Riding In The Waning Days Of Summer

October 16th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

Summer is waning and there won’t be many more rides like this this year.

I was heading up Clear Creek Canyon when it started to rain. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that my rain suit was in the bag on the Honda. I was on the Concours. Not going to do me any good now.

No matter, it never rained hard. In fact, it was pretty cool. They were tiny drops and so rather than plummeting to earth they danced on the breeze, hanging semi-suspended. With backlighting from the sun, each individual drop was visible and scattered color around in a zillion mini-rainbows. I had my visor slightly cracked and so the moisture was coming in and wetting me around my mouth, which was also pleasant. Felt good.

It wasn’t long, though, before I was reminded that my number one job at the moment was riding the bike. A sharp curve brought that focus back very abruptly. Oh yeah, first things first.

As I climbed through the canyon I paid attention to the steep rock walls. Many years ago I became jaded, having been through this particular canyon so often that I lost all sense of its beauty. That appreciation has come back to me, however, and with the weather as it was it was particularly beautiful that day.

All along the road there were cars pulled over and people hiking and climbing and generally enjoying the day in the canyon. My focus was spread wide to take it all in. Then I passed into Tunnel 2 and was struck with the abrupt constricting of my focus–the literal reality of tunnel vision. No wide-ranging view, just the road ahead of me. I don’t recall it ever striking me with that force before.

Gaining in elevation as I was, it was getting cooler. This was the first time this fall I have used the electric vest and I was glad to have it on. And this was just a harbinger of the ride I took up Guanella Pass a couple days later. Summer is over. Pretty soon, chilly days like this are going to seem balmy and demand that I ride. Right now I’m just trying to take advantage whenever I can.

Later as I was headed home it occurred to me that I would be just in time to stop and have dinner with the RMMRC. Only one more big ride left this year and the next few meetings will be focused on rides for next year. I had planned to go on a bunch of them this year but family matters conflicted and those rides mostly didn’t happen.

The year is coming to a close and now my sights are on the future. I’m looking forward to a good 2018.

Biker Quote for Today

All I care about is riding . . . and like maybe three people and beer.

Last Ride In The Hills This Year?

October 12th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

A beautiful day on the pass, even if I was too late for fall colors.

Sunday was warm and sunny, and you could still ride up onto Guanella Pass. I know, because I did. By Monday, not true. This may have been my last ride in the mountains in 2017.

I had been wanting to get up in the hills to enjoy some of the fall color but with my Mom ill I had been in South Carolina for awhile. Then I got back and we had almost two solid weeks of overcast and rain–not at all like typical Colorado weather. Finally the sun came out but other demands kept delaying me, until I realized it was Sunday or not at all. I geared up and headed out.

Not that I really geared up sufficiently. Heading out of town across Hampden/U.S. 285 I was already getting chilly but I did have my electric vest on so I flipped it to on. I was wearing long underwear and had multiple layers on top, but only my least warm gloves. And I had intended to wear my leather chaps but forgot them as I got ready.

No matter, the vest really did the job. With it pumping out heat, everything else abated.

My intention was just to run up Guanella Pass from the Georgetown side and then back the same way. I had other things I needed to do at home and going down to Grant and home on 285 would have taken a lot longer. But I began reconsidering as I saw all the traffic streaming down on I-70 and realized it was the dreaded Sunday afternoon. Maybe I better rethink this.

Off I-70 at Georgetown and starting up the pass. I didn’t really know for sure if the road was clear or if maybe it had ice on it at places. Turns out it was completely free of that kind of slippery stuff but in all — and I mean all — of the switchbacks there was plentiful gravel, obviously spread there to improve traction–for cars, not motorcycles. Take it slow; not a problem.

The V-Strom is a fun bike to ride on twisting mountain roads. It is (relatively) light and agile and every time I got clear of traffic in front of me I was able to whip it (except on the switchbacks). This is what makes riding in the mountains so fun. There were very strong winds in just a few spots but not for the most part. What caused those isolated blasts? Heck if I know.

So before I even got to Georgetown I knew I was too late for any color up on the pass, but there was snow alongside the road and on the hills, so that was a different kind of beauty. And the top of the pass is particularly scenic, as you can see to an extent in that photo above. Still worth the trip, especially if the real purpose of the trip was just to go for a ride.

I did decide to go back the way I came and then I was surprised to find that the dreaded Sunday afternoon traffic was absent. Maybe because Monday was Columbus Day and a holiday for some, and/or maybe because it is mud season, where it is too early to ski but too late to camp or do so many other summertime mountain activities. Whatever the reason, I blasted back down into town rarely going slower than 65. Often a good bit faster.

All in all, a nice day on the bike.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to ride in the rain.

Playing in the Dirt

October 9th, 2017
motorcycle along Kebler Pass.

Get off the pavement and have fun!

I hadn’t done any dirt-biking when my friend John offered me an opportunity. You can think of him as the pusher. “Try this, you’ll really like it,” he seems to say. Then you’re hooked. To maintain your habit, you can kiss your bank balance good-bye.

I didn’t get hooked but I got the craving. My V-Strom is a result of this.

John had a couple dirt bikes he and his son, Johnathon, would take up to the Rampart Range, an area in the hills outside of Denver given over to motorized fun on trails through the forest. They invited me along one day.

They were meeting up with other members of their extended family and this was the first time I ever saw how dirt-biking is such a family affair. It wasn’t just their own family. The campground area was packed with families and dirt bikes of all sizes, from pappa’s big bike, to momma’s mid-size bike, right down to baby’s little two-wheeler carrying young’uns who must have only learned to walk last year. And every one of them in full riding gear. Who even knew they made helmets and jackets and boots that small, not to mention motorcycles?

I have to tell you, I really envied these kids. I would have given anything I had to have had parents who took me dirt-biking as a kid. Instead, I had parents who wouldn’t even let me buy a bike with my own money.

So we went riding, and what a blast that was! First of all, being out in the woods and going up and down hills on these narrow trails is a kick. You never get going all that fast, but speed isn’t the point. That said, a bit of speed is the point when you’re going up and there’s a hump in the trail. “Whoops” as they’re called. You come up on that whoop and gun it and you’ll catch some air and that, I’m here to tell you, is fun. Catch several whoops in a row and you’re having serious fun. Did I mention that this can be addicting?

One big difference between riding in the dirt and riding on the street is that on the dirt you’re pretty much guaranteed to dump the bike from time to time. On the street that’s one of the biggest things you seek to avoid ever doing, but on the dirt it’s just part of the game. You don’t usually get hurt and neither does the bike.

Of course I dumped it more than once but I was right back up and on it and off down the trail. Talking about it at the end of the day I felt I had earned my wings when Johnathon told his dad, “Ken did pretty good. He even caught some air a few times.”

Not long afterward John sold the bikes and his trailer so I’ve never been back to the Rampart Range, and that was my only time to ride with them. But I got in some more dirt riding here and there and finally about four years ago got the V-Strom, which I consider a dual-sport bike, though some folks do not. But it has the suspension and it has the tires.

That day in the Rampart Range whetted my appetite as I started realizing how many, many unpaved roads there are through the Colorado mountains that I’ve never been on. I did finally pick the lock on my checkbook.

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re a biker if your wife has ever asked you to move the bike so she could see the TV better.

Running Out Of Gas

October 5th, 2017
motorcycle by highway

Stopping beside the road is not always your desire.

I read an article some while ago that said, “Nobody runs out of gas any more, not with dash lights and other geegaws reminding you to stop and fill up.” Obviously, they weren’t talking about motorcycles.

Most motorcycles don’t even have gas gauges. What they do have is a petcock that you turn to Reserve when the bike starts to sputter. Then you know you had better find a gas station fairly soon. Presumably you know how much fuel your reserve holds, you know how many miles you get to a gallon, and that tells you approximately how far you can get on what you’ve got left.

My Kawasaki Concours does have a gas gauge, but it’s in a minority. And even that is only a half-way measure because it still has reserve and once you flip that petcock the gauge just registers Empty and you’re judging your range as you would on any other bike.

I have run out of gas. More than once, on both the Honda and the Kawi. And you’ll rarely meet a rider who hasn’t also run out, at least on occasion.

Now, riding with the OFMC I have never run out, for the simple reason that all my bikes have bigger gas tanks than any of the other guys’ bikes. They need to gas up long before I do so as long as I do the same I’m golden. And I carry a long plastic surgical tube so that if need be we can siphon gas from my tank to one of theirs, though that has never been necessary.

That fact is largely due to John’s experience on one of our early trips. He and Bill and I were blasting north through Wyoming on I-25, heading for Deadwood, SD, and I was in the lead. I noticed they had dropped back so I slowed down and after awhile I pulled over. The customary thing in this situation is to wait, with the assumption that they’ll be along soon. If they don’t come along soon you head back to see what the hold-up is.

So I sat there a while, too long, and turned back. I hadn’t gone far and there they were, going the direction I was now coming from, so I turned around again. We all pulled off and they filled me in.

John had run out of gas and hadn’t thought to flip to reserve, so he coasted to a stop. Bill pulled over to offer aid. They quickly deduced the problem, but even after John switched to reserve the bike wouldn’t start because the fuel line had been drained dry and he couldn’t get any gas to the carburetor. Most motorcycles don’t have fuel pumps, it’s simply a gravity flow system.

So they tried jump starting. We were on flat land and Bill pushed and pushed and pushed while John tried to get the thing going. Finally, about the time Bill was ready to die from his work-out the bike did start, and after he trudged his way back to his own bike they were finally on their way again.

Ever since then John is a total fanatic about getting gas long before he even reaches reserve. He also instructed his son, Johnathon, in this approach so a few years later, on another trip, when the bike Johnathon was on started sputtering he had no idea what was happening because he had never gone to reserve before.

Me, I hit reserve regularly. The only problem is when you forget to switch the petcock back to the regular tank when you gas up. Then, if you’re not paying attention to how many miles you’ve ridden, when the bike starts to sputter, guess what? You’re out of gas. Trust me on this, I know.

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you spend more time shining your bike than riding it.

Getting Off The Pavement

October 2nd, 2017
motorcycles on gravel

John’s driveway.

Some motorcycles are built to go off the paved road, even off any road at all. Generally, these have knobby tires for getting a good grip and serious suspension that can take big bumps without complaining.

Then there are street bikes. As the name implies, these bikes work best when you keep them on the pavement. And the fact is, many street riders are loathe to take their bikes anywhere near gravel. You can slip and slide and bounce like crazy on that stuff. In addition, you kick up dust and the guy behind you gets to eat it. It’s not like being in a car where you can roll up the windows.

But consider this: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are 1.4 million miles of unpaved roads in the U.S. It stands to reason that there are a lot of really nice places you might like to go on your motorcycle that aren’t paved.

So, if you’re like us in the OFMC, sometimes you go anyway. Our experiences have been mixed in this regard. I’m the only one with anything close to an adventure bike, a 650 V-Strom, and everyone else just has street bikes. I have mentioned in the past (not any time recently) how some of our guys took a dirt road outside of Taos down to a hot spring. There wasn’t much to the spring and the road was very rough, with the result that Jason’s bike snapped an electrical connection and he had to make a quick stop at a dealership to get it fixed.

Another time, in the early days of the OFMC, John proposed that we take the road from Phippsburg, CO, over Ripple Creek Pass to Meeker. He had looked at the map and figured there were about 10 miles of it that were unpaved. We could handle that, couldn’t we?

Well, of course we said we could, only it turned out that there were about 40 miles of gravel, not 10. And it wasn’t smooth gravel, either, as is sometimes the case. No, there was a lot of washboard and we bounced and banged our way over this road for what seemed like a long, long time. John even managed to drop his at-that-time brand new Honda Shadow in some deep sand along the way. My luggage rack was shaken so badly that it broke in two places and I had to stop at a welding shop in Salt Lake City to get it fixed.

Later that same day, Bill turned off on a dirt road by a lake we were passing, which quickly turned deeply rutted, and John dropped the Shadow again.

With that day clear in our memories, it was something of a surprise a few years later when John suggested that he show us the Trough Road, another gravel road that runs from Kremmling, CO, over to State Bridge. He had been on it recently, he assured us, and it was smooth and hard packed. It was in fact every bit as nice as he said it was and a beautiful ride to boot that Bill and I had never been on. We’ve all ridden it at least a couple times since then, and I’ve been on it more than that.

So as much as John, especially, dislikes gravel roads, here’s the supreme irony. The worst stretch of gravel I’ve ever been on is John’s driveway. His driveway is a tenth of a mile of loose, unpacked, large stone. On top of that, it’s about 5 miles of better gravel from the main road to his driveway. More than one OFMC rider has biffed it going to or from his house.

We’ll all agree to ride gravel sometimes, but let’s just say we don’t make John’s house a frequent gathering spot.

Biker Quote for Today

Why bikes are better than women: Your motorcycle doesn’t get mad when you ignore it for a month or so.

Examiner Resurrection: Playing Monkey On A Racing Sidecar

September 28th, 2017

This experience was a real highlight, so I’m happy to run this as an Examiner Resurrection.

motorcycle sidecar rig and two riders

Rick Murray at the controls and me in the passenger spot.

“Grab this grip with your left hand and never let go.”

I figured that first bit of instruction was the most important of all. Especially when ignoring it could result in my hitting the pavement at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

I was going for a ride on a racing sidecar.

If you watch sidecar racers scream around the curves, often with the passenger hanging much of their body out of the car and inches from the ground, your first impulse is to say “Those guys are crazy.” Well, crazy or not, I wanted a piece of it and I was going to get it.

I went to the Bonneville Vintage GP and Concours last week with antique motorcycles on my mind but was quickly caught up in the excitement surrounding the sidecars that were also there racing, both vintage and Formula 1 and Formula 2. And as luck would have it, the sidecar guys love to take other folks on what they call “taxi rides” for a couple laps of the track. Where do I sign up?

So Rick Murray, with Team RGM, who would be taking me for a ride in his rig, was explaining to me what I should, and most importantly, should not do. As you move around from left to right to center, the right hand moves from grip to grip. But the left hand never moves from its grip. A lot of the rest I was told was forgotten as soon as we got out on the track but I did remember this.

Then Christine Blunck, with Subculture Racing, walked me through the entire track, showing me how to roll on my legs from left to center, where to brace my feet as I moved right, and what move to make on each turn in the track. She noted that sidecar passengers at times wish they were monkeys so they would have that tail, that fifth hand, to grab on with.

Wearing my own helmet and gloves and a borrowed leather suit, I was mounted and we were ready to roll out on the track. There would be one other taxi rider on the sidecar ahead of us. Let’s go.

Around the track we looped, through turns with evocative names such as “Gotcha,” “Mabey Y’ll Makit,” “Agony,” and “Ecstasy.” If I remembered anything Christine had told me about each turn it became moot as I quickly lost track of where we even were on the course. Initial thoughts of shifting left to right and back to left were dashed at the realization that, oh yeah, sometimes you have two lefts in a row, or two rights in a row. Guess I’d better pay attention to the track.

But even then it got confusing. I’d be figuring that I needed to be going right and I’d look ahead and the guy in the car in front of us was going left. Who was correct and who was confused? I know I was confused even if I was correct.

Of course, in all honesty, it didn’t matter if I screwed up. We were not going at full race speeds and Rick told me he could run the whole course at that speed with no problem regardless of what I did. And afterward I asked him if I screwed up and he just said, sort of noncommitally, that “You did fine.”

So we did the first lap and were well into the second when I heard the engine rev and felt us picking up speed. I knew Rick was opening it up to give me a taste of real race speeds and I hung on tight to enjoy the sensation. I have no doubt that my own personal land speed record was set at that moment.

Then we swept again through the clubhouse turn and into the pit lane and off the track to a stop. I stood up and realized I was breathing hard, not to mention feeling like I’d just had a work out. And I’m sure I was smiling. Here’s your leathers back, and thank you for the pin that reads, “I rode a racing sidecar.” Thank you, thank you, thank you. When can I do this again?

Biker Quote for Today

I have no interest in living a balanced life. I want a life of adventure.

Big Pantha Helmet Lock Makes Security Simple

September 25th, 2017
Big Pantha helmet lock

Here’s the lock with the cable looped through my helmet and the handlebars. The locking carabiner dangles in between.

Having some way to secure your helmet to your bike when you park somewhere is essential. Sure, I know a lot of people leave their helmets with the bike, unsecured, and even I do that at times, but there are other times when I just don’t feel that trusting.

Years ago it seemed most bikes came with helmet locks as part of the bike. I know my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom has one. But then there’s my 1999 Kawasaki Concours: it has one but it is located such that it is essentially useless. Whose idea was that? No matter, I have long had a third-party helmet lock that has worked great.

I have not had a helmet lock for my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650. So when I was contacted by Big Pantha asking if I would be interested in testing and reviewing their helmet lock I jumped at the opportunity.

This device is really simplicity itself. It is rubber-coated cable with a loop at one end and attached to a locking carabiner at the other end. You run the cable through your helmet and around something on the bike and then connect the two ends with the carabiner. There is a combination lock element and once you have closed the carabiner you move the dials to secure it. When you’re ready to go you set the dials back to your combination and disconnect. As compact as it is, Big Pantha says the cable can be unwound to stretch as much as six feet.

As a former technical writer creating user guides I am a strong believer in the concept of reading the instructions. Nevertheless, this seemed so simple that I started fooling with it without doing so. I was immediately confounded by the difficulty I had trying to reset the combination. That is, to change the default combination to something of my own choosing. Doh! Read the instructions.

The lever to open the carabiner is obvious. What is not so obvious is a second lever on the inside that you need to depress in order to reset the combination. Press that and voila!

The biggest difference between the Big Pantha lock and the one I have on the Kawi is that the one on the Kawi is seriously connected to the bike and moving it to another bike would be quite a pain. The Big Pantha lock is not connected to the bike at all, and it is quite small, so it is very easy to just slip it in your pocket and use it on any bike you want at any time. Or you could use it to lock anything else you might need to secure.

Now, as with the lock on the Kawi, the weak link in the system would appear to be the cable. Make no mistake, someone with a pair of bolt cutters could chop through either of these cables in an instant. But how many people do you see walking around carrying bolt cutters? I’ve used the lock on the Kawi for close to 10 years and have never had the slightest problem. Let’s face it, a dedicated thief can defeat just about any protective device. These devices are more about preventing someone who just happens to walk by and take a fancy to your helmet from taking it home with him.

And unless you have one of those really expensive helmets, it’s likely that no one is going to want your helmet anyway. Who wants to wear someone else’s sweaty helmet? But it’s still comforting at times to have it secured to your bike rather than just sitting there.

So OK, here’s the deal. Big Pantha sent me this lock as part of a partnership arrangement whereby I get a small payment for each lock sold to people coming to purchase via my site here. That’s not a big deal for me because I would have been happy to do a review just for receiving the lock. But it does matter to you if you’re interested because if you do click through on this link you will get the lock for 15% off the regular price. What you will need to do is, when making your purchase, enter the code “KENP797U” in the appropriate field. (That’s a clarification from what I previously told you–now that Big Pantha clarified it to me.)

If this is something you would find useful, by all means, click away!

Biker Quote for Today

I’m a free spirit. Either admire me or ride with me, but never try to cage me.

Target Fixation: ‘Don’t Look At That!’

September 21st, 2017
road kill and motorcycles

You go where you look.

Whatever you do, don’t think about pink elephants. Ha! Right, now there’s no way that you can’t think about pink elephants even though they were the furthest thing from your mind a moment ago. OK, try this. You’re putting down the road on your favorite two-wheeled iron steed and there’s a big pot hole up ahead. You really, really don’t want to hit that pot hole, so you keep your eye on it very carefully, but inexorably you head right for it, and Whump!, you bounce right through it. Dang, what just happened?

Welcome to target fixation.

The very simple fact about target fixation is that, whether you’re on a motorcycle, in a car, or whatever, you will go where you look. I know. I’ve seen the truth of this up close and personal more than once.

The first time was years ago when I was learning to fly a hang glider. I launched off the low hill we were using for training, with the simple intent of flying forward as far as I could. I got lucky and hit an updraft that popped me up nicely, so I was in for a good little ride. As I approached the landing area I saw the 10-foot aluminum pole stuck in the ground with a flag on top to indicate wind direction.

“Definitely don’t want to fly into that,” I thought.

So with my eyes locked on it, to my horror, I kept heading directly toward the pole. Just before I would have hit it I pushed out on the bar to flare the glider up and over it. That was successful. But at the slow speed I now had I had initiated a stall, and as soon as I got over the pole the nose dipped sharply down and I dove into the ground. I was a little banged up but the glider got it much worse than I did.

The next time was on my Honda CB750. After another, much more serious crash on my hang glider I sold the glider and used the money to buy the bike. I was out with the OFMC on one of our first summer trips and we were coming down some canyon road. There was a rock I’d judge to be about 5 inches square lying in the middle of my lane.

“Definitely don’t want to hit that,” I told myself. And then I proceeded to run right over it, bouncing the front wheel high in the air for the only wheelie I’ve ever done on that bike.

It was after that that I finally learned about target fixation. You will go where you are looking. If you want to avoid a hazard you MUST look away from it, not at it. Look to your escape route, not at the hazard.

The trouble is, it’s not that easy to do. Your natural instinct is to look at the object–let’s face it, you’re extremely interested in it because it is a definite threat. You’ve got to have the presence of mind to overcome that instinct.

Fortunately, with discipline and practice you can train yourself. Now, periodically when I’m riding, I’ll look ahead and pick a spot on the road that I designate as a hazard and then select another spot that I designate as safe. I keep my focus on the “safe” spot, steer through it, and avoid the “hazard.” Then when I come upon a real pot hole or rock or object lying in the road, my instinct to look at it is not as strong, and my brain can take charge.

Be careful out there!

Biker Quote for Today

Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall. Torque is how far you take the wall with you.

Wanting What You Have

September 18th, 2017
motorcycle on Royal Gorge bridge

The Royal Gorge bridge. This obviously was before the big fire a couple years ago.

One of the newer members of the OFMC commented a few years ago that a big part of our summer motorcycle trips, for him, is going a really long distance. It seems he liked returning from vacation and wowing the folks at work with how far we’d gone and the exotic places we’d been to.

The subject came up because John and I were using our weight as founding members of the group, not to mention the two most involved in planning each year, to establish the decision that our next trip would be an all-Colorado ride. Living in Colorado as we all do, it’s just not as exotic to say you went to Telluride. But hey, people come from all over the world to visit Telluride, and ride the roads of Colorado. Staying in the state would make for a more relaxed trip, and knowing the state as well as we do, we could ensure a fabulous trip. Our desires prevailed.

We chose Cripple Creek as our meeting point. With guys coming from different places and arriving at different times, that seemed like a good spot for the early birds to hang out while waiting. Cripple Creek is an old mining town now reborn as a gambling town, and the roads getting there are worth the trip even if you don’t gamble.

With the crowd together we then headed south out of town on a little county road that wanders through the forest and the hills before emerging a bit north of Canon City. Canon City is the locale of the Royal Gorge, where a suspension bridge crosses the Arkansas River about 1,053 feet below. For an added treat, we took the back way in to the park, on one of the narrowest, windiest pieces of asphalt I’ve ever seen. Heck, I didn’t even know there was a back way; I thought it was a dead end. Thank John for this bit of info.

Crossing the bridge is a thrill. It sways and shudders and if you’re afraid of heights it can be more than a little scary. Of course we stopped and shot pictures of us and the bikes on the bridge. Then we cruised on to Canon City where we made a point to ride Skyline Drive.

To picture Skyline Drive, think of a 200-foot tall brontosaurus and riding up the very ridge of his back. The road itself is barely 12 feet wide and it’s most definitely one-way. At the top you overlook downtown Canon City and it’s a great view.

Our next stop was Bishop Castle, a ways south of Canon City. This life-size castle is being built by one man, Jim Bishop, and it’s straight out of your wildest imagination of the medieval ages, complete with fire-breathing dragon. Forget about building codes because this is officially a work of art, not a building. Jim Bishop went to court to establish that fact. Translated that means it takes more and more guts to keep going higher and higher in this thing. And you can. You can climb all over it.

Lacking space here to go into detail, I’m going to list what came next. We crossed over Independence Pass to Aspen and then took McClure Pass over into the Grand Valley. We skirted along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, rode past Blue Mesa Reservoir, and up to Lake City. From there it was over Slumgullion Pass down to Creede and then over Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs.

At that point we did exit Colorado just for a bit, dipping down into New Mexico, to Chama, and then back into Colorado along the road to Antonito. In Antonito we visited Cano’s Castle, sort of smaller version of Bishop Castle built almost entirely out of cans and other scrap. From there it was south to New Mexico again, to Taos. Then we went northwest, back into Colorado, to Durango, over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray, to Montrose. At that point the trip was over and we scattered each in our own directions.

Biker Quote for Today

The only thing better than a biker chick is . . . absolutely nothing!!

Too Much Like ‘The Shining’

September 14th, 2017
Bear Lodge

The place John was headed, not the creepy place we stayed.

Have you ever been out on the road and stayed at a really creepy place? I’m not talking about dumps. Heck, we’ve stayed in plenty of those, like the place in Kemmerer, WY, where it turned out the three rooms next to ours didn’t have roofs. You see, they’d had a fire awhile back . . .

No, I’m talking about places that make you think of that old Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall flick, “The Shining.” Or maybe the Bates Motel from “Psycho.” The OFMC stayed in one of those places some years ago.

Some years prior to that, on our annual OFMC motorcycle road trip, we had been crossing the Big Horn mountains up in Wyoming going east on US 14. We were pressing on to Sheridan that day but coming around a bend we scooted past a lodge with some cabins that struck me as very appealing and perhaps a place to plan on stopping in the future.

Skip ahead some years and our route was taking us back over the Big Horns, this time from east to west. John and I agreed that there was this place up there where we wanted to spend the night, but when I pulled in to the lodge I had in mind it wasn’t the same one he had in mind. Didn’t matter; it was a nice-looking place.

Shall we just say the people running the place were a little odd? Taking care of prospective guests seemed to be the last thing on their mind, and we kind of got the feeling we weren’t welcome. It almost felt like, to them, we didn’t even exist. At John’s suggestion we mounted up again and went on another 10 miles or so to the place he had been thinking of.

The problem with that place, however, was that it cost more than double what the first place was asking. Reluctantly, we headed back. Standing at the front desk, no one seemed interested in taking our money. And again it was like we didn’t exist. I finally got very pushy, corralled someone and demanded to be registered, and they deigned to check us in and give us keys.

Getting dinner in their restaurant was the same. Hello, is there anyone who would like to wait on us?

We finally ate and spent some time shooting the bull on the deck outside our rooms, talking about how weird this place was. Would “Here’s Johnny!” be awakening us from our slumbers? But the night passed uneventfully, with the exception of Dennis’s Gold Wing falling over as its sidestand sunk deeply into the rain-saturated gravel of the parking lot.

In the morning we agreed to eat breakfast up the road. Good-bye. So long. We won’t be troubling you any further. Just one final chill down our spines as we left, to send us on our way.

Biker Quote for Today

You can’t always go back but you can always go further.