Very close call, mountains to desert riding, and entering Utah tomorrow

Left Montrose to tackle US550 through the mountains in 50 degree weather this morning.  My friend led point through the curves as he was aware of the layout of the road, allowing us both  to ride as fast as we desired.  Photos were grabbed of waterfalls, elk, amazing views, and of a active mining operation this morning.  A side trip to Silverton netted some hot coffee and the best breakfast burrito by the best customer service oriented employee ever met.

Heading back out to 550 to capture more curves almost ended the trip permanently for both of us.  A rented RV came into a switchback in our lane nearly missing my friend, went back into their own lane and over corrected, and missed me by just inches as they came completely back in my lane forcing me nearly off the road.  The driver of the RV nearly killed us both since he didn’t know how to drive in the mountains.  I’ve had close calls like any other motorcyclist, but I could see the guy’s eyes as his fender just missed me at 50+ MPH.  By the time we got stopped safely, we were already another curve around the mountain, and traffic was stopped going the opposite direction behind us.  We aren’t sure that the guy made that curve, and we were too shaken up to try going back to offer any form of assistance.

Luckily, this frightful experience was the worst of the trip so far, but has given me the chance to do some hard thinking about some things going in in my life and has has cemented some decisions that I have been contemplating recently about life.  Sorry, too personal to cover on this blog; but it takes a large weight off my shoulders now, and I’ll have the necessary conversations with the applicable people when I get back home.  This morning’s near-collision just goes to show me that life is too short to waste precious time worrying about things or trying to over-analyze things to find solutions to answers that are right in front of you.

I do have to say that up until now the Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee was the best road I have ever rode.  However, US-550 through Red Mountain and the other Rocky Mountains comes close to surpassing as the best road ever.  The day was just starting though…the best possible ever was about to be encountered later in the afternoon.

The ride got better, bringing us into Durango where we wet our thirsts and headed back out.  We said our goodbyes for now in Manacos, where my GPS failed shortly thereafter leaving me lost for the next hour.  Fighting the GPS was futile today, and I instead pulled out the paper maps and found my way headed back north up CO-145, where I eventually caught CO-141…which led me to the most exhilarating ride I have ever done for ninety minutes non-stop.

141 has to to be the best road in the world, taking one above and then into impossible to describe caverns of gigantic rock.  Seriously…I could ride this road several times a day for the next three decades, and I would still miss 99% of the beauty that it has to offer.  Impossible to describe, this is the one road in the United States that all riders should experience.  Some examples of the hundreds of photos I took are below.

Keeping this short and sweet for now, I am in Grand Junction and will ride into Utah tomorrow.

Total today was 387 miles.  Temps ranged from below 30 up in the mountains with snow on the ground to mid-90s in the desert.  Outran one rainstorm in Naturita that was less than a mile away at times, and went nose-to-nose with a curious Husky.  And, I live to ride another day.  Damn fine day all-in-all.

Glenwood Springs to Montrose, CO

A low day of miles, a great day of riding.  A breakfast of waffles at the Best Western Antlers in Glenwood Springs started out a beautiful Tuesday.  Nice motel, but problems abound with an evening manager at check-in repeatedly belittling her poor worker repeatedly in front of her guests.  Not sure I would recommend it just for the attitude of the poorly trained and supervised manager on duty.

Anyways, a hour was spent performing chain maintenance on the Vstrom in the parking lot and giving the bike a quick look over.  I was bound and determined to delay my start this morning so as to rest, but the nice 58 degree outdoors bathed in uninterrupted sunlight simply called me out on the road.  Traffic was light for a Tuesday morning at 8:30 and I quickly found my way back to my desired route.

CO-82 took me to CO-133, a nice ride intermixed with canyon carving and twist turning…which had nothing on the them when compared to CO-92 which took rider and bike back into the mountains once again for a simply unbelievable experience.  Today’s 4.5 hour ride of 162 miles finished by taking a very windy ride on US-50 into Montrose.

Lunch was had on a Big Mac at Mickey D’s, while I waited for a friend to show up who I had previously made arrangements to meet with in the area.  A couple cold ones were had, followed by dinner at a decent Chinese restaurant while accompanied by his girlfriend.  The three of us have had an enjoyable time together and we will ride southward together tomorrow as I continue to conquer more of the best riding roads in the country.

So, a few of the many photos taken today.



Who needs more problems?

After spending ninety minutes writing an in-depth entry for the last two day’s of riding activities only to have the lousy motel wireless corrupt the upload transfer forcing me to start over, I decided…who needs the headaches on vacation?

So, going forward, I will just post quick notes and a few pictures when I have time on the road.  In-depth entries will have to be recalled and entered at a later time…possibly.

Yesterday, got into Colorado finally.  Rode for hours to get to and ride Poudre Canyon.  Very highly recommended.  Camped for the night and had two very social visitors to keep me company…red foxes. who came within ten feet all night long and were gone in the morning.  Very skittish with camera out…got one photo on cell phone which will have to post later.

Total mileage on this day was 571 miles.
Today, Monday, had me visit the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, Arapaho National Forest, the Continental Divide, Aspen, and more places.  Following are 5 of more than 100 photos I took; some I am saving just for me.

Today, total mileage was only 316 miles….lots of 25 and 35 MPH zones and traffic was heavy in spots.  Better write-up and more photos on these days to come at a later time.

Tomorrow I plan to head south nearly all the way down, swing west a little, and come all the way back up before heading into Utah in the next couple of days.  My main task for coming to Colorado has been completed; for the rest of the journey, I am chasing relaxation.

Devil’s Breath on the first day

Was awake before the 4AM alarm went off this morning and watched the clock countdown and enjoyed the peace before the dogs got all riled up.  The original plan was to leave at 5:30 in the morning, but I found myself on the bike pulling out of the driveway just minutes after 5:00.  Twas a little cool this morning, but the excitement and anticipation kept me warm as I started burning up miles on the interstate.

The first rest area in Illinois was my first opportunity to jump off the bike and try to get warm.  While it was mid-50s in Indiana, the temperatures dropped dramatically near Danville and hovered around 40 degrees. What’s up with that in June?   Instead of stopping to layer up, I pushed on so as not to lose too much time until said rest area made the stop a requirement.  Other than three people sleeping in their vehicles and the hum of the tractor-trailer engines located nearby, the building was deserted.

Illinois slowly started to warm up as I continued along with the journey, and the lack of traffic was very enjoyable and allowed the bike to hum along unimpeded.  I had made the decision to take the interstate all the way west to blow through the miles, and at Peoria, I followed I-74 north up to where the new road became I-80.

Traffic picked up greatly by the time Davenport, Iowa was found, preventing me from pulling over and getting photos of the grand announcement signs found at entrance to the state.  Proof will have to come from the free standing sign that is mounted at the Iowa Welcome Center (nice name for a rest room I guess).

Iowa had a surprise for me.  Hours of terrifying side winds which threw the bike everywhere on the road.  The entire way through the state, even cars were being blown into the breakdown lanes on each side of the asphalt.  Truckers were piled up at every rest area waiting for the winds to abate, which today, never did. I Numerous people would approach me at each stop asking how I was able to control the motorcycle through such fierce winds.  I just shrugged and said that I had to keep moving forward to get to where I was needing to go.

A few years ago, a fellow motorcyclist and I were talking and he referred to such winds as devil’s breath.  He said the devil was trying to wreck motorcyclists and all other drivers when entry pickings into Hell were going slow that day.  Never forgot what he called the terrible wind, and today, the breath definitely was very bad.   Bad enough to force me to stop at every rest area approximately on a thirty mile cycle across the state just so I could give my hands, wrists, and back a break.

Iowa is proud of their winds too.  They have many wind farms visible from the interstate and they even have one of the big blades placed at one of the stops to show off the sheer size of it.

I should have just pulled over and found a place to set up a tent and just take a nap.  However, even though these were some of the worst riding conditions I have rode in, I just felt the need to keep riding.  It was not enjoyable, but the intense focus on just keeping the bike in my own lane cleared my mind of the daily stresses that usually gather there.  When going into survival mode, you just concentrate on the matter at hand.

Surprisingly, I finally pulled off the road in Lincoln, Nebraska. Had the weather been better, I could have kept riding!  I show 712 miles done today…it would have been really easy to do a Ironbutt 1,000 mile challenge on the Vstrom had the winds not been so bad.

Gas mileage today sucked due to the extreme winds, and the fact that I rode somewhat fast to get miles completed.  46.8 MPG.  Guess I shouldn’t complain.  With today’s conditions, I would have gotten about 20 MPG on the Harley had I brought it.

Treated myself to a hotel tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow allows for easier riding, and I should easily make Colorado and actually start getting more decent photos so I won’t have to type a book about what was seen.

Oh, the satellite tracker updates every ten minutes when moving.

Ready to go

Ready to go, bike loaded up.  Pulling out of driveway in nine hours.  Sat tracker kicks in at that time, and updates every ten minutes while device is on.

One last area of concern is the fact that the Vstrom (and most similar bikes like this) are notoriously hard to see in the dark due to the lack of reflective properties and a very small tail light.  To help with this, I installed 3M #680 reflective tape on the back of the bags.  During the day, the tape is invisible as it it is black and blends in with the black strapping design of the bags.  At night, they remain invisible until headlights find them.  The tape works really works well to keep drivers off your rear-end and make you visible…but does not detract at all from the look of the bike during the day.  And, it comes in many different available colors and is safe for most automotive and other paints.  A shot of it in the garage in the dark with a headlight aimed on it:

The asphalt calls…and great weather in store tomorrow for departure.  I will update the blog here when I can.