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MV Agusta International Women’s Day Event

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) held particular significance for me as I had the distinct privilege of touring the KTM North American headquarters for esteemed motorcycle brands such as KTM, Husqvarna, GasGas, and a newcomer to the company, MV Agusta.  

The evening before the IWD ride, Olivia Goheen (MV Agusta’s Marketing Manager) invited all the female media personnel to dinner. Upon arrival at Gourmet Italia in Temecula, I greeted both familiar faces and new acquaintances. The evening unfolded with a delightful dinner, engaging conversations, and a convivial atmosphere that fostered a sense of belonging. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Touring Pierer Mobility North America 

The subsequent morning began with a visit to Pierer Mobility North America headquarters, where a fleet of 13 MV Agustas awaited us. Before our ride, we toured the facility. Stepping through the grand entrance, I was greeted by a spacious layout adorned with an array of motorcycles and captivating imagery showcasing MV Agusta’s legacy. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Among the highlights of our tour was the training room, where local dealer mechanics undergo comprehensive instruction on servicing the Austrian and Italian brands. This chamber, replete with meticulously dissected motors, provided insight into the internal workings of these engines. Notably, transparent valve covers, exposed cams, and cut-out stator covers offered a tactile understanding. One particularly captivating example stood out to me: a vertically cut cylinder revealing a piston nestled at the nadir of its stroke. Additionally, an electric motorcycle motor was dissected to expose its internal data boards, exemplifying the thoroughness of the presentation. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta F3

Following this enlightening experience, we proceeded to the electric-assist and pedal bike servicing area, catering to an assortment of brands including Husqvarna, GasGas, Felt, and R Raymond. The staff exhibited notable enthusiasm in presenting the recently arrived MV Agusta Rush 1000, which had just been transported to the facility. Exquisite craftsmanship and aesthetic elegance were prominently showcased in this meticulously designed motorcycle adorned with a striking combination of red, black, and carbon fiber accents. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Our journey then led us to the motorsports building, which is dedicated to the factory race teams. As soon as you walk through the doors, the illustrious histories of KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas are celebrated through an impressive display of trophies on the wall. As we navigated through the bustling workshop, conversations with factory race mechanics provided invaluable insights into the meticulous preparation of the on- and off-road motorcycles destined for competition. We proceeded through the suspension assembly area before reaching the engine workshop, where an array of over 100 engines awaited deployment for various racing events. Among these engines was one meticulously tuned for optimal performance at the high elevation of Pikes Peak, Colorado. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Prior to a sumptuous lunch, we were introduced to the dedicated women of KTM NA, whose integral roles within the organization underscored a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. After lunch, we got the opportunity to ride an assortment of MV Agustas. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Riding MV Agusta Motorcycles  

The motorcycle assigned to me initially was the Dragster RR SCS America, a limited production model with only 300 units handcrafted in Italy. Several features immediately caught my attention. The transparent clutch cover, the distinct separation between the seat and subframe revealing the background, and the carbon fiber wheel cover with red, white, and blue accents all contributed to the motorcycle’s unique aura. As a 5-foot-6 petite woman, I found the 33.3-inch seat height to be easily manageable, allowing both of my feet to firmly touch the ground. The riding position proved to be remarkably comfortable for a high-performance motorcycle, with the upright handlebars adding to the overall ergonomic appeal. 

Related: MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America | First Ride Review 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

Upon ignition, the 5.5-inch TFT display underwent a brief but thorough eight-second diagnostic check, ensuring optimal functionality of the battery voltage and other electronic components before permitting engine startup. As I rode, the bike’s Smart Clutch System operation felt familiar to me, drawing parallels to the experience with the Rekluse clutch in my KTM 500EXC. The launch control functionality was particularly impressive, delivering rapid and seamless acceleration while keeping the front wheel down enough to prevent too much height. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

As we navigated twisty roads, I encountered a subtle bump on an uphill corner, causing the front wheel to lift momentarily. The responsiveness of the motorcycle was such that I scarcely noticed the maneuver until the front wheel returned to the ground, reflecting the seamless handling characteristic of the Dragster America special edition. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Dragster RR SCS America

I then transitioned to the Brutale 1000, which offered a similar riding experience as the Dragster, albeit without the SCS. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event
MV Agusta Brutale 1000RR

At the next stop, I switched to the F3, a visually striking red sport bike characterized by its aggressive seating position and edgy gas tank design. Equipped with a 3-cylinder 675cc engine and a built-in lap timer, the F3 exuded a sense of performance prowess. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

Upon reaching a spacious open area, I had the opportunity to fully experience the performance of the F3, which exhibited a strong inclination for spirited acceleration. Despite its dynamic capabilities, prolonged riding on the F3 proved taxing on my hands and wrists, emphasizing the intensity of its performance-oriented design. 

After riding several MV Agusta models, I was impressed by the diverse range of experiences afforded by the motorcycles, each offering a unique blend of performance, craftsmanship, and ergonomic comfort. 

Uniting Women Riders 

The day concluded with a visit to the esteemed Doffo winery, where a private dinner awaited us in the motorcycle room. Against the backdrop of fine wines and exquisite cuisine prepared by a talented female chef, we reflected on the significance of IWD. It was a fitting tribute to the countless contributions of women in motorcycling, a sentiment echoed by one of the owner’s daughters who explained her love for motorcycles and graciously extended her appreciation on this auspicious occasion. 

MV Agusta International Women's Day Event

As we departed, the camaraderie forged during our time together lingered, a testament to the bonds forged through shared passions and experiences. Indeed, this IWD celebration served as a poignant reminder of the strides made by women in traditionally male-dominated fields, inspiring us all to continue pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes. 

I am thankful to MV Agusta and Olivia Goheen for providing opportunities to connect, collaborate, and ride together, fostering a more inclusive motorcycle community. Here’s to next year’s International Women’s Day with MV Agusta and the continued empowerment of female riders. Cheers! 

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

2024 Adventure Bikes with Kevin Duke (Part 2) | Ep. 69 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast 2024 Adventure Bikes Kevin Duke

Episode 69 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is sponsored by FLY Racing. Host Greg Drevenstedt invites his friend Kevin Duke, a veteran motojournalist who is editor-in-chief of American Rider, to talk about adventure bikes, which represent nearly half of the more than 70 new/updated motorcycles announced for the 2024 model year. 

LINKS: FLYracing.com, @flyracingUSA on Instagram 

Related: 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

You can check out Episode 69 on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbean, and YouTube or via the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

Visit the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage to check out previous episodes:

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10 Most Significant Motorcycles of the Last 50 Years

The following feature on the 10 most significant motorcycles of the last 50 years first appeared in the March issue of Rider as part of our new “Rider Rewind” feature, a monthly tribute to various aspects of either motorcycling history or the 50-year history of the magazine, which was founded in 1974.

During Rider’s 50‑year history, we’ve announced, featured, tested, and toured on thousands of motorcycles. We’ve covered a wide spectrum that includes pretty much anything with a license plate: cruisers, tourers (sport/luxury/traditional), sportbikes, standards, adventure bikes, dual‑sports, cafe racers, classics, scooters, trikes, electric bikes, and some that defy easy categorization. Here are 10 significant motorcycles that changed the course of two-wheeled history.

1. 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing

We’ve got a soft spot for the Gold Wing because it was introduced soon after Rider got started. With its driveshaft and liquid‑cooled engine, the Wing has evolved over the past 49 years from a naked high‑performance machine to a luxury tourer, from four cylinders to six, and from a displacement of 1,000cc to 1,833cc. Its first dresser version all but killed the aftermarket for fairings and saddlebags, and later versions introduced the first motorcycle airbag and were available with Honda’s automatic Dual Clutch Transmission.

Honda Gold Wing Timeline: 1972-2018

2. 1981 BMW R 80 G/S

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1980 BMW R 80 GS

The R 80 G/S was the first motorcycle that delivered on‑road comfort and performance and genuine off‑road capability in equal measure, and its air‑cooled “boxer” flat‑Twin and driveshaft could be traced back to BMW’s first production motorcycle, the 1923
R 32. Between 1981 and 1985, the G/S (the slash was later dropped) notched four wins in the grueling Paris‑Dakar Rally. After launching the adventure bike revolution and becoming BMW’s bestselling model, the completely new R 1300 GS was unveiled on BMW Motorrad’s 100th anniversary.

2024 BMW R 1300 GS Review | First Ride

3. 1984 Harley‑Davidson FXST Softail

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1984 Harley-Davidson FXST Softail

In 1983, Harley‑Davidson was in deep trouble. Its old Shovelhead motor had run its course, so the MoCo introduced a new 80ci Evolution motor, an air‑cooled, 45‑degree V‑Twin with aluminum heads and numerous improvements. It was offered in several ’84 models, including the new custom‑look Softail, which appeared to have a classic hardtail frame but concealed dual shock absorbers under its engine. That Evo motor helped save the company, and the Softail was a huge success, paving the way for the Harley‑Davidson juggernaut of the ’90s and beyond.

See all of Rider‘s Harley-Davidson coverage here.

4. 1986 Suzuki GSX‑R750

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750

Before the Gixxer appeared, a “sportbike” was a standard motorcycle to which the owner had added engine mods, a lower handlebar, and suspension and braking upgrades, all in an exhaustive and expensive effort to improve power and handling. With its oil‑cooled inline‑Four and aluminum frame, the lightweight GSX‑R750 was track‑ready right out of the box. The GSX‑R launched the sportbike wars among the Japanese Big Four, and 600cc, 750cc, and 1,000cc models sold like hotcakes and won numerous championships.

Suzuki GSX-R750: The First Generation 1986-1987

5. 1987 Kawasaki KLR650

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1987 Kawasaki KLR650

When it punched its KLR600 dual‑sport out to 650cc for 1987, Kawasaki struck a near‑perfect balance between on‑road comfort and off‑road capability, and it went on to sell a boatload of KLR650s without making significant changes for decades. A true do‑it‑all, go‑anywhere machine that was both affordable and bulletproof, the KLR became a popular choice for round‑the‑world travelers and helped launch an ADV aftermarket cottage industry. It got its first major update in 2008, and fuel injection finally arrived in 2022.

Requiem for the Kawasaki KLR650 (1987-2018)

6. 1990 Honda ST1100

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1990 Honda ST1100

By 1989, sport‑tourers were either a low‑buck Kawasaki Concours or a high‑dollar BMW, both of which had been adapted from other models. In 1990, Honda made the bold move of introducing a purpose‑built sport‑tourer with a full fairing, integrated bodywork, removable saddlebags, and shaft drive. Its liquid‑cooled, longitudinal V‑Four was designed specifically for this model, which was known for its plush suspension, comfortable seat, and huge 7.4‑gallon tank. The ST1100 was a big hit and helped establish the open‑class sport‑touring segment.

Retrospective: 1990-2002 Honda ST1100

7. 1993 Ducati M900 “Monster”

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 1993 Ducati M900 Monster

Known for exotic, sophisticated motorcycles that win races and steal hearts, one of Ducati’s most endearing and enduring models is the Monster. Embracing simplicity, designer Miguel Galluzzi said, “All you need is a saddle, tank, engine, two wheels, and handlebars.” The M900 (nicknamed “Monster”) had a steel trellis frame, an air‑cooled 904cc L‑Twin, a “bison‑back” gas tank, a tubular handlebar, and a round headlight. An instant hit, it spawned numerous Monster models and came to define what a naked bike should look like.

2023 Ducati Monster SP | First Look Review

8. 2001 Triumph Bonneville

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2001 Triumph Bonneville

Few motorcycles are as iconic as the Triumph Bonneville. First introduced in 1959 and named after the famous Utah salt flats where Triumph set a world record, the Bonneville was advertised as “the fastest production motorcycle made” and became hugely popular in the U.K. and America. After Triumph went bankrupt in the early ’80s, the marque was resurrected by John Bloor and relaunched in the mid ’90s. But it wasn’t until 2001 that a modern Bonneville was born, offering a perfect blend of retro style and modern engineering.

2022 Triumph Bonneville Gold Line Editions | First Look Review

9. 2001 Yamaha FZ1

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2006 Yamaha FZ1

The FZ1 offered liter‑class sportbike performance in a comfortable, street‑friendly package that could be used for commuting, canyon carving, sport‑touring, or trackdays. Derived from the mighty YZF‑R1, its 998cc inline‑Four was retuned for midrange torque but still made 120 hp at the rear wheel. The FZ1 paved the way for powerful, practical sit‑up sportbikes such as the Aprilia Tuono, BMW S 1000 RR, and KTM Super Duke. The 2006 FZ1 (pictured) was our Motorcycle of the Year, and its spirit lives on in Yamaha’s MT‑10.

2006 Yamaha FZ1 Road Test Review

10. 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

10 Most Significant Motorcycles 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

Derived from its Dakar Rally‑winning LC8 950R, KTM’s 950/990 Adventure models were the most dirt‑oriented big ADVs on the market from 2003‑2013. In 2014, KTM launched the 1190 Adventure, which offered sportbike levels of street performance while still being highly capable in the dirt. Its LC8 V‑Twin cranked out 150 hp, and its state‑of‑the‑art electronics included not only ride modes, traction control, and electronic suspension but also the world’s first cornering ABS system, ushering in the current era of high‑tech ADVs.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure | Road Test Review

So do you agree? Or do you have other opinions on the most significant motorcycles of the past 50 years? Comment below or visit our Facebook or Instagram pages. We’re sure there will be some lively debate on this one.

And now that you’ve taken this blast down memory lane of our choices of the 10 most significant motorcycles, be sure to check out Rider‘s 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide for some newer bike choices.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

2024 Motorcycles with Kevin Duke (Part 1) | Ep. 68 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast 2024 Motorcycles Kevin Duke

Episode 68 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is sponsored by FLY Racing. Host Greg Drevenstedt talks with his friend Kevin Duke, a longtime motojournalist who is editor-in-chief of American Rider, about new/updated 2024 motorcycles, the popularity of adventure bikes, the rise of high-tech bikes, having big fun on little bikes, dirtbikes from Triumph and Ducati, and more.

Related: 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide: New Street Models

LINKS: FLYracing.com@flyracingUSA on Instagram

You can check out Episode 68 on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbean, and YouTube or via the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

Visit the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast webpage to check out previous episodes:

The post 2024 Motorcycles with Kevin Duke (Part 1) | Ep. 68 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Riding South Dakota’s Black Hills BDR-X

Black Hills BDR-X
On the Black Hills BDR-X, Daniel was thrilled with the 411cc Royal Enfield Himalayan. “It’s the way to go for me as I continue to master my off-road riding skills!” (See Shad TR40 Terra Adventure saddlebags review here.)

If you’re looking for a golden adventure riding opportunity, the Black Hills BDR-X marks the spot. Backcountry Discovery Routes are adventure/dual‑­sport routes that typically cover entire states and take about a week to complete, with GPS tracks and helpful info provided for free by the nonprofit BDR organization. In addition to its main routes, BDR has mapped out several shorter BDR-­X loop routes that can be completed in a few days.

Black Hills BDR-X

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

Located in western South Dakota, the Black Hills area is known for its scenic beauty, curvy roads, and historic sites like Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. When most motorcyclists think of the Black Hills, they think of the Sturgis rally, which brings upwards of 500,000 people to the region every August.

The Black Hills BDR-X is a 355‑­mile mostly off‑­road loop that starts and ends in Keystone, just a few miles east of Mount Rushmore, and is divided into three sections. Backcountry Discovery Routes recommends riding the Black Hills BDR-­X counterclockwise, but since it’s a loop, you can start and finish anywhere along the route and run it in either direction.

Black Hills BDR-X Mount Rushmore
The presidents at Mount Rushmore represent key aspects of U.S. history: Washington symbolizes the country’s birth, Jefferson represents expansion, Lincoln signifies development, and Roosevelt signifies preservation.

What makes the Black Hills BDR-X such a perfect adventure route is its variety. The landscape includes rugged mountains, dense forests, and wide‑­open prairies. The route passes through historic towns like Deadwood, Mystic, and Hill City, as well as public lands such as Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.

Black Hills BDR-X
We rode into Deadwood covered in Black Hills dust just like they did 150 years ago.

There are great campgrounds or more luxurious lodging available. You’re never far from civilization, so you can get away from it all yet still have access to gas stations, stores, restaurants, and hotels. The BDR-X route includes flowing gravel and dirt roads, challenging two‑­track, and some of the area’s best paved roads, including Spearfish Canyon Road, Needles Highway, and Iron Mountain Road.

Black Hills BDR-X Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon was the filming location of the final scene in “Dances With Wolves.”

Setting the Hook

Last July, I joined three of my CFMOTO USA colleagues – Reid Strait, Daniel Dégallier, and Bill Baker – at Get On ADV Fest, a four‑­day adventure‑­bike rally in the Black Hills where we introduced the Ibex 800 T adventure bike. There was plenty of off‑­road riding involved, and REVER provided excellent tracks for the event.

Related: 2023 CFMOTO Ibex 800 T | Road Test Review 

Black Hills BDR-X
The Black Hills BDR-X is a best-of-class route. Gorgeous canyon roads. Superb gravel. Epic two-track. Majestic scenery. Native American and U.S. history. Clean, easy camping. Great food. Yup, there’s golden riding in them thar Black Hills.

The riding was so good, we were inspired to return in September and be among the first to ride the new Black Hills BDR-­X. The stars aligned when we learned that Rally for Rangers, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support park rangers, would be hosting an event in the Black Hills at the same time (see sidebar below). CFMOTO USA provided Ibex 800 Ts for the guides to use during the event, along with a Papio minibike for cruising around the campground.  

Black Hills BDR-X Hitchrail Bar
The Hitch Rail Bar and Restaurant in Pringle is a great lunch stop.

After we delivered the bikes to the event, we spent the next few days riding the Black Hills BDR-­X to do some team bonding. Reid rode an Ibex 800 T, but the rest of us rode our personal bikes: Bill on a KTM 690 Enduro R, Daniel on a Royal Enfield Himalayan, and me on a Kawasaki KLX 300.

Black Hills BDR-X Pactola Reservoir
There’s an old mining town at the bottom of Pactola Reservoir, which was completed in 1956.

Black Hills BDR-X: 4 Riders, 4 Bikes, 4 Days

We may have different tastes in bikes, but we all agree on one thing: The Black Hills BDR-X is fantastic. It’s 355 miles of adventure motorcycling bliss. In terms of difficulty, I’d rate it 4 or 5 on a scale of 1‑­10. (I’ve also ridden the Mid Atlantic BDR, which I’d rate an easy 2 or 3.) Every day of the BDR-­X was filled with moments of euphoria, which crystallized into memories that we’ll share around the campfire for years to come.

Related: Backcountry Discovery Routes Announces Economic Impact of BDR Routes

Black Hills BDR-X Kawasaki KLX
Brad’s Kawasaki KLX after the BDR-X.

During one part of the ride, the sun overhead was radiant, casting a warm, autumn glow. The steady, gentle crunch of gravel under my tires never got old, nor did the scenery. Towering cliffs with rough textures contrasted with the vivid foliage below. The curves and bends unfurled before me, each one as breathtaking as the last. It was a sensory feast, as if Mother Nature took out her paintbrush, mixed up an impossibly diverse palette of rich colors, and painted a masterpiece. At higher elevations, the hills were ablaze in scarlet, amber, and gold, while it was a verdant wonderland down below. I was tempted to ride faster, but I slowed down, smelled the pines, and savored the experience.

Black Hills BDR-X
Campfire quote of the night: “Motorcycles are like beer. The best one is the one in your hand.”

Black Hills Gold

If you love off‑­road adventure riding, you’ll love the Black Hills BDR-X, which was like discovering a vein of gold. There’s gravel, rocky two‑­track, mud, and epic pavement. There’s majestic scenery, wildlife, and history. You can’t see and do it all in one trip, so like the four of us, you’ll want to come back. It’s fun but by no means a stroll in the park, and it’s the difficult stuff that sticks with you for a lifetime.

Black Hills BDR-X
Get the best zip ties money can buy; you’ll be glad you spent the extra quarter.

On Day 3, it was raining, and we opted to do the optional hard section over Bear Mountain. The route was rutted, rocky, steep two‑­track. The slick mud packed up on our tires, turning them into Teflon‑­coated slicks. Bill christened this spur route “Axle Grease Alley.” On the final bit, I chose my line and went for it, twisting the throttle to the stop, desperate for the tires to hook up, every muscle in my body fighting to keep me and the Kawasaki upright. After I made it to the top, Reid gave me a thumbs‑­up and said, “Brad, you looked like a flailing Kool‑­Aid man. Next time keep your feet on the pegs!”

Black Hills BDR-X
Climbing Bear Mountain in the rain took its toll on the KTM’s 17,000-mile clutch, which gave up the ghost short of the top. Bill had just enough bite left to make it to camp.

Happily, we all made it through the toughest sections in one piece. Despite the struggle and the chaos, even with our bikes and bodies caked in mud, we were grinning from ear to ear. Daniel’s quick thinking led us to a car wash in Custer, where we pressure‑­washed our bikes and could again recognize which was which. Cost? A few quarters. Memories? Priceless.

Black Hills BDR-X Bear Mountain lookout tower
BDR-X Section 3: If the trails are muddy, there are two ways to reach the Bear Mountain lookout tower: the “Hard Way” and the “Not Today” way. If it’s dry as July and the dust is flying, no problem.

Rally for Rangers Sidebar

The mission of Rally for Rangers is “to protect the world’s special places by empowering rangers around the world with new motorcycles and equipment.” It has provided more than 160 motorcycles and equipment for rangers in parks in distant places like Mongolia, Argentina, Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and Namibia.

The first Rally for Rangers USA event took place last September in South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest and Pine Ridge Reservation. Fifteen adventure riders raised nearly $40,000 before convening in Custer State Park for a weekend of camping, riding, visiting tribal park rangers, and donating equipment and funds to protect parks and forests.

Traditional Rally for Rangers events are two‑­week international journeys, but the USA rallies are held over a long weekend. The Black Hills event donated night vision optics for tribal rangers of the Oglala Sioux Parks to conduct nighttime anti‑­poaching patrols. A donation was also made to the Forest Service motorized trails program to support motorcycle‑­only trails in the Black Hills National Forest.

Black Hills BDR-X Rally for Rangers
On our third day, we met up with Rally for Rangers. It was a night to remember that included amazing food, a meet-and-greet with the Oglala Sioux rangers, and ideal camping conditions in Custer State Park.

Riders in this inaugural event hailed from all over the U.S., with some trailering their bikes and others renting from Rogue Moto or using demo bikes provided by CFMOTO. The weekend included off‑­road training by Heavy Enduro as well as on- and off‑­road riding on Needles Highway, portions of the Black Hills BDR‑­X, and otherwise inaccessible trails on the Pine Ridge Reservation hosted by the Oglala Sioux rangers.

The Black Hills Rally for Rangers event takes place again in September 2024 to support Oglala Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribal rangers. For more information, visit the Rally For Rangers website or listen to our interview with Rally for Rangers co‑­founder Tom Medema on the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast.

Black Hills BDR-X

Black Hills BDR-X Resources:

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Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona from Texas to California

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R
A roadside break on Interstate 10 in New Mexico between Deming and Lordsburg. We brought only the essentials on the Triumph Daytona T100R: a change of clothes, a few tools, and photography equipment.

In May 1974, my wife and I, then students at Baylor University in Texas, took advantage of the break between semesters to ride two-up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R from Waco, Texas, to the California coast – our first long-distance adventure together.

At the time, we had been married for three years. I was a doctoral student in clinical psychology and worked part-time at a Gulf filling station, largely because the McDonalds next door gave free Big Macs to the Gulf employees. My wife was an undergraduate majoring in liberal arts and journalism as well as a photographer. For our trip, she packed rolls of black-and-white film and strapped a tripod on the back of the bike. We had no saddlebags or storage compartments. For a trip of 4,200-plus miles over 18 days, we traveled light: helmets, jackets, a change of clothes, a few tools and chain oil, and photo gear.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R
Another break on Interstate 20 west of Abilene, Texas. The Triumph ran trouble-free, but its vibration on the highway was intense.

I had handpainted my Bell 500TX helmet with red, white, and blue stripes and affixed a small peace-sign-with-stars decal on each side. Hidden inside the helmet were the words “free, to be, to become” – my mantra then and now.

With no cellphones or GPS, our “navigation” was a Kawasaki Good Times Vacation Guide and Road Atlas strapped on top of my clothes bag, which was bungee-corded to the gas tank.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Utah
Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Nevada

The Triumph Daytona was produced from 1967-1974 and had an air-cooled 490cc parallel-Twin with a 4-speed gearbox, chain final drive, drum brakes, and a kickstarter that could definitely kick back. It had a right-hand throttle, left-hand front brake, right-foot gear shifter, and a left-foot rear brake.

The single weak headlight, taillight, and Smith gauges were illuminated by the electronics of Joseph Lucas – aka the “Prince of Darkness.” Night riding with Joseph with no lights was a frequent thrill!

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R

My Triumph Daytona was a piece of British driftwood in a Japanese sea of Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis, and Suzukis. The ride was like a runaway jackhammer on the interstate, but over the course of the trip, the Triumph performed flawlessly, dripping just a drop or two of oil on the ground and only needing its chain lubed.

For the first 300 miles of the trip, hot headwinds of 20-30 mph buffeted us. Looking in the mirrors, I couldn’t see the whites of my eyes – only red.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R New Mexico
New Mexico may be the Land of Enchantment, but since we were just passing through on our way to California, it was the Land of the Interstate. At every stop, we checked to make sure the bungee cords had not vibrated loose.

The Triumph had no odometer or gas gauge for its 2.5-gallon tank. At one point, the engine sputtered, and I knew we were running out of gas. I reached down under the tank and switched on the reserve petcock, and the engine fired back up. We were good for maybe 6 miles, but the closest town was 15 miles away.

When the bike sputtered again and gradually coasted to a stop by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, I thought we were cooked. But in a stroke of deus ex machina, a Texas Highway Department truck appeared as if in a mirage, stopped, and had a full gas can. We couldn’t believe our good fortune and were so grateful!

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R

We would end up topping off the gas tank several times in Texas at an average of 57 cents per gallon. Motel rooms ranged from $8 to $9 per night. 

In New Mexico, we saw the Rio Grande with Mexico on the other side. Globe, Arizona, was all about copper, silver, and gold mining – ruggedly beautiful mountain country. 

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R California
We enjoyed the vibe of California.

In California, we rode from Laguna Beach up the coast. One of the best roads was State Route 1 from Cambria up through Big Sur to San Francisco. My focus alternated from the blue ocean to the curvy switchback-filled two-laner cut into the side of the mountains high above the sea.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Esalen Institute
Located in Big Sur, the Esalen Institute was ground zero for the Human Potential Movement in the 1960s and ’70s.

The Golden Gate Bridge was a high point of our journey. In the bright sun, the painted steel looked golden orange above the dark blue water. As we approached the entrance – surprise! – a BSA pulled up right beside us. Two English bikes riding side by side on the Golden Gate Bridge. What a rush. I still get a big smile thinking about it. We rode back and forth a couple of times across the bridge – we just couldn’t get enough – and with no fairing, totally exposed, it felt like we were flying, suspended in air, over the ocean.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Golden Gate Bridge
We were enthralled by the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, which shone golden orange in the bright sun.

Then we rode inland and up into the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe, where we touched snow in 70-degree weather at 7,000 feet. It was hard to make a snowball, but we climbed partway up a mountain and slid down a snowbank.

From Tahoe, we rode through Nevada on U.S. Route 50, known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” There were no houses, stores, gas stations, signs, animals, birds, or crickets, only the vast expansiveness of wide-open valleys. I felt direct, pure, unadulterated contact with Mother Earth. My yell was rapidly engulfed by the vastness with not a trace of an echo returning to me.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Loneliest Road in America Nevada
The open road. We enjoyed the emptiness of U.S. Route 50 through Nevada, known as “The Loneliest Road in America.”

We continued southeast into Utah and Arizona, through the Hopi Indian Reservation, and later stayed at the lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a source of great energy. Looking down through the layers of the Earth, I could feel its raw, latent power. So this is what you’ve been hiding from me as I walk on top of you! I thought. Even stripped naked, with all its layers worn and peeled away, the Earth demanded respect, if not awe.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Grand Canyon
We dealt with the discomfort and savored the wonder of seeing America’s wide-open spaces and beautiful places.

The Smith odometer on the Triumph Daytona showed 11,225 miles at the start of the trip and 15,429 miles at the end, for a total of 4,204 miles. I recorded each day’s mileage in a small notebook. The shortest riding day was 217 miles, the longest was 453, and four of the five trip days averaged 350-plus miles.

Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona T100R Arizona
Even 50 years later, our two-up ride has left an indelible imprint upon our lives. We were two students with our whole lives ahead of us. We were a young, idealistic couple looking for adventure. It strengthened our bond, which has endured for half a century.

Fifty years later – despite my wife and I living on food stamps during the years we were both in school, running out of gas numerous times, riding in bone-freezing cold, and riding in the night with no lights – the photographer and the author who took that trip in 1974 are still two-up, now alternating positions, on this magical mystery tour and adventure called life.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

The post Two-Up on a 1971 Triumph Daytona from Texas to California appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Confessions of a BMW Addict

Moshe K Levy BMW Motorrad R 1150 RT
The author with his 2004 BMW R 1150 RT in Yellowstone National Park during his first cross-country trip in 2007.

As a young motorcyclist, I discovered BMW by accident. In the summer of 2003, I was cruising along the Blue Ridge Parkway on my 1998 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, a violent jackhammer of a bike that was crude, loud, and spectacularly uncomfortable. The sun was about to set as I pulled into a motorcycle-friendly campground. After parking my bike, I saw a large crowd gathered around a blazing fire, listening intently to a presentation. I approached curiously and was soon in rapt attention myself.

The speakers were Chris and Erin Ratay, who were wrapping up a four-year, 101,322-mile circumnavigation of the planet aboard a pair of BMW F 650s, a trip that earned a Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled by a couple on two motorcycles. I had stumbled upon the last stop on the Ratays’ “ultimate journey” before they returned home to New York.

Of course, the globetrotting couple shared interesting tales of adventure travel, but the theme they kept coming back to was the indestructability of their BMWs. Their bikes were on display, and everyone at camp scrutinized them carefully. After four years traversing 50 countries on six continents, both F 650s looked as though they had been dropped from an aircraft at 30,000 feet, crash-landed on jagged rockface, set on fire with napalm, and then run over by a battalion of Abrams tanks. Yet both started instantly and ran with the precision of a fine Swiss watch.

Juxtaposed against my primitive Sportster, the contrast in terms of modern engineering and stout reliability couldn’t be clearer. I began studying BMWs and fell in love with the R 75/5 that Clement Salvadori wrote about in the pages of Rider (Retrospective, April 1991; I also recently wrote my own Retrospective: BMW /5 Series – 1970-1973). I soon had a 1973 long-wheelbase Monza Blue R 75/5 Toaster in my garage, and it was a revelation. Despite its age, it was so quiet, so smooth, and so stable at speed. That motorcycle, with its quirky air-cooled flat-Twin “boxer” motor and bizarre but practical styling, was my gateway drug into the wonderful world of BMW motorcycles. And what a journey it’s been!

Over the past 20 years, I’ve owned or co-owned 11 BMWs ranging in age from a 1971 R 60/5 to a 2020 R 1250 GS. I’ve put well over 200,000 combined miles on them, traveling all over the U.S. and Canada. All of them have been supremely functional, which isn’t surprising given the company’s storied history of engineering innovations. BMW has given us hydraulically damped forks as well as the first production versions of a nose fairing, a full fairing, a single-sided swingarm, anti-lock brakes, and of course, BMW’s proprietary Paralever and Telelever suspension systems, among many other innovations.

1971 BMW R 60/5 slash five
The author’s wife on her first bike, a 1971 R 60/5 with standard 6.3-gal. tank. Now with almost 100,000 miles, it’s still going strong.

BMWs are generally overengineered, sometimes to a fault, but the company’s rabid fan base of high-mileage riders has come to respect the brand as representative of some of the finest motorcycles available at any price.

However, what I appreciate more than the motorcycles themselves is the BMW community of riders. They’re a wildly diverse group of mostly professionals, skewing heavily toward the intellectual and analytical gearheads that I feel most at home with. Every BMW group I’ve spent time with emphasizes riding competence and safety. BMW is a marque that appeals to serious riders, as reflected by the odometers one sees at any of the brand’s big rallies: 100,000-plus miles on bikes that are only a few years old is a common sight.

One hundred years of continuous production is a stellar accomplishment for any company, especially for a brand that has been considered a niche manufacturer for much of its history. But in recent years, BMW Motorrad has branched out beyond its traditional touring and adventure bikes to produce models such as high-performance sportbikes and electric scooters, which would have been unthinkable when I started riding BMWs 20 years ago. It’s going to be fascinating to see where the next 100 years take us!

See all of Rider‘s BMW coverage here.

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The Ups and Downs of My First East Tennessee Motorcycle Ride

East Tennessee motorcycle Ride CFMOTO 450SS Killboy
The CFMOTO 450SS was a pretty good steed to take on my first East Tennessee motorcycle ride. (photo by Killboy)

When I’m traveling and tell other riders that I’m from Tennessee, they tell me they’re jealous. They talk about how lucky I am to live in a state with so many fantastic riding roads through the Great Smokies. However, before last summer, I had to shamefully admit I’d never ridden in East Tennessee.

I got the opportunity to change that in June when I needed some photos for my CFMOTO 450SS review. I’d get to spend a couple days away from the desk, experience Appalachian riding, put some miles on the test bike, and get paid for it! Talk about a win‑­win‑­win‑­win.

As with most trips, this one didn’t go as smoothly as planned.

East Tennessee motorcycle Ride CFMOTO 450SS
The CFMOTO 450SS and I spent a lot of time sheltering from the rain under gas station canopies.

I ran into my first hiccup just past Nashville. When I stopped to pull up directions for the next leg of my journey, my phone’s map wouldn’t load. I also wasn’t able to call or text. I didn’t know where I needed to go other than in a general southeast direction.

Unable to rely on my phone for navigation, I stopped at gas stations along the way to ask locals for directions. Most were happy to help, and some were so happy that they took half an hour to tell me their own motorcycling stories. I enjoyed these interactions, but it was getting late, and I was still a long way from 129 Cabins in Robbinsville, North Carolina, where I’d be staying.

When night fell, I was on the highway that would take me directly to the cabin, and I started to relax. Then I saw a sign that read “Motorcycles: High crash area next 11 miles.” Before I knew it, I was on the Tail of the Dragon.

Those 11 miles with their 318 curves were the longest I’ve ever ridden. It was pitch dark with no other cars, bikes, or signs of human presence. The LED lights on the 450SS are great, but they shine in front of the bike while the road snaked away from where the headlight was pointed. I was also afraid of deer popping out from the woods since they’re a big cause of accidents in my area.

A stretch of road that many riders travel across the world to experience was a nuisance to me. I felt some guilt about that, but all I wanted was to get to my cabin in one piece. And eventually, I did.

After a delightful photoshoot with Killboy the next day, it was time to head home. My phone started working again after a simple restart, but the return trip took just as long as getting there. I dodged storms for hours, ducking into gas stations to keep the laptop in my backpack dry when rain poured down. When the skies cleared, the temperatures rose from 65 degrees to 98 with 100% humidity. Sitting on the interstate in stand‑­still traffic with no airflow in that kind of heat was draining.

Related: Killboy | Ep. 53 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

I finally made it home, and after a cold shower, I felt better. When my husband got home from work, I told him all about the storms and the heat and the traffic, filling his poor ears with complaints. Then I remembered riding along the Ocoee River. The rain had stopped for a while, and the temperature was just right. Mountains were rising on either side of me, and the river rushed by as kayakers navigated the rough whitewater. I remembered all the wonderful roads I’d sampled during the photoshoot, how much fun I had with the photographers, and how welcoming and peaceful the cabin was. And I knew I’d make this journey again, although with a little more preparation next time.

East Tennessee motorcycle Ride CFMOTO 450SS Killboy
I was relieved to reach my destination after a stressful nighttime ride on the Tail of the Dragon, and my room at 129 Cabins did not disappoint. (photo by Killboy)

Riding is living times 10. There’s always something to complain about, but the beauty to be found is worth it.

The post The Ups and Downs of My First East Tennessee Motorcycle Ride appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Riding From Gunnison, Colorado, to Hovenweep National Monument

C. Jane Taylor’s moto memoir Spirit Traffic was published in 2022. That summer, she and her husband embarked on a 97‑­day cross‑­country book tour on their BMW F 650s. She said her book tour was characterized by deeply rewarding and completely exhausting work. It also featured great roads. During her vacation from what some might already consider a vacation, she enjoyed many memorable rides. The leg from Gunnison, Colorado, to Hovenweep National Monument in Utah was a favorite. –Ed.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Wolf Creek Pass
My husband, John, and I rode for 97 days – from Maine to California and back to Vermont – on a national book tour in the summer of 2022. We snapped this selfie at 10,856-foot Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado.

West of Gunnison, Colorodo, U.S. Route 50 was closed. We’d seen signs about the closure for at least 100 miles. Those signs were for other people, right? We’d planned to stay on the famous Colorado byway through the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests as long as we could. But as we approached Gunnison, our shoulders slumped with the reality that the signs were for us. We’d have to rethink our whole route. And the weather was starting to look iffy.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

At the Gunnison County Chamber of Commerce, a note taped to the door underscored the closure. We went inside, paper roadmap in hand. At the desk, the clerk proffered her own map, opening it in front of us. She and John pored over it like kids seeking clues to lost treasure.

She confirmed that U.S. 50 was closed and suggested State Route 149 instead. It had less traffic and was more beautiful, she assured us. We compared her map to the Butler map for the region. (Butler Motorcycle Maps highlight the best roads, rating them on twisties, traffic, road surface, etc.) SR‑­149 was G1 (gold), Butler’s highest rating – perfect!

After filling our water bottles, we headed to the gas station. SR‑­149 is quite rural, so we wanted to be prepared. As John filled our tanks and I surveyed the darkening skies, a bolt of lightning ripped through the clouds. Thunder crackled. A guy next to us gassing up his pickup was watching too.

“Hope you’re not going that way,” he said, nodding toward the storm.

“Not anymore,” I said.

We paid for our gas as the storm clouds gathered closer and closer. Thunder rumbled, and lightning struck from cloud to ground in the near distance. We sped back to the park next to the Chamber and ran for the cover of a gazebo. Just as we stepped under, buckets of rain dumped from the sky, and lightning dashed all around us. The thunder was so loud that we ducked our heads each time it clapped.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument
John snaps another selfie on SR-149 along the Lake Fork River. As two cross-country-and-back trips have taught us, body temperature management in variable conditions demands a good rainsuit – and a good attitude.

Celebrating our excellent timing, we stretched out to nap on top of the picnic tables just as two vans arrived and disgorged two dozen kids. It was the local mountain‑­biking camp escaping the weather. We were instantly surrounded by kids eating popsicles and playing a raucous game of tag. Now each thunderclap was accompanied by the ear‑­piercing screams of prepubescent mountain bikers. One of the camp counselors checked in on our welfare, asked about the bikes, and offered popsicles, which we accepted.

The lightning eventually abated, though the rain drizzled on. The camp counselors packed their charges and drove away. We wrestled into rainsuits and got back on the road.

Related: C. Jane Taylor | Ep. 45 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

SR‑­149 was as wonderful as described: a narrow, almost abandoned two‑­lane road snaking seductively through the San Juan Mountains and the Rio Grande National Forest. The weather was cold and drizzling, but the road was curvy, and the air smelled like earth and springtime in New England. We were in motorcycle heaven.

Ten miles down the road, oncoming cars flashed their headlights, gesturing to slow down. Thinking they were trying to warn us about a cop, I laughed. It had taken me five years to get up to the speed limit. We continued with caution until a mudslide stopped us in our tracks. If we hadn’t been wearing helmets, we would have scratched our heads in a “Now what?” gesture. Like U.S. 50, it seemed SR‑­149 would soon be closed too, but we gingerly traversed the shallow edge of the slide at the far‑­left side of the road. Alert to the changes in road surface and rambunctious streams in the gullies flanking the road, we pushed forward like children anticipating candy at Halloween.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Powderhorn
SR-149 near Powderhorn, Colorado.

Instead of candy, we sought groceries as we rolled into Lake City and its tiny country store whose proprietors seemed to be a badly mismatched couple. The woman in long braids glared at us as if we’d tracked mud onto her freshly mopped floor, while the man – handsome in a Willie Nelson kind of way, if Willie Nelson could be considered handsome – happily greeted us, teasing about our florescent green rainsuits. “We are not men, we are Devo,” he joked in a robotic voice referencing the ’70s New Wave band famous for their quirky spaceman costumes. We bought vegetables, tortillas, and cheese for quesadillas we would cook once we found a campsite for the night.

Lake City is an eye‑­blink of an old mining town with the down‑­at‑­heel aspect of a climate-change ski resort in shoulder season. The cold, damp weather did not bring any charm to the Grizzly Adams cabins lining the road.

I attributed the town’s creepiness to its horror‑­movie sepia tones and bad weather, but I later learned that Lake City gained notoriety in 1875 when Alferd Packer, the “Colorado Cannibal,” was charged with killing and eating the prospectors he’d been hired to guide through the San Juan Mountains after the group had become snowbound. In the spring, five bodies with human teeth marks were found at the foot of Slumgullion Pass. Lake City’s Hinsdale County Museum has an extensive collection of Packer memorabilia, including a skull fragment from one of his victims and several buttons from the clothes of the five men he ate. The area where the bodies were discovered is now known as Cannibal Plateau. Odder still, the area hosts an annual Alferd Packer Jeep Tour and Barbecue.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Slumgullion Pass
As we approached the peak of Slumgullion Pass near Lake City, Colorado, the rain abated, and the skies cleared.

My unease was supplanted by the fear and exhilaration of climbing out of town along steep, wet switchbacks to Windy Point Observation Site and Slumgullion Pass. As we climbed, I chimed into the headset, “Don’t look right, Johnny.” The narrow two‑­lane highway had no guardrail, and the drop-off induced a vertigo that made me tighten my grip on my handlebar and tank. At Windy Point, we stopped to look back at the long narrow valley thousands of feet below us.

Evening was approaching, and we were still in the middle of a sheer climb on our way to North Clear Creek Campground, a destination we were not sure even existed, but the sky finally opened, and the tight switchbacks loosened as we topped 11,530‑­foot Slumgullion Pass.

The map we consulted – and re‑­consulted – showed the campground within 50 miles. Trying to keep from being swept up in the National Geographic beauty of the broadening landscape, I kept my eyes peeled for a Forest Service campground sign. We were hungry and cold, and it was getting late. We’d passed so little traffic, I was game to pitch the tent at the side of the road, but John persisted.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Rio Grande National Forest
North Clear Creek Campground in Colorado’s Rio Grande National Forest was our home for the night after an eventful ride.

We finally turned off SR‑­149 and crossed a cattle guard onto Forest Road 510, which fell away to vertiginous Class‑­IV switchbacks. I groaned but also laughed. It was the “dropping hour.” We have a joke that on extended motorcycle trips, we often face the most challenging miles of the day right before arriving at our destination exhausted and hungry. The road toyed with us. I inched down its sharp gravel turns, determined but cautious given the hour. As I eased down one hill, a young woman on a dirtbike blasted up it. Encouraged that there might be an actual campground ahead and inspired by another woman on a bike, I sped all the way up to 2nd gear!

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument
Pink sunglasses reflect the expansive valley near Creede.

After almost missing the 70‑­degree turn into the campground at the bottom of the hill and duck‑­walking the bikes back over sandy gravel ruts, we casually rolled into the nearly vacant campground and found a suitable spot with a picnic table, breathtaking panoramic views, and a glorious sunset reflected off the peaks of the Rio Grande National Forest.

The next morning was cold and clear. With visions of coffee and pastries dancing in our helmets, we headed toward Creede, home to an underground mining museum, the Mineral County Landfill, a cemetery, a chapel, and an excellent little food truck/coffee shop that appeared to be set up during the pandemic like a one‑­way street, with one entrance and one exit. The pastry case was filled with buttery French confections, the air with the scent of espresso. Bon appétit! We took our pastries to a table outside where we lounged, sipping cappuccinos in the sun.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Creede
The population of Creede, Colorado, swells from 300 to 10,000 on July 4th. After a cold, wet, challenging ride the day before, it was an oasis. We found a mobile coffee shop where we enjoyed the company of locals, pain au chocolat, and cappuccinos in the sun.

The road along the Rio Grande – which far downstream serves as the border between Texas and Mexico – was as good as the croissants. At South Fork, we headed south on U.S. Route 160 and climbed to 10,856‑­foot Wolf Creek Pass. It was cold at elevation, and we encountered traffic and threatening weather, but the road was smooth, wide, and curvy through Pagosa Springs and Chimney Rock. We lunched in Durango after a torrential downpour trapped us under a busy highway underpass.

U.S. 160 through the mountains near Hesperus Ski Area was fabulous despite the cold and wet. Things got warmer as we descended out of the mountains, and by the time we got to Mancos, we were sweltering in the heat of the desert. We took off as much as we could and poured cold water down the backs of our armored jackets. Body temperature management was a challenge we had improved at over time.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument Rio Grande
South of Creede, the Rio Grande snakes along SR-149 on the way to South Fork.

In the blazing heat, we headed west on State Route 184 toward Dolores, then north on U.S. Route 491 past Yellow Jacket and into Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, administered by the Bureau of Land Management and inhabited almost solely by spirits. The road narrowed and then narrowed again. There is something gritty and fundamental about these small roads, something secret and unspoken like the second indents of an outline of one’s life or the dark side of the moon.

The heat kept building. As we crossed into Utah, the landscape gave way to a barren, flat emptiness without trees or buildings. We traveled in silent awe, feeling exposed in the heat but excited about the ruins of Hovenweep National Monument.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument
Our day took us from cold rain and high passes to sweltering heat and desert valleys. The sunset at Hovenweep was a just reward.

Known for six groups of Ancestral Puebloan villages, Hovenweep contains evidence of occupation by hunter‑­gatherers from 8,000 B.C. until AD 200. We were finally going to visit the spirits we’d been sensing on this hot road.

We turned into what seemed the middle of nowhere, but John assured me this was the way. I saw only shrubs, grasses, and sage until I glimpsed a sign the size of a sheet of paper with an arrow proving him right: Hovenweep National Monument. We traversed a lunar landscape of sand, craters, dead volcanoes, and lava flows until we happened upon a herd of wild horses in the middle of the road. We stopped to gape. Shy and beautiful, they paused in their grazing to examine us. Though I wanted to join these beasts on a romanticized journey out of a dream, we had to keep moving. Standing still in the late afternoon heat was a torture neither of us wanted to endure – magical, wild horses notwithstanding.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument
Sunset on the ruins at Hovenweep National Monument in Utah.

Reminiscent of Death Valley with its lethal sun, long straightaways, and distant bluffs, Hovenweep Road also reminded me of the song by America “A Horse with No Name.” I started to understand the line “In the desert, you can’t remember your name.” In the heat and arid sameness of the landscape, time seemed to stop. I could tell we were moving, if only for the visual cue of the scenery receding in my mirror. I became flooded with the eerie sensation of being watched. It felt as if the ghosts of millennia were hovering just above the heat waves upwelling from the macadam.

“Hovenweep” is a Paiute/Ute word meaning “deserted valley.” As we rode into the scorched campground, I sensed that the ancestors were still there. A clan of attentive ravens seemed to be protectors – or just eager to see what food they could liberate from us.

C. Jane Taylor Gunnison Colorado to Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep is a special place, and we had the distinct feeling that the ancestors were still there.

After pouring rationed water onto our heads and down our backs, we hiked off to see the ruins, following a faint path between rock walls leading to a dry creek bed. Walking fast to beat the setting sun, we climbed down into the creek bed then up the other side until we saw what looked like a crumbling brick silo. Hovenweep at last! As we gazed in silence at the majestic ruins of a once‑­lively community, a rainbow broke through distant storm clouds. Back at our campsite, we cooked dinner in the waning light as a million stars began to wink.

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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The Long Impact of a Short Ride on a 1980 Honda CM400E

1980 Honda CM400E Scott A Williams
Your humble scribe and his 1980 Honda CM400E on the same day as that ride with Raymond.

My first motorcycle was a 1980 Honda CM400E. It wasn’t fast, and the brakes were lousy, but it delivered some memorable rides. One ride was notably short, but it made a lasting impact on a special family friend.

Raymond was the younger brother of my father’s close friend and colleague. It was challenging for Raymond to communicate with words, but there was one message he always conveyed with crystal clarity: He loved motorcycles.

I discovered this one afternoon when I arrived at my parents’ house riding my Honda CM400E. Raymond was visiting, and he was mesmerized. I shut off the motor, but he kept the motor noises going: “Vroom! Vroom!” We were happy to see each other, but what mattered to him most in that moment was one simple fact: I had arrived on a motorcycle.

Raymond’s big brother James, who had stopped by to talk shop with my dad, came outside too. He directed Raymond to stand back from the bike because it would be hot. Raymond adjusted his distance but not his gaze, and that grin never left his face.

Discreetly, I asked James if I could take his brother for a ride, explaining what Raymond would need to do on a slow ride through my dad’s quiet neighborhood. Recognizing the impact my motorcycle was having on Raymond and placing his trust in me, James agreed.

“Raymond,” I asked, “do you want to go for a ride on the motorcycle?” He literally jumped at the invitation and looked to his brother for approval. James smiled his okay.

My spare helmet fit Raymond just fine. My dad’s leather jacket fit well enough. As we suited up, I talked with Raymond about what I was going to do – drive the motorcycle – and what he was going to do – sit still on the seat behind me. He understood.

While I sat on the front seat and held the bars steady, James helped Raymond grab my shoulders, slide his leg over the seat, and drop into position behind me. Snugged in between my back and the sissy bar (remember those?), Raymond bounced with anticipation.

“Now listen, buddy,” I said, “you have to sit tight!” Perhaps interpreting my words as a request for him to hold tightly onto me, he wrapped his arms around my skinny midsection and squeezed. Raymond seemed confident with this approach, and he sure was eager to ride.

I started the motor, gave that little Twin some throttle, and turned onto the street for a leisurely ride with no reason to shift out of 2nd gear. It took the better part of five minutes to make a mile loop, and Raymond howled his excitement the whole time.

As we pulled back into the driveway, my mother snapped a photograph that ended up on the refrigerator at Raymond’s house, where it stayed, gradually fading, for decades. James would tell me how Raymond showed the picture to people who came to visit. “Everyone needs to see Raymond on the motorcycle,” he’d say. When I’d bump into a mutual friend elsewhere, conversations often started like this: “Raymond still won’t let me sit down until I go see the picture of him on that motorbike with you!”

That photo is now gone, and sadly so is Raymond, but his memory helps me hold onto valuable life lessons I learned from his family over many years. He is burned into my heart, notably because of one joyous ride we shared on my old 400. Here’s to short rides with long impact.

See more stories from Scott A. Williams here.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com