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Old 12-30-2013, 06:22 PM   #15
MTrider16 OP
Ridin' in MT
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Joined: Oct 2006
Location: Eastern Montana
Oddometer: 1,798

Day Two: Beginning of the Wet

LOL. Thinking back to this cracks me up. Since I didn’t get back until the wee hours of the morning, it was tough to get going. I think I finally got out onto the bike and across the street to where the other guys were staying at about 8:30. They were just getting up, so I didn’t make them late, whew. Todd and Dave and Dave wanted to get some breakfast and a gear bag. I only had the sub sandwich at Broadus and a corndog at Kaycee, so I was ready for food, even if it was MacDonalds. To celebrate surviving the ride yesterday I had not one, but two! breakfast sandwich combos. I was living high on the hog! I also got to see a Colorado “planned community” in the daylight, even Micky D’s had an “Alpine” façade and the requisite sales tax to pay for the goofiness.

We were all moving slow and got going about 10:30 to head over to Fort Collins where we would catch the road into Estes and come back through Rocky Mountain National Park. At least that was the plan! A few miles out of town our plan to return to Steamboat that night was abandoned due to our late start. We would find a place to stay on the road and return to Steamboat the next day.

We got out on a forest service road and started out on our way over the mountains. The road was well used with the rock rubble sticking out through the surface. It was rough but not too difficult.

Rally the Troops

We had a quick stop and with the usual small talk, joking, checking the horses and gear. We were quickly leaving the sun behind and it was getting damp and cool. We weren’t wet yet, that was a challenge we would face in the future.

We were taking various county and forest service roads to a junction with Hwy 14 south of Walden. Then the highway would take us over the mountains. After this picture the road improved with recently graveled surface and we start riding a little faster, playing with the corners and the connecting straights. Some would even comment that we had more horsepower than brains, but everyone escaped unscathed.

We quickly crossed the next valley, getting some gas at a one horse stop, and continuing on to the anticipated junction. The clouds would occasionally spit at us, but we were mostly dry.

Into the Storm

Dave Turner took the opportunity to head north to Walden and back to Glendive as we crossed one of the highways. We kept on and eventually got to the desired junction. Highway 14 is a very nice road to take through the canyons, or it was a very nice road. I think the rains in the next few days would change things.

The Beginning of the Rain

The canyon quickly closed in on the road pushing the stream, rocks, and trees right up to the shoulders. The little canyons off to the sides would wind back with exposed rock faces like Harrowdale leading to the Paths of the Dead. And then it started to rain… fortunately this was just a light rain which didn’t hinder our riding, but heavy enough that we were chilled and wet when we came out of the canyon.

Escaping the canyon we found whiskey for my men and beer for my horses… not quite, but food and fuel anyway. Since it was 3:00 pm we headed into town to see the local KTM dealer in Fort Collins, nice orange bling with enough tee-shirts and gear to keep a Harley rider happy. Don’t kid yourself kiddies; orange knows how to roll in the green. ;-)

Before we got to the shop we had enough rain to convince ourselves the weather gods were not happy. They were able to wash the dust of the road and us.

The next stop was the BMW/Ducati/Triumph shop, which serviced a different type of clientele. They did have the connector Todd wanted to charge his phone, so it was a successful trip. Next was Old Chicago and the hotel, where we huddled around the TV and listened to horror stories about the rainstorms foisted upon us.

Stats for the Day: 201 Miles 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Day 3: Escape Denver

We woke up with the knowledge that the weather gods were pissed, and there was no easy way out of the rain. Todd and Dave finally decided to head north to Laramie and hopefully Glendive. Todd would then be assured of getting to the football game Friday night.

The rest of us, Marty Mike, Todd and David discussed it and decided to head south to Golden and check out if the roads were as badly closed as we heard on the news. Besides it looked like the rain was rolling north along the mountains.

Are you confused with the names yet? Just to clarify, there were three Dave’s and two Todd’s along on this trip.

We all headed out, each group hoping we would be out of the rain soon. The quartet headed down to Loveland to check out highway 34 and what kind of road block would be set up. It was an impressive road block, and we quickly realized that going to Estes wasn’t in the cards; so Golden and I-70 was the route.

Soggy Rats

Leaving Loveland it started to rain; as in “find gopher wood” rain. The only place I’ve seen rain like this was in the Carolina’s along the coast. It was a challenge to keep the visor clear and water off the glasses, obviously the rest of our clothes were soaked. Several times we rode along the highways with streams of several inches draining down off the hills and down the roadway. The bridges and aqueducts were full of water and it was pretty obvious that if the run off didn’t quit soon they were going to wash out.

We picked up gas and stopped at a café for something warm in Golden. Fortunately we wanted something light ‘cause they weren’t filling the plates with any extras. Heck, my huevos rancheros fit on a saucer sized plate; I quickly ordered some sourdough toast to go with it.

Partly due to luck we headed out of Golden over Lookout Mountain Road. It’s a twisty little road that goes over the hill overlooking Golden and past Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave. With the rain we didn’t stop but kept moving onto I-70.

Almost Dry

We started getting out of the rain as we crossed the mountains on I-70. We only hit a few showers as we started north to Winter Park. Occasionally we would stop, chat, and let the blood flow back to our posteriors. Eventually we ended up in “SUNSHINE” in Winter Park. As we were fueling the bikes everyone was shedding gear and trying to dry off as much as possible.

The twisty bits were fun, and even Mike seemed to be doing okay on the DRZ400.

Back to Steamboat Springs

It was a short break and we headed out again, but fortunately we left the rain behind. We ended up in Steamboat Springs about 6:00, checked into the hotel, and found a little Mexican place for dinner.

Stats for the day: 240 miles, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
'13 VFR1200D, '13 XVS950, '09 F800GS, 07 CRF250X
Riding roads in Montana - Big Sky Country
Mountains, Moose, and Miles: a Montanan's Alcan Highway Story
Continental Divide and More: the "No Dust" Tour of WY and MT
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