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!)|
|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.|