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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScottFree, Mar 1, 2019.
This is simply awesome!
This is a awesome RR. I am planning CO trip for August of this year. Got really good ideas for roads and things to see. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Sir, this is a GREAT report. You are a wonderful story teller and adventurer. The 12 is one of the most scenic roads around. Love that you broke down, went home and got another bike and continued the trip. Well done.
Day 11: I See... the Flat Land...
I left Gunnison and went over Monarch Pass in light rain. Not a big deal, but it didn't help that vague sense that something wasn't quite right about the bike and/or me. No pictures simply because I've been over this pass a lot of times.
By the Salida gas stop, the skies were clear and the temperatures reasonably comfortable, so of course that's when I ran into ten miles of construction and fresh chip seal, orange barrels, closed lanes and other fun. Still not a big deal, but it seemed some of the car-pointers on the road (I hesitate to call them "drivers") were in a bit of a hurry. Oh well.
Much of the trip from Salida to Kenosha Pass is through South Park, which means high, cool, windy and pretty flat. Which in turn means that people in cars were trying to make up the time they'd lost in the construction zone. The wind took over from the rain in making me feel a bit overly cautious, which meant I was only doing about 75 (in a 65 zone) rather than the 80-90 that a lot of people were.
I had a Depends Moment going over the pass just before Kenosha (Red Hill?), when I came around the turn, leaned over a bit, dealing with gusty winds, and saw that a truck had deposited a big puddle of fresh diesel fuel in the road. Having kissed the pavement due to diesel on the road many years ago, I clenched my sphincter and got the big ol Harley to miss the puddle by a few inches. Phew! A few miles further up the road, Kenosha Pass:
This is looking back into South Park. It's pretty, but also pretty flat. That, fortunately, is coming to an end.
At Grant, I turned north onto Guanella Pass Road. My recent Benchmark atlas of Colorado (a great touring resource, by the way, as it identifies paved, 2WD gravel/dirt and 4WD roads) still listed this road as gravel, but the Colorado website had informed me it was newly paved just last year. And definitely worth the ride. It's a scenic road, not a road for getting anywhere in a hurry:
The official speed limit is only 25. That's OK, with views like this I don't want to be in a hurry.
Somewhere up just past the summit...
On the way down from the summit, another Wildlife Traffic Jam:
Further down, I could see I wasn't the only one out enjoying this great road and perfect afternoon...
And that was pretty much it for the mountains. At Georgetown, I picked up I-70 for about ten miles. This is an interesting stretch, as the Highway Department has added a lane to the Interstate with nothing more sophisticated than a paint bucket. For this stretch, they re-striped what had been two lanes each way, with a reasonable shoulder on each side, as three lanes each way with no shoulder worth talking about. Whatever you do, don't break down or have a flat along here!
Can't wait till they decide to add a new tunnel with their paint bucket...
I spent the next couple days just hanging out with a friend in Golden. We toured the Coors brewery, then went to Golden's "second-largest brewery," Golden City. GCB is right across the street from the Colorado School of Mines, which pretty much guarantees them a steady stream of customers. Engineering students and beer... (ask me how I know)
Location, location, location...
My friend lives up in the mountains a few miles west of town, which means that in addition to deer constantly devouring his vegetable garden (including the plants that are supposed to taste bad to deer), he's got a bison herd in the back yard:
We also continued a tradition of taking in a Colorado Rockies ball game when I visit, this time a night game. The nosebleed seats at Coors Field give a great view of the mountains.
And after that pleasant weekend, it was time to head for home.
It always seems that I take very few pictures on the way back. I find interesting stuff in Nebraska and Iowa on the way west, but when I have the mountains behind me, the prairie just seems like something to be crossed.
I tried an experiment this time, though: it's tempting to take the interstate when you're trying to cross the prairie in two 500+ mile days, but because I occasionally work as a physics teacher, I remember that drag and impact and such all go up as the square of speed. Is covering 1000 miles at 75-85mph actually more work than covering the same distance at 60-65 (even if it takes less time)? I decided to find out. So, after a quick blast to around Brush, Colorado, I left the Interstate and followed US 34 across eastern Colorado and Nebraska.
Well, it took longer. But I finished the day a lot less sore than I typically do when I take the interstate. Unlike the Sand Hills on the way out, southern Nebraska is just pretty much flat fields. The only attraction of note in this stretch is the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, and while it's worth a stop if you've never been there (as far as I know, it's the only place where you can ride a steam-powered merry-go-round for a nickel), I've been there a few times. The place is run by a "foundation" since Harold Warp died a few years back, and seems a bit worse for the wear.
Eventually I arrived in Lincoln. Conveniently, my hotel was right on US 34. Even more conveniently, this place was all of 0.8 miles further down the road:
And a good local pizza joint just around the corner. Perfect end to the day.
And finally, the push home...
I started the last day early, before sunrise. Then I made the tactical mistake of getting on I-80, figuring to go through Omaha and shear off onto smaller roads in Iowa. Unfortunately, this was a Monday morning, and everybody who works in Omaha had exactly the same idea. So there I was, on an eight-lane interstate full of angry, late commuters, riding straight into the sun... not a good time. But, once into Iowa, I found a nice two-lane road through the rolling farm country. It was pleasant enough. Could have sworn I shot a photo at Red Rock Lake, but a search of the computer and phone turn up nothing. Oh well. I passed the BMW dealer that had been too busy to help me out on the first day of the trip. Considered stopping, but even if he had the seal in stock (remember, the woman on the phone had been too busy to check) I wouldn't have bought it there.
Went past Montezuma, stopped in the very same park where I found the GS had blown its seal. Continued on county and state roads almost to Iowa City, where I finally grabbed the Interstate to Illinois. Then, the last hundred miles... I stopped at a little roadside boat launch along "Former IL 2" on the Rock River:
And, after another hundred miles of cornfields, I was home.
Epilog: Things Just Barely Made It
A couple days after getting home, I called the local BMW shop. They didn't have the seal in stock, but were able to get one by the next day. So, over the weekend I put the GS back together and satisfied myself that it would work.
Then things got interesting: on Labor Day, my right hip (which had been propped up by physical therapy and steroid injections) went out. Bad. Suddenly I could barely walk. Not fun at all. Funny how the hip had lasted just long enough to get me through the trip, and then said "we're home, I'm done."
And it wasn't just the hip. The Road King is an '04, which means it's got the "ticking time bomb" spring-loaded cam chain tensioners in it. We had been monitoring wear on these things for the last few years, and had already decided that the winter of 2018-19 was the time to replace them with the newer, longer-lasting hydraulic upgrade. So, just before I went in to get that worn-out hip replaced on Halloween, I dropped the Harley off at the shop. A few weeks later, when I was able to get around with just a cane, I checked in with the shop. Found out the inboard tensioner (that orange thing in the photo) was very close to gone:
Might have had another thousand or so miles left before it fragged and filled my oiling system with bits of plastic. Yet another part that made it just far enough...
So now, in March, it's time to plan the next big adventure. The Harley's back, ready for another 50,000 or so miles. The BMW's repaired. My new store-bought hip is working well enough that I have been riding both of them. And I'm thinking about going back out west and cleaning up the loose ends from this trip. I still want to ride Shafer Trail, and Burr Trail Road, and Land's End Road, and now I've learned about this insane narrow bridge on Hells Backbone Road near Escalante that's supposed to be a thousand feet above the bottom of the canyon... Plans are forming.
My brother an I ran across Harold Warp's Pioneer Village on our Oregon Trail trip in 2017. Yes, it has fallen on hard times and is a little worse for the wear, but I hope they hang on as it is a true piece of Americana and a tribute man's ingenuity ans is really not to be missed if you are in that part of the country.
Lincoln--on our way west, we had to make an unscheduled stop in Lincoln to replace a chain that had decided to grind its pins and rollers out. It was lunch time and we ran across this place over on Greek Row:
Stop on by and let the guy know you are a referral from a couple of guys on ADV Rider from Oregon. He'll treat you well!
I've been to Pioneer village three times. Probably the best was in 1993, when we went with another couple and a pair of seven-year-old kids on two sidecar outfits. That was the summer that half the midwest was under water (lots of detours for flooded roads in Iowa, and the bits of Generica around interstate highway exits looked like the fast-food joints had been shelling each others' signs), and Pioneer Village marked the spot where we finally got out of the wet. Harold Warp was still alive back then, and his... unique... vision still permeated the place. We spent almost half a day there. I got a kick out of how the "Hall of Hobbies (that keep men busy)" was right next to the "Hall of Household Appliances (making women's work easier)." My wife was not so amused . And there was that one big pole barn with a Chevy and Ford facing each other, one from each year between about 1920 and 1965. The pole barn full of motorcycles was still just a random collection; I guess Ol' Harold wasn't that interested in bikes. It'll be a gold mine for somebody someday. Went back again in 2009, when the place had been turned over to the "foundation." Still in good shape, but it already seemed the foundation was trying to polish off the quirky corners of Harold Warp's vision.
I'll definitely have a look at that BBQ place next time I'm in Lincoln, which will probably be this August. Lots of plans are not yet firm, but my friend and I (yeah, same guy, but this year he'll be on his Harley Ultra) have already reserved a couple Royal Enfield Himalayans in Red Lodge, Montana (so the GS had better be on its best behavior, 'cause it's gonna have competition), and I've already made plans to visit the friends in Golden on the way back. What's between Red Lodge and Golden (paved roads on the Harley? dirt roads on the GS? dirt roads on the Harley? ...and why does that sound like an Arlo Guthrie bit?) remains to be determined, but loose ends need to be tied up...
Awesome story and pictures! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us .
Just discovered your report....excellent....I went out that way in '16, first time out west and really enjoyed the route. I visited most of the places you noted, but your report would have made a great guide. Learned a lot. And like you, I had a joint being held together by steroids until I got home. Had a shoulder replacement later that year. Thanks again for great report and look forward to a trip report on the Himalayan thread.