Archive for the ‘OFMC’ Category

Ride To Eat, Eat To Ride

Monday, September 4th, 2017
bikers and food

Thanks especially to Dennis, the OFMC never passes an ice cream shop without stopping.

Because, on a motorcycle, the journey is the destination, it’s common practice to look for whatever excuse you can find to ride. Happily, food can be that excuse. There aren’t many things better than an eatery with terrific food that also happens to entail a terrific ride getting to it. For many bikers, eating fast food on the bike is a blasphemy; excellent food is as important an element of the ride as the bike. (Not for me–I eat just about anything.)

Admittedly, the OFMC is not hard core on this the way a lot of riders are. When we’re out on our summer trips we can generally expect to eat at McDonald’s at least once, despite the protests of a minority. On the other hand, we’ve had some extraordinary meals as well.

In the early days of the OFMC we rolled into Laughlin, NV, for a two-day stay. Not wishing to pay the price for the casino hotels, we crossed the river to the Arizona side and found an inexpensive motel. But of course the action was on the Nevada side, so we rode back and forth on the river taxis that shuttle people up and down the shoreline and across the Colorado River.

Come time for dinner that first night and we hit the restaurant in whatever casino we were in, and being a casino, the prices were outrageously cheap. We ordered the $3 prime rib and were absolutely blown away by the best prime rib any of us has ever eaten. That was such a high point it has officially become an OFMC legend. (Yeah, but now the casinos don’t offer those great deals on food. So sad.)

The Local Specialty
On another trip we were in Utah cruising up past Bear Lake, which straddles the border between Utah and Idaho. The primary town in the area is Garden City, where a couple highways come together. It turns out that this place is renowned for its blackberry milkshakes. When in Rome . . .

It seemed pretty low-key that first time, no huge crowds or anything, but we’ve been back several times. What a change. Garden City is packed with tourists of all kinds but especially the two-wheeled variety. Whole groups of bikers run up from Salt Lake City or Logan or Ogden, with the objective being to have a great ride with a special treat at the end. Standing in line at one of the numerous spots selling the shakes you can watch a constant parade of motorcycles rumbling up and down the strip, like a mini-Daytona.

Then there’s Jerome, AZ, which we discovered on one trip and came back to for a visit years later. This old mining town, built perilously clinging to the steep side of a mountain, was practically a ghost town when we first passed through but has since become an artist’s colony and gone very upscale. And it was here that we found a stunningly good French restaurant.

We had broken into groups to find dinner, but found there wasn’t much open, so we all ended up in the one place that was. I can’t remember details but I do recall raviolis with cheese sauces, pizzas like you’ve never seen before, and all of it out of this world. Some of the guys swore they had never had a better meal in their lives. A couple of the guys have since taken their wives back there; it was that good. Sadly, when Judy and I were there this early spring that great Italian place was no longer there.

Sometimes it’s the Setting
Fancy food aside, under the right conditions, and prepared in the right way, even the most mundane meal can be a stand-out. This was the case one year at Lake Powell.

We had headed out of Blanding, UT, for the south shore of the lake, where we would take the ferry over to Bullfrog. The plan was to camp for the night and cross in the morning so we wisely decided to buy food in Blanding. Nothing special, just hot dogs and buns and maybe a can of beans.

What we hadn’t counted on was the total lack of fuel for a fire. This is desert country and it’s not like you can gather fallen limbs to burn. And we don’t exactly carry Coleman stoves on the bikes. We could eat the beans cold but we really wanted to cook the dogs. Scrounging around, we gathered some dried grasses and bits of sagebrush and managed to build the world’s smallest campfire. One by one, holding the hotdogs in our fingers and passing them patiently back and forth across the tiny flame we did cook them.

Now, any food tastes better when you’re hungry, but I’m guessing that in this case the bits of sage we burned played a role, too. One way or another, they were without question the best-tasting hot dogs we had ever eaten. And another OFMC legend was born.

“It’s all about the stories” is a common phrase among motorcyclists. Sometimes the stories are about the food, not the bikes.

Biker Quote for Today

Bikers only wear black because they haven’t invented anything darker.

It Can Be Good To Be High And Dry

Monday, August 7th, 2017
motorcycle in rain

As they say, if you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.

John and Bill and I were pretty naïve in the early days of the OFMC. We would strap bags, tents, and sleeping bags on our bikes with bungee cords and just head out. It took a few “learning experiences” for us to recognize that rain suits are among the most important motorcycle accessories you can carry.

It was just the second year of our annual summer week-long trip, and we were headed for Denver from Santa Fe on our way home. It was July, we were in northern New Mexico and then southern Colorado, so it was a hot day. We were wearing jeans and T-shirts. A little south of Alamosa, coming up U.S. 285, we ran into a cloudburst. Now, we live in Colorado, we’re used to this kind of thing, and we knew that if we just kept riding we would quickly get out the rain. We also figured that we would dry off once we got back into the sunshine. So we kept riding.

We did indeed get out of the rain and dry off as anticipated, and it wasn’t long after that that we reached Alamosa. Pulling up to the stop sign at the main intersection in town we all readily agreed that we would really like to find a coffee shop and get something hot to drink.

Grabbing a table in the place we found we ordered coffee and soon found ourselves shaking with a chill. We poured the coffee down, had them bring another pot, drank it and called for more and more and more until we had drunk about 10 pots. As the shaking continued uncontrollably we eventually realized we were suffering from hypothermia. Yes, the sunshine and the wind had wicked away the wetness, but along with it our body heat had been stolen as well.

Now, hypothermia is always dangerous, and can even be fatal, but it’s especially dangerous on a motorcycle. As your blood retreats to your body core it can leave your brain dulled, which can lead to errors in judgment, which can be extremely dangerous when you’re on two wheels at speed. We agreed that we each needed to carry a rain suit.

Of course, the thing about motorcycling is that nothing is cheap. Good, motorcycle-specific rain suits cost around $150, we discovered. So on the next year’s trip I showed up with an everyday rain suit a roommate had left behind, John had an inexpensive suit he probably paid $25 for, and Bill had picked up something really cheap at Target, for perhaps $8. And it wasn’t long before we needed to use them.

The sky was very threatening as we come down Red Mountain Pass into Silverton, and we pushed on toward Durango with every expectation that we’d be stopping to suit up. Sure enough, about 15 miles out of Durango it started raining and out came the gear. That was when we discovered why motorcycle rain suits cost what they do.

My everyday suit did the best. The big, open sleeves caught the wind and my forearms got wet but other than that I was OK. John’s suit kept him dry until water ran down the front and collected on the seat in his crotch. Then the water soaked through the seams, getting him very wet in that one spot.

Bill’s super-cheapo was an amazing thing to see. He was in the lead and as we rode along John and I started noticing bits of plastic flying by us. Then we realized these shreds were the same color as Bill’s suit, and sure enough, when we got to Durango and pulled over, his rain suit was half gone. Flapping in the breeze, it had simply disintegrated.

So we’ve learned our lesson. Every one of us has a good motorcycle rain suit with sleeves and collars that seal to keep out the wet, that don’t leak at the seams, and keep us dry. In fact, topped off with a good helmet and rain-proof gloves to keep your hands warm and dry, riding in the rain is not an unpleasant thing to do. At times we’ve been hit by the waves thrown up by passing cars and trucks and just shrugged them off.

We may not be super fast learners but we’re not idiots, either.

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you only ride on weekends, when you can.

My Year Of Aborted Motorcycle Trips?

Thursday, July 27th, 2017
motorcycle on Berthoud Pass

Dennis, Bill, and I stopped while coming down the west side of Berthoud Pass.

The OFMC left Friday on our annual 8-day ride. I was home Sunday afternoon. Very, very sick. Yuck!

So as I write this, the other guys are still out there on the trip. But being sick is so much better at home than in some motel somewhere. This is the second bike trip I’ve taken off on so far this year that has not gone as planned. I hope it’s the last for a long time.

There were only six of us this year, down from nine or more for a number of years. Dennis and Bill and I met at Bill’s Friday morning and rode up to Central City for lunch and a little slot machine play. For once, Bill was the loser while Dennis and I both won. Then we rode on over Berthoud Pass to Kremmling, our first night’s stop. Friggs and Brett came along later and John rode in from Montrose. Plus, we had two OFMC riders who were not coming along this year who drove up just for that first night. Johnathon has sold his bike and no longer rides at all. Randy said last year that if we continued going the last week of July, when it is so blazing hot, he would not be coming any more. I thought we had all agreed to move it to a cooler week but when John sent out the itinerary back in February, there we were looking at July 21-28.

So we had a thoroughly lousy dinner in Kremmling and I had a horribly lousy night. I had been kind of sick for a couple days but hoped the worst was past and I would get better. Nope. In the morning we rode on to Leadville and while it was a nice ride, I had had so little sleep that it was hard staying awake. That’s not a good thing when you’re driving or riding a motorcycle. At least our dinner was better than the night before but I was in bed by 7, only to suffer through another terrible, terrible night of very little sleep but a whole lot of sick.

In the morning we were headed on to Gunnison but as we geared up I told the guys I would go with them as far as Buena Vista but from there I was headed home. So that’s what happened, and there I was home again after just two days. And I got a much better night’s sleep Sunday night but still woke up Monday morning feeling like crap. At least I’m at home.

Biker Quote for Today

I’d rather ride with 5 brothers than 50 members who don’t even know my name.

Examiner Resurrection: Touring Yellowstone On Motorcycle

Thursday, June 29th, 2017
Bikers in Yellowstone

Five members of the OFMC at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

This seems like a good time of year to resurrect this particular Examiner piece. I guess you can now disregard the bit about traffic being down due to the recession.

Are tourist traffic jams lessened in Yellowstone this year due to the recession?

The answer is yes. If you’re thinking about riding about coming to Yellowstone but are put off by stories of huge traffic jams, this seems to be a good year to come.

Note: I just read a report that Yellowstone is reporting record visitation for the year. My assessment is purely anecdotal. I’ve been there before and it just was not as crowded this time as previously.

On the other, your economic stimulus dollars are hard at work in the national parks this summer and that translates into construction delays that at times can make the tourist delays pale in comparison.

The OFMC has never “done” Yellowstone before. We’ve gone through it but it was mostly a matter of avoiding all the tourist areas and getting across to the other side. This year we actually did Yellowstone. That is to say, we stopped at places like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, just like ordinary tourists.

We also made some stops that the average tourist may not know about, but which are especially nice on motorcycles. In this case, thanks go to one of our group who had done the park on his bike with his wife last year. He had scouted out the really cool spots and led us to them.

Our route

Yellowstone RouteWe entered Yellowstone from Grand Teton National Park, coming up US 191, which runs north-south through that park from Moran Junction. We actually hit our first major construction delay on the last 8 miles of that road. No simple resurfacing going on here; they were excavating down to roadbase and putting in new base, essentially completely rebuilding the road. It was 8 miles of gravel and dust and stop and go.

Entering Yellowstone, we immediately saw signs telling us that we would encounter construction over the next 10 miles. However, we first hit brand new asphalt and then ran into extremely fresh chip seal. But that was the worst of it in Yellowstone. And coming in we ran right along the rim of a deep gorge. Very beautiful.

We continued on up US 191 and reached Old Faithful, where we pulled off to see the geyser. This stretch of road is essentially four-lane divided highway, complete with a freeway-like interchange to facilitate the masses of traffic. The road was mostly empty as we entered, due to the fact that they geyser was just set to blow. We were still parking as hordes of people came out to their vehicles.

Lesson one: Don’t even try to leave Old Faithful for at least half an hour after it blows. The traffic is worse than most city-type rush hours. Just go get something to eat or drink and take your time.

After the geyser blew again we continued north on US 191, stopping at various hot pools and such. Then, as we approached the connection with US 89, which continues north while US 191 heads west, we made a diversion. Johnathon had found what appears to be a stretch of the old highway, which runs for two miles alongside another gorge. Firehole Falls is the main attraction along here, but there is also a really nice spot with cascades and swimming in the river. A very popular place. (This spot is marked in turquoise on the map.)

We jogged west on US 191 to West Yellowstone for the night, then took it back in in the morning and continued north on US 89. This took us up to Mammoth Hot Springs, which is pretty much what the name says. (Also marked in turquoise on the map.) We stopped and walked around this place but Johnathon had also discovered that there is a road called the Upper Terrace Loop. This one-way strip of asphalt circles all the way around the hot springs, winding its way through the woods. A very nice motorcycle road.

From Mammoth Hot Springs we took Grand Loop Road east to Roosevelt, and from there Northeast Entrance Road to, of all things, the Northeast Entrance. Along the way we saw a bear or two, many buffalo, and various other wildlife. We also encountered that standard for Yellowstone, the tourist traffic jam that occurs whenever anyone spots a wild animal.

Lesson two: Best to take it easy along this road because you never know when you’ll come swinging around a blind curve only to find a mass of cars stopped dead in the road to look at some critter.

We then hit our final construction delay within sight of the park entrance. Ended up sitting there for about 20 minutes before we could finally leave and continue on to our next adventure, the Beartooth highway.

Biker Quote for Today

She asked me to tell her those three words every woman wants to hear, so I said “Let’s go riding.”

Examiner Resurrection: Rain On The Motorcycle Trip — Great!

Monday, March 20th, 2017
Bikers take a break.

OFMC takes a break.

Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a motorcycle trip is a rain storm.

The OFMC is off on its annual summer trip and today we rode out of Meeker, CO, on our way to Kamas, UT. Yesterday was blazing hot and today it was mercifully overcast. We cruised west on US 40 and the sky was threatening but mostly it was an “Oh my god!” day.

West on US 40 is the standard route through these parts but a little west of Duchesne we headed north on a road we’d never seen before, Utah 208. A 10-mile jog hooked us up to Utah 35, which took us up over Wolf Creek Pass and down, ultimately, to Kamas. This is not the famous Wolf Creek Pass that runs from South Fork to Pagosa Springs in Colorado, but it’s an amazingly beautiful pass just the same. And the secret is that it has not been paved for all that long, so it’s almost unknown. I wish I had pictures to show you but when you’re traveling with eight other guys they don’t take to stopping every half mile or so so you can shoot a picture.

But I’m not here to talk about the pass anyway. It’s Utah 208 that I have in mind.

map of road in Utah

We turned north off US 40 after dodging rain for hours. Every time it looked like we were headed straight for some big storm cloud it just slipped on by us. But we turned north on Utah 208 and there was the biggest, stormiest cloud in the sky directly in front of us. Shall we stop now and put on rain gear?

The guys in the lead didn’t stop so on we cruised. And the sky got blacker, and the blackness drew nearer. A pull-off came into view and the turn signals came on. Time for rain suits.

The funny thing is, this is Utah, where, as in Colorado, single clouds move across the sky dumping buckets of rain on everything below and leaving the rest of the world completely dry. By the time two-thirds of us had our rain pants on, one of the guys who didn’t announced that “I don’t think we’re going to need rain gear.” We looked and this black cloud had already moved substantially to the east and the area we were heading for was not looking all that bad.

“Let’s just sit here a while and we won’t need to suit up at all.”

We looked around. We were in a beautiful spot on a road where there were almost zero cars going either direction. And just then a cloud came over so were weren’t even roasting in the sun as we had been when we stopped. We broke out some cold beer and kicked back.

This turned out to be one of the best stops of the day. We stayed there for probably 45 minutes just relaxing, stretching, and enjoying the solitude and beauty. And we don’t make any apologies for the beer, either. We each had one 12-oz can and, as I said, we were there for 45 minutes. It was just one of those spontaneous moments that make trips such as this a joy. Friends out in some gorgeous country, on our bikes, taking it easy . . . it doesn’t get any better than this.

And we never would have stopped if it hadn’t been for the rain. As it was, when we pulled out we missed the cloud entirely and we continued up over Wolf Creek Pass and were just awed by the beauty. I love my motorcycle. It makes moments like this possible.

Biker Quote for Today

“Damn, buying that motorcycle was a bad investment.” Said no one ever.

OFMC 2017 Route Mapped Out

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
motorcycles in Cripple Creek

The OFMC pulling out of Cripple Creek last year.

John has dubbed this year’s upcoming OFMC trip the “Pure Colorado” ride. With a name like that it’s not surprising that it will all be within Colorado.

Of course in all these years we’ve been all over the state, but recently we’ve made a point of staying in towns we have never stayed in before. Maybe we’ve been through them 50 times, but we’ve never stopped for the night. This trip continues that thrust.

Our first night out will be Kremmling. We have stayed there before. Heck, John’s mother and other relatives used to live there, so no surprise.

From there we’ll head to Leadville. This will be a new stop.

Next day it’s on to Gunnison for a two-night stay with a day of golf. This will be a repeat of something we did just a couple years ago. Staying at the Water Wheel Inn we’ll be directly adjacent to the Dos Rios Golf Course. This was a very good stop the last time so doing it again is fine with all of us.

The obligatory casino stop comes next, at Ignacio. Not a new stop.

We’ll head north after that, to Ridgway. This will be new and for the first time ever we will stay here two nights and have a second day of golf. Presuming I play both days it will be the first time I’ve played golf twice in one year since I can’t even remember. I enjoy the game, it just doesn’t rank as a priority for my time the way it does for most of these guys. Generally I only play once a year on the OFMC trip.

From Ridgway we’ll continue north and east over McClure Pass to Carbondale. We’ve stayed in nearby Aspen once or twice but never Carbondale. I’ll be interested to see what the town has to offer. It has always been a pass-through town for me.

And then home. All in all this is not going to be that many miles, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m planning on doing some riding with the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club. I want to put a lot of miles on my bikes this year.

Biker Quote for Today

Bikers don’t go gray, we turn chrome.

Roy’s Mystery Ride

Monday, October 10th, 2016

OK, now this is my idea of a group ride.

On Saturday I went on “Roy’s Mystery Ride,” apparently a traditional thing for the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club (RMMRC), my first with the group. There were a number of things I liked very much about this ride.

directions for the ride

The directions show turns and points of interest to watch for.

First off, each rider was sent off individually, spaced a minute apart or more, so there was never a pack. I don’t like riding in a pack. The OFMC rides in a pack and I’ve never been thrilled with that since we grew to more than three or four guys.

The way it worked, each rider was given a sheet of directions (see photo). You follow the directions step by step until you reach the end. The focus of this ride was observation, so you weren’t just looking for the next turn, you were also looking for some odd stuff along the way.

Effectively, what this meant for a single rider was that you had to stop and consult the directions frequently. I was able to retain two or three–at most four–items ahead and then I had to stop again and look at the sheet. This resulted in a lot of leap-frogging as one rider would pass another who was stopped to look at the sheet, and even a small congregation at one particular spot where you needed to park and look off in the distance for the particular point of interest. So we were sort of a group but also very separate.

The ride itself was really fun. We went down so many roads I had never been on, through some beautiful country, and I loved it. Basically, we did a lot of miles through the Black Forest area each of I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs. This is mostly up on the Palmer Divide and I had no idea there was that much forest east of I-25. I want to look at a satellite photo of this area to really get an appreciation of how extensive it is. It’s like being in the mountains but you’re not in the mountains.

Think about it this way: We’ve all been down I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs. And we’ve all been down CO 83 between them, too. Now go another set of roads to the east. They exist and they are sweet. Who knew?

The ride started at the pretty new Performance Cycle location ultimately ended up at the new BMW of Denver location. BMW of Denver just opened in their new location on Oct. 1 and they were having a blow-out intro on Saturday: food, band, showing the place off.

Once everyone had arrived and had time to get a bite to eat, Roy called us all together to hand out the door prizes. As it turned out, there were more prizes than there were participants. That meant everyone got something, and all the prizes were of greater value than the $10 registration fee we had each paid to participate. What’s not to like about something like that?

So far I’m definitely liking being a member of this group.

Biker Quote for Today

It’s ride o’clock somewhere.

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.