Well, my ride from Colorado to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska is done. I detoured to Moab, Utah, for the Canyonlands Motor Classic gathering at the end of May, and that part of the story is included here as well. At the end of September, my buddy Don and I will head for Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern tip of South America. ------------------------------ Part 1. Home to Moab, Utah. Tuesday, May 27, 2008 --------------------- I finally got the bike done early this morning. I was pretty fuzzy at that point, having been up and active for close to 40 hours straight by the time I zonked out. I expected to get a few hours of sleep before the alarm went off, but as it turned out, Laurie had reset my alarm and called Don that morning and arranged for him to come to my place a couple hours later than we had agreed on. So, after having slept through the newly set alarm, my body clock woke me at 10:30 in a mild panic. I then saw the note that Laurie had left advising me of the new time. So, after a quick shower and some yogurt, I went down to the garage. Just after I opened the door at 11:00, Don rode up. We spent a couple hours finalizing my packing and Don's repacking, then we were off. We had put some stuff in the truck for Laurie to bring to Moab on Thursday. Still, we were over-loaded--especially me--and the bikes were heavy. Since I had never managed to do a test ride, I wanted to try the bike out on something other than paved roads right away. So, we did the typical thing and rode to Monument and took Mount Herman Road over the Rampart Range, The dirt road was in pretty good shape, but it took some time getting used to the bike being so heavy and sluggish. I have had ridden the old KLR loaded for camping before, and was used to it being top-heavy, but with the aluminum boxes and big Givi tailbox, this was the heaviest it had ever been. Making quick leans and fast track adjustments were out of the question. This led to a few "Oh, shit!" moments, but I managed okay. Then the first semi-drama occurred. I was riding in the lead, coming up to a sharp right blind curve. As I neared the apex of the turn, a big pickup truck came around in my side of the road. There was nowhere for me to go, so I rode into the drainage ditch, off to the right. I dabbed with my right foot, which was a bad thing to do with side boxes. My right foot got caught between the box and the right berm, and it turned my foot outward. As the bike fell off to the right, my foot was trapped under the aluminum box and the ground, pointed backward. This was a very ugly position, and I couldn't move at all. I couldn't lift the bike off me, I couldn't turn to my right to relieve the stress to my leg since I was still astride the bike and couldn't swing my left leg over it, and I couldn't pull my foot out. I just stayed there until Don rode up and stopped to lift the bike off my leg. As I stood and assessed any damage, I saw the pickup had stopped just up the road and the driver was watching me hop around on one leg. I wanted to hurt him bad, but I just waved him away. Off he went. I hope Karma bites him soon. Turns out that aside from a sore ankle and knee, I was okay. We rode on. After gas in Woodland Park and a late lunch at Amanda's Fonda in Manitou Springs, we headed south and west on Old Stage Road/Gold Camp Road to Victor (more dirt roads). I like this route; it's easy, varied, and scenic. Because I'm a doofus sometimes, I again got off into the right ditch on a gradual climb. The bike stayed upright, but was tippy and I had to strain to keep it from going over. I head Don behind me grumbling about something, and I looked back to see him trying to find someplace to park his bike where it would not fall off the sidestand. I kept trying to keep my own bike from flopping over, so I missed Don's fall. Turns out that he got too far into a lean while parking, and his bike flopped over in the road. I let my bike go and it fell over onto the right side box, and I went to help Don. As we lifted his bike up, one of the mirrors caught the new tall windshield, and the big plastic sheet just snapped in half. What a waste. Oh, well. A couple guys in a truck came and saw our comedy act, but they took pity on us and got out to help us get situated. After getting Don settled, they helped right my bike and push me out of the ditch. I rode to the opposite side of the road (better angle for parking) and promptly dropped the bike over again while parking it. Duh. We continued through Victor and on into Cripple Creek with further misfortune. Don hadn't done Shelf Road before, so we took that south to U.S. 50. No cattle on Shelf Road this time, but we did scare up some mountain goats or female Bighorn sheep or whatever they were that scrambled up the mountain in a hurry. We went West past Canon City, then followed a map to a friend's property between Canon City and Westcliffe. It was late when we got set up and ready to camp, and the wonderful views were made hazy and faint by low clouds with a blustery disposition. Don hung his hammock in a canvas shed and I pitched my tent in the dirt. After a bit of fireside chat, we were ready to call it a day.