Originally, my plan was to build up my DRZ 400 S with the accessories to ride the Great Continental Divide Trail, from Canada to Mexico. Though I completed the build, I decided to postpone the trip after I applied to work for -and successfully landed a job with- Automattic. If you’re not familiar with Automattic, and love your WordPress.com blog and community, I highly recommend you check us out.
Shortly after gaining employment a new riding opportunity sprung forth when Automattic announced its annual company meetup location for 2015: Park City, Utah. Since the bike and I were already fit for a 2,600-mile off-road adventure, some quick math told me a ride from the Bay Area (CA) to Park City should be a breeze. In fact, it was.
I’ve since completed the ride and will share some of the details below. (I finished that damn ride and it was awesome.)
All told I traversed 1,942 miles in 6 days of riding – 3 days over, and 3 days back. Averaging 6 hours a day in the saddle was more than I usually do on this bike, but the weather was getting colder by the hour and key mountain passes were approaching closure with the coming Winter and snow. I couldn’t really afford to screw around, especially since I was riding solo.
Items that needed the most attention before I began my adventure:
- New tires: Pirelli MT21 front / Dunlop D606 rear
- Oil change: Motorex 10W | 50, fully synthetic 4T
- Backup fuel: Rotopax 1.75 gallon can
- Luggage: Wolfman saddle bags and duffle bag (all waterproof)
The tire combination was awesome. Super aggressive, but gave me the option of taking the road less traveled, which I did on more than one occasion. The bike performed even better at elevation, which was a huge relief because I did not want to fiddle with the air/fuel mixture at the carb if I didn’t have to. I picked up the Rotopax fuel can and Wolfman Luggage from my buddies over at Adventure Designs, LLC. I’m lucky to have them in my backyard here in California. It just so happens the owners and I also have a solid Kansas connection.
This is a shot of the bike before I departed. On the front fender is a Tusk Fender Bag carrying two spare tire tubes (front & rear) and tire levers to do the dirty work. You can see the new tread, luggage, gas can, and camping gear (just in case). If you have a DRZ and plan to do any long trips, get that windscreen by Bajaworx. It’s expensive but very well-crafted. What a life saver, and it looks great.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures on my way to Park City. My goal was to get there and be present in one piece. But, here’s one of my bike with Yosemite in the background. I’d gone over Tioga Pass the night before and it was snowing. Adventure on day one? Yup.
On the second day I pulled off to the side and took a picture of this crystal clear rainbow after riding in a two-hour monsoon. When you don’t really have anywhere to be, and everything you have with you is waterproof, riding a motorcycle in the rain can be a wonderful experience.
Apparently in the Northwestern U.S. “shoetrees” are a thing. This one, which I encountered on my second day of riding, was situated in Middlegate, Nevada. They’re strange. Perhaps it’s best you read more here. Oddly, a co-worker was traveling to Park City by bicycle and encountered another shoetree on his route.
Once I arrived in Park City I stripped most of the gear off the bike and hit some local trails. (The mountain in the very back is Timpanogos, which is the second largest mountain in Utah -in the Wasatch Range- at 11,752 ft. elevation.) Because California is in a drought the trails are really shitty. Everything is dry and loose. In Utah it’s a completely different experience. Most trails are tacky, muddy, fast and fun. I kind of fell in love with the small town of Heber City, Utah. Why? This is where many of the trail systems start. Unfortunately, all good things do not last: Heber is the third-fastest growing city in the U.S. There’s a particular quality of life there -for now- that’s hard to find elsewhere.
On the way back I took a few more photos. Bear in mind it was 20 degrees colder, as my company’s week-long meetup had passed before I started my return ride, and snow was a lot more visible. You can check out the return trip photos here on my Instagram.
An interesting note about Instagram. I tried to share as many photos as I could on my Instagram account. It wasn’t a lot, but I ended up making about a dozen new friends in the process that I hope one day I’ll get to ride and adventure with. You can explore these adventure riding fanatics on Instagram by searching the tags #advaddicts, #dualsportlife, & #wolfmanluggage.
I did manage to get some helmet footage with my GoPro Hero 4 Session. I’ll get started on that soon.
Lessons Learned and Post-Adventure Maintenance coming soon.