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ADV NewsRicky Carmichael’s Cross-State Adventure On New Triumph Tiger 1200

Ricky Carmichael’s Cross-State Adventure On New Triumph Tiger 1200

The GOAT & friends find adventure on an unforgettable journey across the Rockies.

Published on 12.26.2022

Ricky Carmichael is a legend. With 10 AMA motocross championships and five Supercross Championships under his belt he has also earned the nickname GOAT, as in Greatest of All Time, and remains unrivaled to this day. He’s also gotten into adventure bikes in a big way, becoming an ambassador for Triumph, and creating an annual Summer Adventure ride where he and some friends from around the world put Triumph Tigers through their paces. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200
“Just outside of town we jumped on the trail to Engineer Pass. It was super rewarding to make it to the top but that’s when the real adventure got started!” – Ricky Carmichael.

This year, Ricky’s band of adventure buddies traveled from California, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida and Australia to meet up with the GOAT at Empire Cycle, in Spokane, Washington, for the kick off of his annual Summer Adventure Ride. Their 2023 Tiger 1200 Rally Pro bikes were equipped with Mosko Moto luggage, QuadLock phone mounts, Boxo tool rolls, and Cardo supplied PackTalk Edge headsets so the friends could communicate enroute. 

What a great ride! Every year we do this ride it keeps getting better and better! It blows my mind how we continue to find new roads that lead to new places that are just as spectacular as the places we went to the year before. We say it every year and it’s true, there is no better way to see this country than on a motorcycle. — Ricky Carmichael

The crew set out from Spokane early on July 23rd, and in no time were in Idaho, slaying one of the state’s best kept secrets, Saint Joe River Scenic Byway, 89 miles of “super fun” twisties Ricky said were perfect for getting adjusted to the new Tigers. After a bit of super slab they got the bikes dirty for the first time on Petty Creek Road, which lances Montana’s Lolo National Forest. There was a stop at The Jack Saloon, near Lolo, to wash down some dust, then it was on to one of Ricky’s favorite towns, Darby, Montana. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

The ride has stopped here each year. (Attention fans of the Yellowstone series, Darby is situated in the Bitterroot Valley where the stunning intro scenes are filmed, and right up the road is the Chief Joseph Ranch, which serves as “Yellowstone Ranch” in the show.) Needless to say, it’s gorgeous around Darby, with fun roads in every direction. Ricky fell in love with the area on his first Summer Adventure ride, saying the town is amazing with some really fun places to eat and listen to live music, adding that the “last couple years some serious darts have also been played, perhaps getting a little too competitive at times, at the Sawmill Saloon. Ricky Carmichael competitive? No one is surprised. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

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When in Darby, the group always stays at the same place, The Rye Creek Lodge, where the cabins “are first class.” Ricky says the Lodge is a peaceful place to rest after a long ride, that is after hitting another of his go-to spots, Darby’s Big Cat Cafe, where one of his riding mates, musician Chad Warrix, joined local players for a guitar session. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

The next day the crew headed for West Yellowstone, but wanted to find “a non-traditional route” and so traveled across mostly unpaved Montana 38 and onto the Old West town of Virginia City for some lunch and finally into the National Park gateway town of West Yellowstone, where Ricky claims he had the best meal of the trip and “possibly the best BBQ I’ve ever had in my lifetime” at Firehole BBQ Company.  

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200
Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

Day one and two had been moderate, 301 and 284 miles respectively. Day three would be a marathon, with an early jump right into the Park to beat the crowds. There they encountered all the Yellowstone gold: bison, elk, steaming springs and majestic mountains before blasting south toward Colorado. In the Flaming Gorge area Ricky says they enjoyed “absolutely epic” twisty roads and had nothing but praise for the 2023 Rally Pro and “its nimbleness from the lower center of gravity and lighter overall weight.” After 570 miles and nearly 12 hours on the bikes they landed at the Spoke and Vine motel in Palisades, Colorado. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200
Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

The plan for the final day was to ride to the motorcycle mecca of Ouray, Colorado, and enjoy the dramatic San Juan section of the Rocky Mountains, including a trek over the 12,800-foot Engineer Pass trail, which Ricky says was “probably one of the toughest rides I have done on an adventure bike,” though the Tiger 1200 Rally Pros made it, no problem. Thinking their adventure for the day was over, they found the paved highway back to Ouray had been closed by a massive landslide, so the crew had to go up over the mountain trails again, throwing in 12,244-foot Corkscrew Pass for good measure.

A massive mudslide had just closed the road! I have never seen anything like it before, nor had anyone in our group! We had just missed it by about 15 min. – Ricky Carmichael

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

It was definitely an epic way to cap off an adventure bike tour. The group ended the 3rd Annual Summer Adventure with a get-together hosted by All Terrain Moto, the Triumph dealer in Grand Junction, Colorado. Ricky said after all was said and done he felt humbled by the support the group received from the Triumph dealers and their employees who helped make this year’s ride “incredible and seamless.” 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200
Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

ADV Pulse had an exclusive opportunity to ask Ricky, who is also helping Triumph develop its future line of enduro and MX bikes, for some extra details about the summer trip, and also about his experience with adventure bikes and adventure riding. Check it out in the following Q&A. 

Final Trip Stats

  • 1,465 miles 34 hours, 5min.
  • 6 States: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado
  • 2 National Parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton
  • Multiple National Forests

Q&A With Ricky Carmichael

1. Tell us about what you’ve been doing for Triumph the last couple of years?

There’s been several things that I have been doing with Triumph. It started with just simply liking their product and brand which led to riding the Tiger 900 several years back on my first summer adventure ride. That led to me being a brand ambassador for them and now being part in the development of their off-road line that will soon launch into the marketplace.

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

2. Why did this annual ride get started? What’s the goal of the ride?

It was started to really just enjoy what we love, and that’s to ride our motorcycles across different parts of the country with our buddies. The goal was just that, which has now grown a bit each year to capture content and share our journey, along with our partners and their product in the industry with people via social media.

3. What was your first Adventure ride experience?

My very first adventure ride was in Australia. We got together with some of our Fox Racing Aussie mates for a Fox Legion shoot. It was only a couple of days but it really opened my eyes to how much fun those bikes were and the places you could go on them. It really brought me back to why we all started riding dirt bikes in the first place and that was to have fun. My first true adventure ride was great. It was during the shut down so it was a slim crew, only four of us. Myself, JH Leale, Anthony Paggio and Ray Butts. We rode for 6 days and covered 2100 miles!

4. Can you tell us more about the RC Summer Adventure #1 and #2?

For the first one, we started in Salt Lake City Utah, and headed north to Jackson. It’s a great little town with lots of fun things to do. From there we made our way through the Tetons and into Yellowstone. I had never been to either so it was an incredible time getting to see all the amazing sites. We left Yellowstone and rode BearTooth Pass into Red Lodge. Still to this day that is one of the funnest roads I have ever been on! From Red Lodge we made our way to Glacier and spent a good portion of our day checking out that whole park. We left there and found a great spot in Darby MT, the Rye Creek Lodge. We like it so much there we have stayed there every year since! After that we were supposed to go to Lava Hot Springs but we had an issue and had to make our way back to Salt Lake. We got up that last day and rode down to Payson UT to pay the Rocky Mountain ATV MC guys a visit and get a tour of their facility. We took the scenic route back to Salt Lake and celebrated with a great dinner.

The following year we wanted to test the Triumph Tigers on a predominantly off-road ride. We mostly stuck to the dirt roads and trails and did 900 miles in northern Idaho. We left my old mechanics place in Grangeville ID and headed to Lolo and stayed at the Lochsa Lodge. From there we made our way to Darby MT again and then down to Ketcham and then ended up in Boise. It was an amazing ride and some beautiful sites!

5. What was it like riding a large adventure bike like the Triumph Tiger off-road for the first time?

It was great! Although, if I’m being honest, I was a little nervous at first. Just not knowing what to expect and the size of the bikes. From just looking at them, they can be overwhelming. However, that isn’t the case once you ride them. I was blown away by how well they handle on and off-road, all of the controls and adjustability the bikes have for certain distances. Also, little things like grip warmers and seat warmers for the colder conditions if needed, and cruise control for highway use. The technology on the bikes really helps make the experience more enjoyable. I had that same nervous feeling with the Tiger 1200 this year because that was a whole new experience for us as well with the big adventure bike but again the design and overall feel of the bike with its low CG and awesome handling makes them easy to ride.

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

6. Did you have much street riding experience before trying adventure bike riding?

Yes, a fair amount. I did a couple cross country rides to Sturgis and have had some time riding locally on street bikes over the years.

7. Were there things you had to get used to coming from an MX background?

Not so much, I think because I have so much experience on bikes in general, so that probably helped.

8. What’s your favorite thing about Adventure riding?

For me it’s probably the versatility, and being able to have the option of going off-road when needed or wanting to on certain routes. With some of our previous cross country rides you would see a cool road or hear about a site to check out or some cool hidden gem in a national park but you couldn’t access it on a traditional cruiser bike and do it comfortably. With the adventure bikes you don’t have those limitations, you’re pretty much able to go anywhere. Your only limitation is your own ability to ride the level of difficulty you want to experience. 

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

9. How do you like the new Tiger 1200 compared to the Tiger 900 you rode on last summer’s adventure?

I was really impressed with how the new 1200 handled in corners, because of its lower CG and overall weight. It really felt a lot like the 900 but with the power of the 1200! I was really impressed with the comfort on the long hauls. We did almost 600 miles one day this past ride and the bike was so comfortable to ride it made for a great experience being able to cover that much ground in a day.

10. What was the most difficult part of this last trip?

Haha, trying to keep the whole group together going up Engineer Pass.  Also, the rocky wet uphill  sections. I wasn’t expecting it to be that difficult. But it was still fun. We also ran into a mudslide at the very end of our last day and that sent us back into the mountains later than we would have liked. A good buddy of ours, Chad Warrix, has tons of experience on those trails and thankfully he got us in and out safely during a pretty heavy rain. It for sure added more to the last day than we planned on but in the end it just made the adventure that much greater.

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

11. Any memorable moments you can share?

Oh man, other than the group of friends we had on the ride and being able to share all of those fun moments on the ride. We use Cardo coms to communicate the whole ride so the story telling and smack talk makes for some pure comedy moments. Just as amazing were all the sights. It was so epic, the top of Engineer Pass was unreal. The ride from Yellowstone into Colorado was some of the most fun and windy roads with some of the most insane scenery I’ve ever seen on a bike. There is no better way to see the country than on a motorcycle!

Ricky Carmichael Summer adventure on Triumph Tiger 1200

12. Are there any plans to open the RC Summer Adventure to the public?

At the moment, no. The specific goal is for it to be just close friends only, so that it’s raw and organic content. As far as a summer ride that is offered for the public, of course we have had those talks and it is something that could be a possibility at some point. I like what Jeff Stanton is doing with his Jeff Stanton Adventures up in Michigan. I could see us doing something like that together at some point in the future.

13. Will we see next year’s RC Summer Adventure on Triumph’s new Dual Sport Bikes?

One can hope!

Gear Used

Bikes: 2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro and Tiger Rally Pro Explorer
Tires: Dunlop, Trailmax Mission
Gear: Fox Racing, Legion Gear
Communication System: Cardo Systems, PackTalk Edge
Phone Mounts: QuadLock, Moto mount with anti vibration damper
Tool Roll: Boxo USA, ADV Tool Roll
Bags: Mosko Moto, Pico Tank, Nomax tank and 30L seat bags
Satellite Coms: Bivy
Navigation: TrailTech, Voyager Pro
Helmet : Arai, XD4 Adventure helmets
AntiFog: Klotz, AntiFog Gel
Rental bikes for the crew: Eagle Rider

Photos by Stephen Clark, Chad Warrix and JH Leane

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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ejeasmall
ejeasmall
December 27, 2022 2:29 am

What brand of motorcycle interphone do you use?

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
December 27, 2022 8:24 am
Reply to  ejeasmall

They used Cardo PackTalk Edge headsets, as mentioned above.

Scott
Scott
December 27, 2022 2:42 pm

Will there be any sort of video documentary on this trip by chance?

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
December 27, 2022 8:03 pm
Reply to  Scott

We haven’t heard of any plans yet, but will be sure to share any updates that come our way.

Mark MacHale
Mark MacHale
December 28, 2022 11:12 am

I wonder how the seat height was Ricky when stopping or doing slowing speed manuevers?

Anna Dabney
Anna Dabney
December 30, 2022 7:27 am

Beautifully written, Jamie, and the photos are extraordinary. What a great article!

Greg
Greg
January 4, 2023 2:24 pm

With a rock or log as a kicker Ricky could have probably cleared that mudslide 😉

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