I took Thursday and Friday off, this week, in order to finally get a motorbike trip in. This year marks 40 years of motorcycling, for me, so I couldn't have a repeat of last year, when I never got out of town on the bike.
I needed a rack, to support the portion of the tent and sleeping bag which overhang the seat. The rack I once had broke, so I spent about 20 minutes, Wednesday night, fabricating one which attaches to the backrest mount on the Corbin seat. It held up fine, so I think I'll take some time and make a prettier version to use, for the long-term.
As I worked, this guy supervised, from his perch under my sun-shade. It's hard to tell, but he's about an inch and a half long!
Filled up with fuel, on the way out of town. That's my official starting mileage (although the bike has another 2400+ miles on it, which I rode before I swapped speedometers...).
Stopped off at Kaladi Bros., on the way out of town. Had to fuel myself up, as well as the bike.
First gas stop, and also a hot-fudge sundae stop, in Poncha Springs, about 135 miles out of Denver.
The tunnel, on the way up Wolf Creek Pass.
Continental Divide crossing #1.
Scenic overlook, on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass. I met an Aussie husband and wife team, on a big rental BMW, here, and had a nice 10-minute chat.
Another lady offered to snap my picture for me, so here's the bike with someone on it, for once. I don't take a lot of selfies. When I do, I'm slightly embarrassed, as if I've been caught looking in the mirror for too long. For some reason, having someone else take the picture seems okay, though.
Obviously, since I had the tent and sleeping bag, I had planned on camping. A combination of what the tv weather guy called "unseasonably cool" weather and rain prompted me to stay in a motel, once I reached Durango.
The weather had been clear, all day, but I could see a large rainstorm, north of town, as I pulled in. I really didn't want to have to deal with a wet tent,when I got up, so I bagged the camping idea.
Plus, I have wanted to stay at this particular motel, for years. It's next door to the Residence Inn that we stay in, on the CDOT lab inspection trips. But, everyone else wants the free breakfast and Happy Hour.
The view from my room door, showing the common area and swingset.
The Wapiti Lodge comes highly recommended by me. I don't need a free breakfast, since one of the reasons I stayed in Durango, in the first place, was to eat breakfast at the Durango Diner.
Thursday evening, I had dinner at the Balcony Bar and Grill (which,
oddly enough, is on a balcony overlooking Main Street), as a guitar
player/singer and a stand-up bass player played bluegrass on the little
corner stage. I then went back to the Wapiti Lodge, had a nightcap from the flask, and hit the hay.
After a fantastic Diner breakfast, I headed north out of town, to ride the Million Dollar Highway over Molas Pass and Red Mountain Pass. The clouds were hanging low, and it rained, off and on, as I rode. I had on my snowboard pants, over my jeans, and a rain shell over my jacket, with shoe covers keeping my boots dry. Everything was good, except for my hands. My gloves just weren't cutting it.
Heading up Molas Pass...
At the summit of Molas...
Heading down into Silverton, which you can see in the background.
In Silverton, I got the best cup of coffee I've ever had at the coffee shop, then went across the street and bought some winter gloves. I wore those gloves for the rest of the trip.
This is the CDOT Memorial, at the top of Red Mountain Pass. It is a treacherous road to maintain.
Here is a view down the box canyon, toward Ouray, on Red Mountain. The stretch of road on the right hand side of the photo was one-lane for about 7 months, after a rock slide obliterated it, last Thanksgiving. It took us that long to stabilize the slope above the road. (That is an uninterrupted fall of about 300 feet, to the side of the road, by the way.)
Looking back up the canyon, to the spot where the last photo was taken. I had a long conversation about my bike, with a guy from Florida. He and his 13 year old son were touring the mountains in a borrowed Mustang convertible, which belonged to his sister who lives in Littleton. I have a lot of conversations about the bike, when I'm out on the road...
This is the waterfall, which runs under the highway bridge next to the scenic overlook. I didn't test it out, but I'd be willing to bet that the water at the bottom is quite chilly.
Some views of Ouray, from atop the Ouray Brewing Company pub, where I stopped for a beer. I was still full, from breakfast, so I didn't eat. But, I wanted to stop and hang out for a while. With all of the stops I was making, I averaged about 20 miles per hour for the first 100 miles, on Friday!
My bike, from the rooftop balcony. I tried to get a good shot of the Colorado flag, with the bike, as it blew in the wind. This was the best I could manage.
As I rode out of Ouray, I saw all of these vintage diesel trucks parked on the side of the road. I turned around, and got some photos.
I would love to have this International with a camper built onto it!
Sweet looking Mack!
These are from a roadside business, just south of Montrose, whose sign promises "Fun Stuff". They delivered.
The guy in charge was an old biker, named Buck. We swapped motorcycle stories for about half an hour, before I toured the lot. It's a good thing I was on the bike, or I might have spent some money there!
I turned east, at Montrose, onto Highway 50, and headed for Gunnison. This stretch of road was a great motorbike ride. I passed this sign, on the section of highway which follows the lake shore, and turned around to go back and get a picture. I really wasn't sure I had read it correctly, until I stopped.
In Gunnison, I took a room at the ABC Motel. I was not the only motorcyclist there. Except for my my bike, a Yamaha Star, and a Triumph Daytona, these are all Harleys.
This morning, it was 48 degrees, and spitting rain, when I got up.
"Grimy" is the new black.
Having my coffee, outside of my room. The ACW cup is courtesy of Brad Click.
All throughout the trip, I took notes and wrote down observations in my black duct-tape-covered Moleskine Cahier.
I am an analog guy, in a digital world. It gives me pleasure to revisit trips, later, with a physical representation of the trip in hand. If you are interested in a more detailed version of this story, let me know. I plan to produce a physical trip report, with extra photos and such, as a souvenir for myself. If you want a copy, I'll send you one.
From Gunnison, I continued east on Hwy. 50, and recrossed the Divide on Monarch Pass.
Looking down the east side of Monarch.
I basically stayed on the bike, except for a gas stop in Buena Vista, until I rolled into Denver at noon.
Of course, I stopped at Kaladi Bros., on the way by, to close the circle. Here, I stripped off all of my cold-weather gear (the rain shell came off in Buena Vista), since it was 81 degrees and sunny.
In my driveway, at home. I rode 717 miles, on 13 gallons of fuel, in about 50 hours, saw some gorgeous scenery, did some thinking, and met a bunch of nice folks along the way. Not a bad way to play hookey from work, for a couple of days!