40 Years Later in Utah...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScottFree, Jul 4, 2021.

  1. TNC

    TNC Candyass Camper

    Mar 22, 2007
    LOL!...loved the insight about the ending of the movie "Vanishing Point" at Cisco. Had never heard that, and I've camped and dirt motored all over that area south of Cisco. Cool...I actually dug the original version of that movie...being a hopeless motorhead.
  2. AHRMA17L

    AHRMA17L Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 29, 2006
    Corvallis and Dundee, OR
    Beautiful, just beautiful prose!
  3. Cow Boy Brad

    Cow Boy Brad brad1098

    Oct 8, 2007
    So. IL.
    CO 65 off of I-70 is a great paved canyon road to Colbran then high speed gravel past Vega State Park and on to Silt. The Colorado River Road N out of Dotsero is another great ride, I have ridden only as far a Burns and did the Derby Mesa Loop.
  4. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Thanks for the info. I’ve done CO 65 on previous street-bike rides over Grand Mesa, but never gone over to Collbran. I’ll try that today—Land’s End to Collbran to Silt, then Dotsero to McCoy.
  5. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

    Jul 22, 2007
    The first few times I rode through the desert I got rained on. I figured they should pay me to ride there. As far as Cathedral Valley, it has a lot of sand spires, great overlooks, bentonite hills,and lots of sand. You can actually go over the mountains and not have to cross the river. It goes through aspen forests and has great views of the whole region. Next time you should try it. Take a partner because there are very few travelers out there. I'm your age and have done it on a 990, but a smaller bike is more fun and practicable.
  6. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Super Ordinary

    Aug 20, 2009
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Really enjoying your report--thanks for taking the time to post every day. Like seeing the photos from 40 years ago...and reading your attempts to remember what the heck was going on! :lol3
  7. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Not Dead Yet… (a place holder)

    Phew! Was today ever a great day! But it’s late, I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, and so I need to get showered off and hit the sack so I can get an early start for… Big Springs, Nebraska :( Where I will at least have lots of time to fill in details. Here’s the teaser:

    Saying goodbye to Utah (though I was already in Colorado):
    Never trust a line on a map to tell you where you are.

    “I’m on top of the world, ma!”
    Luckily, explosions did not follow.

    Your Minimum Daily Internet Requirement of Cute Animal Pictures:
    “Gimme some snacks, bud, if you know what’s good for you.”

    This is “fast gravel”?
    Of course, it may be argued that on a Himalayan, nothing is fast.

    Be careful how you steer that raft…
    Hint: look for a blue thing against the bridge pier. Ouch!

    Two inmates plus two beers equals two hours of yakking…
    We yakked in the parking space for a good hour after the brewery closed.

    …which is why I have only now gotten back to the hotel in Steamboat Springs. For those keeping score, 250 miles of riding, and a whopping 45 of pavement-free road.

    Luckily, I will have plenty of time to write when I get into Nebraska… see y’all tomorrow…
    MotoPet, scudo, eaglescan and 9 others like this.

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

    Jun 3, 2007
    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO

    Nice to meet up with you and visit in person and to thank you for the entertaining ride report.
    And thanks for the life stories and showing me all the cool tricks you've done to your RE Himalayan.
    You should post up about the numerical coded key keeper & your stealthy storage box ....................................... those are great ideas.
    And the custom fitted storage bag that your better half fabricated for you needs mention too.

    Hope your ride today was pleasant going over Buff Pass and up through Woods Landing.
    It's getting hotter, drier and smokier here in the Yampa Valley so you might have begun heading east at a good time.

    Safe travels getting back home amigo!
    dano619 and pratered like this.
  9. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    We Said We’d Leave The Light On, Not The Wi-Fi

    I’m skipping ahead a day because the wi-fi at the Motel 6 in Big Springs, Nebraska, is really really slow. Didn’t shoot that many pictures worth showing today, while yesterday there were a lot. So yesterday’s report will be in the next post. I hope.

    Nice view from the hotel this morning:


    I had some interesting chats with fellow riders at the hotel. Two guys on Harleys were about to hot-foot it back to Salt Lake City because the one guy’s bike was acting up. Another group of four was riding loops carved out of the Colorado BDR—apparently they found somebody who slices and dices the BDR into several loop rides. I think they were from Texas, and their group included an XT250, WR200 (250?), CRF250L, and the mandatory DR650. I saw a lot of the small-to-mid-sized ADV bikes on the road on this trip, and not that many of the big flagship models. Perhaps the Himalayan is part of a new trend toward bikes that can be ridden by regular humans. I sure get a lot of questions from people who have been thinking seriously about buying one and wanted to know how mine’s done.

    Today was scheduled to be a fairly long day: 320 miles according to Google. I had a certain motivation to not get on roads that would be slow going. On the other hand, it was going to end up in Nebraska, so today would be the last Rocky Mountain riding until the next trip (next year at the earliest). So… on the advice of the honorable ROAD DAMAGE, I decided to take the unpaved road up over Buffalo Pass to CO 14 (and then head up through Walden to Laramie), rather than taking US 40. What the hell, Buffalo Pass was even a few miles shorter than the paved road. Rob assured me that the road was in fine shape and the only problem I might encounter is the highway department putting a bit too much gravel down when they last did maintenance.

    Uh, yeah, that’s some gravel they dumped…

    It’s not like I wasn’t warned—Google did say it would take nearly an hour to do the 17 miles from my hotel to the pass summit, and that includes several miles of pavement getting out of Steamboat Springs, and several more miles of smooth gravel with so much binder and oil and who-knows-what sprayed on it that it’s about one generation removed from chip seal. But, once in the national forest, things got rougher. Though there was scenery to make up for it.

    The road was only a little lumpy here. And the view more than made up for it.

    I spent the last half-dozen miles standing on the pegs and picking my way between the protruding rocks and bomb-crater potholes. It was, in its own way, fun (a fact I find mildly disturbing and may elaborate upon later), but I was pretty beat and maybe a bit woozy by the time I made it to the summit.

    Which was pretty… pretty.

    Posed to be as close as I could remember to the Cottonwood Pass shot from 1981.

    I need to thank the nice couple that was minding their own business, rubbing each other with sunscreen, when I interrupted them to ask if somebody could shoot a photo for me. People are so helpful!

    Funny thing is, once I got to the top of the pass, the road down the east side was smooth and wide. A little loose stuff about the consistency of coarse sand or fine pea gravel, which the Pirelli MT60s don’t like even before they’re half worn out, but otherwise easy and reasonably fast.

    Once down from Buffalo Pass, I stopped for gas in Walden, had a short conversation with a couple guys on Harleys who were thinking about adding a Himalayan, and headed up to Laramie. There, I visited the third (and final) pyramid of the expedition, the Ames Monument:

    Far as I know, nobody’s buried in this pyramid.

    This pile of rocks was built by the Union Pacific railroad in 1882, to pay their respects to two brothers who did a lot to get the first transcontinental railroad across the Rockies. Neither was an engineer. The signs say that Abe Lincoln himself encouraged Oakes Ames to lead the effort, and that brother Oliver (who eventually became president of the company) had made his fortune manufacturing… shovels, which he sold to the forty-niners. Both Ames brothers died in the 1870s, so it’s not reported what they would have thought about the railroad spending $60K to build this pyramid in the middle of nowhere.

    The pyramid is, interestingly enough, much closer to the transportation system that displaced the railroads—the Interstate highway system, in particular I-80–than it is to any railroad. It was built close to the highest point on the original UP/CP route, but that route was moved and I-80 is now closer to the monument. Funny how life works.

    Not wanting to slam I-80 to Cheyenne if there was an alternative, and wanting a more attractive place to devour my sandwich than this windswept plain, I headed over to the Vedauoo recreation area. This place features some interestingly shaped rocks that people come to climb on, plus a campground and some ORV trails.


    From there, I headed up Vedauwoo Road to WY 210. Nice road. I’m talking about 210. Vedauwoo was mostly smooth, just a little washboarding, but had a layer—sometimes thick in places—of coarse sand/small pea-gravel on it. And, as I said, the MT-60s don’t like that stuff. Couple times the front wheel started sliding out in it, and I faced the disturbing possibility that after making it unscathed through the four big dirt switchbacks and Buffalo pass, I would finally drop the bike on a nearly flat, mostly smooth gravel road.

    The threat of post-mortem embarrassment might have been what kept me upright.

    210 took me into Cheyenne, where I had little choice other than slam the slab for 37 miles, to the border at Pine Bluff. Once at the state line, I could get over to the two-lane US 30 (in Wyoming, US 30 runs on I-80, with its 80 mph speed limit). Right at the borderline you will find the remains of an abandoned gas station.

    Notice the state line running through the middle of the building. Nearly all the pumps are on the Wyoming side.

    From here, another 100 miles of just rolling east into a headwind. WTF? I already had a headwind through the plains going out to Colorado; I should be getting a tailwind now. But no…

    BTW, that white thing in the background, above the first pair of gas pumps? That’s “Our Lady of Peace,” a Madonna statue facing I-80. There is very little information on the site about why this 30-foot statue of the Virgin Mary is alongside I-80, but there is a place to leave donations.

    US 30 hits a small town every 10 miles or so. It’s not an unpleasant road.

    Thanks to a map reading error, I got back on the interstate for six miles, only to get off in the middle of nowhere. Should have read the map more closely. But I did get to photograph the scenic view:


    The scenic view is that strip of green, along the South Platte River. It’s an oasis. I have ridden up from further south on the US highway that runs along the river, and (when trying to make time) on the interstate at the top of the bluff. Riding in the valley, surrounded by greenery, is much better. It’s a bit slower, but not that much.

    Once I found the hotel, it was able to grab a parking space right below my window. Walked over to the restaurant that made good enough food, but also had a nice classic car in the lobby:

    An English car doing what English cars do best: sitting in a garage looking pretty.

    I had a pair of Spitfires, a beat-up ‘69 Mark III and a shiny new ‘79 1500. They were fun cars to drive, when they ran. I bought the Mark III used and pretty beat up, spent a lot of time under the bonnet but figured it was because I had bought an old English car. So I bought a new Spitfire 1500 in 1979, only to find the real problem with my Mark III was that it was an old English car. This is why I chuckle at the people who want the Himalayan to somehow be a “British” bike, just because Harris Performance (now owned by Enfield’s Indian parent company) designed the chassis. If I had thought the Himalayan was English, I would have run away screaming based on my experience with the two Spitfires!

    So, 322 miles today, the first two hours going to maybe 40 of them…

    OK, it’s late enough and the wi-fi remains slow. I am almost exactly 800 miles from home, and with the Ames Pyramid, I have run out of planned things to visit. Three days of about 270 miles, or two days of around 400 each and get home in time to (barely) wish my wife happy birthday? Decisions, decisions…
    MotoPet, scudo, modiorne and 6 others like this.
  10. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    And Here We Go, For the 54th Time

    There comes a time in almost every trip out west when I realize the traveling is done and all that’s left is transportation. On the way out, I can enjoy things like Rock City (remember that?) and a “mountain-ish” road in Kansas, but once I’m out of the good stuff on the way back, it’s just Get Me Home. So, here we go again, the 54th crossing of the Great Prairie (27 round trips) since 1977. That’s two circumnavigations of the globe in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota... and almost ten percent of all the miles I’ve ridden in the last 45 years...

    Denison, IA, tonight, home tomorrow to wish my wife a happy birthday. 411 miles today (according to Google). One for each cc in the Himalayan’s engine.

    Snake boots are starting to come apart. Time to be getting home.
    ROAD DAMAGE, Nick W, modiorne and 3 others like this.
  11. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem Supporter

    Jul 20, 2007
    jaw ja

    mine did that, krazy glue helped
  12. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Long Ride, Short Post

    405 miles today. I am out of Nebraska and into Iowa. Left at 6:40 in the morning after not striking up a conversation with the guy loading his GSA.

    So what is there to say about Nebraska? Honestly, it’s not for everyone (that’s the official tourist motto; I am not making this up). The first 75 miles, straight as an arrow due east on US 30 (no point in taking the interstate when the Himalayan can barely make the speed limit on the two-lane), is… well, everything you expect Nebraska to be. Flat. Straight. Lots of small farm towns that are getting smaller as their businesses move down to the Interstate off-ramp.

    This was actually yesterday afternoon, but this morning looked about the same.

    At North Platte, you have a choice: go north, or go southeast. The choice you really want, continue going straight east, is not an option. Y’know how Einstein said massive objects warp the curvature of the space-time continuum? Apparently there’s something really massive under central Nebraska, because the whole middle part of the state sags. The Platte River curves to the south at North Platte, in a big swayback curve that doesn’t reach North Platte’s latitude till after Grand Island. The railroad and interstate and US 30 all follow, because that’s where the settlers went. But even further north, the whole Sand Hills region sags in the same way. You go “straight east” from North Platte by going about 25 miles north into the Sand Hills, then following Nebraska 2 down the same sag until NE 92 finally turns east at about the same latitude as North Platte and intersects US 30 at Clarks. Here’s the choices going from my hotel in Big Springs to the late lunch in Columbus:

    One way or the other, you gotta go up or down to get back to where you started.

    The good news is that the road through the Sand Hills is fairly interesting. There are, as the name implies, hills:


    There are also occasional curves, though I didn’t photograph them today. There is one of those great “corn belt” gas stations, offering four different grades of gas: all regular, but with 0, 10, 15 or 85 percent corn ethanol.

    I have a thing for old iron truss bridges, and there are still some nice ones in Nebraska.


    Unfortunately, the road bridge next to it is just a soulless concrete slab. There are still a fair number of really neat spindly old truss bridges (some with wooden floors) on county roads around the Midwest. Far as I’m concerned, these bridges are as aesthetically cool, architecturally significant, and worth preserving as the covered bridges. But I fear I’m in a minority, as every year I come back and find a few more replaced with slabs.

    You will note the bike is parked on sand, which reminded me I needed to ride at least a token amount of pavement-free road, because this is an “adventure” ride. So, a bit southwest of Columbus, I did a couple miles:


    Totally for show, and if there was any justice in the world that “Zimmatic” center pivot irrigator would have turned on and hosed me off when I stopped there. Actually, if there was really some justice in the world, I would have done a face plant on the soft sand that blanketed this road. I had the front end start stepping out more than once in just a couple of miles. If I were to try to cross Nebraska on dirt roads, I would need much more seriously knobby tires than these Pirellis.

    Thinking a bit about how much unpaved road I didn’t ride on this trip. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to ride out to the West via dirt roads; just didn’t have enough time. But I set a kind of goal that at least 10 percent of the total miles would be unpaved. Didn’t make it. By my best calculations, I might have ridden 300 miles unpaved out of over 4000 in all. Damn, it’s hard to ride a lot of dirt when you’re actually going somewhere. There often just aren’t any dirt roads, and the dirt roads you wanna ride are separated by miles and miles of pavement… I have a great deal of new respect for the people who stitch together things like the TAT and the TWAT and the BDRs. That must take a hell of a lot of work. Then there’s the whole issue of time: I was damned slow on the interesting stretches of dirt road—Shafer Trail was a good two hours to go nineteen miles; I spent the better part of an hour going maybe eight or nine miles to Buffalo Pass yesterday.

    Anyway, after doing my token dirt mile, I stopped into Columbus (originally my planned destination for the day), to pay a visit to Gottberg Brewing. For some reason I have been visiting this brewpub

    Excuse me, I meant Brew Pup… and I didn’t find hot dogs on the menu, so go figure…

    …at three year intervals since 2009. No plan, it just worked out that way. Usually I spend the night in Columbus and walk to the pub (which was the plan until last night), but I wanted to go further so I just stopped by for one of their “lighter” offerings:

    Am I turning into one of those Instagram types who posts photos of every meal they consume?

    “Beer cheese penne pasta with steak tips.” Nice little afternoon snack, with a sessionable and delicious Schwarzbier. Just one, for there are still something over 130 miles to go.

    The first 80 of these were in Nebraska, then across the Missouri River (on a soulless slab that was next to an elegant railroad truss, of course) into Iowa. More miles of Iowa. US 30 crosses the Boyer River several times between Nebraska and Denison, and at each crossing there’s a drab road bridge and a nice railroad truss.

    Sorry, I said I’m a sucker for these things.

    They all looked like they were made from the same kit, so I didn’t photograph the others.

    Made it to the hotel at 5:30 CDT after 405 miles. Not bad. 390 to get home tomorrow. Should be in plenty of time to take my wife out to dinner on her birthday. Which could help assure there will be another trip next time…
    Loadtoad101, bomose, modiorne and 6 others like this.
  13. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Shorter Day, Longer Post: Sunday In All Its Glory

    OK, now that I’m in a place with better wi-fi and have time to kill, let’s go take a detailed look at Sunday. This was the day I went from Fruita, CO, to Steamboat Springs, via Land’s End Road, Grand Mesa, and the Colorado River Road. Plus, a little stretch of “fast gravel” between Collbran and New Castle, to avoid the madhouse of I-70.

    I got on the road about 7:30 and decided that rather than going through all of Grand Junction, I’d go up through Colorado National Monument (you can do this kind of thing when you have a Senile Citizen Pass that gets you into the parks for free).

    If state boundaries were drawn by geologists, this part of Colorado would be in Utah. As a matter of fact, it’s kind of amusing that the majority of the “Colorado Plateau” is not in Colorado.

    Very nice switchbacks, though they are paved…

    Independence Rock is something right out of the Canyonlands.


    Of course, that could be said about almost anyplace in the park.


    On Sunday morning, there were a lot of bicycle riders puffing their way up the hills into the park. But then, they get the Reward:


    That guy there is flying, far in excess of the official speed limit. It’s OK with me. He earned this ride down the hill.

    I left the park, saying my “auf wiedersehen” to “Utah scenery,” and headed into the sprawl of Grand Junction. Not bad on a Sunday morning, though I missed the turn for Riverside Drive and instead went through the stoplight-laden downtown. Then, a brief ride down US 50, to almost the place where I turned toward Gateway the previous Monday, and onto the very nicely paved Reeder Mesa Road to Land’s End Road. I was surprised at how much of it was paved—my memory from 1989 was a long, washboard gravel road through the low desert. This time, the road was paved through the lower elevations, even past the warning signs:


    Details of The Rules:

    I think I’m OK.

    I ran into a couple guys in a pickup truck with Wisconsin plates, unloading a couple dirt bikes right at the National Forest boundary, where the pavement ends.


    I continued along, figuring they would pass me soon enough.
    bomose, modiorne, staticPort and 2 others like this.
  14. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Sunday Part 2: To The End, Then Turn Left and Keep Going

    Land’s End Road is the fourth of the Big Dirt Switchback Roads I wanted to ride on this trip. It is probably the biggest in terms of sheer size (Grand Mesa is said to be the world’s biggest flat-topped mountain) and elevation (over 10,000 feet, rising from the 4500-foot elevation of Grand Junction). The road is… long.

    It starts out smooth, wide and easy, treated with something to keep the dust down and make it more like pavement. The views are nice. Part of the game along here is trying to figure out if a line you see on a cliff in the distance is natural, or the road you’ll be riding in a few minutes.


    This little turnoff goes to a fantastic view of the valley, and we’re not even a third of the way up yet.


    At least I think that’s where I took the picture…


    A few more miles of switchbacks and climbing, and it gets harder to see where the road might be going ahead of you, but much easier to see where you’ve been.


    I was about halfway up when the road got a bit bumpier and I got into the habit of standing on the pegs. A bit more control, but I think the real reason is that there was vegetation along the side of the road, just tall enough to obscure the view if I was sitting down.

    As I got closer to the top, seeing over the plants growing on the edge of the road became less and less of an issue.


    In 1991, on my way from Sturgis to a business meeting in Crested Butte (ah, those were the days), I rode over Grand Mesa and out to Land’s End. I went down only far enough to look for the “disappearing waterfall” that somebody (Bob Carpenter? Clement Salvadori?) mentioned in Road Rider.


    It had, of course, already disappeared for the summer. The park ranger at the Observatory told me the fall only ran a few weeks out of the year.

    This is, I think, close to that spot. Even drier this year.


    Two more turns and I was on top. It was sad to see the Observatory shuttered because of budget cuts.

    The chipmunk was very insistent that I give it something to eat…


    …because the rangers were in the habit of feeding the little critters. How different National Forests are from National Parks, where the rangers will give you a stern lecture about Not Feeding The Animals.

    A few minutes after I arrived at the Observatory, I heard a loud aftermarket four-stroke muffler. Sure enough, the guys who had been unloading their bikes at the foot of the road had made it up.


    I think their plan was to turn around and go back down.
    MotoPet, bomose, modiorne and 2 others like this.
  15. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Sunday Part Three: About That High Speed Gravel…

    Yeah, we’ll get to that in a moment, but first, a flashback: when I visited Land’s End in 1991, I was disappointed at the lack of any water in the “disappearing waterfall” (it done disappeared for the summer). The friendly park ranger asked how comfortable I felt going off pavement to get to a waterfall that was still flowing. I noted the road from CO 65 was gravel. She said, how about going a little further off pavement. Which is how I ended up taking a Harley Sportster on this:


    Not very far, maybe a quarter-mile, splash through the little stream and find a place where you can put the stand down. Then walk maybe another quarter-mile parallel to the stream. Stop when you would need the First Law of Cartoon Physics to take another step. Look to your left:


    Dangit. Pretty darn nice, and worth bumping down the two-track on a Sportster.

    Thirty years later… I left Land’s End (the ranger said she was unaware of any flowing waterfalls in the vicinity, so I didn’t bother to try and re-visit this one) on a paved road. That was disappointing, but luckily the pavement didn’t last long.


    Plus… some pretty mountain scenery. Soon I was at Colorado Route 65, which I took to Mesa. There I turned onto Colorado 330 and headed east to Collbran. Beautiful twisty roads with nice scenery… even if they were paved. After Collbran, I kept waiting for the pavement to end. And waiting. And waiting… Passed the turnoff for Vega State Park… still paved…


    About time!

    The first few miles were indeed high-speed gravel, which I did not take at terribly high speed because I’m an old man who hasn’t done serious dirt riding in forty years. Still, it was pretty easy, there were actually signs at intersections saying which way to turn. Easy. Be down in Silt/New Castle in time for an early lunch.

    Things changed when I hit the boundary of the White River National Forest. No more gravel, which was OK with me because I was getting sick of washboards.


    Things got a little rougher…


    The road started down a long downhill, with switchback turns…


    And more “plank ride practice”! Stick to the high spots between the ruts and you’ll be just fine.


    Given how close together the ruts were, I think they were made by SxSs rather than Jeeps or other full-size vehicles. Suppose some guys came up here after the rain to get their toys all dirty. Ah well…

    So you will note that in two consecutive days… Cow Boy Brad told me the road from Collbran to Silt would be “high speed gravel” that turned out to be dirt with deep ruts, and Rob (ROAD DAMAGE) told me the Buffalo Pass Road would be an “easy decently maintained road” (unless the highway department over-graveled it), and that turned out to be a rock pile. I don’t suspect any nefarious intent; I just figure y’all were doing me a favor—realized I needed to get some practice on stuff that was a little more challenging, suspected I would wimp out and take the paved road if I thought these roads were more difficult, and so assisted in my ADV education. Thanks, guys…

    And aside from the roads being more difficult than I expected, they were fine. Note that I am now back into Iowa and still have not fallen down. Only got briefly stuck once. So obviously I’m not that inept, and/or the roads I’m going on aren’t really as hard as they look.

    Besides, I think the definition of “adventure” includes the idea that at some point (possibly many points) you should be asking yourself the question “can I actually do this?” and not being able to give a positive answer. I had some doubts about my ability to negotiate some of these roads. It was a good and satisfying thing to find I could do it.

    Back on pavement, and immediately frustrated by absurdly low speed limits. 25 mph in the middle of nowhere? I assume this is some kind of a practical joke being played on visitors and that there’s some factor to be applied to the number on the sign to determine the actual speed limit. I assumed it was +20 mph for anything under 45.

    That got me down to New Castle, where I rode Old US 6 till it ran me onto I-70, just in time to go through Glenwood Canyon. Picked up a sandwich at a gas station, ate it at a rest area in the canyon. Took a lousy photograph.


    Running a four-lane highway through Glenwood Canyon without totally destroying the place has got to rank as one of the great engineering achievements of the Interstate system. I can remember when I-70 got to either end of the canyon and just tapered neatly down to a two-lane highway through the canyon proper. No orange barrels or unfinished lanes, nothing to suggest anyone was even thinking about making this road four lanes. People I talked in the ‘80s said they didn’t think 70 would ever be four-laned through the canyon. And then, in 1991, I went through during the project. Amazing equipment they had in there, including a massive walking crane for assembling the segmental bridges that carried the westbound lanes through the narrower parts of the canyon without touching the cliff.

    Trouble with Glenwood Canyon being four-laned, I think, is that even with the speed limit reduced to 55 or 60 mph, hardly anybody pays any attention to the natural beauty around them. Aside from motorcycle riders, of course. We get to watch the constantly changing perspectives. Made me wish the GoPro hadn’t died at Moki Dugway.

    Luckily, I do have some GoPro footage from an earlier ride down Glenwood, on the Harley, back in 2018. I was riding westbound rather than eastbound that time, so to properly appreciate how things looked this year, you should run the video backward and put the screen behind your head. Or something.

    I exited at Dotsero, to continue following the river. And that will the the next (and last) installment of Sunday’s ride…
    MotoPet, bomose, modiorne and 4 others like this.
  16. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Sunday Part Four: Water, Wind and Beer

    The Colorado River Road follows the river from Dotsero to McCoy, and I had intended to ride it in the other direction on the 2018 trip, the one that was reorganized by the GS’s blowing a seal in Iowa. We had followed the river down Trough Road, but by State Bridge the weather was starting to look ugly and I didn’t particularly want to be riding a Road King on a wet dirt road. So Colorado River Road got put back on the “to ride” list, and eventually found its way into this year’s trip.

    The road starts out paved, then turns to a heavily treated, almost chip-seal-like gravel, then to plain old gravel and dirt. It seems to have to do with how many put-in points for rafters are still to be reached.


    Rafting this part of the river looks to be pretty laid-back; no life jackets and I noticed a lot of people drinking adult beverages. (Could I read the can labels from this far away? No… but you don’t drink soft drinks the way these people were drinking their libations…)

    After a while, the road gets narrower and less pavement-like.


    The road runs along with a railroad track, sometimes on the same side, sometimes on opposite sides. Both cross the river several times.


    Look really carefully and you’ll see a raft stuck on the center bridge pier.


    See it now? It’s there. I’m not messing with you. Wonder how they’ll get it out.

    Eventually the road climbs out of the river valley.


    And finds its own way.


    In time the road reaches McCoy and picks up Colorado 131, the road to Steamboat.

    There is a pull-out at the intersection, and when I pulled in and stopped, I took a step back and had to laugh. This is where I came to a halt:

    Umm… no, not today. Not with the saddlebags.

    It’s like the Himalayan wanted to do some serious off-roading!

    Up to Steamboat, on a road that seemed to be going both uphill and upwind the entire way. The Himalayan was breathing pretty heavily, and there were times where it was topped out at 50 mph in third gear, working its way up a hill. Well, the charm of the Himma is that it will take you anywhere… as long as you’re not in a hurry.

    This formation is called “Finger Rock,” for obvious reasons:


    Or maybe not so obvious, because the only time it looks like this is if you’re standing in this place. As you go past, it turns out to be pretty large. Looks more like an outfielder’s mitt than a finger by the time you get even with it.

    Stopped for ice cream at a gas station, pulled out behind a truck carrying rafts, which was itself behind a semi dragging a Bobcat tractor. Hooray! For once I wasn’t the one holding up traffic in a 65 mph zone!

    Got to Steamboat, checked into my hotel. A couple days ago, Rob (aka inmate ROAD DAMAGE) PM’d me and said to give him a call when I got into town. Having had no conversation for nearly two weeks, but for store clerks, restaurant servers and the occasional motorcycle enthusiast I met in parking lots or turnouts or the Thelma and Louise point, I took him up on the offer. We met up at the brewery in downtown Steamboat Springs.

    It’s back there somewhere.

    Had a couple beverages, a lot of chatting (we were there close to three hours). I talked the bartender into letting me order the baked mac & cheese off the kids’ menu, as all the regular entrees looked like about enough for three people. Told him I was feeding my “inner child” (actually, I told him I was “young at heart,” but I need to remember the “inner child” thing for next time). I suspect I’m not the only adult who orders this—spicy, baked in a wood-fired oven, with optional sausage, this ain’t no kid’s version of mac & cheese!

    Two ADV scum at the bar…


    The place officially closed at 8, so we retired down the street to where I had parked the Himalayan, and talked bikes for almost another hour. This was the first time I had gotten personally in contact with another inmate, and it was a great experience. Thanks, Rob, and if you ever get near Chicago, you’ve got my number. Unless you erased your voice mail.

    I went back to the hotel a few minutes before it got dark, parked next to a very serious-looking KTM 1090 Adventure bike (never met the guy who was riding it), and headed off to bed. Needed some sleep, what with 320 miles coming up on Monday… and :2cryleaving the mountains and heading to… Nebraska.
  17. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    Finishing Up (Almost) The 1981 Story

    Real quick here: a couple pictures (added now that I'm home and can access them).

    I left off in Silver City, NM, with an engine that kept conking out because water was leaking into the points. So, the next morning (late morning, as I went to bed after midnight, and did I mention that my host in Silver City had a kegerator in his kitchen?)

    He had a lot of beer.

    ...we went to the Yamaha dealer and bought a new gasket. This was the same Yamaha dealer who sold me a Yammie 750 handlebar that sorta fit my Z1 three years earlier, after I crashed that bike up by Roberts Lake and bent the bars beyond repair. I was curious whether he’d recognize me.

    So I left Silver City around noon, still with a pretty good hangover, destination Austin, Texas. According to The Google… 730 miles. On a 500cc, non-counterbalanced thumper with no windshield, in the days when the national speed limit was 55 mph and it was actually being sorta enforced (at least on vehicles with out of state plates)… maybe the hangover was a good thing, as it took my mind off the ride. I think I arrived at three in the morning. This remains the longest day I ever rode. After that ride, I have no interest in doing an Iron Butt… my butt’s sore for life.

    The reason I hurried to Austin was to visit some friends and take in some motorcycle racing in the streets. No, not street racing, an actual road race through some of the city streets.


    It was fun. Then a day out on Lake Travis, then a Willie Nelson concert… at which I tripped over a full can of Coors beer and screwed up my right knee. Yeah, the leg I needed for the XT’s kicker. The XT’s bad tempered kicker. These days, I could go down to the drugstore and buy over-the-counter ibuprofen, but in those days the stuff was prescription only. Somebody gave me one 800mg tablet, and my leg felt great… for the evening.

    I rode back in two days, spending the night in northeastern Arkansas. I developed a method of kicking the bike side-saddle with my left leg, which involved standing next to the bike, jumping on the kicker with my left foot, and often ending up in a heap on the ground, with my right hand trying to keep the throttle open. At gas stops, I wouldn’t bother shutting the engine off; I’d just let it sit there idling at the pump while I went inside to pay. At this point I was almost thinking, “steal the bike, you’d be doing me a favor.”

    And so, two very long days to get to the Chicago area, exiting interstate 57 at Peotone to start the last 40 miles home…

    …and that is where we will leave things for now. I don’t want 1981 me to get home before I do.

    Probably no post (beyond an “I made it”) tomorrow. The reason I’m hurrying home is to celebrate my wife’s birthday, and she probably won’t appreciate me sticking my face in a computer…

    Thanks for coming along on this ride. Look for some final thoughts on Thursday, and maybe a few more next week.
    8382, bomose, ROAD DAMAGE and 5 others like this.
  18. ScottFree

    ScottFree Long timer

    Jun 7, 2011
    On To The Heart Of The Sunrise (and into the colon of the clouds)

    And that’s that. After fifteen days and 4,048 miles, I pulled into the driveway a little after three this afternoon. Hooray!

    Not too much to be said about today’s 397 miles across Iowa and Illinois. I got a really early start this morning: packed up under the parking lot floodlights.


    On the road at 6:15, which is a few minutes after official sunrise but a few minutes before the sun peeked over the small hills.


    Having been to the Continental Divide in Colorado, I of course needed to stop at the Great Iowa Divide:


    Navigation across Iowa was about as simple as it gets: east on US 30 to just past Cedar Rapids, in weather that was bright but hazy and surprisingly cool (I actually had to run my grip heaters for the first hundred miles).


    Turned north on Iowa 1 to Anamosa, and ran into what looked like fog but may have been at least partially smoke from forest fires all the way out in California. Temperatures dropped back into the high 50s. Turned east on IA 64 and took it to the Mississippi River and into Illinois, where it became IL 64. Nice of them to keep the same route number.


    From there, some state highways, some county roads, and a few miles of token gravel so I could say I rode off pavement at least a little bit every day.


    And, after a bit of a sprinkle and a few miles of wet roads, I was home. Parked the bike, unpacked, went out to the sushi joint to celebrate the wife’s birthday. And that was that. It feels a bit weird to be back in my own home, a bit weirder to think I don’t have to pack up and go anywhere tomorrow, and flat-out peculiar to put on regular Timberland hikers in place of the snake boots that have been almost part of my feet for the last two weeks.

    It will take some time to make sense of this trip. I did most of the things I set out to do, in particular realizing my two most important goals, to ride these dirt switchbacks, revisit the places I went forty years ago, and not fall down and hurt myself. I’ll probably be a bit sore in the morning, but the bike remained in the proper orientation and I have no obvious injuries, so mission accomplished.

    I will probably post something over the next several days, a sort of look back at the questions I was trying to answer by going back after all these years. And, with any luck, I’ll edit some of that GoPro video into a coherent narrative (along with some stills), though video editing seems to require an enormous amount of work to produce just a few minutes of end product. But that’s later—the grandkids are coming for the weekend, and the boat’s not going to launch itself.

    Oh, one more thing: now that I’m safely home, I can relate the ignominious ending of the 1981 trip: after about the same number of days, maybe a few more miles, and many more spills and minor injuries, I exited I-57 at Peotone, went maybe a half-mile down the county road, and…


    Engine revved up, bike went nowhere, I found the chain in the middle of the road. Oops.

    Let me say, in the interest of honesty, that it was all my fault. I knew the chain was on its last legs by the time I got to Austin, where I had to do an old biker’s trick and remove a link so I could adjust it properly. I could have bought a new chain in Texas and put it on for the ride home, but I already had a replacement chain and sprocket set in the garage at home, and convinced myself that this chain would last a thousand more miles. And, in my defense, I will point out that it came really close—Peotone was less than 40 miles from my home at the time.

    I pushed the bike back to the gas station at the bottom of the exit ramp, called the girlfriend, and she came out in the pickup truck. Rather than installing the new chain, I just loaded the bike into the back of the truck. I was tired and sore enough by now.

    You can see why I didn’t want to talk about broken chains before I was home safely—that was a part of the 1981 trip I most definitely did not want to repeat!
    MotoPet, 8382, DrPayne and 10 others like this.
  19. KYMike

    KYMike Been here awhile

    Feb 21, 2010
    Elizabethtown, KY
    Thoroughly enjoyed it.....thanks!
  20. tag3

    tag3 Doofus

    Jan 17, 2014
    Inland from the coast of Santa Cruz and Trona.
    Enjoyed the trip,