After an Epic first day of riding and finding camp in the rain, we woke up to see how nice our camp spot really was. It was gorgeous. The air was crisp and cool and the ground was damp as it rained most of the night and we were ready to conquer Marshall Pass.
Nice easy ride up the pass.
No dust on these roads.
Trying to ride with one hand and take a picture over you head backwards is a crapshoot so this is the best I could do.
We found some snow and we made Josh go up and pose for a picture. We would find much more of this later.
My DRZ showing some "back".
I just want to say it was a blast riding with these guys. I would go again in a minute. Here is Trailace wondering why I am taking pictures and not riding.
And Josh not caring whether we took pictures or rode. He was having a good time either way.
A quick stop for a postcard shot.
Hey, weren't we here last night?
The one regret I have on the trip is not getting my gas tank before we went. My rationale was that I would most likely want to get off the bike every 100 miles or so anyway (not the case) but I didn't realize that you have to make sure there is a station every time you get off. I know now that you need at least 200 mile range for a trip like this. The guys were very patient with me even though we would have most likely gotten a few more passes with the time we spent at the gas station. My bad.
Oh man, I just got that sticker. As it turns out this is not the only thing that will get rubbed raw.
On our way to Hermit Pass, I came up on this buggy being driven by a young man dressed in clothes from 1900 taking his young lady friend for a ride. I'm not hip on all the religions of the world but these guys might have the right idea. I slowed down and stayed left but I still spooked the horse a bit. The driver did a great job keeping the horse from taking off. I waved, he waved back.
A very rare shot of Trailace behind me. In fact this is the very road that I would learn just how much more of a top end an XChallenge has over a DRZ.
Starting up Hermit Pass
When we were stopped here we met an ambiguously gay duo on a Quad. Having never been to Hermit Pass I thought I would ask how the road is up ahead. They said it was pretty much like this the whole way up.
We climb and climb and climb.....
Here I am trying once again to get a picture of a steep hill. Man they never turn out. There's Mudflinger at the bottom.
In fact this pic of Josh sort of looks like he's coming down not going up. He's going up.
The road got steeper and more rocky and the runoff was actually coming down the road itself. The wind was howling, visibility was getting worse by the minute and we had to decide whether to press on or play it safe.
From where we stopped, it looked as if this road only went a little further before it got cutoff by snow and we weren't sure if we would be able to turn around so I suggested that we forgo the picture of the sign and live to ride another day.
The whole way down Trailace and I were both wishing we continued but I think we did the right thing.
Heading back down.
We met back up with Josh. He was hanging out enjoying the views and taking some pics.
The obligitory ADV sticker pic.
We found a Restaraunt just in time to stop the growling. Josh noticed that his rack was really loose and tightened it up. Later he would learn that he had a bit bigger problem.
We stopped just in time because the sky unloaded. This picture was taken after it passed over and we were getting ready to leave. I was glad not to be up on the pass when this storm came through.
All I can say is when they start doing dick transplants I have my Buffalo all picked out.
We stopped to look at this old church. It was a very cool old building out in the middle of nowhere. Even out in the middle of nowhere there is always some dumbass vandal that just cant help himself.
Just as I was thinking how cool it would be to restore a building like that, we noticed it was for sale. 96k and it comes with 15 acres. Cool.
Dude, you put your bike in my shot.
As we were about to mount up, Josh noticed that his rack was loose again. After some investigation, he realized that the bolts that go through the rack and the fender and into the subframe were sheared off! We had a lot of tools and hardware but we couldn't fix it so with some locktite and zipties, we were off again.
Next up was Pass Creek Pass. The GPS showed this as the summit and we couldn't find the sign but we saw this so it will have to do.
On to La Veta Pass
And the very cool North La Veta Pass. This used to be a railroad stop way back when. I saw this sign on a door that pretty much summed up this trip for me.
Next door was yet another cool old church but this one was very different from the last one.....
This sign welcomed me in.
Wow this is very unexpected. There was a visitor's log so we signed it. Some people had left little notes and pictures of loved ones that had passed or that were sick.
The pews were still there.
An article on the wall explained who took care of the Chapel and gave some more info.
No official sign but the caretaker made this one and I like it better anyway.
On the way to The Great Sand Dunes, we spotted this memorial and being a pilot I couldnt pass up this opportunity for a pic. Trailace obliged me.
Who put this sand in the middle of the mountains anyway?
Weird but very beautiful.
This one was from our campsite.
Looks secluded but it was actually an improved campground with lot's of voices and Rap music playing in the background. I slept with my earplugs so I wouldnt get arrested in the middle of our trip.
Note to self. If you need to pee in the middle of the night this is right outside of the tent to the right.
No way is this stuff going in my tent without airing it out first. And no way am I going to use it as a pillow.
This was the end of day Two and it was a great day of riding. The plan was to do Medano Pass and I was looking forward to it but it was getting late, the rangers said the water crossings were very deep and that it would most likely take more time than we had daylight and that there was no guarantee that we would get a camp spot over there when we made it. Knowing that the other campgrounds would soon be full we decided to scrap Medano and make some changes to the route in order to maximize the time we had left.
When you are riding with a group there is a give and take that takes place (or should take place if you want to get along) and even with three people it is a challenge to accomodate everyone's different riding style, ride goals, pace etc.
I admit I was frustrated and had a hissy fit. Sorry guys.
I wanted to do Medano bad but I realized that it wasn't going to happen this trip. We replotted a course that would get us headed away from the bad weather and back toward home. Later I would realize that the best part of the trip was ahead of us and that the changes we made in some ways were even more adventurous and interesting for the group as a whole.
BTW I went back and made the pics bigger on the first post.