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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Christ almighty, I'll breathe a touch of fresh air into this otherwise frozen forum. :)

So about 4 months ago, I had the bright idea that I needed a road trip. Originally planning for the usual 3-4 days being gone, I figured I could actually squeeze in a whole week of riding, which in turn led to "how far COULD I go in one week?"

Simple route layout began to lay out the route, and I picked the end of my summer break before school started again as my departure date, because it would ensure that it would not be sweltering hot, and from prior knowledge of my friends the Fuzzmops, knew that the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming could still be closed for snow as late as late May/ early June. Thus, the general time window was laid out, and the closer I got to the departure date, the more I fine tuned the route I would be taking. More or less "guessing" on how far I'd be going every day I gave myself specific checkpoints to at least reach every night, trying to keep the mileage to around mid-500 miles per day.




So as my departure date finally approached, I'd already picked out the finest accomodations I could find in the towns I planned to stop at for the night: One star motels priced more or less around $50/night. :) Pretty much all of them were found with google maps, just typing "motel" into the map search zoomed into the little town. Some were actually just found getting into town, asking how much for a single room, and deciding to stay or not.

Finally, August 11 came, the day before my departure. Work absolutely dragged on forever. I couldn't wait to leave; and since I would be gone on the date of my mom's birthday, I took her out for an early celebration dinner that night, and had the best sushi imaginable. Went home, already knew the anticipation wouldn't let me sleep much anyway, and set my alarm for 3:45 AM, just enough time to stumble out of bed, get geared up and head on my way, in order to traverse the I-15 through Vegas and Nevada, before the sun was fully up and ready to kick my ass.

Woke up several hours later, walked to the garage, where the bike was already packed and loaded up, put on my Gerbings liner to offset the morning chill through the mesh jacket, and was on my way.
3.5 hours later, I was in Vegas, with the thermometer greeting me with 97 degrees at 7:50 AM. Motored on, fighting off boredom and drowsiness, knowing I had 400 miles of slab to cover before I got to anything resembling interesting. I would have to say the whole bottom tip of Nevada smells like tar, rubber, and foul chemical stench that I can't quite describe.

By 10:00 AM I was greeted by a small canyon pass following a river as the I-15 crossed a small corner of Arizona, giving me a chance to pass some of the cars that had just been blowing by me at 95, who were now going 50, due to the complex task of having to make a turn.



About 20 minutes later, I was finally into Utah.



A short while later, I was in La Verkin, Utah, which was my jumpoff point off the I-15 (finally) and the route that would lead me into Zion, National Park. The clouds that had been brooding in the distance were now the clouds I was riding into, and it began to spatter soft, sporadic drizzle on me, although the air temperature remained in the high 80's. Stopped for a quick breakfast, where I ran into a quartet of riders, who had their Harleys with trailers outside, and chit chat led to them proudly show their patches they had EARNED that said "I rode mine to Sturgis." They let me know there was rain up ahead in Zion, where I had just come from, and thanked them, though I had already pulled out my rain gear and staged it somewhere quickly accessible.

Heading down the road, I soon found myself surrounded by iron-rich rocks glowing a fiery red. Quite the change from all the dull browns you grow accustomed to in Southern California.
Finally reaching Zion, I purchased a multi-agency annual pass from the Parks Service for $80 that gets up to 3 motorcycles into a national park for 1 year from purchase, or up to 4 people in a car, I believe. I would be going through several National Parks, so it made sense to buy it, as only a few parks would put me over the price tag of the annual pass.







The road leading into Zion, Utah State Highway 9, goes from relative flatlands to a deep canyon in a very short time. It's quite an amazing change from the 400-something miles of flat boredom you've just endured to get there.





Zion, while being an incredibly small section of road on SR-9, takes you from the deep canyon walls, through a half-mile long tunnel cut straight into the rock, and up into smaller rolling hills, with the rocks changing into something resembling a flaky pastry crust. (I know, good thing I'm not a geologist.)





As the bike complained about the 30mph speeds I was stuck at, following the endless parade of cages in front of me, Zion slowly but surely ended, leaving you wanting for more scenery and amazing geological formations.

But the road soon opened up, and the hordes of tourists vanished, leaving only an open road between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Dixie National Forest, as the road branched into US-89 heading north.







Arriving in Bryce Canyon, NP, the clouds began to darken some, which made me stop and put my rain pants on, in addition to the rain jacket I was already wearing. Going into the park (which had all the road torn up into compacted gravel) the clouds opened up some, and let a light, but steady rain fall, as I headed towards the end of the road. The minor inconvenience of road and weather would totally be worth the vistas once the end of the road was reached.










Reeling from the spectacular views, and amazing weathering and erosion of the rocks, I headed back out through the rain back to Utah SR-12 which was my route north.

I hit an wide open section of sweepers, but began to struggle with drowsiness, my eyelids getting heavy anytime a short section of straightaway showed up, making me realize I'd only had about 3 hours of sleep, and how utterly stupid it was to ride if I was this tired. I checked the Zumo for my gas mileage and noticed I was due to stop soon, and tried to wake myself up to at least get to the gas station, where I'd down a redbull, and some sugary snack to at least wake me up temporarily. By now, the skies had let up with the rain, and it was just warm, but not too humid. Overcast skies must have been helping to keep the temperature down.

Stopping for gas, and something to wake myself up, my odometer read something in the high 400's for mileage, and realized I still had quite a ways to go before I was at my stop for the night. Timewise, I was doing fine for arriving with daylight left, so I figured I'd press on.

The open sweeping road finally became a tighter section of road, as it dropped in elevation suddenly, through another steep canyon of red.



This canyon eventually led back up into elevation, where it actually followed the very crest of a ridge for about 5 miles, giving you dropoff vistas on both sides of the road. After the road flattened out again, it began to lead into the Capitol Reef National Park, which culminated in the road turning something very much akin to the Cherohala Skyway, if you've ever been on it. 50-ish miles of sweepers, with an occasional left or right kink thrown in. Great rhythm, and as I climed up in elevation again, the temperature began to drop from high to mid 80's down into the 60's. I stopped to put the Gerbings back on and snap a picture.



The road finally brought me to a fork where I had to head northwest for 10 miles, into a small little town called Bicknell, where I had chosen to stop for the night.

Tired and frazzled, I pulled into the parking lot, relieved to finally be able to relax. Checked the odometer and it let me know I'd just done 682 miles in 14 hours, on 3 hours of sleep. I couldn't help but chuckle.

Had dinner at the diner that was attached to the motel, took a shower, set my alarm for 6AM the next morning, and fell asleep with absolutely no trouble, by 9PM local time.
 

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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The following morning I woke up to a planned "short" day of 492 miles. The morning brought cool, crisp temperatures at 7200 feet, so I put on 2 layers under the Gerbings, and set off into the morning sunrise, which was already creating a light show on the hills around me.



Heading East on Utah SR-24, I headed towards the Dixie National Forest again, and was once again greeted by high canyon walls, this time in the form of Meeks Mesa



Stopping to gawk for a minute, I continued on towards Hanksville, passing through terrain features that if you told me I was on the moon, I would have believed you.



Stopped for a quick fill up of gas, and branched off the road heading southeast on Utah SR-95, towards Glen Canyon and Lake Powell. As soon as the road approached Glen Canyon, I was once again amazed by the topography, and saw deep gorges right next to the side of the road, cut away by flowing water. This stuff all looked pretty grand to me.



Lake Powell finally appeared off in the distance, and I realized why I had been seeing so many trucks pulling boats, seemingly in the middle of the desert.



I was amazed, but the full magnitude of Lake Powell and it's immensely high cliff walls wouldn't show themselves to me until I turned off towards a vista point. Just amazing.



The whole vista just seemed to be made all the better by the low ceiling of clouds overhead. The sky being closed in made the massive scale of everything in front of me just a little bit more comprehensible. Just a little bit. And Glen Canyon had no shortage of stunning sights, and the road just flowed like poetry through the landscape.





While stopping to take a few pictures, save for the ones on the move, I noticed I had passed the same big rig hauling a crane about a half dozen times. I wondered if I was more annoying or amusing to the guy. :)

The road slowly led out of the deep canyons through smaller rolling hills, surrounded by coniferous trees, in stark contrast to the landscape that was just nearby. Turning off on SR-261, the rolling hills eased, and a sign appeared that the pavement ended in half a mile, and there were narrow roads and tight turns ahead. I figured it was just more road construction, but I had no idea I had been riding on top of a massive butte for the past hour, and had abruptly come to the edge of it.



The road continued visibly below, and the only way down was a section of tight switchbacks that dropped you to the valley below in a short section. Good thing I was prepared with Road 2's on the RSV, because I remember reading something about them being dual-sport, or something.





The road finally met up with the pavement again, and I was off, headed towards the southern tip of Utah, and Monument Valley. Stopping for gas in Mexican Hat (which is actually just a rock chimney on top of a small butte, surrounded by construction trucks, apparently) I rode past a toasted ******* doing his best Peter Fonda, with American flag bandana and ape hangers on his Harley. With the amount of insects on my shield, I imagined he was sporting a winning smile under his mullet.

A few miles further down the road, Monument Valley began to appear. Now, maybe it's because I had just come through the magnitude of Glen Canyon, and I'd been seeing buttes of many, many scales all over souther Utah, but Monument Valley didn't blow my mind the way Glen Canyon did. It seemed to me that Monument Valley just had the largest, most glaring examples of how wind and water erode the rock, but have left some of the highest standing islands of stone in the desert.





The road turnoff into Monument Valley finally appeared, next to a cheezy casino/kitsch shop, and I turned onto the Indian reservation, where the signs said it was $5 to enter. I slowed down to 30 to rummage through my tank bag and check to see if I even had any cash on me (because in this age of plastic and the debit card, who actually NEEDS cash?) and luckily I had a whopping $7 in my pocket.

Turns out, Monument Valley is really small-ish parking lot with a restaurant/gift shop that was under construction at the time, filled with many a worker shouting profanities in Spanish. It made me chuckle, as I stared out at the vista, and noticed a dog lying on the ground at the edge of the parking lot. I didn't know if it was dead or injured, but it let me know when I got closer as it growled and scampered off, that it had been just in fact, taking a nap.
Just below the parking lot, at Monument Valley, there's a dirt "road" that leads into the valley itself, where tourists can traverse foxhole sized craters and random rocks the size of basketballs jutting out of the dirt, in order to get a closer look at the vistas. I had already done some packed ground, so I figured I'd ride down to take a closer look.



I made it down as far as a small clearing where there were some card tables set up to sell foolish tourists garbage and jewelry that they don't really need (I'm sure it's finely crafted and all, but I'm a cynical bastard.) The path down there was filled with Volvos and rented RV's going 5mph as all the occupants bounced around inside with the uneven road surface. I hit a downhill section of deep sand, and feathered the rear brake only, deciding that packed gravel was fine, but sand on the Michelins was just shitty, and I wasn't going much further.

Thankfully the view where I stopped was worth it.



On my way back up towards tarmac, the downhill section of sand had an RV starting to go up, and I could tell the driver was hesitant to get up it, and I didn't want to get myself buried having to stop behind him, so I went around the RV which was creeping forward at a glacial pace, made it 3/4 of the way up, tried to avoid a huge dome of sand, and went right into a hole as deep as that pile was tall. The front wheel made it through, but I felt the bike lose momentum and dropped my feet as soon as I felt the rear sink into the hole and stop. I feathered out the clutch and felt the rear spin, so I hopped off the bike, rocked it back and forth at a 45 degree angle to the incline of the road to get the bike out of the hole, and walked the last 50 feet next to the bike giving it a touch of gas and clutch to help me move it up through the sand. As I climbed back on, I looked behind me and saw the RV shooting a huge rooster tail of sand as the back corner of it sank even deeper into the road. Poor guy was probably going to be there awhile.
 

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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Back on US-163 I headed down a half mile to the Arizona border, and as I snapped the picture of the Welcome sign, I realized I was "close" to the four corners, and I may as well be a touristy dumbass and go there as well.



Stopping for gas in Arizona, I punched the location of Four Corners into the GPS, and realized I was actually 70 miles from where it was. I figured I may as well, and set off on US-160 heading East. Boring, flat, dull. Why was I going to Four Corners again?

An hour later, I crossed into the tip of New Mexico, and headed up the road leading to Four Corners.



Finally arriving at Four Corners, it turned out to be another section of Reservation, wanting another $5 for an entry fee. It took me about half a second to decide that for another $5 in cash I didn't have, I didn't really give a shít about seeing a metal plaque on the ground marking a political boundary, swarmed by the Farsnworth family and their snotty children.

I motored on into Colorado.



Now the sign says "colorful Colorado" but the southwest corner of Colorado greets you with these small, grey domes of rock that make it look more like a pit mine than a scenic state. I soon stopped for gas again, filled up my camelbak as the weather was in the low 90's now, and continued up US/SR-491 back into Utah, into a little town called Monticello. Now the only thing that town and the mansion Jefferson built for himself share is that they both have f'd up streets, wet from rain, and torn up by bulldozers. (Thomas Jefferson had bulldozers, look it up.)

US-191 heading north out of Monticello was pretty scenic still, with buttes off in the distance, and some close to the road. There was even another natural arch right off the road, with a housing tract behind it (an extravagant $130K buys you a home here!



This one looked like a giant, fat, stone woman



I crossed back into Colorado, through a nice flowing road that lead into La Sal National Forest, and was a welcome change from the 200-something miles I'd just done of straight highway roads. The road branched off north to Colorado SR-141, and was easily the best road of the day, certainly ranking amongst the best of the trip. The road leads you from slow rolling forests, right along a river, right into another massive canyon, where the river widens, and the road flows right alongside it. You soon find yourself surrounded by 800 foot vertical cliffs, riding amongst giant stone monoliths, ancient and silent. I truly felt humbled by the scale and beauty of the surroundings.





SR-141 eventually wound down, as it neared Grand Junction, Colorado, where everybody drives 40mph, despite the posted limit is 50, and the cop that was taking a nap 5 seconds ago won't hesitate to pull into the street and follow that "rice rocket" with the bags on it that just rolled by him (still below the speed limit)

After stopping at a motel in a quiet suburb of Grand Junction and asking Agnes (she was old and crabby, I assumed she had a name like that) how much the single was (85+ tax, and they're ALL smoking rooms) I decided to head back west on I-70 towards the airport at Grand Junction where I knew there were motels and stuff available.

Settled on the Motel 6, which sported a cool 44.95 price on the sign, got checked in, somehow got bumped up to 50-something with bullshít fees, AND had to pay $3 for 24 hours of internet. Awesome. One star fleabags offer free internet and these cocks at Motel 6 still charge you for internet like it's 2002 and wireless is something new and cutting edge? See if I ever stay at your crap locations again, and I hope Tom Bodett (the 'tard from the commercials) dies of throat cancer.

Unpacked my stuff, checked the odometer and somehow ended up with 631 miles in 11 hours. Damn if the Four Corners wasn't a huge waste of time. Oh well.

Had dinner at Cocos (finest quality meal I'd had ;) ) went to Home Depot to get some WD-40 to lube my chain, and went to bed. Decided to ruin a towel from the motel cleaning my chain for charging me for wifi.

Next up: traversing Colorado, the indirect way. :)
 

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eARRROOOOOGA
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Nice write up! Looks like a great trip! I'm really wanting to make a trip like this!

JM
 

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Amazing amazing amazing and a fantastic writeup - you really let us "come along" with you. Keep it coming!
 

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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As morning broke on Colorado, I stepped outside of the motel to find a light drizzle coming down, put my rain gear on and headed off. Stopped to refuel, and headed East on I-70 for a short while to get off on US-6, which made a loop heading southwest, and down towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
I noticed the weather just got worse with more dense clouds, and colder and colder temperatures, finally checking the GPS to see what my altitude was, and I found I'd already crested 10,000 feet elevation, before 7AM. :)



Continuing down the road, I passed through several small towns, continued donw along CO SR-50, turning into US-50, chasing a diesel truck through the ascent up the mountain into Gunnison, letting him run rabbit for me in case there were cops ahead.



Turning off US-50 onto SR-92, my fuel light came back on, and I checked for the nearest gas station, which said 37 miles away, so I put it in, figuring I could make it no problem. Once routed, it was 46 miles away going through the windy road that went across the mountain. I dropped a gear or two, and putted through the damp windy road at 3500 RPM in order to milk more mileage out of the tank. I didn't stop for pictures here as the mountain was blanketed with thick clouds, so my visibility was limited, though I was able to see a whole group of young deer grazing just off the side of the road - thankfully they didn't move when I went by.
Finally making it to the next town, and gas, I ended up putting 4.42 gallons in my tank. Pretty sure I made it there on fumes, and not wanting to risk running out again, I decided to fill up the 1 gal can of gas I had strapped to the bike in case I came that close to running out again.

The road next took me along SR-133, which lazily followed a river, and where most of the locals were out for their weekend ride. This was the first time since I'd left home that I'd even seen sportbikes, and almost all of them were riding without helmets. Just can't get over the fact people let all the road debris hit their face.

SR-133 branched at SR-82, towards Independence Pass. The road led me through Aspen, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The town greets you with an airport filled with private jets, no less than three local cops parked on the road enforcing the town's 25mph speed limit and "no cruising" law. Downtown Aspen was even worse; clogged with spotless Land Rovers and Mercedez G-Wagons, I figured they were the locals who had driven their "utility vehicles" out of the garage to go preen downtown. You couldn't even smell the mountain air anymore over the cologne and perfume of the douches walking along the streets.



I wouldn't have felt bad if someone had handed me an axe and told me to start swinging away into people. It was just like being on the West Side of LA, just in higher elevation. I think Utah is the place to go snowboard for me, to hell with Aspen.

Leaving Aspen, the road narrowed and the tarmac ended altogether, I figured it was probably due to the DOT realizing gravel was easier to maintain in the wintertime than asphalt was, but at least it was still scenic. The road even lead through a forest of birch trees, which I can't remember seeing anywhere in CA.




The road started to climb up towards Independence Pass, going from high 9000' elevation up towards 12,000 +



Peaking Independence Pass, and taking an elderly picture's couple, who were both dressed in shorts and polos and shivering uncontrollably, I descended the pass heading back towards I-70 again.



The road finally branched off at US-24, then SR-9 heading up towards the interstate, as the road followed yet another river, through several coal mines, loading rail cars right along the highway, and finally these giant sentinels, welcoming and saying goodbye from the mountain pass.



Finally reaching I-70, I jumped on it for about 30-40 miles heading East, as my destination now was Idaho Springs, CO, and towards Mount Evans. I stopped for a picture at the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is supposed to be the highest elevation vehicle tunnel in the world.





It was a good 20 degrees warmer inside the tunnel than it was outside. I enjoyed the temporary warmth, and was happy to see the sun was breaking through the clouds onto the interstate on the other side of the tunnel.
It was here I hit a traffic jam, with all the lanes stopped. I was about to say "screw it" and just lane split like back in CA, but decided not to, and not 2 seconds later, I see a Sheriff's car 2 vehicles in front of me. Come to think of it, what could he have really done to try and follow me? Oh well, better safe than sorry.

10 miles later, I exited to Idaho Springs, which looked like a charming little town, complete with brewery and little boutique shops. Too bad I didn't have time to stop and look around. I headed up the road to Echo Lake, and jumped onto SR-5 towards the summit of Mount Evans. The whiteboard at the entrance to the road mentioned it was 36F at the top of the road. I put on my rain coat just for an extra layer to have on.

14 miles later, and several great views later, I crested to the top of the road, at 14,168 feet, passing alpine lakes and meadows along the way. It was indeed, quite cold and quite windy up at the top of Mt Evans. You could even see Denver, 60 miles away off in the distance.











Heading off once more, the bike hesitated to start for a moment, but a small blip of the throttle gave the mixture enough oomph to fire the engine up. I'd hate to think how poorly a carburated bike would perform at that altitude.

I descended SR-5 again, back through Idaho Springs, and a short jump West on I-70 again to US-40, which on the map, had an awesome section of switchbacks, which I wanted to take a picture of, but found they were actually too big to take a picture of from the top. I did find this aerial picture of the road to illustrate what it was like:



Cresting at 11,000 feet, the road started to come back down, and led through a few towns, one which was having a War Veteran's rally, and the main drag was choked full of Harleys and slow moving everything. Luckily I saw on the GPS there was a road behind the main drag where I could bypass everything, and it got me through that town quick and without issue. I suddenly wondered if there would be rooms available where I wanted to stay, but as the road listed it 20 miles away I figured I'd be OK since most rally types wouldn't ride as far as 20 miles to go barhopping.

Finally reaching Granby, CO, I pulled into what looked like a decent motel, asked the clerk the rate, and got a room. As I was turning to leave the office I asked him "you guys have wifi, right?"
He chuckled. "Hell, we 'aint even got telephones."

So I unpacked my stuff, went to dinner, and when I came back, 2 harley guys were lounging outside their room.

"Bike's kinda dirty, isn't it?" they said gesturing to the RSV.
"Yeah, three 500 plus mile days of rain, off and on. I notice your bikes didn't get dirty coming all the way from that trailer over there." I said gesturing to the enclosed trailer 20 feet away with "Chopper This" and "Custom That" on the side.

They both looked into their beers for a witty reply, but found none.

Went inside, warmed up with a shower, and got a text from a friend how the trip was going, and had a short conversation with him about what an antisocial tool I am, and went to bed. :)

Next up: Heading to Wyoming
 

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"Yeah, three 500 plus mile days of rain, off and on. I notice your bikes didn't get dirty coming all the way from that trailer over there."
LOL!

 

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Novos - the pictures are just beautiful.

I know in the grand scheme of what you took in maybe you weren't "impressed" (maybe not the right word?) with Monument Valley, but i'll tell ya, seeing your panorama shot reaaaally makes me want to see that with my own eyes.

Bryce Canyon looks like it must be a lot to comprehend when you're there. Is it like the grand canyon in that what you're looking at almost doesn't look real?


"giant, fat, stone woman" :lol

I wanted to pick out my favorite picture in what you've posted so far, but i can't.

Looking forward to the rest~
 

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One star fleabags offer free internet and these cocks at Motel 6 still charge you for internet like it's 2002 and wireless is something new and cutting edge? See if I ever stay at your crap locations again, and I hope Tom Bodett (the 'tard from the commercials) dies of throat cancer.
:applause :lol
 

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Great stuff, thanks for posting. I covered some of the same area on a (4 wheel :() trip years ago--Zion NP, Bryce Canyon, (Painted desert, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Gila River Cliff Dwellings, etc.)--and while the pictures are fantastic, they really have to be seen firsthand to fully appreciate the sheer scale and majesty of it all.

And it's funny how you mention the birch forest. One of my lasting memories from that trip was driving through a typically rocky, desert-like canyon area in Colorado--just as you describe: like being on the moon--steadily climbing up out of the canyons, and cresting the final rise to find myself suddenly decending through this incredibly lush birch forest--trees and grass everywhere, a whole different world. If I'd had a passenger along and they'd closed their eyes for literally 10 seconds they'dve thought we were 500 miles away from where we had just been.

You've already got me digging out my old pics and jonesing for a return trip, but keep the pics and reports coming just the same. :waytogo
 

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South, post 'em up and but quick :)

We experienced something similar coming up over the Big Horns in WY - once side is evergreen, cold, snowy climate, damp and dark. Crest a hill, and it was like someone drew a line on the ground and said "stop the trees right HERE, start the red rocks THERE.

I've read through this about 5 times, can't wait for some more detail, and man do I want to just pack up and go see it all.
 

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South, post 'em up and but quick :)
I'd love to, but 2 things: one, I'm certainly not about to clutter up Novos' post--I fully expect him to fill it to capacity with pics and text--so, I'd post them in another thread; and, more importantly, two, as I mentioned, the trip was years ago--the pics are hardcopy only. Although, I really should find out if I can take the negatives somewhere and have the pics put on a disc; I don't know that scanning the developed prints would do them justice.
 

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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
LOL, Crud :grin I like the big ones, this I can't deny...

Where was I?

Oh yeah...

I awoke the next morning, having already heard the spatter of rain on the motel roof, and on the asphalt outside, glad my bike was parked directly outside my door under the eaves, since I'd run the battery tender cable out through a window to recharge the battery just in case. I got dressed, prepared for rain, went outside to pack the bike, and noticed the 2 harleys had been put away in their precious little trailer. What wankers.
Left the motel, went to get gas at the corner, and headed north along US-34 towards Rocky Mountain National Park, under a light rain. Rode along the edge of a lake, until I reached the park entrance, where I was waved through, and noticed mutilple speed limit warnings in a row, followed by one telling you speeding kills wildlife. I figured I'd comply since the ground looked like this, and I'd just cruise at the mellow 45mph limit to take in the sights.




At first, I didn't really fathom what the big deal was about this National Park, as the woods were scenic enough, and the granite mountains off in the distance were nice, but didn't have that "zing" to it that makes you stop and be in awe.

I motored through the park, climbing back up to 10,000 feet, realizing my rain gloves, though waterproof, didn't insulate at ALL, and I was getting sick of having my fingertips be numb from the cold temperatures.

The road slowly began to wind a bit more, and finally came around a hill where I could see a valley, with a small river flowing through it. The wow factor was finally presenting itself. I stopped to take a picture, thinking it all looked so "Sound of Music" below.



I continued to climb further up, until I came to a bend in the road that presented a huge ridge of mountains in the park. Yeah, that was the wow factor I was looking for. It was pretty cool :)



The road began it's tighter, curvier descent down the mountain, and the sun had already broken through the sky, presenting dry asphalt on the northeast side of the mountain, showing the valley below. You could already see the little town of Estes Park below.





I rode down the rest of the way, and stopped at a sporting goods store to see if they had any insulating gloves that were water "resistant" at least, or some thermasilk liners. They only had basic winter gloves, the kind you only wear in the snow for 10 minutes before your hands are soaked, but like I said, I was tired of my fingers being cold.

I stopped almost next door to have some breakfast, and plot out another possible route, since I had originally planned to make one huge loop around Rocky Mountain Park, back to Granby, but I didn't want to do the commuter-packed US-40 switchbacks again, not to mention the 100 little towns I'd have to ride through to get there. Two couples were having breakfast at the table next to me, and one of the women just kept obviously staring at me, looking me up and down half quizically, half with disdain. I guess they're not used to seeing people in any kind of leather that doesn't have tassles all over it, so I finally asked her if there was something on her mind, and you'd think I'd just asked her if I could skullfück her grandmother since she turned away quickly and pretended she hadn't just been staring at me for the last 20 seconds. It must have been the knee pucks that made her so uncomfortable. :rolling

I finally decided on heading out towards Fort Collins, and then doubling back across CO SR-14 to Walden, which was my portal out of Colorado and up into Wyoming.

The section between Estes Park and Fort Collins was your typical suburbian commute, dull and boring, sadly with almost nothing to photograph. I crossed back West over SR-14, which follows a river for about 80 miles,although it had a good number of cars to get around, before you climb up to 9,000 feet, and then drop into a valley that leads into Walden.



As the road flattened out towards Walden, the landscape opened up, and you know what wide open plains mean, don't you? That's right, pesky crosswinds!



At least the winds weren't TOO strong and I was only being made to wander around in my half of the lane.

As I reached Walden, I wondered where Thoreau was, and if he could tell me what the big deal was about his pond.



I stopped for gas, checking the Zumo, and I could hear the tuba going "WAH WAH" as I was informed I had 304 miles to go, and it all looked like wide open, straight roads of Wyoming's plains.

I looked up, and saw a pair of sportbikes across the street with saddlebags, and idled over to them, and said how nice it was to see something other than a Harley that was actually getting used for touring.

"Actually, we're from Chicago... we trailered in, we're about 50 miles down the road." one guy told me. I had to shake my head. Chicago is far and all, but jeez. Doesn't anyone ride their damn bike anywhere?

I wished them a good ride, recommended SR-14 to them, and told them there were spots where it was raining on the road, and to be careful.

I motored out of town heading north, and I wasn't even 1/4 mile out of town when it began to rain. I pulled over to don my rain suit, and headed up towards Wyoming.
No sooner did I crest a hill about 2 miles later, when I was literally hit with a wall of wind. The clouds in front were thick and heavy, and the rain had been picking up, but that ridge must have been holding back all the wind from the clouds because it just slammed right into me. 70 felt like 120 with my helmet being pushed back, and I just stayed in a tuck as best I could, and dealt with the buffeting.
Of course the road would turn, and it would go from a headwind to a crosswind, and I'd be riding sideways just to track straight in the road. Priceless. I checked the Zumo, and it merrily gave me the finger, as it informed me there were 270 miles to go.
 

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aprilia junkie
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I finally reached the Wyoming border, and pulled over so the wind was blowing AT my bike, so it would at least dig the stand into the ground, and not blow it over instead.



I motored on, heading up to Rawlings, and from there, Muddy Gap, Wyoming. By now I was about 100 miles into Wyoming, and I'd only gotten welcome with wind and rain. The section between Rawlings and Muddy Gap just cranked it up a notch, heavier winds, more rain, and I was crouched in a tuck trying to hide behind my windscreen, wearing 5 layers, with my Gerbings ON, and still shivering. I thought of Crudmop saying there's no such thing as waterproof, as I moved my arms and upper body around a little bit trying to feel for any water that had soaked through.

Stopped for gas in Muddy Gap, where 2 riders, one on a GS, the other on a Harley informed me it was only raining a little bit on the way to Yellowstone, and I told them about the conditions to expect heading down to Rawlings.

Thankfully they were right, and the skies began to open up, and the wind subsided by about 80% giving me a welcome respite from being knocked around. I looked to my left and saw the system I had just ridden through, and was glad to be out of it. In front of me, the sun illuminated clouds ahead, but at least there WAS some sun.








Seemingly hours later (maybe just 100 miles) I began to see the finish line, as the trip meter counted under 200 miles to go, and I was riding through patches of sunshine.

No sooner did I stop for gas, and headed on my way, when the road slowly curved north, and I blinked a couple of times, thinking the road wasn't really taking me in the direction I was looking at, was it?



I zoomed out on the GPS and didn't see much alteration in the road's direction. WOT THE FACK. Not more of this shít.



At the very least, I took time to be amazed at how quick, and how dark the clouds blanketed the land in front of me. Those clouds couldn't be more than 5-600 feet above my head. I was amazed, there's no weather like this in CA.

As I rode into the dark clouds, I started seeing lightning firing off in front of me, a couple of miles away, then it was on both sides of me, and more frequent. Thankfully, the road curved to the northwest, and I was led out of the system, having only had to ride through the fringe of it. Looking to my right, the system presented a faint rainbow where the sun shone down on it. Quite the juxtaposition, and in my Leprechaun voice I asked were me Lucky Charms were now?



The rest of the road continued along for the last 100 miles, with a rabbit presenting itself in the form of a big Mercury sedan going 90, allowing me to chase it at 85, and cover those last miles quicker, without the fear of a trooper lighting me up.

As I finally rolled the last 15 miles into Dubois, Wyoming (I'd been wondering how the F you pronounced it, was it Doo-Bwah, like in French? Do-boys? Who settled this place that gave the town its name?)
I began to follow the Great Wind River, which had cut away some familiar formations



Finally got into town, checked into a motel, had dinner, and ran across some Goldwing riders that told me it had been snowing further up the road to Yellowstone, and the road construction ahead had made the trip quite sketchy.

I took heed, went back to my motel, finally warmed up with a hot shower, and went to bed.
 

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aprilia junkie
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16,379 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I awoke the following morning at my standard time of 6AM, and was getting pretty good at leaving myself completely packed before I went to sleep, save for the phone and ipod chargers, one for my alarm, the other to keep the tunes going for the minimum requisite of 12 hours a day in the saddle.

It had been raining all night, and the air had quite a chill to it, so I made sure to dress warm, loaded up the bike, filled the tank and slowly headed out of town.

The air was in the low 30's range, my chin already quite cold as I headed up US 287 towards Yosemite. I checked the elevation, it was over 9,000 feet, and the road kept climbing uphill.

My surroundings began to have a white dusting to them, which got thicker as I went.



Now, this wasn't by any means a heavy winter snowing, and I was glad at least the road was clear.





I began to see the signs warning of the road construction I'd heard about, and sure enough, the pavement soon ended, with a sign informing the next 10 miles had road work on them.

The tarmac became a glistening layer of wet mud, and I was none too happy. I had been following a Forrester in front of me, keeping my wheels in its tracks, but the car soon pulled away, as I kept my speed between 20 and 25, feeling the front wheel wobble around.

Now some of you have already heard this one, so just skip ahead to where it's interesting again. :roll

**DISCLAIMER** Those are the only pictures I took that day. :hit

Though I tried to be careful, even fully upright, my bars went full lock in one direction, then the other, and I was already aware of what was in store for me.
The bike slid sideways for about 5 feet before fully washing out under me, and I cursed myself for letting the bike get away from me, as I slid for 10 feet in the mud, hoping the slide wouldn't eat away at the mesh jacket.

The bike, having far more weight and momentum, continued sliding for another 30 feet, doing a full 360 spin on its side, before coming to a stop, rear wheel still spinning.

FÙCK FÙCK FÙCK. Of all places to dump the bike, 1000 miles from home. Perfect. I got up and felt no rash on the side of my jacket, and went over to turn the bike off. I looked down, hoping the clipon had held, but unfortunately, no luck.
I saw the bar dangling from the cable attached to the hand controls. Goddamn brittle aluminum. What the fück was I going to do now. I tried to pick up the bike but my hands were just slipping off of everything since it was completely caked in mud, and I wasn't about to go for the stock exhausts since those things hold tons of heat for hours. Luckily, an older gentleman came along, as well as part of the road crew in his 4WD duelly, who helped me get the bike up.
I thanked them both and asked the road crew guy if there was someone in Dubois who could possibly Tig weld, since the bar and clutch lever were busted off, the peg off my rearsets had come off, and the exhaust bracket was bent. He told me my lack of options, saying no one in Jackson that he knew of, MAYBE back in Dubois, and he knew for sure there was a tow truck back in Dubois that could come and get me. He offered to give me a lift to a stop up ahead where there was somewhere I could call for the tow. I unloaded the bike, put my bags, still caked in mud in the bed of his truck, and took off my rain coat to lay over his seat so I wouldn't ruin it since I was also covered in mud.

"Man, we weren't expecting this weather, we didn't have time to lay down anything on the road, and we're not running a pilot car today." he told me, as he drove ahead, his truck sporadically losing traction on the road.

He dropped me off at a lodge that wasn't a MILE ahead, where the asphalt had begun. I was even MORE pissed off that I'd just about made it back to tarmac before dumping the bike. What shít. What an idiot. Goddammit.

He dropped me off, and I called a tow, waited 45 minutes for him to arrive, already loaded with an Explorer in the flatbed. He told me he was heading to Jackson, and he recommended a guy in Dubois who did custom cycles and had a trailer. He called him up, gave him my whereabouts, mentioned the road was "a fücking disaster." and headed off.

Waiting outside, a guy came out to load his Goldwing, noticed I was in leathers and caked in mud, and asked me if I'd gone down. I said yes, and he informed me he'd gone down the night before in the same stuff, and had to stop at the lodge for the night. His 'wing had crash bars and all, so he'd only broken off his brake lever, and was using his linked ABS with the rear pedal to stop himself. His wife came out, obviously sore from the crash, and we both helped her up into the passenger seat of the 'wing. I let him know I had zip ties and electrical tape if he wanted to see if we could fix his lever, and in about 10 minutes he had a huge bukly bundle of zip ties and tape holding his lever back on. He was grateful, and said this would surely get him to Jackson, or somewhere he could get the lever replaced properly. I wished them well and they motored on.

An hour and a half later, the guy with the trailer showed up. Tall, medium build, bushy mustache, and a dog in his truck. Said his name was Don, but everyone called him Ding. I thought he must have just come off the set of No Country for Old Men.

He drove me back to the bike, where we loaded it into his trailer, and headed back to Dubois. We chatted about random stuff, and his phone went off, sounded somewhat annoyed, and gunned the gas pedal.

Turns out he's also local EMT/SAR for the town, and there was a call about a woman rider with a possible broken ankle at the next gas station about 5 miles up the road. Over the radio, he heard first responder was there already, and he mentioned that was his uncle. We got to the station, where the woman was lying on a picnic bench with lots of people around her, sounding in good spirits, joking about the whole situation. I noticed three people caked in the same mud I was covered in, and 2 bikes also covered in mud.
Turns out they'd gone down too in the same shít road, only their cruisers had front and rear crash bars, so they were only sporting broken turn signals. At least misfortune had company.

The woman was treated, and got on the tricycle one of her friends had, and headed off towards the nearest hospital - 70 miles away, to get her ankle looked at.
 
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