Latest posts by Warren (see all)

Mountains and Canyons

I originally imagined this ride in 2020. Covid arrived and travel stopped. Then I was diagnosed with cancer in April 2021. During treatment I started to plan and book this ride as something to motivate myself not knowing if I would get to go. It’s been a long personal journey since then to get here.

It is also a long journey to the USA from Australia. 27 hours no sleep from Sydney to Vegas. Good thing I scheduled 2 days of rest upon arrival and having seen the Casinos back in the 90’s I had no interest in doing so again and just rested in a run down motel off the strip.

I grabbed a pizza in a sketchy area. Staff behind bullet proof plexiglass.

While I don’t play slot machines I do like pinball machines and Vegas has a very large pinball museum where you can play all the machines. Pleasant afternoon reliving childhood.

My favourite

I decided to celebrate beating cancer (for now) and rent a bike I was actually interested in instead of the cheapest (as usual) and have chosen a Moto Guzzi V85TT. I see it as a candidate for a ADV bike upgrade if I stay living in Australia.

All my riding gear and motorcycle touring accessories were stolen when shipped to Australia so I have been collecting and trying to test new things before this trip but it will be the first overseas ride for most items which has me a little nervous despite all my motorcycle touring experience.

I am fairly confident however about my navigation as I have returned to what works for me. Garmin. I tested Apple Carplay and phone app navigation on my Kaputa ride and found it still isn’t as good as an old fashioned GPS.

I sourced a discontinued So Easy Rider V4 GPS case from a shop in UK. This is the same I used for all my previous rides outside Japan (but was lost in shipping).

I’m using a Garmin Nuvi 765 that cost me a grand sum of $25 with a power bank. No mounting or wiring up, attached and ready to ride in a minute. No phone signal or data needed. Lets ride!

Day 1

I took a Lyft car to the Las Vegas Triumph/BMW dealership. Leaving town my brain is not switched to riding on the right side of road yet and my old GPS screen is not as bright as it should be. I end up taking the expressway ramp that is going opposite direction to my route. No problems the GPS reroutes me off and back on in the right direction. I have no bluetooth speakers in my Nolan N70 helmet yet and make a note to get that done upon return.

In Australia speeding has been demonized and cops tell you every K over is a killer while raking in millions in fines. Today I am legally doing 80mph on the expressway which is 128kph. No cars burst into flames.

It is baking hot and I take the off ramp to get air conditioning in a Dairy Queen shop for lunch. This is one of many American fast food chains selling burgers I will be visiting over the course of this trip. With the poor exchange rate doubling the price of everything for Aussies it’s my way of trying to keep a lid on what is already a very expensive trip (compared to Asia).

Finishing my run on the expressway I arrive at the Zion national park.

It is jaw dropping scenic here. The desert heat is high 30’s however pushing me to move on. I enjoy the airconditioned effect of the long mountain tunnel that climbs out of the park and which reminded me of riding the tunnels of Japan in summer.

Tonight I meet some fellow riders from Texas staying in same motel and many laughs are had over drinks. We are going the same way tomorrow so I am invited to join them.

Day 2

I am off to see the Grand Canyon today. I do not like crowds so chose to visit the North rim to try limit that. I will be riding there with my new friends from Texas who suggest we get on the road early.

Todays fast food experience is McDonalds for breakfast being the only thing open at 7.00. Unlike Australia there is no espresso coffee only the watery filter coffee. Maybe I will be go caffeine free for awhile.

The road climbs to a 3000m tableland and the temperature plunges with snow visible in forest shadows. I have my liner in and mid season goretex gloves on and it’s brisk but ok. The Texans are behind full fairing bikes but feeling it in jeans and summer gloves. The road down to the Canyon north rim is lush green alpine like fields and sweeping curves.

The cases remain mostly empty, I prefer my one bag system.

Good tip from my fellow riders is get the annual all parks pass (national parks are not free like Australia) so I got this and was given a credit of the amount paid to enter the Zion park yesterday having kept the receipt.

There is just a handful of people at the canyon. Good call to ride early. The vista is impossible for me to describe. The scale is impossible to grasp let alone capture. I’ve chosen this photo where I climbed up a rock to deliberately limit the view window.

I lost the Texans. Where are they? Ah!, in the bar which just opened. Haha. I make tracks now solo again down from the high tablelands to the plains. It is both a fun road and scenic.

I stop at a viewpoint to remove thermal liner, change gloves and open ventilation zips as the temperature soars from single digits back into the 30’s. The Merlin gear I am wearing on this tour is working superbly across the varying temperatures.

My friends from Texas catch me up and we visit the historic Navajo bridge before I wish them farewell as they start their long ride home.

I make sure to replenish my drink supply in my insulated cooler bag I brought with me. Each night I freeze a bottle in motel fridge which keeps things cool during day. In Japan there is a vending machine around every corner but here I try always to carry water and some fruit or trail bars.

One last thing on my route today is Horseshoe bend.

A long dusty walk from the car park in motorcycle boots but what a view. Again the scale is hard to convey. Long way down if you slip.

Check out the elevation on the route today.

Day 3

When I was a young boy I watched the midday black and white movies which often were Hollywood westerns. Today I plan to visit Monument valley a place many of those westerns featured.

It’s a easy flowing if not exciting ride over using the Moto Guzzi’s cruise control most of the way. Arriving at the park entry gate I am told no motorcycles are allowed on the park circuit.

I chose to rent a ADV bike for this ride half because it would suit the unsealed road inside this park never imagining this sort of rule might apply.

However all is not lost. Riding on I find I can see almost everything from the adjacent highway. A fact confirmed by two other riders who said don’t worry not missing much except being covered in dust from all the SUV’s.

The Forest Gump viewpoint is very popular. I tried but never could sit through the movie so did not stop just snapped this.

Mostly flat roads this afternoon but the landscapes on the way to Colorado are still enjoyable.

Day 4

Today I leave the plains and move into the mountains. I visit former mining towns of Durango, Silverton and Ouray and ride the famous Million Dollar highway.

Easy but pleasant ride from Cortez to Durango. I arrive in time to see the popular steam train.

It’s a pretty town but busy with tourists and I am not good at photographing urban places.

The road north starts to climb and becomes very scenic. Still snow on the peaks here.

I took a look in Silverton which again I was not able to photo well due to cars and people. Then I rode north on the Million Dollar highway.

It is grand and the views are million dollar. This just one of many snow capped vistas.

Quite a busy road however. I stopped a few times to try get a free run but gave up as just too much traffic.

The Moto Guzzi is a mixed bag and I will talk about it more in a separate post but something it does very well is get people talking to me. It is a magnet for former riders who all want to know how this new Moto Guzzi is and tell me about the one they used to ride in their youth. I enjoy this effect again today over lunch at Wendy’s. A burger chain coming to Australia in 2024.

Being the ex rail guy I stop at this roadside attraction. There was once a scenic train ride through the Black Canyon but this is all that remains.

Rejoining the highway here I very nearly was taken out by a car and it was entirely my own fault. Two factors came into play, the traffic travelling in the opposite direction in each lane to what I am used to and me being in one of my daydreams not giving lazer like attention to this situation. Big wake up call.

Instead of the train now you can drive the Black Canyon. This is the start, it is a superb twisty road hugging the canyon, almost no cars, just beautiful.

There are a few viewpoints and of course the size is modest after seeing the Grand Canyon but still interesting in it’s own way.

I’ve entered the mountains of Colorado now, plenty of elevation today.

Day 5

The Moto Guzzi fan I met yesterday told me I had a nice mountain pass on my route today but that was an understatement. The Monarch pass in superb. From the west it has a continuous passing lane all the way to the top with racetrack like surface and surveying.

It is hard to capture, even if I had a drone they are banned most places here. For my Aussie readers think of the Burringbah range in northern NSW (or other multi lane parts of the old Pacific highway) now imagine that road climbing up a 3447 metre mountain!

I rarely say any bike feels underpowered but this climb tested the V85TT. With it’s wide sweeping surveying I found myself in high spirits riding between 60-80mph and with the gradient and altitude the bike was flat out to deliver that.

And the other side is this and more of this. No wonder old mate yesterday said he used to ride this road all day.

After the descent the road east enters a canyon and becomes a fantastic very long series of sweeping bends which I thought I had captured via my onbike camera (Exilim FR100) but as happens so much onbike footage is poorly framed crap (something lost on Youtubers). You need to stop and get off the bike which I usually do but am obviously out of touch.

From Salida I took a scenic byway called the Gold Belt Tour. A beautiful ride with a bit of everything, twisty stuff, sweepers, big scenic landscapes with blue wildflowers. As I mentioned above, I wish I had taken more time to photograph it better, a few minutes here and there makes little difference to the ETA.

I stopped in the historic gold mining town of Cripple Creek. This town more than the ones yesterday has some of the feel of a turn of the century gold rush town. Not boasting but Australia has by far the best preserved gold rush towns – we just don’t seem to celebrate that pioneering history as much as perhaps we could, it gets overshadowed a lot now by indigenous history.

Look at that monstrosity going up at the back, why did they approve that. (because money buys anything)

I would have liked to have stayed longer in Cripple Creek but I had a big ticket item today up next. Pikes Peak.

I have wanted to visit Pikes Peak for a long time. My interest mostly comes from the famous short film Climb Dance by Jean Louis Mourey of Finnish rally car driver Ari Vatanen in the Peugeot 405 Turbo 16.

This video used to air every Saturday back on Channel 9’s Wide World of Sport TV show as a closing feature. Peugeot released it again remastered in 2013. It’s still phenomenal. Actually it will never be surpassed since the road is now all sealed and we live in a different age for safety. (here is another video about Ari you may enjoy and has more Pikes Peak footage and here is what the road looks like now all sealed with Sebastien Loeb in a 875hp Peugeot 208)

The Moto Guzzi V85TT is 570hp less than Ari’s Peugeot but was fine for the speed I was going up the mountain. I seemed to have hit peak hour and ran into a series of traffic jams. I had no idea this road got so congested. Maybe because the hill climb was just run few days ago – I was lucky I did not arrive sooner and find the road closed.

It is quite a spectacular road.

I enjoyed looking out for and then ticking off the corners featured in Ari’s video. The video does not show the gradient, it is really steep in parts but seems almost flat in video (as always seems the case). Even my photos do not show the grade.

I stopped near 4000m to switch gloves and zip up more tight. The temperature had fallen from 30’s to around 5 and there was also wind chill factor. At this height you are looking down at the other mountains which lay out before you in 360 degrees. It’s quite extraordinary.

Riding back down even the bikers were going 20mph. The one I spoke to said he felt worried with no guard rail. Nice road, too slow for me to enjoy the ride but view made up for that.

Day 6

Today is a rest day and a back up day to visit Pikes Peak if yesterday had been poor weather. I thought about going again but got a dodgy Pho at local Vietnamese shop last night so have been resting and writing up this ride report.

One of the things I notice in Colorado is many riders without helmets. Doesn’t bother me but I wonder how they cope with the bugs. My visor is getting plastered with bugs and needs cleaning twice during day.

Another observation is I am literally the only person walking to the supermarket. Nobody here walks anywhere. Like Steve Martin in LA Story ha-ha.

And lastly cars that I used to consider large in Australia like say a Jeep Grand Cherokee here are tiny compared to all the enormous pick up trucks that everyone drives. I am sure given the opportunity Aussies would buy just as many of these behemoths, these two countries share many things.

Thanks for taking a look at part one, part two will be posted as it unfolds.


  1. Hey Warren,
    I am so glad to see you on the road to recovery and doing a tour in the states.
    Sorry to hear about your troubles with your riding gear being lost while enroute from Japan to Oz.

    I have completed 4 motorcycle tours to date Northern Thailand, North East Vietnam, Luzon, Philippines, North West Vietnam. All the tours were 3 to 4 weeks duration. I leave for Vientiane, Laos in mid July 2023 on my 5th tour!
    Thank you for being an inspiration to me to do solo motorcycle touring.


    • Hi Brendon,

      Thanks for your kind words. Wow excellent riding you have done already.
      Laos is on my list to revisit. The weather was not good when I was there (I hope it is ok for you) but it is a very scenic country.

  2. What? Couldn’t get through Forest Gump, my favourite movie. You probably didn’t like Something about mary and Austin powers either, weirdo!! Lol
    Seriously though f#ckin fantastic photos of so many places grand canyon, zion and pikes peak. Bucket list items and I am so glad that you are ticking them off after the scare you’ve just had. Thes are on my bucket list but only a dream at the moment.
    Can’t wait for the next post.

    • Hi Steve,

      Austin Powers was funny, but yeah American comedy movies I rarely can sit through (and only look at them when stuck in a plane)

      The ride in USA continues well, some road closures but still riding some awesome curves here!

  3. Terrie Hudzietz

    Hello Warren. I am enjoying your write up as you travel your Colorado trip. So glad you are getting to see everything on your list to see. Please be safe…can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip. Just a note… I love my red Ford F-150 4 door 4 wheel drive pickup truck….LOL!

    • Hi Terrie,

      Thanks so much, the ride and the weather are continuing fabulously.
      Those big trucks are very popular, I’m sure would be in Australia too if easier to buy. Conversion to right hand drive makes them expensive import.

  4. Thanks for the great write up and photos Warren. The Canyon shots bring back some great memories. I carried my mtb across that thing and rode out the North Rim road which is beautiful in your photos but was a serious grind on the day for me!
    Zion is amazing and Colorado has me wanting to go back – a motorcycle tour this time though!
    Looking forward to your next post and as they say – stay safe!

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