The Peaks and Valley tour! “What’s next?” I had just completed the Ultimate Coast to Coast ride, Key West, FL to Prudhoe Bay, AK and already my co-workers are asking me what my next ride would be. My answer “I don’t know but I can’t wait to see what’s next.” I have never had a bucket list but each year I find a location or a ride that becomes a “to do”. There were a few rides that I thought would be interesting but they were all missing something. The ride to Alaska had spoiled me. Miles would not be enough, I need more scenery. Winter in Wisconsin is a good time to plan a ride and while doing some internet research I came across an IBA ride called Heaven to Hell. Mount Evans to Death Valley. The highest point (14,130 feet) in the country that you can ride, to the lowest point (282 feet below sea level) and would include a ride across Colorado and Utah. I like this! The planning and preparation began. Now that the ride planning has started I start my program to keep myself in shape for the ride, tread mill, weights and 60 sit-ups every day until a few weeks before the ride starts. I had been doing this for the past 6 years and it seems to give me the back strength I need to do the longer multiple day rides. This ride uses the same basic rules as the SS1000 but because there is nowhere to get a receipt at the top of Mount Evans and some of the other locations a Spot Tracker will be needed to show the time, date and place. I will be able to print the Spot Tracker location maps and submit them to the IBA. I used Microsoft Streets and Trips to create a basic route and check mileage and then started planning the gas stops using online truck stop websites. There were other questions that needed to be answered. When should I do this ride? June, would there be snow in the mountains? July, how hot would it be in Death Valley? More research. During the research I found there was another version of this ride, the Heaven to Hell Gold. Pikes Peak to Death Valley with a required ride through Independence Pass and Ely, NV. Now the decision, Pikes Peak to Death Valley or Mount Evans to Death Valley? The final decision? Do both but do one ride in reverse, now I have a plan. This trip would now include four separate IBA rides. I also need to work on the trip strategy. Start times can be important on any IBA ride but it can be very important when you add mountains and curves to the ride. The bike is a 2010 Victory Vision 8-Ball. This bike has been very comfortable on long distance rides and with the 6 gallon tank it has a good fuel range. The power windshield and adjustable lower vents also help to adjust to the changing weather conditions. Other equipment includes an HID headlight, headlight guard, Blade windshield, engine skid plate, Bead Rider seat cover, TireGard tire pressure monitoring system, Spot Tracker, Zumo 350LM GPS and an EZPass for the toll roads. I also packed some tools and tire repair equipment. For tires I used a Dunlop E3 on the front and a Dunlop Winter Sport run flat snow tire on the rear. I had used this tire combination on the Key West/Prudhoe Bay ride and had great results! Gear –Good gear is important in any ride but on this ride, because of the possible temperature extremes, I need adjustability. My jacket is an Olympia Airglide; I like it because it is a mesh jacket that has a removable wind/rain lining and a quilted lining. Jackets like this work well and take up less space. The helmet that I used is a Shoei Neotec modular, what I like about this helmet is the flip down sun visor. The sun visor saves a lot of time when you don’t have to stop to change glasses during the ever changing weather and when you’re going to see the sun set and rise during each of the four rides. The bike is ready to go - I had a few things to finish the morning of Friday, June 14th. First cut the grass, finish packing and then went off to work at noon. I worked until 4:00 pm went home, changed, ate and rode to the corner gas station. This would be the start of the first IBA ride and I would need a start receipt, the destination was Idaho Springs, Colorado. Start time 5:08 pm central. Night Rider - The first of 3 all night rides on this trip - The start of the ride was perfect, good weather and no traffic but that would change in Iowa. Up ahead I can see the start of the first of two light shows on this trip. Lightning shooting from cloud to cloud and this would turn into 110 miles of steady rain. Heading west on I-80 in Iowa - After the rain ended the rest of the ride went very well and I ended in Idaho Springs, CO at 10:56 am mountain time. I had covered 1071 miles. Idaho Springs, CO - My bike is bigger than my motel room - I spent the night in Idaho Springs and the next morning I rode to Mount Evans, the top of Mount Evans would be the start of IBA ride #2. It's open!! Good start! Climbing Mount Evans - To document my start on the top of Mount Evans I would need three things - Two witnesses would need to sign my form. I need a picture of me and the bike in front of the Mount Evans sign and my Spot Tracker had to show when and where I was because you can't get a receipt that shows the time, date and place at the top of Mount Evans. Me and the bike - It's cold, windy and sunny. Perfect! The Spot Tracker "I was there" map - The start time 6/16/13 11:05 am central. All of the Spot times are central. The next destination? Badwater, Death Valley. The plan is to ride from the highest point in the country to the lowest in less than 24 hours. Tunnel Vision - More rain in Colorado - I-70 The rain ended in western Colorado and the weather in Utah was again perfect. Riding in Utah - The Spot map of IBA ride #2 - I rode through Las Vegas at 10:00 pm, the second light show on the trip. I then rode to Yermo, CA to add a few miles to trip to be sure that it was over a 1000 miles. After picking up a gas receipt in Yermo I headed to Baker, CA to get a picture of the world's largest (broken) thermometer. Next stop Badwater, Death Valley. The road to Badwater, Death Valley is very dark at 3:00 am!! I was watching the GPS and the elevation was dropping and the temp was going up so I knew I was getting close. And then in the dark, I found the sign. Badwater, Death Valley the lowest point in the US. It's 4:10 am (6:10 central), 96 degrees and 1065 miles traveled from Mount Evans. I pulled into the parking lot and shut off the key and everything goes black. I have to feel the edges of the bike to find the saddlebag locks; I’m trying to find my flashlight. Note to self – next time put the flashlight in a place that can be found in the dark. I give up on trying to find the flashlight and use the trunk light to add the details to my IBA paperwork. I note the time, date and mileage. I also hit the ok button on the Spot Tracker to time stamp this location. Ride two is completed, I’m happy but I’m also thinking that ending the ride in Death Valley at four in the morning is not the smartest thing I have done. I walked across the parking lot and stopped at the railing, as my eyes adjust to the darkness I can see the shadowy images of the mountains. Wow, this place is dark! I rolled up my coat, laid next to the bike and waited for the sun to come up. Sun starting to rise in Badwater - Next I need to find a witness to sign my ride end form. Finally the sun rises and the first car pulls into the lot. I walk over to the car and ask the couple if they could sign my witness form but there is a problem. They don’t speak English! The next car? No, they’re from France. Next a group of motorcycles pull into the parking lot and they also are not from around here, a tour group from France. It would take almost two hours before I found someone that could sign my form and take my picture in front of the Badwater, Death Valley sign. Death Valley is a very popular place for foreign tourists. Next stop is the Furnace Creek Ranch to see if I can find a room for one night. Good news – they have a room. In Badwater Basin - In Badwater Basin - Looking back at the parking lot - A parking lot in the middle of nowhere - Sea Level? - It's way up there - Spot marker shows the end time, date and place of ride #2. I arrived in Death Valley at 4:10 am but I can't get into my cabin until after 2:00 pm so I have time to do some side rides. Crossing Death Valley - No traffic! About 112 degrees. Artists Palette - This was fun - My "I was there" picture - My cabin is ready! I like it, me and the bike can get out of the sun! My room has hot and warm running water. A room with a view - I stayed on Dante's Drive - Furnace Creek - I stayed one night in Death Valley. I had a chance to cover about 130 miles doing side trips in Death Valley. Next ride? Leaving Badwater, Death Valley at 1:00 pm (Pacific) and riding to Ely, NV, Independence Pass and the top of Pikes Peak in less than 24 hours. The 1:00 pm start sets up the timing for the ride through Independence Pass and the end of the ride at Pikes Peak. It will be nice and hot in Badwater at 1:00 pm! Riding to Ely and Independence Pass adds a lot of two-lane and mountain roads to the trip. Death Valley to Pikes Peak the scenic way. Next morning a few more short rides and then a lunch stop at the Cafe for a burger with a fried egg. Mmmmmmm And then back to Badwater to start the ride - June 18th - I get to the Badwater parking lot early to start looking for witnesses and again I get to meet a lot of people from France. I find two witnesses and also have my picture taken for the start of ride three. I found that there is a solar powered pay station in the Badwater parking lot that will give a dated receipt. I timestamp the Spot Tracker (1:19 pm PDT), get my receipt…. Go! The picture - Spot marker - A gas stop before leaving Death Valley - Go!!! The highest temp I saw while riding was 115 degrees. The temperature changed with the altitude. Almost one hour away from Badwater - The next required stop is Ely, NV; this will add a lot of two lane highway to the ride and that adds to the challenge. It was a windy ride on highway 95 and highway 6 with a lot of blowing dust; it was fun to watch the dozens of large dust devils that were on both sides of the highway with some even crossing the road in front of me. A lot of long lonely highway in this area. Ely, NV - A required stop on this ride. Because Ely is a required stop I will need a receipt so I stop for gas and dinner, its 6:49 pm. The next required "I was there" Spot marker - I also had a gas and food receipt for Ely. It was a windy, very dusty ride on hwy. 6 and 50 and another all night ride. After Ely I take highway 50 east to Utah and it’s another dark, lonely highway. Not much traffic on highway 50 at night but I would have a close encounter with a deer. I noticed movement on my left and I’m already hard on the brakes, it’s a deer running towards the highway and once in the highway he stops in front of me but I’m able to safely serve around him. The HID headlight has such a wide beam that I was able to see him coming, thanks HID! My heart rate is up and I’m really watching closely now, eyes are constantly moving. Another sunrise - Riding in Colorado - The next required stop - Independence Pass - The picture - Spot marker - Fun road - And then a ride up Pikes Peak to the finish of IBA #3. The two-lane winding roads on this trip have made this both a physically and mentally challenging ride and I can really feel the lack of oxygen (41% less than sea level) at the top. I slowly get off the bike and walk to the gift shop to get a dated receipt. I found two witnesses and after the “I was there” picture I am done. Finding a witness was also a challenge, when people saw me walking up to them with forms in my hand they thought I was trying to sell something and would quickly walk away. I can rest for a while and enjoy the view. I’m exhausted but this day is not over, I still have to ride to the bottom of Pikes Peak and find a motel. The picture - Nice view - Spot marker - Total miles 1044 miles! Ride #3 completed! I stayed at the top for hours talking to people and had lunch at the gift shop. I also picked up another ride pin. The SpotWalla map of ride #3. A ride down the mountain and the GPS finds a nearby motel. I checked in but the room wasn’t ready so I sat outside and started to take my over pants off. The owner who was working outside saw me and yelled “stop, you can’t do that here!” I explained that I had been riding all night and that I was at the top of Pikes Peak and needed the over pants to stay warm but that I also had pants on under them. She laughed and asked questions about the ride and also agreed to sign my witness form for my next IBA ride; the ride home. The ride home. When I reached the motel I had hit my personal wall, no more riding this day. It was a one mile walk to the nearest restaurant but the walk felt good. I also had my best meal on this trip at this restaurant . Buffalo Lasagna! I stayed one night in Cascade, CO and early the next morning I stopped at a gas station to get my receipt for the ride home. The weather was perfect during the ride home. This ride would be 1142 miles and again was completed in less than 24 hours. Another sunrise and sunset on the way home. My one week trip was a success. Four IBA rides completed during a very scenic ride. After I got home my first concern is putting my witness forms and receipts in a safe place. Completing the IBA paperwork will have to wait for another day. While I’m unpacking I find my flashlight. Spot Tracker map of the full ride - I had been gone a week, traveled 4321 miles and only needed a motel three nights, the other nights I was riding. I do save a lot of money on motels! I had good weather, rode to a lot of scenic locations, and met a lot of people (from France); it even felt like a vacation. SS1000 – 1071 miles – 6/14/2013, start time - 5:08 pm - Milwaukee, WI to Idaho Springs, CO. Heaven to Hell – 1065 miles – 6/16/2013, start time -10:05 am - Top of Mount Evans to Badwater, Death Valley Heaven to Hell Gold – 1044 miles – 6/18/2013, start time -1:19 pm- Badwater, Death Valley to Ely, NV, Independence Pass and the top of Pikes Peak SS1000 – 1141 miles – 6/20/2013, start time - 4:42 am - Colorado Springs, CO to Milwaukee, WI Full trip – 4321 miles, 1 week. .