"It's Better to be Lucky Than Good" the story of an Airhead on the CDR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SPO, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

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    I awoke to the sound of Ron's bike warming up out front of our motel room. This too, would be a common theme for the trip. Ron and Steve seem to think that waking up at o- dark thirty is a perfectly reasonable thing to do for a human being. F- that noise, f-ing aliens I tell ya.
    We walk across the street to "the best breakfast in town" (so sayeth the sign out front). I gotta admit, they didn't disappoint. Perfect little diner, I kept looking around for Samuel Jackson, John Travolta and Hunny Bunny.
    After pancakes (who doesn't like pancakes!) we mount up for the day. We stop at the lumberyard/hardware store on the way out of town so Ron can "fix" his Jesse boxes and their super fantastic mounting system. Note-be prepared for a very quizzical look from the nice young lady at the hardware store in Silver City should you ask about "metric" hardware. They had never heard of it. Didn't carry a single metric bolt or nut. They did have plenty of FUCK OBAMA bumper stickers, however. I measured one of the stickers (my multi tool has metric and standard on it) and it was exactly 20cm x 10cm...huh, there's irony there somewhere.
    We made do with SAE hardware on European bikes (gasp!) and hit the road. We quickly found the trailhead and my perma-smile of yesterday returned.
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    It would turn out to be a very long, albeit fun and amazing day on the trail. We experienced everything that NM had to offer, besides snow. Heat, cold, rain, sleet, bright sun, epic puffy clouds...fast fire trails, gravelly fire trails (on which Steve would continually remind us he had 100hp at his beck and call, dick), Rubicon trail like sections which required us to pick our line through super rocky and technical sections, and ridiculously muddy stretches of "trail" aka pudding.
    I've decided that New Mexico mud is equal parts: snot, paprika, cocoa powder, playa dust, and astroglide.
    I always found myself in the second or third riding position on the trail and I had the pleasure of seeing the lines to take through obstacles-and more importantly-which lines NOT to take. The day was filled with thrills, chills, and spills. I had quite a few pucker moments, but managed to keep the bike upright the entire day. Ron and Steve were not so lucky...Steve had the most dirt experience, so he would usually go first. That would prove to be entertaining as he is umm..inseam challenged..especially balanced atop a tall, heavy rocket-ship. Hard to paddle through slop when your feet don't touch on both sides. To clarify-I'm also vertically impaired (5'8") but it was more important for me when building my bike to sacrifice some suspension travel and maintain a lower ride height.
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    Our surroundings got more beautiful, and more desolate.
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    At some point, we were actually in the middle of nowhere. True ranchlands. Wild horses running over a hillside..We would motor around a corner and there would be a group of cows staring at us, blocking the trail. They were thinking "what the hell are you guys doing out here?" We were thinking "what the hell are they doing out here?"
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    It's strange to see livestock so far away from any fence or barn. Man, these cows were country!
    There was an amazingly fantastic crash by Ron, but alas-my gopro was out of batteries..(lifelong moment of regret)
    We came upon a short muddy section (60' long) and he tried to pick a high spot. Silly boy. As his bike succumbed to "don't look where you don't want to go" gravitational pull, he got perpendicular to the trail and started to fall to his right side. As he went down, he held on for dear life. By "held on" I mean "grabbed a fistful of throttle".
    Now-I've watched a lot of YouTube videos where factory hp2 riders were doing crazy hill climbs or slogging through super technical and muddy sections...but I had yet to see anyone ever do a tail-whip/tabletop combo on a GS- 2 feet off the ground. That changed at that moment.
    Poetry in motion.

    Slam poetry.


    I parked my bike and ran over to him. He had landed looking like Superman, arms outstretched, facedown, next to the GS. There was a pretty loud crunch/crack when he and his bike hit terra firma, and I wasn't sure what had made the noise...was it his windshield? The body work on his 1150? His femur?
    I was yelling at him as I approached (Ron, are you ok?!) and after a long 10 seconds he slowly wiggled his fingers, and moved his feet. He rolled over as I reached his side. I was very concerned, and that had been a spectacular get-off.
    He shook it off, and sighed "ughhh...wow..that was..that happened fast"
    "Ron! I saw the whole thing happen, and...and..FUCKING FUCK! I DIDN'T GET IT ON TAPE! SON OF A BITCH! The most spectacular crash I'll ever see and I didn't get it on camera!!"
    "Glad to entertain, sorry to disappoint.."
    "Fuck man, that was awesome. I can't believe that I can't show you what happened, but I guess...the important thing..is that you're ok. Fucking shit, that sucks. Steve woulda liked to have seen that."
    He just laughed.
    I still think about that crash every few days and wish that I could show people how spectacular it was...

    We gingerly got Ron going again, and caught up to Steve. After some serious laughs, we enjoyed the rest of the day's challenges. Steve dumped his bike a few more times, and ended up being unable to take off his Rotopax fuel cell on one side of his bike because the barrel lock was jammed with crud.
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    In fact, our bikes were so laden with mud, that it was really starting to affect our low speed handling. I guess 70+ pounds of mud will do that..
    We exited the trail and fueled up at a really cool unmanned fuel station on some county road.
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    I kept expecting an army of zombies to attack as soon as we turned our backs at the pump. Creepy.
    #41
  2. joefromsf

    joefromsf Dark Happens

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    Subscribed. Like your style. :clap
    #42
  3. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

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    Bump back to the top in hopes that the story will go on...................:deal
    #43
  4. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Fly over zone
    +1... :ddog:ddog

    Hope you get back to us..
    #44
  5. bsheet2

    bsheet2 Been here awhile

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    Great story telling!
    #45
  6. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

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    Update coming soon! Work work life life life work work..

    Stay tuned. Update tomorrow!
    #46
  7. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    Merrickville, Canada
    :lurk
    #47
  8. mtndayrider

    mtndayrider Get away

    Joined:
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    NW Montana
    Hello SPO. Great RR. How did the Enduristan panniers work out? I have a R80 G/S and looked at them as a luggage option. What is your appraisal of them?
    Thanks.
    #48
  9. Andrew

    Andrew Optimus Primer Super Moderator

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    Hey, it's about damn time you got this report up... looks like it was big fun :D
    #49
  10. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    We passed the Jansky VLA (Very Large Array-seriously..I'm sure tons of our tax dollars were put into studying what to call the collection of massive satellite dishes..and some propeller head committee came up with... Very Large Array..sheesh.)
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    Our destination was Socorro, NM. We pulled into town weary from a day on the bikes and found a motel that had vacancy and most importantly- ground floor rooms. We shed our trail tuxedos and found the closest brew pub.
    I'm not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but I tend to keep to myself in social situations unless I know the other person. I'm not shy (by any means), but I'm not the type who will strike up a conversation at a gas pump. Maybe it's because I live in Oakland, or the New York blood in me keeps me cynical-who knows. On this trip, however, I did my absolute best to talk to everyone I met. That day in the desert getting into that Ford van changed me a little bit. I had some serious preconceived notions before getting into that van, and they were all proven wrong. Talking to random folks we came across would prove to enrich the trip immensely.
    That night in Socorro after the brew pub, I stuck up a conversation with a pretty sketchy looking dude in the parking lot out in front of our hotel room. He was pretty greasy and dirty and I couldn't tell if he was gonna ask me for change or take my wallet. Turns out he was part of a construction crew that was working on installing radio towers on the hills above Socorro. He knew a lot about local history and got Ron and Steve involved in heavy construction talk (Ron and Steve both do civil engineering projects and underwater construction/welding etc.) Turned out to be a really great conversation out there in the parking lot.

    We got an early start and we were on the road by 6:30am. We sped quickly on the highway through Albuquerque and took in the amazing views. The weather was perfect, I had some amazing tunes blasting in my headphones (The Black Keys make for an excellent road trip soundtrack, FYI). Ron made the motion for coffee whilst on the highway, and it seemed a great idea. We exited the freeway and pulled into parking lot of the only coffee we could find-Starbucks. (It should be noted that when I'm forced to go to Starbucks I'm the guy giving the cashier shit for the "small" coffee being called "grande". However, on the road, it's tough to be a coffee snob-though I did have some fresh roasted magic in my pannier, but alas, they wanted to grab a Carmelpeppermintmachifrappalattecino.) I asked for a single espresso and sat on my bike, admiring the fine New Mexico morning.
    Hey look! A landcruiser! (I have a landcruiser "habit"...)
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    After they returned and I griped, we mounted back up and hit the road. Well, THEY hit the road. I however, sat atop my steed and it just buzzed and gurgled as I pressed the starter button.
    Fuck, fuck, FUCK! Here was the problem that had been in the back of my mind since I left Oakland. Here was the breakdown that would end the trip and cause Ron and Steve to regret inviting me on their carefully planned adventure...
    I stopped freaking out for a second to asses my issue.
    Power? Check.
    Headlight? Check.
    Buzzing sound when the starter button was depressed? Check. Wait..that's not normal! I quickly stripped the bike down to it's skeleton and started trying to figure out my shit.
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    My brain was going a hundred miles an hour with all the titles of the various tech threads on advrider...was it my bean can? Was it a relay that gave up the ghost? Bad ignition switch? Were my splines not lubed enough?
    I had been through the bike pretty thoroughly in preparation for this trip and knew all the systems fairly well, especially the electrical system. I had replaced the stock charging system with an Enduralast, replaced the spark plug wires, cleaned and lubed ALL connections on the bike, and replaced the instruments with an Acewell unit. Hmmm..I had the factory service manual on my iPhone, so started thumbing my way through the electrical system troubleshooting pages. I had brought a small multimeter with me as well, and quickly got to work trying to find the issue.
    Ron and Steve provided the comic relief while I did my best to stay positive (pun intended). I checked, and rechecked a number of things. The battery was only 8 or 9 months old. That couldn't be it. Maybe the ignition switch? The heads up display would flicker on, and then die when I pressed the starter button. The starting relay made quite a loud hum when this occurred. I figured that it had to be that relay..
    A quick trip to the local auto parts store revealed that they did infant have an equivalent relay at one of their other stores and they could have it there by 3pm. Well, that's the only choice we had, so we decided to order and wait.
    In the meantime, I remembered that I had my Airhead Beamer Club directory and thumbed through to find the New Mexico Airmarshall with the hopes that he could provide me with some sort of magic spell to start my bike. I quickly dialed Phil, and crossed everything I possibly could with the hopes that he would have some sort of easy solution to my problem.
    Phil was a very nice man, and after a short conversation, he told me to call a man named Hal in Albuquerque. He said that Hal had more troubleshooting knowledge and would most likely be able to help. I called Hal, putting all my eggs in that basket.
    It's funny to take a step back and realize that what was causing me the most stress was the feeling that I was letting my friends down and ruining their trip. I had no worries about my own experience and just didn't want to be that asshole on an old bike that wasn't up to the task.
    Hal explained that he had to work until 4pm and couldn't come out to help until after he had finished his workday. I told him about the relay, how I had read on advrider about some sort of relay failing, and that a new one was enroute and due to arrive after 3pm. He told me to call him back and keep him in the loop. Nice dude, that Hal.I started a thread here on advrider, "stuck on side of road" type thing. Everyone was super helpful, and a lot of folks kept insisting it was the battery. I refused to believe it, since that gel battery was less than a year old. (Cue foreshadowing music)
    3pm came and we headed over to autozone to fetch the relay that would save the trip. I was giddy, feeling like this had to be the issue, and hoping to only skate with buying an $8 relay and drinks that night at whatever hotel we ended up at.
    I installed the relay, reattached the fuel tank, said a little prayer, and pressed the start button.
    Same fucking thing. Flicker flicker, BUZZZZZZZZZZ...nothing.
    I was crestfallen, downtrodden, heartbroken, depressed, saddened, and ready to blame all of this on Starbucks. Fucking smallest coffees called grande..assholes!
    My phone rang. Hal asked for a status update. I explained that we had reached the end of the rope. He asked for our location (Bernallillo,NM-fuck that place!) and said to sit tight.
    40 minutes later up pulls Hl with a truck and motorcycle trailer. Sorry, Saint Hal pulls up with a handbuilt motorcycle trailer. After some quick hellos, pointing, and some hmms, we loaded my carcass onto the trailer. All of my bags, fuel tank, etc into the back of the truck. We set off back down to Albuquerque, feeling like we were in good hands, and had finally turned a corner...
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    Fuck you Starbucks.
    #50
  11. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    152
    Gotta say-the Enduristan panniers are pretty bomber. I carried parts/tools/first aid on one side, and clothes in the other. Worked out really well.
    I've been using them without any sort of rear rack system, so they "sag" inward a bit (happens to everyone). If we had been camping on this trip, they woulda been perfect. Staying in hotels/motels every night made me look at lockable metal panniers a little differently. On the trail, nothing beats Enduristan. At the end of a long day on the trail in the hotel parking lot unstrapping all the gear...kind of a bummer. Not a big deal, and obviously not the fault of Enduristan, but just an observation.

    Overall, two thumbs way up.
    #51
  12. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

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    We arrived at Hal's garage after dealing with commute traffic (it's just as fantastic in New Mexico as it is in California) and got to work. By "got to work" I mean discussed what we had tried, and kicked the tires. I should mention that the instant we arrived at the garage Saint Hal's SAINT of a wife walked up with 4 cold beers to greet us. Bless her, BLESS HER! I laughed as I realized we were drinking Saint Pauli's Girl...
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    We attached a battery tester to my "no way that is bad" gel battery and there it was...5V. Battery was dead dead dead. So, it turns out the battery WAS the issue the entire time. I should also mention that earlier in the day, while Hal was on his way out to get us, a friend of his (Mark!) was trying ALL of the local motorcycle superstores and dealerships for a replacement battery just in case it turned out to be the issue. Crazy. People I had never met not only came to my rescue, they were doing their best to get me back on the road ASAP. Amazing. It turned out that all the cycle shops were closed or didn't have a battery that would fit my airhead. The place that Hal KNEW would have it was a dedicated battery shop, but it was closed until the morning. Hal graciously offered us his garage as a crash pad, but there happened to be a best western hotel one block away (which, as luck would have it, was the only Best Western the with three queen beds in one room in New Mexico according to the hotel clerk. Score! Better to be lucky than good...)

    We headed out to dinner at Hal and Lisa's favorite Mexican joint and had a fantastic, well deserved, giant plate of carnitas.
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    Ron, Steve, Hal, and Lisa

    Dos Equis, tequila and tonics, carnitas...epic way to end an epic day.
    #52
  13. eddyturn

    eddyturn Wannabe

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    Fun report and glad to see it back on track.
    #53
  14. Andrew

    Andrew Optimus Primer Super Moderator

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    Oh man... after all that - and it was the battery? :baldy
    #54
  15. tg rides

    tg rides Adventurer

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    Colorado Springs
    Great story telling! Subscribed.
    #55
  16. SteverinoB

    SteverinoB EstebanarinoB

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Orangeville Ontario Canada
    This looks familiar? Four of us stopped by here for gas Aug 2011 and we needed it? Enjoying the RR and the pics...Thanks!

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    #56
  17. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Woke up the next day to my phone ringing. It was Hal, it was 0700, and he was ready to go. Fucking people over 60 years old...what's with you guys? Is 7am the middle of your day? When does that switch happen? I hope I continue to view 5am as the middle of the night for as long as possible...
    I quickly threw on my duds and headed out the door for the two block walk to Hal's house. Of course, when I get there he's got the old battery loaded and the car idling ready to go..damn.
    We cruise through an Albuquerque that is rubbing sleep out of its eyes, and make our way to the industrial district. I ask Hal about the famous hot air balloons, and he explains to me that there are very specific air currents that are like opposing airstreams on top of one another. Balloonists achieve a certain altitude, ride the wind currents one direction, lose elevation and ride the opposing air current back to their starting location. Cool. It's like a very oddly shaped invisible Ferris wheel.
    We arrive at Moore-Co battery company, and a nice young man comes out to meet us as we pull up. Hal greets him by name, and shows him the battery that we need. Battery dude just nods, and says "follow me." We make our way into a giant warehouse and he walks over to the first shelf...and hands me the last airhead sized replacement battery they have. Damn. Acres of shelves filled with rows of batteries, and this dude hands me the LAST battery in this row.
    "Ok, that'll be $60."
    "Wait..what?"
    "$60."
    "Uhh..ok..where's your tip jar?"
    "Beg yer pardon?"
    "Never mind..thank you so much!"

    Better to be lucky than good..

    We head back to Hal's, after stopping at the local breakfast burrito shop (which I can't remember the name of, but it was like a '50s drive up diner but with breakfast burritos, cool!)
    We unload the battery, and inhale the burritos. Hella good. (yes, hella=Oaklander)
    As I was starting to begin operation 'insert 12V', Hal says "hold on!" He goes to a caninet in the corner of his garage, rumages through a buncha boxes, and then returns with a small piece of foam rubber. He thinks it might help with the vibration that my battery will experience on the rest of the trail...Funny thing is that this random piece of foam that he finds in the corner of his garage IS THE EXACT SIZE OF MY BATTERY TRAY! Hal said it was an off cut from when he replaced the battery on his r100GS, but this piece of foam fits like a factory piece...Better to be lucky than good.
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    The new battery slid right in, and I reconnected everything...VROOOOM! She's alive! Hal and I hi-five and I'm stoked. We've only lost a day on the trail, and things are good as new.
    I run back to the hotel, tell Ron and Steve the great news and we pack up, then walk back to Hal's. He's there with a cup of coffee, grinning from ear to ear, obviously pleased with himself too..
    We load everything back onto our bikes, say our goodbyes, and hit the road. The generosity and sense of community that Hal has shown is overwhelming. Guy was at his job one minute, and then on the road to rescue a complete stranger with a truck and trailer the next (in commute traffic,no less!) Hal is a true gentleman, and his wife Lisa is a saint. Their friend Mark drove around looking for batteries before they were even sure that was the issue. I'm SURE that if he woulda found the correct battery, he would have bought it and had it waiting at Hal's house the first night. A big thanks to everyone involved on the ground, and online here on advrider for getting me outta my predicament. Awesome.
    More luck to follow...
    #57
  18. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    I just love this community! Great folks everywhere!:freaky
    #58
  19. SPO

    SPO Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    We looked for the closest fuel station after saying goodbye to Hal. He lived off of a main road, so we pulled into the first gas we saw, a Chevron. Steve and I filled up while we talked about our plan. First, hit a Bank of America ATM. I mentioned that I saw a bank a few miles back on the main road. We agreed to stop there, then find the highway and make up some lost time. As I finished topping off my tank, Ron (who only filled up twice the entire trip since his 1150 had a Touratech 11,000 gallon tank) asked me again which brand of ATM I required. I told him any would do, but I'd have to pay stupid fees if I used any type besides BofA. He nodded, then slowly pointed over his shoulder. There, in the corner of the parking lot of the Chevron station was a stand alone BofA kiosk with an ATM. It was something out of a movie.
    Better to be lucky than good.

    We made our way north on the highway and passed through Bernallillo about the same time we had only 24 hours prior. What a difference a day makes! As we passed the Starbucks that had been our refuge/prison the day before, Ron made the same coffee hand signal to me he had made the day before-and I returned a steaming hot grande middle finger.
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    Fuck you Starbucks, fuck you Bernallillo. We gotta get out of this place, if its the last thing we ever do...

    We spent the day on the road, trying to make up for lost time. We decided that if we rode ahead and skipped two days on the trail, we would start the third day where we would have been had my battery not died. The only "schedule" we had was a reservation in Breckenridge,CO...that night. 400 miles north. No problem!
    We had a lovely day of riding, taking in picturesque northern NM. New Mexico is known as the "Land of Enchantment" Hal joked that it is actually the "Land of Entrapment", and I'd have to agree. I just wanted to get to Colorado.
    We cruised through scenic Abiquiu,NM, Georgia O'Keefe country. I looked around and thought-wow, this place does actually look like her paintings...at one point on the side of the road I saw a man with a cowboy hat on, sitting in a chair near his pickup truck. He was seated in front of an easel and canvas, palette in his left hand, paint brush in his right- his own personal "faraway" laid out in front of him.
    I must say, this section of a northern NM was breathtaking, and I felt very fortunate to be able to experience it atop 'La Suerte'. (La Suerte roughly translates to 'the lucky one')
    As we entered Colorado, we gained elevation and the temperature dropped.
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    Colorado stoke!
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    Rain jackets!

    It began to mist, then rain. La Suerte gasped for air as I pushed her harder and harder up each successive mountain pass. The fuel injected bikes of my compadres laughed with electronically controlled internal combustion voices-"haaa haa haaaaaaaaa!" as they sped away. I didn't really care, and except for the increasing cold, everything was right in the world.
    After each mountain pass, there would be a high plain with cattle roaming free, and streams meandering about. Little towns in tiny valleys with mammoth mountains everywhere.
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    The beauty of this area was blinding. Dirt roads went off the highway this way and that. I thought I was the only one who was having a hard time not pulling off and seeing where they went, but later that night we would each talk about how it took everything we had to stay focused on the goal--Breckenridge.
    As the sun went down, the temperature plummeted. The rain/sleet began and the elation of the day faded into a dull, numb ache. The suffering had officially begun. There's a point in misery where you decide to stop trying to figure out how much longer you have to go, and just accept your fate. When this happens, I find it takes the edge off. Hope recedes, and acceptance begins.
    I know this is all philosophical and shit, but man-there's nowhere to go but into your own head when you are suffering. My hands were totally numb, my feet frozen, and various nether regions may or may have not still existed. To make matters worse, visibility was pretty low and I was just focused on the brake lights off in the distance. Long, straight sections of two lane road didn't help, and the only entertainment was the occasional 18 wheeler that would approach and try to destroy us with a blast of hurricane force air coupled with a barrage of sleet. It felt like I was being shot with rock salt..not that I've ever actually been shot with rock salt, but this is my story, dammit. It felt like fucking rock salt, ok?

    The last obstacle between us and salvation (warmth and bourbon!) was Hoosier Pass, all 11,542' of it. La Suerte panted and gasped as we crested and began to descend. The road was slushy/wet, I was exhausted, and it was pitch dark. On the downhill side, we saw dozens of people camped by the side of the road. They must be miserable! I thought, as I realized I couldn't even operate my blinker switch anymore...
    I should mention that the only reason we were pressed to get to Breckenridge that evening was because we had hotel reservations. When Ron called months earlier to check on pricing and moto parking, a nice hotel clerk informed us that the Tour of Colorado was due to pass through Breckenridge right around the same time we would be motoring through. She warned is to make our reservations as early as possible as most rooms were already rented. Ron made a reservation based on rough estimates of trail progress gathered by reading dozens of ride reports on Advrider.
    We found our way through town (and later discovered that we were among the last few vehicles allowed over Hoosier Pass that evening due to race preparations-the race was tomorrow!) and eventually found our lodging. We stumbled to our respective rooms and collapsed. The only downside to our room was that it was a bit south of town, and there was nothing walking distance to eat. Have no fear adventurers! Should you find yourself in Breckenridge with a need to eat, no desire to even look at your motorcycle any more that day, and no way to get to your restaurant, call Gourmet Cabby. They will go to any number of restaurants, even stop at a liquor store, and deliver to your hotel room. It's awesome. The nice young lady even educated me on the existence of Breckenridge Bourbon, distilled in town at the world's highest distillery!
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    I ordered 3 Reuben's, and a bottle of Breckenridge's finest bourbon. We fucking deserved it.
    Bourbon in the hot tub, Ruebens in our bellies. Goodnight.
    #59
  20. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    2,113
    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Real Bourbon is from Kentucky:D
    #60