Archive for the ‘motorcycle touring’ Category

Wanting What You Have

Monday, 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’

Thursday, 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.

A First-Timer Rides To Sturgis

Monday, September 11th, 2017

I don’t often accept guest posts but when Chris Ward approached me I decided to give him a shot. Here’s Chris’s story.

Chris Ward on his Harley

Chris Ward

The Best Things About Sturgis

As an avid rider who decided to take off from my office parking lot in Aptos, California, and head to Sturgis for the first time ever this summer, I can tell you quite a bit about the ride north, the people I met along the way and the exciting things I saw once I arrived at the biggest motorcycle rally in the United States. You can read an itinerary on any biking site to see a list of things to do from one day to the next while at Sturgis, but those lists don’t tell you anything about the raw experience you’ll have and the memories you’ll hold for years to come.

First, I was determined to take the 1500+ miles ride alone and I mapped out a ride going through California as well as parts of Nevada and parts of Utah and Wyoming as I rode into South Dakota. I know there are some who will have their motorcycle shipped to get to Sturgis fast and not have the excess wear and tear on the bike, but for me, the ride was half of the fun and this was one trip I needed to take to relax, enjoy the scenery and feel like I was living life fully.

My Ride
The ride to Sturgis was long, dusty at times and extremely hot most of the way. I love to experience rides on the best roads in the U.S. I stopped at almost every roadside café, junk shop and convenience store along the way so I could grab a cold water, stretch my legs and see parts of the country I had never seen before. Oddly enough, I’ve travelled the world but have yet to see some of very heartland of America in person.

In Utah, just outside of St. George, I met up with a small group of bikers who were headed to Sturgis as well and as luck would have it, I was able to spend the rest of my road time riding alongside them. This gave me people to sit and chat with when we stopped to eat and fuel up along the way. It turned out, they were all students from Cabrillo College, a small community college right in Aptos where I live. Apparently, the world truly is small. These college kids were a hoot and I had some great laughs during the times we stopped.

We spent the night at a Marriott Hotel in Provo, Utah, and had dinner at a local steak restaurant before retiring for the night. After some much-needed rest, we headed out before dawn to continue the last leg of the ride through Wyoming and into South Dakota to get to Sturgis by nightfall.

Entering Sturgis and Plans Gone Awry
Entering the actual grounds of Sturgis Motorcycle Festival was intriguing to me. Since this was my first year, I planned to go by a schedule of events I found online and I wanted to stick with the plan so I wouldn’t miss anything. As most things in life however, plans go awry and nothing goes as a person plans. Well, when it comes to sticking to a set itinerary, I blew it. When it comes to having the time of my life, it was incredible!

First, since I rode in with the guys I met on the highway, I decided to forego the first music show and I ended up hitting the campgrounds with them to check out the scenery and meet up with some of their friends who were already at Sturgis. From there, we decided to go bar hopping the first night. Word to the wise on bar hopping: Pace yourself if you indulge in a few drinks during the time spent at bars. This is a huge event and you won’t want to miss it by drinking too much and blurring your time at the rally.

A great thing about bar hopping is that every bar had a different band playing and each had great food. Whether you like traditional bar food including chips, burgers or fries or you like a good steak or a chicken dish, the bars have it all. They also have the coolest people from all over the U.S. and Canada and I even met a couple from France who came over just for Sturgis. I spent many hours my first day listening to bands playing everything from hillbilly Vegas style music to country, rock n’ roll, bluegrass, alternative and more. One of my personal favorites was seeing David Allen Coe and Bush play at the Iron Horse Saloon.

Road Trips Galore
When you decide to toss your itinerary, and go with the flow, you’ll find so much to do at Sturgis both inside the event and even down the road a little way. Every day after I arrived, some of the Cabrilo gang (that’s what I started calling them) and I would head down the road to see the sights near Sturgis. Did you know you can get to Mt. Rushmore and take a scenic cruise through the Badlands? I found some of the most amazing scenery in the country and it was all within 50 miles of Sturgis.

Advice to Heed
If you have never been to Sturgis, I urge you to start making plans now to attend the 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August 2018. This event is one for the record books and it’s one that I wish I had taken time to check out years ago. After the fun that I had and the new friends I met on the way to Sturgis as well as at the rally itself, it would take a lot to cause me to miss another one in the coming years. I have a few short tips for anyone who is thinking about going to Sturgis this coming year.

  1. Go. Don’t delay and don’t second guess! Pack a small bag, book a campsite or a hotel room and ride like the wind to get there. (Or drive your car or truck and have your bike hauled so you can ride it when you’re in Sturgis)
  2. Forget planning a schedule. The best way to enjoy Sturgis (in my opinion) is to just wander around, meet new people and try new things. If you want to see a musician that you love or specific show, stick to a schedule so you won’t miss your favs!
  3. Leave the rally and check out the roads beyond the event.

There’s so much to do at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and when it comes around next year, be sure to have plans to attend so you won’t miss out on all the fun. This is the one rally where no matter what kind of motorcycle you own, or even if you don’t have one at all, you’ll meet exciting people and will absolutely have the time of your life.

Biker Quote for Today

Five things I like almost as much as riding my motorcycle:
1. Looking at my motorcycle
2. Talking about my motorcycle
3. Watching TV programs that have people riding motorcycles
4. Websites about motorcycles
5. Beer

Examiner Resurrection: Alpine Loop Scenic Byway: Another Sweet Utah Motorcycle Road

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

I go out of my way for terrific motorcycle roads and coming home from Tooele, UT, last week was no exception. I wanted to revisit American Fork Canyon and the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, which provide a great alternative route to Heber City and U.S. 40, which was my road back to Denver.

I’ve been this way before more than once. The OFMC discovered this road years ago thanks to a tip from a local and we ride it whenever we can. If you’re out in the Salt Lake City area you should make a point of riding it, too.

Fortunately, in the farflung reaches of the Salt Lake City metro area, the American Fork Canyon is easy to find, provided you know it exists. From I-15, exit east onto Utah 92 just south of Point of the Mountain and follow this road arrow straight to the cleft in the rock that is the mouth of the canyon. Then kiss the city good-bye, there’s none of that ahead.

You’ll quickly reach an entrance station for Timpanogos Cave National Monument but if you’re only passing through there is no fee. Should you pay the $6 fee and visit the monument? I have to admit we never have, but here’s what the official website says about the place.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument sits high in the Wasatch Mountains. The cave system consists of three spectacularly decorated caverns. Helictites and anthodites are just a few of the many dazzling formations to be found in the many chambers. As visitors climb to the cave entrance, on a hike gaining over 1,000 ft in elevation, they are offered incredible views of American Fork Canyon.

Make your way through the canyon, which is pretty spectacular in its own right, and then bear right to head on up the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. This is a winding, twisting, amazingly narrow strip of asphalt that loops up to Alpine Summit and then on down past Sundance Ski Resort. It hits U.S. 189 running through Provo Canyon and a left will take you up to Heber City and U.S. 40, or a right takes you down into Provo.

Biker Quote for Today

God makes the lightning, bikers make the thunder.

Doing The Dragon — By Accident

Monday, July 17th, 2017
Viewpoint on the Tail of the Dragon.

I had my camera on the wrong setting, so this photo is not as good as it might have been, but this is a scenic overlook along the Tail of the Dragon. That blur is a bike racing by, in case you couldn’t tell.

Judy and I were in Clemson, South Carolina, last week visiting my mother and planned to drive to Knoxville, Tennessee, via the Cherohala Skyway to fly home. Plans changed so we didn’t have time for the skyway, so we looked at a map and found a route that was pretty direct but also identified as scenic, US 129. A no-brainer.

I was aware of a good many motorcycles going the other way as we headed along north on this road, but there was a point where I started having a very strong suspicion. This was when we pulled into a small community with a whole lot–I mean a lot–of motorcycle stuff as well as a large, metal dragon. Judy asked Google and sure enough, we had inadvertently found ourselves in Deal’s Gap, on the Tail of the Dragon.

So OK, we were in a car, not on a bike, but there we were nonetheless. Now we would get to see what this fabled road is like.

And it wasn’t very much like what I had imagined. Through everything I’ve seen and read I had the impression that the Tail of the Dragon largely ran down a river valley with the road following the twists and turns of the stream. Frankly, my mental image of it was not anything I was terribly interested in. I can find plenty of twisty roads out here in Colorado. That wasn’t it at all.

In fact, the Dragon has plenty of ups and downs as well as all the curves. It’s not unlike a lot of twisty Colorado mountain roads, although you don’t get the kind of views you do here. First off, it’s not so high and the hills are not so high. Secondly, the tall deciduous trees block your view a lot.

Not that we didn’t enjoy the road. Our rental car was a subcompact that had energy and was quite agile. And living here I am totally comfortable driving roads with a lot of curves. We whipped along and it was fun.

Now, part of the enjoyment may have been due to the fact that this was a week-day and there was not that much traffic, and most of what there was was going the other direction. From what I hear, the Dragon is super busy on week-ends and that would have been less than wonderful.

One clue that really tells you you’re on the Dragon is all the photographers staked out along the road shooting pictures of everyone who goes by, with big banners telling you the website to go to order your photos.

We stopped at the overlook in the photo above and spoke there with a couple Canadian brothers who had ridden the road one direction, turned back to ride it the other way, and were now going back again to continue on their journey. They thought it was a pretty fun ride.

And now having driven it, I will say I would enjoy riding it. I never had any interest before but now I do. It’s a nicer road than I had pictured. It would be fun on a bike.

Biker Quote for Today

You’re only one bike ride away from a good mood.

Riding For The Fun Of It

Monday, June 5th, 2017
Up on Skyline Drive

Some of the folks on this ride had never been up on Skyline Drive, at Canon City.

Just home yesterday from a four-day ride with a bunch of folks. It was Willie’s birthday (and our wedding anniversary) so what the heck, why not go for a fun little excursion.

I’ve mentioned Willie and Jungle numerous times before. They live in Eagle and Willie runs a motorcycle tour company called Ball O’ String Custom Adventure Tours. Willie did the planning and organizing for this excursion so we knew we were guaranteed to have a good time.

We met up the first night down in Pueblo, Judy and I having taken the scenic route through the mountains to get there, rather than the interstate. At that point we had one Yamaha, two beemers, and us on my Concours. Plus there were a few folks in cars. Hey, no need to exclude people just because they don’t ride.

We had a birthday/anniversary party at the home of friends in the area and got the trip off to a good start.

Next morning we headed west out of Pueblo on CO 96, otherwise known as the Frontier Pathways Scenic & Historic Byway, to Wetmore, and then south until we hit the Greenhorn Highway, CO 165. This took us by Bishop Castle, though we didn’t stop at this point, on to Lake San Isabel and our quarters for the night at the San Isabel Lodge.

After unloading and settling in we headed back to Bishop Castle where we were to meet more folks. Just as we arrived the skies opened up so it got a bit wet and muddy, but what the heck. Everyone who had never seen Bishop Castle was properly impressed and those of us who had been there were–as always–interested in the ever-changing progress Jim Bishop has made since our last visits.

While there we also spoke with a couple guys on beemer dual-sports, one of whom had ridden the day before from Billings, Montana, to Denver, and the two of them had come here and were headed on yet to Creede that day. Serious riders here.

Back at the San Isabel Lodge we now had another Concours and two Harleys added to the group. One of the cabins had a huge main room, dubbed the Grand Ballroom, where everyone could gather and more birthday partying ensued.

Come morning some of the group rode directly to Cripple Creek but the majority of us went to Canon City where we rode the Royal Gorge train up through the canyon and back, with lunch served. Then it was on to Cripple Creek, with a detour to do the Skyline Drive loop. Then west on US 50 to pick up the back route to Cripple Creek.

Still more people joined us in Cripple Creek, so when we headed out to a dinner buffet there were 19 of us altogether. And once again Willie was serenaded with “Happy Birthday.”

Sunday morning then it was time for folks to go their separate ways. Judy and I headed north to Divide to pick up US 24, to Woodland Park, and then north the way we had come down originally. Lots more people–and a heck of a lot of motorcycles–on a Sunday than on the Thursday morning we had come down. And then back to Denver and home on US 285. It was a good little 450-mile, four-day run. And now, as always, we’ve got a whole lot of stuff to catch up on here at home. Ah, travel!

Biker Quote for Today

To every biker girl her helmet is her crown.

Guanella Pass Now Has A Page Of Its Own

Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Guanella Pass page.

I just got a new page up for the recently paved Guanella Pass.

Well, it took me awhile. It always does. Guanella Pass has been completely paved for at least a year now, maybe longer, I don’t recall, but I only just now got it up on its own page on the website. Plus, a few days earlier, I set up the Motorcycle Camping on Guanella Pass page, with info about each of the four campgrounds along this road.

Previous to this–and previous to it being paved–I had this pass up on the Dirt Roads and Side Trips in Colorado page. Not any more.

The reason it takes me so long to get these things done is that there is so much involved. First I had to go ride the pass a few times, shooting photos and jotting down pertinent information. Then in the middle of it all I got this GoPro camera so I went and rode it again shooting video so I could include some video highlights of the ride.

Well, you can chalk that one up to learning how to use the GoPro. I won’t bother you with more detail of that, only just say there is no video on the page at this point. And the photos are basically OK for now; I had to patch together a bunch from several different trips up there over the course of several years. At some point I’d like to make it less of a hodge-podge.

I also decided I want to make Guanella the first of a second batch of web pages that are designed to be mobile friendly. Something you can view easily on your smartphone. And along with that I wanted to use an interactive Google map rather than the static Microsoft Streets and Trips maps I’ve always used till now.

Once again, there was a learning curve but I figured it out and that is what this new page has. There is an issue, though, in that at least on my desktop computer the map loads very slowly. Like, five to ten seconds, during which time there is just this empty rectangle. I may swap out the desktop version with a Streets and Trips map, while keeping the mobile-friendly page with the Google map.

And oh yeah, I haven’t got the mobile-friendly page ready yet. You can’t just do a copy and paste. What works on a big screen usually doesn’t work very well at all on a tiny screen.

I won’t bore you either with all the little tweaks necessary to integrate a couple entirely new pages into the overall website. Let’s just say there is a ripple effect that no one but me would even be aware of.

Now it appears they are finally paving the west side of Cottonwood Pass. I guess in about a year I’m going to need to do this all over again for Cottonwood.

Biker Quote for Today

Oh, you ride a motorcycle? That explains why you’re getting so many women.

You Find The Nicest Places On A Honda

Monday, May 29th, 2017
Carhenge

Carhenge the first time we saw it. It doesn’t look like this today.

Motorcycle touring is not like traveling in a car. A car is like a magic carpet: you just sit there and after a while you’re somewhere else. Riding a bike takes much more concentration and physical involvement. Consequently, for many of us, 200-300 miles is often a full day’s ride.

Motorcycle touring is more about discovering great places than it is about burning miles. Sure, there are the Iron Butt guys who go out and ride 1,000 miles in a day, but that’s not what I’d call touring. The beauty of the relaxed, easy-going riding approach is that you stop a lot, and sometimes those stops are the best part of the trip.

Case in point: My riding buddies and I were cruising down from the Black Hills, through western Nebraska near Alliance, and saw a place to pull off. (We’re really big on places to pull off – after an hour or so on the bike your legs are getting stiff, your butt is getting numb, and what could be better than to bask in the sun somewhere out in the middle of nowhere?) Looking around, we noticed there were trails heading into the trees, and somewhere off in there was something odd sticking up. We decided to go investigate, and then, our jaws dropped. “Oh my god, what is this?” we asked.

This was Carhenge. Imagine if you will, a farmer with a playful bent gathering a bunch of dead cars, planting them in the ground, stacking them up, and then painting them gray, to imitate Stonehenge, the Druid relic in England. And not just in haphazard fashion – the positioning of this oddball piece of art was carefully measured out to make Carhenge as true to the original as possible.

And we stumbled right into it. If we’d been in a car we would have just blasted on past.

Jerome, Arizona, was another of those serendipitous finds. Sure, today Jerome has been “discovered” and reborn with galleries, restaurants, and all the other things that come when a town becomes trendy. But we found it first.

A number of years ago, having spent the night in Sedona, Arizona, a trendy town that had already been discovered, we were heading to Las Vegas. Anyone whose intent was to get to Vegas would have taken the road to Flagstaff and flown west on I-40. That was not our intent; we were on motorcycles.

Instead, we headed west on 89A toward Clarkdale because the map showed some mountains and some twisty roads going over to Prescott. For a biker, twisty roads equals heaven. But we never dreamed we would find ourselves winding through switchbacks up the sheer face of a mountain, to find ourselves in a town built vertically on that face. This was Jerome, an old, nearly-abandoned, mining town.

Jerome has one main street that comes up the face of the hill, switches back and climbs higher, then switches back and climbs higher still. Some buildings have their front door on the same street as their back door, just at a different elevation. And of course the views are spectacular. We fell in love with this place. Apparently a lot of other people did too.

It’s not necessary, however, to stumble onto some unexpected gem to have a great stop on the bike trip. Just this summer my friends and I were heading toward Kamas, Utah, about to go over a pass, and there were black clouds up ahead. Prudence convinced us we’d better stop and put on rain gear. (Even though putting on rain gear is a pain and we try to avoid it unless it’s really necessary.)

In this case, as most of the guys were pulling on their rain pants, one guy suggested that if we just took a break there for a while the rain would pass and we could ride on without the gear. There was no shade where we were, and the sun was beating down, but just about then a cloud came over and the idea of waiting became very appealing.

Off came the rain gear, out came the cold beers, and for 45 minutes we sat and relaxed and reveled in the soul-fulfilling sweetness of just hanging out in some beautiful middle of nowhere. And then we rode on under clear skies. Beautiful indeed.

Biker Quote for Today

You don’t have to be a cowboy to ride off into the sunset.

The Barber Trip That Wasn’t

Monday, May 15th, 2017
Motorcycle in snow

This is what we woke up to our first morning on the road.

Judy and I headed out on this Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club (RMMRC) “Pilgrimage to Barber” but we never got there. Mother Nature intervened.

The group was planning to leave on Saturday but Judy and I didn’t want to do the 450-mile day entailed in going all the way to McPherson, Kansas. We decided to leave on Friday and make that stretch a two-day trip. I found what appeared to be a delightful BnB in Coolidge, Kansas, and made a reservation.

Meanwhile, weather reports were saying a big winter storm was blowing in. The rest of the group decided to leave on Friday, too, and book a second night at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, so as to get the rest of the trip (and motel reservations!) back on track. We figured fine, we’d meet up with them in Eureka Springs instead of McPherson. We figured we’d be fine, because we would stay ahead of the storm.

Wrong.

We rode to Coolidge that first day and the BnB was everything I hoped it would be. If you’re ever out there and need to stop for the night I strongly recommend the Trail City Bed & Breakfast. It’s clean and very attractive, exceedingly well maintained, comfortable, and Lori is a great cook. Plus, it’s dirt cheap.

In the morning we got up to what you see in that photo above. OK, let’s think about this.

First off, you’ll notice that the pavement is only wet. It was windy for sure but the roads appeared clear, and after vacillating all morning I finally said let’s go for it. The weather radar was telling us if we could get east of Garden City we would be out of the snow. Into rain probably, but not snow. And Garden City was only 69 miles away.

We didn’t get that far. We were happy to make it 42 miles to Lakin where we pulled in to the first motel we saw. The wind was blowing like a banshee and the roads were not as clear as they had been in Coolidge. I’ll tell you about that 42 miles in my next post.

We stayed in Lakin three days. We had no choice. We were snowed in and the following day the highway was officially closed.

In the morning we were clearly snowbound. There were eight inches on the ground, it was still coming down hard, and the wind was still blowing like a banshee. Also, the power was out, so there was no heat in the motel. The road was closed because the powerlines had fallen down all along the highway.

Long story short, it was two more days before we could leave. We got east of Garden City and we both immediately noticed that the temperature went up 10 degrees. And there was no snow anywhere to be seen. So if we only could have gotten past there . . .

Initially we figured we would catch up with the group even later, and eventually later stretched to after they had visited the Barber Motorsports Museum–the object of this pilgrimage–and were headed back. But after three days in Lakin we decided to just go on to Wichita and visit a cousin of mine who I hadn’t seen in 60 years. And after that we went down to Oklahoma City and visited a nephew of mine and met his wife for the first time.

Then we spent three days getting back to Denver, playing tourist, stopping at several national park units, and seeing new country. It was a good three days.

Nearing home, we ran into a downpour between Elizabeth and Franktown, suited up, immediately rode out of the rain, started to cook in the rain gear, but then got closer to town and saw dark clouds. Sure enough, the last five miles home was in another downpour. And that was our 10-day trip.

Biker Quote for Today

What if I told you you need to actually ride a motorcycle to be a biker?

Riding To Alabama

Monday, April 24th, 2017
trip listing

The trip listing from the club website.

I did finally make up my mind to go on this “Pilgrimage to Barber” with others in the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club (RMMRC). Barber, just to be clear, is the Barber Motorsports Museum and racetrack outside of Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s going to be an interesting trip in a lot of ways. In fact, so interesting–at least in my conception–that I pitched it as a story idea to Mark Tuttle, editor-in-chief of Rider magazine. Mark sent me a quick acknowledgement email saying he’d get back to me ASAP on my idea.

I’m not totally sure why I’ve had such uncertainty about going on this trip. Presumably it has to do with a) taking a long trip with folks I either do not know or hardly know, b) at least one 400+ mile day, and c) doing so many miles in such a short time. But I routinely go on trips of this length with the OFMC in fewer days and I have taken at least one other long trip with strangers and had a great time. So what’s the big deal? Why was I hesitant?

Frankly, I still can’t answer that question. I just was. I finally concluded that the best approach would be to just do it and see how it goes. If we really don’t like it we won’t do it again in the future.

What I pitched to Mark correlates to those issues.

The core concept is that the RMMRC is a particularly active riding club and such groups offer an excellent opportunity to connect with others who share your passion, not to mention actually go riding. That core is then fleshed out in addressing the issues I mentioned. At least part of the idea is helping other people facing similar uncertainties to resolve their concerns.

A sidebar point I hope to address–perhaps in an actual sidebar, written by her–is that Judy has never been on an extended ride with a bunch of other people. This is something I’ve been doing with the OFMC every year for more than 25 years but she has never done it. I’m hoping her take on it all will be fresh and interesting.

Then there’s the basic idea of a “pilgrimage” to Barber. Visiting the holy shrine. If you’re into motorcycles, Barber is one of the premier places to see a vast array of different bikes through the decades. Plus, one RMMRC member on this trip is a member of the Barber Board of Directors and thus will be able to get us possibly onto the track for a lap or two and definitely into the catacombs where bikes are stored before being rebuilt and put on display. In other words, a true fanatic’s dream.

So we’ll see what Mark thinks of the story idea. Either way, we’re going and I’ll be writing about it here.

Biker Quote for Today

A hundred years from now my great grandkids will not recall my bank balance, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but they will remember I rode a motorcycle.