WANNABE COWBOYS RIDE THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)|September - October 2021
It was our first visit to the U.S. While indulging in stale airline snacks in cattle class on our way to Texas from South Africa, we had a good laugh about all the contradicting and varied opinions of the U.S. we’d heard.
Michnus Olivier

“They have the World Series of American football, although they’re the only ones playing it.” “The poor bastards pay $5–$13 for a beer in a restaurant and think beef jerky is something nice to eat.” Google “biltong,” which is now available in the U.S., you’ll thank me later, and yes, paying that for beer is a human rights violation, in my humble opinion.

Nevertheless, the media is guilty of creating many mistaken perceptions about countries, something we’ve discovered to be true in almost every nation we’ve visited. The same came to pass for the U.S. What we found was a country we fell in love with during our nearly six months there, and most of the proffered opinions were rubbish.

As we were sitting in the BMW workshop of our friend Hank, in the bloody hot, small town of Dilley, Texas, he slapped a few Butler BDR maps on the table while sucking on iced tea. These are about the best way to plan where to ride, he said. With added suggestions from the local gamut of adventure riders, those maps became our go-to for route planning. After buying two low-mileage Suzuki DR650s in San Antonio and rigging them for the long run to Ushuaia at the southern tip of South America, we hit the road at the beginning of summer.

Riding from Texas’ Big Bend National Park, north toward New Mexico, the images of old westerns with their dirty, dusty, and sweaty cowboys came to mind. You quickly fall in love with the tiny, bucolic one-horse towns, each with its unique charisma. Not to mention the small diners, with their incomparably great food. If we weren’t careful, the DRs would not be able to carry the husky bodies we were busy growing. Those towns still have the seductiveness of times gone by, and some are as rough as a bear’s arse. The chummy, chatty folk are a treat, from fuel stop attendants to interesting characters we encountered in quirky, dodgy bars. Conversations always ended with smiles and suggestions of places to see.

The summer heat was unbearable at times, but our friends did warn us that the sun at that time of year could boil your brains from early morning. Lucky for us, Americans like their comforts, they know how to do things properly, and we were able to find some relief at service stations, buying ice for our CamelBaks and humongously large sodas with crushed ice to suck on while attempting to avoid brain freeze.

The plan was to curve through small towns, using as many backcountry and dirt roads as possible, to Wyoming. Advice to stay off the interstates was 100% appreciated. Our route crisscrossed to the west through Texas, up to New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, eventually turning around in Washington, where we pointed toward Mexico. We traveled over the mountains of Colorado, the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and the incredible roads winding from Wyoming to the state of Washington, a route of roughly 4,000 miles, covering some of the most scenic roads and landscapes the U.S. has to offer.

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