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Old 02-15-2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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Fly and Ride Guide: Northern Colorado on a BMW K1200GT

You have to ride in Colorado. It’s just one of those things you regularly read and hear from other riders. It seems like a no-brainer. Yeah, other states have mountains. Heck, other states have Rocky Mountains. But Colorado is the epicenter of all that in the US. And it has Denver and Boulder and the whole ski-town-thing that make for good jumping-off places and nightly checkpoints. I’d been to Denver before, for work. I’d been as far as Colorado Springs with my family on a cross-country rental-RV vacation (you know, Wall Drug, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore), but I really didn’t know much about the state. I had no idea how diverse the landscape was from border to border – the plains, the mountains, the deserts, the canyons. All I knew is that I wanted to twist and turn on a bike in the mountains and see some incredible scenery. I didn’t know I’d find myself on top of a huge mesa; visit the site of a scrubby, hot, archeological dig; pass judgment on rural folks in an iffy roadhouse near some gas mining grounds; or drizzle the dining room of a luxury hotel with my own bathwater. I got to do all of that and more – a lot more.

Like I said, I’d been to Colorado. I knew it was beautiful. One of my best friends lives in Boulder and sings the frickin’ praises every chance he gets (as Boulderites are wont to do, to the great annoyance of other really nice places around the country with clean air, mountain views, and healthy residents). I understand. There are a lot of misconceptions about Colorado, especially among people who grew up well east of there or among most people who are not from America. I knew, after having worked in the Denver area for a few days in the ‘90s and again in the 2000s, all prior to my ride, that there is a lot of prairie leading up to Denver, and even a little bit more just past, just past toward the mountains. The mountains definitely do loom over that city, but they are not as close as you might think. The optical illusion makes the poor sucker flying into that giant, distant airport (gripping the armrests in seat 18D as the 707 shimmies back and forth like MC Hammer in his heyday, thanks to the indigenous, wicked crosswinds) think that white peaks are within steps of downtown. No, more like a 45-minute drive…they’re awesome, they’re worth it, but they’re out there. Rent a car and see them up close.

I did that when I first visited the Rockies in November 2000. I was working for a company that tracks the details of commercial real estate around the country. My region of responsibility was the western states of the United States (Seattle, the big cities of California, Phoenix, and Denver). Denver, along with Phoenix, was one of our newer expansion markets, so I planned a trip to bring my Denver Team Lead Craig and one of our best Research Analysts to meet our salespeople as well as our main clients. Craig eventually became a very good friend and the guy I can probably point to who pushed me over the edge into motorcycling. We finally took a joint ride in the desert Southwest US to see the great sights of that area…it remains one of my best life events – see my signature line for that ride report. Anyway, I loved these kinds of work trips – I’d taken many like them around the country. The most memorable one was to Seattle, where one customer told us, in their conference room: “You’ve got a lot of guts coming here.”



We three made sure to extend our trip into the weekend so we could take some time on the company’s dime and see some of the area. We drove the company’s Jeep (prototype field research vehicle) on a Saturday into the Rockies, over the snowy Loveland Pass, and back, enjoying some stops along the snowy route for cool photos. Craig was as into it as I was, but the Research Analyst was asleep in the back seat most of the time. She, ironically, was a child of the inner city. She’d never traveled for work, never eaten out on the company dime, never expensed a hotel room stay, and never been in a Jeep as it rolled through a wintry mountain landscape (with her boss and her boss’ boss). Come to think of it, before I’d hired on there, neither had I. I have a photo of the three of us near the pass with a sign that warned of artillery being used to prevent avalanche deaths.



When she roused, it was time to go back to the hotel, and then back to the airport, and then back to her life. I don’t know where she is now. In my career, I’ve had hundreds of people report to me, but only a handful of them traveled with me. Maybe only a few of them shared a sense of adventure (especially when it was paid for by someone else). That’s too bad.

So, despite the Research Analyst’s opinions, I loved my first real foray into the Rockies and got a good winter taste. We also got a winter rate at an old hotel just outside downtown, which had just been renovated and needed customers. The hotel had a complimentary Town Car service, and, thanks to the fact that the hotel was basically vacant, we used it as our personal limo service all night. It took Craig and me to the bar the driver recommended, then to the restaurant, then to another bar, then back to the giant, empty hotel. I ended the night in my huge, huge room, taking pictures of the city from the balcony. Downtown Denver, especially the “cash register building”, can be very photogenic at night.




The point is, Denver is a jumping-off point. It’s a cool city with even cooler environs. I like how you can get to know a city the more you visit it and customize where you stay and where you go. The last time I was in Denver, I had to stay in a shady place, but ate at great restaurants down by the ballpark and LoDo (“Lower Downtown”). To me, that’s everything.

So, aside from describing Denver, there’s much more to write about. Behind those mountains near Denver, I left behind the trendy towns and ski stops, and roared into a rural and workaday culture that I rarely immerse myself in when travelling. I only saw the northern half of the big state, and this is a quick story of that trip.

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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 02-28-2014, 02:07 PM   #2
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Planning the Trip

How did I get started with this event?
There wasn’t an Eagle Rider rental franchise in Denver, but an Internet search turned up a small operation outside of town. They had a small fleet of BMWs…right up my alley. The Rockies were not a place I envisioned myself sitting back on a Harley. They’re fine bikes for the area, but I envisioned myself really attacking curvy mountain roads and flying down the straights. Besides, I’ve ridden plenty of Hogs in plenty of places, but when I saw they had a K1200GT, I knew it was time to explore something different. The K-bike was unlike anything I’d ridden, and the website said it would come with panniers and a top box…tour-ready.

What roads would I take?
I took a look at my Buell travel atlas (same as the Harley-Davidson travel atlas, just with different logo and picture on the cover), which highlights roads around the country that are especially scenic. I wanted to see as much of state in the four days and three nights I’d be on the road. As I studied the map, I started to see a loop forming in the top half of the state. Those Harley-approved highlighted routes took me west from Denver into the Rocky Mountain National Park – a no-brainer. But as I measured the distance and did the timing, I realized that I would exit the park with plenty of daylight to go. But if I went too much further west, I’d run out of towns with reasonable places to stay. Some of the potential stopping points just had no motels or hotels. Oh well, I decided that I could stop a little earlier than normal – never a bad idea after a long flight, long cab ride, and big first day of riding. The Littletree Inn in Granby got the nod. I found it online and reserved it.

Planning day two was a challenge too. Measuring the miles west, I found an interesting town at the western edge of Colorado that looked like an interesting place to stop. Dinosaur! What a name! Google told me there were a couple motels there, but I could barely find any other information about them aside from a phone number and an address. Adventure is all good, but I still like a decent-to-nice lodge at the end of the day. Dinosaur didn’t give me hope. I pressed my mileage further and found nothing else until the city of Grand Junction.

For day three, I wanted to see as much as possible, but also be staged for a final day’s run back to Denver where I had a deadline to return the bike and some other obligations. I also envisioned riding that highest road in the Lower 48, and that would add some time to my trip. I dragged my cursor around the Google map, looked at the Buell map for good roads, wanting to see some of the classic ski towns I’d never been to, and found my way to Aspen for my last big night on the road. It was no problem finding a good hotel there – I’d be arriving the day after Labor Day, which must mean something, because I got a room in one of the best hotels in town for a song. That was going to be a reward night after being snubbed by Dinosaur.

Day four would be a blast from Aspen back to Denver, but I hoped to ride the Mount Evans auto road, the highest paved road in North America. The last days of big rides are often never the most fun or the longest – you have to bring a rented bike back to a shop that would like to see you much before 5pm. And you never know what can delay you on the way. For example, you might get a late start from the hotel since the night before you told yourself you needed to live it up a little – it was the last night of the ride, after all, and hey, you’re in an interesting place and meeting interesting people. Sometimes you’re trying to catch a plane after dropping the bike off, adding additional pressure to the day’s schedule. This time, night four would be back in Denver, where I’d planned to get together with one of my oldest and best friends, who lives in Boulder.

Day five would be a quick iron of a work shirt and a morning cab ride out to the Denver Federal Center…but that discussion has no place here. This is a ride report. This is not a work (TPS) report.
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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 02-28-2014, 02:28 PM   #3
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Day One Begins!

DAY ONE, Friday 8/31/07

The route mapped out, the hotels booked, my work plans made, my friends and colleagues informed, I headed out. My usual ski-boot bag containing my helmet wrapped as a precious egg in my armored riding jacket, pants, gauntlets, and boots. And just a few extra pieces of clothing for me to wear when I would hit the town or head into my client’s office. Not much. Dulles had a direct flight on United to the still newish and distant Denver International Airport, famous for its former luggage-eating luggage handlers. The “nice” thing about flying east to west is that you gain a couple hours in your travel day…instead of leaving at 9:00am and arriving at 12:30pm, you arrive at 10:30am, as if by magic. It’s especially useful if you have a mind-over-matter mind as I do…I try not to let the thought of what my brain thinks I should feel like. I prefer to adjust instantly and imperceptively to the time zone of where I’m arriving, even six hours into Europe. That first day, if you can fight your way to the new locale’s equivalent of your normal bedtime (11pm or later?), you’re golden. You go to bed, overcome the frustrating and occasional wakeups now and then (especially because you’re probably sleeping on a sub-par mattress), and you wake up at a fairly reasonable hour (heck, you’ve just traveled across a long distance, right? Give yourself an hour if you can). At this point, get up and get moving! Put in another full day of action and activity, napping during the day if practical, but not giving up on your day/night until the general bedtime from home. Wake up at a reasonable hour…and you’re ready to assault the new world without much resembling jet lag.

The flight was no big deal. It becomes a nightmare of failed sleep, head-nodding, bad movies, and a misguided reliance on airline bottles of whiskey or wine. First Class on British Airways and their “bottomless wine glass” policy does not do enough to get you to London unawares unless you want to arrive at that amazing city totally off your ass, with a concerned wife.

Denver’s DIA (one of the most inaptly-named airports of all time) was busy and sunny, as always. I made it fairly quickly from the plane to my big ski boot bag. I then spent the next few minutes deciding if it was worth taking an airport shuttle or finding one cab that would take me there. I opted with the solo car. He was iffy, as they often are when you ask them to take just one passenger far, far away (my cabby in Scotland did this).

DIA is a long way from downtown, and the rental place was in a southern suburb, situated in an industrial park. It wasn’t easy to find – we drove past it a couple times. Once located, it became clear that it was actually the rear of the building that I was looking for. A champagne-green BMW parked by a roll-up door gave it away. That’s mine! Ready to be on my way, I trustingly dumped my bags there by the back roll-up door, paid the driver, and walked around to the front entrance. The dark window and miniscule sign made it look like no one was there – like they weren’t even open. Once inside the neat lobby, I was greeted by a mustachioed man who let me know he’d be right with me. Someone else was settling up on a rental. They had customers! Once through the paperwork (I always get antsy during this part…let’s go man, let’s go!), I was led back into the garage section of the flex-industrial unit where several BMWs were parked, some in various states of assembly and maintenance. He led me to the green K1200GT and left me to load up. I began pulling my clothes and other gear out of my duffel bag and strategized how best to arrange everything. Some other guy, a partner in the business, I think, cracked, “How long are you planning to be gone for,” saying something about packing light. He mentioned he’d taken a weeks-long ride into Mexico with less stuff than I had. Whatever. All the stuff I meant to bring fit in the three pieces of BMW luggage.

There was no fanfare to my departure. I asked if I could stow my luggage in the office, took it there, waved goodbye to the guy in the office, and walked out to the bike to check my maps. I needed to get headed out west on the main highway towards the Rockies. I had one of the owners take a picture of me before I left.





The great fear of stalling the bike while everyone is watching you depart rushed into my brain. It’s never easy when you’re riding a new bike, with a different engine and controls. You don’t even know how much the bike weighs – or where the weight sits – as it starts off. I noticed the mileage…in the 50’s. Holy crap…is this thing that old? Is it okay? We motorcycle renters put a lot of trust in the little companies that send us out on their bikes. How well has this thing been maintained?

It started up easily and quietly burbled as a BMW should. I checked all the turn signals, brake light, and controls. Gas on, clutch out, feet up, forward…it felt good. My toes went to the pegs and immediately felt oddly angled inward. Not a natural position for a foot. It would continue to bother me throughout the ride. 10:00am, and I was off!

The highway wasn’t far, so I had just a few turns in traffic and at lights to get used to the sport-tourer. I liked it…I felt rich. The bike did feel a bit “senior” (it was probably a 2002?)…not everything looked or felt crisp, and the idle wasn’t nice and uniform like a newer bike’s, but it was clearly powerful (even with all my crap in the luggage).

It wasn’t long after I got on the highway west that I noted I was approaching Lakewood, where a BMW dealer existed (Foothills BMW). Thanks to my earlier research, I found that this would be the most convenient BMW shop on the whole trip…I needed swag. I pulled in thinking I’d be welcomed as the prodigal son, or at least an honorable member of the secret Bimmer rider club, where you get an approving look from other BMW riders as you arrive. BMW car drivers don’t seem to know that their favorite carmaker also makes bikes – there is no waving between vehicles. Nope, I had pulled into the wrong parking lot. It was a Yamaha dealership that was closed, and looked out of business, frankly. The BMW shop was just a few doors up. There was no fanfare when I rolled in on my relatively vintage K-bike. No one was there to nod and smile, asking me where I’d been or where I was going. Instead, I went into a spotless and modern showroom, featuring all the main BMW bikes of 2006-2007, but also a selection of Triumphs. How nice! I should have taken my time to enjoy, but I was truly on a mission to get out of the city and into the mountains.

“Just this shirt and the hat.” I said politely as I slid the logo products toward the cashier.

“That’s all?” He asked, wondering if I might need some assistance with understanding how awesome the new 2007 K-bike is. I was wearing full riding gear and had a mop of sweaty hair under my hat. That gave me a bit of respect. The Foothills BMW hat came in handy on this trip, and is still my favorite hat, all these years later. The t-shirt is great too.

Back on the road, it wasn’t long before I realized I was low on fuel. Damn! They didn’t send me off with a full tank! After 50 miles on the road, I put 3.8 gallons in the tank. That’s not cool when renting a bike.

Once outside the Denver sprawl, I was finally getting up into the mountains. I headed up Route 119 toward Black Hawk and Central City.













Soon, I was rolling into Black Hawk/Central City. It was fascinating…I’d never heard of the town before. The road went right through a mixture of new and old buildings, all meant to put you in the feel of an old west town, but this time with casinos.







On the steep cliffs were charming old wooden houses that had clearly been taken care of.



Once over the hill, I finally got my glimpse of the first of the big mountains.



I stopped for a shot at Lake Manchester.



The scenery continued to awe on Route 119.



I hit a rest area to commune with some of my two-wheeled friends and admired the nearby peaks.









Coming up...rain threatens!


__________________
'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 03-02-2014, 07:54 AM   #4
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Day One Continues...

I jumped off Route 119 north and took Route 72 north at Nederland. With the skies threatening rain, I pulled over again to put on my rain gear.











The scenery was still great.





I pulled into Estes Park under a drizzle.







There was the Stanley Hotel, which inspired “The Shining” (though the movie was filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon). This one would have worked pretty well, too. The views from the hotel were fantastic (if a bit less foreboding).

















I took a little while in town to eat at a shake shop next to McDonald’s, and called my girlfriend-at-the-time to check in. She and I were soon to be on the outs, and I’d soon meet my now-wife later that year. 2007 was a good year.

Onward, into Rocky Mountain National Park...
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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 03-06-2014, 01:20 PM   #5
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Day One Continued - Into Rocky Mountain NP

Soon, I was rolling into Rocky Mountain National Park.



Route 34 was one of the most gorgeous roads I’d ever seen, let alone ridden.











Looking back down from where I’d just come, with the squiggly, snaking river in between the roadways.









The road became more alpine as I jumped onto Route 34, still in the park.



I was rewarded with an even higher shot of my entry into the park than before. Thank whoever decided to take on the Sisyphus-like task of building roads that offer these rewards.





The higher I went, the more I was awed. Grey, jagged peaks! Snow in August!











At one point near Rock Cut, I couldn’t take it anymore and had to pull over for some photos. The lead-up to the pulloff and the views from the pulloff itself were incredible.

















Once on top of the mountain, the plateaus provided plenty of interesting vistas.













I looked over to the valley…





There was dramatic weather in the distance, warning me to be prepared.



Just to my right, just to the side of the road, were some interesting elk-like creatures that had no fear of the vehicles on the nearby road.



Not long after, thankfully, I was told that I had hit my first continental divide (on two wheels)…kind of a fly-and-ride thrill.





Coming up...down the other side...



__________________
'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 03-08-2014, 07:34 PM   #6
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Day One Continued...Down the Other Side

Not far was a perfect pulloff on Fairview Curve. I took plenty of incredibly photos of the area, and prepared for the rain that would come. A crack of thunder erupted over my head. I’d never heard thunder so close and so terrifying. I’d never been at this altitude with such heavy weather above. Just a helmet between me and the hammer of the gods! I flinched, but it was thrilling to be there, winding on those steep roads, confident in my riding skills and the surefootedness of the bike.













I saw a gorgeous gray bird I’d never seen before, and went a little crazy with my 35mm Nikon with a 300mm zoom:





The next section was a series of tight switchbacks that were perfect for the bike I was riding and an ideal challenge. Unfortunately, the road was wet, so I was taking it easy. At one section, where the road straightened out, I wicked up the speed a bit. Just about the time I started to get that grin, I was suddenly given blue flashing lights from an oncoming police SUV. Nice of them to just give a quick, moving warning, rather than pulling me over and going through all that mess. I got the point – they were running RADAR as they drove. I slowed down.

I rode on, and down, down onto a plateau below the peaks, still on Route 34, Trail Ridge Road. At one point along a row of trees, I looked right and saw a dirt road leading across a field toward a spectacular group of mountains. It immediately rang a bell. “I’d been down that road before”. I pulled over immediately, doubled back, and cruised down the dirt road toward those pines and peaks. Yep, I’d definitely been there before, and it was amazing that I’d remembered it. Over seven years prior, I’d been there on my Denver work trip. My coworkers Craig and the Research Analyst had been on the same route back in November 2000. This was the Bowen-Baker Trailhead, in Kawuneeche Valley.









Here was my coworker Craig, and, many years later, fellow motorcyclist, in the very same spot seven years earlier.














I kept rolling down Route 34 south, past Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby. Turning left on Route 40, I found myself rolling down the main street of the little town of Granby. My head was swiveling back and forth, looking for dinner options. Not much grabbed my eye. Just around the bend was my motel for the night, the Littletree Inn. Nothing fancy, but it fit the bill and wasn’t expensive.

I love the ride reports that show people moving their bikes into the room for security. Not necessary in the US, as far as I know, but I could have done it here if I’d wanted to.



I unpacked, relaxed for a bit on the sandpapery bedcover, then headed back into Granby for dinner. The place that looked the most promising was an old-west-style wooden building that housed The Longbranch Restaurant. It might have the most wild mix of cuisines I’ve ever seen under one roof: German, American, and Mexican. Oh, and also a pizza and pasta place was attached. I knew I could find something there. The décor and service definitely skewed German, and I don’t remember seeing much American or Mexican food on the menu, so I had something like schnitzel, a glass of red wine, and watched the busy dining room. It was an early night for me. I was back at the Littletree and in bed at a surprisingly reasonable hour. There would be other opportunities for hitting the nightlife of Colorado…Granby on a Friday wasn’t too thrilling.

While researching this RR, I found that The Longbranch is now “Los Amigos”, a repainted Mexican restaurant.

Day one was 178 miles. Lots of curves, lots of photo breaks. I gave my brother a call for his birthday.

Next up, Day Two...

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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 03-15-2014, 08:21 PM   #7
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Day Two Begins!

The next morning was bright and cool, and I was off at a reasonable hour, 9:10am (thanks to the lack of nightlife in Granby).







I did a driveby of The Longbranch to see what it looked like in the daylight. Hmmmm…



Route 40 west took me out of Granby.



I veered right onto Route 125 north. This was a great road. Not curvy, but incredible scenery. I soon realized that I was leaving the mountainous section of Colorado – it’s such a big state that those of us who haven’t been all around it don’t know that there is a wide variety of landscapes there.

The pine trees that hugged the hillsides were rusty red, not what you expect from an evergreen (duh). I later learned that a beetle had been responsible for a massive kill-off of trees in the region.





The route provided all kinds of outstanding scenery and sights to shoot. Bison?





I made the trip’s second cross of the Continental Divide. Even at 9,683 feet elevation, I wasn’t feeling any ill effects.








Rolling through Routt National Forest on Route 125 provided plenty of photo opportunities.







I have a thing for hay bales and rolls, so I had to stop for this perfect landscape:











I need to blow up and frame one of those.

Coming up...on my way on Day Two!
__________________
'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 03-20-2014, 07:56 PM   #8
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Rockin' On Day Two

Route 125 straightened out, and my speed inched up. The Medicine Bow Mountains slinked along the horizon.











At the edge of Walden, CO, where I would turn onto Route 14 west, I pulled over for a break at a gas station. Not much around these parts, and I didn’t realize at the time how close I was to the Wyoming border.





Route 14 was long and straight, and the landscape became more and more dry.







It was time to break the law...time to see what this bike could do.

__________________
'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 03-22-2014, 09:14 PM   #9
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Long Stretches of Road...Temptation

Those long, barren stretches of road were just too much to resist. This was the most powerful sportbike I’d ridden so far in my history, so I thought I ought to see what kind of speed I could wring out of it. Especially with such great long-distance visibility to aid the spotting of oncoming police. I’m not saying I actually broke the speed limit, briefly, but something went wrong with my speedometer and it started registering ever-higher numbers. It could have gotten as high as 122 mph before I released the throttle. Frankly, it started to get a little concerning. That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone on wheels. Although it was thrilling to see that needle climb and feel the bike start to shake, I started to think about how I might really like to live to do great fly-and-rides like this again. Just anything could have made it the end of it all: a rock, a flat tire, a varmint. I straightened up and let the bike slow down on its own, using my torso, head, and arms as an air brake. A big smile came onto my face. Route 14 will always be a memorable road for me.









I got a kick out of all the pro-beef signs along the road. Another one read “Nothing Satisfies Like Beef!”

I bumped into Interstate 40 and headed northwest, but not before doing the obligatory shot of another crossing of the Continental Divide at Muddy Pass.



I headed up I-40 into green and mountainous scenery.



Once over those mountains, I began a long descent into Steamboat Springs.













I’d never been to Steamboat, or to any of Colorado’s big ski towns. Even in summer, I found it to be bustling, crawling with tourists, bicyclists, and some motorcycles. I found a restaurant alongside the Yampa River and parked for lunch.







After lunch, I headed back on I-40 towards Craig, CO.







I always wonder what people do for a living out there in the country. At one point I spied some mining activity.





Passing through Craig, I had to take a shot for one of my motorcycling buddies, Craig.



Plus, there was this other oddity I had to record for posterity.



Since then, I’ve found many people from the east coast have scratched their heads at the name of the regional convenience store.

Rocking on into the Colorado desert!?
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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 03-23-2014, 07:03 AM   #10
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Sweet looking bike. Seems you had a good time. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:37 PM   #11
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The Point of the Journey is Not to Arrive

Thanks, Prime Mover...a fellow Rush fan, no doubt!

If you have a lot of time to kill, click on my Scotland ride report link below...I opened each day's report with a travel-related quote from Mr. Peart (and others, I think).

Thanks for reading!
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:59 PM   #12
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Into the Dry

During a rest stop at a McDonald’s there, I watched a woman searching through a trash can, then return to her Subaru and a dog. She looked like she had a pretty serious meth problem – gaunt, wearing tattered clothes, yet a car and a dog.

I rolled onward towards Dinosaur, CO, a place I had originally planned to stay for the night. The countryside dried out again, the mountains flattened to rolling prairie hills, and the heat started to ramp up. I had no idea Colorado had this kind of diversity in its landscapes. You tend to think of it only in terms of mountains and evergreens.







I pulled over to see Colorado Governor Edwin Johnson’s homestead, now preserved behind attractive iron fencing. This is a 104-year-old building, but it looks newly-built from red cinder blocks. A very interesting man, one of his high school teachers was William Jennings Bryan. He moved to Colorado in 1909 to recuperate from tuberculosis and had this extremely modest brick structure built in 1910. I read that he lived in a nearby cave while the house was built. I can understand that the dry heat would be attractive, but the potential for water and rich soil would have been weak. Johnson later began his political career, first in the state House of Representatives in 1923, Lieutenant Governor from 1931 to 1933, and then governor of Colorado from 1933-1937 and 1955-1957 (mixed in with a little US Senate from 1937-1955). A true career politician, and one of the guys behind Mile High Stadium. I read that he also impugned, on the floor of the US Senate floor, the reputation of Ingrid Bergman as an adulteress, which I cannot condone. She’s just too beautiful.

The surrounding area was bone dry and hot. I could see how fires started across those hills. My own face was feeling the sun.







The next stretch of road was straight and fast, though crosswinds were keeping me busy. There had been serious wildfires in the area recently – one side of the highway had been seriously toasted.















Eventually, the scenery began to look even more desert-like. Mesas and red rock cliffs began to appear.











Onward! Into Dinosaur?!?!?!?!
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:06 PM   #13
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Thunder Lizard

I finally arrived in Dinosaur, one of the best-named “towns” in America. It sits right on the border between Colorado and Utah in the northwest corner of CO.



As I planned this trip, I estimated where I thought I’d be along the route at what time of day. I had to then figure out if there were motels at the point that it made sense to stop. Unfortunately, way out there in northwest Colorado, there aren’t many options. In my internet searches, Dinosaur not only lined up with my schedule, but also sounded like a hilarious place to stay for the evening. Only two places came up in a Google search, and neither had their own website, which was disconcerting in this day and age. I wasn’t quite willing to take a chance on an unknown place on my first night of the trip after the long flight, time difference, and first ride. I almost pulled the trigger on the Dinosaur Motel, but instead opted to ride a little further to a place I could book online. As I pulled into Dinosaur, I had to laugh. It was smaller and less appointed than I expected, which is saying something. I did get a chuckle when I saw the Dinosaur Motel, the place where I almost stayed. I’m sure it was perfectly nice, and the vintage-factor was off the charts, but that’s not the way I wanted to spend my first night on the road. Plus, I also love to get a good sit-down meal with a cold, adult beverage within walking distance of my bed, and Dinosaur didn’t have what I was looking for. If I had hit Dinosaur on my second or third night, the eponymous motel might have been just fine, but not for the start.



Call it a lack of research, but I realized Dinosaur did not have any sights to see. I saw signs for Dinosaur National Monument and went that way, west. I crossed the border into Utah and found the scenery even more dramatic…the kind of stuff that I would have associated with the desert southwest. I had no idea what I was getting into. Believe me, I plan better for my trips these days.











The pulloff into the national monument was in Jensen, Utah. The gift shop near the entrance took my breath away, and gave me a great laugh. Not only was the scenery incredible, but the welcome party was just hilarious.









The park was quite interesting. There is a research center where they’re doing excavation of dinosaur remains, and a long loop drive to see where others were discovered. Lots of petroglyphs, as well. I was not expecting this little adventure, and it was worth doing the extra miles, when I could have already been at a motel. I got off the bike a few times to see various sights.

















It’s a really pretty bike, I have to say. Complete with that BMW Champagne green.



















Time to leave Dinosaur and head to the big mesa!
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Old 03-28-2014, 03:48 PM   #14
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Leaving Dinosaur

On the way out of the park, I stopped into the gift shop for a Diet Coke or water and a snack, and to look to see if there was anything to remember my visit. Nope. This was Mormon country, and the young lady running the shop looked like a sister wife. I got out of there and back to the bike, which is when I saw the perfect souvenir of this section of the ride. Wow. One of my most prized memories. Giddyap!





Heading back into Colorado, I stopped at the Yampa Plateau overlook on I-40. Sadly, I dropped my favorite “Boca Grande” hat there, a hat my parents gave me after one of their annual trips to that part of western Florida. It fit so well and was aging nicely…I hope someone worthy found it and is wearing it proudly and ironically.





I wicked up the speed because I knew this was the last stage of my first day, and when you’re racing toward your rest, your dinner, and your drink, you definitely push a few miles per hour. I sped back into Colorado, back to Dinosaur, and turned right off of I-40 and onto Route 64 south towards Rangely. It was a fairly quick blast, passing mobile oil derricks, desert scenery, and big skies.



Rangely, Colorado is a pleasant place with a few blocks’ worth of businesses, settled among the rolling hills and plenty of gas derricks. I had a reservation at the Budget Host Inn, which worked out just fine. The young lady at the front desk seemed impressed that I was touring her fair state on a motorcycle. I brought the top box and (eventually) panniers up to the room and exhaled that great exhalation of a person who has traveled a long way and could finally relax a bit. Destination reached. Total miles so far: 502?



Rangely ain’t big. It’s just bigger than Dinosaur but had more amenities for a discriminating motorcycle traveler. I wasn’t sure where to go for dinner, and the recommendations from the front desk clerk at the hotel weren't helpful. I chose the last place she mentioned. With the BMW stripped, I rode down a block to the “Ace Hi Steakhouse & Lounge” (or the Ace-Hi Bar & Restaurant, depending on which sign that you prefer) and pulled into the parking lot, feeling rather self-conscious on that non-Harley.

Once inside, I found a confusing scene. There was a standard bar in the front of the restaurant, but there was almost no one there. I felt like I stuck out a bit, and I was having second thoughts about staying. With a little help from a waitress, I was directed through a break in some flimsy folding doors that shielded the front half of the building from the back…and there was the restaurant, with much more activity. It was like they could pull aside those dividers and open up the whole of the building for a…wedding? I grabbed a booth near the corner of the room, which would give me the best view of everything going on.

The people-watching was outstanding. There was a couple and their kid near me. There was a waitress whose family was also eating there that night, so she was frequently sitting down with them in a very sweet way, which, in any big-city restaurant, would have gotten her fired. There was a guy who walked in all NASCAR – t-shirt, hat, jeans, boots, possible mullet – but turned out to be all PGA…all he talked about at his table was how he was hitting the golf ball out on the links earlier in the day. This trip had started to become a story about how small town America lives and spends a Saturday night. That would change as I started winding my way back to Denver through some of the wealthiest resort areas in the country.

After a meal of decent steak, potatoes, and side salad (you gotta’ love the old[?] tradition of dining out: “Now, that comes with baked or mashed potatoes or fries, and a salad.” I can only think of one modern steakhouse where that is still sort of the case: The Classics in Silver Spring, Maryland. What made the evening all the more nostalgic was the price. I think it all might have come under $25, except for the extra drink I had. I headed back to the hotel for a good night of sleep.

Coming up: Day Three! Up and Over the Mesa to Aspen!

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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 03-30-2014, 05:22 AM   #15
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Thanks for the posting of your ride. Very few things in life compare to riding and exploring Colorado on a motorcycle. I've done it twice and each time I go there, I struggle finding a reason to leave.
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