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Trans-Am Trail - Day 17 Moab, Utah to Richfield, Utah

After a day off we were once again chomping at the bit to get back on the trail. Harold was up at 5.30am, but I snoozed until 5.45am, but we were still packed and on the road to Denny's for breakfast before 7am. For once I was actually hungry and managed to eat my scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage with white toast (ordered without any questions) without trouble. Although I did get a dirty look when I asked for a pitcher of cold water to fill my camelback...

The early morning sunshine brought out the most amazingly deep red colours in the rocks as we headed north out of Moab and past the entrance to Arches National Park. As I'd been there in 2009 I wasn't bothered about missing out, and soon we turned off the highway and started climbing into the rocky mountains heading West. It's hard to describe just how beautiful and unique the landscape of Utah is. First there are the deep red rocks, weathered by the wind into weird shapes, the trail looking more like a riverbed than a road, scattered with rocks and patches of sand. It's like riding on the surface of Mars...

Early morning outside Moab, Utah



Riding on Mars...


Every now and then we would hit a patch of deeper sand, which made the bikes difficult to handle. The first time we encountered this was on a steep rocky incline, and my bike dug in hard on the way up. Manhandling a bike as heavy as the F800GS is hard work and by the time I got to the top I was already knackered and we'd only been riding for less than an hour... but I was very glad I wasn't on El Monstro (my R1150GS Adventure) as that weighs a hell of a lot more...
Playing in the sand outside Moab


Before long the deep red rocks and sand gave way to brighter, lighter rock and sand, the surrounding hills falling away as we rode along a small plateau towards Green River. At this stage I was leading, the route on the GPS not showing up correctly on either Aaron or Harold's units. As usually happens when I'm leading off-road, I came across a large area of deep fine sand. Entering the most obvious track only led me into the middle of the trail where the sand was deeper and the inevitable happened as the soft sand gave way under my front wheel, pushing the bike over to the side - too far for me to stop it. I just about managed to step off as it fell over, then lost my footing and ended up laying on my back in the middle of the path. Damn, drop number 3 for me now...

Deep sand and I drop the bike for the 3rd time...


No harm done, and at least it gave Rick and Mike a laugh as they'd caught us up, their lighter more nimble bikes coping much better with the sand. Heading onwards towards Green River the landscape changed again, this time the light brown sand changing to a green-tinted sand, thankfully harder-packed, and the hills disappearing into the distance. Sadly the photo doesn't really show the green tinge to the trail.
Heading towards Green River, Utah


Once we'd passed through Green River we had to take a bypass off the trail and head west for a few miles on the Interstate. The trail itself heads into the hills and the route notes state very clearly that "if you are on a dual sport bike (as opposed to a proper trail bike) then take the bypass. There is deep sand, steep rocky ascents and descents on the trail". Not wanting to kill ourselves, discretion won the day and the bypass it was. Cruising along the interstate at a steady 60mph was a welcome change for about 5 minutes, after which it became very boring, despite the scenery. What it was like for Rick and Mike on their WR250s following us I can only imagine - for once we were on the better bikes!
To break up the boredome we stopped at a "view area" where we could look over Eagle Canyon in the San Rafael swell which used to be the bottom of the ocean. Apparently it is called Eagle canyon because the native Indians claimed it was so deep an eagle couldn't fly out of it. It also made a great backdrop for a rare photograph of the 3 of us together...

All together at Eagle Canyon


Finally we left the Interstate and rejoined the trail, the road now running almost parallel to the Interstate, the trail itself once again a wide hard-packed mud surface with a light dusting of gravel. We were fair hacking along, riding at around 50mph, and occasionally waving at fellow motorcyclists on their Harleys trudging up the Interstate. I wonder it they though we were as crazy as I thought they were?
Along the way we rode through underpasses under the Interstate, through deep muddy puddles that had collected in them, and even encountered a couple of tunnels on the trail proper, where it passed through huge rocks.

All together at Eagle Canyon


By 2pm we had arrived at Salina, Utah, our intended stop for the day, having covered 190 miles. We stopped for lunch and got out the maps, none of us ready to call it a day. Rick and Mike arrived, confused as to how we'd got ahead of them as they were in front following the sand episode (we'd stayed on the main dirt road whereas they took the proper route down a narrow track that we didn't have on our GPS). A decision was quickly reached to continue on to Richfield, another 30 miles or so down the trail. And so off we went again, the trail meandering through farmland heading towards a massive storm. Once again it looked like we were in for a soaking as the dark clouds clattered with thunder and fork lightning lit up the sky ahead.

Heading to the storm


We stopped to don rain gear just before the trail disappeared across a scrub-like field down a lane marked "Dead End". Naturally these road signs are like the "Road Closed" ones we've seen everywhere so we ignored it and made our way across the field, then over a steep mud bank and onto a narrow trail that ran alongside a river. With the rain trying desperately to start, we rode onward, eventually emerging on the outskirts of Richfield before the rain had started properly. We found a Days Inn and checked in. There's a Chinese across the road with a liquor licence and a bar in the motel, so I may just have to stop blogging and go quench my thirst. Another fantastic days riding done...

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