Day 1: Aspen to Echo Point.
I rolled my bike out of the Dave Cave at 7am and warmed it up – ready for our latest 2 week adventure. I said my good byes to my family
– who are by now quite used to me leaving on multi-week rides and have come to understand how much I enjoy these types of rides. I considered how lucky I am to have such and understanding family
As I rolled down the street from my house, I was filled with the usual energy and excitement of beginning a new adventure
, but also with a small amount of trepidation. I mentally ticked off my packing list (which has become quite efficient over the years), and my bike felt tight. I knew it had been well maintained. I had just returned from a 1000 mile High Country ride throughout Colorado with some BMW buddies and had had just enough time to clean and service the bike, as well as dry off my camping gear. We had ridden through some of the wettest weather in CO history (resulting in massive flooding throughout the state)
, but had still had a really great time.
It was a pretty cool start to the day, and I turned on my heated grips
. I had deliberately left my heated vest at home – I couldn’t possible need it……we were riding in the desert….in September…..
Byways had been very thorough with the GPS tracks and his follow up incredibly professional. Over the past couple of weeks he had emailed updates on track conditions due to fires and floods – complete with re-routing information
– which was now loaded into my Zumo 660.
10 minutes later, I met up with Anthony and his Dad, Frank just out of Snowmass. Frank usually rides the first hour or so with us to breakfast and then leaves to head out in whatever direction we are headed. Today was no different. We cruised down HWY 82 to Glenwood Springs and had a very ordinary breakfast at a diner. Anthony and I were in good spirits, and were to meet Stan and his now 2 riding buddies at Meeker, CO to begin the route in earnest. Just as we were getting geared up, I received a call from Stan. It went something like this: “We’re having a couple of electrical issues with Phil’s 950. Don’t worry. It’s under control. We’ll be about 45 mins late.
” Ahh, the adventure begins.
Anthony and I cruised west on I-70 to Rifle and then headed north for a fairly high speed run up to our rendezvous point at a gas station just out of Meeker
. We baked in the sun which was nice because we hadn’t seen any sun for the past 3 weeks. I made a few last minute work calls and we both settled in for the wait. Neither of us was annoyed in the slightest, we were just happy to be going for a ride. After about 90 mins, we heard the distinctive rumble of 3 LC8’s rolling into the gas station. They came right over and the introductions began.
We had already met Stan aka gtdsrider aka “Stanopedia” and his 08 990 Adventure.
Then their was Andrew aka ABuck99 and his immaculate 05 950 Adventure S from Georgia who owns a motorcycle adventure store.
Next there was Phil aka????? who was on an 06 950 adventure. Phil was originally English (actually Welsh) but has lived in Georgia for the past 20 odd years. This could be fun – I am Australian and hence the colonial verbal banter started almost immediately
Of course, I should probably introduce Anthony (LEFT) aka RockyMountain76 riding his 990R, and yours truly (RIGHT) also on a 99R :
After the obligatory tire sniffing
, we all departed Meeker around 12 noon, and after a little bit of tarmac our GPS took us onto some fun and fast Rio Blanco County roads.
The group spread out to avoid the dust, but all the roads had some obstacles (from the recent rains) that kept us awake. Looking back at the trail of dust, it was pretty clear that our new friends from GA could ride well, and our pace was very similar
. The route guided us through a myriad of dirt roads – many of which were recently created by the oil and gas boom throughout the region. While it took me a little while to adjust my navigation scale to the terrain, after blowing past a couple of turns
, I was really enjoying the ride. Even though we weren’t that far away from civilization, it really felt that we were quite remote. Finding a route through this area without Byways guidance could be quite difficult.
At one stage we took off on a rarely used 2 track which looked harmless enough but we were soon to find out that it was full of very slippery bog holes
– the result of the heavy rains from only 48hrs earlier settling on the clay soil. Byways had clearly marked this section “BAD IF WET”
. While not a great problem for us, it could have been a very different story if we had ridden this section only a day before. At the end of this section we stopped for a quick break to re-group and make sure everyone was comfortable with the pace and terrain. Smiles all round
. We had ridden for around 2 hours by this stage, the nervousness of riding a new route with a group of strangers was dissipating.
We continued on over a mix of wide high speed dirt roads, and more remote 2 track
and then dropped down off the mesa approaching the east entrance to Dinosaur National Monument.
While I had ridden past Dinosaur many times, I had never taken the time to explore the area, and I was really excited – this area is only a few hours away from home, but was completely new to all of us. And it didn’t disappoint. The scenery was spectacular, although it seemed that somehow we had picked up the pace quite a bit and found ourselves pushing eachother into corners – a little bit harder than would be considered gentlemanly for a group of guys that didn’t know eachother
We reached the turn off for Echo Point and had our first decision to make.
We had read that Echo Point was a really cool camp site
, so we decided to check it out. We continued down the trail, through some really beautiful sheer cliff’s on either side (including some petroglyphs – that we decided to check out on the way back out), and then into the camp site proper – a nicely allocated camping allotments, and nice new toilets. Anthony always rates the toilet facilities on all our rides (I have suggested for years that he write a book about his bathroom experiences across the country – how does “Great Adventure Riding shitters of North America” sound?
), and this one received a 9 out of 10 based on cleanliness, 2 ply TP, solar powered lights that come on when you open the door, fresh fluffy white towels………We quickly found a fairly big campsite complete with lots of shade and freshly stacked firewood. Even though we had a couple more hours of easy riding daylight, we decided that we couldn’t pass up such a great camp location.
We all quickly started setting up our camping arrangements, and then went for a romantic group stroll to find the Green River
. Wow – this place was stunning. There is a boat ramp for rafters shadowed by a huge natural granite outcrop that the Green River wraps around making for a spectacular portrait that someone with some photographic talent (such as Casey B) could make look really nice. Andrew and Stan worked on filtering some water, and Phil, Anthony and I bullshitted for a while.
We eventually started up the fire, dined on a tasty array of dehydrated offerings, and got to know eachother. While not a particularly big riding day, we were all fairly tired, and set off to bed around 10pm