Vacation in the Rockies with my KLR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by thechief86, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    After visiting Colorado a few years ago with a couple of my friends, I had been Jonesing to get back out there ever since. I brought my trusty old KLR then, and it served me well, so I decided to bring it again, over my other possible bikes, a 98 DR350, or a 2004 BMW R1150 GS.
    This bike is the one that sucks at all things equally, but is more or less acceptable for any task I've ever thrown at it, and Colorado has everything from nice, paved twisties, to some great gravel roads with fantastic views, right up to some quite hairy single track that I wouldn't dare attempt alone on my KLR.
    And unfortunately, I would be alone this time. At least while riding and camping. None of the friends I invited could make it happen, but my wife was going to fly out on Saturday the 11th to meet up with me and explore a bit.
    As time drew near, I prepped my bike and pickup for another amazing trip to the mountains. But before I could leave, my wife and buddy had roped me into working at Road Atlanta for a couple of days, and it was obvious they'd both be bummed if I didn't come, so I postponed my trip a couple more days....
    July 3rd came, and I loaded all my camping gear and tools and my bike into my Toyota Tacoma, and made preparations for a real trip.

    On July 4th, my wife and I left for Atlanta (in her car), to go work corners for a track day weekend at Road Atlanta, and saw some pretty talented riders, some not so talented riders, and even a couple who had trouble staying on their motorcycles. It was hot as hell, but at least entertaining, and the gig paid for the fuel and hotel room for a 3 day weekend at the track.
    But my mind was not in Atlanta. The entire weekend at Road Atlanta, I kept having miniature internal freakouts that something would happen, and keep me from being able to have my trip out west! I did my job, and helped some riders get their busted bikes off the track, did my safety flagging, stayed tuned in on my radio for instruction from the Control Tower, but I was anxious, and merely doing my time to get back on the road home to get my truck and head WEST.
    Finally back home from Atlanta late on July 6th, I went to bed, and did my best to sleep though the anticipation of a road trip to my personal version of paradise. My Alarm was set for 5am, truck loaded and gassed up, bike ready for whatever came along.
    To be Continued.... 20200707_224836.jpg
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    #1
  2. black 8

    black 8 motographer

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    in...

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    #2
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  3. AdvNuma

    AdvNuma Long Rider Supporter

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    Watching.


    Numa
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  4. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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  5. 300man

    300man Adventurer

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    NICE!
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  6. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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    Um, :scratch, why is this in Day-Trippin' instead of full on Ride Reports? :dunno

    It's you're call, but if I were you I'd contact a mod and tell them of the mistake and see if I could get it moved.
    Of course, if you do that you'll need to be sure it's "epic.":deal
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  7. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    I figured it wasn't "epic" enough since I only camped for a week and hauled my bike in a pickup, that's cheatin' and all, lol. A lot of the second week was done in the pickup. We will burn that bridge when we come to it, lol.
    It'll still be interesting. I promise.
    #7
  8. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    :shog
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  9. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy Supporter

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  10. Late for the Party

    Late for the Party Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'm in.
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  11. Canyon Man

    Canyon Man "60% of the time, it works every time" Mr. Fantana

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    You had me at Colorado....

    [​IMG]
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  12. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    On July 7th, I woke up a good hour before my alarm, bolt upright, worried I had forgotten to pack something. Jumped out of bed and ran out to the garage to go through my tools and camping gear to make sure something I may need wasn't still sitting on my workbench laughing at me, and the thought of me panicking in the middle of nowhere 1200 miles from home unable to collect water, or cook, or wipe my arse, or whatever random issue may arise. I would be on my own, after all, with no help for miles.
    I had gotten my conceal/carry handgun permit and checked all the rules that go along with carrying a firearm in all of the states I'd be traveling through, and reciprocity for the permit especially in Colorado.
    I also studied up on the concept of the Castle Doctrine, which states the rules for having a weapon in your car, house, tent, motorcycle saddlebag, etc...
    So I did bring my dinky little 9mm pistol with me, just in case. Even after being told "that 9mm won't take down a bear!", to which I responded, "one might not, but a DOZEN has a better chance!"
    Gun you have is more helpful than the one you don't and all that....
    Anyway, at the end of the day, the gun was more stress than it was worth, but it did come along, because I'd be by meself in the wilderness, and it made me feel safer, even if it would have been useless in real life. Whatever, lol.
    So anyway, I went to great lengths to separate my pistol from my ammunition and make sure it was all out of reach while driving, just because I knew I'd be traveling through Illinois, who has been known to have some pretty goofy rules surrounding citizens with firearms, and I don't want any type of trouble from ANYBODY, especially the cops.
    So after all these thoughts and actions, and double and triple checking that I had all the stuff I could ever need for any type of problem that may arise, I set out, at about 5:15am, excited to FINALLY be beginning my journey. The drive out was mostly uneventful, as I had expected, but yet felt rather dystopian and weird, seeing everyone wearing facemasks in any public place, and often even while driving, enclose in their own vehicles and isolated from the rest of the world by a bubble of glass and metal, and my lizard brain even reminds me that most modern cars even have a cabin air filter, so these people wouldn't even be exposed to NORMAL air, let alone any airborne pestilence. Either way, the ride west was mostly boring, made just a tad more interesting by the destination, and my cargo (my precious motorcycle), and my under-powered, 4 cylinder pickup, which often forced me to downshift from 5th to 4th to maintain my speed even on the slightest grade, since it was hauling my aircraft carrier posing as a motorcycle, the mighty (heavy) KLR 650. What a beast. LOL.

    About 8 hours or so into my trip, I took a small detour south of I-70 to visit Harper's Moto Guzzi outside of Kansas City, in Western Missouri. I've been a Moto Guzzi fanboy for most of my adult life, and even traded a Guzzi for the trusty green steed I brought along on this very trip. These guys have been in business for over 45 years this year, and have sold me parts in the past, and have allegedly even worked on the 1000SP sidecar rig that I recently acquired. For me, this was at least an interesting stop. Curtis Harper, the son of the founder, and the current manager of the business was quite friendly, and we spoke for an hour or so about cool bikes, cool people we both know, road racing, travel, and of course, Moto Guzzis and vintage motorcycles in general. Quite a fun conversation, with the background and atmosphere of a long time Guzzi shop, which isn't exactly a dealer, with much of a showroom, but there are quite a few nice bikes of several different eras both for sale and being repaired at the shop.
    I ended up buying some cool T-shirts for myself, and for my wife, who currently rides a newer Moto Guzzi V7 Classic, and then went on about my way, continuing my trek West across Kansas, and into Colorado. Nobody ever tells you that when coming into Colorado via I-70 from the east that once you enter Colorado, you still have about 3 more hours of Kansas before you even get your first glimpse of mountains. The neat thing though, is that if you arrive with daylight to spare, you can see Pike's Peak from 100 miles away. Literally. Flat, flat, flat, then A small little hill in the distance, that slowly gets bigger and bigger as you leave the dismal flatlands of eastern Colorado/western Kansas. I did not have daylight to spare, nor was I going into Colorado Springs, so I was denied this view for now. My most interesting view from the time I hit darkness until I reached Denver was the distant, flashing red lights on the windmills. There are a buttload of those things...
    That first photo I posted was my last fuel stop about an hour before reaching my Cousin's house in Denver. This was a tad sketchy, because I was almost out of fuel, and had stopped 3 times already looking for fuel, and every gas station I found was already closed, starting around 10 pm. I ended up pulling into this hooker-infested Love's truck stop, only to be told that Colorado WASN'T ALLOWED TO SELL GAS AFTER 11PM! WTF! I looked at my watch, and lo and behold, it was only 10:45, please sell me some gas! I'm 1200 miles from home and I DO NOT want to spend the night at this truck stop waiting for someone to sell me some gas! Holy Crap! So I got my gas, but not without at least one awkward proposition from some saggy-toothless lady of the night while walking from the inside of the truckstop back to my pickup. I'm a sheltered lad, somewhat, so I was a tad skeeved out, not gonna lie, haha. Fueled up, and away I went, once again.
    Once I arrived at Drew's house, it was about 12:30 or so Denver Time, but he stays up all night anyway, so he was awake and helped me unload my bike, and showed me to the guest bedroom, after we hung out for an hour or so. My aunt and uncle who also live in Middle TN were also there, visiting for a couple of weeks, so the timing was great for me to get to spend a little time with my favorite family members. But, I had been awake for just over 20 hours at this point, so I crashed HARD when I landed in the bed. A few hours later though, around 4am, excitement took hold, and sleeping was no longer an option!
    I got my arse out of bed, and ran outside to start loading my stuff on the bike, got completely ready for a 5 day moto-camping trip, and headed south! My KLR was running strong, and I was once again in the wind, starting the solo part of my Colorado Adventure version 2.0! WooHoo!
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  13. Canyon Man

    Canyon Man "60% of the time, it works every time" Mr. Fantana

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    Was reading your 2nd post here above and suddenly without any damn warning the beer I was drinking violently left my body via my nasal passage after reading this part.... "So I got my gas, but not without at least one awkward proposition from some saggy-toothless lady of the night while walking from the inside of the truckstop back to my pickup." I have had similar experiences, even here in TN. Avoid the truck stop on Dickerson Rd in Nashville, the lot lizards there are sub-human and scary as F. LMFAO, you don't even know how bad I really needed that. Where I work, all I see is the absolute worst in humanity on a daily basis. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and some other things I won't mention on here...lol. Great post my friend. Keep em coming. One day, we will do a joint ride report....I can feel it, it will happen.
    #13
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  14. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    Haha! Definitely, man! I really thought I had you just about convinced to come with me on this trip! You gotta make the next one, sir.
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  15. RunninRanger

    RunninRanger Rainy day Rider Supporter

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    Cogent Dynamics package arrived at my door! Now for the time to install. Hopefully this next week!
    #15
  16. PlowHand

    PlowHand Ancient, ugly and happy :-) Supporter

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    Maybe Illinois wouldn’t have so many shootings/murders if good citizens could carry loaded weapons to defend themselves.

    I know what you mean about the flatness east of Denver. After the beauty experienced northwest of Denver I once rode 22 hours straight from Denver to Kokomo Indiana because of the flatness.

    Looking forward to more ride report. Thanks for sharing. :-)
    #16
  17. RunninRanger

    RunninRanger Rainy day Rider Supporter

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    FYI Tusk DSport knobbies kick arse! They do mud!!. The recent rains here in the high rockies have made some of the single track and secondary forest roads very wet. I am pleased to say these tires do very well holding a line. The big spaces betwixt the knobs clear great. On tarmac, these tires have a quiet hum. They hold the road well once the rider gets used to the flex the knobs have. Good grip. Mileage....I only have about 750 miles on my set but they
    Seem to be wearing well. No cracks or ripped knobs dispite my efforts to acquire traction on steep and precarious trails.
    Good tires...I'll use them again.
    RMATV/MC has proven customer service.
    Review their website and explore the Tusk catalog. Lots of product devoted to KRLs.
    #17
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  18. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    I knew that my main goal for this trip was to ride some of the high altitude passes that I missed out on due to snow a few years ago, so I meandered south, to the San Juan Mountains, specifically with Uncompahgre National Forest in mind, since the areas around Ouray, Telluride, and Sliverton were the areas that I had wanted to see but had mostly eluded me on my last venture, some from snow, and other rides were passed over due to lack of riding experience of one of the guys in my group last time. He had only been riding a few months at the time, and was easily intimidated by high altitude and technical offroad shenanigans. So we stuck to the easier gravel passes and just did general site-seeing on that trip.
    This time, the only thing holding be back was my own skill level, and time constraints. I decided I wanted to zig zag my way south via Marshall Pass and down through Gunnison, and visit Lake City, then continue down into Cimarron, where one of my other favorite routes begins, Owl Creek Pass, which takes you right by the beautiful Silver Jack Reservoir. So off I went, toward Salida, where Marshall Pass starts at the North end. I went through a nice mountain area new Colorado Springs and Red Rocks, though some very interesting canyons, where the temp dropped so rapidly that I was forced to stop and put the liner in my jacket and swap to my winter gloves. I came through Nathrop, and it looked familiar. I recognized the Chalk Cliffs near St. Elmo, and decided to go visit that area, although I knew I wasn't up for a trip across TinCup Pass on my fully loaded KLR after a 20 hour drive and hardly any sleep. But St. Elmo is easy to get to, and is also an interesting stop. Except this time, for whatever reason. I had been here 3 other times before, both on bikes and in my pickup, but this "Ghost Town" was so packed with people that it was downright uncomfortable. Holy Carp that's a LOT of tourists. I didn't even dismount. I literally just turned around and continued on my journey. Yuck.
    A little ways down the road in Salida, I got on Marshall Pass Road, and began my beloved unpaved travels. What a great road, and the first great views afforded by getting off the beaten path and up into the mountains. THIS is what I'm here for! Right before reaching the Summit and Continental Divide area, I came across a small herd of mountain goats! So Cool, and WAY bigger up close! these guys couldn't care less that some fat dude on a motorcycle was going by. I stopped for a couple of photos, and I really think me stopping messed with them more than if I had ignored them, but a couple were shoulders deep in a huge pothole munching on something, and I didn't want to startle them and risk getting knocked off my bike or some bullcrap like that, haha. So I took a couple of photos and creeped by as slowly and quietly as I could, and then roosted them a bit just for kicks as I rode away. I'm a jerk, but it was funny...
    I stopped at the summit and took a leak, and chugged some water, took a couple more photos, and then continued down the road to Sargents, where there is a nice gas station with a restaurant, and cabin rentals. I've stopped here for food before, but this time I just topped off my gas. I ended up chatting with a friendly couple on newer KLR's who had come from Iowa, and had just come over Marshall Pass just a few minutes ahead of me. The one guy had picked up a nail, and was gearing up for a flat repair. Luckily he both had a spare tube, and the tools and skills to install it. I offered help, but he had it under control. We talked for a few minutes, and I gave them some tips on cool places to ride and see that were accessible by KLR, and by the end of the conversation, he had mostly repaired his tire, so I got back on the road, and headed into Gunnison, and then continued south from there.
    I travelled across the beautiful plains and along a massive man made reservoir, and after a brief stop for fuel and a snack in Fairplay, I continued on for hours, but wasn't fatigued by the riding, because the scenery kept my feeble mind occupied.
    After riding all day, I stopped for fuel again at Newberry's store in Cimarron. Newberry's is a favorite stop for me, although he doesn't have much in the way of food, he has some convenience store items, and some cool rocks and minerals for sale, as well as a pretty good array of fishing tackle, most notably handmade fly fishing lures. I don't fly fish, but I can appreciate craftsmanship when I see it, and well-made fly lures are always interesting to me for some reason, lol. In my mind I'm like "If I were a big trout looking for a bug to eat, I'd TOTALLY bite that thing!" I'd say his products were quite effective, because Mr. Newberry had proudly displayed photos of people and their impressive catches all over the walls and the counter of the store, as well as hunting trophy photos from different patrons, showing Elk, Moose, Mule Deer, Bears and even Mountain Lions, all killed in the beautiful backcountry around Cimarron
    The store is run by the grandson of the original proprietor, and he has photos of her and the store from the 40's, and even has newspaper articles and health department permits from the early days framed and posted on the walls, along with several other interesting antiques, artifacts, and family heirlooms. In its heyday, the store was a hub for the small town which is now all but deserted, but according to the posted newspaper ads, there was once a thriving community based around a railroad through the area. Right up the road is a deserted service station, and a motel with a restaurant that looks like it really would have been a great place when it was open. My first trip through the area had me quite dissapointed that the restaurant was closed, because we had been riding for hours, and were exhausted! The service station has a ton of old vehicles parked outside, ranging from 80's shitboxes to some really cool old jeeps and military trucks, and some ancient Rotax Snowmobiles. I'm not going to lie, I trespassed for a good hour just walking around and looking at the neat crap dumped on this property, wishing someone would show up to shoo me away, just so I could make an offer to buy a thing or two. I just love old junky vehicles, and most of these were in better shape than half the stuff I've driven on a daily basis, simply because the climate in this area is so arid and dry. They apparently get some snow in the winter, but the rest of the year, Cimarron is high desert, and vaguely reminiscent of the terrain in that one movie "The Hills Have Eyes".
    Either way, after spending a little time and a little money at Newberry's, fueling both myself and my old KLR, I turned back north for about 2 miles, and then turned right onto the road for Sliver Jack Reservoir, which eventually turns into Owl Creek Pass Road, and goes all the way into Ridgway.
    The first few miles of the road to Silver Jack were no longer loose gravel, but had been apparently sprayed with some kind of junk that makes it more hard packed, but it really makes the road feel weird on a bike, and then somehow still retains the instability of loose gravel in the curves. This was my first experience with this stuff, but I'd later see that since my last tour of Colorado, this had become somewhat common for portions of many unpaved roads. I'm definitely not a fan of it. After about 7 miles or so, the road turned back to my preferred riding surface. Loose, but well maintained gravel is a lot of fun on a dual sport bike, and just challenging enough to keep you on your guard to avoid spills.
    I rode past the campsites at Silver Jack, and saw the sparkling water among the pines and aspens, and was reminded of why I love this state so much, and how even if I didn't do any of the challenging routes or pushed my abilities to the hairy edge of insanity, I was in a beautiful place, away from civilization for the most part, and really doing what I came to do. I was definitely using my KLR for its intended purpose, as a willing pack mule to get me to places that recharge my soul, and help me clear my mind of all the other stuff that is going on. No race wars here, nobody to catch a plague from, no politics, no inqeuality, no hate. Just nature. Trees, Rocks, Water, and Critters.
    I haven't mentioned it until now, but my lifelong dream was to be a hermit in the mountains, ever since seeing that Ren & Stimpy episode where Ren goes to live in a cave alone and loses his mind. For whatever reason, that always looked like a good time to me.
    At the summit of Owl Creek pass is a great clearing off one side of the road, and a beautiful, fast flowing mountain stream on the other. The elevation here is about 10k feet, and at the hottest part of the day, it was about 74 degrees F.
    I had found my Campsite for the night. I pulled to the back of the little clearing, and found a nice clean flat spot for my tent. I set up my camp well before dark, and suddenly was reminded that I had been riding for the last 12 hours by a wave of exhaustion, so I decided to crawl into my tent and have a nap. This was a good decision! I slept like a log for a couple of hours, and then got up right before dark to make "dinner" (freeze dried lasagna and beef jerky, with a granola bar for desert), and noticed that I had cell service if I stood in this one spot and held my mouth right. So I called my wife and spoke to my little boy, and told them what a great day I'd had, and all that happy stuff.
    I also called my dad, who has had some health problems lately, and checked up on him and mom, sent a couple of photos, then went back to the tent to get some sleep. This exhausted from doing cool stuff all day kind of sleep is the absolute BEST. I don't even handle 8 hours straight in my own house most of the time, but out here, in the silent wilderness with only the noise of a mountain stream for company? I might as well have been in a coma. ZZZZZZZzzzzzz


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    #18
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  19. jwaller

    jwaller Been here awhile

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    Your reaction to eastern Colorado reminds me of Dumb and Dumber.

    “I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.”

    “I was thinking the same thing.”

    “That John Denver is full of shit, man.”
    #19
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  20. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

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    photos.

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    Had to take a photo of this gnarly roadkill, lol. I can't really tell if it was a mule deer or an Elk, but I'm leaning toward Elk, because it was HUGE and had fuzzy antlers.
    Sorry if I made anybody wanna hurl, lol. This is just something I don't see in TN so it is
    fascinating in its own right.
    #20