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!


1 comment:

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