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Old 07-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #46
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Black Canyon of the Gunnison



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Old 07-08-2013, 08:48 PM   #47
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Gunnison to Vail

Stopped for gas on the way out of town, turned the key, hit the ignition and nothing! What does that "check" mean? Awwww crap!

Right before this I had been talking to a couple of Forestry fire fighters, I was wondering about fires in northern Colorado. They didn't know, they'd been so busy in their area and were on their way to a possible lightning lit fire. I was talking to one of them when to my horror Maxwell wouldn't start. He called his buddy over, who knew something about bikes, and we both hit our heads when I told him my Vstrom manual was buried in my bottom piece of luggage....I started checking obvious things and then when I was just about ready to take off all of the bags I had a thought. And I was right. And I'm soooo stupid. I had the kickstand down, sheesh. I've done this before but I swear I've never gotten that warning light before! I was so relieved I wasn't nearly as embarrassed as I should have been.

What I didn't mention was those were 2 damn good looking fire fighters. Sigh. Lots of fantasies of fire fighters and me on the bike.....

Off to Independence Pass (a little over 12000'). I got a big surprise on the way, Monarch Pass (11312')! I didn't check the map very carefully the night before, what a beautiful ride.

Had lunch in Buena Vista at the only place surrounded by bikes. I will give the Harley riders kudos for knowing the best lunch places.

Right before Leadville the road for Independence Pass takes off to the west. It looks nasty up there, black and raining. Yuck. Also lightning. Uh uh, I'm going ride the pass on a loop in another day.

Rode through Leadville, more on the town later, and up a wonderful road to a little town called Minturn. I hoped to stay there, but there wasn't any place. While riding through town the wind was blowing hard, all of the fluffy seed pods from cottonwood trees were getting blown all over town. Looked like it was snowing.

I was getting pretty tired so I ended up in Vail, in the only chain motel that exists in the whole town. Vail is.......interesting......not my kind of place. Waaaay too fancy. Ostentatious.

However, I did take advantage of room service that night.....
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:54 PM   #48
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Top of Monarch Pass, I was wondering why I was huffing and puffing until I saw the sign



Leadville

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Old 07-08-2013, 09:13 PM   #49
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From about September 18 I will be in Colorado and following your route pretty closely. Don't feel the pressure, but you are greatly informing where I stop and where I do not!

Brilliant stuff. Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:52 AM   #50
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Vail to Leadville

I woke up really tired and with a headache, so I stayed an extra day in Vail.

Then, off to making a loop over Independence Pass, woot!

Headed west on the 70, had thought it would be a boring slab ride. Not so much! Beautiful, narrow river canyon, the road is built on a bridge and retaining walls on one side. The canyon is carved through sedimentary rocks. Great ride, but no where to stop for pics. Boo. I need to have a talk with Colorado's road department. Several loooong tunnels, this road is a pretty wild bit of road engineering.

Rode into Glenwood Springs, then you make the turn onto the Independence Pass road. I stopped for gas and a snack at a (snigger), Kum and Go (remember, I teach 8th grade, it rubs off after awhile). When I was in the store I met Epic Guy. He asked about the trip and where I was from, he used to live in southern California. He started rattling off my list of local day rides and I kept nodding, yep, nice ride. This was repeated over and over and each of my responses was followed by:

That's an EPIC ride!

Over and over and over.

Everything was an epic ride.

Nice guy, but I wanted out of there!

Finally, up the pass. You get to the bottom of the pass just before Aspen, I tried to get luch, but too busy. As you climb, the road narrows and lots of tight turns. I found a few drivers who like to treat the road as their personal Mulholland Drive (check out the YouTube videos by rnickie mouse). I was going about 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit, but had a couple of tailgaters.

Here's the problem that I think drivers don't get. Just because there is a pullout it doesn't mean that a loaded, heavy touring bike can use it. The only pullouts were small, gravel covered and sloping away from the road with a several inch lip before you hit the gravel marbles. If I'd been riding the Wee Beastie, it wouldn't have been a problem, you could pull that bike off on anything, but not a Vstrom! I finally came across an asphalt pull off on the other side of the road and was rewarded with a honk from one car and a garbled yelling from the other car with a fbomb thrown in. Oh well.....

The pass is deceptive. You don't feel you're gaining that much elevation and suddenly you're up at 12000'. On the way there is the ghost town of Independence in a valley to the right of the road. It was abandoned one winter when the weather was so bad that the entire town evacuated. You want to talk about tough? They tore down buildings to make 75 pairs of skis and off they went.

Up, up, yay, it's the top! I park and walk a trail to a viewpoint over the other side of the pass. Just like everywhere else I've been in Colorado, lots of wildflowers and little low tundra plants.

Down the east side. Where to stay tonight? I end up in Leadville. There is an old, original hotel like to stay in, but, I'd have to haul all of my crap up 3 stories.
I wimp out and pick a dive motel at the south side of town. But it was cheap! Had a late lunch at the Silver Dollar Saloon. They have the original bar, but unfortunately owners over time haven't restored the inside, but have made just patches.

Couple of GS in the spot next to mine at the motel. Never saw the owners. There were some scorch marks low on the wall, hmmm, hope the fire alarm works!
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:45 AM   #51
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Yeah, I teach middle school....



Up the pass:

The town of Independence





Up the pass





At the top!







Tundra plants and flowers







Down the east side

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Old 07-09-2013, 07:58 AM   #52
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Fantastic route, rode that two weeks ago...
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:42 PM   #53
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Superb pics. What camera are you using?

Is it cold up there? I bought some GS Dry gloves for cooler weather but below about 8 degrees C they are not adequate (even with the heaters on) and I might need to get something a bit warmer.
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:56 PM   #54
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Epic report!

I feel you about the sidestand - I've done that a few times, always when there's someone around. Or my bike's favorite thing to do in the world - it never EVER wants to go into neutral, but when I take off in front of a crowd - ALWAYS - and think I'm putting it into 2nd, nope - BRRRRAAAAAOOOWWWW - so embarrassing

Yeah about those firemen - it's the uniform I tell ya.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:43 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by bbjumper View Post
Fantastic route, rode that two weeks ago...
I really enjoyed it, definitely coming back with the xt250 so I can ride the plethora of dirt roads
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:52 PM   #56
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Superb pics. What camera are you using?

Is it cold up there? I bought some GS Dry gloves for cooler weather but below about 8 degrees C they are not adequate (even with the heaters on) and I might need to get something a bit warmer.
Thanks! I'm using a Sony nex5n. Really like it, it's basically a slr, but without a mirror so it's small. Has interchangeable lenses, I only have the 18-55, so far

It's been hot this whole trip, most days in the 90s and not zippering the sleeping bag at night. However, weather this time of the year in the western mountains can change quickly, I brought a pair of light leather gloves, insulated gloves and waterproof over mitts. Didn't use my heavier gloves until today and also the mitts (about 1.5 hours of heavy rain riding in the 60s). If you go coastal it can get pretty chilly and damp. I don't have heated gloves, my heavier ones are good to about 50. I'll let you do the temp conversions.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:55 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Blixa View Post
Epic report!

I feel you about the sidestand - I've done that a few times, always when there's someone around. Or my bike's favorite thing to do in the world - it never EVER wants to go into neutral, but when I take off in front of a crowd - ALWAYS - and think I'm putting it into 2nd, nope - BRRRRAAAAAOOOWWWW - so embarrassing

Yeah about those firemen - it's the uniform I tell ya.
It's Epic!

On my Rebel I would forget to turn the fuel petcock back on......
Those guys didn't need uniforms, in fact, they could just take them off...
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Old 07-11-2013, 08:30 PM   #58
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So I keep cruising through 'Regional-West' looking if Little Bike is up to any local rides...wondering why I haven't seen any LB action.

And here you are sight seeing the great SWest. Fantastic!

So you are where now? And what's the plan? This SoCal'r is following with envy.

Great report, continued good travels to you.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:33 PM   #59
duncanmac
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Originally Posted by Little Bike View Post
Thanks! I'm using a Sony nex5n. Really like it, it's basically a slr, but without a mirror so it's small. Has interchangeable lenses, I only have the 18-55, so far
You have made me very happy: I have just bought the NEX6 for all the reasons you articulate; and from your posts the quality of the pics is really superb.

Waterproof mitts have just gone onto the shopping list. Thanks for the info.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:14 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by samthg View Post
So I keep cruising through 'Regional-West' looking if Little Bike is up to any local rides...wondering why I haven't seen any LB action.

And here you are sight seeing the great SWest. Fantastic!

So you are where now? And what's the plan? This SoCal'r is following with envy.

Great report, continued good travels to you.
Hi!
Right now I'm in Carson City, I'm woefully behind daily ride reports. Hopefully get updated soon! Heading over 2 Sierra passes today and tomorrow
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