Few things will attract the attention of a motorcycle enthusiast quicker than a statement of, “there is a new road” or some reference to a ride not taken in the past. I found myself in this exact circumstance recently.
Earlier in the summer my wife and I took a wonderful day ride on our motorcycle and we traveled around a loop that we had done previously but it was a special day because we stopped in a new to us small town and enjoyed a spectacular lunch in a local establishment. I like to think of the town as swanky with a recovered 1950 flare. As we rode the loop I noticed a two lane mountain road that cut off at about mid-range on our intended return path. I was kind of drawn to it in some way and I remember thinking clearly: I wonder where that road goes?
Upon our return I was describing our day ride to some friends and fellow bikers. They listened intently as I described the route we had taken and then in an act of ultimate enlightenment they asked; “Did you try the new road?” To this I responded with full attention; “A new road?”
The enlightenment continued and I was advised of a new path that was recently paved as a part of the State of Utah’s Scenic-by-Way effort. The road I had passed, at the time wondering where that goes. Well, that intersection is the southern exit point of the new route. I was informed that the Scenic-By-Way, if I had I taken it, would have taken me through amazing scenery, over a mountain pass abounding with curves, switch backs, ups and downs, all on new pavement with fresh striping and not a lot of traffic.
Needless to say my swanky town story ended at this point and a seed of desire was planted that continued to grow until last Sunday afternoon. I planned that this would be the day we would return and complete the ride as it should have been had I known about the new road.
We arrived at the northern intersection which would begin a 31.5 mile biker odyssey I can scarcely describe but I will try. The route starts as a well-established road that has been in use for many years. Sections of this road have been improved with new pavement which is smooth as a baby’s backside. These sections were to be only a teaser as it soon returned to older pavement. Still, we continued on until the actual new road began following an abrupt right hand turn through a seasonal closure gate.
The new pavement was a delight to ride on. We climbed up and up and the powerful Milwaukee Eight rose to the occasion. While climbing up we rounded curves to the right, curves to the left, switch backs, over gulch’s until at last we arrived at the summit. The curves we encountered are of such tightness that towed trailers frequently leave the roadway. This results in loose gravel from the shoulder being dragged out into the travel lane. Just another obstacle to be aware of and a challenge that demands rider attention.
The summit offers a view of what seems like 50 miles or more of canyon mixed vegetation, Oak, Aspen, and Pine trees a scene capped by a florescent blue sky and a spattering of distant white clouds. This scene seems to have been broken only once by man as a high voltage power line can be seen crossing the breadth. Still, I found myself lost in the expanse for a time.
It is said that what goes up must come down. I suppose that is truth so we must discuss the southern descent of the summit. I found myself traversing a ridge-line where the route seemed to sway from left to right following a path created by our good Lord and maintained by Mother Nature. As I made my way, I looked to the right down into a canyon wilderness only to see the route weaving and switch backing through the forest continuing on a magical descent. There is no exaggeration when I describe my turning to my wife seated behind me as the bike leaned to and fro and yelling with a huge smile on my face; “I LIKE IT!!!” While looking back in the mirror for her reaction I saw my dog seated behind her. Kevin was leaning out from his own custom seat into the wind; eyes in squint, ears flapping, and a huge smile of his own spread across his muzzle. Apparently he agreed with my assessment.
Soon the new pavement gave way to older well-traveled sections which continued to descend. Although the road in this section was well established it did not fail to present challenges and intrigue of its own. The 31.5 miles passed quickly and I soon found myself at the intersection I had seen before. Only this time there was no wonder where the route goes. Rather my thoughts were filled with; should I turn around and do it again?
Oh, but the joys of new routes and first times. Do you know what I mean?