WestFest 2008: Charlotte, NC to Lake City, CO via Fargo, ND

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jwalters, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    07-29-2008

    I left after work today on a 2 week trip around the country. I'm heading up to Iowa for a brief stay around my old stomping grounds in Coralville. Then up to North Dakota for a family reunion and down to Colorado for WestFest 2008! Ya baby! At WestFest I'll be meeting up with some friends from the Iowa City/Coralville area. I haven't seen them since I moved to Charlotte just over a year ago so I am excited to hang out, ride some great roads, and throw back a couple beer in the evenings with them.

    To my surprise, Sturgis bike week is going on next week as well, so I'll probably swing by on my way to Colorado. Why not!
    :clap

    Fair warning to all the WestFest attendees, before I left Charlotte, I ate at the restaurant below. I know what you're thinking, "This can't be good!". With a gut full of Joe Momma, I was ready to hit the road!

    [​IMG]

    I took the back roads out of southern Charlotte, to avoid traffic on I-77. Although I am a big fan of two lane highways, I am in a bit of a time-crunch to get up to Iowa, so I can spend an afternoon with some friends before heading north to Fargo, ND for the reunion. So after skirting around the outside of Charlotte, I hoped on I-77 for the majority of the evening. The goal of the night was just cover some ground, to ease my ride tomorrow.

    Honestly, the ride this evening was pretty uneventful. I stopped by a really nice rest stop in Virginia. I swear Virginia and Minnesota have some of the nicest rest stops in the US.

    [​IMG]

    Back on the highway...

    I was getting bored of the super slab so I decided to take a bit of a detour on HW 52 around the Virginia/West Virginia border. Turned out to be a heck of a nice scenic byway. HW 52 snaked through a national forest, across some Appalachian mountain passes before spitting you out on beautiful prairie and finally meeting up again with I-77. Here are a couple shots from my only stop on HW 52.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just before meeting back up with I-77. Awesome 2 lane highway.

    [​IMG]


    While climbing the mountains, the weather started cooling down a bit, which was a welcome relief from the 95 degree heat of Charlotte. Started getting late when I stopped in Pax, WV for gas. The gas station attendant said the nearest motel was about 40 miles away in Charleston, WV. So thats where I headed. Got in this evening around 10pm. 300+ miles covered today, not bad considering I left after work! Gonna get to sleep so I can get up early and make my way towards Coralville, IA!

    Until tomorrow.

    [​IMG]

    ps. Slappy MacGee wish you were along brotha!
    #1
  2. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    What a day yesterday. I made it to Coralville, IA in time to have a beer with some friends. Covered 1100 miles in about 29 hours! The whole time, loving my new Renazco seat, what a difference it made!

    As expected, one beer turned into 5, but hanging out with some old friends from back home, was worth the morning headache. I didn't take too many pictures yesterday, because I was hell bent to get to Coralville, IA before dark. A much needed power nap at an Illinois truck stop was pretty much my only break all day. I am glad I stopped when I did. It was one of those naps where you close your eyes, and you're out cold for an hour! I needed the rest.

    Anyways, I made it to Coralville without insident. The weather was absolutely perfect all day. A little drizzle early on, but that gave way to sunshine and 80s all afternoon with very little humidity.

    This morning, I woke up and road a short distance to Cedar Falls, IA. I met up with my brother and his wife, and will be heading to Fargo, ND for the family reunion. Although I'd much rather ride up there, I am looking forward to the car ride. Its a great opportunity to get caught up with family!

    Since I wasn't in a big hurry to get up to Cedar Falls, I decided to take the backroads. I am no stranger to these parts, but it was the first time I've been up this way on my KTM 990. The ridiculous amount of power on the gravel was loads of fun!

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]


    I think I am going to patent the white wall tire look on dual sport bikes.

    [​IMG]

    I'm looking forword to be back on the road next Sunday. This time with no schedule and hopefully more pictures on the way!

    Until then!
    #2
  3. land_shark

    land_shark Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    173
    Location:
    Iowa City
    Great pics, Jess! I'm glad to hear the new seat is working out.

    Looking forward to seein' ya in CO :freaky
    #3
  4. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    :wave



    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    69,006
    :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    08-04-2008

    Man, I had an entire day's worths of stuff written up, when BAM, my laptop freezes. Lost the whole post, lets try this again...

    I said my goodbyes leaving my brother and sister in-law's place in Cedar Falls. I got a great start that morning, cruising the rural highways by 7:50am. I know the straight and flat roads of central Iowa aren't that exciting, but I love riding them nonetheless. To me, Iowa is home, and riding from small town to small town on rural roads is the best way to go!

    Heading west down the country roads, I can help but think about my recent visit back to my old stomping grounds, its a little bitter sweet. Its great seeing family and friends, but its a fresh reminder why you are home sick to begin with.

    So with a heavy heart, I rambled on. Being from eastern Iowa, western Iowa is not very well know to me. But every town I came into, I realized I had been there before. It dawned on me why after a few hours of Twilight Zone eeriness. RAGBRAI! I had taken a similar route in a reverse a few years ago during Iowa's famous bike ride across Iowa. Every couple years small towns like Ida Grove, Onawa, and yes, the town of Lake City, IA, get to show off their hospitality by hosting bicycle riders as they pass through. They never fail to charm the people who ride through.

    While traveling through town after town, all the closed down local schools really jumped out at me. I didn't take pictures of every school, just not enough time in the day, but I did take a couple. Its sort of sad to think that these buildings once had kids in them daily, preparing them for life. Now the buildings are religated to County Museums and facility storage. I guess its just another by product of the exodus of small town people to big city living. I can't help but think a big piece of the town's identity is lost with the closing of each school. Local Saturday night football games are no more and Friday basketball is played elsewhere.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As I got closer and closer to Nebraska, the bean spraying airplanes started dive bombing the horizon more and more. I didn't get any pictures this time, but I was able to get close enough to one of the planes to feel the wind off is prop! Within a 5 mile stretch, the farm land gives way to South Dakota prairie (in Nebraska). Here are two shots taken within a couple miles of each other. Look at the change in landscape!

    Here you can see the rolling prairie on the horizon.

    [​IMG]

    Just a few miles down the road, the landscape changes from farm land to meadow.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Warning, random training pictures ahead. Hey, when freshly painted engines are just sitting there, you HAVE to get a shot or two.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was around 7pm, I had ridden about 650 miles and was ready to look for a camp site before dark. Did I luck out! Just north of Elwood, NE is Johnson Lake State Recreation Area. Great camp sites, and showers/bathrooms. Don't get me wrong I like remote/primative camping, but while camping on the road, its nice to have some modern conveniences. A gas station with firewood was only 400 meters away, and a pub a mere 600 meters away. I was able to set up camp, get off my bike and get everything I needed, within walking distance. Beers at the pub where $1.50 and cheese burgers where $2! How can it get any better!

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The pub a stone's throw away!

    [​IMG]

    About 1700 miles down, only about 450 miles to Lake City. But its only Tuesday? That's right, more to come, stay tuned!
    #6
  7. EVILONE

    EVILONE Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,315
    Location:
    Western NC
    Howdy neighbor....Im tuned in.Good luck and be careful.

    EVIL:evil
    #7
  8. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    08-05-2008

    Tuesday: I had a great nights sleep at the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area. We had some light rain last night, nothing like the

    pitter patter of rain drops on a tent to put me to sleep. It quit raining by early morning, which gave me time to pack up camp in the dry. Here is the view I woke up to! :clap

    [​IMG]

    Riding through Elwood, I hit the nearest town for some food. Found a little diner with great coffee. I setup shop for about an hour and posted my rider report from yesterday. Met a nice guy outside with a really friendly German Shepard. Here is a picture of Randy the German Shepard.

    [​IMG]

    What a awesome dog. She just patiently sat in the back of the truck, no leash, as her owner went inside to eat breakfast with all the other retired farmers. By the way, my omelet with bacon and coffee cost $5.

    Back on the road, I made my way down 283 to HW 383. This took me diagonally across Nebraska to HW 24, which paralled I-70. I followed I-70 most of the day as I stayed on HW 24 all the way into Colorado Springs, CO. Stopping at a city park to check the map, I parked on the grass to take advantage of some shade. I knew it would be soft, but my side stand fell into the dirt, like a hot knife through butter. Never have I dropped the big KTM, until now!

    [​IMG]

    Between the crash bars and the Jesse luggage, nothing was bent or broke. Ride on! In Goodland, KS I stopped by a Kawasaki shop to see if they had some fresh tires for the KTM. They did not, but Joe the owner, told me to stop by Apex Sports in Colorado Springs when I get in town. Joe was one heck of a nice guy. He's been in the bike business for 42 years, and his shop contains motorcycle history. If it isn't in his shop, you probably don't need it. (except for my tires) He gave me some great Colorado riding routes, and talked about his years racing. He raced in a couple 24 hour motocross events, years back. I could have talked to him all day, but I had to get rolling. If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop by. Shops with that kind of customer service are far and few between, make sure we support the ones that are willing to help!

    [​IMG]

    Before I left his shop, I spied some baseball caps straight out of the late 80s/early 90s. I had to buy them. Maybe one or two of these could find there way into the WestFest door prizes. But a score this big, I don't know if I want to give them up.

    [​IMG]

    Playznmud, if you want the other two as door prizes, look for the dork where the bright green Ninja hat, that one is staying with me! Notice the fashionable rope tassel and oak leaf embroidery on the Bellray bill.

    Highway 24 runs along, what appears to be, a busy rail road. The track was being worked on all day, but from the condition of the track and very well kept freight cars along the spurs, I'd guess it is a heavily used route. I came across an old plow car that looks like it had derailed after hitting some heavy snow. If you want to waste a lot of time, just youtube some of the train snow plow videos. For some reason, they are addicting as heck!

    [​IMG]

    Well, I pulled into Colorado Springs, CO and rode right to the Apex Sports Inc. As Joe told me, they did have my tires in stock and will get them swapped out first thing in the morning. They also had really good customer service, even for being busy as heck. Nice to know they are a KTM dealer too. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to getting some fresh meat put on my bike and then riding up Pike's Peak. Tomorrow evening I will be meeting up with a couple friends from back home, VERY excited about that. 2,300 miles on the trip odometer. Until tomorrow.
    #8
  9. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Thanks!

    #9
  10. Monty

    Monty Calm Like a Bomb

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    Texas
    :ear

    Have a great trip!
    #10
  11. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Thanks!

    #11
  12. Targrinder

    Targrinder Aventure Poseur

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    27
    Location:
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Caught my eye here, nobody *ever* comes to my home town! Welcome to Fargo when you get here... too bad it will be in a car - drive (ride) safe.
    #12
  13. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Heck ya, Fargo, Bismark, Linton, Strasburg, Hague, these are my family's roots! I love it up there. My parents have some land around the Bismark area, and I try to visit as often as possible. Friendly people, and lots of open space!

    I have to admit, I love winter, especially when your home has a cozy fire place, but there is something nice about the mild 40-50 degree February's of Charlotte. Its nice for people like me who like to work in their unheated garage all year. :D

    But down there we don't have ANY nature ice for hockey. :cry I guess, you just have to make the best of where ever you are! Glad you dropped a note!
    jesse




    #13
  14. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Wednesday
    08-06-2008

    I got a good nights sleep and stopped by Apex Sports right at 9:00am. I dropped off the bike and let them swap out my old tires for a new TKC 80 front and Pirelli Scorpion rear. That gave me some time to explore downtown Colorado Springs. What a fun downtown! I wish I had a chance to check out the night life, there seems to be a bunch of cool Irish pubs and beer gardens in the area. But it was a bit early for drinking, so I opted for the Pike's Perk coffee shop! Hung out there for a bit, then walked around town some more before heading back to Apex Sports Inc.

    With fresh meat on the bike, I headed to Pikes Peak! The weather looked pretty bad up on the summit, but I decided to go for it! I didn't take any pictures on the way up, as I was trying to beat the worsening weather. But after I reached the summit, the weather turned and I got some great shots while descending the switch backs.

    The summit was pretty uneventful, lots of people in the summit's gift shop. Yes there is a gift shop/restaurant at 14,110 feet. When I arrived at the summit it was 42 degrees and I was glad to get a cup of hot coffee inside the shop. Warmed up a bit then started heading back down.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's a park ranger checking brake temps on the descending cars. Anything over 300 degrees and the have to pull into the parking lot for a while and let them cool.

    [​IMG]

    To think the Pikes Peak races were held here just a few weeks ago, and the were hitting in excess of 100mph in some parts of the ascent! Some of these corners were pretty serious. A wrong move and it will probably be your last. Slow and steady... slow and steady.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I think I set a world record for longest motorcycle coast ever. I was able to coast right into the coffee shop at the bottom of Pike Peak. There I ate dinner and waited for Jason (land_shark) and Wes to get in town. This was a really cool restaurant,I can't remember the name, but you can't miss it if you decide to head up Pike's Peak. Stop by, very friendly staff too!

    [​IMG]

    I still had some time to burn, so I swung by the Cave of the Winds tourist trap. It was a pretty neat view, but about 10 minutes there and I was ready to leave. Here's a shot of the valley and tourist shop.

    [​IMG]

    Got the call from Jason that they were at his relatives place. I headed over to the house and met his relatives who had tons of food and beer read for us. Very nice of them!

    Wes's Triumph Tiger 1050 was having some electrical trouble. The battery was drained when he unloaded it off the trailer. After a few hours of diagnosis we found the current draw on the battery to be from a faulty gauge cluster. It was drawing a constant 100-200mA with or without a key in the ignition. This is bad. The plan was to ride the bike anyway, and just pull the fuse at night to prevent the battery from going dead. We all had our fingers crossed, that his Triumph would hold out for the weekend.

    Before we turned in for the night, we hit up Dick's sporting goods store for some fishing licenses and "camping apparel". Jason has an eye for fashion. Baby blue with cammo, but honestly, what doesn't go with cammo?

    [​IMG]

    More to come! I'm a bit behind, but I hope to be caught up soon!
    #14
  15. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Thursday
    08-07-2008

    Up and moving Thursday morning. Had a great breakfast, thanks again to Jason's aunt and uncle. We loaded up the bikes, hoping Wes's Triumph Tiger would make it through the weekend. We thought we'd stop by Apex Sports to see if they might have an in stock instrument cluster we could swap out with Wes's malfunctioning unit. Unfortunately, they didn't and while riding to Apex, Wes realized some other electrical issues were cropping up. At this point we realized the instrument cluster (which had already been replaced under warranty for the same problem) issue was a symptom of a larger electrical (ECU/rectifier) problem. The bike wouldn't start or run reliably, so an executive decision was made to find a different bike for him to use during the weekend, and for-go the risk of paying remote tow service somewhere in the mountains.

    Unfortunately, Apex didn't have any cheap bikes for sale or rent. He was hoping to buy a cheap $500 beater that would get him to and from West Fest, but that wasn't to be. After an hour of trying to figure out what are options where, we got a hold of a Harley Davidson dealership in town that rents hogs. Oh yes, Wes was riding a bagger to WestFest!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Jason leaned the mixture on the KLR due to the high altitude. Here he is making sure things are running smooth. Oh yes, the hats came out! I realized I had three obnoxious hats and three idiots to wear them! Perfect!

    [​IMG]

    We got a late start after all the bike drama, so we opted to stay at Jason's relatives cabin. What a nice place! We did a little finish down the road, and hung out on the porch most of the evening.

    [​IMG]

    Check out the view in the morning.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    Ok, I have to finish this story up! I'm going to gloss over a few things, but I want to make sure I share some pictures from the Lake City area. Fun trip fact, I went through (or right by) 3 Lake City towns on this trip. Lake City, Iowa, Lake City, Arkansas and of course Lake City, Colorado.

    On the way to WestFest, we stopped to help a stranded rider. His '85 has 161,000 miles on it! Turns out he had gone with a modern electronic ignition (DYNA-S type) and the magnets spun off, leaving him with no spark. Jason gave him some electrical tape to hold the magnets in place and he was off! Good Karma, lets roll!

    [​IMG]

    Anyways, Jason, Wes and I arrived at Lake City and found a large gathering of bikes so we knew we were in the right place. There was some issues with the Texan Resort, where we were going to meet up, so in the true spirit of things, they improvised and met up in a skate park/abandomed lot. There we met up with a couple friends who live in the Denver area, who are also Iowa transplants.

    [​IMG]

    We had absolutely beautiful weather for this! I mean, really, who wouldn't want to hang on the side of the road out here and just take it all in!

    [​IMG]

    I forgot to mention earlier that we stopped by the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, but didn't waste our time there. They wanted $24 bucks just to walk across the damn thing! What a tourist trap. I can see a couple bucks, but that was rediculous. So we agreed, to take a couple photos and move on. I have to admit, I think the train ride through the gorge would be awesome, but we didn't have the time for that. Next time...

    [​IMG]

    What a great days ride! Since the Texan didnt' want to cater to the tenters very well, we ended up finding some great primative camping off an ATV trail just south of town. Had a beer around a campfire, then hit the sack!

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    08-09-2008

    We woke up early in the morning and packed up camp. Made our way into town and ate at the local diner, where everyone was gathering. They had an all-you-can-eat breakfast special with GREAT coffee. Heaven! We had a great view from the outside seating area, enjoyed breakfast and watched all the adv'ers pass by, including some not-so-dual-sport folks (I'll let you guess which one I am talking about)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    During breakfast we were trying to figure out what to do for the day. 3 of the 5 of us were on road bikes. They decided to head south of Lake City on 149 and make a southern loop over to Ouray, CO. Jason and I, decided to meet them there, except we would take our dual sports over the mountain passes. I am SO glad I did this, the views were amazing! I was a little concerned taking the fully loaded 990 over the pass, since I wasn't sure what to expect. Especially as a bunch of dirt bikes scream off in the same direction. But it was no problem, the loaded KTM 990 handled great, and Jason's KLR was dialed in! (If KLR's can be dialed in)

    Here you can see the how the first few mies of Engineer Pass can be done by just about any bike. Its smooth hard pack, and its suprisingly well maintained.

    [​IMG]

    At this point the views just kept getting better. I road with my DSLR camera around my neck for the entire day. Ya, I might break it in a fall, but what's the point of having a nice camera if it doesn't get used! And I wasn't about to take it out to get a shot of every camera. So it could use a bit of cleaning to get the dust out of it now, well worth it!

    The plan for Jason and I was to take Engineers Pass to California Pass and eventually to Corkscrew where we would be able link up with HW 550 and stroll into Ouray, CO. Believe it or not, the plan went down with out a hitch!

    At the summit of Engineers Pass I spotted a fellow advrider coming up on an 1150. Figured I'd snap some pictures of him and send them to him. Turned out to be Radioman aka Mark! What a nice guy, we followed each other most of the way down from Engineer and then went seperate ways as he headed to Cinnimon and we made our way towards California Pass. Check out his thread here, if you haven't already.

    [​IMG]

    Later on in the day he did the same for us! Below are two shots of Jason and I!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    More to come, stay tuned!
    #17
  18. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,387
    Location:
    Tampa, Flatistan
    Great story and great pics. I am a new ADV member and happen to live just down the street from the Joe Momma's you ate at as you were leaving town. Perhaps we can get together for a cold beverage some day after you get back? Be cool to hear some of these stories in person and bounce some ideas off you about a trip or two I'd like to make some time...
    #18
  19. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    I also live just down the street from Joe Mammas! We'll have to grab a beer sometime. Euro bike night at Mac's speed shop the second tuesday of every month. Check it out if you haven't. And yes, I'd love to hear about some trips you have planned!
    Jesse

    #19
  20. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,581
    Location:
    Little Marais, MN
    08-09-2008 Saturday (continued)

    More pictures from the mountain passes.

    [​IMG]

    The loaded down KTM 990 handled great through the mountain passes. Since we weren't coming back to Lake City, I had everything but the kitchen sink on board.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Your's truely with the travel scruff in full effect.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'll just keep posting more and more pictures.

    [​IMG]

    You can see my friend Jason in this picture, what a perspective eh?

    [​IMG]

    The decent from Corkscrew was VERY steep. There were sections where I would stop to take a picture holding the rear brake, and the bike would just start sliding. In other words, the rear tire traction along wasn't enough to keep the bike stationary! You just had to ride it out until you got to flatter ground!

    Anyways, we made it through the passes without incident, which was great considering I had a 2,000+ mile trip home to start the next day. We passed quite a few four wheeliers and four wheel drive trucks on the trail, but most were considerate of us bikers, giving way for us two wheeled folks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We pulled into Ouray, CO and hung out at a coffee shop most of the afternoon waiting for the 3 other guys to get in town from their southern loop. Had a couple beers that evening, and basically hung out. Had a blast, what a hell of a day! Knowing I had so many miles to cover in just 3 1/2 days, and just being tired from the days ride, I turned in relatively early.
    #20