First you begin by leaving the day before the Fourth of July weekend which in of itself is idiotic, then you forget to check the weather forecast (not that it mattered since It was raining everywhere) then you pick a place to camp that has the worst weather off all. Not a bad plan if your looking to make your riding adventure a joke. I did that and found I was scratching my head wondering "why in the world are all these RV's out and about" I had never seen so much traffic on hwy 50 going to Salida. It was crazy I was able to enjoy a little bit of the road to Texas Creek but "wow its crazy out here to day" Then I stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Poncha Springs and the waiter said have a happy Forth Of July - DOH no wonder. I had been on this 18 day forced vacation from work and completely lost track of time, I did not even know what day it was or what! I mean I got lost in the fray and just wanted to go visit my sister in Santa Fe since I had nothing better to do than go riding. I thought I would go ride over to Durango but I slapped the whole trip together so off the cuff I did not even leave till noon. I figured I would take my tent and go camping on top of Grand Mesa for the night then head down to Montrose and ride the Million Dollar Highway.
I have been on the Million Dollar Highway 30 or so times but only twice have I done it going south, this time I was going to do it going south on the vfr. OK good plan so far, except there are all these damn tourist on the road on a Thursday? What gives then I get the news from the waiter OH Yea I haven't looked at a watch or a calendar in ages all I knew was that it was Thursday and I don't have to be back to work till the 8th. OK time to go riding. I noticed the afternoon clouds had rolled in on the mountains by this time and I was in for some rain. All the way up Monarch Pass and back down it rained on me and ruined what ever chance I had to rail the turns. OH well I will be on the Black Canyon soon enough and I could rail the whole way up Hwy 92 on the way to Cedaredge. Yea right.
I noticed a lot of black clouds when I made it to Gunnison and thought well I cant even pass cars with all this traffic on hwy 50 - a car coming every second it seemed made passing slow movers a real job. I was crawling along behind the rest of the slomos heading west when I noticed the clouds seemed to be darkest right over the Black Canyon. I thought for sure I was gonna get more rain when I made it too hwy 92. So I pulled off and put on my rain gloves. Hwy 50 is all sweepers and at times it fun but mostly its slab, scenic slab but slab. I was ready to lean the bike over for a change since Monarch Pass was a bust and the fast stuff at Texas Creek was congested with RV's . No sooner than 100 yards after the turnoff at hwy 92 did the rain come and it was pouring, and there was a row of RV's heading up the hill too? Oh Jeez no way - I can ride pretty good in the rain and so I took off up the hill and passed the RV's the first opportunity and low and behold the road was clear of traffic after that however any chance or railing would have to be held in check cause the rain was just pouring hard. I still passed everything but at a much more conservative pace than I was going to ride. I couldn't see anything cause the clouds were hanging so low that stopping for pictures was a bust too. Oh well I enjoy riding in the rain sometimes, but boy it was cold my hands were starting to cramp up cause the rain was like ice water.
It only took about 40 minutes to get past the last good turn on hwy 92 then what do you know the rain slowed to an even drizzle, the road was still wet and it turned to slab again. I road into the bread basket of the western slope and headed for Cedaredge on my way to the Grand Mesa then the sky opened up and really started pounding me. I rode past a nice looking motel and in an instant I scrapped any plans I had to go camping and opted for a dry room with a hot shower.
Cedaredge Lodge Very friendly owners made me feel at home
The folks who owned the place came out and greeted me, and couple who transplanted from Florida and really fixed the place up, they built a huge patio added a hot tub and they even invited me to BBQ with them out on the patio for dinner. The rain really started pouring then and when I got to my room I was so soaked I just stood in the warm shower for what seemed like ages warming up. Rain in Colorado is refreshing for about 10 minutes then it just gets freaking cold, especially in the mountains. It usually drops the temperature about 20 degrees from 70F to 50F in an instant. I got out of the shower and vegged out on the bed for a half an hour and went outside to explore the place I figured they gave up on the BBQ with rain so I rode down to the café a mile down the road and had a wonderful pork chop dinner that was on special. If nothing the accommodations and the food was good! Stuffed and still cold I fell asleep before the sun was even down.
The next morning it looked to be still cloudy out and cold. At least the rain had stopped
Cedaredge Lodge they insisted I park under the carport
Cedaredge Lodge a creek ran along the backyard where they had a nice little porch over it with a hot tub
sit out on the coverd patio
I just headed back south and forgot about the Grand Mesa, over to Delta and Montrose. Hwy 550 is boring here and boy there was all that traffic again, crossing Montrose was a pill since its always slow going in there. The road takes you to Ouray - its 2 lanes for a bit out of Montrose then it starts to gently wind around farms and into the mountains. I was just about to merge into the one lane when a Porche with Arizona plates stuffs himself in the left lane and cuts me off from merging - the guy driving gives me this smart ass smirk and he takes off since he has a "sports car" I was just cruising since well the road sucks here and I ride "the pace" all the time. As soon as the road started to have curves in it I was not far behind, and he was passing people rather easily, but one section I was passing cars too and was right behind him. He was still in the left lane and passing very slowly so slowly in fact I was running out of room to get back over. So as soon as he started to merge I gunned it and went past him too.
Then it was on - racing with a Porche I guess - I must have touched a nerve cause the guy was right on my six for the next 10 miles when the passing was easy. Then when in Ouray we were crawling 25mph in town for what seemed like ages I had planned on stopping for pictures however I was embroiled in a passing battle with this Porche now and no way was he going to get around me again to give me another smirk like he did the first time. More childishness I guess on my part but I have to admit it was the most fun I had the whole trip. Up the hill and onto the Million Dollar Highway there were all kinds of cars, RV's and SUV's all over the road. The passing was a snap since the road is bit scary to tourist since the turns are sharp and there is no guard rail - the way down is pretty far and deadly if you screw up. I was passing 2 at a time and hitting the turns at full lean. That is untill I ran up behind a Pickup truck pulling an ATV in a trailer, this guy was so afraid he was driving into the oncomeing lane? He was at least a 1/4 of the way into the oncomming lane the whole time? IN BLIND CURVES? Anybody comming the other way had to jamn it over into the inches of shoulder just to avoid this asshole? I managed to get past him and flip him the bird as I got past, he even came into me a bit as I passed - on a section of dotted line? Mr Porche managed to follow and stay close, all the way up to the first pass, there are 2 tight switchbacks and we both got around the traffic to hit them clean and I was all the way leaned over into the first one, the Porche was 10 feet behind me. I flicked it right to hit the next turn then left and way way over I was scrapping my boot, and the Porche fell behind a bit till I was a good hundred yards ahead in the switchback and as soon as the road straitened he was right behind me again. (wow OK this guy cant drive I guess cause he should have railed those turns!!).
It was not long before we where starting on the tight switchbacks and loops of Red mountain pass, again in the tighter turns he fell back then where was a long strait and 4 cars and big RV was holding them up. I passed all four cars at once and then had to wait a couple of turns to get around the RV and the Porche just must have gave up there cause as soon as I got around the RV I was gone and never saw that Porche again. Oh well it was fun while it lasted and well I wish I could have seen his face when I got around those last 4 cars right before the tight stuff came up again.
I had to take it easy after Silverton cause there were Bicyclist on the road, hundreds of them riding to Durango. I was on my way to Durango to have some lunch, a place I know well. I graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango and lived there for five years, I absolutely love that place. I like to go back and visit even though all my professors have all retired and I don't know anybody there anymore I still love to go there.
Downtown Durango Oldtymers my favorite lunch stop in Durango
Panhead Chopper with whitewalls Kick start and green paint
Durango Circa 1910
Leaving Durango I headed east on HWY 160 to Pagosa Springs, I never advise anybody go that way for anything and this trip proved it. The traffic out of Durango was strangled up with construction and it did not let up till Bayfield a good 30 minutes of BS traffic. It is always like that I was kicking myself for not heading east and just going to NM strait away and taking hwy 64 across. No I just endured the traffic to Bayfield, then it cleared up a bit but here is where the cops come, cops everywhere. It has always been crawling with cops, two different sheriffs, town cops and state patrol, it crawls with LEO"s what was I thinking? The Pagosa Springs is a nightmare of slow traffic. Its all sprawled out for 10 miles and crawling along at 30 miles per hour it takes forever to get out of that place. I have never liked Pagosa Springs much, first it stinks like Sulfur then the sprawl goes on and on all the way to Durango hwy 160 just sucks, thats all it just sucks. The good thing is I got off hwy 160 here and headed to Chama and out of Colorado. The road is not very challenging or twisty but its much less traffic. I just cruised all the way to Santa Fe on hwy 64, well almost its pretty much a strait shot into Santa Fe once you get to Espanola.
My sister was waiting at her new house, they were building a fence and they just had a stone patio built, I spent 3 days there and tickle torchured my niece and nephew for days while they were fighting with each other - kids will be kids. I enjoyed it, the bbq's the fireworks. Spending time with sis too.
The road to Chimayo New Mexico
The Road to Chimayo
Santuario De Chimayo
Santuario De Chimayo
Well anyway I thought for my ride home I would head to Taos on the back roads at Penasco and then cut across to Angel Fire, Yea right more Sabotage. As soon as the mountains closed in on the road I passed a car and fell in behind an Oklahoman on a V-strom. He was really shaky in the turns and so I backed off a bit and then we got stuck behind traffic. Two cops were coming the other way and flashed up with their lights? I was annoyed at that since we were barely going the speed limit as it was behind this traffic. Then it was clear why - chip seal, one lane traffic for 5 miles and we where stuck in a pile up that was half a mile long. OH I was dying now, 25mph all the way to Agua Fria for another 20 miles?? It was a nightmare, I so so much wished I had not turned north at Penasco and just continued east to Mora instead. The traffic was going so slow I had to feather my clutch to keep from knocking into the car in front of us. V-strom seemed to handle the loose chip better than me. The worse part was when the bike started to over heat, the temp gage started to flash 250f!! for about a minutes but there was no place to pull off, then the road opened up a bit and we were going 35 mph and it cooled back down. I need to replace my radiator cap I suspect it not holding pressure. I have replaced the coolant and the thermostat, its got to be a bad cap.
Oh man that took forever and it sucked A%^%$. As soon as the road got out of the mountains and onto the valley plains along the lake at Eagles nest folks were getting passed 5 at a time, me and the V-strom - then I passed him too cause he was slow too. he had to get gas anyway and I kept going past the lake, into town and up the hill to Cimmaron Canyon. There was brand new pavement and the turns are great there, I wasn't counting on umpteen million campers in the canyon though and deer ever where. Once again I had to slow down cause people and deer were all around walking on the road side? OHH (*&(*&(*&(&^*&^*&^*&^*&^$#$$()(
Ok fine then it started raining again when the camp sites where long gone and I was on the high speed sweepers, the brand new pavement was gone and the old tar snakes from hell were there in the rain, time to slow down again after a few slips from the rear tire. No railing that either?
Out of Cimmaron Canyon the rain stopped and then it started blow wind at 30mph gusts all the way to Raton I was leaned over just to keep the bike strait. This trip was starting to look like a complete bust for what it was. The in Raton the rain came again and still windy - yup as soon as I hit Raton pass into Colorado the rain started pouring again.
Interstate 70 at Raton it was raining hard on the pass
I rolled into Colorado in the hard rain all the way down Raton Pass where it stopped in Trinidad and they had more construction going on there - one lane with all the familiar turns off blocked off from the overpass. The interstate is pretty much one large overpass in Trinidad above the town all they across town, and it was being worked on so they diverted the traffic to the other side and there was no place to get off. I was at 180 miles on my tank and calculated I had 2 bars left on the tank, I have made it 240 miles several times with no problems. So I figured I could ride to Walsenburg and fill up there, 25 miles north.
I rolled past one gas station I don't like at 190 miles, It filthy and I needed to use a bathroom - I don't like dirty filthy bathrooms. Then with about 5 miles to go I ran out of freaking gas! First time ever I had run out of gas on my vfr, 118k miles and now I run out of gas?
Doh out of gas
There was a frontage road on the east side so I took off my suit and started hoofing it when a guy on a Yamaha Vstar pulled off and asked me if that was my bike on the side of the road, I told him about running out of gas and he offered to go get some for me if I did not mind waiting, wow on the interstate a motorcyclist named Brandon comes to my rescue! Brandon your a lifesaver man you saved me a 10 mile hike! I gave him some cash and off he went!
Brandon to the rescue I told you I would make you famous
He comes back with some gas and the vfr starts right up, I tried to give him some cash for his trouble but he refused it saying "no just help out the next guy" which I do anyway. What comes around goes around folks and this day it was payback. Thanks Brandon I really appreciate your help.
It was around 6:30 when I rolled into Walsenburg to fill up the rest of the way, the clerk said "oh your the guy who ran out of gas" yup! I decided I needed to get in some twisties no matter what so I pulled off the interstate at Colorado City and headed up the Greenhorn Hwy to Bishops Castle, it was fun for about 5 turns, which I did not rail cause I know of some deer trails there that are always full of deer. Sure enough my caution was warranted I saw a couple of deer feeding on the side of the road the next turn, then down to Lake Isabel I picked up the pace all the way to Bishops Castle at my normal pace, ran the good stuff to Bigalow Divide then wouldn't you know - it started raining on me again! JEBUS I cant catch a break!! I had to slow it down cause the chip seal is all scrapped off and its slick tar patches and tar snakes the rest of the way, in the rain its slick. Oh well - a bad day riding is better than a good day off work. The moral of the story is, I still love to ride no matter what!!