Daily mileage: 309 miles
Overall average: 30mph
Got up this morning and started to think that maybe I might need a new front tire. Placed some calls to Moab powersports and find that they are not open on Monday -- the day I will actually be in Moab. Also sent a message my new friend from Utah, Philip, and he mentioned that nothing motorcycle wise is open on Mondays and was supercool to offer to pick one up and meet me in Moab on Monday morning. We had made plans to ride Moab, but his r1200gsa was in need of some work. His can do attitude is really awesome, but that’s a total of a 5 hours drive to and from for him. Would’ve been ok if we were riding together, but otherwise it didn’t feel right. Regardless he was totally ok with it, but I thanked him and told him, I’d roll the dice that my front will take me to Oregon.
As I was packing my tent, a fellow camper, Bill, stopped by and asked about the bike and trip. I told him about ADV and he was familiar with it since he and a friend bought KLRs with the hopes of doing a long distance ride at some point. He was originally from NY and his wife, Kathy, who offered me up a slice of watermelon. They are both originally east coasters who decided to move to Denver and raise a family. Since I’m so far from home, It’s sometimes nice talking to people who have an understanding what your daily life might be like, outside the context of the trip.
And so at about 11:15am , I head out of Lathrup state park back onto the trail. It was cold this morning, and maybe at elevation generally. I was instantly chilled, and had to stop several times to layer up, and even had a chance to use my Zan headgear balaclava, I had purchased on the road of ebay and had sent to my parents house.
The day was cloudy and as started to approach the rockies, I could see that there were black clouds looming to the southwest. They were touching the peaks and I could see rain in the distance. The route would take me north of it, but it was definitely moving in that direction.
After several hours of riding winding mountain roads, going through forest full of pointy Christmas trees, I head make it to Salida, and fuel up. Again, I spy that Salida has their “Hollywood” sign up on the hill for all to see. Very cool.
The first notable area I encounter is San Isabel National. I always love the look of the national park signs for their inviting throwback appeal with a hint of modernism, so it was not a surprise that I would spend 10 minutes chilling and taking pictures, at, with, on, straddling the sign. Throughout parts of the day, I would be leaving and entering the park as I wind my way down and around.
Awesome trees from another planet
Around 5pm, I ride Marshall Pass, which I was pumped on since it got a rockier and rougher. Most the day, the roads are nice and smooth with hardpack dirt and small grainy rocks. As the approach the end of the pass, 3 guys pass me coming the other way, one on a bmw g650x with major touratech upgrades. When I get to the sign, I stop to take a picture and a dude, Jeff – an ADVer -- on a xr650r stops and we chat a bit about equipment. He’s been in Colorado working odd jobs, and is livin the dream….. for reals. He’s good for the next 10 years and is free to do as he wishes, and is having high hope of doing a world tour…. Go get ‘em brother.
He’s asks where I’m going and I tell him on the TAT, and invite him to ride with if he’s got no plans, and so we go. So snap some pictures and are on the path. My plan was to make it to Lake City, so by our estimates it would be dark when we rolled in. The weather actually started looking up, and the clouds started to clear, with sun peeking out ever so often to reveal the contours of the landscape. The ride after Marshall Pass was really good. There was more winding woods roads and there was one section where we turn off the road and hit semi rocky double track. Eventually the road takes us into this great canyon that looked like the set of a movie. The sun was setting at the point and the cloud were this rich deep orange spread across a deep royal blue sky. No other word to explain than epic.
It was dusk now and the last sign we saw had us at 21 miles to Lake City, we began chasing the sun. I was initially worried since I promised myself to not miss anything by riding in the dark, but even though I was navigating the turns with my HID headlight, there was still blue in the sky and the above a misty crescent moon bathing is a hint of orange clouds looking down upon us. It’s was really nice actually, I could make out streams and lakes still, and there were people camping along those streams. By the time, we make it the main road, it is actually night, so everything worked out well. Nothing to see on the highway anyways.
When we did roll into town, we stop into the Silver Spur Motel and park next to a orange KTM950 Aventure, and the proprietor, an older woman tells us everything is booked due to this being Labor day weekend. She recommends some other places to check with. Jeff’s HIDs are cutting on and off intermittently so he chills at that motel while I go and do some recon. After hitting several hotel, it looks like there is nowhere to roost. I’m fine since I can camp, but I somehow felt responsible for getting Jeff some shelter. After several attempts my efforts came up fruitless and I roll back to the Silver Spur. Jeff is sitting with the owner of the Silver Spurs on a bench and she feels sympathy for us, so mentions that her grandson, who passed away a year ago last week had an apartment that was vacant and she would rent it out to us. It was a heartfelt move on her part, and she teared up as she asked us if we were interested. A resounding yes, and thanks so much could be heard throughout the rockies. She was cool enough to give us a buy one get one free drink ticket at her saloon just around the corner.
After we pay for a night, her husband takes us there and it better than hotel. It feels like a home even though it’s not obviously been lived in for awhile. The TV works and we have cable.
We clean up and hit the Restless Spirits for food, and the Depot Saloon to cash out drink ticket in. After stuffing ourselves full we ride back and turn in for the evening. Today was chock full of activities as evidenced by this book, I call a post. I’m typing this up as I’m tucked in on the couch. Woke up early this Sunday morning, so I’m posting this before the riding day begins. A rooster is crowing from outside the window, and I feel like we’re on a farm..