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Old 04-11-2014, 03:49 PM   #31
BadWHooper OP
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Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Oddometer: 220
Up and Over

At 11:44am and 839 miles, I crossed over Independence Pass – 12,095 feet. It was beautiful up there. The views were amazing. I was also rather hung over, and there was no air up there. So I stopped quickly, tested my feet, and then kept on rolling. Dizzy. I could only imagine what Mt. Evans would be like. It was my goal to go up that highest of mountain roads. But would I have time? I needed to be back in Denver to meet a friend to get back to my job! And I was in deep physiological pain!





I could feel the relief as I zig-zagged down the other side of the mountain from Independence Pass.



At 12:13pm and 857 miles, I felt like ass. I felt like shit. I had just gotten off the bike at Twin Lakes to take shots after coming out of the mountains. I felt dizzy and off-kilter. I wasn’t even at that high an altitude anymore. I found the alpine setting of the twin lakes to be beautiful, as was the village of the same name.











Not far past the lakes, Route 82 dead-ends into Route 24 north and south. I turned left and headed north. I could then get back doing some speed! Leadville was about 40 miles away, and I was going to have to think hard about trying to ride up Mt. Evans. I felt like absolute crap up on this mountain, and I didn’t want to go any higher. Heavy clouds loomed along my road, and some opened up in the hills.





Next...into Leadville, then Denver...
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'06 Buell XB12X Ulysses; '07 H-D FXDB Dyna Street Bob

Solo Around Scotland (BMW R850R); AZ and UT (H-D Road King): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744536l; Death Valley & Vegas (BMW R1200GS): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=926499; NW Colorado (BMW K1200GT): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=955168
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Old 04-12-2014, 07:50 PM   #32
BadWHooper OP
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Location: Silver Spring, MD
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In and Out of Leadville

At 12:35pm and 877 miles, I rode into Leadville, elevation 10,152 feet. It was a scrappy, unremarkable village. One of those dark clouds caught me – got rained on a little bit on the way in. My friend John in Boulder said Leadville was cool, so there may be something good there, but I didn’t take time to look for it. There were some classic old buildings in a few blocks downtown that would have been fun to investigate, but I was on a schedule. So much so that I was having second thoughts about Mt. Evans (nothing to do with the previous night’s activities, of course). It was time to find a quick lunch. Under mostly blue skies, I pulled over and got a Diet Coke and a few bites of something unmemorable. So much so, I don’t remember if it was a restaurant or convenience store. I still felt like crap – dizzy and lightheaded. Once back on the bike, I started to feel much better. It’s funny how that is…I’ve noticed on a number of occasions that riding is the best cure for a hangover. Something about the balance, the wind, the physics that keep something on two wheels upright – it quiets the head, stops the spinning, makes everything move in the right direction…at least while you’re moving.

By 12:52pm and 882 miles, I was rolling north out of Leadville. It would be about 30 miles until I-70 and the last stretch of the trip. I was actually looking forward to some highway – less stress on the head to get into a lane and just haul. No red lights, no stop signs, no 25 MPH zones. Just move to the destination.

Of course, I had to take a picture as I crossed the Continental Divide (for the fourth time) at Tennessee Pass, elevation 10,424 feet.



Though I was looking forward to the highway home, this last stretch of two-lane stuff on Route 24 was fantastic: amazingly scenic, plenty of curves, and dramatic elevation changes. And there’s one fun switchback that crosses a crashing creek.









Not far after the switchback and these photos, I passed through the charming little town of Minturn, hugging the Eagle River: angler’s paradise. I could imagine extreme commuters to Denver living here, since it was just a few more miles up to I-70. I was done with the little roads and the little towns, and expected to blast into Denver on the highway quickly, smoothly, and without stress. Nope.

The first part of the I-70 ride was very enjoyable, primarily because of the scenery. I could see many of the ski resorts I’d only heard of. At 1:37pm and 919 miles I passed Vail’s green runs on my right. It would be about 100 miles to Denver, perhaps 90 minutes. That makes a 3:00-3:30 arrival time – I was starting to sweat the schedule. No detours.

I eventually needed to get off the road and eat something real. At 2:25pm and 941 miles, I pulled into Frisco, not far from Breckinridge. I found a small shopping center surrounded by peaks and pines, where an organic food store offered sandwiches. Everyone was very, very crunchy around there. Very crunchy. I think my “space suit” appearance freaked them out a little – it was all nylon and leather, no hemp. I don’t know what the abrasive resistance of hemp is. I do know what it is for leather and Cordura. I enjoyed the sandwich, sitting by my bike in the parking lot. I’ve eaten a lot of lunches like that – I like the sort of vagabond simplicity. I also get a kick out of the reaction I get from other people. Who eats a sandwich in a parking space, sitting on a parking curb?

Time was dwindling, but I really wanted to see Mt. Evans and to say I’d been up high on that record road, because I was feeling pretty good by this point. I decided to decide when I got to Idaho Springs. Unfortunately, modern frustrations intervened. Traffic starting picking up, with no explanation. And the skies became threatening again.



But when you’re on a bike, there rarely is one, unless you pull off and dial into the information world of the Internet. But then you’re not making forward progress. Some riders have on-bike technology that I envy. Some other riders scoff at those screens, speakers, and sound systems. I think if you can fit it into a touring bike, you should. Otherwise, you’re putting your smartphone on a mount. I think that’s cool too. Unfortunately for me, I had no smartphone in 2007.

Back on the road, I found my BMW on the verge of overheating. On the last stretch to the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel on I-70 – a very uphill stretch – I ran into a serious traffic slowdown. As I crept up the side of the mountain toward the tunnel, I saw all kinds of vehicles pulled off on the shoulder, overheating. My own temperature gauge had moved to the red. The BMW’s fan was roaring. The combination of altitude, ambient heat, and too much fairing was threatening to derail my trip.

Next...the final leg...

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'06 Buell XB12X Ulysses; '07 H-D FXDB Dyna Street Bob

Solo Around Scotland (BMW R850R); AZ and UT (H-D Road King): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744536l; Death Valley & Vegas (BMW R1200GS): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=926499; NW Colorado (BMW K1200GT): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=955168
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Old 04-13-2014, 07:01 PM   #33
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Bringing it Back Down to A Mile

At 2:55pm and 955 miles, I had finally rounded the hill and crept into the tunnel. My temp gauge was right on the edge of red, so I was freaking out about having to pull over. With black skies over me, I was also thinking about my rain suit. I decided to see what the weather was like on the other side of the mountain. Coming out of the ski areas in the Arapaho Basin, it was 3pm. Traffic delays are announced on highway signs into Denver. I definitely don’t have time for Mt. Evans. If I’d gotten up 90 minutes earlier, it might have worked out, but you never know with these delays. And those people buying you glasses of fume.

At 4:47pm and 986 miles, I finally broke out of traffic at the small tunnel when the highway turned into three lanes. I had been sitting in that traffic since I couldn’t remember. My neck was dying. I took that as a signal that my beginner HJC helmet was too cheap and too heavy (though it would keep my head together six months later in a deer strike). I know traffic. I live in the DC area and commute a damn long way on The Beltway – but usually in a manual transmission car. On a bike it’s different. You’re constantly shifting, clutching, putting your feet on the ground, etc. When temperature and weather come into the picture it can be worse by multiples. Out there on I-70 in the heat and traffic, I started to lose it. At one point I thought I was having hallucinations. The traffic would move and I’d snap out of it.

Once out of the tunnel, the traffic sped up to normal (as usual, it made no sense), but I was challenged by a surprise downpour. That’s what happens when you go into a mountain on one side and come out the other. I welcomed the cool wet downpour. The bike cooled and I could find a place to pull over that angled downhill, which felt better.

Eventually I made into Denver.



Back at the rental shop, I brought the bike back in one piece. No one was there to greet me. I’d given a call as to when I thought I’d arrive. And yes, this was 2007, a day when cell phones were still a bit unproven. It was an estimate. I don’t remember if I hit my mark, but I do remember that I was there at the shop before anyone else was. Must be hard. Anyway, I took a trip-closing picture of myself just in case and just because. I was wearing my Scotland t-shirt, the shirt I’d bought in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK) on another motorcycle trip in 2005, just a couple years prior, Not bad. And not a bad bike escalation! Just two years! I hadn’t thought of it.



I unloaded the bike’s bags into my luggage, called a cab, and took a $24 trip to downtown Denver. At 6:27pm, I arrived at the comfortable Hotel Monaco. A couple of half bottles of wine were waiting in the room, which was a nice touch. I gave my friend John a call so we could meet up for dinner. We had a mellow evening before my work started in the morning.

The total mileage for the trip was 1,018.

Overall, I was impressed with the variety of landscapes that I saw. I wasn’t expecting the desertlike conditions out in the northwest part of the state. It’s such a large state – there is definitely more to come back and see. I enjoyed the new experience of riding a much more sport-oriented touring bike than I’m used to. The BMW K1200GT wasn’t a perfect fit for my height, but I don’t recall ever getting fatigued from the handlebar position, seat, or wind buffeting. This rental certainly had quite a few miles on it, but the engine still had plenty of punch left. It’s also a great looking bike. I never felt uneasy with the handling or braking. The only concern I had was overheating going up I-70.

Obviously, the Hotel Jerome in Aspen wins the prize for Nicest Place to Stay on this route, and they went a step further by providing outstanding customer service to a doofus like me. The Budget Host Inn in Rangeley, in its own way, provided just as good service. I was just less of a “demanding” customer there, so they had fewer opportunities to help me. I can never say enough about the Kimpton group of hotels, of which the Hotel Monaco is one. They have the style and amenities that I love, and when I travel as a government contractor they sometimes offer the low government rate (if you book early enough). There would be fools working on government business staying at junky motels out near the airport, and there was me, staying downtown, in a swanky place that places a complimentary half bottle of wine in the room for each guest. You decide.

The route was just fine and I’d recommend the whole way. The only questionable section was I-40 (straight and long), but it was a landscape that I’d never seen before: desert, yet scorched by fire, and colorful cliffs in the background. Pulling into Dinosaur was a hoot, too, especially since I thought I might spend the night there. I wasn’t even ready to stop yet – it was still too early in the afternoon.

Out there in the west things are inherently interesting to a Midwesterner/easterner, so I recommend just jumping into whatever local situation you find yourself in.

And that’s what travel is all about, to me.

Thank you all for reading! See my other ride reports in my signature for more. Stay safe.
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'06 Buell XB12X Ulysses; '07 H-D FXDB Dyna Street Bob

Solo Around Scotland (BMW R850R); AZ and UT (H-D Road King): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744536l; Death Valley & Vegas (BMW R1200GS): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=926499; NW Colorado (BMW K1200GT): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=955168
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Old 04-19-2014, 07:29 PM   #34
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Nice RR! Thanks for sharing. I felt compelled to comment on your "fly-n-ride" because I rented the same bike as you in August, 2008. I attended a conference in Fort Collins, but I stayed a few extra days and hung out with my brothers in Boulder (younger brother lives in Boulder, older brother flew in from Milwaukee). We rented motorcycles from the same place you did (and we had the same experience...We had to wait for them to arrive ) and rented a K1200GT (for me), a Ducati 1000 Multistrada (older brother), and a BMW F650 (younger brother). I was very excited about the opportunity to ride the K1200GT. Although the K1200GT was nice, smooth, and fast, I had a heck of a time getting it to change directions. I later discovered that the front tire was half flat! I had to ride halfway up the mountains until I could find a gas station with an air hose. But, the worst part of our ride was that it snowed in August! Yep, we rented the bikes for the day and spent all of 3 or 4 hours on them because the sleet / snow was too dangerous to ride in. So much for an adventure in the mountains of Colorado...We spent the rest of the day thawing out in my brother's garage. Oh well, I still got to hang out with my brothers and drink beer. Life is good.

Again, thanks for sharing your ride...I really enjoyed reading about your adventure.

Cheers.
CharlestonRider

P.S. I used to live in Silver Spring, MD too! Went to Univ. of Maryland (undergrad) and American Univ. (grad) before leaving to take a job in Illinois in 1998. I now reside in South Carolina.

My BMW K1200GT rental (with a portion of the Multistrada visible in the background)...

CharlestonRider screwed with this post 04-19-2014 at 07:40 PM
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Old 04-20-2014, 01:33 PM   #35
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Location: Silver Spring, MD
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What a coincidence!

That's an amazing coincidence...I'm sure that we rode the same bike a year apart. The attention to detail at that rental place could have been improved (like sending me out without a full tank), but it was a good experience overall.

Thanks for reading and writing in...
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'06 Buell XB12X Ulysses; '07 H-D FXDB Dyna Street Bob

Solo Around Scotland (BMW R850R); AZ and UT (H-D Road King): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744536l; Death Valley & Vegas (BMW R1200GS): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=926499; NW Colorado (BMW K1200GT): http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=955168
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