14 May 2015

How Not To Buy A Motorbike For Your Girl...

...or for yourself, if you fall into the same category as me. When I first started to ride a motorcycle, Josh bought me a vintage Honda. By "vintage" Honda, I mean it was a 1980 Honda CM200T--the Twinstar. Technically, it is considered a vintage vehicle, as it is over 25 years old. This was key, as there was no title for the bike, and it had never been registered. Being a "vintage" bike made it much easier and less expensive to title and register it in the state of Colorado.

The first night I had my first bike--so exciting!

 

This bike cost $400.00. Cosmetically, it was a mess. Mechanically, it was okay, and would need a little work. Work was put into it, along with a little money, and I had a bike to ride around town while learning and getting comfortable both with the machine itself and being in traffic on one.

The time finally came when I felt confident enough to venture out in rush-hour traffic, and ride to work. Choosing a surface street route, we set out on the six-and-a-half mile journey on a cool and cloudy day. I was feeling pretty good! Look at me, I'm riding a motorcycle! To work! I'm not going to have to pay for parking!! Woohoo!

Then the bike died. While sitting at a red light, just two blocks from my destination. Just died.

I pulled in the clutch and hit the button. Nothing.

I put it into neutral (oh my god, the traffic light changed and the people behind me are gonna be so pissed...), pulled out the kick start and tried to kick it. Nothing.

I'm pretty sure Josh was yelling at me this whole time, but you can bet your ass I was in full panic mode and ignoring him. I just wanted my bike to start.

It wouldn't, and I was not going to piss off rush-hour traffic anymore. I got off my bike and pushed the fucking thing onto the sidewalk, and yelled at Josh that I was just going to push it the last two blocks. When the light next changed, Josh went through the intersection and rode around the block to the loading dock where we park, left his bike and came looking for me. I was pushing my (thankfully not 500 lb.!) bike uphill along the sidewalk of the one-way street going in the opposite direction. When I got to the next intersection, I crossed with my bike at the crosswalk (like an 8 year old little girl with her banana seat bike) and continued pushing it to the loading dock.

On that cool and cloudy morning, I was sweating so badly, I needed a second shower at 7:45 a.m.

We never got the bike started, and eventually we had to load it into the pick-up, get it home, replace the bad battery, and do some other things to it.

THIS WAS NOT A GOOD FIRST EXPERIENCE! In case you were wondering....

A price tag of $400.00 may seem like a good idea for something a person is trying for the first time--not sure of whether it is going to be something they like or not--but that can backfire if one's thriftiness creates a bad experience.

So, we move onto my second bike. I continue to ride, decide I really like it, and my first trip on a motorcycle will be to Alaska with two guys who have dual-sport bikes. Well, I guess that is what I should get, so we can all go the same places and not be limited by the capabilities of someone's bike that is not like the others. (Oh yeah, I totally just sang Sesame Street in my head, "One of these things is not like the other...") Over the next couple of months, I sit on every dual-sport bike out there. We laugh about most, running down mental lists of everything we would have to do to make one fit me.

Then, I finally realize the easiest and best choice for me is the BMW F650GS. Josh rolled his eyes, made snarky remarks, and may possibly have kicked something. Where I saw a good fit and reliability, he saw dollar signs. And, rightly so. By a long reach, the BMWs were considerably more than anything else. Eventually we compromised on the idea of buying an older one, feeling we could put a little more money into it to make it "my" bike from the start.

Right after I got my new bike--the ever-so-much-newer BMW

You know how you should never buy the first model year of something--wait until they can work some of the problems out? Don't buy the second year either....

Actually, that's a little unfair. The first nine years of that bike's life were probably easy and reliable. It only had 20,000 miles put on over those nine years; few, if any of them, were dirt. It probably didn't hit the ground once. Then, I got my little paws on it, and rode the shit out of it for the next three and a half years.

I've had a few unexpected problems with it. I found out about some weird little quirks on the trip to Alaska. I have to say, that was tough. When speeding down a highway in Idaho in the pouring rain, and the speedometer cut out and the ABS light came on, I got a little freaked out. When riding through a campground in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and the engine kept cutting out as I would come to a stop, I got a little freaked out.

I do not like being in the middle of NOWHERE and not understanding why my mode of transportation does not work.

That fact brings me to Utah, less than two weeks ago. After stopping for the night after my first day of riding to San Diego, I decided to start the bike a bit later to move it a little.

Nothing.

I don't mean it didn't start. I mean NOTHING happened. No lights came on. It made no sounds.

I freaked out.

Mentally, I could not deal with it at that moment, so I left it until the next morning. I began tearing down my bike, thinking of two things it could possibly be. Did you read one of my posts back in September when I stopped on my way to Granby and my bike refused to start? Well, it wound up being the same problem; at least this time I knew what to look for. All in all, it didn't take me long to fix and return my bike to its whole state, and put the luggage back on. But it cost me some time, and some emotional drama.

I made it to San Diego without further problems. But...then my headlight went out. To the service manual on the iPad I went, Friday after work, and I pulled my headlight assembly apart. The light isn't the problem. A severed wire is. I realize I don't have the tools to fix the problem as it is, but if I can get a new multi-pin plug, I could borrow some wire strippers and re-wire a whole new plug. Off I go to the BMW dealership on Monday to get the part. It is un-gettable. Not that they don't have it in stock, but that it is not something that can be gotten. Period. But I am reassured, after looking at it with the parts guy, that the service department could absolutely fix it for me.

I love the first time I take something apart, squirreling different hardware to separate places, fervently hoping I will remember where it all goes, and put it back appropriately.
At least it was pretty clear what the problem was...

They aren't open on Mandays. They are open Tuesday through Saturday, 9-6. I work Tuesday through Saturday, 9-6. No worries, they have loaners. Call, bring the bike in, take a loaner, come pick up the bike when it's done.

I call Tuesday morning. Four times. No one answers, and the system won't allow me to leave a message. I finally get through in the afternoon and am told: 1--they can't get me in until the following Thursday (a week and a half away!), and 2--I can't have a loaner for that fix. They changed the policy and it's only for people having scheduled maintenance done. I tell them I will figure something out about getting the bike there and picking it up (hey, that's what Uber is for), but is there anything sooner as this is my only mode of transportation, and I kind of need a headlight. No. I can call everyday and see if there's a cancellation, but they overbooked and they are down a tech.

Now I'm super frustrated. With the proper tools and a garage with power, I could do this fix in, conservatively, two hours. But I don't have those things. I call around to a few shops in San Diego, and no one will touch it because it's a BMW.

I am one good sales job and 20 minutes away from buying a new bike. Oh yeah, I'd get a Beemer again, but I'd get a NEW ONE. I would buy one that for the next three years of hard riding, would be taken care of by the dealership.


$10,000 for a new bike. Adding up everything I've put into this bike, no I probably have not spent that on it. But the peace of mind in knowing that my bike would start every fucking time, and that, most likely, my headlight would work, would be well worth it to me. I don't want to be a mechanic. I don't. No desire. I'm glad to know that I can be, to a certain extent, when I have to be, but I don't want to have to be. And I don't want to worry every time I start my bike, about whether it actually will or not.

Pony up the money, and buy some peace of mind. There are many people who would not have made it past that first bad experience, and I totally understand that. I am so glad I did, and kept riding because I love it. But if you ride, and you are trying to get someone else interested in it, give them a fighting chance. If you don't ride, but you think you want to, give yourself that same fighting chance. My opinion is it's worth it.

My dinner the evening I realized I couldn't fix my headlight. I may have been consoling myself a little....

P. S. I know I owe you stories about Moab. I am slowly finishing them up. Between getting myself to San Diego to start a new contract, and trying to get my bike working properly...I've been a little busy. They're coming!

 

21 April 2015

Hello 2015 Riding Season!

Last week I got a PM on ADVRider, asking about my blog. It has been so long since I posted, but to be honest, I've barely been on a motorbike in months. This winter was particularly cold and snowy in the city of Denver. Since moving here, the winters have been comprised snowy days immediately followed by sunny days melting the snow away. This year, it seemed to stick around much longer, and I just rarely got on the bike.

The thing that kept me going through those long winter months was knowing the RMAR Rendezvous in Moab was coming up in April. I had one week after my contract at work was finished to get the bike and myself ready. I am in pretty good condition, having climbed regularly through the winter, but I had bike parts sitting around, waiting to be put on the bike. During the course of two weekends, I got Taz--my Tasmanian Dirt Devil--ready to go.

 

I pulled the wheels and one day on my lunch break, ran them to Peak Performance to have my 70/30 tires swapped out for much knobbier tires. Connor had my tires mounted and balanced in no time, and I was ready to put them on that Saturday. After riding with my friends Mark and Richard back in August, I did a lot of research on what people were riding on their XT 225s, and the IRC GP-1 tires were highly rated. I ordered them immediately, but since that was the last time I rode that bike, they sat in the garage with the new handlebar grips, chain, front and rear sprockets, helmet, goggles, and knee/shin guards I also purchased following that ride.

Installing the Rox Risers. Had to take the bike apart a bit to find extra length in the cables.

 

2" Rox Risers made a world of difference! Super easy to install, and they came with a sticker!

 

This was a great accessory to buy for a camping motorbike trip. I was able to charge my phone, GoPro, and Sena headset either over night or while I was riding.

After many trips to part stores and a few hours of labor, I felt my bike was ready for a Moab adventure. Just to check it all out and see how it felt, we headed out to Rollins Pass for a quick ride and gear test. The ride out Golden Gate Canyon and the Peak to Peak highway was gorgeous as usual. Hopping off the highway at Rollinsville and heading out the bone-dry five miles of dirt road to the start of the pass gave me good hope that the pass would be rideable.

About a half mile in, we hit our first snow bank. It was deep on the right side, and deeply rutted from four-wheel drive vehicles to the left. The left rut proved to be too soupy to get through. Rears wheels roostered snow and mud into the air. Eventually, we got through using the right rut. I only made it about halfway before becoming terrified I would drop the bike, slide and hurt myself. Because I had a big event I had been waiting months for and didn't want to hurt myself right beforehand, I watched my bike get ridden the rest of the way through. That was disheartening.

Nothing like a little slipping and sliding in mud and snow to get the heart going. This would prove to be useful training a week later....

Since the road looked pretty good past there, we kept going and came to another snow bank a little further on. This was harder packed in the ruts, and I rode through no problem. This boosted my courage a little, and when we came to the third, I was ready to go. Unfortunately, around the bend, we could see that it just got worse, and snow banks turned into a solid road of snow. We made the decision to turn back and call it done.

The nice thing about hard-packed, deep ruts, is that it's easy for me to touch the ground!

As we got back to the very first snow bank, we slowed when we saw a Jeep parked on our side with no driver. We pulled over, stopped, and got off the bikes when we realized a big Chevy Tahoe was stuck in the middle of the snow bank. There was no where for us to go until he got unstuck, so we pitched in to help move him. Completely high-centered on the packed in snow, it took four guys digging, another Jeep with a tow strap, and an hour of work to get him out. Everyone was super friendly and much head shaking and laughing accompanied the work.

Guy on the right had just bought his Tahoe--this was his first outing in it.
I feel like its a sight to see--a girl riding a motorcycle through snow they just couldn't get through with a big powerful truck.

 

It was amazing how happy I was to get back to mud. That just seems wrong.

That wound up being the end of our test riding. We headed back to Rollinsville, then to home. I figured my tires and chain felt good, and I was pretty happy with with the position of my handlebars. Though the mud and snow seemed like an unnessecary challenge considering I would be heading to the Utah desert in two days with sunny weather predicted in the 70s and 80s, it was still an interesting day, and one that reminded me how much I love two-wheel trail riding over four-wheel.

Stay tuned for my next couple of blog posts with pictures and stories which will blow-up most of what I said in that last paragraph....

 

15 October 2014

Fall Colors Tour 2014--Part 2 or...

...why I feel sorry for people who don't live here. I mean, look at this!

I took so few pictures. I know you think I'm going to say, But I took this one! I didn't. Photo--M. Landon

So, we started off from Red Rocks Diner in two groups that day. Our group of 5 slabbed it north and west about 40 miles to the spot where we would be meeting the 11 other bikes (led by Rick and Pat--one had the map, the other had the glasses with which to read it. This is how we do it, folks!) who chose to do the ~25 miles of dirt. We gave them a head start as it would take them longer, and rode mostly pavement to our meeting spot. Our group was led by Mark and included Matt, John, and Francis. Francis was the only one I didn't know, but we would have plenty of time to become acquainted....

Matt and I paired our Senas (buying a com system? Get a Sena. All the cool kids have them and they are the best) and chatted a bit as we rode past Grand Mesa and beautiful stands of Aspens. Matt, being a geographer told me all the geographical highlights of the area. You know, things like, "26,000,000 years ago, The Great Upheaval..." and I contributed to the conversation by telling him of "the great upheaval" that was happening in the ladies room of the restaurant when I had gone back in. I like being able to hold my own in conversations with educated, intelligent people.

Our group stopped off the road at the meeting place and relaxed a bit, waiting for the second group. After being there for ten minutes or so, Mark pulled out the map and we all looked over where our friends would be coming from, Mark pointing to road numbers and asking me what they said. (He had forgotten his glasses too...) Eventually, we realized there were two possible places the other group could come out of the hills--where we were waiting, and another spot about two miles back. We waited another 15 minutes, stopping people who drove by and asking them if they had seen a big group of motorbikers waiting back at the other road.

Our small group, waiting for the others--Matt and Mark consult maps....

Forty-five minutes in, and we hadn't seen them. We started to get a little worried, and Mark retold the story of the rider in that group from the previous year who had ridden that route, and broken his handlebars. Yikes! Matt said he'd ride back to the other spot and check for the group.

John and Mark sat on rocks, I sat on the ground. Francis pulled his tent out to dry out from the previous night. And we waited.

Matt returned after about 15 minutes and said he'd seen no sign, but thought he'd come back to where we were to see if they had come out our way. When we said no, he headed back.

Francis went and sat in the sliver of shade next to a sign. Mark went to consult his maps. I moved to his rock. And we waited.

I moved to the shade.

Matt returned again, and we all worried. Just a little. They are all fully capable riders, but you never know when something might happen. We knew that if something did, there were plenty of them to work through any problems. Mark decided he would ride out the road to see if he could find them and John said he'd ride along. No sense in sending a single rider.

Francis and I stayed sitting in the shade, leaning against the sign, and Matt lay down with his head in the shade. And we waited.

Suddenly, we heard them coming. And it was all of them--some completely painted in mud! Somehow, Pat and her F800GS were nearly spotless. They had a great story to tell of a large mud hole across the road, followed by another 30 feet of slippy, snotty, muddy road. Six out of the eleven made it through the mud hole. The larger bikes needed a hand to get them through and there were fantastic pictures of four people pushing one bike as it rooster-tailed mud into the sky. Besides being a phenomenal rider and making it through the mud hole, Pat had then found a water crossing and ridden back and forth through it enough times to clean herself and her bike! Brilliant!

The exhausted group were looking for a bit of a break, but in the hour and a half we had been waiting, we watched storm clouds gather over the area we would soon be riding, and Mark said we needed to move. For the first ten miles or so, which after a short pass of hairpins was flat and a not super interesting, I began to think I wasn't going to enjoy the day. It was a bit of a let down, and all I was doing was sucking down the dust of the riders around me. For the first time, I thought I might not like this whole group riding thing.

We were riding fast and kicking up a lot of dust. I dropped back a bit for a while to avoid some of it, and when I decided I was far enough back, I got on the gas again and cruised. I was moving fast enough that as I came around a curve I had to get on the brakes pretty good to avoid blowing by the turnoff where the riders in front of me had stopped. As I pulled up, there was much laughing. I wasn't the only one who had done that. Whoever was riding behind me was also laughing, telling me he would have missed it if I hadn't been in front of him. We sat and watched others do the same thing I did, and one person who realized too late and blew right by!

This was the start of McClure Pass, and our real viewing of GORGEOUS trees. We all took off as one group, but eventually as some people stopped for photos in different places, we broke into smaller groups. The last 15 or so miles of the pass, Matt, Rick, and I all stayed together. I led which was awesome because I wasn't riding in someone else's dust clouds.... We pulled up just outside of Paonia, to join a group of six. We had snacks, the boys had personal moments in nature, and we waited for the others, taking pictures of each other's filthy faces. Even wearing a full face helmet I managed to look like I had nothing blocking the dust. A shower was going to feel so good!

John! You're so dirty!! Oh wait, so was I....

We slabbed it the next few miles to Kebler Pass. It was a dirt pass which was so well traveled and had so much mag-chloride deposited on it that it almost felt like pavement. It was packed with traffic--people from all over the state, no doubt, who had come to look at the trees. The aspens in this area were very tall and colorful. Stunningly beautiful! People were everywhere on the pass, cameras out, smiling and enjoying. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was gorgeous. How had I waited so long to go leaf-peeping??

Hello! Beautiful! Photo--M. Landon

At the end of Kebler, we met up again and dubiously watched as storm clouds moved over our dirt road route. We would have another two hours of riding, most likely in mud, if we headed that way, and the decision was made to slab it. We had lost John somewhere near the top of Kebler, having some sort of fuel problem with his KTM, and a couple of guys said they'd wait for him and join back up with us at camp. The rest of us pulled out and headed for Crested Butte and on to Gunnison.

At the east (?) end of Kebler Pass. I really need to look at a map....

Somewhere just outside of Crested Butte, after we all decided we were fine on gas and would make it easily to Gunnison, my low fuel light came on. Oh shit. I had no idea why my gas mileage was so low, and I had no idea how far it was to Gunnison. I held my breath the next 30 miles, not wanting to be THAT girl, the one who ran out of gas, and breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled into the gas station. As it turns out, of course I had somewhat lower gas mileage, which I had expected, but my low fuel light also came on early. Real nice, BMW--way to scare a girl.

We rode east another 20 miles to the Tomichi Trading Post where we would camp for the night, and by the time we were done checking in, the other group of riders, including Matt who we had lost somewhere between Created Butte and Gunnison, all pulled up.

I had planned to camp that night, but then I discovered there was a teepee available! And it had a fire pit inside! For $30! After I went back to the cashier to change my spot for the night, I hit the shower. Oh god, it felt so good. I was so dirty. I had failed to pack shampoo, but the trading post conveniently sold some really nice, local beeswax products and I bought a small bar of lemongrass shampoo and a peppermint lotion bar.

Tomichi Trading Post teepee! They have propane fire pits inside!

When I left the shower and headed to the restaurant, everyone was there, in some state of being served dinner. The trading post had told Mark, when he let them know we would be coming, they would stay open for dinner for us. And though they don't usually serve breakfast, they told us that night they would do breakfast burritos for us the next morning if we wanted. Everyone was super hospitable, drinks showed up quickly followed by good food.

Our table of eight or nine people played the question and answer game of "How many years have you been riding?" and "What was your first motorbike?" and then moved on to talk of mining and fracking. One of the things I really liked about this group is that although there were differing opinions on these polarizing subjects, everyone was respectful of each person who had something to say. I enjoyed being able to sit back and listen to the conversation without being worried that someone might throw something. The respect that people have for others as riders seems to add up, often, to respect for that person as a whole. I totally dig that about this community.

Eventually, people slowly peeled off to head to cabins and teepees. As Pat got up to leave, she looked at me and asked how I had gotten so sunburned. I smiled and quietly said, "Waiting an hour and a half this morning...."

She laughed and headed for bed.

 

 

02 October 2014

Fall Colors Tour 2014--Part 1

It's that time of year, in the beautiful state of Colorado, when the aspens change color and fire up the mountain sides with their vibrancy. What does that mean for me? Time to get on the motorbike, off the pavement, and check out the scenery.

Packed and ready to go. This was the first trip, specifically to go ride dirt, that it would ride fully loaded the whole time.

My friend Mark--see Rendezvous Meeker post day 2--put together routes, lined up places to stay, and spent a good deal of time pre-riding what we were all going to see. Since I met him in August and learned of this ride, I've been looking forward to it, and it was great.

There was a bit of a rough start for me. I left Denver on Thursday around 4:00, and stopped in Empire 40 minutes later to put on warmer gloves. When I tried to start the bike again, nothing happened. I mean, nothing. No indicator lights, no sounds. Ugh! Helmet, gloves, and jacket came off and I started pulling stuff off the bike. Luggage, seat, side panels. I tried to figure out the problem, made several phone calls--including the insurance company to see about towing--and seemed to get nowhere.

I got nowhere for an hour and a half. And no one stopped to help the stranded motorcyclist.

Then, a big-ass Harley riding by pulled a u-turn, and Dave got off his bike to help a girl out. He called his son-in-law, Chris--who showed up with a meter to check my battery--and in no time at all I was back on the road. I'm still sending out my thanks and gratitude to these two men. I was feeling heartbroken at the idea of not making this ride.

Chris and Dave from Empire--my knights in shining armor. Their steeds of choice--Harleys!

After saying thanks and leaving Empire, I rode Berthoud in the waning daylight and cruised into Granby in the dark. After fueling up and checking my directions, I headed towards the home of Pat and Cindy, who were hosting all the riders for the first night. I pulled up to the house to cheers and clapping, and felt relieved to be there, and so happy to be with fellow riders, a couple of old friends, and many new friends-to-be.

In what was perfect timing on all of our parts, Frank and Barbara pulled up on their 1200GS. They were the other two vegetarians in the group, and Pat hauled us all in to feed us. My friend, Matt, put a beer in my hand and I went and sat outside near the fire, eating dinner, having a drink and enjoying everyone's company. The anxiety I typically feel when getting together with a bunch of people I don't really know started to melt away as the evening moved on. There was a prize drawing, thanks to Cindy and Power World Sports in Granby, and I won new grips for my little bike. Woohoo!

That evening people camped, stayed in guest rooms, or slept downstairs in the house. Magically, no one had claimed the bed in the downstairs, so I got it! After a little slumber party chat, everyone settled in and we woke the next morning to gorgeous views of Granby, the surrounding mountains, and a herd of antelope.

The view from Pat and Cindy's home in Granby. This was sunset, which I missed thanks to my little problem in Empire. Thanks to Matt Landon for the pic.

People all took off at different times, and we met up at the wildlife viewing area at the bottom of highway 125. We had 23 bikes and 25 people--quite the group. After collecting ourselves and chatting a bit, we took off in two different groups: Risky Bizness and the Pro-Leisure Tour. I joined the Pro-Leisure Tour and we cruised up Willow Creek Pass. The first part was mostly pavement, but it was a gorgeous twisty piece of road. I had never ridden the bike more than 8.5 miles up the highway--to Ian McLeod's house--and it just got better and better the further we rode.

Getting ready to head out for the day.
Hi Neil! Poor Neil had two flat tires the day before, and a flat air mattress in the middle of the night. I think he might be a fire sign....

At the first meetup area--outside of Rand--options were laid out for the rest of the day. I chose to join the small group going to Steamboat. By small group, I mean the were originally just three of us. By the time we headed out, however, we had 6 bikes with 7 people. We rode Buffalo Pass into Steamboat. The pass was fun and easy--smooth on the way up and rocky and potholed on the way down--and filled with beautiful trees. Mack, who rode behind me, choking on all my dust all the way down Buffalo, mentioned that all he could look at was my rear fender bouncing around the whole time. When I told that story the next day to Matt and Mark, Mark said, "What was he doing staring at your fender?" As I thought, "I know, why wasn't he looking at the road," Mark finished by saying, "Why wasn't he staring at your ass?"

Right. I do still play in a boy's world, don't I???

Before anyone gets bent out of shape, it was a complete joke, and everyone laughed, including me.

Just past Rand where we all split up. I can't tell you who that is--there was A LOT of Klim gear on this trip!
All the colors were really that vivd!
Poor guy--at the back, he got everyone's dust. He said he kept watching my...fender...bounce around the whole trip down.

That day we also rode Lynx Pass, the Colorado River Road, and Cottonwood Pass--I'm sure I'm forgetting some...--and ended in Carbondale. Somewhere on the River Road, I hit a good deep spot of gravel and had a pretty good tank slapper. I wasn't sure I was going to come out of it vertically, but I did. Mark called it my trick-riding. Woohoo!!!

Hello! Can you say gorgeous!?!
A selfie with Mack.
The line-up: 1200GS, 2-800GSs, KTM 990, R100GS Bumblebee, and my little 650GS.
Gorgeous day for riding. With BV Mark's KTM 990.
Our lunch spot. It was cool down by the water in the shade.

Getting into Carbondale, Steamboat Dave kindly found a liquor store to stop at since I had made the comment that I really wanted cold beer at the end of the day. We all fueled up so we'd be ready for the next day's ride, and headed towards the campground. Somewhere in the last couple of weeks, the campground had changed management, or some such nonsense, and they were having a tough time dealing with all of us. In the end, it all worked out. But, in case they ran out of room, a couple of us ran off to see if there was room at the forest service campground.

There wasn't.

Every place was packed, no doubt with leaf peepers and people enjoying one of the last gorgeous weekends before the snow flies. Bonus though--as we rode into Redstone, we saw a bear. No really. He was a pretty, copper colored black bear, and the idiot locals were getting way too close to him in order to take pictures. Well, that made my night!

We ended up having a really nice night, and a bunch of us sat around the campfire chatting and making rude comments about the sad little fire we had going. Until...Neil came along and took over. He had the magic touch with the fire, and I almost peed my pants laughing when, after being gone for about ten minutes, he came back dragging a four and a half foot chunk of tree that was probably 12" in diameter and tossed it on the fire. It burned pretty well, and I figured the tent was far enough away, that if it got out of control it would take out a few other tents before getting to mine, giving me a good chance to get away!

The next morning, I woke to just enough condensation on the inside of the tent to drip straight into my eyeball! It was chilly and everything was damp. After breaking camp, a number of us wound up at Red Rocks Cafe for breakfast. The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day. Sadly, a bunch of riders had to leave us that day, but we gained one new one. We were down to 16 bikes and 17 riders--still a fairly impressive group.

After discussing the route options, I ran inside to use the ladies room. I walked in to a woman unhappily puking. It was time for me to get back on the motorbike!

 

06 September 2014

WDKR!--Oh My Dog!

So, ever since the second day of my first RMAR Rendezvous in 2012, I have known the reputation of Mark Odette. Mark is the Director of Promotions for RMAR, and leads these rides which have become fondly known as the WDKR--We Don't Know Rides. As far as I'm concerned, when I think of Mark Odette, I simply think Crazy Pants. Sorry Mark....

A couple of months ago, I saw he was going to lead a monthly RMAR ride, known as the WDKR. I wanted to make the first one he did, but I was traveling. Or maybe I was not yet traveling, but was too scaredy-pants to go on it. A couple of weeks ago I saw that he was going to do another one, and I thought I'd put on my big-girl pants, get on my little bike and go.

The day was gorgeous, but as I dropped into Monument, I dropped into that cloud. It was cold and wet! Thankfully, we were out of it quickly, and the day warmed up. Pic--M. Odette

The ride was to be a meet-up for breakfast, then a quick 2-3 miles of pavement to some dirt. Then, some more dirt roads, then some trails, then some ATV trails, then some more dirt and some more dirt. A quick 20ish miles from Hartsel to Fairplay, on to Alma, and Mosquito Pass to Leadville. And back. Holy shit, it was going to be grueling for me.

It was great! Now, to be honest, I only did the first five hours to Hartsel. It was so much fun, and the views were gorgeous. I was on the road a little after 5:00 am (!), in order to meet Mark and one other rider, Richard, in Monument. We had breakfast, and were quickly on our way, with me in the middle. Btw--the last time Richard rode with Mark, he broke his thumb and had to ride twelve miles with a broken thumb pointing in a direction one's thumb should never be pointing. I saw a picture. So...that's not terrifying at all.

Mark took off! I valiantly tried to keep up, and a few miles in, ate shit at about 35-40 mph when I came upon a switchback and hit loose stuff. Bent the snot out of my handlebars, but Richard helped me get my bike back up and we were off again. At the first (and almost only) stop, Mark looked at me and told me Richard knew why he stopped where we did. I looked around thinking maybe it was because of the nice views, somewhere to take a good picture perhaps. But no. He gestured to a huge--quite large, really--boulder and said we could ride over it.

I'm pretty sure what came out of my mouth was, "OH HELL NO!"

In the end, though I didn't do it, I watched them do it, two times each, and next time I will be all over that! I really wanted to do it, but just wasn't ready. We rode, and rode, and rode, without stopping much. At one point, as I followed Mark around a curve, I looked ahead and saw an intimidating hill climb. I had just gotten done watching a video of the Romaniacs enduro race with tons of footage of a crazy hill climb. Bikes and bikers were eating it and riders were desperately trying to make it up, only to fly backward with their bikes. This was all I could picture in my head. I was thinking about how heavy that bike was going to be when I got halfway up and my bike slid backwards and ended up on top of me.

I started up, chose a line, yelled at myself in my helmet to "just fucking commit!" And I made it up! I came to a stop behind Mark, no doubt with a big goofy grin, and he looked back at me and yelled, "You made it up the hill climb!" Hell, yeah I did.

The most difficult part of the day for me was the ATV trail. It was narrow with a 10" rut in the middle, and berms on each side. The very first thing I did was auger my bike into the rut, about 10 feet into the trail. I walked right off the bike. Richard came up, helped me pick my front wheel out of the rut, and I walked it up onto one side. After slipping and sliding a bit, I got a leg over and rode on. A couple of times on that trail, I could hear Richard yelling at me that I was doing great or I was doing an awesome job. Richard is a pretty great guy, and I will happily ride with him anytime!

I feel like this pic does not do justice to the steepness of this hill.... Pic--M. Odette
Mark took this with the ATV trail sign in it because it was my first!
Richard coming down right behind me. Pic--M. Odette

Eventually, we hit some wide, well-cared for dirt roads, and I almost hit some deer. But, I'm pretty aware of them now after that little incident two years ago, and when I saw the first fly across the road, I slowed way down and watched for the second. We got to the end of those roads and we could see highway 24. Mark stopped, and when I pulled up next to him, he explained that he wanted to avoid 24, and we were going to continue on dirt. Well, fine by me. Then he told me not to be surprised, but he would be turning off the road and it would look like he was just riding through the fields. But, in fact, they would be real roads. A lot of years ago the area was divided up into what promised to be subdivisions, but hey never took off, and the roads grew over. They're pretty great roads, and occasionally, there were even street signs in the middle of nowhere. As well as cattle. And one lone, terrified, unshorn llama.

We turned onto one, wound up the side of the mountain, and stopped for the view. It was pretty stellar. A wide, beautiful view of what seemed like all of South Park.

Taz in the foreground (225) and Mark's 650 behind my little bike.
Richard is having, as Mark Ferguson would say, a personal moment. Pic--M. Odette (well, you know I didn't take it, but I'll post it!)
Pic--M. Odette
Mark and Richard on our one break we took. This was where Mark told me, oh yeah, I don't really stop. Five hours in.

From there, it was just a few miles into Hartsel. I had to flip my tank to reserve about a mile and a half out--I was 60 miles further into my tank than the other two--and we stopped at the gas station. After chatting with three guys from Wyoming on KTMs and KLRs, I fueled up. I had told the guys I would be leaving them there. I was exhausted, and didn't think Mosquito Pass, twice, was a good idea as tired as I was. However, after I paid for my gas, I came out and the were Mark and Richard, just waiting. I sent them on their way and went over to the Hi-line Cafe and Saloon for a buffalo burger. What I really wanted was a nap, but I settled for waiting out the rain while listening to tunes picked out on the juke box by a happy group of Harley riders who had come in. I made friends with the bartender Adam--we talked climbing and motorbike riding, and it was great.

After the rain, I got back on the road and slabbed it back home. 280+ miles on the day. I had a fantastic day. Mark and Richard were great to ride and talk with, the scenery was great, and I rode some stuff I had never seen before. I was exhausted when I got home, and stupid sore the next couple of days, but in a good way. Thanks Mark!

 

P.S.--I went immediately to Let It Ride on Monday and bought a new dirt helmet and goggles!

Ok, it has pink on it, but it's metallic dark pink. Almost red, really.