Soon after the various small town, charming gas station encounters (like dudes in full camo getting out of Corollas who looked like they lived in a bunker in the woods and only came into town when the urge to slurp down a squishee overwhelmed their fear of government monitoring) I ran into the green areas of the map, exactly what I imagined Colorado to look like:
Life was good. But I kept seeing signs that there was traffic congestion coming up. It never came so I figured that their idea of traffic in Colorado was 20 cars per mile.
Dead stop. In a tunnel. With a bunch of busses and semis (and Harleys and my Ducati) spewing carbon monoxide into a breezeless tube. It really was a parking lot. We'd stop for 30 seconds to 2 minutes at a time, then move 20 feet. Occasionally we'd get up to 11 or 12 mph.
What really infuriated me was that there was PLENTY of room to lanesplit. But that's not legal in CO (or nearly any other states). You can ride without a helmet in Colorado, but lanesplitting is deemed to be too dangerous. No sense. The guy next to me on a 954 said his temps were 268. Shortly thereafter the bottom end of his engine started spewing coolant and steam. I kept telling him, 'dude, you have to get moving NOW--use the shoulder'. Reluctantly he took off and then saw him on the shoulder on his cell phone. Hoping he didn't seize his engine.
20 min. later it was still hell:
To make matters worse, I had to piss like a water buffalo. And exits were miles (read: 15-20 minutes, easily) apart. Finally pulled off and got some relief.
I was thinking to myself--man, it would suck to be stuck in this traffic right after ingesting a 12 oz coffee and a bran muffin. And then I saw some fast food napkins....and a bunch of flies....and a giant pile of poo. It was disgusting, but I imagined how happy that person was to have found the only secluded spot for miles. And as I was leaving a car was hauling ass up into the same spot I was leaving. Hopefully they look before they step. I snapped a shot of it, but figured there's a limit to what people want to see.
Anyhow, after realizing there was no end in site (and there were absolutely no alternate routes) I cruised up the middle and split the lanes like I'd done for hundreds of miles in CA. And good thing I did. It was a solid 20 more miles of parking lot. Anyhow, what would have been a spectacular and relatively fast drive turned into a frustratingly LONG and exhausting ride. Funny that states like Colorado don't allow you to lanesplit out of concerns for danger, but wearing a helmet is not required. Anyhow, the bike held up during all the idling and slow speeds. Water temps (at max) never went above low 220s and the hard-start-in-the-heat problem was never a problem in the literal 'start and stop' traffic.
Then right after Idaho Springs, traffic picked right up for no reason. From there I took a cool mountain/canyon road, but again, lots of congestion. Some woman on a Harley putted at 5 under, causing another backup. Soon thereafter, though, the end was in sight:
And then made it to my friend Niki's, who happily demonstrated what safety gear looks like in Colorado.