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This is the (very) condensed version of the Ride Report. The full version is several posts long and is located further down this thread. If you choose to read the long version you might want to set aside some time...



Left Chandler AZ at 0355 on Friday, and at 0345 on Saturday I got my final receipt in Hardin MT. 1556 GPS miles.

Slept about 15 min at a rest stop and then headed to Billings where I had a Mickey D's Big Breakfast, then attempted to head for the Canadian border but my sleep deficit caught up with me and I wound up getting a room in Miles City at 11 am and relaxing until Sunday morning. Then it was off to ND, SD, a quick ride through Sturgis, and a stop in Rapid City.

Monday morning took me to Mt Rushmore and then down through the Oglala Grasslands into NE, and finally into Denver. I have a meeting in Denver today and I'm flying the wife in. We'll ride SW Colorado for the next three days and then head home on Saturday.

MASSIVE storms in northern NM and southern CO on the way up. Slight amount of rain Sunday morning in MT and then huge storms with hail coming into Sturgis. More rain and wind yesterday in northeast CO. Temps were anywhere from 51 degrees (WY) up to 109 (Holyoke CO). I was wearing my LD Comfort gear under my Killi jacket, and I soaked down a couple of times yesterday to keep cool.

Only had one deer jump out in front of me, and that was Saturday morning after I had completed the BBG. I was on a back road and was only doing about 55 or so. Nailed the brakes and came to a stop while waiting to see what his partner was going to do. They went in opposite directions and I continued on my own.






















I lived in Ludlow MA when I was a kid.



Holyoke MA was near where I lived in MA.



The last name of one of my best friends is Dalton.



There is no admission fee to Mt Rushmore, but there is an $11 parking fee whether you are one rider on a motorcycle or 9 people crammed into an SUV. You do NOT have to park to see the monument, but the best close-up photos will be taken from inside. I like this shot because it was very overcast yet the sun was shining just on the faces of the monument.



The obligatory stop.



The view you see here is what I saw the most of so far on this trip. Long and straight. Long and straight. Long and straight. Zzzzzzzzzzz.



Abandoned bridge over the Powder River in Montana.



A little trivia for the area. I wish I had more time to just explore.



4 miles of Wing dual-sporting.



This has been an expensive trip so far.



This is at the Sioux County line in the Oglala Grasslands. I had to pee so I peed on the county line. I think it was 25 minutes until the next vehicle passed by. This is looking to the west.



When I was peeing on the roadway I had a sense that someone was watching. Sure enough, these guys were curious as to what I was doing.



What's that you say? You can't see anything in the prior picture? Well, let me set the camera on the tripod and use maximum zoom. Now can you see them?
 

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Nice photos....would like to make a trip up that far north again on the bike....

Rip
2008 Motortrike
 

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Was pleased to see your chose a "safer" tire on the rear. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Was pleased to see your chose a "safer" tire on the rear. :thumbup:
I'm not crazy about how it handles on the grooved pavement in Colorado, but I like the comfort of having a RF when I'm out in the middle of nowhere in BFE SD.
:thumbup:
 

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Congrats!
 

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The previous post was the Reader's (Rider's?) Digest version. Here's the full-blown report. Photos start after this post.


0351 (Arizona time) is the time stamp on my fuel receipt Friday morning and 81281 is the starting mileage on the Wing in Chandler AZ. 0446 (Montana time) is the time stamp on my gum purchase receipt Saturday morning and 82915 is the ending mileage in Hardin MT, a difference of 23 hours and 55 minutes, and 1,634 miles.

Why a gum purchase and not a fuel receipt? Because it wouldn't be an adventure if everything went right, now would it? When I arrived at the truck stop in Hardin the gas pump would not accept my card so I had to go inside to have the clerk authorize my pump. After filling the tank I went back inside to obtain my receipt, but the receipt had everything on it I needed other than the TIME STAMP! So I had the clerk write the time, print and sign her name on the receipt and my log, but then I noticed that she wrote the wrong time. I was late by an hour according to her writing. To correct that I had her write the correct time and initial it but to be sure I wanted to get another receipt with a proper time stamp to prove to the IBA judge that I was there when I said I was. I attempted to use the ATM in the lobby but that was out of order. The next best thing was to purchase a pack of gum and when the receipt came out with a correct time stamp I knew I was golden. It doesn't matter what time you actually arrive somewhere, it's the time stamp on the receipt that determines whether or not you made your goal.

So what prompted this madness?

I had wanted to do another IBA ride after my initial SaddleSore 1000 (SS1K) that Brenda and I had ridden in September of 2010. An SS1K is the minimum ride required to gain membership to the Iron Butt Association, a group that fosters interest in safe, long distance endurance riding.The next level up is the Bun Burner; 1500 miles in 36 hours, but I wanted to attempt the Bun Burner Gold; 1500 miles in 24 hours. This is a ride that the IBA considers Extreme and it is not to be taken lightly. In order to be successful you must ride the 24 hours at an average speed of 63 mph. That does not mean that when you're riding you have to maintain 63 mph, that means that your average speed including stops for traffic, accidents, fuel, food, rest, and potty breaks must be 63 mph or better. In order to have the best chance of accomplishing this requires that you stick to the Interstates with their higher legal speed limits. My food intake was limited to one Whopper Jr somewhere in New Mexico and dehydrated bananas at each fuel stop. Bananas are good because they contain potassium, something that is good for reducing
joint stiffness/pain. That, and a bunch of Alieve is what got me through this.

So I had the interest in doing this, I had a business meeting coming up in Denver, and I had some vacation time to kill. With a little planning and schedule manipulation I made it all come together to make this ride a possibility.

My route took me from Chandler Arizona south to Tucson on I-10 and then east to Las Cruces, NM. I needed to go this way to build up mileage before I headed north because my ride would be ending in Montana and I was concerned about being able to finish somewhere that would provide me with a legit receipt. Also, by going to Las Cruces before turning north I was able to get a fuel receipt that would prove that I "turned the corner" and did not cut across the state.


Tucson provided me with my first obstacle; I-10 was closed at the Kino Parkway and I had to detour for a few miles to get around the closure and back onto I-10. It would have been great if detour signs had been set up, but noooooo, all we got was a Freeway Closed sign and barricades taking us down an off-ramp. That added about 15 minutes to my time. My first fuel stop was in Benson and I thought that it was going to be my last. My gas mileage had been pretty low, causing me to stop sooner than expected, and when I returned to the bike after using the bathroom I saw a puddle under my bike. The first thing that went through my mind was that I had a fuel leak which was causing my high fuel consumption. I stuck a finger in the fluid and smelled / tasted it and it was just water. But now I'm concerned that I have a water hose leak. I move the bike away from the puddle and try to determine where the water was coming from. To my relief I discover that the water is coming from the melting ice in my Black Ice Polar Cooler where my phase change neck coolers are. The bike was on the sidestand and the water was coming out the open corner of the cooler. Whew...

NM provided me with two traffic accidents to clear. One coming out of Las Cruces and another south of Santa Fe. In both cases my side of the highway was shut down to a single lane and each accident cost me another 10 minutes or so. That may not sound
like much, but each minute of slowdown requires extra speed to get back to or above my 63 mph minimum. I did my best to keep my average around 68-69 mph before I would stop for gas, and then each gas stop would have to be as fast as possible. It is fairly easy to keep your average speed high during the early part of the ride, but it becomes much harder to do so as time moves along. I only have 5 instances in which I was stopped for more than 10 minutes, but I know that in the future I can do better on my fuel stops.

Santa Fe presented me with my first storm obstacle of the day, but certainly not the last. I was very fortunate that I caught the tail end of SW bound thunderstorm, but I still got rain and wind. As I moved into CO I was moving fast to avoid a fast moving storm that was heading NE and was off to my left. There were a few times that I really had to twist the throttle to try and stay ahead of the storm, but I still got blasted with 50 mph side winds and strong rain. The lightning was intense and within five miles or so, but I was determined to get past this as quickly as I could. Unfortunately I had to stop in Raton to gas up and the storm got very close to me so it was not fun trying to maintain my speed and deal with the wind and rain at the same time. I had to deal with the winds and rain all the way into Colorado Spings and this probably brought my average speed down to about 61.

As I got closer to Denver I discovered that Colorado grooves their roads, a nice touch for wet and winter driving, but not a lot of fun for a motorcycle with a car tire on the rear. The bike danced all over the lane as it tried to follow the grooves. There is nothing much you can do other than just be gentle on the bars and ride it out. And since I brought it up I'm sure some of you are asking, "why a car tire"? The tire is a Pirelli Euforia, a run-flat. I have had two flat tires and they were both on the rear so this was just an insurance policy to help me accomplish the ride. The bike handles a little differently, requiring more pressure on the bars when diving into turns, but the majority of my riding on the Wing is two-up with Brenda and a lot of straight-line riding. In addition, I should be able to get 15-20,000 miles out of it.

Speaking of Colorado, somewhere between Colorado City and Thornton (north side of Denver) I hit my first 1000 miles right at the 15 hour mark. This was 3 hours faster than the ride that Brenda and I did last year, but that trip also included slower fuel stops and two stops for breakfast and lunch. During my fuel stop in Thornton I had two witnesses sign my log to show that I was there. That way I would qualify for another SS1K in case the BBG was not successful.

Aside from the massive storms, things really did not get interesting until Wyoming. Then it started to get a bit cold, and quite dark. There was only the tiniest sliver of a moon that night, and if you have ever been to WY or MT you know how desolate the countryside can be. Here I was, riding through Elk and Deer infested areas of the country in the middle of the night, but knowing that if I reduced my speed I would not attain my goal. So the throttle remained twisted, as did my mind.

If nothing else, a strong dose of paranoia helps to keep you awake.

I lifted my head once or twice and the stars were brilliant, but I couldn't afford to stop and just stargaze for a while. I did see one meteorite come across the sky and that was a momentary relief from the monotony of keeping my eyes focused on the road and the shoulders.

A few weeks prior I had installed some HIDs in my low beams. They are made by Goldwinghids.com and I can't recommend them enough. When I would click on the high beams the additional light really did not add much to my visibilty; the low beams are just THAT good. I would get flashes from the other side of the freeway when I was running just the low beams, and that was with my lights adjusted all the way down. The good thing about WY and MT traffic is that it is few and far between. I might ride 20 minutes or more without seeing another vehicle. This would allow me to click on the high beams and adjust the lights to the highest setting, giving me great visibility down the road. For further rides of this type I still need to invest in some additional lights that will give me more visibility to the sides of the road so I can keep an eye out for critters.

Due to having to make more fuel stops than I had originally planned (high speed = low gas mileage) I was able to pass the same trucks in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. I'm sure they were glad to get me in front of them since my lights were so bright. When I would pass some of these trucks I would understand that they were primarily driven in that part of the country due to the extremely heavy-duty brush bars they had on the front of the trucks.Some of them looked like the bars you see on the trucks running the Australian Outback. Each time I saw one of those it game me pause, but the way I look at it if it happens, it happens. Some people ride forever and never have a deer strike. Some people can't ride a year without a deer strike. When your time come up it's going to happen whether you're riding at 50 mph or 90 mph.

I wore a passport holder around my neck that contained my route, a map sheet, my driver license, and a credit card. When I would roll in to a stop I didn't have to fish around in my riding pants for my wallet or worry about forgetting to zip the pocket up and losing my wallet along the way. I unzipped my jacket, pulled out the credit card from it's little
velcro-secured section, swiped the card, and returned it to its holder. Since my jacket is always zipped up and I put a second lanyard on the passport holder I didn't have a lot of concern about losing this. Prior to the ride I called the bank and told them every state that I would be using the card in so that my card didn't get put on hold due to excessive use or
use outside my customary spending habits. I had to input the last four digits of the card at a few stops, and a few others asked for my zip code, but most gas pumps just authorized the sale quickly and let me get moving. I had to ensure that I got a receipt at each stop, and then recorded the date, time, location, and mileage into my log. It wasn't until Evansville WY that I realized I had been using the wrong date up to that point in the ride.

About mid-way through Wyoming I began to get the "I can always do this in 36 hours and get that certificate" thoughts. I could feel the stamina start to wane a bit. I drank half a bottle of 5 Hour Energy and it helped to keep me going. Once I hit the Montana state line I knew that unless something bad happened I would have this in the bag. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of fuel stops in the outlying areas of Montana (aren't all areas of Montana outlying?), so I was concerned about where I would get my final receipt. This is an example of poor planning on my part. I should have done better research on where the fuel stops were. I saw a sign for a place called Lodge Grass and it indicated a gas station so I went down the side road in search of this place. It was some sort of a garage, and although it was closed they did have unattended pumps. Since I knew I was over my 1500 miles (1596 odometer and 1530 GPS) I went ahead and got my receipt. After filling up I decided to try and see how far I could make it within my 24 hours and that took me to Hardin MT and the story you read at the very beginning of
this report.

When you ride a BBG you have to have TWO witnesses at the start and at the end. For the start I was able to use my wife and the manager of my apartment complex. At the end I used the clerk at the truck stop mentioned above and then planned to use the hotel clerk from wherever I wound up at the end. Unbeknownst to me, hotels/motels in that part of the country are booked solid by tourists, so in my case there was "no room at the inn". I was able to have one nice night manager of the Super 8 verify and sign my log and then I took off in search of a room in which to sleep. With nothing around for 50 miles or more I found a rest stop, inflated my sleeping pad, and crashed for about 30 minutes. Unable to sleep more, and with the rising sun keeping me awake I loaded up again and headed to Billings. On my way there the GPS detoured me onto a back road for some reason, and it was there that I had my first and only deer encounter. One jumped out on the road in front of me and then just stood there looking at me while his/her friend stood by the side of the road. I came to a full stop, waited, and then as I started back up they both ran off in opposite directions.

Arriving in Billings I found myself a Micky D's, ordered the Big Breakfast, and gave Brenda a call to let her know that all was well. Even as hungry as I was I couldn't finish the meal and not feeling very tired I decided to strike out for the Canadian border. Once I was on the road again, and realizing that it was going to be at least four more hours to get to the border, I decided to call it a day. I arrived in Miles City, found a McDonald's, fired up the netbook and began checking for local hotels. I happened to find one right across the street and after a quick phone call and talking them into an early check-in I was soon unloading the bike at about 11 am. Still unable to sleep I jumped on some forums but then the sleep deprivation began to catch up with me and I hit the sack. Wonder of wonders, I only slept 2.5 hours and then was back up again. I grabbed an early dinner, watched some TV to see what the weather was going to be like the next day, surfed the net, and then finally went to sleep about 8 pm. I got a solid 10 hours and then it was up and at it again.
 

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Day 2 (or is it Day 3?)

If you consider that I rode Friday AND Saturday, then Sunday did indeed make it Day 3. I awoke around 6 am and headed to the hotel breakfast which wasn’t bad at all, and then back to the room to start packing. Cloudy skies and a few sprinkles greeted me as I began to load the bike. I am going to have to invest in a Pak-It Rak for the Wing, as trying to cram everything into the saddlebags and trunk and on top of the trunk is just not enough. Or maybe I need to learn to cut down on what I carry?

From Miles City MT I decided to abbreviate my ride a little so I headed for South Dakota via Hwy 12. A really nice little two-laner in which I encountered one LEO going in the opposite direction making my radar detector chirp away, but fortunately I was actually under the limit enjoying the scenery so I had nothing to worry about. One observation in general… eastern Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska sure have a LOT of farmland. I think the population of those four states is around 4,000,000 people, but the population of hay bales in those four states must be about a billion.


A quick stop at the Powder River to take a photo of the bike on the old abandoned bridge, and then back on my way.




Another stop to take few photos in Plevna, swallow a couple more Alieve, and then saddle up again.







Next stop, the Montana / North Dakota state line for the obligatory state line photos.




A couple more photos in Marmarth of a former train station and I continued moving southeast.


Soon enough I came upon some road construction and I had to wait for the Pilot Car to lead us through 4 miles of two-track road. Oh joy. Just what I want to do with an overloaded Wing.




I reach Bowman ND and begin heading south on Hwy 85. Along the way I stop to take a photo of a herd of bison off to the side. By the time I get the bike stopped all but one were laying down and I didn’t want to turn around to get a better angle.


I wind up taking 85 all the way into Belle Fourche (Bell Foosh) South Dakota where I take my only wrong turn of the trip. After gassing up, I take 212 to the NW thinking this was going to take me to Devils Tower. I was too lazy to consult my map or my GPS and was going just off of my memory cells. Unfortunately for me, my memory cells were a bit fried at that point. However, it did allow me to see my first herd of antelope on this trip.


I traveled for 30 miles back into Wyoming

before I admitted my male mistake and pulled over to check my location. An ADV rider on a V-Strom happened by right at that time and turned around to make sure I was okay (Thanks guy!). He let me know that I needed to go back to Belle Fourche and go south a bit and THEN go west to Devils Tower. Oh well. By the time I got to where I needed to be, the skies ahead were starting to look a bit grim so I made the decision to soldier on and not do the tourist thing.

Next stop… STURGIS!

Or so I thought. It was now late afternoon, I hadn’t eaten since about 6 am, my belly was complaining, and there was a McDonald’s in Spearfish. By now you might think that I like McDonald’s or something. Well, I do. I worked for unit number 1996 as a kid (they have over 40,000 locations now) and the food doesn’t bother me. Also, they have free Wi-Fi which is a great asset when you’re trying to line up a hotel for the evening, or see what the weather is going to be like. I can do the same thing on my phone, but the netbook does it a lot faster and easier. So while I’m munching my burgers, checking the weather, watching the clouds in the distance, and seeing the lightning start striking in the mountains, I figure that I better get my butt in gear. Right about that time it starts to pour so I run out to the bike to grab my jacket and rain jacket and bring them back inside with me.

The weather radar does not look good at all. The thoughts I had of riding the Black Hills scenic highway just went out the window, and I know I need to make haste to get to Rapid City is a rapid kind of way. The rain has stopped and it’s now about 95 degrees with 95% humidity and I think I’m back in Houston. Yuuch. Gear up. Load up. Head for the interstate (I-90). I’m not on the highway for more than five miles and the skies open up on me. I find an overpass and hunker down for a few minutes as the wind and rain do their thing. A few minutes later and the rain lightens up, although the path ahead still does not look real good. I give it a shot.

Rapid City is about 50 miles away but Sturgis is only about 20. What the heck, I’ll swing in and see what it’s all about. About 5 miles from the exit for Sturgis the wind gets worse, the rain gets worse, and then the hail starts. I’m listening to NOAA weather and just about the time they sound the alarm on the radio a gust of wind about takes me into the next lane and all heck breaks loose. I slow to maneuvering speed and head for the nearest overpass. Just about the time I come to a complete stop with the wind blasting from my right front quarter, the wind shifts and is now coming at me from behind. Hmmmm, wind circulation, heavy storm, hail. I watch enough TV to know that the chances of a tornado are pretty darn good based upon my observations, and then the radio announces a tornado watch for my area. Wonderful.

I sit it out as cage traffic crawls by on the interstate, and when the weather lightens up enough I get back on the road to Sturgis. Getting off at the exit I come up upon some guy and his girlfriend on a Chinese sportbike, but I can’t remember the name. He was in shorts and a t-shirt and sneakers, and she had on short-shorts, a bikini top, and sneakers. Yep. This must be Sturgis all right. A quick trip into town and you can tell that even though the rally is a week away, people are showing up already. Most of the big vendor trucks are already set up, and vendor tents are all over everywhere. I get my photo in front of the Sturgis hillside sign, and head back to the freeway and down to Rapid City.


Dinner is a delivered pizza and then early to bed. This was the ONLY hotel I stayed at that encouraged the use of their covered front entrance for riders to park their bikes. When I left the next morning there was my Wing, and then seven Harleys sitting out front.
 

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Day 4
Up early so as to beat the tourist traffic and it was off to see Mt Rushmore. No need to hurry though, as I only had one car in front of me at the entrance gate. There is no fee to see Mt Rushmore, but there is an $11 parking fee whether you are one person on a motorcycle or 9 people stuffed into an SUV. It is also possible to see the monument from outside the park, but the best view is definitely inside so I considered the $11 well worth it. I strongly encourage you to visit here if you haven’t done so already. Knowing that I need to be in Denver by this evening I don’t stay long; just a few photos and then on my way. There are some great riding roads throughout the Black Hills, but I didn’t have the time to partake in them.






Yeah, I was a little tired, or did the bags under my eyes already give that away?


I made my way over to 385 and headed south. A short cruise through Hot Springs, find 71 south and then sit back for the long ride. This takes you through the Oglala Grasslands and it is just miles and miles and miles of prairie. Coming out of Hot Springs I see an interesting sign, so I do go back to get a photo.


And sure enough, less than a quarter mile down the road I encounter a bison resting in the grass on the side of the road. I stopped and took a few photos but kept the bike in gear the entire time in case he decided to get a little “frisky”.


A few more miles down the road I see what I think is a deer decoy put out by the Fish & Game dept, but as I go by I realize that it is just a large antelope. Once again I swing around (I’m getting good with my narrow road U-turns on the Wing) and come back to take some photos. He doesn’t budge as I stop and take a few shots, but as I put the bike in gear it clunks and all he does is stand up. I guess they really know when they are protected from hunting.



I then continued on into Nebraska.


As I crossed the Sioux County line I decided I needed to stop to offload some fluids and take a few photos. It had been about 30 minutes since I had seen the last traffic on this road, so finding a bush to hide behind was not a requirement, but peeing on the county line suddenly became the thing to do. Ever get that feeling that someone is watching you even when you know you’re miles from civilization? Well, as I stood there with myself in my hand, watering the asphalt, I had that feeling. Looking here and there I don’t see anyone, but wait… way off in the distance… maybe a mile or so away… there is a small herd of antelope on top of a ridge just watching me.

Can you see them? They are just to the right of the little hump in the center of the photo.


I finish and then go fetch my tripod so I can get a photo of them. Until the camera was mounted on the tripod and at full zoom, I couldn’t even see them.


From then on it was pretty uneventful. I had stopped earlier in SD to take a picture at the Ludlow Fire Dept because I had lived in Ludlow MA when I was a kid. Holyoke MA was right down the road from us so when I got into Colorado again I headed for that town to get another photo, both for my mom.




It was 109 on the bank sign as I rolled into Holyoke so I grabbed the Black Ice phase change neck band out of the cooler and put it to use. Ahhhh, did that ever feel good! I soaked down my LD Comfort shirt and headed for Denver.

As with just about every day on this trip, the afternoon thunderclouds began to build up and soon again I was getting pelted with driving rain and high winds. It lightened up as I reached I-76 and then I set my sights on getting to the hotel before the forecasted thunderstorms broke loose in the Denver area. As it turned out I got wet again, but it wasn’t too bad. I also got a chance to see my first ground-to-ground, double rainbow, with the clearest definition of violet that I had ever seen in a rainbow. I really wish I could have taken a photo of it, but I did not want to have to stop in the rain and dig out the camera.

Next up, a business meeting, a day of rest, the arrival of my wife, and three days of touring SW Colorado. Hang in there, the best photos are coming.
 

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Day 5
Business meeting in Denver and my wife arrives at the hotel. I shipped her gear ahead of time so she didn’t have to carry it on the plane and I didn’t have to carry it on the bike. Now it was time to sort out the stuff I can do without and ship that back home because there’s no room for everything. By the way… Holiday Inn East on Quebec Street… very nice.

Day 6
Sleep in. Late breakfast in the hotel. Start loading the bike. Ship the box back home. We don’t actually hit the road until almost 10 am Denver time. Because of this and the distance I hope to cover today we skip Mt Evans. Yeah, I know, everyone says this was a mistake, but the mountain is not going anywhere and we can ride it next time. A stop for gas and then we’re on I-70 heading west.

Now THIS is what we came to Colorado for.


Ahhh....



1st goal: Hwy 6 south and Loveland Pass. I stop and click on the Go Pro (haven’t reviewed any vids yet) and start the climb. As usual, there is the usual amount of slow cages with no sense of urgency or enough smarts to just pull to the side and let a faster vehicle go by, but eventually I manage to get around a couple.







Although the pass is at 12,000 feet, it doesn’t take long to get there when you’re already at 8,000 or so to begin with.


We stop and get a couple of photos at the sign and as we get ready to start down the other side, what do my bewildering eyes see… but two bicyclists reaching the peak from the other side. Remember, we’re at TWELVE THOUSAND FEET elevation!!! I find out the next day that there is a world class bike race in the following week or so and world class riders including the Tour de France champion will be competing. There will be two 12,000 foot passes as part of their rides. These guys must have the lung capacity of an elephant.

Now we're heading down the mountain on the other side.


Great roads and great scenery around every curve.






Hwy 6 takes us back to I-70 for a short while and then it’s when we reach Copper Mountain and Hwy 91 we head south. This takes us through Leadville which looks to be a cool little town, but we didn’t take the time to stop. We continue on to Hwy 82 which we take west over the Independence Pass and then further on to Aspen.










Change of elevation.



We hit some light rain along the way, but then it lightens up and actually warms up the closer we get to Aspen. There were actually lots of teenagers swimming the various rivers and streams along the way. I don’t know how they can do it, that water had to be just above freezing.

Aspen didn’t strike me as being too “cool”, but the main route through town takes you around the center part so I’m sure we missed a lot of the good stuff. We did come across an Escalade with Texas plates so we pulled up alongside at a light and asked them where they were from. Turns out they lived about 20 miles from where we were when we lived down there. Small world. As we were leaving Aspen the highway takes you past the airport and I saw more corporate/personal jets at that airport than what I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. Everything from small Lears to numerous G5s. They were lined up everywhere.

We continue on to Carbondale where the plan is to take 133 south, but the weather is not looking real good ahead of us so we check in to the local Days Inn, unload and get the bike covered.

The next morning as we are preparing to leave, another Wing and V-Strom (both with Texas plates) are also hitting the road. We follow them to a local gas station and when the Wing rider walks over to me I just point to the Two Wheeled Texans sticker on my windshield, and it turns out that he is Socrates (Jon) and the Strom rider is his son Jason, and Jon’s wife Beth is in the chase vehicle with their dog. Their son was going to film school in California so they were both escorting him out there. We were all heading in the same direction so we rode along for a while.









133 took us down through Paonia where the Beemer guys just had their rally a couple of weeks ago, and then at Hotchkiss we took 92 south and then east all the way to Gunnison while Jon and family headed to the west. We got rained on in the Gunnison / Lake City area, but it had become the norm by now and we just geared up and dealt with it. After lunch in Gunnison at (where else?) McDonald’s so I could fire up the netbook and check for weather and hotel info, we backtracked a few miles and then headed south on 149 through Lake City, Creede, South Fork, and finished the day in Pagosa Springs on Hwy 160. I wanted to make it to Durango, but it was already sunset and I didn’t want to ride another hour in the dark.
 

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Day 7
We were up early (for once) and on the road by about 7 am. We continued to Durango and then headed north on 550, looking forward to the road ahead.





We rode on in to Silverton and had lunch at the Brown Bear Café.








I had a grilled cheese with onion rings and lemonade, and Brenda had ham & cheese with chicken noodle soup. Everything was delicious and reasonably priced. On our 2013 trip I think we’ll do the narrow gauge railroad trip between Durango and Silverton. That looks pretty cool.

When lunch was over we once again jumped on the 550 which is now the official Million Dollar Highway. Within a couple of miles of leaving town the road began to get interesting (and scary). There aren’t any guardrails and the dropoffs are incredibly steep and deep. This is not a road to be hot-dogging on and blow a corner. There may not be any coming back from a mistake like that. The unfortunate thing about the road is that I was so focused on riding well that I really didn’t get a chance to see any scenery. When I reviewed Brenda’s photos I realized that I never even saw half of what she had pictures of.


























 

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550 takes you up through Ouray, and then we hung a left on 62 at Ridgeway and headed for Telluride on 145 once we hit Placerville.




On the road just outside of Telluride we came across a herd of elk, probably somewhere between 50 and 75. I lost count at 50 and there were more laying down in the pasture, so I really don’t know how many there were. They were not bothered by us standing at the fence or by all the cars stopping to take a look.






We rode on into Telluride and went all the way through town until the pavement stopped. This has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I can certainly understand why the rich and famous have homes here. If I were to win the lotto I’m sure I would spend some quality time there.










Back on onto 145 (the elk herd was still there)


and on down to Cortez for the evening. We had dinner at a place called Tequila’s. When the table next to us began to fill up with ranch hands still wearing their spurs and with their riding gloves tucked into their belts we figured we had picked a good place. We weren’t disappointed. It was great Mexican food.
 

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Day 8
Ugh… the final slog back into the heat. We woke up to 52 degrees in Cortez and I knew the forecast was for 109 in Phoenix. Yuuch. But we did have a little treat as we were leaving Cortez. There were about a dozen or more hot air balloons launching from various parts of the countryside and it was really nice to see so early in the morning.


First stop… the Four Corners Monument just because I had never been there. This is just one of those "ya gotta go there just because" kind of places. Nothing special about it other than the uniqueness.






After that I made another pit stop at Tec Nos Pos to lower my highway pegs again for the long haul home. Riding down 160 I kept my speed about 4 over, but after a Suburban passed me I wicked it up a bit to keep up with him. This was the one time that I didn’t hear the radar detector go off, but when I checked my GPS speed I was only at 74 in a 65 and the Tribal cop did not come back to get me. Overall, LE presence on the entire trip was pretty minimal. Probably less than a dozen seen in the entire week.

Other than a few gas stops and lunch at the Cameron Trading Post we just stayed on the bike and headed for home, arriving just before 4 pm. The heat was killer, the LD Comfort was dry, my water jug was dry, and I was dry. The AC in the apartment sure did feel good.

It was a GREAT trip and I really enjoyed myself the entire time. I lost my sheepskin butt pad about 400 miles into the trip; somewhere in NM, but once my butt got used to being without it I didn’t have any issues. The middle of my back hurt the most, and that was probably because I had to try to sit up straight to see over the Laminar Lip that I installed on the windshield. But that Lip sure did make a good difference in keeping the wind buffeting above my helmet.
 
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