Utah Back Country Discover Route, Part 2. Moab to Moab

July 16, 2013

The next portion of the BDR started in Southeast Moab and looped through the LaSalle Mountains before dropping into the Colorado River Canyon near Fisher Towers along Hwy 128. If anyone has just a couple of days in Moab, I’d recommend riding this portion. And when I return on my Ural, I plan to ride this part again.

We grabbed a quick smoothie for breakfast, meeting a Tenere rider who was out breaking in his bike. After swapping stories and destinations, we rode out of town on Sand Flats Rd, past the landfill, stopping inside the recreation fee area where high clearance 4X4s lined up to try their skills on sandstone ridges. I certainly wouldn’t ride it on my Beemer, but I would have considered it on the Ural. And I’m sure we would’ve made quite a sight since the Ural could have fit under most of those trucks.

Due to the silt factory we rode through yesterday, I wanted to bang out my air filter before we got any farther down the road. I pulled off the panel and opened up the air intake, but didn’t get a lot of dust out of it. I did find a seemingly large amount of oil in there which freaked me out, but after research on F650.com it turned out this will happen if you fall over. I sopped up as much as I could and replaced the panels.

Photo courtesy of Dezso Adai

With that taken care of we started up the road again, stopping to take photos and videos as we rode through a landscape that looked like a vegetated Martian surface. The campsites here made me want to camp the next time through, but the idea of needing to reserve a campsite then didn’t cross my mind. It turns out campsites in Moab fill up rather quickly, but we didn’t learn that until the end of the day.

The landscape was red sand dotted with low scrub and the occasional juniper trying to break rocks in half with roots and patience. Rock formations like the backs of monsters broke through the ground in arcs of sandstone and the tracks of 4X4s showed the recreation trails through this playground. We passed some cyclists and dodged sand drifts in the road, climbing further into the mountains and away from the crowds.


No longer on the desert floor, the roads had gravel on them which required different skills to avoid slipping. Aspen and pine forests closed in with the occasional house or pasture coming into view. Somehow we missed the Kokopeli Trail, but didn’t mind too much since the roads we rode were still new to us. The next time we’re back, we’ll ride this missing section. We consulted the maps when we reached the Mountain Loop Road, turned left and headed back down the mountain until our next turn onto the proverbial road less traveled.

Despite Dezso’s warning that there would be more sand along this portion of the route, we had somehow forgotten to let air back out of our tires. Over the course of the day these gravel and dirt packed roads had started building my confidence (Seriously. Riding is a mind game. You want—need—a certain amount of confidence in order to tackle what’s in front of you, but not so much that you’re riding like an idiot.) I do know I lack confidence in many areas that can only be eradicated with hours spent riding. And I plan on getting as much hands-on experience as I can and follow up with a few classes also. But for now, I had hands-on experience right here in the field.


At Castleton Road, we returned to dirt and gravel roads, once again passing a few cars and trucks out for pleasure drives, or dropping off cattle which had started moo’ving (Sorry) to higher pastures. We were still up in the mountains, but the topography had changed again. We returned to junipers, red dirt, and rocky outcroppings.


We stopped a few more times for food, photos, and breaks, and two times in a row I (cough) experienced a sudden shift in Coriolis Effect. Each time I stopped, I would suddenly list to starboard and topple over. I couldn’t explain it. Perhaps I was tired; perhaps I thought I rode my Ural. But it only happened twice before I stopped doing it.


The route took us on Onion Creek and Hideout Road, which dropped down into the canyons. We started to warm up with the drop in elevation, but the weather held and kept things perfect all day. We hit farmland, and returned to sagebrush country except when following creeks and other water sources where trees grew.

Continuing on Onion Creek Rd, we rode the spine of some of the erosion that happened in geologic time, able to look down from both sides of the road.  It was a great twisty, dirt-packed road that afforded lots of photos and videos, and we took our time, fearing the end of the ride was near and not really ready to let it go.


The road dropped into a narrow, red canyon that had many small stream crossings. I got my boots wet over the course of splashing through, and soon enough my socks were soaked.

I really need better boots.

Photo Courtesy of Dezso Adai

It’s times like these that I wish I had a camera mounted to my bike so that I could snap photos whilst I ride. Chances are the camera couldn’t capture the height and red of the canyon walls, but still wanted to try (just another thing to add to my wish list, right?). Campsites appeared full of campers so we rode on. We had talked about camping, enjoying a fire, and trying some night photography, but as we rode through each campground all we saw were reservation tickets posted before each site. Lesson learned, we road back into town and got our same room from last night and then went straight for margaritas.


Part 1 of the Utah Back Country Discovery Route

May 30, 2013

Winter kept a tight hold on Colorado this Spring, But Dezso and I finally found a window of opportunity to get out for a trip. Granted we had both gotten some short rides in during the winter months, but it’s not the same as loading up your gear and disappearing into the back country for a week. We looked at our options. The Rockies still held an abundance of snow, but Dezso and I figured we could ride around a great deal of Utah without getting snow on our shoes.

 We rode hard from D...

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5 Tips for Packing and Riding

May 12, 2013

This will be the first of a few blogs regarding Dezso and my recent trip to ride parts of the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route. In contrast with the know-it-all-blogs, I definitely lack the proper credentials to tell you how to ride. Instead I thought I’d tell you some of my hastily put together rules for packing and riding.

  1. Space is limited on your motorcycle. You’ve got panniers and maybe a bag on top to fit your camping, cooking, photography, and computer gear inside where it’s...

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Deep Water Crossing on the Great Divide Trail.

May 7, 2013

Dezso had texted me to see if I was interested in riding another section of Great Divide Trail. I was in the middle of packing for a week-long work trip followed by another week of camping. Needless to say I was quite busy.

“Sure,” I texted back, showing my first lapse in judgment.

“7am at the Conoco in Morrison.”

“Really!? Freak. Make it 8.”



The rising sun and I are rarely on the best of terms, but I had to concede an early departure would mean an ...

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Paying it Forward

March 16, 2012

A weekend or two ago, Deana and I were goofing off around town when we decided to stop at a restaurant for a late lunch snack. When the bill came, we pulled our usual stunt of looking at the bill, looking shocked and pushing it toward the other. This can go on for a while and it never gets old for us. But about the third pass between each other, the man sitting next to us at the bar reached over and grabbed our bill. He said he was going to pay our bill for us. We protested (albeit mildly) th...

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Shit My Boss Says, Pt. II

February 15, 2012
As unluck would have it, I'm getting transfered to a new boss (we're talking my ninth in ten years). So I'm going to miss the banter with my boss. Here is today's:

11:11 AM ME

Hey there. Do I need to look at my coworker's work to make sure it was done or will they do that?

11:13 AM BOSS

You do it.

They've checked out

11:13 AM ME

Thought so.

11:14 AM BOSS

They're worthless.

(I'm writing their review now, if you can't tell.)

11:14 AM ME

Yeah, I've tried to get them to do many things la...

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Shit my Boss Says

January 5, 2012
I'm also lucky in that I like my job and have a good rapport with my boss. Here is an excerpt from one of our conversations:

 From: Me
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 8:46 AM
To: Boss
Subject: Holiday hours?


 I’m reading this riveting timecard reference guide and there’s a paragraph regarding logging holiday hours. Are we supposed to do that or not?


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Brace Yourself for '12!

January 1, 2012

So admittedly It’s been a suck year. Friends have died, pets have died, but I still know I’m one hell of a lucky guy, living the life I want to live. I take vacations, I learn to play music, I ride my motorcycles, draw, paint, get creative, vent, laugh, still have job and I’m about halfway through the second novel with ideas still bubbling forth like a certain adult beverage t...

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Monsters of Today

October 31, 2011

Halloween. A time of trick or treat. A time for cute little kids to come to the door in dinosaur costumes and for Deana to make them Rawr for their candy. It is also a time for apathetic teens who are too embarrassed to dress up in a costume, yet still enjoy getting free candy to also come to the door and demand candy. Little shits.

 Two years ago it wasn’t too bad. When uncostum...

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Big Al's review

October 31, 2011
First off, the link to Big Al's Books and Pal's review of my book, "Throttling the Bard":

There comes a time in every school kid’s life where the teacher will write on the board in easy to read letters, “Homophones”  and will tell that child of words that sound the same (like “passed” and “past”) but are spelled differently (and if you haven’t caught on yet, mean different things).

 Clearly I was absent tha...

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About Me

Jay Barry
Denver, Colorado
Jay Barry