​​​BamaRider
  
Day 7
October 7th, 2017
Private Campground
Moab, Utah



We were up before light breaking camp in the chilly air.  I slept much better last night with the rain flap installed, no chills.  It was essential we get a early start on the ride ahead of us. The Zumo advised over 400 miles, half of it coming in the mountains.

Everything was all business as we strapped the last of our gear down.  Not much conversation, we knew we had to get on the road.

I turned the key on the RT’s panel, and a snow flake was flashing on the gauge, the symbol to be on the look out for black ice, meaning it was at least 32 degrees.  I glanced over to the ambient air gauge and it read 32.

To answer the cold temp I added the insulated liner, ballistic gloves, and turned on the seat and grips.

I reached up and turned my Sena headset on, “ Can you hear me?”

“yeah you’re good”

“Lets get goin, lots to do today”

“Headin home”

First order of business was the 40 miles back to I-70.  It was cool from the get go and I was anxious for the grips and seat to fully heat up.   The sun cleared the horizon a few minutes after we put Moab behind us.  It had been a good time, but now it was time to move on.

At I-70 we veered East, and brought the bikes up to 85 mph.  A few miles later I set the cruise, moved the screen up, and leaned back on the Moto Fizz bag.  As cool as it was, we knew how cold it was going to be in 48 hours around here, so didn’t complain too much.  The miles eked by across the vast expanse of East Utah.

“You awake?”

“Yeah I’m here” Gus responded.

“I was just checkin, been quiet last 15 miles”

Most of the trip I rode point, I had the GPS, and we liked it that way.

Our first stop of the day came in Fruita.  The Concours needed gas.  In this part of the country we did not allow the 1400 to go into reserve.  When it got close we started looking.  Gas can be 60 miles apart, and Gus advised the Connie only had about 25 miles on reserve.  With right flashers on we took the exit and I looked down at the RT’s gas gauge; half tank.  On a solo trip I gas the RT about every 250 miles, further if I’m in the Eastern U.S.  I’ve been as far as 50 miles with the reserve light on, and still had gas when I came in for a fill up.

A Shell Station (our favorite) was on the scene so it worked out well.  I pumped in about 3 gallons of gas.  I removed the insulated liner, and switched to leather gloves.  I kept the vents closed on the Klim, and turned off the seat and grips.

The RT still would not idle.  I came to the stop sign with clutch in and the 1200 died.  I hit the starter and brought it back to life.  It was becoming more than annoying.  The bike was still running fine. 

We went ahead and took our mid morning break, “no need to stop again in 30 minutes, I know you’re hungry.”  The local McDonalds beckoned us and we headed that way.   We placed our order and went and sat down.

“On the way home,” I told Debbie.

“Will it be a long ride today?”

“Yes, and the mountains will slow us down.”

“How come?”

“Traffic, curvy roads, small towns, it won’t be like I-70.”

I made a Facebook post and enjoyed a coke and some leftover beef jerky from way back in Wyoming.

“Still a hundred miles to Rifle, better get on the road.” I told Gus.

“yeah lets ride”

With gas tanks full we continued East toward our route change at SR 82.  The mountains were back in our view full force, and Fall colors adorned the trees.  It was another perfect day to be on a ride.

We were cruising at 85 mph, lost in our own conversations.  I asked Gus-

“Hey, you remember that blonde girl Don dated in high school?”

“The one from Montgomery?”

“Yeah, what happened to her?”

“Last I heard she married a guy not long after college and moved to California.  Why ya askin?”

“I saw a young lady back in that McDonald’s that favored her, I always knew she was way out of Don’s league, and that when she left for college it was gonna end it.”

“Yeah everybody said that”

A second after that Gus came back, “HEY THERE’S A GREEN PICK UP COMING UP BEHIND YA!  HE’S ASLEEP!  I SAW HIS CHIN ON HIS CHEST WHEN HE CAME BY ME HE’S DOIN AT LEAST 90!  ALL OVER THE DAM ROAD!

I quickly glanced down to my left mirror and saw him fast approaching me,  I was doing 85.  His truck had 2 tires on the white line to his left, then it drifted back over to his right.

“GEEZUS!   I hollered out as I moved the RT to my far right.  He shot by me way too close.

He continued on, but now he was in front of us and we could watch him.

“look here he’s gonna run into that traffic ahead and cause a wreck, WE DON’T WANT TO BE IN IT WHEN IT GOES DOWN.”

“yeah lets drop back”

“anything else behind ya?”

“nooo all clean”

All of a sudden the truck slowed, veered over to the break down lane, and came to a stop.  We moved over and went by.

Thankful it was over we went back to our ride. 

I-70 follows the Colorado for many miles, and supports many of the small towns along it.  All along the banks of the river trees were painted in yellow.  It was beautiful.

At last the the Garmin directed us to leave I-70 and ride into the central mountains of the state.  This was another custom I created and downloaded.
  
“Taking the next exit, move over this way,” I instructed.

“Alright”

At Carbondale we ran into a detour that threw the Garmin for a loop.  The city was busy on this Saturday morning, and the detour route confusing.  The apparent objective of the construction was a above surface route over the city, so guys passing through didn’t bog down the traffic in the city.

The fact the RT would not idle made the construction areas a challenge.  

Signs pointed us back the way we came, and then I lost the way.  We found ourselves in a neighborhood with no instructions on where to go next.  I came out of the custom route for a minute, went back in, and asked the unit to take us to the next waypoint from our present location.  That worked, and soon we were out of Carbondale and on the way to Aspen.

This route will take us through the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

The highway was 4 lane divided so we made up some of the ground we lost fumbling around in Carbondale.  The scenery was outstanding.  I’ve criss crossed all over Colorado, but this was my first on SR 82.

By the time we came to the Snowmas turnoff we needed a break and gas.  We filled the bikes at a nice con store, then went in for a snack.  We decided to eat something here and skip a more formal lunch.  Besides, a red Kawasaki Concours was parked to the side of the building.

The store had a nice looking taco bar so I fixed one and sat down.  The owner came to over to us and sat down.  He was a transplanted Frenchman, but living in the U.S. for many years.  He owned the red Concours parked outside.  He asked about our trip, and he told us about the con store business.  Basically, he said it was a hard way to make a living.

We had a few laughs, and enjoyed the time off the bikes.  He followed us outside to watch us gear up.  I gave him a slight wave as we rode out.  “Brother when you travel across the country on a motorcycle people just want to talk to ya.  And for whatever reason, they find me especially approachable.”

“I’m finding that out.”

“you get use to it,” as I shifted up into 4th.

“You just have the look of a good guy I reckon”


  














  
Somewhere on SR 82.   Fall colors were outstanding as we caught the peak foilage in the Central Rockies.
   
Feeling refreshed, we rolled through the valley to Aspen.  Rustic ranches could be seen in the foothills all around us.  “Soon it will be cold and snowy here,” I thought. 

In the late 80s I was a pretty good skier.  I use to ski 13-15 days a year.  I loved the sport, owned my own skis.  But I’m goal oriented about everything I do.  Once I conquered the back bowls at Vail, I just stopped going.  There was nothing left to do from there.  I’ve been that way about most everything, I’ll do it to the pinnacle then move on.   Everything but riding, it has always held my attention, I love it that much.

  
A row of yellow Aspens guarding the edges of SR 82, near Aspen, Colorado.
  
The ride into Aspen was one of the best of the tour.  I had everything a couple of long riders needed.   Nice tarmac, curves, splendid scenery, and perfect weather. 

I’d never been to Aspen, and was looking forward to our pass through.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Now I know folks, it is a stunning little village in the mountains.  The village was alive in Fall color, and anticipation of the impending ski season.  Our route took us right through the village.  Pedestrians walked the streets from shop to shop, and the cafes were doing a brisk business.

  
The beauty of Aspen, Colorado on a brilliant October day.
  
Out of Aspen we rode to Independence Pass.  The next 100 miles was the most challenging of the tour.  We were in the middle of a 3 day weekend, it was peak Fall colors, and everyone it seemed wanted to be in the mountains.  Lines of cars choked down both directions.

We had to pass up many great photo ops.  SR 82 is a narrow, twisting path up to the pass.  There was NO place to park the bikes for a quick picture.  No shoulders, and traffic was just too dense.  The mountain views were majestic, with snow stuck on the shoulders.

The turnout at Independence looked like a parking lot for the Super Bowl.  Many made their own parking spots, risking someone clipping their vehicle or backing into it.  There was no place there to park a bike, never mind two.  We kept riding.  “Keep going bro, we don’t want to get in that mess.”  I don’t see how 82 could be anywhere near passable in winter.

Having crested the peak, we rode the long descent down.  Traffic thinned the further east we went. 

Twin Lakes is aptly named.  The town indeed sits between 2 water bodies, and the area was busy with boats and campers.  We turned South on U.S. 24 there.

A rustic cabin sat near 24, it was framed by 2 golden Aspens on each side.  “What a great pic that would be,” as I rode by.  I kept riding and kept thinking if I should go back, but I had another bike with me, and a lot of trouble to get 2 bikes parked and out of the way, remove gloves, and get camera out.  If I had been alone I would have done it, and that is one of the compromises you have to make when riding with someone or a group.  This incident confirmed why I’m a committed solo rider.  I still regret not getting that picture.

A Love’s Truck Stop appeared in Buena Vista and it looked a good venue to take a break.  I went ahead and topped off the half full BMW just for the practice. 

Our custom route came to a end in Buena Vista, so it was time to get out the map to see what our next move would be.  I scanned the suburbs around Colorado Springs and decided on Fountain.  I asked the Garmin if a Super 8 is located there, and came back yes.  Tabbed it, and a place to stay was taken care of.  GPS makes long riding much easier.  “Back in the day I’d have to ride into city and just look.”

Thirty minutes later we were back on U.S. 24, the route made a 90 degree left just south of the truck stop and we took a bead on Colorado Springs.  The highway took us by the peaks known as “The Castles,” I could see why they were given the name.

After Trout Creek Pass (elevation 9000 feet plus) it was a long run out across the valley.  Traffic picked up but it didn’t matter, we gobbled them up quickly with our quick bikes and bike to bike communication.
In Woodland Park things grew congested.  Traffic lights and cars slowed things down to a crawl.  The fact the RT would not idle made it extra hard.  I could not use the lever, because my right hand was busy blipping the throttle.  I like the lever in traffic, because it allows me to plant either foot when I stop, but I was adapting.

I was hoping the idle would return to normal down in elevation, but so far no dice.

It took a long time to reach I-25 South, and it was frustrating.  By now all we wanted to do was get off the road.  The mountain riding and traffic had worn us down. 

Happy to be on highway we could open up on, we cranked the bikes up to 80 mph as we headed south to Fountain.  We ran down the last 20 miles quickly, and took the exit to the Super 8.  I pointed out to Gus, “look east, no more mountains, pancake flat all the way to the Mississippi River.”

The motel was located near some kind of warehouse and truck terminal, and hard to get to via a couple of “dog legs,” but we figured it out.

We checked in around 6 pm after a 423 mile day.

After unloading the bikes I bought a Mountain Dew and a bag of chips, then went outside to clean the RT.  Gus was going out to eat.  “Count me out brother, one, I’m not hungry, and two, don’t care to get the bike back out.”

I took a shower and called home, then checked messages and emails.

“In Colorado Springs, just a matter of getting home now.”

“When will y’all be home?”

“Lets see, Kansas tomorrow night, Missouri the next, then home.”
“Oh ok.”

Our room had a TV straight out of the 1980s.  No kidding.  It was a postage stamp TV with a tube.  “How am I gonna watch the Alabama game on this TV?









  
Our motel room in Colorado Springs was stuck in a time warp.   
Alabama beat a stubborn Texas AM team, that did not go quietly, but in the end Bama took care of business.  It was a nice diversion from the road.

Gus came back from supper.  

"where'd ya go?"

"IHOP"

"Long ride tomorrow, but it should go quick, lots of open country.  Weather guessers are still saying gonna snow here Sunday night and Monday morning.  Glad we adapted back in Utah."

"yeah really"

Talked out we grew quiet and I clicked the TV off about 10 pm.


Next- Across the Front Range to Kansas.  Small towns and back roads.