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redfjniner

Vancouver to Arizona Loop

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Ride to Arizona from Vancouver Washington

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South of Gerlach, Nevada

We started by dropping one day and 330 miles to avoid riding in the rain all day but end the next day riding in the rain in, no less, Northern California. From the Oregon border to Cedarville we encountered rain in spots and then 5 miles of wet gravel as they were repaving CA299 by using the old asphalt and base as the new base for the new asphalt. We stopped in Alturas for an early dinner to warm up and then we proceeded to receive snow going over the pass to Cedarville in 39 degree temperatures. This is May in CA for Gods sake. We went on to make it to Tonopah, NV, then Kanab, UT in relatively dry weather, but with 20-30 mph winds and temps not over 50 degrees.  Travel from Tonopah to Utah had us riding through 4-5 valleys between mountains, each being 12 - 20 miles across, and the road was alway straight.

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Met a friend in Kanab and continued to Jerome, AZ. All was good, but we were making time to avoid rain at the Tower on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and leaving as the rain started, but leaving it as we returned to the East. After landing in Jerome, we were greeted with a major down pour. The winds on AZ64 were 20-40 mph and temps were in the low 40's at the Tower. It made for a fun ride only because we were beating the rain. This is May in AZ for God's sake. After looking at Arizona Highways by Kathleen Kemsley and noting the first sentence, “April in the Southwest means perfect temperatures and sunny days, riding in a mesh jacket and Kevlar-lined jeans.” We were in AZ riding in winter jackets, long underwear and rain pants in May just a couple weeks later.

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We made it to Clifton, AZ the next day, dry and sunny most of the way, but temps still only in the 50's. This was followed by the best weather so far on this trip with a ride to Albuquerque the next day. We skipped US191 due to rain, and snow in Alpine and rode NM78 and US180 going North. NM117 presented a very pleasant surprise with the El Malpais Nat. Monument, and most of the roads having very good pavement. Albuquerque to Chama took us on many NM back roads, stopping at Los Alamos to visit the Museum, then breezing through Taos and finished the ride in a totally perfect new snow covered Carson Nat. Forest with temps in the high 30's. Dropping in elevation to Chama it was still partially wet from the night before but it wasn't raining when we got there.

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We changed our route form going across Colorado because they were calling for snow in Lake City about the time we were to be there and ended the day going to Hanksville, UT by way of Farmington, NM and Mexican Water, AZ. We started the ride in rain gear for the morning 40 degree weather and finished the ride in strong winds, cold temperatures and rain from Natural Bridges to past Lake Powell's canyon. The day was saved by an outstanding dinner at Duke's Slickrock Grill in Hanksville.  We passed through Capital Reef Nat. Park (free) and took the senic view drive, a must do. 

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We carried on to Oden, UT, and Jordan Valley, OR with nice weather and temps in the low 50's, but found it very enjoyable because we were wearing long underwear in May. We altered our route after reaching Jordan Valley and went on to Burns for the night and riding on to our homes in Portland, Vancouver area the next day, with the warmest temps on the trip, ending arriving home at 73 degrees. Because we were like horses heading to the barn, we shorten the days by one getting home. Total days was 11.

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With all the changes in plans, threat of rain, snow, low temperatures and bad weather, this ride still ranks up near the top of multiple day rides for being one of the best. Of course, having good riding buddies is half the battle, and weather isn't near as bad when you have good rain gear which also helps keep you warm when used as a wind break, especially when the wind is coming from the sides at 30 mph. The ride to Hanksville, UT was one of my most exciting and visually rewarding rides, as it rained sideways and the sun peaked through the clouds, here and there, the wet rocks were vibrant as I have never seen them before, the wind wanted to blow you off the bike, and our visors needed to be cracked open to keep them from fogging up thereby causing droplets inside and out. I will never forget it and do not want to do it again in those conditions. We ended with 4,017 miles. Longest days were 517 miles and 411 miles, and most were around 350 miles.

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Ken, Candy Ass L.D.R. Sleeps 8 hours
2005 FJR1300abs:  192,000m
2015 FJ-09:  85,000m
 

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Epic ride!! I'd like to do some touring like this. Hopefully sometime this summer.


'15 FJ09

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Here are two maps; one of the planned ride and one of the actual ride.  Plan was 13 days, 4200 miles, ended with 11 days, 3875 miles.  We left a day late to avoid riding in the rain all day, and we rode directly to day 2 motel, cutting out about 300 miles.  We concluded by riding extra miles per day to make it home in two days rather than three.  Changes were made on the fly, like:  avoiding Ely because it was snowing there, avoiding the North Rim because it was snowing there, avoiding South Rim because it was raining there, avoiding rain snow mix on US 191, avoiding Colorado because of snow and rain almost everywhere.  Although we missed the storms in Colorado, we did ride 1/3 of the day in Utah in rain, but we dried out on the go before Hanksville.  I believe that the ride is more important than the destination when you ride a motorcycle and need to adjust on the go to avoid making the trip suck.  This is just one example, I'm sure you have one too.

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Ken, Candy Ass L.D.R. Sleeps 8 hours
2005 FJR1300abs:  192,000m
2015 FJ-09:  85,000m
 

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Nice ride! The weather has indeed been crazy. Last week I left beautiful weather in Oregon to encounter grey skies and rain in San Diego. Go figure.

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