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Old 10-06-2007, 08:11 AM   #1
InsuredDisaster OP
Sam's Summer Camp
 
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Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado
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South Western Colorado

I felt that I had this great bike but I wasn't riding it near enough so I pulled myself away from reading about other people's trips and went on my own.


The general idea was to ride around the Southwest "quadrant" of Colorado created by the I-70 and I-25 interstate routes. The route I laid out would be about 1,000 miles and I planned to leave Fort Collins on Tuesday after work (about 3 PM) and be back on Thursday morning. However, I over estimated my average speed on Colorado's back roads, and I modified my route once I actually got going. The actual trip was some 1,300 miles, and lasted from Tuesday afternoon until Friday at about 3pm. So three full days.



This was the final route I ended up taking. I changed the route a bit once I actually set off, adding about 300 miles.

I got started however right on time, having loaded up the bike the night before. I'd been camping before on the motorcycle, but new for this trip were a camping stove, a tarp to use as a tent, and food. Previously, I'd just pitch a blanket, ride away first thing, and I'd eat at cafe's.

My route took me down a stretch of I-25 to avoid congestion and construction, then at Longmont, I headed back onto secondary highways and by and by connected with 285. By the time it got dark, I was near Salida. I decided to eat out the first night, and I stopped at a nice looking restaurant.


The food was great, but service was pretty bad. I almost felt snubbed. I ordered hot tea and it came with a pot of hot water and about 20 tea packs. To make up for the poor service, I yahoo'd all of the tea when I left. I enjoyed it throughout my trip.

Once I had set off again, I headed for a nearby grocery store to get water and some sort of a cup, as I had forgotten to bring one. I settled on a measuring cup, which in my opinion was the perfect camping cup. Then I set up for the night a bit North of Salida.


Simple, but effective for keeping off the dew and frost. Months of training by sleeping on the floor in my apartment prepared me for any surface I encountered on the trip, from grass to gravel.

The next morning it was cold but I was able to enjoy hot tea for breakfast, courtesy of the Coyote Cantina. I began to worry that the supposed 60 minute run time of the fuel canisters I was using would be a problem. I decided to get some more to make sure I wouldn't run out. I also worried that it might rain and that while my tarp kept the dew and frost off of me, it would fail if it rained. I headed into Alamosa, picked up a tent and 2 more fuel canisters, then repacked everything in my cases. I spent too long in Alamosa but I was set for anything now.

From Alamosa I headed south into New Mexico using 285, SH-17, and then 84 north back into Colorado. This area was beautiful.


Oldest church in Colorado.



Some old locomotive that was used at one time in a scenic RR route. I saw quite a few running locomotives.



I had been thinking how great it would be to take a shot like this. Then I saw a bridge.



Some scenic view. I conscipted a local to take the photo so they forgot to show you the valley.


I tried to time the locomotive so that it would be closer to me, but this was the best I could do. I need one of those remotes.

Upon reaching South Fork, CO, I headed north onto 149 up to Gunnison. It was during this stretch that I went on a detour that went nowhere, and nearly got run over by an 18 wheeler.


Ah, a detour. Turns out, the sign was a bit confusing. They meant to go around the sign, not actually turn right. However, a truck, me, and another car all turned right. . .

Then as I was thinking I must have made a wrong turn, the truck stalled out, started rolling backwards, then started skidding towards me. I started to back up though I was a pretty safe distance behind but when I hit the front brake, the wheel locked and I was also skidding down the hill. We both stopped, and the trucker came out actually shaking. He apologized about the slide out and asked if I would scout ahead for a place to turn around. A couple of 4x4s came down however and said "It only gets worse from here." The trucker had to back down almost half a mile to a suitable spot to turn around. Poor guy.



Away from trucks and detours, another scenic overlook.

I made a fuel stop in Gunnison, then doubled back and headed to Montrose. Earlier, I had figured on making Montrose, Durango, and Montrose again but it was already getting dark. I had been riding around in Colorado's mountains before, but apparently I forgot how slow it can be at times! It was already getting dark and since the whole point of a sight seeing trip was to see, I decided to stop and set up camp near Cimarron.

Some sort of geological formation near Gunnison.


The next morning wasn't too bad though there was frost on the inside of the tent. After checking my map, I decided that I'd be spending an extra day which wasn't a problem, and that I'd try to reach Carbondale, CO. I'd also need more food. So onto Durango via the San Juan Skyway, aka "The Million Dollar Highway." Georgeous I tell you. Stunning views though it could be slow at times. I was also seeing ominous clouds gathering. I hoped that it wasn't about to snow.


Don't need to say much here.


In Durango, I added a second gallon of water and some freeze dried camping food to my load out. I chucked as I saw riders with gear strapped down on the outside of their bikes where it could get wet. By golly, my cases might look weird, but I was carrying 2 gallons of water, a tent, a sleeping bag (from Walmart, not one of those sleeping bags that you can fit into a 35mm film canister from REI) an 8x10 tarp, camping stove, 3 fuel canisters, mesh pants, 2 pant liners, 2 jacket liners, full sized tea kettle and misscilaneous gear, tools, and equipment. And all of it would stay safe and dry no matter what. If only it didn't take so long to assemble my jig saw puzzle in the morning. Those other guys probably had 30-40 minutes riding time on me before I rolled out of camp. Took me an hour to make breakfast, eat, and break camp.

I didn't refuel though, instead planning on doing that about 25 miles away in Mancos.

Near Mancos. Those clouds and the rain were worring me. However, I was lucky to encounter no weather I couldn't get through for the entire trip.


The clouds were getting back. I was still worried that nasty weather was coming in. If I couldn't make it back to Montrose, my trip was effectively over. However, other than some light rain, I encountered no weather I couldn't handle. The weather either rained or showed evidence of rain all the way until Carbondale.

I think the clouds helped this photo, actually.



Having made my goal for the day, I faced a lack of camping sites. My original plan was to head south on 82 towards Granite, Colorado, which would put my south of Leadville. However, I wanted to avoid climbing in elevation, as I was worried about snow. I found some back road that offered suitable camping sites, would keep me fairly close to Carbondale incase I had to back out of the snow, and at the same time, offered a bit of trail riding. I pitched my tent in the dark and went to bed.

The next morning, it wasn't raining though it had rained during the night. I was very happy that I had gotten the tent. However, I was still using that first fuel canister, even though I had gone out of my way to try to use it up. I could probably use it for another 2 days before it would run out, actually. So I guess I didn't need the other fuel canisters. Today, rather than neatly folding everything up, I threw the tent into the top case and set off. HAHA! I haven't room for anything else but by golly, I bet I beat those bunji campers today!



I continued east and came to where the pavement ended. Going up wasn't too bad and I made it to the top of Hagerman Pass. Then I started going back down. It was brutal. My centerstand was contstantly dragging on huge rocks. There was snow in places and icy puddles of water, but I had to stop to strip off gear as I was overheating. However, I was able to keep the bike up and made it into Leadville.


My victory photo was premature. I had to get down on the other side.


From there on out it was nice and easy. I soon was on I-70 and by the end of the day, I was back on my own floor.

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Old 10-06-2007, 11:34 AM   #2
Sod Buster
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My cousin worked this job out of Durango, some of the storys he's told will put a chill down your spine, he claim's he still has a peice of snow plow apolstery in the crack of his arse.

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Old 10-06-2007, 12:31 PM   #3
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Sam's Summer Camp
 
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That memorial really stuck with me. I was thinking about it for quite a while after I passed it.
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Old 10-06-2007, 12:47 PM   #4
Sal Paradise
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Every time I see a Colorado report I say "I've got to go to Colorado", next summer for sure!!
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Old 10-06-2007, 04:53 PM   #5
GB
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Wow!! It sure is another beautiful ride!! Thanks for posting
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:42 PM   #6
Hair
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I think that I know this road. If I were that truck driver I would have been shaking too.
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Old 10-07-2007, 09:54 AM   #7
Sparkdaddy
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I heard the CDOT guys draw straws to see who has to do Red Mountain pass for the winter. The winner then has to make the call to his family and tell them the great news.
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