Day 8
October 8, 2017
Super 8 Motel
Fountain, Colorado

We were up in the early morning darkness, even though it was after 6.  Both us slept well after the long ride yesterday across Colorado.

“How ya feelin,” I asked.

“Pretty good”

“By the end of the day home will be in sight.”

“How many times have you done this ride across the Plains and Midwest?”

“Dozens, going and coming.  Some guys truck their bikes to Colorado and start the tour from there to California, that’s not me, but I understand it.”

After strapping our gear on the bikes, we shuffled off to the continental breakfast.  Those things are so weak!  I had a cup of orange juice all.  I sent Debbie a text we were able about to get underway.

I turned the key in and met Gus in the parking lot.  I had to plug the Sena into the RTs 12v plug, forgot to charge it last night.  On a full charge the units giving us a good 8 hours.

The custom route came up on the GPS.  The first way point was 50  miles away on SR 94, so I let the unit auto route us there.

Weather was again perfect, cool and sunny, but I was sure it would warm the farther east we rode into Kansas.  It was hard to believe it would be snowing here tomorrow.

We crossed our fingers when Gus turned the switch on the Concours.  It powered on with no issues, we were gaining more confidence the problem had fixed itself.

Not so the RT, again it refused to idle in the parking lot.  “Maybe by the end of the day it will idle.”

I did a visual check on the tires.  A few days ago I was concerned the rear tire might wear out before home.  But looking at the tire today, and knowing miles left to go, I was confident it would make it.

The Zumo directed us back north on I-25 after leaving the motel, and then on surface streets to SR 94.  Morning commuters were making their way into the city, but we were running counter commute and missed that fun.

At SR 94 we swung east and got ready for the long ride across the emptiness of the Colorado Front Range.  “The next 200 miles is a whole lotta nuthin bro.”

The Michelins sang to me as they hummed over the roadway at 70 mph.  No crops to study, nothing but prairie as far as I could see.  In a few miles there was no traffic, just the 2 of us and the conversations we were having in our helmets with the other.  Thank god for the Senas.

SR 96 across the Colorado Front Range.  Not a car, not a house, not a store, no gas, no nothing for miles and miles.
We shot by a sign that read Punkin Center 25 miles.  Gus asked me-



"What ya reckon a punkin is?"

"I dunno, but they named the town after it, maybe they have it there, but don't look for anything else.  You are in the middle of nowhere"

I was right, not much in Punkin.  A grain elevator, a few seed shops.  We rode on looking to change routes to U.S. 40 in 35 miles.  We fought a tough Eastern sun in our faces for many miles.  The tinted drop down visor on the Shoei is UV rated, but it still had a tough time with the intense sunlight.

Gus was having trouble with his Sena, low battery warning.  Having not seen a car in 30 minutes we weren't too concerned about finding a place to pull in.  "Right here on this farm road will work, lets check it out."  We ;ulled off, and deployed the 12v cable to power and charge the unit up.
Checking the coms in the middle of nowhere on SR 94, near Punkin Center, Colorado.
With both Senas on 12v power we got back on the road.  A few miles later I said, "Hey now'd be a good time to test the range on these things.  Book says 1.5 miles."


"I'm gonna slow down, come around and keep going"


The big Kawasaki came around, and quickly put a quarter mile between us.  No problem I had him loud and clear.

Went to half mile, and same, again at 3/4 mile.  'Man I still have ya like you're right behind me."

I couldn't even see him.  We kept this up to over a mile before he grew fuzzy and dropped.  Excellent range.  What a fine piece of equipment.  Keep in mind this was under perfect conditions, with excellent line of sight.  I wouldn't expect more than a half mile in thick expressway traffic, at least that was our experience.

Finally, 94 dead ended into U.S. 40, we took it and continued east.  Right away we were greeted with trucks and cars, much more busy than the more sedate SR 94.

"I'm gonna need some gas."

"Ok we'll shoot for something to eat and gas at Kit Carson"  

It didn't take us long to find the Kit Carson Trading Post.  Inside the post hung pictures of locals with trohpy elk and other game.   Shadow boxes near the register held T shirts, though I failed to find out what were printed on them.  A few locals were eating breakfast and drinking coffee and paid  us no attention.  The waitress sat  us down at a booth under the front window.  A nice view of our bikes which is always a good thing.  We'd been ridng steady all morning and was already over 100 miles.  A good start.
Early lunch in Kit Carson, Colorado at the Trading Post.  Great food and and friendly people.
"Look here, can he do me a hamburger steak this time of morning?"   It was 10:15

"Sweetie he can fix you anything you want."

"Good deal, then I want the hamburger steak with hash browns."

Gus had the grilled chicken, and like my hamburger, it was outstanding.

We rose from the table, I told the waitress, "baby I'm gonna leave your money on card ticket k"

"thank you"

We acknowledged a few locals and paid the ticket.  Most of the time we had one ticket that one of us would just pay.  Next meal, the other paid.  We didn’t worry if one was ahead of the other by a few dollars.  We were brothers.

We left the cafe.  "Hey you gotta enough gas to go 25 miles without the reserve light coming on?"

"Yeah I think so"

"Ok we're gonna ride on to Eads then gas up, I don't like the looks of the stations here"

Kit Carson has a great old west culture.  How could it not with a name like that?

We turned south on U.S. 287 to pick up SR 96, a 2 lane road that ran far into Eastern Kansas.  This would be my third time on 96 and I still enjoyed it. 

Past the old railroad town of Eads we traveled and then over to 96, the old highway was just as I remembered it; arrow straight with the promise of home at the far end.  We gassed the bikes on the east end of town at Love's Truck Stop.

It was early afternoon as we rode east across the prairies.  My first time here was in 2001 on my way home from my very first cross country ride on the ST 1100.  I’d been on the road about 12 days at the time and I was still basking in the glory of the ride.  Late in a tour some guys just want to get home, I’ve never had that feeling.  I always enjoy the last day as much as the first.

When you cross state lines on 96 you wouldn’t even notice if not for the Welcome to Kansas sign.  The landscapes doesn’t change.  That takes a few miles, but eventually the prairies of Kansas have been planted with more agriculture than the barren Front Range.

At Tribune, state routes 96 and 27 intersect, and there you will find a large con store.  I’ve stopped here a few times, once coming out of the south on 27, and the others westbound on 96.  But they were rides at other times, and not applicable for today. We honored the flashing light, and kept going.

This old highway links a dozen or so small towns.  Places like Dighton, Alamota, Beesler, and Ness City, but the one I remember most is Scott City.  From the first time I passed through till now, I’ve never forgotten it, why I don’t know, perhaps because it is so Americana.

  By the time we reached Ness City the big Kawasaki needed gas, so we made a quick stop at a Cenex con store, which are common in this area of the country.  I went ahead and topped off.

The Cenex Con store, Ness City, Kansas.  Not much is there.
Riding East on 96 this day was like therapy for me.   I watched utility poles flash by, evenly spaced all the way to the next town.  Farm houses sat off in the distance, and crops swayed in the breeze.  The Midwest sky was as blue as I’d ever seen it, and the warm 70 degree sun glared on the RT’s instrument cluster.  I had the cruise control set, and felt like I was in a movie as the scenes played out around me.  Our coms had grown quiet for several miles, we had run out of things to talk about somewhere back on the Front Range.  It was then I broke the silence with one of my favorites; the old Roger Miller song, “King of the Road.”  Fitting on a ride like this. 

“Trailer for sale or rent; rooms to let 50 cents, no phone, no pool,  no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes!’  Gus immediately joined in, and sang the next 2 lines.

“Ah But 2 hours of pushin broom, buys a 8x12 four bit room"  And then we both sang-

I’m a man of means by no means, KING OF THE ROAD!”

Together we sang the old song as we crossed the Great Plains of Kansas.  The song was on the jukebox in the café my parents owned and operated in the late 60s.  We bought the place not long after we moved to Alabama, and it took us to the upper middle class of life's ladder.  We were just kids, but they played it so much the lyrics got stuck in our head.  Our family made a good living out of that café for 10 years.
Road Karoke
King of the Road.  SR 96 Kansas
“Great Bend is one of the bigger outposts out here, let’s stop for a snack when we get there.  I spent the night there in 2007 on my way home.”

“It seems you spent the night in all the places around here.”

“Well yeah I’ve been around”

The city was active when we arrived and we made our way through the stop lights and fast food row, settling on a small con store to park the bikes.  We had just put down 200 miles and felt stiff all over.  It was our longest stint in the saddle of the tour.  It was the only time we rode with any urgency.

I pulled a Mountain Dew out of he cooler and and Payday bar, and milled out about the front curb.  Responded to a few texts and enjoyed the afternoon.

The Senas were growing weak so we plugged in the 12v, and rode down to the U.S. 281 intersection and turned south.  Two pedestrians crossing the highway had the right of way so we yielded.

“Watch those 2 ladies, they’re gonna step out while we’re turning right’

“I got’em”

I still couldn’t get the RT to idle, I had to go through Great Bend blipping the throttle.  I was getting pretty good at it by now.  The BMW didn’t conk out once.

Motoring south we picked up a stiff cross wind out of the east, a few times it snapped my head back.
This old barn thing on SR 96 is where the local kids come to express their devotion.
“The gps says next route change is Pratt, 50 miles south, and from there about 80 miles to the motel.”

“Sounds like a winner”

“You know if you ride this road north it will take you to the center of the lower 48, a small, dried up town called Lebannon.”

“Anything there?”

“Nooooo just a flag pole in a field, with a marker.  But you’d be surprised at how many people trickle in to see it in a day’s time”

The afternoon sun cast our shadows in the fields to our left, and the smells of a few oil pumps was mixed in with the scents of cut hay and crops.  The powerful sport touring bikes made quick work of any slow moving cars and trucks we came up behind.  We were still a little timid, 2 speeding tickets in one trip would really suck.

Most of today’s ride is a repeat of last year’s tour on the way home from Monument Valley.

The Mcdonald’s in Pratt looked inviting, but we were close to the end so we kept riding. A late afternoon sun behind us outlined our profiles on the road in front of us.  I knew Gus was struggling with the stock seat on the Connie, I have a seat like that on the FJR, why I asked if he wanted to stop.

The last 25 miles into Goddard were 4 lane divided and look like a U.S. interstate.  I set the cruise on 80 and we put down the miles quickly arriving at the Rodeway Inn in Goddard in the late afternoon.  I stayed here last year and the price was 50 something, this go around it was 70.

We rode 471 miles for the day.

The young lady who checked us asked if we were brothers.   “Yesssss, how’d ya know?”

“not hard”

“That means we get a ground floor room?”

“oh yeah”

It was Gus turn to pay, she swiped his card giving us the old folks discount by virtue of my 22 month advance in years over my brother.  Our room was across the parking lot so powered the bikes up one last time for the day.

Unloading the bikes was super easy, just a few steps in and out the door.

As was the custom I just chilled out for 30 minutes.  Gus always seemed to be in a hurry.  “Relax, we ain’t gotta be anywhere.”

“what about supper?”

“What about it?”

“where we gonna eat?”

“Man you worry about the food, we’ll figure that out in about hour”

The Connie had not given us any more trouble since that afternoon back in Nebraska, it has lit up every single time, and now we had pulled to 800 miles from home.  If the bike quit tomorrow, the logistics of getting it home was a lot simpler.

Supper was the Subway next door.  The dining area was unbearably cold from an aggressive air conditioner so we ate in a hurry. 

Back at the room we took showers and called home, made a few Facebook posts and watched TV.  It was a nice evening, and we stayed up kind of late.