Summer 2009 Ride

Day 1 – 7/30/09

I left around 9:00 am this morning. By the time I filled-up with gas and a bought new toothbrush, it was around 9:30.

I took I-88 to Binghamton and then turned south on I-81 through Pennsylvania. About 2:00 in the afternoon just past Scranton, road construction slowed traffic down to about 1 mph for about 1/2 mile and then finally stopped traffic completely. I shut the bike off and put the kickstand down and took my jacket off. After a few minutes, I went back and started talking to a guy in the truck behind me. He’s originally from Oswego NY but lives in Tennessee now. After being stopped for about 10 minutes, we moved about 100yards and stopped again. This went on for about 45 minutes until traffic finally started moving at about 10mph. All-in-all, it took about an hour to go 3 miles.

I had to stop on I-81 again about 30 miles past Wilkes-Barre. I’m not quite sure why we stopped because there wasn’t any road construction. We just stopped for about 10 minutes and then started going again. Thankfully, this was the last time I had to stop on the interstate.

It only took about 20 minutes to get through Maryland and into W. Virginia. The State Police in WV were out in force today. I saw 4 or 5 cars pulled over, presumably for speeding, in a 30-40 mile stretch of road.

I had a bit of a scare after my last gas stop. After filling-up, I headed back out onto I-81. When I hit the switch on the GPS to power it up, it didn’t do anything. I pluged the charger into it and still nothing. Now I’m worried. Navigation isn’t one of my strong points so I really count on having the GPS to help me figure out where I am and how to get wherever it is that I’m going.

I got to Harrisonburg VA at around 8:00pm and found a Motel6. The first thing I did was check the GPS and I found that it has a reset button on the back which I promptly pressed. It worked – the GPS started up and seems to be fine.

Today’s weather was perfect for riding. There were plenty of clouds to keep the sun under control. I drove through a few sprinkles but other than that, no rain.

I’ll be heading out towards the Blue Ridge Parkway in the morning.

Trip Stats:

  • States: NY, PA, MD, WV, VA
  • Miles Travelled Today: 519
  • Total Miles: 519

Day 2 – 7/31/09

I got started around 8 am under cloudy skies. I rode to Waynesboro, VA and started down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road is a simple 2 lane road that winds along the top of the mountains. The road is in good condition and the speed limit is 45 mph. There aren’t any tough hairpin turns or ridiculously steep grades making it a nice comfortable ride at 40-45 mph.

The scenery on this road is fabulous. There are green mountains and valleys everywhere you look. While the clouds often limited what could be seen, they also added to the beauty of the landscape. There are plenty of places where you can pull off the road to enjoy the view and take pictures.A view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

About 20 miles from the beginning of the Parkway, I began seeing some raindrops on the windshield and riders coming from the other direction had rain gear on. I pulled over and put mine on before I got too wet. It didn’t rain very hard, and thankfully, it was in the mid 70’s so it wasn’t cold or uncomfortable riding. There were a few sections of the road where clouds almost completely obscured the road making it hard to see more than 30 feet in front of you.

I went about 125 miles on the Parkway before exiting near Roanoke, VA at around 2:00. I was hungry and wanted to start heading towards Tennessee. I got back on to I-81 and headed for Knoxville.

Thankfully, I still had my rain gear on because I rode through about 2 hours of light to moderate rain. It was kind of frustrating because a few miles to my right I could see blue skies but to the left was rain. As luck would have it, the edge of the rain followed the road for about 100 miles. Every time it looked like I was headed for clear skies, the road would turn back into the rain.

The rain subsided as I neared Bristol TN at around 4:30. I stopped for gas, took my rain gear off, and headed back out. I had to stop one more time to put it back on because there was a ominous looking cloud up ahead. As it turns out, that cloud didn’t produce any rain but later on, I rode through a stretch of highway that was quite wet. While it didn’t actually rain on me, the road spray from cars and trucks made it seem like it was raining.

I stopped for gas again just past Knoxville. Convinced that it wasn’t going to rain again, I once again took the rain gear off. The remainder of the ride was actually quite pleasant with no more rain or wet roads.

I finished up in Cookville TN about 75 miles east of Nashville. I stopped at a Super 8 motel and checked in only to find out my credit card was declined. Since this happened last year, I knew what the problem was so I paid for the room with another card. What happens is that the credit card company sees the card being used for multiple gas purchases across a number of states and it flags it for fraud. Since this happened last year, I spoke with them Thursday morning before I left and told them that I was going to be travelling but apparently, that didn’t prevent the computer from automatically de-activating the card. I called them and explained what was going on and they assured me that it won’t happen again. We’ll see …

  • States: VA, TN
  • Miles Travelled Today: 550
  • Total Miles: 1,069

Day 3 – 8/1/09

I got started this morning around 9:00. The sun was shining and it looked looked like a good day for a ride. However, the national weather report showed a band of storms from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico so I knew that I was going to hit rain sometime during the day.

About 50 miles West of Memphis, the rain started. I stopped, got gas, and put the rain gear on again. I hit a downpour about 2 miles down the road and after about 25 miles in the rain, I had to pull off because I really couldn’t see where I was going. After eating lunch, the rain had slowed down enough to get back on to the road. It finally cleared up as got to Little Rock.

Sometimes it amazes me just how abrupt changes in geography can be. As I crossed the Mississippi River from Tennessee into Arkansas, the land changed from hilly to totally flat. Arkansas seems to be flatter than Midwest states such as Iowa and Nebraska. Western Arkansas has hills and mountains but the eastern part was just flat farmland.

One odd thing about today was the number of vehicles with tire and wheel problems. I saw 4 or 5 cars with flat tires and 2 cars where one of the front wheels was gone and the car was resting on the brake rotor. Then, late in the afternoon I saw a tractor trailer on the side of the road with a torn up front fender and no front tire. I’ve travelled a lot of interstate highways and have never seen this many tire problems in a single day.

The last couple of hours were a nice easy ride. With the sun behind the clouds, it was a little cool but still comfortable riding with a sweatshirt. Armadillos seem to make up the majority of road-kill here. I stopped at a Motel 6 about 20 miles into Oklahoma in a town called Sallisaw.

  • States: TN, AR, OK
  • Miles Travelled Today: 614
  • Total Miles: 1,683

Day 4 – 8/2/09

I didn’t get started today until around 10 am because I didn’t sleep to well last night – probably drank way too much coffee yesterday. It was a perfect day for riding today. No rain, the sun was out, and it was nice and warm.

I took I-40 about 20 miles past Oklahoma City and stopped to eat lunch around 2:00. I decided to head north on Rt 281 through Oklahoma towards Medicine Lodge Kansas. Rt. 281 is a nice smooth road that goes north towards Kansas. There were very few cars on the road and the speed limit is 65 so it’s a nice easy ride.

There were a number of small towns along 281. Many of these towns seemed to have more vacant buildings than non-vacant ones. While I wouldn’t call them ghost towns, they certainly didn’t appear to be thriving either. Between towns there are large expanses of land with bright red dirt that appears to be used primarily for cattle grazing. There wasn’t a lot of land with crops planted until I got to the northern part of Oklahoma.

P51
P51

Riding into a small town about 20 miles from Kansas, I spotted two P51 Mustangs parked in a small airport. I turned into the airport to take a closer look at them. They were fully restored and in perfect condition. I talked with a local gentleman how explained that this was their home airfield and they had just returned from the airshow at Oshkosh.

When I got to Medicine Lodge, I decided that I’d head to Dodge City and find a hotel for the night. On the way to Dodge City, I passed through Greensburg, Kansas. Greensburg was levelled by an F5 tornado a couple of years ago. The story of this town’s disaster and their efforts to rebuild are on a TV show on the “Planet Green” channel.

All-in-all, it was a great day of riding.

  • States: OK, KS
  • Miles Travelled Today: 480
  • Total Miles: 2,163

Day 5 – 8/3/09

I got started around 9:00 am today under clear skies. As I rode West on Rt 50/400 across seemingly endless miles of straight highway, my legs were constantly being hit by grasshoppers. I’m sure glad I have a windshield.

There are many large feedlots with thousands of cows in large pens. You always know when one of these is nearby – you can smell them from a mile a way.

As I crossed from Kansas into Colorado, it was about 100 degrees and getting warmer. The eastern part of Colorado is just as flat as Kansas and I was really getting tired of riding down straight roads. I found myself looking forward to every slight bend in the road just to break-up the boredom of the ride.

A storm on the horizonAt some point, I saw an isolated storm cloud on the horizon. It was a small storm cloud, but it was definitely producing rain and I was almost hoping to drive through it in order to get out of the hot blazing sun. Just when it looked like I was going to miss the rain, the wind started getting very strong and I saw a few raindrops on the windshield. Within a few seconds, the wind got so strong that I had to slow down and lean to the right just to keep going straight. I’m guessing that the wind was probably about 50-60 mph because the rain started hitting me from the right side and stinging my face as if I was driving directly into rain. It was really odd because only my right side was getting hit by rain and when I got through it, only my right pant leg was wet.

A view from Wolf Creek PassAt around 2 pm, I got to Walsenburg CO and saw the Rocky Mountains on the horizon. It’s interesting how the landscape changes abruptly from flat to mountainous. As I climbed the mountains, the bike began struggling to maintain speed. The high altitude really affects the power of the engine. At about 7,500 feet above sea level, I found it necessary to downshift to 4th gear just to keep going 60 mph. This road takes you through Wolf Creek Pass where I observed a maximum altitude of 10,880 feet on the GPS.

I got into Durango, CO at around 7 pm Mountain Time. As I was checking in, I met a couple from Canada and decided to go across the street to eat at a Texas BBQ place. Harvey and Rose had been riding through the US for the past couple of weeks and we shared stories as we ate dinner.

  • States: KS, CO
  • Miles Travelled Today: 518
  • Total Miles:2,681

Day 6 – 8/4/09

I left Durango around 9 am and headed west on Rt 160. After going through some mountains, the landscape turned into desert. I followed Rt 160 to Kayenta, AZ and then turned north onto Rt 163 taking me through Monument Valley. Rt 163 isa long straight road across flat desert with 1,000 foot high red cliffs all around making for some spectactular scenery.

You've been warned ...When I got to Mexican Hat, UT, I went up Rt 261. There were some signs warning of “unimproved roads” but I decided to continue on despite the warnings. The road turned into a steep gravel road with ridiculously sharp hairpin turns that bring you up the side of a large mesa. Of course there are no guardrails so if you go off the road, you fall 1,000 feet straight down. I think this is the scariest road I’ve ever traversed but thankfully, it was only a couple of miles to the top.
Natural Bridges National Monument

I continued up Rt 261 to the Natural Bridges National Monument. The park contains some amazing natural bridges carved out of the stone. There was also an ancient Anastazi dwelling that could be seen from one of the overlooks.

Back out on the road, I happened to see a cow grazing alongside the road. I had seen many signs warning of cows in the road but this was the first time I actually saw one. I slowed down and considered taking a picture but then I noticed that this was a bull so rather than taking a chance of getting attacked by a cow in the middle of the desert, I would just keep moving and avoid an incident.

I spent the remainder of the day riding up Rt 191 ending up in a town called Moab UT. It was a actually a nice day to ride in the desert. While it was hot, it wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as some of the time I spent in the desert last year.

  • States: CO, AZ, UT
  • Miles Travelled Today: 383
  • Total Miles:3,064

Day 7 – 8/5/09

I started out this morning by going into the Arches National Park which was only about 10 miles from the hotel. The sun was out and it got rather hot by noon time. There were quite a few people at the park so having a motorcycle made parking in the various scenic overlooks lots much easier.

To say that the scenery was amazing would be a bit of an understatement. There are rock formations with cliffs that go hundreds of feet straight up and others where huge boulders perched precariously atop of narrow columns that seem to defy gravity. Since this is Arches Nat’l Park, there also numerous natural arches all over the place.
I left Arches Nat;l Park around 1:00 and went back into Moab to get lunch. After having lunch, I headed out to the Canyonlands National Park. Turning off of 191 towards the park there were signs warning that there were ‘no services and limited water ahead’. I always have 4-5 bottles of water with me as I head into the desert because you really need to drink a lot when it’s 100 degrees outside.
The ride to Canyonlands was quite peaceful with very few cars on the road. As I approached the entry point of the park, I saw clouds and rain on the horizon. I paid my entry fee and proceed into the park under overcast skies. The clouds cooled things down quite a bit and for the remainder of the day, it was actually quite pleasant. I only hit a couple of sprinkles which actually cooled things down and felt good.
The best way to explain Canyonlands Nat’l Park is that its kind of like a mini Grand Canyon. I had to travel miles between view points but the view was woth it. You look straight down a thousand feet to the bottom of the canyon. There are often two or three different levels to the canyon with different landscapes at each level.
After leaving Canyonlands, I headed north towads I-70. At one point, there were signs warning that there are no services for the next 109 miles. Needles to say, i stopped and got gas before heading out onto this stretch of highway. This interstate highway goes through more incredible landscapes. I ended up staying in a hotel in Cedar City UT not too far from Zion.

I started out this morning by going into the Arches National Park which was only about 10 miles from the hotel. The sun was out and it got rather hot by noon time. There were quite a few people at the park so having a motorcycle made parking in the various scenic overlooks lots much easier.

Arches National parkTo say that the scenery was amazing would be a bit of an understatement. There are rock formations with cliffs that go hundreds of feet straight up and others where huge boulders perched precariously atop of narrow columns that seem to defy gravity. Since this is Arches Nat’l Park, there also numerous natural arches all over the place.

I left Arches Nat;l Park around 1:00 and went back into Moab to get lunch. After having lunch, I headed out to the Canyonlands National Park. Turning off of 191 towards the park there were signs warning that there were ‘no services and limited water ahead’. I always have 4-5 bottles of water with me as I head into the desert because you really need to drink a lot when it’s 100 degrees outside.

Canyonlands National ParkThe ride to Canyonlands was quite peaceful with very few cars on the road. As I approached the entry point of the park, I saw clouds and rain on the horizon. I paid my entry fee and proceed into the park under overcast skies. The clouds cooled things down quite a bit and for the remainder of the day, it was actually quite pleasant. I only hit a couple of sprinkles which actually cooled things down and felt good.

The best way to explain Canyonlands Nat’l Park is that its kind of like a mini Grand Canyon. I had to travel miles between view points but the view was woth it. You look straight down a thousand feet to the bottom of the canyon. There are often two or three different levels to the canyon with different landscapes at each level.

After leaving Canyonlands, I headed north towads I-70. At one point, there were signs warning that there are no services for the next 109 miles. Needles to say, i stopped and got gas before heading out onto this stretch of highway. This interstate highway goes through more incredible landscapes. I ended up staying in a hotel in Cedar City UT not too far from Zion.

  • States: UT
  • Miles Travelled Today: 446
  • Total Miles:3,510

Day 8 – 8/6/09

I headed out towards Zion National Park this morning and decided to go into the Kolob Canyon first. This part of the park is a short 5 mile ride up to a 1/2 mile trail that leads to a nice overlook spot. The morning sun and light haziness in the air meant that the pictures didn’t come out quite as well as I had hoped. It was a nice easy ride to the trailhead where I proceed to hike the short trail to the overlook. Along the trail, I spotted a couple of different types of lizards and a couple of squirrils. At the end of the trail, you could see for miles in three directions. Of cousre, the scenery was spectacular and I took a bunch of pictures.

I left Kolob Canyon and headed down I-15 towads the main entrance to Zion. As I got closer to the entrance, it became clear that this park was going to be more crowded. As I entered the park, I got in line with many other cars to go up into the park. The majority of the overlook areas were full of cars making it difficult to find places to pull off the road to snap photos.

Zion National ParkThe landscape in Zion is dominated by tall rock walls with a variety of patterns etched into the sides of the cliffs. There are two tunnels – one of them is a little over a mile long and they were only letting traffic through in one direction so there was a bit of a wait to go through.

While the scenery was impressive, I didn’t like the fact that it was so crowded. Visiting Zion was a lot like my visit to Yellowstone last year. In some ways, the popularity and crowds make the experience less enjoyable for me.

After leaving Zion, I decided to head towards Las Vegas. I want to get to Steve and Kaydee’s house Friday afternoon and Vegas is only a few hours away. The ride down I-15 to Las Vegas was a tough one due to some strong winds. It was difficult to stay on the road at times and I made most of the trip at 60 mph instead of trying to go the 70 mph speed limit. There were times when the bike had trouble maintaining speed up minor grades because the wind was pushing back so hard. After arriving at the hotel, the weather channel reported 30-40 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph. All-in-all, it was a difficult 3 hours of riding. I was glad to get off the road.

  • States: UT, NV
  • Miles Travelled Today: 295
  • Total Miles:3,805

Day 9 – 8/7/09

I left Las Vegas this morning and headed south on I-15 towards Los Angeles. It was about 75 degrees and sunny(last year, it was over 100 degrees sunny when I took this same route)making the ride across the Mojave Desert rather pleasant. The wind had died down from yesterday so it was a nice pleasant ride. I stopped in Victorville, CA to get oil and a filter so that I can do an oil change this weekend.

I got to Mission Viejo at around 2:30 and since Steve and Kaydee were still at work, I found a car wash and washed 2,000 miles of dirt, grime, grasshoppers, and other decaying matter off of the bike. It took me a bit over an hour to get it reasonably clean. When grasshoppers cook onto chrome pipes, it takes a bit of elbow grease to get them off.

Steve and Kaydee took me to Angels Staduim in Anahiem to see the Angels play the Texas Rangers. It was the first time I had ever been to a Major League Baseball game and it was actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Angels lost the game but the fireworks a the end of the game were a winner.

  • States: NV, CA
  • Miles Travelled Today: 309
  • Total Miles:4,114

Quick Tire Report

As many of you know, I put a new set of Metzler tires on my bike about a week before I left. By now, I’ve ridden over numerous types of roads (some good, some not so good) and in various weather conditions.

The Metzlers track better then the stock Dunlops and rarely, if ever, follow grooves in the road or those pesky tar snakes that you find all over the place. This makes riding more enjoyable because I don’t have to worry about avoiding all the little grooves in the road. I rode across some highways that were in the process of being torn up and replaced where the surface was full of grooves and other irregularities and these tires definately work better than the Dunlops.

In the rain, I don’t really notice any difference between the two tires. That’s probably because I do my best to ride slowly and avoid hard cornering or braking in wet conditions.

I did come across one specific situation that bothered me. I was going around a corner at about 50 mph leaning into the turn when I ran over one of those tar snakes in the road that was oriented in the same direction that I was going. The tires definately caught this, twitched around, and made me nervous. I actually stopped and checked to make sure the tires didn’t go flat on me. After determining that the tires were fine, I purposly ran over some tar snakes while leaning into a corner again and sure enough, I experienced the same unsettling behavior. It seems that at certain lean angles, these tires grab irregularities in the road just like the Dunlops do – maybe even more.

As far as mileage is concerned, I have about 4,000 miles on them now and they’re looking OK. The rear looks like it may be squaring off in the center a bit but that’s to be expected considering all of the highway miles I’ve put on it so far.

Day 10 – 8/8/09

Kaydee, Steve, and I headed out to Perris, CA at around 8 am this morning. Our destination was the Perris Airport where Steve and I had reservations to go skydiving. We were doing a tandem jump meaning that we get strapped to an experienced skydiver and go down together under a single parachute.

We arrived just before 10 am and started signing waivers to promise that if we die, we can’t sue them. They even went so far as to make us watch a 10 minute video featuring an attorney who explained that essentially, there was no way we could ever hold anyone other than ourselves responsible for doing such a stupid thing as jumping out of an airplane.

With payment and legalities out of the way, we to recstarted our training. Jim was our instructor and the guy we were going to be jumping with. He described what to expect and how we should position ourselves as we left the plane, proceeded through freefall, opened the parachute, and finally, how to land. It really didn’t seem all that complicated.

Since there was only one instructor available, we decided that I would go first and Steve would go second. I suited up, went through a quick review of the training, and boarded the plane. The plane was packed full of people – probably about a dozen other skydivers. As we reached our final altitude of 12,500 feet, people started jumping out. We were the last ones out.

The hardest part was that initial leap out of the plane. Once we began our freefall, it was really quite exhilarating. I’m told

Freefall

that we did about 50 seconds of freefall before Jim yelled out “PULL, PULL” indicating that it was time to pull the rip cord and deploy the parachute. After a firm deceleration as the canopy opened, all of the wind noise experienced during the freefall stopped and there was utter silence as we floated towards the ground. Jim handed me the controls and we did a few turns before I gave control back to him for the final approach and a nice soft landing.

What an incredible experience. There’s really no way you can explain how it feels to jump out of a plane and hurdle towards the ground at 120 mph. Will I do it again? Undoubtedly. It was the most thrilling thing I’ve ever done.

Day 12 – 8/10/09

I left at around 7 am this morning and headed towards the Joshua Tree National Park in sourthern California. Along the way, I passed a large wind farm where there were hundreds of wind power generators.

While the Joshua Tree National Park doesn’t have the same spectacular scenery as some of the other parks I’ve been to, it does highlight the beauty of the desert. The main features of the landscape appear to be large piles of huge boulders surrounded by desert. There weren’t many people at this park so it was easy to park and I didn’t have to fight the crowds as was the case in Zion.

Abandoned Gold MineI went for a couple of short hikes – one through Hidden Valley (about a mile) and another to an abandoned gold mine (about 2 miles). While it was hot, it was bearableas long as I drank plenty of water. As I walked towards the old mine, I found it difficult to floow the trails. There seemed to be trails going in every direction thoughout the desert. I took some pictures and headed back towards the parking lot. It seemed to be evern harder to follow the trail out of the desert and I was a bit concerned about getting lost and having limited water. I did make it back to the bike and continued my tour of the park.

Route 66 through the desertBack out on the road, I travelled part of Route 66 through the California and Arizona desert. It was a long, hot ride down straight, flat roads. I always have a few bottles of water with me as I ride through the desert. It doesn’t take long for a bottle of water to become a bottle of hot water when it’s 100+ degrees outside.

I ended up stopping about 30 miles west of Flagstaff AZ.

  • States: CA, AZ
  • Miles Travelled Today: 488
  • Total Miles:4,602

Day 13 – 8/11/09

When I started out this morning, I was thinking of heading east across New Mexico. However, when I got to Flagstaff, I decided to turn north towards Colorado and spend a couple of days riding through the Rocky Mountains instead. In order to get to Colorado, I had to spend a few hours riding through the same desert I had visited last week. Fortunately, it was only 90-95 which is actually quite comfortable in the desert.

As I was riding on Rt 160 not far from the Four Corners (a spot where the borders of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico touch) I saw Highway Patrol car. I checked my speed and I was going 65 which was the posted speed limit. Just before he passed me he turned his lights on and I though he was going to turn around and stop me. As I looked in my mirror, I saw that he had turned his lights off so I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on down the road. Then, I saw why he had his lights on – there was a herd of goats grazing on the side of the road. Apparently, he was just warning me about the goats.

A view from 10,000 feetAfter stopping in Cortez, CO, I headed north on Rt 145 towards Montrose CO. This took me through the San Juan National Forest and up into the mountains. The Colorado Rockies are beautiful. Much of the ride took me through a valley with steep mountains on both sides. There were lots of small ranches down in the valley near the river/creek that was at the bottom of the valley. Gradually, the road climbed up higher into the mountains until I reached about 10,200 feet above sea level.

Telluride Lodge As I started decending the mountains, I stopped in Telluride to see the ski resort. Telluride is a nice small town that is obviously inhabited by people with money. The town has very nice houses and shops along the main street, bike paths, and its own Visitor Center. There were quite a few on/off ride motorcycles on the streets so I’m guessing that there are trails throughout the hills.

After leaving Telluride, I headed to Montrose where I found a motel and had dinner. Tomorrow, I’m thinking of going up Mt Evans – the highest paved road in North America.

States: AZ, CO
Miles Travelled Today: 457
Total Miles: 5,059

Day 14 – 8/12/09

I left around 8 am this morning and headed towards Gunnison CO. This brought me through some beautiful mountains and canyons. The mountains were just over 10,000 feet and the canyons were nice and wide with many ranches along the way. It was cool, about 55 this morning, but made for a comfortable ride.

From Gunnison I turned north and rode through the Gunnison National Forest and San Isabel National Forest towards Leadville. From Leadville, I got on 0I-70 and went past Breckenridge to Idaho Springs. I seem to get very good gas mileage when I ride in the mountains. Notmall, I average around 40mpg but today, I got 48 mpg from the hotel to Leadville and then 52mpg from Leadville to Idaho Springs. I’m guessing that it’s because I’m generally going slower and really don’t use much gas decending from 10,000 feet to 7,000 feet.

From Idaho Springs I picked up Rt 103 to Mt. Evans. There was very little traffic and it was a decent road winding along the bottom of a canyon. Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in North America peaking at a bit over 14, 000 feet above sea level. Leaving Idaho Springs, the road rises almost 7,000 feet in about 28 miles. The park itself has a 14 mile long road that has some very steep and tight hairpin turns that were a bit difficult to negotiate. For many of these turns, first gear was too fast and I had to slip the clutch uphill while turning the handlebars almost to the stops. The parts of the road that were straight had no guardrails or shoulder – just pavement and then a dropoff. Since the road was so challenging, I got very few pictures because I had to concentrate on driving.

Mountain GoatsAt the top, the view was spectacular. You basically look down upon dozens of other mountain peaks giving a very unique perspective of the surrounding landscape. Two mountain goats, a mother and here baby, were grazing on the side of a pile of rocks atop the summit. They seemed to be quite tolerant of people and at one point, walked casually past a group of 30 or so people about 10 feet away from them.

It was cool at the top – 48 degrees according to the Park Ranger collecting money at the entrance. On the way up I really couldn’t see whether or not there were cars coming when going up and around the hairpinn turns. Going down the mountain was actually quite a bit easier because you could see cars coming and could take the turns a bit wider when no one was coming the other direction.

After leaving Mt. Evans, I continued north towards Boulder and Loveland. I stayed on backroads and rode through the Arapaho National Fores and the Roosevelt National Forest. The ride between Central City and Boulder brought me through another canyon with steep rock cliffs. I couldn’t take may pictures because there was a police car right behind me and while I really don’t know whether or not its legal to set the cruise control, and reach out and take photos on 40 mph winding mountain roads, I really didn’t want to find out by getting pulled over for taking pictures. There were plenty of places to pull off the road but they all had a drop off from pavement to gravel and I really didn’t want to pull over and dump the bike so I continued on. Plenty of cars were parked in these little pull-offs and I saw quite a few people fishing and also rock climbing up the cliffs.

I ended up catching I-25 and driving to Fort Collins where I found a room for the night. To get home, I figure that I have about a 3 day ride from here so I’ll probably go up into Wyoming and then turn east and take the interstates most of the way back.

States: CO
Miles Travelled Today: 414
Total Miles: 5,473

Day 15 – 8/13/09

I left Fort Collins this morning and headed north to Cheyenne Wyoming where I turned east on I-80. I’m on my way home now and expect to be back sometime Saturday. I didn’t take any pictures because the only thing around is corn – lots of corn. I made to just past Des Moines Iowa before stopping for the night.

States: CO, NE, IA
Miles Travelled Today: 741
Total Miles: 6,214

Day 16 – 8/14/09

I left the hotel at around 7:30 this morning and headed east on I-80. The weather was great and it was a great day for riding. At around 10 am, I turned the GPS on and told it to take me home. It estimated that I could be home by 2 am and I started thinking that I could make it all the way home as long as I didn’t hit any major traffic or road construction.

As the day progressed and I didn’t run into any significant delays, it looked good for a marathon ride all the way home. I got to Buffalo at around 9 pm and decided that I’d go for it and ride the final 5 hours in the dark.

I actually got got home around 2:30 am having ridden a total of 1,122 miles in about 18 hours.

States: IA, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY
Miles Travelled Today: 1,122
Total Miles: 7,336

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