Midway, Utah Shamrock Tour®: Where the Swiss Settled

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Florian Neuhauser, Sarah Mauk, Ted Fedoruk

It’s the fourth day of our adventure in Utah. We skip breakfast to get an early start as meteorologists are calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highway 40 takes us out of Midway past Heber City and Daniels Summit Lodge toward Strawberry Reservoir. The low sun provides warm light. The water, along with the mountainous background, offers a perfect photo op. I turn on my right signal, get in the turning lane, and shift down into … wait a minute, why don’t I feel my shifter? I glance down and see a demoralized shifter barely hanging on by its last aluminum thread. It finally gave up.

My girlfriend, Sarah, has been working a corporate 7:30-to-5 since she graduated from the Ohio State University. With her standard vacation time of two weeks, it has been difficult to spend time together. We have been planning a trip to Utah for quite a while, and as fate would have it, we met George Toelcke on RoadRUNNER’s Five-Country Tour in Europe. He invited us to his backyard in central Utah. Sarah and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to combine her vacation with my work schedule. George suggested routes while I looked into accommodations and securing a motorcycle capable of dual-sport duty. We didn’t want to be limited by asphalt and wanted to look for adventure and scenic views that only off-road riding can offer. Ted Fedoruk, another Five-Country Tour alum, decided to join us for the first two days before he split and headed toward Nevada.

Sarah and I are on a Triumph Tiger Explorer XC, George brought along a Suzuki DR650 and Kawasaki Versys so he can pick the most suitable machine for the day, and Ted has his Yamaha Super Ténéré.

Reservation Ride

We forego a pricey breakfast at the hotel and venture out on SR 32 to SR 35. Wolf Creek Pass gives us the first taste of what’s to lie ahead. Open sweepers, no traffic to speak of, and scenery that reminds me of the Alps. No wonder the Swiss were the first to settle in Midway. Our planned breakfast stop is in Hanna, and with a few photo breaks it’s already 10 a.m. It’s a perfectly good excuse to indulge in bacon, eggs, and pancakes. We’re not the only motorcyclists with this idea. More than half of Hanna Café is filled with leather and GORE-TEX clad men in their 50s and 60s. It is a weekday, after all.

A short jaunt past small towns and a triathlon in progress brings us to our descent into Timber Canyon. From here, we start our off-road part of the day. It is well-packed gravel, but it’s also extremely dry, which makes us spread out considerably. George is leading as he’s the one with the plan. I’m riding in the middle, and Ted is the trustworthy sweep. Strawberry River Road takes us alongside its namesake stream and past Strawberry Pinnacles, the towering sedimentary formations shaped by erosion. As we manuever between water on our left and the steep cliffs to our right, the sun reflects from the pale rocks and roasts us like rotisserie chicken. There is so much sun that the thought of rain never crosses my mind.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2014 back issue.