Longish Post to finish up the trip - so grab your favorite beverage and settle back...
Day 3 - More miles and another road closed..
So the great part of Day 3 was that I could hit the road early - right from my hotel. I tucked the beast as close to the lobby doors as possible such that it would make it impossible for someone to push away. I tried like hell to talk them into a space IN their roomy lobby to no avail.
The goal was obvious. Another 200+ day of riding to have the 600 mile service done before leaving. Now, I could have done this maintenance myself but I thought, since buying out of state, that if there WERE any immediate concerns, repairs, that needed to happen, that they would take care of things in Utah.
Did I mention the forecast for the next few days?? More later....
Much like Day 2, it was cold & clear. Todays ride would take me out I-80 to the Park City exit, then setoff on a general loop, eventually heading back to the dealership through Provo Canyon.
Uneventful until I reached the Starbucks in Park City where I knew I could pose heavily with my new ride and gear, while the groggy skiers looked on waiting for their lattes.
Ok, I confess, I had one too. It was a cold ride given the earlier start (Can you say a new low of 20 degrees!! ), so I added a cinnamon roll to my order, switched to my Black Diamond Guide gloves and started away. Dressed identical to Day 2 otherwise. Sorry, no pics remember? I’m a rookie.....
I headed out 248 across US40 on the way to Kamas, where I would attempt to head S on 32 towards Francis and then out 35 E. Great morning, the temps were still biting as I cruised out along the Provo River. I had that feeling that I was headed towards another closure as the overall Utah state map showed the highway as a continuous road, but the quad showed otherwise. At about that same time, I saw the sign up ahead. Oh well, I’ll ride it to the end again. Deja vu, from yesterdays Nebo Loop Rd...
Look familiar? And there are the nice looking tanks on the back
Rookie..I'll get the other half of me in there someday.
No choice but to double back and ride that cool stretch along the Provo River again...poor me.
Ended up on Hwy40 by taking the Hwy 32 cutoff at Francis and then rode out to Strawberry Reservoir. Actually wasn’t too bad...I knew I’d have to turn right around and head back as I wanted to get the dealer to either complete the service this afternoon or at least get a good start on it, so it would be ready in the AM. Clear and cold out at the reservoir and LOOK - they knew I was coming so they plowed a little spot for me!
Strawberry Reservoir Reserve Parking
Back NW through Heber City and then I did a little figure 8 backtracking through Francis, Kamas and then back on 40, just to capture the miles. I detoured back through Midway and then headed S on 32 once again to Provo Canyon, Hwy189. This would take me back out to I-15 and a nice 230+ mile loop for the day.
Provo canyon was gorgeous and the ice climber in me was glued to the canyon walls and the many ice falls.
550 or so on the ODO - back at the dealer.
Here’s one reason why I’m glad I bought WHERE I did. I haven’t mentioned their names yet, but they deserve a HUGE thank you from me.
I came pulling into BMW Motorcycles of Utah in Sandy after my Day 3 ride, and before I pulled my helmet off, the double showroom doors were being opened by my salesman, Mike. Didn’t realize what was up, but a minute later he was pushing out a K1300. No big deal, lucky customer I thought. Before I could get 10 feet into the showroom, he told me to take the K1300 out while they started on my 600 mile service! Wow! Nice sunny afternoon around 2, so I re-cooped briefly and we talked about service on my bike. It would be a push, but they’d try and have it out by COB, so I would be ready to hit the road to CO the next day! This was just one example of the stellar customer service I was given. I’m certainly not connected with them, but if I were looking for a new BMW and into taking a trip (or not for you Utah’ens) I could not recommend them more strongly. Parts, service, sales, finance were superb. Thanks guys! (and gals...)
OK...back to the report!
Off to lunch on the K1300! What a dork I must have looked like - this dually sporto outfitted grey/black textile on this orange bullet. I forgot to change into street leathers! Great ride and late lunch, so I returned to the dealer to square things up on a few last minute purchases and service questions, then I was off on my own. :(
Back to the hotel for the night, pack for the following day, review route options and check the weather forecast. That’s right, the weather, oh boy. I had forgotten all about it....
Day 4 - I'm off..in more ways than one.
There was really no easy way around things. A cold front was coming from the N greeted with moisture, so there was going to be snow. The night before, I ran through many options in my head, three main routes back 1) I-80 through WY 2) US40 through Kremmling/Steamboat Springs or 3) Hwy 6 down to Price, I-70, then east. Of course there were the more obvious, smarter and practical solutions of 1) renting a U-Haul 2) waiting out the weather somewhere in Utah or 3) Take my bike back to the dealer, demand a refund and fly back.
Ok, so how about a combination; take the southerly route to Moab and maybe hang there for a day or two, then ride the rest of the way back to the front range when things clear. Done.
I wake up very early - the forecasters had called for rush hour “weather” - and this time (go figure), they were spot on. I got the gear, so let’s get after it!
South we go, targeting Spanish Forks once again, only the last time it was clear and sunny, this time drizzly - but not freezing. I turned off to shoot out Hwy6 and stopped for a homespun breakfast at this cool little family owned place call Mc..somethings. I got the usual “looks”, advice for routes and then slammed down some coffee and food. I was sticking to the plan. The picture doesn’t quite do the weather justice below, but I’m sure you’ve all been there.
A Special Place on a Special Morning
Things started off well, they even temporarily dried up, for a bit. Out past the intersection of 6 & 89 things started to change. Light snow began to fall, but the roads were mostly wet. As I carried on and gained elevation it started to stick a bit more, but there was still ample pavement and traction. I arrived at Soldier at Soldier Summit on a single tire track of “pavement”. I was taking it easy - 30-40 MPH - or even less at times. Not much traffic and I was making some good progress.
I managed to stop and snap off a few at Soldier Summit! I was really feeling good about things here..
I cruised off the summit and for a short stretch there, it got a bit hairy.
More snow buildup, two tracks through a couple inches of snow, but trucks were out dumping whatever anti-freeze/sand/salt they use in UT, so although it was slow, it wasn’t frozen. As I approached Price Canyon, things actually improved tremendously - I still had to watch it, but there was actually dry pavement in stretches. As I exited Price Canyon, it started to snow. Heavy. I was creeping along being VERY careful.
Now for those who are a little skidish or have children under 18 watching, you may want to go directly to Day 5. Ever see those signs that say “Bridges May Be Icy”?
It was an awkward spot just coming into Helper, where the road kinda turned to the right, at the same time the pavement transitioned to the beginning of a small overpass. It was immediately icy - and I backed off the throttle. In no time the back end was loose and I was hanging on, a little braking to see if it might stand up, but it was not to be. I actually went down pretty easy and it probably helped that I (check that..WE) landed in snow/ice. For a moment there, I vaguely remember the headlights coming into view as we both slid and spun for about 20 feet - not sure. Now am I glad I bought those panniers? Woohoo.
Scene of the Crime - I'm standing about where the bike came to a halt. I stopped a little sooner.
The bike back upright...
The crucial bit of the accident was that there was no other traffic around and I popped up immediately. You can see from the pictures the conditions and the slide marks. I was able to right the beast and backed it as far to the right against some barriers. Within a few minutes, some traffic that I waved on by, and then a sheriff. Nice guy - all he said was “...your f’in crazy!..”. He parked his car to protect me and the bike from the traffic and I asked him to stay put and escort me off the bridge - kinda run blocker for me!( I think his name was Gator..) It took a bit to get things started - in my haste and state of mind, I didn’t realize that the kick stand wasn’t fully up, so the beast wouldn’t crank. I finally got it started, hopped aboard, and idled to the south end of Price, with my blocker in tow. He waved me goodbye as I pulled into a local cafe for a sit-down, reality check, coffee, clean my pants, and some soup...
The Beast after the skid. Last of today's snow - a few miles south it cleared up.
Damage? Not too bad really. The crash bars and head guard on the left side took it like like they were meant to do such a thing and the left pannier was scraped up on the corner (one of the little black plastic corners was torched through, but hung on.). Oh, and impact of the crash must have shattered the left side driving light. The housing was fine, the bulb not to be.
With my head back on straight and thanking all the right angels & spirits of higher being - I set off out of Price into a long clear stretch all the way down to Green River. The storm left behind for the moment. As I relieved myself on this stop I was appropriately reminded - ATGATT!
After a brief fill up and warm up, I booked it down I-70 to 191 and into Moab in clear cold weather...a nice warm up as Arches and the mine tailings came into view. Cool, a new bridge! It was about 2:00PM.
I got booked into the Redstone, walked next door to the grocery and bought a six-pack of Blue Moon....
There was something about the warmer weather, but after relaxing for a bit, I did manage to head out for a quick romp through Arches. As I would later find out, it sounds like its been an epic winter there, snow after snow, and cold.
Back to the hotel, I grabbed a couple BM’s and headed for the hot tub. What a day, afterthoughts? I don’t know, maybe I was stupid, maybe not. I was being very cautious, I suppose to each his own. Some might say I should have never left SLC in that weather...can’t do anything about that now.
I had an early dinner at the Moab Brewery and tucked myself in. But not before checking the forecast for Day 5.
How did the gear do today in the slide/weather, you ask? I was absolutely impressed. It was a pretty easy low side, but the Rev’It gear and Sidi boots must have protected well, because I had 0 injuries - maybe a slightly sore left arm - but the impacts were taken on the protection in the hips, elbow and feet. I can barely notice slight scuffs in those areas. I think by far the biggest bonus was having the panniers on the bike. I may have slipped away/separated from the bike either way, but one never knows. I did get cold. My layers did not change, but the temps hit the high teens and I paid the price. My feet were cold as well - but remember, no “toe warmers” or overboots AND I was wearing a mid-weight pair of hiking socks.
Day 5 - A Sense of Urgency (Friday)
Similar to Day 4, I had looked at quite few websites & TV for weather forecasts. That system that I left in Price was on it’s way to Moab as I had been just arriving. By the looks of things the front was kind of on a SSE trajectory and the shape was kind of skewed - so when it would be snowing in Moab for Day 5, things might still be clear (or clearer) over the I70 passes and Denver - but not for long.
Knowing that the 3-4 day forecast looked no different for Moab or Denver (snow everyday), the sense of urgency to get back home & take advantage of the small window of weather this very day, was heightened.
I awoke very early again an the forecasters had called the flip of the coin correctly again..
Moab. 6:30AM. Ready!
I loaded up and was at the Red Rock Bakery before 7AM. The owner was just opening up and I quickly loaded up on coffee and a bagel. The mood for the day was distinctly different from yesterday. Day 4, I was still on an adventure. Day 5, I was on a mission. The reason I mention this is, you’ll understand why there is an incredible void of pictures while traveling through some very pretty country. Vail Pass was ahead of me in a few hours and that should be timed nicely with the “break” in forecast.
Heading out of Moab, 20 degrees, light snow and slick conditions. I was disappointed to find 128 completely snow covered (no tracks) as I love that stretch. 191 to I-70 was snow covered as well, but at least there were some tracks. Slippery. It was slow going, but I finally made it to I-70, headed E, and by the time I hit the state line, the road had cleared up, so I made quick tracks into Grand Junction, peeled my frozen rear from the seat and took a break for coffee.
Something told me the next few hours might be cold/wet, so I threw in my heated insoles (highly recommended) and put on an extra layer. I checked the forecast, again, and gassed up. I made great time - even though it was raining lightly - it had warmed up a bit, so frozen stuff was not a concern. Glenwood Springs & Glenwood Canyon were gorgeous as usual with fresh snow and wet roads. Non-stop now I pounded east, flying along at 80 or so until approached Avon/Vail. The next hour or so was the crux.
So I arrived in East Vail around noon. It was a quick trip from GJ to here. For those that are familiar, the stretch of Vail Pass is kinda two parts coming from the west to east. The first stretch, you gain some elevation out of Vail, some miles, and then you kinda plateau a bit, before a right turn in the highway and an incline that marks the start of pass climb proper.
Let me say that my intention was to ride to Vail. Stop. Check the CDOT webcams and make a go/nogo decision. Guess what...I didn’t stop. I think it was a mix of cold air in the brain, the seemingly benign wet pavement to this point and stupidity.
The first stretch of the pass was painless and then I was on that beginning incline. I looked ahead and things looked different. Not good. Within minutes, I was riding a right side two track in the right lane and it was icy. Did I mention the ski traffic and trucks roaring by at 50-60-70??? Almost immediately, it was deja vu from the bridge yesterday. The back end started to fishtail and there was little room for error. My ass engaged the seat like never before and I managed to keep it upright, just as a spot in the barriers to the right receded a bit and created an opening for me to run the bike off the Hwy onto the shoulder. Mind you, I was still a couple miles from the summit.
Let me pause here to apologize to anyone who may have been on the pass that day heading east. I could have easily caused an accident for myself and others. Peace?
My choices were slim at this point, the road ahead only looked worse and there was no “going back” so to speak. Barriers in the median and sides prevented that. So I arrived at an alternate plan. I would wait for breaks in traffic, nurse it forward on tiptoes and lugging 1st gear, then stop. Repeat as necessary depending on upcoming traffic. I found better traction in the snow/shoulder, rather than venturing out into the right lane. It took a while but this strategy worked. Much safer too.
I should have stopped and snapped a pic at the summit - but I was shaking. Not from the cold. And I hadn’t really made it anywhere yet. There was still the decent off Vail, Tenmile Canyon & the Eisenhower tunnel.
I re-employed the same tactics going downhill and things worked well. Flashers on the whole way. It was still pretty scary how little room I got from traffic, when it did pass. At one point in Tenmile, the traffic from Copper Mtn was approaching so fast in both lanes, that I had to scurry to the shoulder quickly where the ABS actually engaged! About the same time, someone in a truck rolled down their window and gave me the thumbs up...I wonder if he would have stopped and traded places with me! A short break before Loveland/Eisenhower Tunnel and then up ahead on the right was my saving grace pulling onto I-70 at Silverthorne. A snowplow!
I tucked in behind this mother, and it led me to the tunnel without incident - just slow - which was alright by me. Through the tunnel and out the east side, the tarmac was just mainly wet, but the ski traffic was starting to build, so hectic. I blasted down to Idaho Springs for a late lunch, gas and gathering of my wits. It was about 1:30 - maybe 2:00PM.
Idaho Springs. Great Scenery.
The end in site, the only obstacles were Denver rush hour traffic and daylight. I figured I was ahead of things briefly, so I warmed up on some green chili and headed off towards Denver. My excitement and relief were soon dashed once again as the weather again deteriorated on Floyd Hill. More traffic, more ice, more snow and my nerves were once again frazzled. Through Lookout Mountain and onto the decent into Denver, things improved and changed back to wet pavement for the homestretch.
The timing could not have been better, I rolled N on I-25 as traffic was manageable and with dusk settling in, the garage door opened.
Home at Last
Kind of like bringing a dog home from the pound, I think the bike was traumatized enough over the last few days - weather, accidents, rode hard, rode easy, maintenance, new state - I just let her sit there and become familiar with the new surroundings before giving the beast a bath. It probably felt good to get all that Mag Chloride off the skin...I know it did for me!
So that’s the tale - probably not the most graceful trip I’ve ever made, but memorable. The weather timing turned out to be good in a way. The next 3 days, even on the front range were snowy and the mtns got hit as predicted. Even with the weather following predictions, I’m still on the fence about my decision making with the weather. I made it fine this time. Next time (if there is a next time!) I’ll have some great experience to fall back on.
Thanks for staying tuned all!!
Wait a minute, thats right. How about some final notes on gear and such.
I love the Sidi Adventure boots. The fit ended up being just right (as I posted in a thread under Equip) and they were bombproof. I never ended up with wet socks and they took quite a pounding in wet weather - especially on the Moab - Home stretch. Days 4 & 5. A couple pics below taken just a few minutes after returning home.
Jacket & Pants:
Love em’. The Cayenne Pro jacket & Dakar Pants saved me. I never pulled the liners out, and for the last two days I zipped them together for a great shelter. I didn’t take a picture, but my jacket was the light grey/black version (well, you may have seen it early in the report pics), but when I got home, I had a windscreen shaped dirt, mag chloride, shadow, cast on the front and sides of the jacket. Pretty messy - you’ll have to take my word for it. A couple days ago, I filled the bathtub with slightly warm water, added some detergent I use for my “delicates” and hand washed both textile shells. Air dried, with the armor back in place, they look like new again.
Notes on fit for me; I purchased the L and its the right one for sure. A little snug with layers and liners in. I rode yesterday with a light layer and pulled the insulation liner out and it was fitting nicely. This summer, I may have a little extra room - we’ll see. I ordered the Medium/Short Dakar pants and they proved to be fine as well. I would not have minded going with the std length though. They come up a little on the boots, but hte armor was in the right place. I may try a std length down the road, but these certainly work well. Plus I got them closeout for $189...
BTW - I’m 5’7”, 170 and normally wear 32-30 jeans.
Not much to add to my earlier comments other than the fogging thing, BUT, as some of you may have noticed, the Hornet DS pinlocks are now available in the US. I bought mine yesterday at www.shoeihelmets.com
I’d entertain ANY feedback on the ride report for sure. I know I didn’t snap enough pictures - I’m already planning my next escape. This time for pure pleasure and warmer environments!