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Old 02-08-2013, 09:15 AM   #16
Shawnee Bill
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Thanks for posting your RR in February! I'm ready to go right now but don't think this is really the right time.

As I read I was pretty sure HB came out of that alright or we would have known about it already but you did have me worried. Glad it turned out as well as it did even though that had to be scary for her running off the side like that even though there wasn't a huge drop-off right there.

Waiting on the rest of the story


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Old 02-08-2013, 09:21 AM   #17
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This is great glad you saved for this time of year
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:55 AM   #18
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Great report. Been going to Pitkin and Silverton for 20 years and never get tired of it.Been down these very same roads and you descride them to a "T". Waiting for more.One thing I have learned from Colorado-NEVER leave without
raingear.

Glad HB is okay............

More please!
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:39 AM   #19
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Nice Work !

Thanks for sharing the RR history. My good buddy is a RR nut and it's cool to learn about these old lines. I never caught the bug myself, but I will need to learn a bit about some of my local tracks. Northern Minnesota has a lot from the big timber days and the mines as well. It'll be fun this summer to search them out. Thanks for the work it takes to do the ride report !

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Old 02-08-2013, 11:01 AM   #20
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Looks like some great places to ride. A lot different than the Ozarks and Ouachitas. I bet the railroad folks never imagined that some of their railbeds would be preserved for recreation. It's hard to imagine the work that went in to the construction of those rail lines. Wikipedia shows that two of the Denver South Park and Pacific engines are still around. One in Golden and one in Breckenridge.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:40 PM   #21
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Cool2 Nice

Enjoying the ride report.
We have done some of those roads in a jeep, and would love to do more on the bikes.
Excellent timing on the writing too, now I wanna ride.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:00 PM   #22
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Thanks all for the hoots n' hollers of encouragement! Glad you're enjoying it!

I'll get to work on the next installment.

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Old 02-08-2013, 02:13 PM   #23
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The Night Before:

The last forecast we heard before returning to our cabin for the night was pretty dismal: Highs in the 40's. 70% chance of rain. Snow in the higher elevations (above 10,000').

Once back at the cabin Honey Buns and me had a pow-wow. We both decided tomorrow would be a down day and we would piddle around in the Blazer, maybe head back east to check out Salida, over to Gunnison to go through the Pioneer Musuem, etc. As we relaxed in our cabin, the rain started in earnest... some fairly moderate rain was hitting the metal roof. Like I mentioned earlier, now that the rain had arrived, it was to be here a spell.

Soon, it was time to retire. Snug as a bug in a rug in our bed, with the windows cracked open a bit... once again I drifted off to sleep to the serenade of a rushing Quartz Creek just outside our window. Good stuff Maynard!


DAY FOUR:

Sure 'nuf, upon arising Wednesday morning, the rains were still on. Plus, there was heavy icing on the Blazer's windows. The temps were in the low 30's. NOT a fun day to be riding high mountain passes!

We headed for Salida and poked around there for a spell. Leaving Salida we headed for Gunnison. On our way back to Gunnison, I begin to notice several types of classic and antique sports cars... heading our direction.

Could it be?

You see, many years ago, when Honey Buns and I was doing our first September Colorado vacation, we came upon a classic/antique sports car rally known as the "Colorado Grand". It was a bunch of old sports car enthusiasts that ran a 1000 mile loop through Colorado, stopping at a park each night to display their vehicles while eating supper prior to retiring for the night.

Apparently, we had timed it just right again!

Their lunch stop was at Gunnison. We got there just in time to see the last of the cars before they too, left for the evening stop.

Here's a couple of pics from that little serendipitous encounter...

First up is a fabulous 1950's Ferrari Testa-Rosa racing car...




We also saw a genuine Ford Cobra! (NOT a kit car!) Here it is:




In all, our "Down Day" turned out to be a great day! We had a delicious lunch at the Tic Toc Diner at Gunnison (I ate a fantastic grilled pastrami n' swiss on toasted rye topped with sauer kraut.) Coming out of the diner... we noticed some more "Adventure Bikes" had shown up... though I didn't see their riders....




While eating lunch, I enquired if there was a seafood place in town. (We were both kind of in the mood for some seafood... or in my case... perhaps some fried trout?) Indeed, there was reputed to be an EXCELLENT seafood and steak house in Gunnision, named "The Trough".

As the day progressed and we continued to knock around. We did the Pioneer Museum, which was a real sleeper deal for sure: We BOTH had a great time there. We figured we'd take it in within an hour or so. WRONG. We were there 3 hours!

Leaving the museum we headed out to spy out where The Trough was located. As we did, I happened by a motorcycle dealership. Out front were some very serious dirt bikes by the name of "Husaberg".

Like a siren song... I was lured inside. (I LOVE to hit bike shops. Love the smell of a bike shop and the fun of looking over all the shiney new motorcycles.)

Small world! The fellow that owned the shop was an acqaintance of mine and a good friend of one of my good (riding) friends! The fellow's name is Fritz Kadlec, and he is one whale of an off-road rider, having ridden professionally for decades. However, now he's out of that scene and sells bikes an' stuff.

While visiting with him, Fritz asked where we would be riding at Crested Butte (Friday's ride). I told him Kebler Pass to Ohio Pass, then over to Gunnison for lunch, and return. With that, he pulled out a map and begin to highlight stuff that was even better! Needless to say, I purchased the map, and thanked him profusely.

Cool! We just improved Friday's ride on a happenstance stop! Below is a pic of Fritz and his shop.




Our supper that night was fantastic! We indeed ate at "The Trough", a seafood and steak house. We both ordered boiled shrimp.

My lands... there were half dozen of them per serving, and they were the biggest shrimp we had ever seen! I kid you not, each shrimp was as big as a fried chicken leg! Honey Buns only ate two of hers and I only got three of mine down! By the time we had eaten our large salads, savored the taste of The Trough's home-made poppy rolls... then topped it off with as many huge shrimp as we could eat (with a delicious smothered baked potato on the side)... we were stuffed!

We boxed up the leftover shrimp n' rolls and some cocktail sauce, and presto: A King's Lunch for Alpine Tunnel tomorrow!

Ah... almost forgot:

While at the Pioneer Museum, I saw a Denver South Park & Pacific RR historical book I didn't have. It's a new release by the title of "South Park's Gunnison Divison Memories & Then Some". After a few inquiries, we found the campus book store (at Western State College) had them in stock. It was off to the book store and a copy was then in my possession!

That night at our cozy warm cabin, Sharon and I curled up with a book and relaxed like nobody's business. Let it rain!

Oh yes... speaking of rain: That was to end during the night. The rest of the days we were to be in Colorado was to be clear blue sky and temps in the 60's! PERFECT!

Eventually we were ready for bed. Tomorrow was going to be one of our most anticipated events: The trek to Alpine Tunnel via the roadbed of the DSP&P. It had been YEARS since we've done this... and we were both looking forward to it. Plus... we were going to lunch in high fashion at Alpine Tunnel, courtesy of The Trough!

Yes indeed, big doin's tomorrow!

The next installment will be huge with lots of scenic pics... I'd better get to it!

To Be Continued.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:37 PM   #24
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Great job on the Colorado RR Vman! Awesome photos and good narrative, not to mention all of the railroad history.Quite a read. I'm hooked. Can't wait to get out there this coming summer. Crested Butte, Marshall and Waunita Pass, all the areas I plan to see on my next trip out there.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:45 PM   #25
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DAY FIVE:

After raining off and on all yesterday, and most of the night... Thursday dawned crystal clear and colder than a well digger's patootey! There was ice on all the Blazer's windows. As the Blazer warmed up and defrosted its windows, we were packing our lunch and getting pumped all over again about what lay before us today.

We both love the area we were getting ready to experience again: The climb on the old DSP&P grade from Pitkin to Alpine Tunnel.

We had mutually decided to take the Blazer instead of the bikes so we could amble along, do some hiking, take an ice chest (for the shrimp feast, picnic, remember?), drinks, etc. Also, we wanted to be able to interact freely (talk!) as we eased along in the Blazer and mutually grooving to the "Alpine Experience".

Ever since I begin to appreciate Colorado narrow gauge railroading (1990?) and begin to acquire books about same, the DSP&P has been one of my favorite Colorado narrow gauge lines. Honey Buns and I first explored the Alpine Tunnel area in about 1993. We were in our 1992 Buick Century. We drove the road bed as far as we could (stopping and gaping at the sights along the way)... only to be stopped by a snow slide that we could not cross with the Century. So... we got out and hoofed it the remaining 2 miles or so to Alpine Tunnel! It was great!

And here we were again, poised to experience Alpine Tunnel once again. Soon, we were ready to take off and begin our Alpine Tunnel adventure . Ahead would be something like 13 miles of one of the most historic and amazing pieces of railroading and railroad engineering ever accomplished in North America.

I took a TON of pics. Of course, like almost all things Colorado... pictures just cannot EVER do justice to actually standing there and experiencing it for yourself. An online acquaintance summed up seeing Colorado in one of his replies by saying that "it was almost a religious experience". I agree! Although there hasn't been a train over Alpine Pass in over 100 years... it was still a stirring experience to see the area once more and see firsthand what they accomplished to put those small rails over these huge mountains.

So... the Blazer loaded, our jackets on, and camera in hand... it was off for Alpine Tunnel.

All along the way, there are these facinating little "mini-scenes".... maybe a rock outcropping (as pictured below) or a histroical area (typically now with signs/makers interpreting the area)... the entire area is just steeped in history and "atmosphere".



We hadn't been motoring very far when a scene would open up that illstrated how FAST altitude was being gained. A 4% grade on a railroad will do that!

The aroma of the aspens and spruce were WONDERFUL as we slowly moved along. We savored the trip, the sights, the smells... all of it... every foot of the way.



A look back at a fill. There was a neat burbling brook tumbling down the mountainside here. In fact, most times when you stopped... you would hear the sound of rushing/tumbling water. That's cool, too!




And here's the tumbling water we were enjoying!





Just pick a direction, take a gander that way, and it was gorgeous... without fail!





Looking upgrade not far from the Woodstock town site. See that distant peak on up ahead? We'll be up there on the roadbed soon!




We were so fortunate to time our vacation time just right so we could enjoy the aspens in fall foliage again. We've only timed it this way once before. It was spectacular almost everywhere there were aspens!





More ruggedness from near the Woodstock town site. See that rock face up above?

If you look REALLY close (up top and on the right)... you'll see one of the palisades (rock retaining walls) that were used to hold the grade in place on the rugged mountain side. On the DSP&P, that area was referred to as "The Palisades".




One of the neatest things about the Pitkin to Alpine Tunnel grade is that history preservationists are doing their best to stabilize, and in some cases restore, the historic artifacts that remain. Here is the Williams Gulch water tank. It used to be at the townsite of Woodstock, until that terrible avalance wiped out the entire town. More on that in a bit.




Looking over the rugged granduer that comprises much of the climb to Alpine Tunnel. Again, if you look close, you'll see two levels of roadbed: The one we're on (it's in the foreground to the right)... and the one way up above! (You sort of have to know where it's at.)





This is the site of the old town of Woodstock. Woodstock was an interesting place in the early 1880's. It was extremely remote and living there was very rugged. The little narrow gauge DSP&P railroad was the only means of contact with the outside world. The boarding house at Woodstock was run by an Irish widow that had six children: Mrs. Marcella Doyle. The DSP&P Telegrapher there was J.S. Brown.

Sadly, a catostrophic avalance took place here during the winter of 1884. I will quote from Mallory Hope Ferrell's book "The South Park Line":

"The South Park's worst disaster occurred at Woodstock about 6:00 PM on March 10, 1884. A huge avalance roared down the steep mountainside above Missouri Gulch, completely burying the town and killing thirteen people. Included among the dead were telegrapher Brown, and all six of the Doyle children, who ranged in age from 10 to 23 years of age. Also killed were saloon keeper Joseph Royegno, Jasper Caswell, James Tracy, George Alexander, Michael Shea and Joseph Gerazo. Mrs. Doyle and three others were buried under the snow and not resuced for almost twelve hours... only to then learn of the horrible tragedy that had befallen the others."

The disaster wiped out the town of Woodstock, and it never regained its former size.

So sad. Life was tough in Colorado in the 1880's. The townsite with its memorial marker:




Looking upgrade from the Woodstock townsite...





Now we come to Woodstock Loop, later called Sherrod Loop. The rails of the DSP&P had to make almost a complete loop in order to make its final assault to reach Alpine Tunnel.

If you'll look closely... you'll see some rails have been relaid to help aid the historical significance of the area!





Here's a closer look at those rails...





In this shot, Honey Buns and I have walked out onto the fill that comprised Woodstock Loop. This is a majestic area!





In this view, I've turned 180 degrees to show you where we were...

See the rails over on the left? And, if you look real close over past the rails... you'll see our trusty ol' Blazer!




This is a classic shot that almost every South Park trekker has taken. I am no exception!





I thought this pic aptly illustrates just how much the restoration is adding to the "feel" of the Alpine Tunnel route experience. It's not too hard to imagine it's the early 1880's again, is it?





We've now left the Woodstock Loop area, and have proceeded upgrade further on the roadbed. In this angle, you're looking down near the Woodstock townsite. That road below is the roadbed that we were on.





Now you're looking further upgrade toward the Alpine Tunnel area. Look closely... you'll see the faint trace that marks the roadbed coming up from the Pitkin area. (Look on the distant mountainsides about 1/3 up the mountains.) Looking up ahead, that closest deep "V" is the pass area where Alpine Tunnel is located. See the upper roadbed just ahead as well as off in the distance where it rounds the curve to enter the Alpine Tunnel area?




The Palisades! Doubt there's a more fabled area than the Palisades! The rock formations here are incredible. Plus, the picture just doesn't convey the precarious way the roadbed clung tenaciously to the mountainside on a narrow shelf.




A closer look, and perhaps one that illustrates the height of the roadbed a bit better?




Now you're looking across a gulch at the roadbed we'll be on in a few more minutes.





Excuse the poor morning lighting, but this is a look back at the Palisade illustrated above. Trust me, these pictures don't even come CLOSE to the actual ruggedness of the area! We are WAAAAY up there in elevation in these pics on a narrow shelf of a roadbed!




Continuing our upward trek, this time toward the gulch I mentioned just above.




What a view! (And we're not at the highest point, yet!) You're looking back down the gulch toward Pitkin. See the trace of the roadbed on the mountainsides?





We keep on climbing higher... and we're still not there yet!





At last, after about 12-13 miles of climbing since leaving Pitkin, we arrive at the Alpine Tunnel area.

During the early years at Alpine Tunnel, there was a 150' long rock engine house that contained a 50' turntable (used to turn the steam engines around), a water tank, and a coaling platform... all of this INSIDE the engine house! There was also a small combination telegraph/train station, a rock boarding house, and other essentials.

The winters were so harsh on Alpine Pass, that typically the DSP&P line over it would be closed for weeks and sometimes months. Horrific snows were common.

Below you'll see a picture of the stabilized portions of the engine house. The preservationists have actually excavated the floor of the house and now the entire turntable pit is visible! The remains of the tank are still there, too.





Here's the restored small station... complete with the train order board!





Here's a replica of the coaling platform that was built after the engine house burned in 1906...





The preservationists have also relaid track using the original rails and tie plates and such in their original location. That's a stub switch you're looking at! All of their efforts REALLY help to add to the atmosphere! In this pic, you're looking toward the tunnel area.





They're even restoring the turntable that was installed after the loss of the enginehouse!





Now you're looking toward the actual Alpine Tunnel entrance...





And then, the actual tunnel portal rocks that have been excavated. Note you're looking at the TOP of the tunnel rockwork. The roadbed has been intentionally raised here to use as fill-in to close off the tunnel mouth. Otherwise, people will try (have tried) to enter the actual tunnel. Last time that was done and published (late 50's/early 60's?)... the timber lining was still intact, and the rails and ties were still there!

By the way... you can use old photographs to actually identify the individual rocks in the tunnel portal!





While eating our lunch, up came a couple of dual sport riders. It was a father and son team from Kansas. They come out to Colorado and ride together every year. Silly me, I didn't think to take a pic of them until too late. Oh well.

After spending some time at Alpine Tunnel, and eating our delicious lunch, it was time to start the descent back to Pitkin, load up the bikes, and head for Crested Butte.

I will be closing with a few more pics of The Palisade area.

Trust me, there are a LOT more pics... but I've already posted a TON of Alpine Tunnel/Pass pictures!!





The granduer and ruggedness is simply fascinating...





Magnificent!





That's it for this segment.

In the next and last installment, we'll take our last dual sport ride of the vacation. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise!

See' ya!


To Be Continued.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:17 PM   #26
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I was exploring Colorado on my street bike a few years ago and said I would never go back without a dirt bike. Now I have a DR650 which would be perfect and a trip like yours is at the very top of my bucket list. Now all I need is a trailer and a sweet female riding companion to help me pick up my porky DR.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:30 PM   #27
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DAY SIX:

Friday, our last day to play in Colorado:

Once again, there was heavy frost on the bikes in the morning. The lows were in the upper 20's or very low 30's for the night. Instead of riding the bikes to get breakfast like we ORIGINALLY thought, we decided to take the Blazer.

Good decision! By the time we finished breakfast and had returned to the motel... the bikes were thawed and it was time to suit-up and hit the road!

We started by riding our first planned route: Kebler Pass up to Ohio Pass, then start the descent from Ohio Pass toward Gunnison.

However, once down from Ohio Pass, we begin to notice several buttes off to our right (southwest).

Here's a distant pic of the top of one of the buttes...





Soon, we arrived at the junction with the road we were looking for. Turning off the pavement onto a Forest Road, we were now on one of Fritz's routes. This was an "added-value" route!

We hadn't gone very far at all and we were entering that really neat looking butte area. The road that we were on was definitely getting to be less and less maintained. For dual sport dirt riders, that's a good thing!

Here's a better look at some of the buttes we were seeing...





As per Fritz's instructions, we turned off the road less traveled... and got on a road even less traveled! Very soon after turning, the road simply became a farm trail/road and we started really getting into some remote feeling areas. There were also some neat aspen groves along the way. We loved it immediately!





Somehow, we were back into black sage country. Also, the mountains and nearby hills were very different than what we had been seeing. We really begin to enjoy this new looking territory!

This picture helps to illustrate that by this time we were essentially riding a farm trail...





It just kept getting better and more remote! Like I said, the hills and mountains were TOTALLY different than what we had been exploring the past several days. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed the change.

Here we are just simply soaking up the atmosphere and scene before us...





From this point, we knew we were in for a great experience and, kicking back, simply rode and savored the day.

Eventually, we rejoined the Ohio Pass road near Gunnison... and bee-lined over to the Tic Toc for another great lunch. This time, I ordered the Philly Steak, but opted for their version with green chili's instead of green peppers. This version also came with a bowl of Salsa Verde to pour on it. It was great!

Following a lead from some of my dual sport/adventure riding online friends... here's a pic of the food!!!





We were now going to ride the same route in reverse. Amazingly, on almost any mountain-type trail, when doing this you get to see things going the opposite way that you didn't see when riding from the other direction. This proved to be no exception as we saw vistas that had eluded us coming the other direction.

OH... forgot to mention, it was on this road that we noticed very distant mountains (the San Juan's over toward Lake City) that were completely snow capped. It had indeed snowed in the upper elevations the other night! My oh my, we love Colorado!

Here's a pic of some of one of the rock formations among the black sage along the way...





Some very odd rock formations were seen all along this route that Fritz shared with us. If you look real close, you should be able to detect that there are CONE shaped rock formations along this particular outcropping!





I tried to stop and take a picture that captured the absolute back road feel this section had. This road had that "islolation" feel to it that I was telling you about earlier! Loved it!





Getting ready to enter another of the aspen groves that were sprinkled along the way...





Here and there, we saw several side roads that meandered off toward the ridges... but I didn't want to get Honey Buns into a trail situation she would be uncomfortable with (i.e. like rocks and ruts, steep uphills, etc), so we stayed with the farm road.

However, we espied this one that led off into an aspen grove... and it looked smooth enough... so we went for it! We were rewarded by being able to be up in an aspen grove that was fully bedecked in autumn foliage. It was serene being there!





Another view of the same trail...





Eventually, we neared the exit point of this fantastic farm trail we had been riding for 20 or so miles. As we did, an entirely new view of that butte scene opened up before us! Here's a pic of it...





Heading back up Ohio Pass toward Kebler Pass... the sun was brilliant up above and the aspens were splendid!

Along the way back to Crested Butte, I stopped and tried to shoot a few pictures in the attempt to take a bit of Colorado back home with is. Alas, though you can capture some images that help stir your memories... there is simply NO WAY to capture the imensity of Colorado, nor the breath-taking scenes!





Another view...





more...





One final pic as I aimed the camera toward the sun to try to capture an image illustrating the way the aspens glow when backlit by the sun. Nowhere near as gorgeous as in person... but perhaps you can get a glimpse of the splendor we got to enjoy together during our 2012 Colorado Trip.

I hope you enjoyed our trip with us!



Epilogue:

At the beginning of this epic journey, only one week ago on a Friday night, the bikes were loaded and strapped down tightly on the trailer, and we were struggling to sleep in anticipation of our Great Adventure beginning. Now, one week later, all of our riding gear was packed and in the Blazer. Only the essentials were with us up in our motel room.

Our 2012 Colorado vacation was drawing to a close... quickly. That following morning, we would have to say goodbye to Colorado once more and start the long trip home to eastern Oklahoma.

We hate to leave everytime. However, our roots are in eastern Oklahoma for now... so leave we must. Our trip home was safe and without incident.

Ponderings:

Given the small taste of Colorado I have shared with you in this mini-series, it should be easier for many of you to understand why it is so easy to be consumed with Colorado.

Like the Ozarks and Ouachitas... Colorado runs very deep in not only me, but also Honey Buns.

Thanks again for reading this and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did reliving it!!

P.S. As of this posting, Honey Buns and I are already planning another dual sport adventure in Colorado for September of 2013. I've already marked-off the time at the company calender!

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Old 02-08-2013, 05:32 PM   #28
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Thumb Neat stuff....

Never rode in Colorado yet but seeing this makes me think it'll make my list of places to ride. Even better that you can share it while you're doing the trip. That's the good stuff.
Ride safe and ride on man.
I'm in.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:32 PM   #29
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Great report Andre. I am loving it. Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:09 PM   #30
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So beautiful. I'm going next summer. Can't wait. Thanks for the report.
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