Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 5 - Salt Lake City to Wendover

Day 5, the day the BMW is going in for service.  We got up early and had a warm continental breakfast at the motel, I then went back to the room to relax a little while my brother left early to drop the bike at the dealer.  The bike had to be cold for the service.  There was no point in me following him to the dealer.  I took my time to get ready, took a shower, had some more coffee and then packed the bike and left to join my brother at the dealership.  We had chosen a motel near the dealer, it only took me a few minutes to get there but to my amazement, when I got there, I was informed my brother had already left with a BMW S1000RR.  I could just see the grin on his face, a pure sport bike to play with.  I called him on his cell, he happened to be nearby and quickly turned around and returned to the dealer.  We asked the dealer guys where we could go and ride some nice roads and were quickly told where to go, just up the road there happened to be a little Canyon full of surprises.  We promptly saddled up and left towards the twisties, a big grin on our faces.

Little Cottonwood Canyon road winds through the Canyon up the mountain surrounded by the most beautiful landscape we had seen so far on this trip.  The mountains still had snow at their peaks and we passed some amazing and incredible expensive homes along the way.  We continued up the mountain and deeper into the Canyon where we find quite a few ski resorts.  One of the resorts had a pool on the top floor and the roof was covered with grass, I guess it was their way of being green.

We made lots of stops to take pictures, my brother seemed to be waiting for me all the time. I had to take pictures with the phone and camera and video all along.

At one stop I decided to climb the rocks and upon nearing the top heard a girl's voice.  I announced I was coming up, didn't want to surprise anyone, and was promptly told it was okay to come up.  When I got to the top, to my surprise it was a professional photographer and a beautiful model taking pictures.  She had a beautiful and very short gold dress.  I managed to sneak in a picture.

The road curved around lots of rocks and little mountains, it was an amazing road but one you do not want to go off.  Every time I had my video camera up to record, I kept thinking about the sharp rocks just on the side of the road.   I'm sure my brother would have loved to open up with the BMW S1000RR but he is too afraid of getting a ticket so he followed me around most of the time.  The speed limit on the road was only 25mph.

We return to the dealer around lunch time but my brother's BMW was not ready yet.  I asked for the expected time the bike would be done but since they couldn't give us a time, I decided I would leave alone towards the Salt Flats.  I remember when I was a kid my dad telling me about the world speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Bonneville Speedway is an area of the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah, that is marked out for motor sports. It is particularly noted as the venue for numerous land speed records.  The salt flats were first used for motor sports in 1912, but didn't become truly popular until the 1930s when Ab Jenkins and Sir Malcolm Campbell competed to set land speed records.  I remember my dad telling me about Sir Malcolm Campbell's record-breaking Blue Bird. I had to go there while there was still daylight and I still had to cover 110 plus miles.  Little did I know how hot it was going to be down the road along the salt flats.
I left the dealer and following my GPS instructions got on Interstate 15 South.  I traveled about 20 miles before I realize something is wrong with the directions, I quickly pull off at the next exit and stop at a gas station.

After looking at a real map I realize I have been going in the wrong direction, somehow my GPS had put in a different town somewhere else in Utah.  I had a refreshment, turned around and followed the road back past the dealer again, loosing about an hour doing the 50 miles round trip.  I was so upset I hadn't made sure the GPS was right in the first place.  I consoled myself by saying it was still early and I had seen the southern suburbs of Slat Lake City.  While stopped at the gas station I noted a big "G" on the side of the mountain, interesting I thought, the mountain is calling me by my first initial.

I enter Interstate Route 80 West and proceed along the Great Salt Lake marveling at the beauty of the lake and the mountains nearby.  The temperature was above 95 F.  The road stretches for miles and miles and it was a great opportunity to open up my Concours and clean the carburetors. I love speed and it was time to let loose the 100 plus horses under me.  I did most of the 100 miles of Route 80 along the lake and later along the Salt Flats at between 85 and 95mph, occasionally touching 100mph, I had a big grin on my face all the way.

I stopped at the visitor center to walk on the salt and take some pictures.  Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of Utah, is the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere.  The Great Salt Lake is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation) and has very high salinity, far saltier than sea water.  For comparison, the average salinity of the world ocean is 3.5% while the salinity of Great Salt Lake is highly variable and depends on the lake's level; it ranges from 5 to 27%. Great Salt Lake's waters are slightly enriched in potassium and depleted in calcium, very corrosive to aluminum.  I was not going to get the salt on my bike.  It was nice for them to have a hose with running water to wash the boots of all the corrosive salt.

Lots of salt
I then proceeded to the end of the Salt Flats on Route 80, near Wendover, and made a right turn where the entrance to Bonneville Speedway is.  You travel about a mile and then make another right and follow it for another 4 miles in a straight as an arrow road until the end which culminates in a circle where the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway starts.  I get there and there's not a soul in sight for dozens of miles.  It's an amazing place and to think that just in front of me was where most of the world speed records were broken.  I took pictures and took notice of the bullet holes on the sign, I knew I was out west in cowboy territory.

The entrance
Endless stretches of road
No one around within dozens of miles
The famous Speedway
Bullet holes on the sign?
I got a little burned from riding with the visor open
Outside the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway entrance
I left and returned to Route 80 stopping for a drink at the Salt Flats Cafe and fill up with gas and then proceeded to nearby Wendover, a little town on the western border of Utah, which is contiguous with West Wendover, Nevada. Interstate 80 runs through both cities.  During World War II, the nearby Wendover Army Air Field was a training base for bomber pilots, including the crew of the Enola Gay.  I looked for a place to stop and get away from the heat as well as have something to eat, I was starving.  I called my brother and found out he was about an hour behind, I told him I would wait for him but since it was already late in the day we decided we would spend the night in Wendover.
In the middle of town there is a line that crosses the main street, one side is Utah and on the other side is Nevada.  On the Utah side there's a few motels but on the other side of the line is casinos on both sides of the street.  Nevada allows gambling and it was interesting to see the difference in such a small town.  I went over to West Wendover to get a picture with Wendover Will, a giant sign typical of the area.

Nevada side
Wendover Will
West Wendover
Wendover Will is a sign created for the Stateline Casino in West Wendover, Nevada in 1952. It is now a landmark for the town of West Wendover.  Wendover Will was named after the town of Wendover and William Smith, who founded the Stateline Casino. The 63 foot (19 m)-tall sign was intended to draw travelers in from US Highways 40 and 50, later known as Interstate 80. The sign includes 1,184 feet (361 m) of neon tubing. 
I walked around admiring the Red Garter Hotel and Casino and the typical western look of the buildings.  A little later my brother showed up and we retreated to Wendover, Utah where we found a small motel with a few Harleys parked in front, turns out the other riders worked for a railway company fixing the controls along the Union Pacific rail lines.  We struck up a conversation telling tales of previous trips and where we were headed.  Bikers will always be bikers no matter what bike you ride.  Later I spent time in the jacuzzi relaxing the tired muscles from the day's long ride.  We had done about 300 miles for the day.

Red Garter Casino


  1. An interesting read, I have read about the salt flats and the speed records and would love to have a look. Interesting to read about the ride on the BMW1000RR but could he keep it to 25mph??!!! Surely not?

  2. Great shots. Love how informative you are all the way thru too.