The next morning found things just as empty as I thought they were the night before.
It had been such a calm, clear and perfect night that I hadn't bothered with the tent. It's amazing how much faster it makes the morning go when you don't have to pack the tent up.
Heading east farther into Utah
Absolutely brilliant parking job, douchetard. (Taken when I stopped in some town somewhere for gas).
Vroom vroom me bike go fast!
I spent the next few hours gaining altitude. I started the day at just a few thousand feet, but by late morning I was well into thin air.
But what views were offered . . .
At this point, I need to make a formal apology to the state of Utah. Previously, I've always written you off on account of the crazy people with magic underwear that settled you a few hundred years ago. And while they might be pretty fucked in the head, it's not your fault they're there. Loony people or not, you are one epically beautiful state.
As is fairly typical for riding through mountains, at a few points I got rained on. But it wasn't ever that heavy, just the patchy showers that are normal for jagged terrain.
Opps, free-range cattle. Go slowly past them when on a bike; a guy I know through the internet was badly injured after crashing into a donkey who startled when he road by on his motorcycle.
(And yes, I waved to them as I went by)
Unfortunately, what looked to be (and was) a deliciously twisty road on the map was ruined by traffic crawling along at 15mph. Some creative interpretation of what constitutes a legal passing zone got me to the front eventually, where I saw the culprit.
Some douche-bag semi truck that was crawling along (Also, WTF is that trike thing on the trailer behind the camper?).
A quick flick of the throttle and I was past it all again, back to an open road to play with as I wished.
(Yeah, that's an American flag on top of that beautiful bluff. AMERICUH, FUCK YEA!)
Oh, Utah. How beautiful you are. I'm so sad that the multiple wife people have given you such a bad association.
Just as the sun was going down, I came across a forest-service campsite with (luxury of luxuries) running water. The best spots down by the creek were taken, so I set up my tent a ways up the hill.
It was still very high altitude, and this was a cold, cold night. Getting out of my tent the next morning, my thermometer was reading 38 degrees, and I could see my breath. When I went to get breakfast stuffs out of my saddlebags, I found I hadn't closed them full the night before, and some little critter had some noms at my expense.
It was still numbingly cold, so I put on my rain gear again over my mesh jacket to start the riding for the day. As much as I love this Teknic jacket, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone for touring. It's fantastic for what it's intended for, riding in really hot weather, but in anything less then ~80 degrees it's just too cold.
Still, even with the added bulk of rain gear over it, the morning light proved amazing for the scenery.
Oh, Utah. I had no idea what you had to offer.
It was stunning. I started the day in high-altitude coniferous forest and in less then an hour, I was in sandstone deserts.
Plenty of long, sweeping, predictable curves for experimenting with exactly what the maximum lean angle of the bike is.
Sometime just before noon, I got to low enough altitudes and the air temps got high enough that I was able to pull over and remove the rain gear/windbreaker. Oh, it felt nice to feel the air flow through me again.
My route alternated between canyons of insanity, and long straights across scrub land.
Long straights are nice after a few hours of canyon carving. You can hit the throttle lock, kick up on the pegs, and relax for a while. And just as you were starting to get board, things like this would get thrown at you.
And after this valley, it finally happened; I ran out of gas.
A whole day spent winding it out on curvy desert roads had poured a lot of gas through the engine, and all the high-altitude hi-jinks didn't help either. I hit the bike's reserve tank when I was at least 70 miles away from the nearest gas station, according to the GPS, and I spent the next hour crawling along at 40mph to try and stretch it out. On long downhill sections, I'd pull in the clutch and thumb the engine kill switch, coasting for as long as I could with it off. It was a valiant effort, but eventually the bike stalled out, even the reserve was empty. And I'd left my last jerry can back in Canada.
BUT. All was not lost!
I still had the ~15oz of gasoline in my camping stove! It wasn't much, but MAYBE it would be enough, just to get me over the next hill. At minimum, if I was going to have to hike it, it would cut down on my walk by at least a few miles.
Of course, as I was putting the fuel bottle back into my saddlebag, the bike decided that it was sleepy and wanted to take a nap.
Stupid off-camber shoulder!
My girlfriend was kind enough to mush them together into a .gif; feel free to shrink it down and use it as an avatar if you want :)
That little extra bit of gas was enough; five miles down the road, I rolled into a gas station, very relieved to be there.
The tip-over earlier had bent up the brake lever. Ah well.
Baw, cute little critters had made a nest in the gas station's roof!
Hey, it's a city about me! . . . aw. Stupid receding hairline :(
Just for the fun of it, I stopped in at a U-Wash-It place just to hose down the engine. I wasn't concerned about getting the rest of the bike clean, but there was a minor oil leak somewhere on the right side of the engine, and I wanted to get as much of the road gunk and grime off it as I could, so that I might be able to figure out where it was coming from.
Eh, didn't really help as much as I hoped it would.
At least some parts are sorta shiny again.
Holy crap that's cool! Did someone actually tunnel into that!? I wanna live in there! And not because it reminds me of a giant boobie.
I headed farther east, crossing into some valleys in Colorado as the sun set at my back.
I turned down what looked to be a barely-if-ever used trail from the road to find some camping for the night. The trail stared off looking rough, but really steep.
But the farther I went, the worse it got.
Piggie seems to be saying "Are you serious? You know you're on a cruiser, right? You remember what happened last time you tried something like this? You bonehead!"
But I'm not one to let common sense or self-preservation stand in the way of a good time, so I managed over it okay, and found a clearing to camp for the night.
The night was uneventful enough, and the next morning, I woke up feeling sort of emo. I was nearing the end of what had been an epic trip, and I wasn't looking forward to returning to Chicago.
I didn't have much farther to go.