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The road ran us out of Sedona, the sky kettle black and upturned. Rain poured onto that red desert, flooding usually dry washes with a thick slurry of sand and water. We saw it coming, a wall of weather punctuated by jabs of lightning. The temperature tumbled to the low 50s in a blink. We had time to close our vents and brace for the worst of it, 10 hours into a 14-hour ride from Orange County, California, to Jacob Lake, Arizona. There’s exploring to be done up there on the jagged edge of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

Jeff Allen and I left on a couple of long-legged machines: a 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R and a 2017 Honda Africa Twin, escaping the freeway tangle of greater Los Angeles before dawn. The two were glad to consume the long acres of asphalt between where we were and where we were going, blasting across the Mojave at the shallow end of 90 mph. The sun caught us just outside of Indio, slipping beneath a shelf of clouds and banishing the early morning cool. It would be 90 degrees by 9 a.m.

To be so similar in concept, the bikes could not be more different in character. The KTM is a weapon, a fierce and frothing thing. It aches for on-ramps and

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