Our new motorcycle was working very well as we came down a long sweeping curve at close to 75 mph on Interstate 70 some 30 miles east of Grand Junction, Colo.
Suddenly the display started flashing with a warning light and accompanying data that the rear tire was going down. I slowly came to a stop, and my wife and I got off to see what the problem was. She immediately spotted a big nail buried just off center in the new Michelin tire.
This four-state motorcycle and somewhat of a hiking trip was hatched as my wife and I were discussing our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary and how to celebrate it.
As a competitive shooter, I had done very well this year and was pretty sure I had qualified for the World Action Pistol Championships to be held this fall in Australia.
This would be a fine anniversary trip but after some thought about costs and time gone from our younger sons last year in high school football, I suggested we buy a new motorcycle and retrace, with Utah added, our trip we took on a bike to the Grand Canyon 25 years ago. She thought this a good idea and, a short time later, we had a new Kawasaki Concours 1400.
We had put on about 3,300 miles on the bike and a new set of tires before heading west. Along with that added a few accessories, had the seat modified and bought new riding coats and a nice set of communicators so we could talk easily while going down the highway. The bike was doing great with plenty of power and was just made for curvy mountain roads. Before leaving, my son had suggested to me to take his tire plug kit and maybe the patch kit as well. But I said no, I had never had problems before and that I could deal with any situation that came along.
Standing in the sagebrush away from the highway trying to reach a motorcycle shop on Sunday, I was wishing I had that plug kit and tools that were back home in Kansas. A number of bikes went by and, when I recognized a rider on a KLR Enduro loaded with gear motoring toward us, I flagged him down. I couldn't have hit it better. His name was Patrick and he was heading for Moab, Utah, just like us. Patrick didn't have a plug kit but he did have some patch glue and a small compressor that he quickly dug out of the mountain of stuff piled on his bike. I pulled the 3-inch nail out and cut it off short with my Leatherman tool, covered it with patch glue and poked it back in the tire. The glue nail held, and we aired the tire back up.
Patrick said he would follow us until we got to some supplies and could do the repair or replace the tire in Grand Junction. We had to stop one more time to put air in after about 20 miles and then made it to a station. I purchased a plug kit and made the repair. We waved to Patrick as he buzzed on by, not realizing we would cross paths miles from here in the middle of Utah. The trip into Moab was wonderful. We took the winding scenic route that followed the Colorado river. After arriving, we got a motel and planned a trip to one of the national parks within afternoon driving distance from Moab. The map showed Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park not too far out, so off we went. I am sure many of you have been to this part of the country and if not, definitely make it a destination. The ride into Canyonlands was awesome with many stops overlooking huge valleys and great views of the Colorado and Green rivers. On one scenic overlook, there were three other motorcyclists in the parking lot so we pulled up by them. The other bikers were from Texas and we talked about riding and our different motorcycles. When we returned to the bikes to leave, up pulled a Kawasaki KLR that looked familiar. It was Patrick, who had helped get us off the highway back in Colorado. We shook hands and took pictures, discussed our trips and riding then bid farewell maybe seeing each other sometime again.
For two days, we wandered down through Utah, hiking down trails at various stopping points. The weather was wonderful, not only for hiking and exploring but for motorcycling as well. We really liked this part of the country with huge open areas that make Kansas look almost urban.
The middle of the week saw us in Page, Ariz., just below Lake Powell on the Colorado river. We stayed overnight and then took off for the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a long route into the canyon but a beautiful ride and we got there early enough in the day to have plenty of time to do some more hiking. Starting down the North Kaibab Trail into the Grand Canyon in mid afternoon with good weather was fun. We met a number of people coming up the trail and some of them were looking pretty worn out. We decided to hike down for about 1 mile to one of the overlooks shown on the map. That would leave us enough time to take our time climbing out and to get back to Page before dark. The time on the trail in the canyon was really nice and I thought it would be nice to do a hike to the bottom within the next couple of years.
The highway between the North Rim of the canyon and Page, Ariz., is through some really scenic country with big open spaces and some of the cars going our way were really buzzing along. I stretched the legs on our 150- horse Kawasaki a couple of times following people in some wide open valleys that streched for miles on end.
It was a fun ride back. Thursday was the first of two days heading back but first we toured Glen Canyon Dam right away in the morning. It was a really good 45 minute tour and since I am a Bureau of Reclamation employee it was nice to visit with fellow Department of Interior people at another facility. We stopped at Four Corners monument and then on into Colorado up over Wolf Creek Pass down into the little town of South Fork. What a wonderful fast twisty ride. At times I had my wife squeezing me and squealing for me to slow down if we were hitting the curves a little too fast. Two cycle riders from Georgia stayed at the same little motel we were at and we had a good chat with them. We met many other motorcyclists from lots of other places including one German fellow that had been to Alaska and was now heading to the tip of South America. It made our trip look like an afternoon ride.
The out west motorcycle trip was a blast. Everything went really well, we were blessed with excellent weather, never putting on our rain suits even once. The plug I fixed the rear tire with stayed in just fine, never losing a pound the rest of the 1,400 miles after the repair. We have been fortunate to be able to go to quite a few great places and are always amazed at God's wonderful creations and the beauty of our western states.
Troy Mattheyer is an avid outdoorsman from rural Ellis. He can be reached at