Archive for August, 2016

The Test Of My Developing Dirt Bike Skills

Monday, August 29th, 2016
Dirt Bike On Beam

First one beam, then two, and then two separated by a few feet.

After we rode Mike’s maze up to the house I needed to catch my breath. It’s a lot of work whipping a motorcycle around in an extended series of tight, extreme turns. Mike was ready to keep going. “What do you want to do next?” he asked.

I was loath to call it a day. I don’t get this kind of opportunity often enough. But just to ride the trail back to the track and then ride it to the house again felt like not enough. But Mike had an idea. We took the trail back to the track, this time with me in the lead.

So once again, tight turns where you have to turn your head absolutely as far as it can go in order to see the exit of the turn. Multiple times where the only thing to do to keep from falling over was to goose the throttle. Getting to be fun.

And then back at the track Mike set up the beams I had ridden straight over before into a couple end-to-end balance beams. The idea was to get up on the first beam, ride the length of it, and continue on the second one. This looked interesting!

It also turned out not to be too hard. I had a lot of times to work at it, too. It didn’t take long before I had made my first run the length of both of them. Most of the time I went off before I got to the end but that was no big deal. It wasn’t as if going off meant falling over; the bike just kept going but now I was on the ground. And sometimes I was hardly aware when I went off.

But of course Mike wanted to challenge me. So he separated the two beams by about two or three feet. Now the idea was to ride the length of the first one, come off, and then get up on the second one. This was a lot harder. Although I took my shot at it quite a few times, there was only one time when I was able to get down off the first and then up on the second. The rest of the time I just couldn’t get off the first and redirect quickly enough to get up on the second. But it was fun trying.

Then it was time to ride the maze/trail back up to the house to drop the bike I was using at the garage. Once again, riding the tight twists and turns, standing as much as I could, sitting as much as I needed to. And I was getting better and better. Which set me up for the real test. My own bike, my 650cc V-Strom, was down at the track. Kathy drove me back down to it and Mike came on his bike. I had two choices: just ride straight back to the house or take my V-Strom on Mike’s trail. We’re talking here a much heavier and less agile bike than these little dirt bikes I’d been on all day.

No one who knows me will be surprised I chose to take the trail. I mean, the whole point of getting some dirt bike training is so I will be more comfortable and more skilled at riding the V-Strom off pavement.

I was really glad Mike had suggested earlier that I put the bike in one gear and leave it there, avoiding having to even think about the clutch or shifting gears. You can do that on these bikes that rev really low. So off I went, whipping my bike hard around these turns that had seemed tight on a much smaller bike. And doing it. Wahoo! And then there were the times when it became suddenly very evident that this was not a dirt bike, and–most importantly–didn’t have dirt bike tires on it. My V-Strom has tires that are a compromise between full dirt and full street. They lean more heavily toward dirt but they’re not all-out dirt tires.

I counted three times in that run where that rear tire just came totally loose and started spinning out. In each case I dabbed, putting my foot down to keep the lean angle from going too far, and at the same time I goosed the throttle to make it stand up more. Was I thinking this all through in my head? Of course not, it was all just instinct coupled with experience. At times I ran way wide of the trail but no big deal, just head back to it as quickly as possible.

And then we were back at the house. Mike, ever the serious instructor, took another 10 minutes to discuss dirt riding etiquette with me and then I was headed home. And you know, their gravel road was just as simple and non-challenging as it could possibly be. That’s my objective right there.

Biker Quote for Today

A bike makes you a motorcyclist. Attitude makes you a biker.

Dirt Bike Skills Lesson Continues

Thursday, August 25th, 2016
Bike Ran Off The Road

This rider was having a little too much fun and missed a turn in the road.

Next up after the break was something I had done before, except this was on steroids. In the Beginning Rider Course one of the things they work on with you is riding over obstacles in the road. The generic obstacle generally used is a 2×4.

Let’s face it, in real life, all you really have to do to go over a 2×4 is to go over it. It will be a bump but not much more. In this case, Mike substituted a 6×6 landscaping timber. Now we’re talking an actual obstacle. This is the kind of thing–size-wise–you could actually run into on a trail.

The key here is to shift your weight back on the seat and goose the throttle just before you get to it so as to drop the rear end of the bike down and bring the front up, and in the process unweight the front tire so it goes easily up and over. Then you need to instantly back off the throttle and slide forward on the seat. The first time I tried it I dumped the bike and went sprawling. No damage done to me or the bike. Get back on and try again. Mike said the problem was my timing; I hit the throttle too soon and had already lost my front-end loft before I just plowed head-on into the beam.

Next time–and really, every other time–I did better. That was my only dump for the day. Some times were smoother than others, and in more than a couple instances I got smacked soundly on the butt as the rear end went over the beam, jacking up in the air in the process. So it was cool–I had never gone over anything that large before. Good to have some practice.

And that was another thing. I was in a class of one student. That meant I could keep doing things over and over again until I felt like I had them down. It doesn’t work that way when there are a bunch of other students all wanting their crack at it.

So then we headed for the hills. Small hills. The deal was just to ride up the slope and arc around and come back down. The idea here was to get your weight forward on the uphill, swing your weight to the outside of the turn while turning, and then move your weight rearward while coming down the hill. This was not at all hard to do, it’s just a matter of learning that this is what you need to do in this situation.

After that we traversed the slope. That is, we went up on the slope and then rode across the side of the hill with the slope going up on one side and down on the other. And then down the slope. Then back the other direction. The one additional element was to put your weight on the downhill side of the bike, which was to give the tires as good a purchase on the surface as possible. I’ll have more to say about that in a later post. At my request, we did it a couple times and discussed exactly what was going on and why. Doing it was easy; once again it was a matter of learning that this is what you need to do.

And next we did some trail riding. Mike and Kathy have 35 acres, with the house up by the road and all the rest of the property down the hill to the rear. The training track is down where things level off again and the whole area between the track and the house is tall grass. Mike has mowed an extremely twisty trail all through this area with more than a few really tight turns. It’s good because there are no rocks, no holes, no logs, and so if you can’t quite make a turn you just run wide and it doesn’t matter in the least. But of course you want to stay on the path and make the turns. This is what you’ve been training for all day.

Off we went. Once again, making all these curves often required really, really turning your head way around to see into the turn. It was good that Mike had pointed out to me along the way that I would do best if I would put the bike in one gear and leave it there, rather than trying to work the clutch. Dirt bikes can rev very low without stalling so you just work the throttle. That gives your mind more bandwidth to process all the other things you’re trying to do at the same time.

Covering probably 15 times the distance it would have been in a straight line, we worked our way up to the house and if my recollection is correct, I made it all the way staying on the trail, no matter how tight the turns. And I was totally out of breath. Riding a dirt bike can be hard work!

OK, said Mike, what do you want to do next?

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you have rubbed your wife’s steering wheel raw trying to figure out why you can’t roll the throttle wide open.

Improving My Dirt-Riding Skills

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

I had been telling Kathy and Mike for years–literally–that I wanted to take their dirt-bike riding class and the time was finally right. I had the time, I had the money, and last week’s forecast called for a high on Sunday of 72. This is August and I didn’t want to roast out in the sun. I checked with Kathy and they had space available so I signed up. (Of course, come Sunday, the forecast was for a high of 86 that day. You take what you get.)

Ken On Dirt Bike

 A posed shot of me. No, I wasn't riding without gloves, this is just a posed shot.

A couple days later Kathy called me to say two students had canceled and the only other one was a 10-year-old girl who had never ridden a motorcycle. Did I want to do my class with her or would I prefer to come in the afternoon and have a class all to myself? I opted for the latter.

These guys live way out north of Strasburg so it’s a good ways out, and the final five miles or so are on gravel roads. Obviously I was going to be going on my V-Strom. But I wasn’t going to ride my V-Strom in the class; too many parts to break if the bike goes down. I would use one of their bikes.

I was a little antsy on the gravel, which of course is exactly why I was taking the course, so I can get more confident on that kind of stuff. I’ve been on some pretty rough roads but I don’t do it enough to really let it become a natural part of me. I’ll jump ahead right here and tell you that when I left, that gravel road was about as big a non-issue as it could possibly be. It’s all a matter of experience and familiarity.

The first thing we did was to work on riding while standing on the pegs and turning the bike by shifting your weight. I’m well accustomed to standing on the pegs but trying to steer just by shifting my weight is another matter. There were cones in a straight line and the idea was to slalom through them without using the handlebars. Let’s just say it would take a lot more practice for me to do this well, but I did manage to do kind of OK. Kind of. No half-day class is going to make you an expert; presumably you are introduced to some techniques that, if you practice, you will eventually get good at.

Next the idea was to ride from cone to cone while standing, up-shifting and then down-shifting, from the standing position. This entails slipping your foot forward to the shift lever and back away each time. And braking with the other foot as you come to a near stop at each cone, also shifting your foot forward and then back on the peg. The idea here is that you ride with your feet back far enough so that you don’t inadvertently shift or brake when you don’t want to. All that moving around of feet while trying to ride a motorcycle standing up does not come naturally. Again, I’d say I did kind of OK. More practice needed.

And then it was time to do some more slalom, only this time with the cones spread wide from side to side. On one side of the track they were widely spaced down the track; on the other they were tight, so that you almost had to make 180-degree turns to go back to the other side to the next cone. The idea here–besides shifting your body weight in a big way–is that you absolutely have to turn your head way around to look into the turn. I understand this. I learned long ago that the farther ahead you look in a turn the more smoothly you can take that turn. But this was a matter of turning far further than you ever would on the street.

So I did OK on the widely spaced cones. I totally failed to do so on the tightly spaced ones. I was grateful that Kathy confided to me that while Mike is good at doing those tight ones, she has never been able to do them herself. And Mike was very forthright that he had every intention of challenging me, throwing things my way that were not going to be easy. If they’re easy, how much are you really learning?

At that point it was time for a break. There was no shade (attempts they have made to create shade all just get blown away by the prairie winds) but at least sit and rest and consume copious amounts of fluids. And you bet my thighs were already burning from all the standing while riding. I was ready for a break.

Biker Quote for Today

Yes, I do have a retirement plan. I plan on riding.

Unplanned Visits To Boulder Motorcycle Shops

Thursday, August 18th, 2016
Putting a new tire on the Honda.

Putting a new tire on the Honda.

For the first time since I don’t know when, I have six good tires on my three bikes. I went up to Boulder on Wednesday where I was meeting Ron Coleman, of Western Dual Sport Motorcycle Adventures, so he could put a new rear tire on my CB750 Custom. Get together at 9 and I should be home again by noon.

Wrong.

First off, Ron forgot. I was late but he was later, so at 9:30 I called him. Got voicemail and left a message. No big deal for me, it was a beautiful morning and I was sitting in the shade outside a coffee shop drinking a mocha and reading a book. I called again at 10 and this time he answered.

“Hey, where are you?”

“Oh my god! I forgot. I’m leaving now.”

So it was another half hour plus before he made it there from Lafayette. Again, no big deal for me.

We then headed over to Jeff’s, where Ron’s tire-changing machine lives. The wheel came off quickly and the tire came off with no problems and then it was time to put the new tire on. And it was on, though not inflated, when it occurred to me that we had forgotten the new valve stem.

There’s something you need to understand about valve stems on old Hondas, at least the CB750s. They’re almost completely inaccessible. Checking your air pressure is really hard and getting a pump head on is even worse. So we were planning to put on a valve with a 90-degree bend that would be easy to get to. We had put a new valve in on the front tire last fall but now it was time for the rear. And we had forgotten it before the tire was back on the rim.

No problem. Just shove the rubber out of the way and insert the valve. Then pull it through.

Did I say the valves are almost impossible to reach? Ron managed to grab this thing with some pliers but couldn’t get much leverage. And after a lot of trying and a lot of effort . . . it broke off. Now we had to go buy a new one.

Off we went to Mike’s Motorcycle, which was cool because I had never been there. I always like seeing a new shop. But the only 90-degree valve stem they had was the wrong size. So we figured just stop at a car tire place; they always have valve stems. Well, this one did but not anything we could use. Push on.

So we ended up at the Boulder store of G-Force Power Sports. I knew there was a G-Force in Denver but didn’t know they had a shop in Boulder, too. And they had what we wanted. Normally a valve stem costs about $2. For a 90-degree one, however, $10. I bought two just to ensure we didn’t need to make a return trip.

Back at Jeff’s, we took the tire off so as to get the valve stem in as easily as possible, and all went well. And then it all went back together easily and quickly. And presto, I had a new rear tire.

Of course, then between lunch and shooting the bull we ate up some more time. It wasn’t much after 4 by the time I got home. Nothing like spending your entire day getting a new tire. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Biker Quote for Today

We’ll stay up all night working on a bike to just go thrash on it tomorrow.

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Tread

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Some people simply won’t start out on a motorcycle trip without new tires. I know Willie and Jungle are like that. And then there are people like me who look at the tire and think, “Well, this trip will be about 1,500 miles and I’m sure I have that much left on this tire. And if not, I’ll get a new one along the way.”

Bald Kawi Tire

 Hey, the cords weren't showing through yet.

That was the case on this recent OFMC trip. Literally. I had that conversation with myself and then every day at the end of the ride I inspected my front tire to answer one question: Is there enough rubber on it for tomorrow’s ride?

It’s not enough to only ask that question before you start out. I learned that a few years ago when I went down to Arizona Bike Week. I looked at my tires and concluded I had plenty of rubber to get there and get home, but by the time I got there it was evident I had been wrong. As soon as I got to Scottsdale I headed to a local dealership and got new tires.

The tires I was riding on on the Kawi this trip were not a pair. I had gotten two new tires out in Ohio a few years ago when I went out for Vintage Motorcycle Days, but barely 1,200 miles later my rear got ruined by a puncture. I was able to get to Eagle where Jungle set me up with a used rear tire he had taken off his Concours before they went on a trip sometime earlier. And that one was good enough that I only had to replace it finally last year. But now my Ohio front tire was wearing thin.

Each day I checked it, and each day I concluded it would be fine tomorrow. Until the last day, when the disappearance of the rubber was more pronounced than it had been the other days. Hmmmm. I figured it was still good for 250 miles. And it was.

So I was over to Mountain Thunder on Friday to have Joel put a new one on for me.

“Wouldn’t you agree I could have gotten another couple thousand miles out of this tire?” I asked him jokingly.

“I think you should have replaced it a couple thousand miles sooner,” he replied, not joking.

Joel’s probably right. And I probably won’t change my ways.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcyclist: A person willing to take a container of flammable liquid, place it on top of a hot moving engine, and then put the whole lot between their legs.

Learning Who You Can Trust

Thursday, August 11th, 2016
Welcome To Utah

John at least knows I stop at the state line and understands why.

I was riding west on I-70 a few years ago with Bret and Randy and I had a flat just east of Rifle. I was in the rear so it was not immediately apparent to them that I was not with them any more. To make a long story short, they made all the wrong decisions and ended up leaving me stranded. When I was able to rejoin them and the rest of the guys very late the next day, neither of them had a word of apology to offer and I was a bit miffed.

If you ride with a bunch of guys for a while you get to where you know who you can trust and who you can’t. While an apology was not received but would have been appreciated, Bret has nevertheless had several opportunities to demonstrate that he took the lesson to heart and has changed his ways. I feel like I can trust Bret now.

Not so Randy.

On this recent OFMC trip there were three times when common biker etiquette was called for and did not come. I’ve spoken many times about how the OFMC is a group that seriously lacks the discipline many who ride insist on. There are guys who do not ride in staggered formation, or even stay in any one position in the road, and there is one guy who target fixates on the rear bumper of the guy in front of him, getting way too close. For those reasons, I prefer to ride last. I can leave as much room ahead of me as I desire and don’t have to worry about anyone behind me doing something stupid. The downside is that if anything happens to me, I’m dependent on the guy in front of me noticing my absence.

One day of this trip I was riding sweep with Friggs right in front of me. We were nearing Cortez when something metallic fell off his bike, without his notice. I stopped to pick it up; it was the rear shifter off his Harley. I stuck it in my jacket and took off. According to normal biker etiquette, Friggs should have been paying attention behind him, and if he had been he would have noticed I was not there. Then he should have slowed down a bit to see if he could spot me, and if not, he should have pulled over and waited, going back ultimately if I never showed up. And that should have started a similar chain reaction ahead of him.

Have I ever mentioned that Friggs is Mr. Oblivious? Friggs truly seems to live in his own world, a world that only occasionally intersects with the one the rest of us live in. It’s like he turns off his brain and just becomes a sheep. You lead, I’ll follow. Don’t ask any more of me than that.

So they reached Cortez and John and Bill decided to pull into a gas station. At this particular station, if you pull in and take a hard hook to the right you can find some welcome shade. Friggs, who had never noticed I was not behind him, did not stop at the turn-in to make sure I saw that they were turning–another violation of etiquette. Fortunately, I was anticipating they might pull off somewhere so I was looking carefully and I did spot them. But I could easily have ridden right by. Thanks Friggs.

We left there and headed into Utah, toward Monticello. I stopped at the state line to shoot photos for the website, thus dropping back again. Randy was right in front of me. It only took a minute but I never caught up with the group until Monticello, where I found them pulled over by a park in the shade. They didn’t stop for me, they had stopped for lunch. If I had broken down I would have been 16 miles behind them before they noticed.

We went on to Moab that day and the next we backtracked a bit to Utah 46/Colorado 90 over the shoulder of the Manti-La Sal range and again I stopped to shoot pictures at the state line. Randy was in front of me again. This time I flashed my high beam off and on but, again, he didn’t notice I was not there. It was 19 miles before they came to a bridge under reconstruction with a traffic signal controlling the single lane. It was only when they stopped at the red light that they noticed there was no Ken. So they waited and I showed up.

So yes, I bring some of this on myself by stopping the way I do, but hey guys, this is just not acceptable. But I know who in this group I can trust and who I can’t, and I don’t see the bad apples changing any time soon. At least I’m forewarned.

Biker Quote for Today

A long ride is the answer to a question you will soon forget.

Bending Toward Home

Monday, August 8th, 2016
Colorado-Utah state line

The Colorado-Utah state line west of Naturita.

Moab is not the town we once knew. Since about 40 years ago we have been going over there en route to Canyonlands National Park or Arches National Park, on a spring camping trip in March. We used to leave after work on a Friday night, drive all night, and roll into Moab around dawn. Sometimes we would have to wait a bit for the City Market to open so we could get our supplies, and then it was off to the canyons. It was a small town, with not much there.

The night the OFMC spent in Moab this year emphasized the changes. The main drag is totally built out with hotels, restaurants, and all kinds of shops. After dark, when the temperature was down to a more bearable 88, the street was swarming with tourists, with very little English being spoken. This place is now an international destination.

So we got off reasonably early the next morning, before the heat could build too much. Rather than take the usual route to the northeast, toward Grand Junction, we headed back south on US 191 to La Sal Junction where he turned east on Utah 46, which becomes Colorado 90 when it crosses the state line on its way toward Naturita. What a nice road! I’m pretty sure I’ve never been on this road before. How have I missed it?

The road runs up on the shoulder of the Manti-La Sal range and then drops down into Paradox Canyon. It’s full of curves and good scenery and then the drop into the canyon is abrupt. Basically, the road just goes over the edge of the cliff and a series of switchbacks carries you to the bottom. Posted speed is 15 mph and they mean it. Plus, we had been running over tar snakes for quite awhile and now the road was covered with them as we made these tight turns. Plus, by now the temperature had climbed a bit, so they were oozy. OK, we’re taking this nice and easy.

The canyon itself was green and beautiful. I stopped at the state line to shoot photos as I always try to do when crossing the line at a new point. I’ll get these shots up on the website soon but for now, that’s the one looking into Colorado above. It was striking because what I have found in almost every case is that at the state line, the beauty of Colorado rarely shows. It’s almost always prairie or barren. This one was an exception.

We followed CO 90 almost all the way to Naturita but then hit CO 141 and turned north toward Uravan and ultimately up to Gateway. This put us on the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway, which is always a really nice road to ride. Plus, I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden it in this direction before.

It was blazing hot again by now so we were glad to stop in Gateway for some lunch. The Gateway Canyons Resort used to be a good place for bikers to stop, and had a good many purpose-built motorcycle parking spaces, complete with a concrete pad in each one for your kickstand. Not any more. There is no longer a turn-off from the highway that gets you directly to the restaurant, the old parking area is now grass and fountains and sculpture, and you have to know it is there because there’s no sign. But we turned in the main entrance to the resort and after wandering around and then talking to an employee, found our way to a parking lot and walked to the restaurant. John tells us that while this place used to charge $180 a night, that rate is now up to $500 a night, so that tells you the kind of folks they are catering to. What that also means is that the restaurant serves very good food, and the prices are not exorbitant.

Lunch eaten, we headed east through the Unaweep Canyon and picked up US 50 at Whitewater, jogged north a short distance to CO 141 to Clifton and then on to Palisade for the night. Here we were putting up at the Wine Country Inn where John said they offer wine tasting and live music on Friday nights, which is the day it was. This was another of our pricey stops on the “First OFMC Luxury Trip” and we were very disappointed to learn that they only offer the music every other Friday, and this was not one of those. Heck, that was the main reason we went there. We could have stayed at plenty of other nice places for less than $180 per night if we’d known. Again, though, the food was good and it did offer an included buffet in the morning.

And in the morning it was time to head home. Randy and Bret took off first, being inclined to blast on home. John, of course, had the shortest ride, only going to Montrose, so he took his time. The rest of us were not looking to blast, me especially, because my front tire was running very thin. I had looked at it before the trip and knew it was thin but figured it easily had another 1,500 plus miles on it and I’d get a new one when I got home. I had watched it every day and was comfortable but this last day I was a little nervous. It helped that Dennis looked at it and said he was sure it had plenty of rubber for the day’s ride. But I didn’t want to blast like the younger guys had, just in case. We took our time and made several stops. I got home fine.

And that was that. The OFMC 2016 trip was another in the history books.

Biker Quote for Today

You start a car, but you bring a motorcycle to life.

Finding The Good Side Trips

Thursday, August 4th, 2016
Looking out over the canyonlands

The view from up high on our side trip.

We stayed two nights at the Buffalo Thunder resort northwest of Santa Fe, with golf the main attraction on the day we didn’t ride. I was looking forward to playing my once a year game but not being tuned to this sort of thing I did not have a collared shirt. They would have been happy to sell me one for $80 but to pay that absurd price just so I could pay $110 to golf was just a no-go for me. Not gonna happen. So I had a pleasant day on my own.

Heading out the next day the forecast was for rain so we opted to go the direct way to Durango, rather than the indirect way via Bandelier National Park and Los Alamos. It’s still a nice ride either way. We went up to Chama and took US 84 up to Pagosa Springs. From there it was just a blast westward on US 160 to Durango. We spent the night there in a hotel close to downtown, which was nice considering the last time we stayed in Durango we were much further from downtown and missed the last bus. So we walked a long way home after a full night of carousing. Not gonna happen this time. Oh, and yeah: it was amazing how many others there were on bikes staying at this hotel. I guess I ought to add it to the Motels and Hotels page on this website.

From Durango we were headed to Moab. After continuing west on US 160 we took US 491 north out of Cortez and crossed the state line west of Dove Creek, headed toward Monticello. We stopped for lunch in Monticello and I was looking at the map. Specifically a Butler map of Utah. And it showed some color on a road that headed straight west out of town and then arced north and back east to where it reconnected with US 191, which was the direct route to Moab. I figured it would only add about 15 miles to our trip but it was a road we had never been on and we were in no hurry.

John thought it looked good, but he had tied one on a bit the night before and I think he was a bit hung over. He preferred to get to Moab as quickly as he could. A couple of the other guys were not interested either. Dennis was, provided it had no gravel. Dennis has ridden more than any of us but he won’t touch a bit of gravel. He doesn’t want to ding up his very expensive Indian.

So we started asking the locals. Looking at the map I was confident it was all paved but we asked. Bill asked one woman behind the counter whose first word when he asked if she knew the roads around there pretty well was “No.” I tuned out and joined Dennis, who was talking to the cashier. She told us it was definitely paved so that seemed good. We went back to the bikes and Bill told us the other woman had said the road was not paved. I reminded him of her “No” but now Dennis was antsy. We were right outside the public library so he went in there to get a third opinion. He came back smiling, saying they said absolutely, it was paved all the way.

I was glad Dennis was up for this because I doubt Bill or Friggs would have come with me if he hadn’t. So the four of us took the side trip.

What a nice road! This was North Creek Road, which climbed into the hills and looped around until it connected with Utah 211. It turned out when we got there that Utah 211 is the main road you take to get to the south end of Canyonlands National Park. We’ve been on that road many times. Of course it’s paved.

But before we got there it went up high to where we had a fabulous view over the entire canyon area. We could see Dead Horse Point and numerous other landmarks. And on this blazing hot day we were high enough that it was actually cool. Those other guys really missed out.

Then we had to descend and it got hot again. Really, really hot. We pulled into Moab and the temperature was about 108. Get checked in, get a quick shower, and head for the pool! Why in the world do we go to these hot places in July? That’s part of another discussion I’ll go into later.

Biker Quote for Today

Keep calm and take a back road.

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Reserve

Monday, August 1st, 2016
Stopped along the road south of Angel Fire.

Stopped along the road south of Angel Fire.

When the OFMC stopped in Raton on the third day of our trip I got gas along with everyone else. Unlike everyone else’s bikes, my Concours has a 7.5-gallon gas tank so when they all filled up again the next day in Red River I did not. We were headed to Santa Fe and I figured I had plenty of gas to get there.

We backtracked through Eagle Nest and down to Angel Fire, where we took a road we’d never been on before. Heck, I didn’t even know this road existed. I had always had the idea that Angel Fire was a dead end, like Telluride. But no, you can continue south and come out a couple different places. We were headed for Las Vegas (New Mexico).

The road quickly got very small, a narrow two-laner, often with no center line. And it got very twisty. Sweet. In fact, if you look at the Butler map of New Mexico they show a portion of this road in yellow, which means it’s very good. It was.

But it wasn’t long, as we rode this nice portion, before we ran up behind a logging truck. Oh great, now we get to go 10 miles an hour for the next hour. But no, the guy was nice and the first wide spot he found he pulled over to let us past.

So we would our way on south to Las Vegas and I was thinking if I had the chance without inconveniencing the other guys I would get some gas just to play it safe. But there was no way to do that with inconveniencing the others. And I knew I could get to Santa Fe. So now I started playing the game of seeing how far I could go before I had to switch to reserve. I was already at around 240 miles on this tank, and that’s about where I usually just go ahead and flip the lever rather than let run dry and start coughing.

But I get very good gas mileage when we’re going slow as we had been much of the way since Raton so I waited. From Las Vegas it was an I-25 blast to Santa Fe so that caused my needle to drop rapidly. And yet, as the miles clipped away the needle was still only in the red, not even near the E. How long can this go on?

Santa Fe was getting nearer but the needle was getting closer to the E. Finally it left the red entirely and buried itself in the E. But still no coughing or stuttering. Long story short, when I finally did get gas on the west side of Santa Fe my trip meter was at 308 miles and I still had not gone to reserve. It took 5.5 gallons to fill my 7.5-gallon tank so I could have gone more than 400 miles on that tank of gas. But more than 300 miles without flipping to reserve? I guess I don’t need no stinkin’ reserve. Except, of course there was that one time when Judy and I did run out entirely. But that’s another story.

Biker Quote for Today

It’s not what you ride, it’s what you ride for.