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Motorcycle Trip / Ride - May 2002

Adam & Jerry's Motorcycle trip around the U.S.

Adam and Jerry planned this motorcycle trip for several months over the winter of 2001-02. Jerry had started a similar motorcycle tour last fall but it was cut short on 9-11. This was intended as a riding trip so roads were selected accordingly. Now Jerry had a new 2002 GL1800 motorcycle and Adam was anxious to go for a long motorcycle ride on his Triumph Trophy. We both inquired on several internet motorcycle boards for suggestions of good roads and good motorcycle rides. The final routes selected are the sum of many suggestions from other riders and our own research. Thanks to all that helped make this one terrific motorcycle tour!

The route we selected took us from Connecticut west on RT 84 to Scranton, PA where we picked up RT 81 south. The first night, having left in the early afternoon, was spent in Harrisburg, PA. The next morning we continued south & picked up Skyline Drive in Front Royal. We continued onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. A day and a half later we arrived at Cherokee, NC. There was a gathering of Triumph Trophys there and Adam got to meet several riders that he had corresponded with on the internet.

We rode some pretty nice roads in the area including Clingman's Dome, the ever popular Deal's Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. This highway connects the Cherokee and Nantahalla national forests and is one great ride for a big tourer like the Wing. It has long sweepers, great scenery in the mountains and virtually no traffic. We took the back roads to RT 64 in Tennessee and followed it to Memphis where we picked up the interstate, RT 40. The weather was as good as it gets - sunny & cool, just perfect riding!

Once we were on RT 40 it was just superslab to get to our next destination, Santa Fe, NM. Side note: A few days after we rode over it, the bridge carrying RT 40 over the Arkansas River was hit by a barge & collapsed, killing several people who drove off it and into the river below.
On Adam's suggestion, as long as we were going through Oklahoma City, we stopped to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. It was a sobering experience and we both were moved by the impact of seeing it.

Once we reached Sante Fe the real fun began! We took the back roads to Chama, NM & then up to Durango, CO & RT 550 The Million Dollar Highway. The roads were winding & twisting their way into the mountains and were just exceptional for motorcycles! We rode through Durango up to Ouray. Our plan was to swing west into Utah to Moab. Fortunately we stopped for gas in Ouray & found out 1) the road we had planned on taking (all 100 miles of it) was unpaved and 2) there was a forest fire that had just started and the road was closed some 30 miles into it. The station owner suggested an alternate route that turned out to be just another great ride. It twisted & turned from southwest Colorado into Utah as we climbed the mountains and dropped back into the valleys.
From Moab we visited Arches & Canyonlands National Parks before heading to Salt Lake City to stop in & say hello to one of Adam's friends. In Utah we again took the back roads and went through metropolis' like Carbon. It seemed everywhere we went we were either going up a mountain or down a mountain!
Based on suggestions we received from other riders we met along the way we rode past Bear Lake on the way to Jackson, Wyoming. More great riding! From Jackson we headed north past the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone National Park. We spent the day riding a figure 8 through the park and ended up the town of West Yellowstone, a tourist spot wannabe. Except for the construction & condition of the roads, Yellowstone is a very fun place to ride. The next morning we hit our only 'real' rain. For an hour heading north into Montana the temperature kept dropping to about 38 degrees and the rain was relentless. When we reached Bozeman the Perkins Restaurant looked like heaven. Fortunately the rain stopped shortly after. Unfortunately we learned that Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park had not opened yet for the year due to heavy snow drifting in the mountains. We decided to ride to Kalispell which was about 20 miles from the west entrance of the park. Our route took us in a clockwise ride around Flathead Lake. This was really the wilderness! The roads were empty and except for the vacation homes near the lake there was a lot of nothing except good riding.
We left Northwest Montana and took aim at our next big destination - Beartooth Pass on the Montana / Wyoming border. We weren't sure if the road was open yet but our plan was to enter Yellowstone from the west Yellowstone entrance (NW), skirt along the top of the park & exit on the northeast side - the road to Beartooth Highway. When we arrived at Yellowstone we were told that Beartooth Highway had opened 1 hour earlier! In fact the signs inside Yellowstone still proclaimed the road closed due to snow. Although the road is only about 70 miles long this was the most spectacular ride I have ever taken. We rode into the mountains as high as 11,000+ feet. There was snow in areas towering over the road 20 feet high. The views were absolutely astounding. When it started to snow at 10,000 feet I was starting to think about survival through the night. This road is not for the faint of heart but is the BEST motorcycle ride. After a 3 hour ride through the mountains we arrived at Red Lodge. After a quick dinner there we left and headed to Sheridan, Wyoming on some really great twisties.
From Sheridan we headed for our last destinations, Devils Tower and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Rapid City, SD is a good central location for riding this area. From here we rode to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and the Northern Black Hills area.

That pretty much covers it. We headed home from Rapid City on the Superslab. All told we covered just about 8000 miles in 16 days, saw some of what this great country looks like and had just an outstanding riding experience.

What follows is a selection of pictures that Adam & Jerry shot on the trip. The shots that follow were taken with Sony DSC-F707 digital cameras and may have been modified to some extent from the originals with Paint Shop Pro Version 7.

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