"STAY AWAY" - 3000 mile quarantine escape

 

We got sick of being cooped up. No one expected 2020 to be a time of such isolation. We decided it was time to break out of the city and catch some fresh air, so — we hopped on our bikes and hit the West coast. No destination in mind, no routes planned, and not fully sure where we would be spending each evening.

My buddy Blaine hit me up asking if I wanted to go on a two week trip out west. Only catch, it was a week and a half away. After being locked up in quarantine since March, the idea of being on the road again far outweighed the reality my 500cc around town bikes would not be up for the task. 

Luckily our pals at Triumph hooked us up with two of their new bikes for the trip, the Tiger 900 and Tiger 1200 to be exact. This is not an ad for them and is not a paid sponsorship. Triumph is an amazing company and we are lucky enough to have their North America headquarters literally a few miles from our office in Atlanta.

Triumph tigers on trailer

That said. We are really glad we didn't take vintage bikes. They probably would have blown up. 

Both Blaine and myself have done plenty of moto trips to know traveling from Atlanta to Colorado is a pretty snooze worthy ride, since we wanted to make the most of the trip we hauled the bikes out to Denver to start the journey. The overwhelming amount of corn while driving through Kansas was a great reminder of how terrible that section of U.S. riding is. If you have ever done it before, you know what I'm talking about.

Blaine Hale - Jared Erickson - two dudes with motorcycle helmets

Like two kids on Christmas morning we packed up the bikes at our friend Thomas's place. Packing for a larger trip can be tough, especially when you plan on camping most of the trip.

Packing a Triumph Tiger 1200

After packing up we had no plans other than - heading West and getting away from the city. I don't know about you, but have you ever got on a bike you are not familiar with? It's nerve racking until you get used to the throttle response, brakes, and overall weight. Luckily we had the opportunity of getting used to the bikes while breaking away from downtown Denver's morning traffic. 

Triumph Tiger 900 loaded up for camping

Moab motorcycle trip

Jared erickson in helmet - area 51 gas station

Moab - triumph tiger 900 vs Tiger 1200

Camping in Moab

You quickly forget how noisy your life is when you have no cell service and a billion stars blanketed over you. We found a great camping spot near the Arches national park. Still not sure if we where allowed to be there or not?

Moab Motorcycle Camping night sky

Moab coffee with atlanta bearded bartender Daniel K

Although the plan was to stay as far away from people as possible. We did happen to run into local Atlanta legend - Daniel ( @beastinthbushes ) while grabbing a morning cup of coffee in Moab. He has been on an epic trip around the U.S. in his Tacoma. Smash his follow button for a good time.

Motorcycle ride to the great basin

Motorcycle Ride - great basin

Vanson stormer jacket in the wild

Riding while the world is on fire in californai

After what felt like a lifetime of desert riding, we finally hit California. Unlike when I've visited before, the state smelled like a giant campfire. As if 2020 had not done enough, California was literately on fire. Not only that, the temperatures were quickly rising.

Yosemite park on fire

The entrance to Yosemite Park felt post apocalyptic with a haze covering the sky. Side note: During a global pandemic, check to make sure you are allowed to visit parks before going to them.

Tiger 1200 dual sport

camping during wildfires

California on fire. Riding through the California hills during sunset the sky literally looked like some crazy photo filter.

Riding Motorcycles during California wild fires

California burnt treesMotorcycle trip in california

Blaine learned the kickstand on the Tiger 1200 does not work very well on small inclines. ( Don't worry triumph, it was a slow embarrassing "fall" ).

check your kickstand

We hit a heat wave. The temp soared from 45º to 103º by noon. You can never drink enough water.

Drink water

We stopped by Kyle's house ( who happens to be Blain's brother ) while in California, just long enough to ( socially distance ) say hey and peek at his old BMW R75/5, which is one of the first bikes I road. 

BMW airhead

Riding desert to woods

We thought 103º was bad... But things got worse, as the temps climbed to a staggering 115º. Riding at that temperature is like having a hair dryer blowing on your face. You find yourself having a hard time breathing. This is the point I know we would have been in major trouble riding vintage bikes. I don't think an air cooled 40 year old bike would have held up in these temps.

Camping Triumph tiger 900

Luckily by the time we reached Tahoe the temps had normalized to a chilly 80º.

Tahoe camping under stars

Old Gas station in army town

Stuck in desert traffic

Cows on the side of the road

Riding while taking a photo

World famous Clown hotel - biker friendly sign

While escaping the 100º+ heat we cruised back East. Not sure where we would settle for the night. We thought about crashing at "The world famous clown hotel" but the "oldest graveyard" next to it kinda spooked us out.

Clown hotel - spooky graveyard

From one extreme to the other. The temp started dropping to 50º while riding through long stretches of the desert. The sun was dropping, our gas was running very low, and we hit 500 miles of shivering desert stillness. One of our goals was to sleep at a sketchy motel and the "Alamo inn" was it. Only able to grab some snacks from a nearby gas station we settled into... an amazingly dated motel with the wood paneling to prove it.

Alamo motel

Alamo Inn moto motel

Sketchy motel - jared erickson

Trips are also about the goofballs you meet. This was Sammy - When he saw us packing our bags the next day, he yelled from across the parking lot "they got free coffee in here!". Waving us over as I held up the cup of coffee I was already sipping on. He rolled on over to give his thoughts on the desert and how he had started living at the hotel when the pandemic hit. He explained it was to "get as far away from people as possible". He shared his stories of riding through the Rockies on his old Harley and the times he had to change out the jetting to keep it running right. Also, something about his new Camaro blowing up in the desert just a week prior.

Desert Sammy in a wheelchair

Blaine Hale riding Triumph Tiger 1200

Trailer with BMW Rnine-T custom

On our way through another state park we passed a trailer full of custom BMW's and a Harley. If that was you... What's up!

Guess they where headed the same way. We followed along for a while - honestly, it was kinda nice riding with a few other bikes for a while.

Kodachrome state park - Triumph Tiger 900

Blaine being a fan of shooting film, spotted Kodachrome State park near by. Named after the actual Kodak film for its amazing colors. We hit a bit of dirt and settled into a totally empty park for the night.

Kodachrome state park - Triumph Tiger 900

Riding while taking photos

Canyon city

Triumph Tiger riding into sunset

Canyonlands National park - After a long day of dropping temperatures we ended up catching the sunset, while sneaking our tents into a "camping" area.

Taking photos at Canyonland - jared erickson

Canyon land park

Canyon land sunset

canyonlands camping

Not only was it a chilly night, there where plenty of creepy sounds throughout the night. Needless to say, I was thankful to see the sun rise.

2020 Triumph Tiger 900

The long stretch - Going from a heatwave in California to an unprecedented cold front sweeping through Utah and Colorado we decided to head back to home base in Denver.

Riding home

Riding through a tunnel

I really wish I could have captured the last portion of the trip. But with my hands holding tight to the heated grips through the mountain passes as we reached the snow-line and 30º temps, I took the safer approach of being in the moment.

Riding motorcycles in denver

We got back to Thomas's house shivering - but stoked at what we had experienced.

Some thoughts from the trip:

The desert is a brutal place. We don’t have the control we think we do. The world is huge and there are a lot of people in it. Tons of cool cars covered in dust in the desert. Who chooses to live 80 miles from the nearest civilization? Silence is nice... a lot of silence is creepy. If on a hill make sure you are in gear when you have the kickstand down. Experience the moment instead of thinking of the right angle to frame the photo in. Change your socks. Bring more than a pair of socks. Always go to the bathroom before settling in your tent at night. Drink water. Slow down at the curve. Don’t forget the best views could be behind you, but if you are not looking ahead you can't see what's coming. Bugs don’t taste good, but they will keep you alert.

The bikes did excellent for this kind of Adventure touring. Both had more power than my vintage bike bones could handle. Riding something this modern was new to me and made it one less thing to worry about during the trip. I do wish they came outfitted with proper dual sport tires, so we could have done more dirt. But at the end of the day not worrying about a bike blowing up while cruising through the desert was nice.

Photos by myself & Blain ( shot on film. )

How about you? What's your favorite motorcycle trip memory or a dream trip you would love to take? Leave a comment below!

 


25 comments

  • Sid

    Hello, It was great reading story road journey. how much did it cost for total trip and stays. can you email complete road map from start to end so i can plan sometime next year after corona ends . thanks sid@Atlanta

  • Steve Thomas

    Don’t know if you knew that I ran moto-tours in Europe for the past 15 years. I’m not doing it any more but thought I should shoot and edit some video on my last official tour. You know at least two people in the short movie.. enjoy it as much as I enjoyed your tour story! https://youtu.be/nAsqYyBJKnI

  • Wilbur E Haggerty

    Wish I had the time to tell you about my 1955 year-long trip to see the US on my Triumph T110.
    It was fantastic! Had just graduated from High School and wanted to see the US. Bought the bike at a dealership on 8 mile road in Detroit, MI. My experiences would take a novelette to tell. Wish I were strong enough to “ride again”!

  • jerrman

    Loved the write-up and the pics. Could almost feel the ride through the descriptions. Gusty with no plans (!) even during the pandemic. Being older (much) I’m a plan type as I like to know where I’m ending up at night (preferably somewhere with a bed :). Most recent memorable rides were a week plus from Oregon to Nanaimo, British Columbia and a week down the Oregon/California coasts (on an unnamed moto as my Triumph Bobber doesn’t lend itself to those multi-day rides).

  • Robert Velez

    Thanks for sharing a great adventure! I think even with the pandemic and the California wildfires, it can only get better if/when you do another trip like this again. I love how you shot this on film and had a short YT video but it would’ve been great to have a diary video cam/vlogging to share with us.


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