I took my new '17 RT on an adventure last month to ride the 2017 How the West Was Won rally out of Grand Junction, CO. A total of 8 days and about 4500 miles of riding with the rally being about 1400 of those miles.
I live in western Washington and the ride to Grand Junction is about 1150 miles, pretty much all interstate riding. I try to route away from interstates if I have the choice, and decided to take a less direct route and stop by to visit a friend in southeast Idaho that I hadn't seen in a few years. My first leg had a route planned around Mt Rainier, across central Washington on US-12 and then into Missoula, MT on US-12. My second day would have me travel a short distance south to Idaho Falls on US 93.
I must have made a wrong turn near Mt Rainier and wound up going through the park instead of around the park. The detour certainly added time to my ride, but it was totally worth it since there was no one else around that early in the morning. I essentially had the park to myself! Eventually I returned to US 12 west of White Pass and endured several road construction stops before arriving in Yakima.
The ride across Washington was familiar and hot! temperatures exceeded 100F as I road east towards Lewiston, and I didn't find relief until the climb through the mountains began towards Lolo, MT. I love this section of US 12 but have seldom made the trip without stops for road construction. This trip was the exception. It was motorcycle nirvana with no orange cones and very little traffic. The only drawback was the building smoke from fires in western Montana as I approached Lolo and Missoula. The start from Missoula the next morning was smoky and cool.
After enjoying my friend's company I left for a longish ride from Idaho Falls to Grand Junction through portions of Utah. I had planned on several stops to visit TOH memorial sites and had hoped to make it to Grand Junction in time for dinner with a fellow HW3 rally rider from western Washington. All was going well until road construction along a few secondary highways in Utah derailed my timeline. I eventually made it to Grand Junction an hour behind schedule but still managed to connect for dinner.
If you haven't ridden through Utah - all parts of it - put it on your list. Beautiful scenery, great roads, good experience overall even considering the construction delays.
The How the West Was Won rally is a 32 hour endurance rally that is coordinated annually, usually in August. If you are looking for an enjoyable rally experience and want to experience some of the best riding in the western US (in my humble opinion), look into it.
The basic premise is much like a scavenger hunt. A list of bonus locations is provided to the riders a week in advance and we take advantage of the week to try and plan a route that produces the highest score. Lots of puzzles involved to keep thing interesting. The rally starts at 0600 on a Saturday and ends at 1400 on a Sunday. A rest period is optional, but points are constructed to make use of the rest period advantageous. Minimum mileage requirements apply to be considered a finisher (this year it was 1150 miles).
My initial plan this year was to take advantage of one of the categories to ride to Mt Evans and Pikes Peak as I had never visited there before. I like to do well when riding these rallies, but never consider myself competitive to win because I know my limits and riding all night isn't an option. So I decided to enjoy the trip this time. However, after talking to a few Colorado natives, I determined my route was rife with risk and better options were available, so I changed everything the night before the start! I know what you are thinking, but it actually worked out well this time. My new route had me riding west into Utah, north through Salt Lake City and then into Wyoming. I continued north towards Jackson and Grand Teton NP before turning east towards Cheyenne. Finally I turned south to Denver before heading back to Grand Junction. A fair amount of interstate riding was involved, but I also had a great time on many secondary highways throughout Wyoming. And I-70 from Denver to Grand Junction was a great experience, too.
Rally was a success - 1400+ miles in roughly 31 hours and an 8th place finish.
The trip home was not very interesting as I needed to be back in 2 days, so my only real detour was to go north in western Colorado into Wyoming on CO 139. An interesting ride on a lightly travelled road that crosses an 8000 ft pass. The road is pretty rough in spots and there is plenty of livestock grazing on open range lands, so speed isn't really an option, but the scenery was great.
The bike did great with the exception of the front tire. I had an '09 RT and recalled the finicky nature of the tire's wear with air pressure, so I was pretty diligent to check pressures and maintain each morning, but it still wore poorly and I suspect I chose poorly. I have looked around and think I have better pressures now. The back tire was in great shape.
Gas mileage was fantastic with 45-54 throughout, even at the 80mph limits in Utah and Idaho. Bike worked flawlessly and I am happy with the setup overall. Things I will be improving in the future include a RDL seat and a set of tip-over bars. I am debating installing a box on the back but actually was pretty OK with not having one this trip. I packed most of my cloths in a dry back and strapped it down.
Anyway, sorry for the longish writeup, but i hope the pictures are enjoyed.