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Old 01-30-2015, 08:10 PM   #1
Pray4Snow OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Oddometer: 114
2014 - Edmonton, AB to Colorado ... and all parts in between!

January 30, 2014, 20:05, -12C and snowing, Edmonton,Alberta.
(Blue Friday of Superbowl Weekend ... Go HAWKS!!)

Soooo ... time to get off my ass and write this sucker up.

As I alluded to at the end of my last trip, I'd been looking at the off-road training offered by RawHyde out of California for a while. As it turns out, they opened a second facility in Colorado in 2013, and Colorado is a hell of a lot quicker to ride to from The Great White North than Cali. I can hear some of you now ... "Pray4Snow ... why the hell would you opt for a 'quicker' ride to CO, over a longer, extended ride to CA?" And you would have a very valid point. However, my marital status requires that I spend at least a token amount of vacation time with Mrs P4S and the Snowlettes. And as it turns out ... there was plenty of good riding to be had (in addition to long days of slab) on the route to CO.

We've had unseasonable warm weather for the past month ... well, warm for December and January in northern Alberta anyway ... so I haven't been inclined to sit at the 'puter and bang this shit out. However, as-of this afternoon we're back to snow and cold ... so here goes.

I'm just pulling my notes and pics together now, but as a start, here's the route I ended up taking:



Stay tuned!

-P4S
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:30 PM   #2
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You lucky Canadians have all winter to write up your ride reports. While the rest of us in the southern US have to ride all winter long and have no time to do ride reports.

I'm looking to head up your way next summer. So getting a report to read will be great.
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Old 01-31-2015, 12:28 PM   #3
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Hey P4S, my name is Dusty and I work with Rawhyde Adventures. I am an instructor/tour guide in Colorado. Did we meet last summer? If so who is this?

Looking forward to following this thread!
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Train View Post
Hey P4S, my name is Dusty and I work with Rawhyde Adventures. I am an instructor/tour guide in Colorado. Did we meet last summer? If so who is this?

Looking forward to following this thread!
Hey Dusty ... good to hear from you! Check your PMs. I was the orange F800GS that you helped to straighten the handlebars on, after a good 'dismount' on Day 1 ... June 13-15 session. (But more about that later!)
P4S
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:19 PM   #5
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:23 PM   #6
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Starting Out

Prolog:
So. Here’s the plan. Leave Edmonton … make a couple of personal and business stops on the way out of Alberta … a couple-three days of slab time from the border through MT and WY to smack-dab in the middle of CO … partake of the offroad training and mountain touring provided by Rawhyde … and make my back to AB, but via the SW corner of CO, through UT and ID … and home. All in around 2 weeks. No problem! A pretty good mix of ‘roughing it’ and ‘pupping-out-and-opting-for-a-hotel’.


Days 1-3 – Edmonton to Lethbridge
Starting odometer: 37,637


- Needed to make stops in Calgary (to visit family) and Lethbridge (to check in with staff) on my way out of the province.

- Left the house around 9, and stopped at the fuel station around the corner. Aaaaand … promptly dropped the bike at the pump. Wasn’t doing anything crazy … just wasn’t paying attention to the grade at the pump and what I was doing. Nice start to the trip.

- Had a good visit in Calgary with my sister and brother-in-law, and things were under control in Lethbridge.

- Following the “Must stop at all touristy shit” travel protocol, I grabbed fuel, water, and a couple of pics in Vulcan, AB. Plaques on the statue are in English, Vulcan, and, of course, Klingon.


- One side-trip on the way to Lethbridge: We were in the process of purchasing a puppy, so took the time to visit the breeder and meet the litter. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but the two miles of freshly dropped, loosely graded gravel before the place proved me wrong. Didn’t drop it, but gave the kids playing in the ditch a good demonstration on the high-speed wobble.

- I didn’t know it at the time, but this little girl would eventually be the one to come home to Edmonton with us.


- Highlight of the day: As I clomped around the kitchen of the breeder in my riding boots, I was paranoid about stepping on one of the puppies. So I sat down on the floor and was instantly in the midst of a swirling puppy-nado!
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:24 PM   #7
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First 'Real' day of the trip

Day 4 – Lethbridge, AB to Harlowton, MT (515 km)

- On the road around 9, but had to drop something off at the shop … underway around 9:35.

- Seemed to duck between storms all day. Rearview mirror was full of black clouds all day, but didn’t get terribly wet.

- Crossed the border at Coutts/Sweetgrass around 11. Lots of questions from US border services, but no problems.

- Had lunch at the only café I could find on the US side. Judging from all the packages crammed into the dining room, I’m guessing this place made their living by being a US mailing address for Canucks within driving distance of the border.

- Ordered the ‘half’ serving of a chicken wrap. Was friggin’ massive … couldn’t finish it. I’d hate to see a full order. Gotta love Montana-sized portions.

- Still lots of snow on the eastern slopes … CO might be chilly … especially the higher elevations.

- Pulled into Chief Joseph Park around 16:30. Not particularly scenic (looks like a municipal campground beside the rodeo-grounds) but clean and quiet. Fairly warm … around 23C when I pulled into Harlowton.

- Got the tent up and wanted to look around town a bit, but the sign says that an attendant will be around to collect the fee. Didn’t want to bugger off and get evicted because I wasn’t there to pay.

- Wandered around the rodeo grounds for a bit and charged the gadgets.

- The new Drift seemed to work OK today. Put it on standby after the border, shot a few 30-second clips throughout the day, fiddled with changing modes on the fly, and the battery lasted until just outside of Harlowton.

- Attendant showed up as I was cooking dinner. Chatted with him for a bit, finished dinner, cleaned up, and then to bed. Lots of dark cells all around but off to the south … could get interesting tonight.

- Just about the only picture of libation on the trip … I’ll do better next time.


- A quick look at the landscape ... bald-ass plains, and a prairie storm cell. (please excuse the bug-carcass on the lens ... occupational hazard)
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Old 02-07-2015, 04:13 PM   #8
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Great start!

Looking forward to the next posting...
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:46 PM   #9
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Plains, plains, and more plains

Day 5 – Harlowton, MT to Douglas, WY (704km)

- On the road by 8-ish (slept well … till 7-ish)

- Could smell brekky being cooked at the first little town I passed. Didn’t feel like stopping just yet, so I opted to continue to the next one. Should have known better. The restaurants in the next two little towns (along Hwy 3 east of Harlowton) were also closed.

- At the intersection where the 3 turns south, just north of Lavina, MT., I saw a little ‘store’ that had a sign that said “Bar-Food”, and the neon sign said ‘Open’. Keep in mind, this is around 9AM, so I assumed this meant they served brekky. Nope. It was a bar … think small-town saloon … and it was open for business at 9AM. And they already had two grizzled old souls sitting at the bar. “Probably nothin’ till Billings” they said, when they figured out what I was looking for. They were right.

- Stopped at Mickey D’s in Billings to grab a coffee and poach wi-fi, and caught up on email and texts.

- More out of circumstance than deliberate planning, I ended up at Little Big Horn. The skies were looking wicked, but I figured I’d probably never be back here again, so I pulled in. Glad I did. After a small entry fee (the site is a national park), the interpreters and displays were top notch … got a pretty good history lesson. (Spoiler alert: Custer and his buddies got their asses handed to them in a pretty big way).

- Took part in a guided tour with a guide who looked a lot like Walter White. Fantastic tour, although it got cut a bit short when the skies opened up with torrential rain and hail. The group scattered, but I stuck it out to get a few more pics (one of the benefits of wearing full riding gear while taking a tour) before heading indoors. The displays were really good, and plenty informative. Well worth the stop.











- Leaving Little Big Horn, there was enough hail on the road to make things interesting for a few miles, but no issues.

- Wyoming, especially the bit between Gillette and Douglas, was FESTERING with pronghorn antelope … I stopped counting at 50. We have them at home in Alberta, but you don’t often see them, and not usually in large groups. This is definitely ‘where the deer and the antelope play’.

- Camped in Douglas … it was a bit pricey for just a tent site. I opted for a power site so I could charge the gizmos. There was nobody in the site on either side of me, so I had shit charging on three different sites.

- Somewhere along the road I lost a piece of the casing that covers a small circuit board on my ‘Powerlet-to-Garmin’ cable. It’s a good thing I used to ride a KLR … I can fix anything with duct tape or cable ties.

- A nice night in Douglas


- Poached wi-fi from the campground office. Caught up on email and looked for Motorad dealers in CO. There’s plenty of slab-milage left on that rear, but there’s not point travelling this far to go to an off-road training camp, only to struggle with a square rear tire.

- Had a couple of ‘orphans’ in the libation bag … Bacardi ‘Arctic Grape’ run, and Bacardi Spiced Rum. Not usually my thing, but they went well with Vending Machine 7-Up.

- Passed a couple of Harleys today



- A taste of MT and WY
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Old 02-14-2015, 04:44 PM   #10
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More of the same ...

Day 6 – Douglas, WY to Denver, CO (410km)

- Nice morning … clear, but cool.

- Was a bit slow to pack up. Condensation on everything. I expected it to be a lot drier here judging by the vegetation.

- Spent some time in the campground office while I waited for things to dry in the sun … and partook of the free coffee, and sent postcards to the girls. On the road around 8:30.

- Odd morning … couldn’t find a ma-and-pa place for brekky. Eventually gave up and just found a chain at an interstate rest-stop. Also couldn’t find a “WY” sticker for the panniers. Tried 4 different ‘brands’ of fuel station, but they all carried the same line of tourist crap … which didn’t include said sticker.

- I’m not sure if it was coincidence, or a divine sign, but ‘Hits from the Bong’ by Cypress Hill was playing on the iPod as I crossed into CO.

- Not really any good video … N CO looks a lot like WY. Only video of note was passing the large A-B brewery. Landscape didn’t really change until between Ft Collins and Denver.



- As per usual, I was starting to sweat small details of the bike (see neurotic mumblings on the previous three trips). The rear tire still had lots of miles on it, but it had seen a lot of slab, and was definitely squaring up. After learning my lesson with the chain and sprockets on the Cabot Trail trip last year, and knowing that I was going to make it to the RawHyde camp in plenty of time, I figured I’d see if there was someplace en route that could sell me a rear tire. A brief consultation with the Goddess Google, and lo-and-behold Northern Colorado Euro Motorcycles were just off my route through Fort Collins.

- I stopped in around 12:30. The good news was that they had my Heidenau K60 Scout in stock, and had time to install it for me. The bad news was that they couldn’t get to me until around 3:30 or so. Considering the fact that my dealer at home can’t even remember my name unless I give them 2 weeks notice, I accepted. Hung out in the very nicely appointed ‘Customer Lounge’ … watched some news, napped, bought a can of chain lube and a t-shirt from the PYT in the apparel department.

- As I wandered in and out of the building over the next few hours, killing time, I noticed that there was storm building to the North. Over time, the clouds got blacker and closer. It was 4:40 by the time I got out of there, and by this time there was a storm blacker than the hubs of Hades chasing me south.

- By the time I got to Denver, it was getting pretty thick. And I didn’t know the area well enough to know what the storm would do when it hit eastern slope of the range on the west side of Denver. I opted for a hotel. Screw it. It might the last time I get a shower for a few days (I wasn’t sure what amenities the RawHyde camp had), and I could make sure all the gizmos were charged to the hilt.

- Checked in around 7. By 7:30 I was showered, shaved and changed, and ready to walk across the parking lot to the little restaurant in an adjacent commercial property. And the clouds opened up. Pissed rain … HARD. But I was starving and didn’t want to wait, so I dug my camping raingear out of my topbox, and ventured over. As I picked my way through the Audis and BMWs in the parking lot, I was pretty sure I would be the only one in the place sporting dirty Columbia rubber pants and jacket that smelled like a mix of woodsmoke and Deet. I was right.

- Had a couple of beers and ordered a steak sandwich for dinner. I was a bit miffed that the waitress didn’t ask me how I wanted my steak, so I made a point of mentioning it to her the next time she passed. She gave me a funny look and said ‘Yes sir’. It turns out a ‘steak sandwich’ in Denver is what we call a ‘Philly Cheese-steak’ sandwich at home … nothing medium about it. What a rube … if the smelly raingear hanging on the chair didn’t give it away, giving cooking instructions for a sliced-meat sandwich certainly did.
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Old 02-14-2015, 06:16 PM   #11
docwyte
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Let's hear more!
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Old 02-14-2015, 11:15 PM   #12
Pray4Snow OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Day 7 - part 1

Day 7 – Denver, CO to Rawhyde Training Camp (Ultra-secret location … deep in South Park County (giggle … CARTMAN!!! … giggle), CO) (230km)

- As usual, my journaling went all to shit, so I’m doing this day by memory.

- The check-in instructions from Rawhyde were pretty clear that they didn’t want to see anybody there before 5pm, and it was only 2-3 hours from here, so I took my time packing up and getting out of Dodge. That was a mistake. Was over 30C by the time I got the bike loaded, and I was sweating like a whore in church before I even left the parking lot.

- The direct route would have probably shaved close to an hour off my time, but there was a bit of sight-seeing that I wanted to do. I’d heard a lot about the Red Rock Amphitheatre, and it wasn’t far from the hotel, so I swung by there. My sister and her family just returned home the previous summer from a three-year stint in Denver … should have taken the opportunity to catch a show there while they were there. Fantastic place!

- Swung up to the I70 to get west so that I could take the 9 down through Breckenridge. There’s a couple of places in CO I’ve always wanted to ski (but have yet to take the time). Breckenridge is one, and Telluride is the other (more on that later).

- The I70, although an interstate, is a pretty nice road … a bit like taking Hwy 1 through Banff Park at home. Nice scenery, but full of F-ing tourists and transports, and really just made to get from A to B.

- There was some tunnel repair going on at one point (glad to see ‘Contruction Season’ is the same here as at home) and traffic got a bit backed up.

- At one point, I was in the right-hand lane, and sitting in stop-and-go traffic beside a flat-deck Ford Ranger with ( … wait for it …) twin stacks jutting up behind the cab, in the left-hand lane. As I was sitting there looking at the stacks and wondering ‘WTF?!’, I noticed the two young guys in the cab were chatting excitedly and kept looking back over at my bike. Now Gretta, my 798cc Bavarian beauty IS quite striking, but their attention was too much … even for her. Something was up. A few seconds later, they put their signal on and pulled in front of me as traffic allowed. Over the next few minutes, I noticed they seemed to be deliberately letting an increasing gap form between them and the vehicle in front of them … all while repeatedly glancing in the rear window and the mirrors to see if I was still behind them. Once the gap was around 100-150 long, four things happened almost simultaneously:
a. I noticed all the Broncos shit plastered across the bumper, the back of the cab, etc.
b. I realized all the attention they were giving to Gretta was not for her stunning lines and curves, but for the Seahawks decal I have on the left pannier.
c. I remembered the shellacking the Seahawks gave the Broncos four short months previously
d. The driver of the little Ranger stomped on the accelerator, causing the twin stacks to belch and cover me in thick, black smoke like a diesel.
- Well played, mother-fucker … well played.

- Turned over 40,000 on the odo today. Missed the actual event, but remembered to grab a pic at the last fuel stop before the event.


- Traffic flow picked back up after the construction, and before long I was at the turnoff for Hwy 9 south. Hwy 9 was still a bit busy, but nobody seemed to be in too great a rush to get anywhere so things were calm and I could rubberneck a bit.

- Stopped in Breckenridge for a drink and some fuel, and grabbed a sticker for the panniers. Pretty touristy, but a lot more laid back than Banff … more like Jasper … a nice laid-back vibe.

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Old 02-15-2015, 05:07 PM   #13
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Day 7, part 2

- Stopped in Breckenridge for a drink and some fuel, and grabbed a sticker for the panniers. Pretty touristy, but a lot calmer than Banff … more like Jasper … a nice laid-back vibe.

- Got caught in a line of traffic stuck behind a flat-deck transport hauling round bales. I’m not sure where he was hauling from or to … there really wasn’t much in the way of ag around there. Here’s where riding a bike comes in handy. There was sweet F-A for passing lanes, and the few sections of dashed-lines that existed only lasted for a second or two, so nobody else was in a position to try to pass. With the acceleration of the bike, even loaded-down with camping gear like I was, I was able to use the brief sections of dashed centre-line to work my way up the line. In the last section of dashed lines before a couple of hairpins switch-backs I was able to pass the transport. There was no way anybody was going to be passing that truck anytime soon. Suddenly … I had the road to myself.

- Filled the bike and the jerrycan in Hartsel … wasn’t sure what kind of mileage we’d be doing, or what was available for fuel at the camp. (And still wasn’t exactly sure where the camp was).

- Once you pull off the pavement, there’s a rats-nest of gravel county roads. As it turns out, the directions the RawHyde office had sent from Cali were pretty spot-on. And at the second to last turn, I passed two bikes, ever more laden than mine, who had overshot a turn and were in the process of turning around … so I knew I was on the right trail.

- The closer you get to camp, the less developed the road gets. Still top-shelf gravel, but there’s a couple of good clips in the video below of me trying to read and follow written directions from my map pouch while trying to ride … probably not the smartest move.

- Video of the ride from Breckenridge to the Rawhyde camp. I need to pay closer attention to where the Drift is pointed … more vistas; less handlebars.


- The RawHyde camp was an eclectic collection of structures, trailers, and vehicles, all perched on a rise of land that over looked the (high altitude) plain below. Keep in mind that this was only the second year of operations in CO, and things were still coming together. The main building was a large Quonset-style shed which housed the dining facilities (tables and chairs for sitting, and the food service area) some couches and a large TV, and the bar. There was some storage and staff quarters in a mezzanine above the bar. This was also one of the only areas in camp with power, so it typically became the spot for charging gizmos. Staff quarters were in a double-decker ‘bunk trailer’ (not sure how else to describe it) … looked like something you might see at a rodeo or raceway for crew members. Guest quarters fell into one of three types:
a. A convertible bunk trailer … fixed metal storage spots, with individual collapsible ‘tents’ that flipped up over top of the trailer (look for the blue ‘tents’ up in the air to the right of the shed in the pic below);
b. A large green army-style tent on an elevated wooden deck, with 6 cots and linen inside. (left of the shed in the photo below) This is where I was assigned.
c. A few wood-and-canvas units a little more removed from the rest of the facility. (You can just sort of see the white walls and beige roof of one unit through the trees at the far left of the picture).
Excuse the ‘ghost bike’ in the middle of the shot … an artifact of the stiching process that I couldn’t be bothered to remove.


- Toilet facilities were of the port-o-john variety, but immaculately maintained, and on a central septic tank, so none of the usual smell. Showers were in structures that looked a lot like the johns, but with a small changing area and shower inside. Hot water wasn’t a problem due to on-demand hotwater units. Since all the water was being trucked in, and all the septic trucked out, the orientation tour included DETAILED instructions on the operation of the shitters and showers. Apart from having to spread the shower traffic out a bit after a day of riding, there was never any problems. (not visible in photo below … on the other side of the shed)

- The highlight of the facility was the converted 5-ton truck that served as a kitchen (immediately to the right of the shed in the photo above). I’m not a chef, but it looked well appointed. The food was top-shelf, and definitely not your typical camp chow. I wish I’d taken better notes so I could regale you all with the menu (or even remember the name of the young lady from California on chef duty), but I didn’t … journaling ceased to happen while I was in camp. Suffice to say, everything was delicious and any illusions I had of losing weight while in camp went right out the window.

- Besides the details on working the shitter, the other valuable piece of advice was around the libations. The bar was well stocked, but I was reminded that the camp was at almost 10,000’ elevation … one beer here would affect you like two or three at sea-level. I was thankful for the warning, and I suspect the others were too. Nobody got out of control … I suspect they were all like me, afraid to over-do it and become ‘that guy’.

- Did a few mods to the bike in preparation for the course. Removed the panniers, but left the luggage racks on. I figured they might offer some protection, and some additional grab-points if the bike needed to be lifted. I also removed the mirrors, and loosened and zip-tied the front turn signals out of the way. The rear turn signals were protected by the rear luggage rack. Some guys opted to take off their windscreens too, but mine was pretty well protected. Unless it flipped, the engine guards and bar-ends would keep the entire front fairing well off the ground.

- Once everybody had arrived, unpacked, etc., dinner was served, followed by an after-dinner session of instruction, introductions, expectations of all the attendees, etc.



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Old 02-20-2015, 08:54 PM   #14
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Oddometer: 114
First Day of RawHyde camp

Day 8 – First Day of RawHyde camp

- First good look at the place in daylight. Surrounded by postcards.


- I can’t remember what time we started, but it was a pretty good balance. I was up early, but coffee was on, and a hearty brekky soon followed. It wasn’t an oppressively early start, but we didn’t waste time either. A few guys still had a few tweaks to make to their bikes, but soon we were under way.

- The crew of instructors was split … some that had come from the California facility, and some that were from CO.

- The attendees were from far and wide. Michel (from the Ottawa area) and I were the only Canucks in attendance. Michel had also ridden, but on his cruiser (large K-bike as I recall) and then had rented a GS in CO. The rest were American or American ex-pats. There seemed to be a disproportionate number of people in the airline industry … everything from pilots to salesmen to technicians. I wasn’t the youngest attendee there, but definitely at the young end of the spectrum.

- Discovered within the first 5 minutes, that my tank bag didn’t allow me to stand on the pegs properly, which was affecting my balance, posture, and handling in general (all hunched over like a dog screwing a football). Pulled it off any bungeed to the tail rack. HUGE difference. I have to say, after the two days of standing on the pegs, it became second nature, and considerably more ‘in-control’ than sitting. On the first day of the tour (see Day 10) it actually seemed foreign to touch my ass to the seat on the slab.

- For a few days, I had photographic help … a nice change from taking pictures of Gretta, and not being in any of the pics. There wasn’t a lot of photos taken during the course … folks were busy … but the two days of touring (Days 10 and 11) produced some nice pics.





- After the first day of training was done, before dinner, Head Instructor Shawn ‘Rock On’ Thomas took a few of us on a quick ‘after course ride’ around the area. Those that opted not to go on this rip had a bit more time for getting cleaned up before dinner, and first crack at the showers, but definitely missed out. The video only shows the first few minutes, but it was a great ride.



- After dinner, there was a group debrief ... comments from the instructors, highs and lows of the day from everybody, a couple of wobbly-pops ... and then we were left to our own devices for the rest of the night.
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:03 AM   #15
Nacho911
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Loving your report.

Nacho

Keep it coming.
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