Roaming Wyoming

Story by Larry Enslen// Photos by Larry Enslen
January 1 2009

Wild Buffalo along the Wyoming roadside Perhaps the best decision I’ve made, besides marrying my beautiful wife of 27 years, Terri, was to obtain a motorcycle last fall; for therapeutic purposes, of course. The next logical step in this new therapy was to plan a trip south of the 49th parallel with friend and seasoned biker, Bob Undseth. Bob’s ride is a fine looking two-toned red ’98 Yamaha V-Star 650 and I am getting comfy with a burnt orange ’06 Honda Shadow Aero 750. Both bikes possessing plenty of punch to haul riders and gear over the mountain passes we managed to find throughout Montana and Wyoming on our August 2008 excursion.

After saying goodbye to our wives and kids in Medicine Hat, AB; the four and a half day trip led us approximately 2,250 kilometres along terrain varying from wide-open prairie to high mountain passes.

We packed sleeping bags as insurance against no vacancies, but managed to find comfortable accommodations in the friendly cities of Great Falls, MT, Billings, MT, Cody, WY and Bozeman, MT.

Before leaving on the trip, another long-time biker offered his sagely perspective by saying, “There are certain elements of bike trips that you will not enjoy, but you will have an adventure.” Although I’d be hard-pressed to recall any truly unpleasant moments during the trip, we were certainly not disappointed in the adventure department. Having the continuous out-in-the-open views while riding over the 10,947-foot Beartooth Pass was stunning.

Permanent stretch marks on our faces were generated from prolonged smiling as we engaged seemingly endless curvy switchbacks going up and down the pass.

Heart-to-heart chats along the roadsides with a good friend will be long appreciated. But one particular adrenaline spike we experienced, while stopped in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, provided enough adventure to last a very long time. Yellowstone Park is home to many wild and free-roaming buffalo that are often seen wandering on the road, or just off of the road, presenting fabulous opportunities to snap a picture of these famed western creatures. One particular male, size XXL, had just finished rolling in the dust when we glided by. Thinking this particularly massive buffalo would make a great picture, I wheeled the Shadow around and parked down the road a ways. Bob followed suit, but was content to pull his V-Star in front of the buffalo that was standing just 25 yards away. Bob has always had a thing for buffalo and was probably tickled to have such a close look at the majestic critter. Although feeling a little wary, I was happy to get a couple of pictures of Bob’s bike with the buffalo in the background.

At some point I jokingly suggested that Bob should go stand beside the buffalo so that I could take a picture of the two of them together. I discovered that you never really know a person until a challenge is on the table. Well, Bob’s daredevil nature kicked in and he began to take a few cautious steps toward his new friend. When Bob reached half way between his bike and the buffalo, I began to seriously think about my own plan of escape should things get out of hand. No sooner, and Buffalo Bob was in the midst of his own Wild West Show as the buffalo put it’s head down and took a run at Bob, hooves flashing and dust flying. Now, I happen to be a pastor and I am a praying man, but I have to admit that stopping for prayer wasn’t exactly the first thing that came to mind. At that moment I was envisioning the phone call I’d be making to Bob’s wife explaining why her husband and his bike would be coming home having both experienced an extreme makeover. At the same moment there was this surge of laughter welling up inside of me at the sight of never having seen a fifty-something man spin and run so fast. Luckily (thank the good Lord) the buffalo stopped short of doing any damage to Bob or his bike.

That said, upon hastily hopping on his bike, with the buffalo just a few yards away and on the verge of taking another lunge, Bob quickly discovered that his bike would not start. In his panic he had forgotten that the kill switch was still on, but eventually he saw the problem and so the V-Star roared to life and launched him out of harms way. Somehow I would like to imagine that the buffalo was intrigued with the V-Star’s outstanding colours and contours and merely wanted to get a closer look.

From start to finish the roads and accommodations were home to seemingly countless Canadian bikers on rides of all makes and sizes, many of whom were on their pilgrimage to Sturgis, SD for the famed Bike Week. I discovered that, by and large, bikers tend to be the friendliest folk out there. Beyond enjoying the standard “biker-code wave,” guys and gals are just plain eager to do a little show-and-tell about their bikes and their experiences riding them.

This short, but sweet, first ride was all it took for me to be dreaming of a longer ride next summer. Like most of you perhaps, I’ve discovered that a motorbike, a bit of time and hitting the open road with another biker friend produces sure adventure; about the best therapy going. MMM


Copyright ©2002-2024 Motorcycle Mojo | Privacy Policy | Built by Gooder Marketing