Colorado Springs to Vegas and Back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by derizen, Nov 18, 2020.

  1. derizen

    derizen n00b Supporter

    Nov 18, 2020
    Colorado Springs CO
    I wanted to get in a multi-day trip before the weather here started to limit riding, so I planned and executed a Vegas trip over the Nov 7th weekend. Original plan was to take I70 on the way there on the 6th, and back over the same route but over two days (9th & 10th) but weather dictated a change in plans. It was designed to be a shake-down of my traveling setup on my Tiger 800, and I definitely learned a lot.

    Friday - 6 Nov - Headed out of Colorado Springs around 0430 on I25. Wanted to get up to I70 and out of Denver before the commuting traffic started. As I was driving through the Vail area I noticed unmelted snow on the hillsides on either side of the road. My last-minute purchase of heated boot liners combined with my heated gloves and grips kept me mostly comfortable. I really enjoyed the mountains, and really started enjoying the ride the farther I went West. The 80 mph speed limit in UT was nice, I stopped at a view spots along the way to look around and take pictures. I really enjoy the 'barren' landscape out there. Eventually turned south and merged onto I15. Drove through a combination dust storm/prescribed burn smoke without incident. The whole day I had been stopping roughly every 100 miles, usually would get gas, have a light snack, drink water.

    I was about 10 miles north of Beaver UT when my back tire went flat. I pulled off the road, thankful that the bike had been manageable and that I made it over OK. Kinda bummed about the tire, but this was a good chance to do a roadside plug and pump. The tire held air, but it was super hot, probably from the friction of going 80+mph uphill against a strong headwind. When I got back on the road I kept the speed slow, the tire felt really bumpy, I think it was warped from the heat. Limped into Beaver and stopped at an auto shop that was listed on google as a power sports shop but definitely wasn't. Spent a couple of hours calling every motorcycle/power sports shop within 100 miles looking for anyone that had a compatible tire but no luck. Eventually bit the bullet and set up a tow from Beaver to my friend's place in Vegas. Was able to schedule getting new tires at Eurocycle in Vegas the next day (very thankful they fit me in). Rode into Vegas healthy but a little bummed that the bike was on a trailer instead of on it's own two wheels.

    Saturday - 7 Nov - Dropped off the bike and got new tires put on. Was pretty excited about them until I spun out leaving the parking lot - rear tire came around and I ended up with the bike on the ground facing against traffic. Luckily the road was empty so I had time to pick up the bike and ride back into the shop's parking lot. Checked everything out - ended up with scratches on the crash guards, and a broken passenger foot peg. It had just rained, and I wasn't really sure if that particular section of road was slippery or what so I rode to my friend's house like I was on ice. I'm sure I annoyed folks when I was turning at lights because I went real slow and was reluctant to lean at all.

    Sunday - 08 Nov - I hung out with my friends, and also regained confidence in my traction riding around a bit. Rode a loop that goes through Red Rocks on the west side of Vegas.

    Monday - 09 Nov - Due to rain/snow, I didn't want to go back through Vail on I70, so I decided to go southeast and take I40 to Santa Fe. That was a beautiful ride too, it took me through parts of UT, AZ, & NM that I have been through before by car, and was a bit of a blast from the past. As I'm getting gas in Gallup, I notice the ground is wet and a bit slushy... thought maybe it had snowed there before I rolled in.

    I continued east out of town, aiming for an AirBnB in Santa Fe. I hadn't really done enough research, turns out I still needed to go over the Continental Divide, the sun was going down, and even though I was farther south than CO weather I was still looking at freezing temps. As I left Gallup I noticed a cozy-looking group of hotels and briefly considered stopping there for the night. I didn't, and I'll take full responsibility for my idiocy in pushing on as the sun was going down on a wet road. Traffic slowed to a crawl as I neared the Divide, and when I looked down I noticed the road was ice. My pucker factor went way up, I concentrated on driving as smoothly as possible, figuring any sudden move could cause me to lose traction and fall. After a bit, I calmed down some, realizing my new tires were doing really, really well. Then the traffic slowed further to stop-and-go. Pucker factor went back up, now I'm looking at a few hundred chances of losing traction as I had to stop and then move some over and over again. The car behind me kept it's distance, so I didn't have to worry about getting squished, but I didn't really know how I'd move or pick up the bike if it fell on the ice. Again, my new tires stuck to that ice like it was dry road. I have no idea how I got that lucky. As I went over the divide and down the other side, I saw two jack-knifed semis and a few other cars that had run off the road. Thankfully that stretch of highway is super-straight and the climb/descent is gradual.

    Temps eventually warmed up some as I descended and the ice went away. Rode a couple of more hours, through Albuquerque and then up to Santa Fe. Crashed at the AirBnB, kind of amazed that I had made it through that without a wreck.

    Tuesday - 10 Nov - Worked my way up from Santa Fe to Fort Garland CO, beautiful most of the way, but got colder as I went farther north. Those heated socks/gloves/grips kept me functional, and I had on almost every layer of normal clothes and of course my riding gear. Turned east and made my way to I25, thinking it would be a breeze from there. Joke's on me, it wasn't just a breeze, it was some pretty serious wind and gusts. I set the bike in a semi-permanent left-lean and tried to keep it in one lane of traffic.

    Made it back to Colorado Springs, stopped at a car wash to rinse off the bike and then filled it with gas. Trip total was 1,638 miles. The most obvious lesson was paying attention to weather/road conditions. I think I'm a cautious driver but learned I still have tendancy to push my limits more than is safe. I'm glad I was prepared to plug the tire and I had an electric pump to fill it, but maybe I could have prevented that situation if I had properly assessed my tires before the trip. Or checked on them more at each stop. I would like to do other trips with friends at some point, but I also enjoyed the freedom of stopping whenever and wherever I felt like stopping. Favorite road snack was rice cake with almond butter - gave me some energy but I didn't go through any sugar highs/crashes. Pic of the bike setup and then a rock formation just west of Green River, UT that I thought was pretty cool. PXL_20201106_204354468.jpg PXL_20201106_193516281.jpg
    BigDogRaven and Sundude901 like this.
  2. CJSRider

    CJSRider Been here awhile

    Jan 7, 2020
    Glen Allen Va
    On new tires they need to be ridden carefully for about 50 to several hundred miles before you get full traction. This allows the lubricants used to release tires from their molds to wear off the surface of the new tire. Until this lubricant wears away, your new tires will have a reduced level of traction, especially in wet conditions. Glad everything turned out ok when you dropped the bike.

    Nice write up on the trip. That sounds like a scary time you had crossing the path.
    oldmanb777 and derizen like this.
  3. BigDogRaven

    BigDogRaven Been here awhile

    Feb 7, 2012
    Tracy, CA
    Nice write up. I can relate to the 'pucker factor', reminds me of a few very sketchy times I had in bad weather.
    derizen likes this.
  4. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

    May 15, 2007
    Snow in New Mexico
    Yep, the weather do change quickly in these parts!
  5. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

    Nov 14, 2006
    Peoples republic of Kalifornia, East...Kolarado
    Nice writeup Glad you had a great time and made it safely. As said, new tires can be slippery, add the rain, and disaster can't be far away. If that ride was great, then there is also great riding east of the Springs on nice days in the winter. Just pick good weather days and explore.
  6. wetwider

    wetwider Been here awhile

    Nov 13, 2016
    That was a good shakedown ride, lot's experienced, lots learned, and remember near-misses don't count. Ride on!