoUSA HQ – more than 2500 miles of freeway, backroad highways and off-road adventures.

Turning into the MotoUSA offices just before 5 p.m., the trip meters on our two test bikes – the Ducati Multistrada and Triumph Tiger 800 – were both well over 2500 miles. The three remaining members of our crew stayed out another day, hunting down more off-pavement adventure in Eastern Oregon. Once those stragglers arrive, our combined Adventure-Touring mileage will top 13,000 miles – making this AT Shootout the most exhaustive MotoUSA comparison to date.

The five test bikes escaped those thousands of miles relatively unscathed, enduring a mix of freeway droning, back highway pounding and dusty primitive dirt roads. Off-road attrition saw the Tiger 800 lose its kickstand and top case straps, which couldn’t handle the washboard rattling. The Ducati Multistrada’s rear brake and fuel sensor had some issues too. We’re fortunate to report only one flat tire. That’s flat tire as in a puncture, as all the tires got some serious wear – the heavily-laden Tiger in particular seeing its center tread worn down over those nine days. Other glitches included one low-speed spill in the dirt on the Magruder Corridor, as well as a parking lot tip over while loading and unloading gear (tip overs that don’t leave scratches never happened…).

It’s been a fun trip, albeit a long one. Our minds are still struggling to get back up to speed – or more accurately down to regular speeds, as most of the past week’s waking hours have been spent at 70-plus miles per hour. The trip has had many highs, but here are my highlights:

Big Sky XC Race: I’ve been to the North West 200, Grand Prix and World Superbike, and plenty of Supercross races, but I haven’t had as much fun covering a racing event as the XC. Credit the surroundings of the Big Sky Resort, catching my breath hiking at the high elevations and beautiful surrounds, including the 11,000-ft Lone Peak. The racing interaction with the spectators is unique. Almost getting ran over on the holeshot corner, having riders beg for line selection advice on the insane rock climbs, chasing after riders with video cameras through the single track, running into a bear on the hike back to the podium… I enjoyed every minute.

Magruder Corridor: This 101-mile primitive road through the Bitterroot Range was a routine day for the dirt-seasoned riders in our testing crew, but for me it was a true adventure. Muscling a 600-pound bike up a rocky incline had my grin factor cranked up to 11. The thrill of the challenge made one mile on the Magruder seem like 20 miles on regular pavement. Craving for traction in every corner and concentrating on line selection didn’t keep me from taking in the amazing views either. It’s a road I won’t soon forget and hope to return to in the future.

Open Landscape: Access to wide open country is a privilege not fully appreciated until experiencing it firsthand. Utah’s barren red rock, Montana’s “Big Sky” country, Idaho’s bleak forest wilderness, Eastern Oregon’s high desert… These landscapes unkink the mind, a therapeutic remedy for those daily unnatural realities of computer desks and mortgage statements.

Our AT expedition was a memorable journey to be sure. Check back with MotorcycleUSA for our upcoming Adventure-Touring comparison review. In the meantime, follow our route in the Google map below. Let us know what favorite roads we missed out on in the comments section below.

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