After a good night of sleep at the Riverview Motel, we awoke to a our usual routine of bike maintenance and packing up stuff. It was a nice change not to have to pack up all our camping gear for a change, and this allowed us to get on the road a little earlier than normal. The bikes, however, did need some extra attention. Forgoing the chain adjustment the prior day was a mistake- both of our chains were swinging pendulously inside the chain cases. The spec is for .66 - 1 inch of play but our chains had nearly 2 inches of play! After they were adjusted I also found that our oil levels were at the minimum on the dipstick, my swingarm nut was slightly loose, and Reís tires again needed about 2 psi each. Our first stop was the gas station that closed at 6 pm the prior night, where we fuelled up, got some hunormous breakfast burritos and a quart of oil. With everyone topped off, we headed out for Laramie and Colorado beyond.
This was the worst day on the road so far (hopefully it will turn out to be the worst of the trip), bad roads, bad weather, aggressive drivers, and sore butts to boot. The ride started out OK but it started to rain on and off after we got through Laramie. The rain stopped by the Colorado border but would return with a vengeance later. The roads today were punctuated by expansion joints at what seemed like 10 foot intervals and our butts and spines took a pounding (something was said about feeling like Mike Tysonís cellmate at one point). We also encountered the most aggressive drivers of our trip so far, and the peaceful pace that we had experienced up to that point evaporated south of Laramie. Traffic was flying and even though we were on a divided highway, drivers crowded us and passed extremely closely. I had a couple of instances where I could have slapped the back of a pick-up truck as it cut in front of me. No fun. The common denominator seemed to be Colorado license plates and trucks. We then had the misfortune of reaching Fort Collins at around 4 pm and traffic got worse, I guess it was early rush hour as we hit 14 East. Here we had people swerving at us as they passed and had to take to the shoulder a couple of times. This was usually accompanied by a driver flipping us off. Nice. Better roads and calmer driving resumed as we put some distance between us and Fort Collins and we soon forgot about those troubles when we spotted a huge thunderstorm in our path.
While it was sunny and clear to the north and south of 14, directly in our path was a storm that must have been 50 miles wide. There was no light visible through the storm, just solid blue-black from cloud to ground. It looked like Mordor from The Lord of the Rings, and I half-expected to see Sauronís eye peering out at us as we rode closer. It seemed like we rode towards it for hours. As we neared the edge we stopped and zipped up all of our vents and said good-bye to each other (in case we didnít make it through!). When we got to the edge of the storm we both waved to the three lifestyle riders on a side road who were watching us ride by. They pulled out and roared around us and we noted that they were wearing jeans and t-shirts - no jackets, no helmets, and no eye protection. (As an aside, while we are ATGATT riders, we normally donít care what other people wear - not our business) They disappeared into the blackness before we hit the pea-sized hail followed by the huge raindrops and eventual downpour. The hail and rain pounding on our helmets made quite a racket and stung where it hit our jackets. I honestly have no idea what it must have felt like to our fellow riders. We rode on through the storm for about 30 minutes or so and eventually came out the other side about 20 miles from Sterling, Colorado, our destination for the night. Our Darien Lights did a great job. Despite the downpour, we both came through perfectly dry and so did the rest of our gear.
We rode into Sterling with one eye on the sky and started looking for a place for the night. The sky was dark in the distance but was clear overhead. We found our way to the tourist information center and used their wifi to check the radar and scout for campgrounds. The radar showed the storm we had just ridden through, but it appeared to all be passing to the north of Sterling, so we opted for camping. We found a campground about a mile out of town and set about putting up the tent before Re took off to find something to cook for dinner. While Re was gone, I continued to set up camp and watched the sky slowly turn darker and darker. About the time Re returned, the lightening began and the rain soon followed. We ended up cooking dinner under the overhang of the bath house and ate inside the laundry room while the storm raged outside. We have never experienced lightening striking that close to us or rain that hard. By the time the rain stopped 45 minutes later there was about 2 inches of standing water outside. We waded through the water to our tent and dove in for the night. One of the reasons we chose the Mountain Hardware Drifter 2 tent was because it was guaranteed to be waterproof and we now believe it, not a drop of rainwater made it inside.
335 miles in about 11 hours, we could hear the chains dragging inside the chain case by the end of the day. Fuel mileage so far appears to be about 91 mpg.