What would be your best motorcycle “Groundhog Day”?

It’s the 2nd February which is celebrated as “Groundhog Day” in some parts of the world, you may also be aware of the film made in 1993 starring Bill Murray who played a character who got caught in a timeloop and ended up reliving the same “groundhog” day over and over.  This was not a particularly good day for the character in the film but just imagine you could relive some of your best motorcycling days – what would they be and why? 🙂

We’re going into our fifth year of DragonMotoTours and as you can imagine have covered many thousands of miles in that time and enjoyed some of the best days of being on two wheels so it’s pretty difficult trying to say what our best “groundhog” day would be.  We’ve come up with a few below and it would be good if you could let us know what yours would be and why:-

  • In July 2012 we took a 17 day break to Colorado and Utah and would relive each day of that tour. Riding to Monument ValleyRiding to Monument Valley was something particularly special as you can see from the photo here.  We’d hired a couple of GS’ from Denver and covered over 4,000 miles each.  This was the first time for Jan riding in America and with the roads being open, flowing and traffic free it made for perfect  motorcycling with stunning views at practically every turn.  A day we would not mind being “time looped” back to……
  • Our first European tour as DragonMotoTours was through France and Italy and on the 6th September 2012 the weather conditions were perfect for riding, good temperatures even in the highest points of the Alps, blue skies and clear air.  Top of Col D'IseranWe set off from the Aosta Valley in Italy to ride over the Petit St Bernard pass, a technical climb to the cafes at the top was followed by a stunning ride down into the valley towards Val D’Isere, through the town famous as a ski resort but thankfully clear of snow!!  We then ascended the Col D’Iseran which is 2,770 metres at it’s peak and is one of the highest paved roads in the Western Alps.  We took this photo of our Versys from the top looking towards Lanslevillard where we had a lovely lunch by the river side before running a return route back to Aosta.  Riding the roads both ways was brilliant as we were able to appreciate the stunning views from all angles whilst riding two of the best passes in that part of the world……. certainly up there in our “best groundhog” days 🙂  We have been lucky enough to relive this route on other tours and would certainly recommend it.
  • In August 2013 we toured closer to home in South Wales and on Sunday 11th we visited the Rhossili BayGower Peninsula and the stunning beach at Rhossili Bay.  Again a picture perfect day for being on two wheels, not a cloud in the sky all day, flowing roads through South Wales and onto the Gower.  The pace of life on the Peninsula is such that a “saunter” through the back lanes down to the Bay was all that you wanted.  Certainly a day we wouldn’t mind reliving…..
  • In August 2015 we were in the French Alps again for another day which we hope will become a brilliant “groundhog day” as we return to the Col de la MadeleineCol de la Madeleine in August this coming year.  It started off with the sun rising over the Bauges mountains, white wispy clouds soon disappeared and this azure blue sky stayed with us all day as we rode not only over Madeleine but also over the Cormet de Roselend.  On the descent from the top of the Col de la Madeleine we had stunning views of Mont Chamonix which was about the only alpine peak with snow on 🙂  We had lunch that day in a pretty little auberge who could not do enough for you and served all 20 of us in no time (and we hadn’t booked!).

We’ve picked just 4 rides out of hundreds that we could have wirtten about and it has been hard to pick these.  We can’t wait to find out what your best “groundhogs” have been……

 

Our final 2 days of Motorcycle Touring in Colorada & Utah

Only two more days of motorcycling left for us before we have to fly back to the UK, the time for this trip has just flown, but has been a spectacular tour.

Day 16 of our trip was our ride from Bluff back into Colorado and to Grand Junction where we started this motorcycle tour two weeks ago.  Another beautiful, blue sky day greeted us when we first got up and rode over to the Twin Rocks cafe for breakfast.  Even at 8.30am the temperature was upto 78 degrees!

We headed north on 191 and then picked up the reverse route of a few days ago where we rode via Dove Creek – they have an interesting greeting for you at the fuel station there….Dove Creek fuel station  Even though we had travelled this way on day 10 of our tour, the road always seems different when riding in the opposite direction.  Some of the sights may have been familiar but the twists and turns of some of the open roads around that part of the world were just wonderful to ride.

We stopped at a great little town called Natunta for a drink and had a wonderful chat with a lady who lived out in the middle of nowhere and had just come into town for some groceries – she thanked us for coming to Colorado which we just thought was so welcoming – it was us needing to thank her for letting us ride out motorbikes on such great roads!!!

Suitably refreshed we picked up yet another amazing motorcycling road – 50 miles to Gateway through the Red Canyon which follows the Dolores River – a fantastic ride and one which was recommended by the guys from Butler Maps.  We had hoped to have lunch at Gateway at this little diner which had been recommended to us – but when we got there we met up with some of the other guys on the tour only to find that the diner was closed up….!  We then ended up riding a further 50 miles to the outskirts of Grand Junction before we found anywhere for what turned out to be more like afternoon tea than lunch!  Still with roads like this Red Canyon to ride we did not really mind too much…..

Lunch was at Randy’s Southside diner and it was great food, Geraint had his first cheeseburger of the trip!  and it was cooked to perfection – a definite recommend for any of you motorcyclists who happen to riding near Grand Junction, Colorado in the future.

From here it was something of a sad ride into the main town and onto our hotel where we met up with everyone else who had been on this motorcycle tour.  We all had an excellent meal together in the hotel restaurant but then had to get an early night as we had to be away from the hotel by 6am to ride to Denver to hand the bikes back to EagleRider by mid day.

When we did wake it was already 70 degrees at only 6am!  Although we had fluctuating temperatures for a lot of the ride to Denver which was all on the I70 east but it is an amazing freeway.  It rises in places to over 11,000 ft and then drops into amazing Canyons.  The freeway snakes its way alongside the Colorado river and is a joy to ride.

We arrived into downtown Denver at mid day, handed back the BMW GS’ which had been our trusty companions over the past 16 days.  We had time to go down into Denver and had a lovely lunch at Willie G’s, Geraint even had a hair cut at Floyds (classic barbers!) and then it was a taxi over to the airport and the end of an amazing motorcycle tour.

We would highly recommend this tour to anyone who loves to ride a motorbike.  We cannot wait to go back out to Colorada and Utah, to experience the roads, the scenery and the people – it was a trip of a lifetime and we got to do it on two wheels!  :-D

Motorcycle Touring Utah Day 15 – Boulder to Bluff

We have stayed in some breathtaking places on this motorcycle tour of Colorado, Utah and Arizona, but waking up in Boulder, Utah is something special.  Sunrise BoulderThis was the sunrise we had to start our day…. awesome or what?  There is a complete stillness about the place (well that is until the Harley’s fire up ready for the day ahead. :-D )

A few of us took a slight detour at the beginning of the day – we rode Burrs Trail which was a 34 mile round trip but worth every bit of it.  Basically it’s a back road out of Boulder and it can best be described as a mini version of Zion National park – you really did expect to see “cowboys and indians” from the old Wild West movies coming up over the hills  :-)  Bob & Ricky Burrs TrailBob and Ricky joined us for photos at the end of the trail – we had encountered no other traffic along the way – a perfect road for motorcycling that’s for sure.  But it was soon time to turn back and ride onto route 12 over Boulder Mountain – yet another great road with fantastic views down into Torrey.

We continued on to Hanksville with the scenery changing all the time, at one point it was just like being on the moon!  There was not a great deal at Hanksville, just a couple of fuel stations which were very welcome for two thirsty motorcycles and their riders….  We bought a drink and a chewy bar – but I guess business is slow as it was out of date by 7 months!!

Temperatures were rising but riding along route 95 soon helped to cool us.  We think this was up there with some of the best biking roads we have been on over the last couple of weeks, particularly the section through Glen Canyon.  The open sweeping bends were nothing short of amazing and that ribbon of tarmac flowed for over 100 miles.  There are some days when you truly believe you have just had the best motorcycle ride of your life – and this was one of those.

We had a slight detour and time for a breather, when we went to visit the Natural Bridges national monument – 3 rock arches naturally carved out by the elements.  Sipapu Bridge - rock archThis one was called Sipapu Bridge which means “place of emergence” – very apt.  Well worth a visit if you happen to be touring this part of the world.

We had just over 50 miles to ride from here to our hotel which was back in Bluff, Utah – we had done a full loop over the past few days on some of the best motorbiking roads.

Today was one of those days when we could have ridden on forever – we just love riding in this part of the world.  Bring on tomorrow…(although sadly this will our last full day on this wonderful motorcycle tour)…..:-(

Motorcycle touring Utah – Zion to Boulder Day 14

We’ve probably said this about most days of this motorcycle tour of Colorado and Utah but we’ll say it again!…….  What a fantastic day of motorcycling Day 14 of our trip turned out to be.

We left Springdale early and rode back through Zion National park for the last time on this particular trip.  It was so early in the morning that we practically had “millionaire motorcycling” as there was no other traffic there.  The early morning sun light gave yet another perspective on this amazing place, quite sad riding out of there but then we knew we had a great day ahead of us.

We took a detour from the main group route for the first part of the day as we wanted to go back to see more of Cedar Breaks national park where we had been the day before but had had to do a hurried escape from due to a massive thunder storm rolling in!  As with the previous day, the roads did not disappoint, such flowing ribbons of tarmac that we reckon the highways engineer must have been a motorcyclist….  🙂  !!

We continued on towards Panguitch and had over 30 miles of sweeping bends with very little traffic, it was a brilliant section to ride.  By the time we got to Panguitch Lake we were ready for a coffee and pulled into the Bear Paw Fishing Resort, great views over the lake and good coffee too.  However, they say that the world can be a small place and it was reiterated to us at this place as it is run by Adrian who originated from Birmingham, UK which is only about 70 miles away from us, not only that but his friend was over from the UK for a couple of weeks and he lives not far from us and is very familiar with the fab motorcycling roads of North and Mid Wales.

Both Adrian and his wife ride – they have the Can-am Spiders and were able to tell us what great roads we had coming up for the rest of the day on our way to Boulder, Utah as they often ride the 100 miles over there to go for breakfast!!!  It was great to meet up with Adrian who has been happily settled in America for over 20 years – we hope to see him again soon.  Bear Paw Fishing Resort lakeThis is the view you get from the Bear Paw – stunning….

We continued on from coffee and picked up route 12 which is listed as one of the top 5 highways in America.  You immediately ride into the Red Canyon, beautiful red rock formations which flattens out for a short while until you make a turn to Bryce Canyon – it is 17 miles from the turn off of route 12 to the end and it is yet another jaw dropping location.

We rode to Rainbow point which is at the end of the national park and had a fab picnic lunch with Alan, JoJo and Craig who are also on the motorcycle tour we are on.  There are some picnic spots which everyone should visit at least once and this is one of them as Rainbow pointyou can see from the photo – awesome views.

It was a shame we had to leave this beautiful place but we had another storm rolling in towards us and we decided to head away from it and back on to route 12 to the Escalante – a series of mountains which look just like a staircase (hence the name!).

What was even more stunning was the road – it was like a motorbike race track, the tarmac was so smooth and there as one particularly brilliant section which we enjoyed so much we did it twice and put it on YouTube – you can click here to watch it!    Describing it in words would be difficult but we think every motorcyclist no matter on what bike, would love this road.

We continued on to our hotel for the night which was in a small town called Boulder – we ate at the Hells Backbone Restaurant, a truly wonderful place to eat not only for the food which was all locally sourced but also for the tranquil location.  It was a great end to a wonderful day of motorcycle touring.

Only 2 more days left of this tour which we’ll tell you about next time……

 

 

 

Motorcycle touring Utah – Zion National Park – Day 13

We woke at 6am to blue skies and after a good breakfast took some time of the motorbikes and had a walk around the town of Springdale.  It is just on the outskirts of Zion National Park and is a really pretty little town with all the amenities you could need.  Trouble was it is not that big and our walk was over before we knew it…….only one thing for it – we just had to do some more motorcycle touring!

We rode through the national park the opposite way to that which we had used coming in and Zion is even more stunning than we thought.  The morning sunshine put a different perspective on the rock formations and colours – you really have to ride through there to fully appreciate it.

We headed on to Mount Carmel junction for fuel which, incidentally, is about a third of the price we pay in the UK  which does make a big difference when doing any motorcycle tour that’s for sure.  We rode onto Cedar Breaks National Monument which is another US state park.

The road was fantastic to ride – flowing sweepies through huge Cedar woods and these eerie looking lava fields which the road literally carved through at times.  It was a really quiet area, great for motorcyclists – although for our coffee stop that day we were surrounded by quad bikes Coffee stop near Cedar Breaksas there is a lot of off-roading that can be done in this area.  Guess we could have taken the GS’s along too if it had not been for the limitations of the motorbike hire insurance…!!

(maybe next time……. 😀 )

We entered the National park and just had time to view this amazing natural amphiteatre which was extremely deep and carved out within the red rocks.  Trouble was we could also see a huge storm gathering in the valley and it was clearly heading our way – motorcycling and lightning is not a good combination at the best of times so we headed back to Zion.

Still not all bad!! after all we got to ride the same stretch of road we had come on – and it was even better the opposite way round!!  We had the storm chasing us for many miles but somehow we managed to dodge it.  We noticed that the roads back in Zion National park were wet so we had clearly got lucky and managed to miss it!!!

As we’d arrived back to the hotel earlier than expected, we had time to go and have a swim in the pool and catch up with a few of the others from our tour group.  Some of them had had a day off the bikes and chilled out instead. Our supper that evening was a picnic from the local deli washed down with some very good beer!!!

Another great day – trouble is it’s getting ever nearer to the end of this fantastic motorcycle tour, just have to make the most of the next few days.

Motorcycle Touring Arizona back into Utah – Day 12

Rain, rain and more rain greeted us at the Grand Canyon this morning.  Over breakfast at the Lodge there was talk amongst the rangers who had spotted a bear lurking very close to the hotels during the night – sooo glad we were not out there!  Wonder whether bears like motorbikes……..?? :-D

Due to the weather we set off earlier than usual and rode the first 25 miles out of the park in a mix of rain and drizzle.  The speed limit in the National Park is drastically reduced anyway because of the wildlife, but riding a motorcycle not only in the wet but that early in the morning put us on a higher alert than usual for any sudden movement in the woodlands either side of the road.  We did see some deer but they thankfully stayed off the road for us.

It was a shame that we did not get to see more of the Canyon this visit, thankfully we had been here some 5 years ago on another motorcycle tour and the weather had been kind to us that time around – I guess though it was good to see a different side to the Grand Canyon – it certainly took on a different dramatic feel in the stormy weather.

Our ride today took us out of Arizona and back into Utah to our destination for the next couple of nights which is the Zion National Park.  The initial part of our ride was through some fairly flat landscapes but we soon arrived at the Vermillion Cliffs – so named due to the most fantastic red colouring of the rocks, (although these were to prove to be just a warm up for the colouring of the rocks in Zion). Vermillion cliffs  We climbed up onto a fantastic motorcycling road – the 89A passed Jacobs Creek and the turning to the Grand Canyon North Rim.

After lunch we continued our ride onto Zion and the small town of Springdale where our hotel was.  It is hard to describe this National park and do it justice – to us it was better than the Grand Canyon as you are actually riding the roads inside the canyons and through the rocks here – it is so spectacular.

The road surface was paved in a terracota coloured tarmac to blend in with the rocks, it was so smooth and would have made for an excellent motorcycling road had it not been for the 30mph speed limit!!!  But any faster and you would simply miss the landscape.  We are so looking forward to having a couple of days here to fully explore.

Sunset that evening gave us a spectacular view as the sun literally lit up the surrounding mountains as you can see from this photo……Sunset in Zion

What a wonderful motorcycle tour this is proving to be…. bring on tomorrow!!

Motorcycle Touring Utah into Arizona – Day 11

What an amazing place Bluff is to wake up in – everywhere is still and clear, warm too which is always a bonus when anticipating a day motorcycling :-D

Our breakfast was at the Twin Rocks cafe (very aptly named as you can see from the photo….)Twin Rocks cafe     and a great way to set you up for the day ahead.  This photo was taken with Jan and Karen Thomson, (on the yellow GS) from Avid Moto Tours which is based in the US, Karen was assisting Frank with this motorcycle tour through Colorado, Utah and Arizona.

From Bluff we had a 30 mile ride to the Gooseneck State park.  It is where the San Juan river runs deep through a canyon and in this section snakes for over 6 miles but actually only spans 1.5 miles due to the large curves it takes – hence the name “Gooseneck” – it is well worth taking a visit there – and if you can do it by motorbike, all the better as the roads are fantastic.

So we’d already started the day with fab roads and great views but more was to come – Monument Valley which is more jaw dropping than we can properly describe here!  The whole landscape is a deep red colour with these fascinating columns of rock emerging from open plains and carved over millions of years by the elements.  This photoApproaching Monument Valley was taken on the approach to the valley and does not really do justice to the scale of the place – our advice here would be “if you get the chance, get on your motorbike and ride out there…you will not be disappointed” :-)

We went over to the visitors centre and you can see some of the more well known “monuments” close at hand – there is a 17 mile dirt loop which you can take to get even closer, however, it is not recommended for most road motorbikes.  Although we were on BMW GS’ on this tour, our insurance was such that we could not take this dirt road – maybe next time…!!

We had a long ride ahead of us though, Kayenta to Cameron was a 96 mile stretch of tarmac with some very long sections of straight road, but it was a means to an end as our destination that day was the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  After fuel and a slice of pizza we turned off the main highway and headed towards the Canyon’s South Rim but also into heavy storm clouds.

We got lucky though as we only had light rain for the last 40 miles or so, but you could see that there had been a considerable downpour by the pools of water settled on the road side and some of our fellow motorcyclists on this tour had been caught in the full force of the storm (not good!!).  Luckily we had seen the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle tour some 5 years earlier, on this day though we got to see a more dramatic side to it with the storm going on in the canyon and we were above the storm clouds which was kind of eerie.

Did we get to see it in better weather next day????? Read our next blog to find out :-)

Motorbike Touring Colorado into Utah – Day 10

So today we move into a new American state – Utah and by the end of today we will have experienced yet more change in landscape, hotter temperatures but the one constant is the superb nature of the roads in America and in particular how suited they are to motorcycle touring.

After a hearty breakfast in the Outlaw restaurant we headed north through the San Miguel Canyon – motorcycling heaven :-)  Smooth tarmac running alongside a fast flowing river, red rock canyons, tightening bends and blue skies all the way.  We turned off heading towards Dove Creek and rode for over 60 miles seeing 1 house and 5 cars over the entire distance…….

What an awesome place to ride your motorbikes, vast expanses of canyons, plains and noticeably the landscape was becoming more arid.  It kind of focused the mind really as to what you would do if you had a breakdown of some sort!!! (best not to think about that though….)The road to Dove Creek

Our fuel stop at Dove Creek was a welcome respite from the ever increasing heat – its difficult with motorcycle gear to know what is best to wear, we had every vent available open on our jackets and trousers that’s for sure….

Our next destination was the Hovenweep National Monument where an Indian tribe lived over 800 years ago – the place is so arid you have to wonder how they survived, there are amazing ruins of their homes which were built into the rocks – well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

From here we had a stonking ride to “The Four Corners” where the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet – the temperatures rose to 103 degrees and you felt like you were riding into a hot hairdryer!  The Four Corners

 

 

Apparently the site of “The Four Corners” is not quite where it seems…???  However, this is the closest it has been possible to build the monument as the actual meeting point is too inaccessible – whichever way you look at it we were glad to have visited.

We rode from here and crossed the border into Utah and onto our hotel for the night in a small town called Bluff – nestled in the middle of desert land it is a perfect place for weary motorcyclists to rest their heads – looking forward now to getting to see more of Utah over the coming days…..

Touring Colorado on Motorbikes – Day 9

Our hotel in Ouray did not have facilities for breakfast so we started the day with a brisk walk into the town to eat at “The Outlaws” restaurant.  What a fab place to eat in, John Wayne’s hat from the film “True Grit” hangs over the bar John Wayne's Hattogether with hundreds of wooden slats on which visitors have left messages – our tour group was no exception and our names proudly hang on the wall for all to see!

Suitably refreshed we headed out to find yet more spectacular motorcycling roads.  Today we got to ride the San Juan Skyway with a loop back through Durango and……yes you’ve guessed it….. The Million Dollar highway again!!

The San Juan skyway was very pretty and so quiet, San Juan Skywaywe stopped for a bite to eat at Rico and continued onto route 160 towards Durango before heading onto what was rapidly becoming one of our favourite motorcycling roads – it has even been graded by the American Motorcycle Association as the 5th best ride in America!

Sometimes a road is just made for motorcyclists!   When you have switchbacks like these to ride your motorbike on what more can you want……..Switchback  The views along the route are spectacular with a great view point over what is known as “The Red Mountain”, it is a fantastically deep red colour from the sandstone and has been weathered over time.  We encountered a deer on one of the bends but with the open views as they are we were able to give it plenty of space and time to run off into the bushes – afterall the wildlife were there long before motorcycles :-D

We got back to the hotel early evening and washed the bikes over a very refreshing beer – ready for our next day which will see our motorcycle tour heading into Utah….

Motorcycle Touring Colorado – Day 8

Just over a week into touring Colorado on 2 motorbikes and every day presents us with something new – more awesome motorcycling roads and fantastic scenery – as they say riding a motorbike you are “in the picture” …..

Breakfast for today was a short walk from our hotel in The Rose cafe in Pagosa Springs – great food to start the day so for any motorcyclists out that way during 2013 – its a recommend!

Our destination for the day was Ouray and our route was to take in the Million Dollar Highway – many of our tour group had different theories as to why it should have this name, a couple of suggestions being:-

  1. It cost a million dollars to build
  2. you feel like a million dollars when you ride your motorcycle on it

By the end of that day we know which one we were going for….!! :-)  Awesome as you will see from this photo2012-07-10 15.23.58

Before reaching this road though we had a great ride through the Southern Ute Indian reservation and passed Chimney Mountain which was exactly as it said on the tin!   The roads from here were made for motorcycle touring, smooth tarmac and open sweeping bends……. topped off with coffee and cake at Durango.  Next up was the Million Dollar Highway with a great lunch stop in Silverton which gave us probably the highest stacked sandwich “in the world“…..

The highway was amazing with steep drops and no barriers which kept you on your toes!  Sweeping bends with huge switchbacks and all this before you arrive at Ouray which is known as “The Switzerland of America”.  A small town nestled between huge alp like mountains.

And it was in these mountains we had dinner that night – two 4×4 trucks pulled up at our hotel to take the group up into the hills for a cook out  – tables laid with flowers, big steaks cooked on an open barbeque, salad, fresh corn on the cob topped off with a desert called “smorse”.  This is an American treat, and the recipe is : toast marshmallows over the flame then place between two biscuits together with a chunk of chocolate and enjoy!  We did so much we had 2…..

The cook out was sadly cut short as a thunderstorm rolled in and we all got drenched on the way back to the hotel, but it just added to a fantastic day and gave us lots to laugh over a beer.

Day 8 can be summed up as having experienced awesome roads, enjoying them with like minded motorcyclists, blue skies and eating and drinking with friends – what more would you want from a motorcycle tour?