To Colorado via Hades, should be fun.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ShiftHead, Aug 22, 2020.

  1. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    My buddy has been looking for a VFR 1200 for a while now, with very little luck. He's pretty picky so that could have been why, but his tenacity finally paid off and he found one. It's a beauty, 12,000ish miles, all the luggage and in mint condition for the right price. The thing is it's in Montrose Colorado and we live just outside Charlotte NC. I learned about his new bike purchase when he hit me up asking for some pointers. He knew I'd been out to Colorado and wanted me to help him plan a good route back. "Here's an idea, how about I meet you out there and then we ride back together?". So it was settled.

    I had 2 weeks to get ready for the trip, but to be honest there wasn't a lot of prep I needed to do. Mentally I'm always prepped for a big ride. So I mounted the bags, unpacked the tent to check it, did the usual stuff. Ran through the checklist in my head a few hundred times. Got the GoPro out, learned it all over again. Setup all the gadgets, loaded the route into the Garmin. And so on and so forth. Shit, 13 days to go.

    The route is my biggest deviation from every other trip; I've decided to take the scenic route the whole way. I've been back and forth across this country a dozen times and never taken the time to see the stuff in the middle. So, no interstates the entire trip, that's the rule. Period. It's the only hard and fast rule for the trip. I'm thinking it's a good thing, but who knows, I may live to regret this rule. I'm giving myself 9 days to get out there, ride around a little and get back. Should be no problem.

    The alarm goes off at 5:30a, but honestly, I'm half awake already. Shower, dressed and the bike is idling in the driveway at 6:30. I go to start the GoPro to get the rolling away shot and the damn thing won't start recording. 30 minutes and many MANY words spoken in the Devil's tongue and it finally starts to cooperate. I'm fuming though. I'm essentially raging inside my helmet. I haven't even left the driveway and it's already a friggin fiasco. F*:K me.
    20200806_072013.jpg
    I head northeast out of SC, through NC and towards Knoxville. Staying off interstate is proving to be the right call, but it does take longer. I have to have a conversation with myself "That's the point, stupid. STFU and ride." The Garmin took me through Knoxville, and going through Knoxville off interstate is *not* a good idea. That took about 45 minutes. It's a Thursday morning and people a heading to work now. Note to self: tell Garmin to NOT avoid highways when approaching big cities.

    However, just before I got to Knoxville I pulled off to the side of the road to get a drink and eat some of my peanuts. You see some interesting stuff when not on the interstate. I stopped in front of a used tire place. Nothing exceptional about that, but I was taken by the Holy Roller bus parked out front. Apparently when they are not saving you money on tires, they are saving your soul. Cool.
    20200806_132806.jpg
    Through Knoxville I'm really enjoying the scenery. Tennessee is a beautiful state, and there is so much worth seeing beside I-40. As I continue on my northeasterly heading I pass well north of Nashville, so no traffic to worry about there. I cross into Kentucky, but see no signs. I guess they don't bother to mark all these little roads. I see on the map that my spot for the night is going to be Land between the Lakes state park, not far from the Missouri border. I get to the far side of the park after crossing a pretty remarkable suspension bridge and find the campground. Uhm, what? $22/night to pitch a tent? I ride around the camp ground to see if there is any primitive camping, since I don't need any amenities when I camp. It's been a long day, I'm tired, and when I stopped at the end of the road and went to put my foot down the foot peg caught my pant leg and down we go. A rather unceremonious dismount and I've got the attention of the people in the area. Oh well, no biggie, I expend considerable effort and lift up the bike. Damn, it's heavy! And after a couple of attempts she fires right back up. But this not a mistake I'd normally make, so I'm thinking a good nights sleep is in order.

    So back to the campsite; I'm thinking No Thanks, I'll find a room with AC and a shower for a few bucks more. Google finds a few nearby and I settle on the "Early American Motel" for $60/night. It's got good reviews and I go ahead and book the last room, it's just a few miles away too. I head across the second of the mighty suspension bridges and pull into the motel parking lot and check in. They are pleasant folks and the room is better than expected, actually. It's got 3 beds too. Two very soft and one quite firm. I take the firm one, I always sleep better when the bed is firm. I make pull out and reconstitute one of my Mountain House Breakfast Skillet dehydrated meals (my buddy calls them the Vomit Omelet) for dinner and then I hit the hay.

    555 miles about 13 hours seat time
    Day1.jpg
    #1
  2. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    533
    Location:
    Monroe, GA
    VFR1290F or X? Are you taking any dirt routes thus the selection of thr strom vs what appears to be a K1200LT in ghe background? Would think the LT would be the paved road trip king? Thanks for sharing the trip, looking forward to the rest.
    #2
    Foiler likes this.
  3. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    It's an F. No dirt, of any real significance on this trip.
    #3
  4. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    5am and I'm up. I slept quite well, the AC running all night was perfect. Love the white noise. I'm showered, packed and ready to roll by 5:45. Make a quick coffee, I carry those 3in1 sachets I get from Amazon, they are perfect for camping trips. I'm rolling at 6 and it is a glorious day. The sky is sapphire blue, it's 61 degrees and there is no one on the road yet. I wipe off the seat and windshield of the dead bugs and roll out, dropping off the key in the box as I get on the main road. I'm pretty much alone, the roads are all mine. Rolling west I'm chasing my shadow as I roll through these little farm towns that are just getting up. The smell of breakfast wafts through some the the main streets and I almost stop a couple of times, but I need to make some miles. I know that the morning weather can lull me into a false sense of security, because ahead of me awaits Hell. It might be in the 60's right now but before the day is out I may see triple digits.
    20200807_062220.jpg
    I'm just enjoying the riding, and everything is working in perfect harmony now. Audible is playing "Ghost Rider, by Neil Peart", Garmin is routing me through some amazing scenery and the world is getting out of my way. Then as I am going through Wickliffe I am greeted by "ROAD CLOSED" signs as I head towards the bridge that crosses the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Uckfay. I stop, pull up Google and it routes around. Damn, that's no small reroute. I basically have to head back from whence I came to Paducah and cross the river there. It's going to cost me about 90 minutes of riding. Oh well, wtf do I care? It's all part of the journey, right?
    Day2a.jpg
    As I'm passing through Paducah I pull over for a drink and a bite. I also need to call the wife. I run in, grab a white Monster and a couple sausage biscuits. Eh, you can't live for ever anyway. I have a nice chat with the wife and continue chowing down and the absolutely unsurprising gas station biscuits. What was surprising was the car that had parked next to me after I'd gone inside. I noticed the dog sitting high in the passenger seat and then realized I'd stumbled into an episode of Hoarders. The car was packed floor to ceiling with garbage. It was an impressive sight to behold. And the dog did not appreciate me getting too close to him. But c'mon, I gotta look inside. The dog, a chihuahua, looked perfect for the setup. It had two different color eyes.
    20200807_084809.jpg
    As I approach the bridge on the north side of town, I get a little excited as the bridge comes into view. It's a cool looking big blue thing, long and tall crossing the mighty Mississippi river. I did take notice that it was a little steep climb up to the main span, but didn't think too much about it. The problem became obvious after I got up there and saw that it is one of those metal grate bridges, and that bastard is VERY long, REALLY narrow and ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY terrifying on a motorcycle loaded to the gills with shit. I'm not one who gets nervous on these types of bridges, but this one got to me. I was pulling foam plugs out of the seat with my butthole. It was unpleasant to say the least, but it was also hilariously scary, if that make any sense at all.
    PaducahBridge.jpg

    PaducahBridge2.jpeg
    BTW, these are not my pictures. I was too busy shitting myself to take any pics.

    Somewhere near Mill Creek on County Line Rd I saw this driveway and knew there must be cool stuff at the end. Alas I only had time for a picture.
    20200807_100839.jpg
    I'm well into the Mark Twain Natl Forest now and it's great riding. Essentially abandoned single lane tarmac roads that seem to go forever. As I continue into Missouri the roads continue getting better. I was on Hwy 34 for a good long while and it is a real gem of a road. Beautiful tarmac, nice long sweepers and decent speed limits. Eventually, and inevitably, I get stuck behind someone going 35 in the 55 and it's double yellow forfuckingever. Finally I say to hell with it and get around. 5 miles later the road ends and dumps us onto some boring straight as an arrow road. Dammit, I should have grown a pair earlier. Outside McClure I saw this cool old building, no idea why it is shaped the way it's shaped
    20200807_103230.jpg
    I continue my slow march towards Hell. The sun is starting to head towards the horizon now, I need to pull up my Itchy Boots gaiter to try and prevent my face from having that racoon sunburn thing, and I continue on.
    20200807_163512.jpg
    I cross over into Hell (aka Kansas) and ride for a few more hours. The heat is pretty rough now that I've come out of the mountains, and the wind is blowing. Not too fiercely, but it's always there, adding more effort to the ride than need be. It's showing 98 on the thermometer. There are some rain clouds up ahead. I've never wanted to be rained on before today. "Please, over here." It's just that level of hot, but it's also just bearable. Hmmn, maybe this won't be so bad afterall.
    It's getting late now and I find a hotel in Parsons KS. As I approach I am smell it. Rain. The temps fall, rapidly. And by the time I get to the hotel it's in the mid 80s. That last 15 miles was nice.

    A friendly fella at the desk who agrees that it would be cheaper for me to book online. So I sit 10 feet from him, in the wonderful cold air, and book the room. Typical pleasantries are exchanged and I get asked the one question that keeps coming up again and again. "You going to Sturgis?" Oh that's right, that thing is going on. "Nope. Heading to Colorado to meet a buddy and ride back." "Wow, cool." He gives me a nice room, he's a rider too, and I grab all my crap and head the the room.
    20200808_064925.jpg

    Day 2. 565 miles. One big MFing bridge, and I'm squarely in Hell now. But perhaps it's not so bad afterall. It was only 98 today. That's doable.
    Day2.jpg
    #4
    Amphib, Ginger Beard, kpinvt and 5 others like this.
  5. motocopter

    motocopter Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,504
    Location:
    North mid-TN
    Nice. Good routing. It's what I use from northern middle TN. Yeah, you rode right by me! Routing through Wichita, Dodge City, and Garden City is better than I-70 any day.
    #5
    ShiftHead likes this.
  6. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,534
    Location:
    Brea, CA
    13 hrs seat time!
    #6
  7. Project Mayhem

    Project Mayhem Moto Aficionado Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2015
    Oddometer:
    558
    Location:
    Coal Creek Canyon, CO, USA
    "I was pulling foam plugs out of the seat with my butthole."

    :jack:photog:lol3
    Yeah, I know that feeling.
    Hope you enjoy your time in CO...it's awfully smokey here these days. :(

    Oh yeah, one other thing: "I was born a poor black child."
    #7
    ShiftHead likes this.
  8. Five of Clubs

    Five of Clubs Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I'm in. I live in Kentucky and would love to travel to Colorado one day so I'm watching the route.
    #8
  9. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    The alarm goes off at 5:30a. I'm getting a bit of a late start today because I didn't get to sleep till after 11 and I wanted at least 6 hours of sleep. The room was quiet and I slept well, now I just need coffee and a shower to get moving. The water boils and I mix up the magical potion. I open the curtains and am greeted by a flash of lightening and a smattering of rain. Super, should be fun. I start the mental preparation of a day of riding wet. Eh, I've had it worse. Riding in a freak storm for four days through Banff last June when it's snow showers instead of 90 degrees, like it was supposed to be that time of year. So damp and in the 70's will be a cake walk, I imagine.

    Water boiled and coffee made, I down it with purpose. The noise of a big twin emanates through the window and I look out to see the big Ultra Classic that was parked under the car port last night rolling out, the rider fully covered in rain gear. My eyebrows shrug in respect, 5:45am. That dude is legit. The sky flashes again and I see him turn down the access road towards the highway, damn it's dark that direction. I can't see the other side of the building, towards where I'm headed, so I just hope it's better. Another 45 minutes and I'm showered and dressed, bike parts are now migrating to the bike. Bags are back on and everything is ready to go. Because these bags don't lock I carry them in every night. It's not super fun, if I'm being honest. But I always think about how much less fun them being gone in the morning would be, and I carry them in every night. Another plus for camping. I head to the lobby to get a muffin or something, breakfast started at 6:30 and it's going on 7 now. No breakfast and no one there. Finally the guy steps out from behind the divider and I ask about breakfast. "Uhm, maybe like 7?" shoulders shrugging. I mount up and roll out, and since it was a very light sprinkling when I walked outside I decided to hold off on the rain gear. I head down the access road towards those dark skies and turn left, head under the overpass and left again to get on Hwy 400. The sky is lighter this direction but still very grey, 72 degrees. The fog is low, and it seems like I could reach up and grab a handful as it moves across the road, but it's just out of reach. An hour or so later the sun starts to break through a bit, and I can see glimpses of blue. It won't be long now, I'm appreciating the protection the cloud and fog has been giving me so far. The wind is starting to pick up a bit as well, blowing left to right, south to north, that damn wind only seems to get stronger as I roll on further.

    I know this isn't interstate, but damn I sure feels like it. Two lanes either direction separated by median. Long slow curves. It's an interstate by another name as far as I'm concerned. Thankfully Garmin senses my mood and finds another road for me to get onto. I make a hard right on SE Stormy Creek Rd., a great road cutting a perfect bee line through the Kansas countryside. There's nobody on it either, feels like I'm just sailing down my own personal road. The skies have cleared up nicely now. The countryside continues to the horizon on either side of me, the road to the horizon in front of me. As I am now running with the wind, it's a nice calm sensation to be moving down the road at 60mph, standing up and the wind is just a breeze in your face. It's so quiet riding this way too, riding with the wind is easier than fighting it. I crest another hill and stop to grab a shot
    20200808_081434.jpg
    This one was for Neil. My own Ghost Rider. I stood there for a bit, took a leak and just enjoyed the solitude of this road for a few minutes. Eventually I climbed back aboard and we were rolling again. I was really enjoying not fighting the wind as I rolled on, but just standing still back there reminded me that the wind is always there. Waiting. Patiently. Looking at the Garmin I could see in a dozen miles or so I would be taking a 90 degree left hand turn. Everything is 90 degree turns out here. I tried to focus on the quiet road, but that little number under the bent arrow kept shrinking, taunting me. Finally the turn was there and the wind was pushing from the left again. My head bouncing around, oh well. I could be on a conference call, so this is still better.

    Rolling through El Dorado I make another 90 degree turn, to the Right this time. Heading up Hwy 77. I'm making pretty good time I think, it's not so hot yet although it is warming up a fair piece. It's just past 10am now. I'm heading north northwest till I make a left on Hwy 56. Back to fighting the wind. It's starting to get damned hot now. Hmmm...what was that? Probably my imagination...but it felt like an engine miss. Yeah, must be my imagination, nothing there. I continue on 56 West, and it's getting brutal. The needle is climbing, mid 90's around lunch time. I need to pull over for a bit and cool down. It's almost 2pm when I find a little park in Garfield, which is a township or perhaps a village? I don't know, but it's small. I park under a big cedar tree, take off my jacket, setup my camping chair and pull off my boots. I need to hydrate too, I drink about a liter of water at this stop. The wife is following me and after she sees I've stopped for a bit the phone rings. I send her the pic I took sitting in the shade of the beautiful cedar.
    20200808_124003.jpg
    As I'm getting ready to head out again I pull out my secret weapon against this hell I'm riding through. I've been saving it for the right time, and the time has arrived. I pull it out of the garbage bag and shake off the excess water. It glistens with the beauty only a man afraid of dying from heat stroke can appreciate. It's my evaporative cooling vest, and it's amazing. I've been wearing it for about 5 minutes and already I can feel the heat flying away. I clean off all the little cedar needles from my socks, put the boots back on and saddle up. Stromboli fires right up and we are off again. The wind. That fucking wind! I swear it's getting worse. Fun fact; because I'm on the west bound lane the east bound traffic breaks the wind as they pass. Not a big deal for most cars and trucks, but out here they have some demonic 18 wheelers that look like extras from a Mad Max reboot. Giant swiss cheese trailers that smell like they are hauling death and huge grills covered in bars big enough to run over an elephant. And when they go by their dirty air throws my head to the side, which is immediately followed by the bike steering towards their lane because the wind is blocked. So I have to wrench my head back, steer back towards my lane only to almost immediately be caught by the blast of wind trying to push me off the right side of the road again. Hmmm...maybe a conference call wouldn't be the worst thing right now. Then there is the heat. At one point, as I am riding through one of those hot blasts you get when opening a the over door, I look up to see the thermostat touch 104 degrees. The bike is not happy, the stumble is back. I can feel it for sure now, and it seems to be getting worse. I need to pull over, we need to pull over. I'm rolling through Syracuse and spot a Dollar General. I pull over, park in the little bit of shade there was in the parking lot and head inside.

    I buy a gallon of water, a pint of ice cream and two lunchables. I head back to the shade and the bike and setup my camping chair again. I immediately start in on the ice cream. It's good but what I really want to to feel cold. It barely moves the needle. As I'm digging into the lunchables a hobo lookin fella rides up and leans his bicycle against the tree. We chat for a minute, he asks "You goin to Sturgis?" and then he heads inside. A few minutes later he comes out carrying a prepaid phone and rides off. That's odd, I think. Seems like a strange thing to get on your bike in the middle of the day, a triple digit day, to go buy. My mind wanders and I imagine him delivering the phone to the local cartel rep. Then looking at all the folks coming and going from the DG I figure this isn't really a town on its way up. Survival is the name of the game here. I pull out the trash bags and after topping off my water bottles empty the jug into the trash bag to saturate my vest again. Goddamn these biting flies, evil little bastards. Honestly, given a choice, why would you live here? Finally I put the vest back on, shoo the swarm of black flies off my jacket, close the side cases and get back underway. It's after 6pm now and I need to keep rolling. If for no other reason that to get TF out of Kansas.

    The stumble returns within 20 minutes on the road. Heat is definitely a cause here. I had posted in the forum at the last stop the symptoms, I hope the answer isn't too bad. The whole reason I brought the Suzuki is because it's so bulletproof. When the stumble appears if I crank on the throttle the bike falls flat on it's face, if I grab the clutch and whack the throttle it will, mostly, rev, but it is also missing a fair bit too. I decide to just back off the pace a little and nurse it. My choices are limited anyway. Breaking down out here is bad, there isn't a lot of help for me here.

    C O L O R A D O!!! Crossing into Colorado, while still insanely hot, was a fantastic feeling. I know it looks about the same here as it did 5 miles ago, but still, it just looks better. I keep rolling along and decide that La Junta is the stop for the night. Camping is out. It's just too damned hot again. I like camping, but the idea of just laying there sweating all night didn't appeal to me. I found a place called the Stagecoach Motel in La Junta and booked it. I'm loving the name, and it was another cheap place with good reviews. I've been in CO for about an hour now and the temps are falling, mid 90's now. It's going on 7:30 and I think I'm climbing a little too. As the temps fall the engine stumble gets less and less noticeable. Yep, for sure temp related. I pull into the motel and check in. A nice fella asks if I'm going to Sturgis. The room is clean and the AC is cold. I park and I'm only 5 feet from my door. I miss these old motel style places. I carry all my crap in, no stairs this time, and lock the door. I crank the AC up to POLAR and stand there letting that wonderful cold air wash over me. I open my sidecase to get my dehydrated cuisine and a few of those evil little bastards fly out too. Let's see how they like 65 degrees tonight.

    It was a tough day, 540 miles. Temps up to 104, black flies, sociopathic tractor trailers and a bike that was very unhappy with me. I got rolling at 7am and pulled into the motel at 9pm. I spent about an hour off the bike today, so another 13 hours in the saddle day. Easily the toughest day I've had thus far on a bike. Mind you, I'd still take it over just about anything else.
    20200809_061310.jpg
    Day3.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #9
  10. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,341
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    Weird.
    I was reading that book this afternoon and finished the chapter Peart first describes taking those pictures maybe a half hour before you posted the update.
    Nice job with your report. I’ve only ridden across Kansas once and it wasn’t all that hot in September of ‘18.
    #10
  11. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Yeah. He also talks about so many of the places I saw last year going through Canada and Alaska. Crazy how small the world really is, and how much we are all alike at the end of the day.
    #11
    ScotsFire likes this.
  12. FlatlandKSBrett

    FlatlandKSBrett Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2014
    Oddometer:
    653
    Location:
    Salina, ks
    You show up in Kansas late August and complain about the heat. Too bad there was no way to predict it was going to be hot...in Kansas....in August.

    Good luck.
    #12
    BIG^DALY, aclearspot and ShiftHead like this.
  13. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    The alarm is sounding off at 8am and I'm up like a flash. COLORADO BABY! I can't wait to get rolling and am showered, loaded up and rolling by 8:30. Crap, I didn't even think about coffee this morning. The sky is a deep blue, it's an almost chilly 59 degrees and no one is up yet, it's Sunday. Today is going to be an awesome frickin day, I can feel it. Colorado and me, we get along good. As I am rolling out of La Junta I spot a Mickey D's and pull over. While I'm pulling off my stuff a cute bubbly girl comes out and asks me if I am there to order. "Yeah. Oh dang, the dining room is closed, right?" "Yeah, but what would you like?" I make the request and a few minutes later she comes and gets my card. A few minutes after that she returns with Coffee, an egg McMuffin and a great big beautiful smile. Now I never got THAT kind of service in the Carolinas, just sayin. Rolling down the road again and it's a fabulous 60 degrees and blue skies forever. As I crest a hill I see, for the first time on the trip mountains off in the distance! Hot damn, they are still waaay off, but seeing them is energizing.

    20200809_072821.jpg

    In a little bit I'm rolling through Pueblo, and I start to feel the heat rising a bit. It's only 10am so the heat hasn't really shown up yet, and I'm hoping to be way up there by the time it shows up. In short order I'm passing through Canon City and starting to climb. I love these winding mountain roads and the hills so sharply contrasted against the sky. Folks, this is what it's all about. This makes Kansas worth it. I'm happy as a pig in shit. I mean, seriously y'all!

    20200809_092144.jpg
    20200809_094332.jpg

    I am starting to see signs for the Monarch Ski resort. Cool, I didn't realize there were ski resorts near here, actually, and I didn't realize I was going to get high enough for there to be ski resorts, to be honest. I'm watching the elevation on the Garmin, 6000, 7000, 8000 and climbing. Up here the little 650 is working pretty hard. 9000, 10,000 and still climbing! At times I'm stuck in fourth gear to maintain speed, it's a steep climb up through here. 11,000! Then the top of the pass comes into view, Cool! I didn't even know I was going through Monarch Pass, what a treat. Off to the left is a parking lot and the Monarch Crest visitor center. I grab a quick couple pics.

    20200809_111445.jpg
    20200809_111428.jpg

    I pull in and park next to a guy on a shiny new DL650. He's riding from LA headed east till he fills like stopping, and I compliment him on his bike choice. He just got it two weeks ago and has been a cruiser guy his whole life. He's a short legged fella and goes on to tell me about how he dropped the bike in front of a row of Harley types. They were nice enough to help him up and he promptly dropped it the other way. "It's was the most embarrassing thing to happen so far.", he says. "Well, you got a good story out of it." I say. He shrugs we chat a bit more and I head into the visitor center. Man, let me tell you, 11,300 feet is noticeable. Walking up here takes a little more effort than it should and I have this constant sensation that I need to catch my breath. I buy the obligatory sticker and head out. Without too much effort I find a hole in the pannier stickerverse and plant it in there.

    MonarchPassSticker.jpg

    I saddle up and start the descent down towards Montrose. In fairly short order I find myself stuck behind some slow moving traffic and see a few cars up ahead of me is a guy on an FG800GS. He's looking antsy behind the line of cars, everyone is being held up by a slow moving tractor trailer. Sometimes I do, but today I decide that shall not get annoyed by the slow moving truck. Hell, I wouldn't want his job. Its not like he can go faster or get over, so WTF are they supposed to do? This moment of Zen is out of character for me, so I speculate that it is brought to me by the lack of oxygen up here. Instead, I use this rolling road block as mandated observation time and admire the view a little bit more. Once the passing lane comes I follow the line of cars moving around the big rig and get up front with the GS guy, and we are having a good time with these long fast sweepers. As you've seen, I've got a ton of shit on this little 650 and the suspension has been holding it's own so far. But there were a couple times mid turn when I dragged the center stand, so I decided that was a warning to back TF off before things go from awesome to bad.

    As I head down into the low lands the temps begin their climb northward. It goes from 72 at the crest to 92 down in the city below. Man, what a difference 6000 feet makes. I pull into Davis Service Center, purely for the purpose of saying I did it, since that was where he bought his bike. For some reason it didn't occur to me to take a picture. Sometimes I am amazed I can even tie my own shoes. I find my buddy and get settled in the Hampton Inn. We immediately start planning tomorrow. To Hell You Ride? Indeed.

    It was an absolutely awesome day of riding and Colorado has welcomed me with open arms, as usual. It was an easy day, about 6 hrs of seat time today and some gorgeous scenery through the mountains. I forgot all about the heat and hell that was Kansas. The bike ran amazing all day, no matter what I asked of it. Getting here is also a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed these past 4 days of riding solo, and from here on out it's now riding as a pair. 1953 miles of solo riding, there's something pretty awesome about it being just you and your bike. In fact, all this has really done is confirm I like riding solo. So now I need to plan another big ride by myself. I also failed to accomplish something I really wanted to do, solo camping. I've never solo camped and just need to check that box so that I can confirm it's not a scary as my mind likes to imagine it could be. So, another reason to plan a trip. Like I need one.

    Day4.jpg
    #13
  14. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Touché
    #14
  15. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,167
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    awesome ride, good story telling, thanks for posting ;-) ironic I saw your RR today, I was playing with Google maps last nite trying to figure out how I’d get to CO avoiding Interstates. never been further west than the Ozark’s / Quachita mountains (trip I took last May). 61 and riding since age 16, scariest moment I’ve ever had on a bike was crossing the Ohio and Mississippi at Cairo. Still can’t believe the winds didn’t blow me into the opposite lane traffic. I carried all my camping gear but after a couple nites of sweltering heat and / or hellacious storms, I started staying at cheaper / older motels where I could park my bike outside my window. Checking my schedule for a trip west :beer
    #15
    ShiftHead likes this.
  16. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Today was a bit of a late start, we didn't get rolling till about 10:30. This being my buddies first big moto camping trip he's a bit discombobulated and is spending a good bit of time with all those little last minute things. A strap here, gas, where did I put that?, damn these gloves are tight, oh I need that out of the bag...etc. We get underway and the heat is creeping up on us, it's in the upper 80s already. The plan today is to head to Durango, grab lunch, then on around to Telluride. We will be taking the Million Dollar highway, a road I've heard about a lot over the years, so expectations are high. While waiting, a guys stops by and asks if we are headed to Sturgis. I tell him our proposed route and he says to make sure we stop on the way up to get a good pic of Ouray down in the valley. Will do...once we get there :)

    20200810_095328.jpg

    We get underway and start climbing out of the low lands. Thankfully the temps start falling and traffic is clearing up as well. We roll through Ouray and start climbing again. Rolling through town is pretty awesome, I like the simpler way (pace?) of life here. We grab a few shots on the way up. Here's Ouray and my buddy (Paul) with his new ride. Lucky bastard.

    20200810_114156.jpg
    20200810_120243.jpg

    We continue up this amazing road, with it's very impressive drop offs, towards Silverton. The contrast between the mountains the the deep blue sky is stark and impressive. I stop and grab a pic here and there and eventually see Silverton show up below us as we clear a crest just down the road.

    20200810_122218.jpg
    20200810_124943.jpg

    We pass through Silverton a short while later and head towards Durango. Grab some Mexican grub in Durango at a place called "Nayarit Restaurant". The service was awesome and the food was great. The only problem was it was too much food, of which we left none. We were already paying for our gluttony. Leaving the restaurant we saddle back up and I notice that it's so hot the LCD screen on my thermometer is all black. It appears the liquid crystal oozed out of the screen. So I decide the temperature is DAMN hot. We get underway and start our trek towards Telluride, I feel that little stumble again. Maybe if we can get up higher it will cool down and the bike will stop being so temperamental. I did read through the posts on the forum and folks are saying it's either the Crankshaft Position Sensor or the Throttle Position Sensor. No worry, I will sort it out back home. It's just really annoying.

    As we get closer to Telluride I notice the soil appears to get deeper red in color in places, which adds a new layer of awesome to the landscape. The contrasts between deep blue skies, green field and forests and the mountains is mesmerizing. I stop and grab a couple shots on the way into Telluride.

    20200810_181733.jpg

    Riding down into Telluride feels almost like riding through a movie set. If I were going to design an awesome mountain town/city it would look like this. Thing is, unless they start paying motorcycle hobos 7 figures, I will only be looking at it. We continue down into the valley where Telluride resides, passing several nice camping spots along the way. There are a lot of people camping by the looks of it, I sure hope we can find a spot later. It's a bit more crowded than I prefer, but I have the feeling getting a hotel room in Telluride won't be in the budget. And besides, I need to camp. We find a nice little gas station/convenience store at the bottom. We fill up and head inside to see what they've got. I buy a couple adult beverages and the obligatory sticker. "What does it mean?" "Well in the old days the miners would ask where you were going. They'd say To Hell You Ride." Cool, I dig it.

    ToHellURide.jpg

    We decide to head the 16ish miles back towards the campsites we spotted since we were pretty sure we saw some spots open. We get back up there and find the campsite, they have a couple places left. It's all primitive camping up here, and we get a decent spot. We setup camp and I break out the beverages and light one of the cigars I've been toting across the country. Gotta be honest, there are worse things to do on a Monday.

    20200810_194531.jpg
    Right around dark a white pickup drives by looking for a spot, so I roll my bike out of the way. He stops there and climbs out. I make sure I gave him enough space and he assures me I did. He's sleeping inside the truck, so he's already setup. We chat for a bit and Paul and he find out they are 2 degrees separated. They know a guy who knows a guy. Steve Perotti is his name and he's a photographer. He has embarked on a mission to photograph all these mountain towns and is taking a year to do it. Man, how awesome would THAT be??? Steve is a cool dude and we chat for a good while. Eventually he turns in as the temps are really starting to fall now and he's barefoot. We head back to our camp and I finish my cigar and drink.

    The temps have REALLY started falling now, I'm starting to see my breath. Paul is a bit of a Pepsi addict and while down at the convenience store grabbed a big glass of ice to have with his Pepsi. He finished the Pepsi and the glass was still full of ice, so he regrets not having more Pepsi I think. I've never seen anyone able to sleep with the amount of caffeine in their body as he can do. BTW, remember my "I'm surprised I can tie my own shoes at times." comment from before? Well I dug out my DSLR because I'd like to see if I can get some good star shots tonight. However I realized I'd left my home in South Carolina, rode across the country, and didn't check to see if I had all the parts for my tripod. What a moron. Adapt and overcome, I say. I pull out my pillow, one of those pillows that has all those little balls in it, and used it as a prop on one of the rocks you can see behind the tents. I took a few shots that way and was able to grab this shot.

    DSC_0618.jpg

    Not bad, eh? Yeah, I was pretty pleased with that one.

    It was a damn good day. Amazing riding, good riding partner and spectacular scenery. What else is there? In total we were moving for about 11 hours, but probably only 9 on the bikes. Looking forward to tomorrow, we are heading to Vail to camp there. Should be awesome!

    Day5.jpg
    #16
    Folly1, 23103a, misterk and 7 others like this.
  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,273
    Who's got the massive tent? Could put an army in there!
    #17
  18. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Guilty as charged. It's a 4 person tent for one guy. And yeah, tons of room. But when going through Canada last year, and it was raining for 5 straight days, having all my riding gear, rain gear, helmet, boots inside was way better. I could sit on my camping chair inside and get completely dressed before heading out into the rain. Excessive? Perhaps. But it only weighs about 5 extra pounds and straps to the top of the pannier. So, what the heck.
    #18
    Foiler and Flatroads like this.
  19. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,273
    What price comfort? Apparently it is 5 pounds!
    #19
  20. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    444
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    To say that last night was a long night would be an understatement. Last night seemed like it would never end. Thankfully, prior to turning in I gave Paul my Sol sleeping bag liner as he had only brought a 50 degree sleeping bag for the trip. As I have slept in my 0 degree bag, many times, very comfortably well down into the low 40's so I was looking forward to my first night camping and a good nights sleep. I think it was after I woke up for the 4th time to pee, absolutely freezing my ass off, that I knew it was not going to be a comfortable night. Noted to self: I've got to stop drinking, because apparently I've got the bladder of a 12 year old. I was also so very glad that I always take my cold weather stuff. I put on a second pair of wool socks, hoping that would do the trick. Yeah, it doesn't. I climb back out into the frigid cavern of my tent and put on my heated gear jacket and pants liners. At least now my body is warming up, but my feet will not warm up. I rub them together furiously, and feel the warm for a wonderful 10 seconds before it's gone. Finally, desperate, I put on my riding boots and get back into my bag. Yeah, no, that didn't help either. Nothing at all was working and I am laying there trying like crazy to get my feet to warm up. Cold feet are the absolute worst. Eventually I doze off, probably around 3am, but it's not a good nights sleep. I always sleep with blackout eye covering since my trip to the Yukon last summer, where it never actually got dark at night. So when the sun started to come up I didn't see it. A little after 9am I wake up, pull off the eye cover to a very bright and hot tent. I climb out and see that Paul is up and packing. "Mornin!" Judging from the look on his face his night sucked too. We discussed our frosty night as we downed our coffees. We notice that the big cup of ice that Paul had left over was still full of ice when we woke up. Damn, it was really cold last night. He did say that had it not been for the Sol liner it would have been way worse. At one point he had everything he owned on him and in the end had resorted to wearing undergarments on his head too. That's a picture I'd have paid to see.

    We chat with Steve a bit, before we roll out. We are headed down to Telluride today, Paul wants a better sleeping bag. We walk around town and into an outdoor store, once some other people leave because only 5 people allowed in the store at a time. Once inside it's kind of what I expected, super expensive stuff that isn't what we were looking for anyway. We walk up the street to the second hand shop as a last resort, nothing there either. We get on the bikes and are heading out of town. It's already pretty warm and I'm tired of sweating so I'm glad we are moving. Traffic heading out of town is very slow, it's about 2:30 now. On the way out of town I feel the bike stumble again. Finally out of town and we are moving again towards Montrose. We have to go up and through Montrose again to cut back over and head towards Vail. I only grabbed a couple photos while in town.

    Telluride1.jpg
    Telluride2.jpg

    The ride to Montrose is only about 45 minutes but my bike is really not doing too well today either. The stumble is back, and it's back with a vengeance. 10 minutes down the road the bike is cutting out, really bad this time. Worse even than when I was going through Kansas. I pull in the clutch, turn off the ignition and wait a couple seconds and turn the key back on and restart the bike. I need to let the idle settle before I give it any throttle or it will fall on it's face. I had to do this several times on the way back to Montrose, and a few times it didn't want to restart. We roll through Montrose and continue on down the road. The problem is getting much worse. At times I'm having to restart the bike every few minutes. Paul is trying to talk sense to me and recommend we head back to Montrose and into Davis Service Center, who is a Suzuki dealer. I'm frustrated and more than a bit pissed but I know he's right. I hit the brakes, fume a bit on the side of the road and eventually turn around. The bike is bucking and stalling, but I make it to the dealer.

    Last night I had looked through the forums again, and the consensus is that it's one of the Throttle Position Sensors, there are two. Both are the same part number, which was provided by someone in the forum. I head to the parts counter and give Chris, behind the counter, the part number. He tells me what the part is, "What year is your bike?" "2008" Chris grimaces. "That bad?" I ask. "Yeah, last week I tried to order a throttle body for one of these and they are NLA from Suzuki." He's typing away for a good while and I'm thinking about how I'm gonna ride a bike back across the country when I can't even get out of town. "Well, Suzuki doesn't have any, anywhere in the world. They are going to have to build some more before we get any." "Well, that sucks." "The system says there might be two in the country at two different dealers. But I'm betting they aren't actually there." So I'm starting to do the math; plane ticket, ship the bike, more hotels, cab rides, a couple grand. I call the wife, I'm pissed. My ride is totally screwed now. My wife is awesome, and she tells me something will happen, it will all work out. I'm not so sure.

    A new bike would be cool, let's see, a Goldwing, an Africa Twin, a 2015 Versys 1000 and a new Vstrom 1050. Slim pickens. Doesn't matter, a new bike isn't in the budget anyway. But the sales guy is more than happy to give me "some numbers". Paul books a room, the only one he could find and we head out. The bike seems to be running much better now, I'm in a better mood. The hotel is a good bit further than we thought, it's about 45 minutes away. The bike starts to play up about 15 minutes into the trip, but it makes it. We turn in for the night, my mood has been better.

    Today was a long and fairly crappy day. My bike is broken. It was very friggin cold then it was very friggin hot. I'm not in the best of moods and I'm trying to figure out how to ride the bike across the country. I'm also bummed that I'm screwing up my buddies ride.

    Day6.jpg
    #20