Ain't such a bad life when you wake up to this view from your tent.
Good morning Hobbes!
I was up early. I naturally wake up at five nowadays. Weird getting old. Had some coffee and broke down camp. The bike was started at six and I was on my way.
There were a lot of unknowns for the day ahead. I had a general idea of where I wanted to go, but no real plan. Just an end destination with no deadline besides bedtime. This is probably also a good time to mention that I don't have a GPS. I use the Benchmark atlas series. I have a good sense of direction and I understand maps. I think navigating is a skill that will be lost in the coming generation. Too bad.
I left camp and began heading up the canyon. The sunrise was beautiful and the temperature was already climbing.
I stopped off to check out some petroglyphs.
The red mud roof camouflaged this old place and I almost missed it
I'm now out of Sand Canyon and on the Yampa Bench Rd. It follows along the canyon rim of the Yampa River and offers some spectacular views to the bottom in several places.
The road leaves the canyon rim and heads through the desert.
This is a fun one. I almost got to test out those new Happy Trails crash guards. I slipped a bit and almost dropped the bike trying to take a good pic. I got this one instead.
This was the desired pic.
It was now decision time. I needed to decide which way I was gonna go and that was dependent on the hard working county employees of Rio Blanco County.
Colorado had a metric shit ton of snow this year. I know this because I lived in Breckenridge, CO for five seasons and I still have friends there who felt the need to rub it in that I wasn't there for one of the best snow years ever.
Earlier in the week when I was route planning, I decided it was prudent to call ahead and find out if Ripple Creek and Dunckley Passes were open for the year. The lady that answered the phone said, "No, they're working hard at it and are hoping by the end of the week." Ever heard the joke, what's yellow and sleeps three? A county dump truck.
It's Friday, which is the end of the week.
At&T amazingly had service in the middle of nowhere. So, I called the county and got the same lady again. She said they got through late last night. I'm guessing late means 4:55. But, they got through none the less! "It may be muddy" Oh yeah? Sounds like fun. I have no idea what to expect, but that is where I'm going.
I head south on Cty 95 over Jack Springs Pass as I leave Dinosaur National Monument. A beautiful gravel road all to myself. Have I mentioned yet that this bike rips?!
Two miles on Hwy 40 brings me to the next dirt stretch over Coal Ridge and across the White River.
I'm back on the asphalt. This bike transitions perfectly from dirt bike to crotch rocket. Rock and Roll! 30 ish miles later and I'm in Meeker, CO. I stopped to get chain lube, sunscreen (should have had this yesterday
), and a crappy breakfast sandwich.
I head out on Route 8 which is the Flat Tops Scenic Byway. My pace has slowed a bit as I'm enjoying the lush green country side along the White River. The White River is a bit brown right now from the volume of snow melt that's carrying the mountains downstream.
There are a ton of magnificently expensive lodges and outfitters along this road. Apparently, this is where all the rich people come to hunt. The airport in Meeker is big enough to get private jets in.
The road once again turns to gravel and I pass the road closed barrier which is flipped in the ditch. Guess it was 5:01 when they passed the sign after clearing the pass and decided they'll pick it up on Monday after the morning coffee.
I finally hit the snow as I continue to climb. The road was in great shape and I doubt I'll find mud.
My favorite picture of the trip.
The view from cockpit is "oh so good."
I begin the descent down the East side of Ripple Creek Pass and was treated to this alpine lake.
Rough life touring on a motorcycle.
I haven't seen a car now since the pavement outside of Meeker. Needless to say I'm moving along a pretty good clip on these empty gravel roads. Speed limit's 35 and I'm doing 70 most of the time. I am one of the few that even knows the pass is open and I was one of the first though for the year. I came around a corner and saw another picture opportunity, so I slammed on the brakes and came to a quick stop (thanks ABS!!). Just as I was pulling out my camera, a vehicle came around the corner in the pic below. Low and behold it's a cop. Man, somebody loves me. I finally see a car on this road, it's a cop, and I'm stopped to take a picture.
I kick myself for not getting a picture of the cop. He stopped and we chatted for a minute. He seemed a little irritated. Probably knew he would have had a ticket towards his quota.
I arrived in Yampa and turned South on 131.
Finger Rock. Really? That's the best fucking name you can come up with? People weren't very creative back in the day. How about "Spire of Death"? You know, something that sticks out? These are the things that roll around in my helmet while I ride.
I decided to go over Gore Pass since I'd never been that way before. Time to get in sport bike mode again and put to coals to Hobbes. Goddamn this bike is great on the pavement.
The Pine Beetle kill is horrible in this area of Colorado. You look out on the mountains and they are brown. It started quite awhile ago, but back when I lived here things were still green. Now it is a tinder box and I am very afraid for the catastrophe looming on the horizon. All it is gonna take is one lightning strike or cigarette butt. The high country of Colorado will burn uncontrollably. It is part of the natural cycle of things, but it will destroy thousands of homes and probably kill a few people.
At Kremmling, I headed South on 9 towards Dillon. I'm getting pretty good at shooting while riding.
I took Loveland Pass over the Continental Divide. I should have taken a pic at the summit with the new bike, but I have so many pics from snowboarding the back country up there I decided to press on. Plus, I had clear road to rock and roll on, and that doesn't happen often on that road with all the tourists. I took my opportunity to scrape some foot peg.
Then some more boring interstate and I'm home at my second home in Denver with close friends. Saturday morning tomorrow brings me back to work. This ride was just what I needed. Back to the grind...