"Pavement Ends"

(January 1, 2017) My Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited touring bike is designed to roll on paved roads. Sure, my machine and I can handle some gravel; hell, I even managed a couple hundred yards on a beach. (Stay off the sand!) But, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

When you're planning a ride -- and God knows I spent a lot of time planning this one solo across Nevada, California, up the Pacific coast and then east on US 2 -- one item to look for is if and when roads on your route turn from pavement to gravel or dirt. Somehow, in all of my Google Maps tracing and research, I failed to notice that Utah 219 becomes a dirt road about 15 miles from the Nevada border and stays unpaved for about 30 more miles until it reaches Nevada 319, just east of Panaca, NV.

(The photo at left comes courtesy of Google. I failed to stop and take my own photo of the "Pavement Ends" sign as I was in shock from the experience of arrving at this circumstance in such a remote place. The many bullet holes in the sign provided no comfort.)

I wanted to get from St. George, Utah to US 50 west across Nevada by the shortest route. The idea was to ride Utah 18 north to Enterprise, UT and then UT 219 west into Nevada. This experience proved to me once again that just because a route looks good on a map doesn't make it a good one in practice.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't take your Harley on this road. If like me, you want to get from St. George, Utah or parts nearby to western Nevada by way of US 50 ("America's Loneliest Highway"), then this is the way to go. I'm simply trying to warn you that it is very helpful to know in advance what you're going to be dealing with. These kinds of surprises are no fun, to me anyway, especially when I'm riding alone, as I was in this case.

You should also know that this road crosses Open Range, which means cattle and other animals are free to wander across at any time and any pace. I actually had to weave my way through a group of cattle standing in the middle of the road. The older animals just looked at me in annoyance but the younger ones were spooked and began running, often times in the same direction as me! (I've included a short video at the end of this post.)

The lesson learned here is to use Google Maps Street View whenever in doubt about road conditions. 

Keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter!

-The Long Rider

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