Skip to content

The 2015 Challenge 

by Gary Umland (Gold level winner) 
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, January 2016

I started the Challenge this year with Idaho Sam’s Transcon&nental Railroad ride. We had a great group of riders and the weather was perfect. We traveled several backroads and old highways before camping next to the railroad tracks in the middle of nowhere at Lucin, Utah. The sound of the train whistles and rumbling tracks made for soothing music to sleep by. 

Sun Tunnel Sculpture a few miles south of Lucin, Utah

The next day was fantastic riding along the old transcontinental rail bed. I could open up the throttle during the straight-aways but I had to pay extra aPen&on for the sudden dips around the old bridges. During one stretch, a paraglider circled and buzzed us. On their last pass they threw out a streamer weighted with a large washer. I was feeling lucky since I was the first to retrieve it. I just didn’t consider if it was good luck or bad. A while later I found out. 

Paraglider along the Transcontinental Railroad Trail.
Plugging the hole in my tubeless rear tire.

I made an unscheduled stop to hydrate and grab a snack, I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling to control my bike, and it was ac&ng sluggish. Thanks to the observant eyes of the sweep team, they spoPed my problem. I had a flat rear &re. This was my first flat with a tubeless &re so it was a new experience for me. With the help of the other riders I was back on the road. I haven’t taken the streamer with me on anymore rides. At the end of the weekend, Ihad7 of my challenge sites completed. 

During the summer, I made several rides with a new dual sport rider to collect some of the loca&ons closer to Boise. Those trips took me to the southwestern Idaho counties. After several weeks of planning and re-planning, I came up with a route that would allow me to reach Gold level (30-39 sites). It was an aggressive plan with minimal &me deviations. Some riders may remember RWC’s “Death Marches,” and this was going to be one. 

I left Boise at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning with the objective to reach 9 locations and be in Idaho Falls with time to shop the Army Surplus store that evening. My first site destination would be Rupert. 

Matt Spurlock with his 2001 Aprilia Futura in Malad City.
Monkey Rock about 4 miles southeast of St. Anthony, ID.

I stopped for lunch in Malad City, and while watching the cars go by, I see this motorcycle make a quick u-turn and pull up to me. I had no idea who the masked rider was un&l he took off his helmet. It was MaP Spurlock (SprockeP26). We chatted for a little while and coincidently found that we were heading to the same locations that Afternoon. MaP took the lead, and we collected Franklin and Bear Lake Counties. In Paris our paths went different ways, and we said our goodbyes. 

From Paris I visited 2 more counties and surprisingly made it to the Army Surplus store in Idaho Falls around 5 p.m., giving me plenty of &me to shop. I will have to admit that I did get lazy this trip and stayed in a hotel that night. 

Early Sunday morning, I loaded up and headed north to Rigby. The highlight of the morning was visiting a local location known as Monkey Rock which is a swimming hole. If the morning had been warmer and my schedule more flexible, I would have taken a dip. 

By that Afternoon I was heading west with a detour around the Dunes. I was riding the Red Rd and A-2 which carried me through some great sage grouse country towards Dubois. From the smell of sage to
the sweet smell of hay being cut in the massive hayfields along Highway 22, I worked my way west towards home. When I pulled into my driveway Sunday evening, it was minutes before 6 p.m. In 36 hours I had ridden 1,000 miles and visited 17 counties. 

Gary Umland at Bingham County Courthouse (Blackfoot, ID).

Completing Gold level of the Challenge takes &me, planning and effort but I’ve enjoyed making the trips each year. One of my favorite memories for this year was riding with new riders and being able to share with them what this Club has given me. The adventures, stories, and friendships are unmatched. There’s something special about riding in the backcountry and meeting another rider, especially when they have an IAMC or Challenge Sticker on their bike. Another memory will be the expressions on people’s faces when I stop and take a selfie while wearing a wrestling mask, especially law enforcement. 

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments