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Old 05-15-2012, 04:04 PM   #1
n8zuz OP
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Location: SW Michigan
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My fly and buy in Denver, CO then back to Michigan

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I owned a BMW R60/5 motorcycle with the chrome-sided “toaster tank”, spoked wheels, hand painted pinstripes, etc. I loved that bike. It was a bit homely looking but it was the short wheel based model and cornered very well. I rode the bike all over the US with fond memories of visiting the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and many places in between. I sold that bike to help fund some flight training. The day after I sold it I regretted it. Later I could have easily afforded flight training and kept the bike but hind sight is always 20/20.

Since that time I owned a Honda XLR250R “Baja” (that I owned when I lived in the Andes mountains of Bolivia)...that funded the

Honda XR650L...that funded the

BMW K100LT that helped fund the
...keep reading.

The 250 was when I lived in Bolivia, South America, and have fond memories of riding in various parts of the Andes Mountains up around 15,000’ above sea level...yes, a 250 is quite anemic at that altitude! I sold it before I left then later when we returned to the US I bought the XR650L. It was fun but my wife decided she wanted to ride with me sometimes. Since I had good luck in the past with BMWs I went for the big LT “light truck.” I found it was too hot in the summer because it was faired very well and the engine heat came right up upon you. I sold that and started looking for my next bike.

I looked into the BMW R11XX GS models but realistically I won’t ride one off road enough because I don’t own enough land to nor are there many good trails around here (learned that with the XR650L). I do ride some gravel but I can do that on most any bike; after all, I grew up on a dirt road and every bike I had back then was fine on gravel. Anyhow, I finally settled on the BMW R1100R. I then found they had the 98’ SE Anniversary edition, the LE edition in 99-2000, and the RL edition in 2001. These all were black, with white pinstripes, spoked wheels, had a resemblance of the earlier BMWs including the /5 series. The RL used some leftover “chrome-head” parts to dress up the bike some. I was hooked with the nostalgic thoughts of my beloved R60/5. I like retro!

I started looking for one of the above models and put a want ad on an internet BMW site. I had about a dozen offers of some very nice bikes, some OK bikes, and some trash. Most were overpriced but not all. Finally, a guy, Bill, in Denver, CO, offered me a bike with lots of extra doo-dads that was sure to please. It was a 2001 BMW R1100RL. After many high quality photos were sent my way and a few phone calls and lots of emails, I bought a one way plane ticket from Kalamazoo, MI to Denver, CO...and that my friends is where the adventure riding begins!

Adventure riding can mean many things to many people. To me it means heading out on a trip with no planned schedule, and changing plans on the fly as things change. It means camping out, living carefree for a few days, and staying off the super slabs as much as practical. It means taking in the subtle differences of the people in different locales.

I had a near sleepless night, got up around 3:45 AM eastern time, got my teeth brushed, ate a bowl of cereal, and arrived at work at 4:30AM on Tuesday 5/1/12 where a co-worker drove me and two bags to the airport so I don’t have to pay parking fees. The airport is just 5 minutes from my work. The flight departed at 6:05 right on schedule. We arrive early in Chicago O’Hare and we leave Chicago at 7AM central on schedule. The arrival in Denver is on time and by the time I get to the baggage claim the bags are starting to flow but nobody else is there yet from the flight. My bags were the first ones there. From there I phone Bill, the seller, who is waiting in a nearby lot, tell him the door where I am, and he comes and takes me to his home. A look over the bike and it looks new. I doubt it’s ever been ridden in the rain but maybe it has. Showroom clean and beautiful. A test drive tells me everything seems sound. A quick trip to the DMV and I get a temp tag and verify the title is good. A quick trip to UPS to ship the extra tires and stuff that came with the bike home to Michigan....and I’m off on the adventure. I install and load the tank bag, shove my luggage into the duffel bag that has my tent and sleeping bag and head out.

I quick hit a Walmart for a few apples and bananas, and a couple of 1 liter bottles of water. From there I headed out I-70 to the west to get into the mountains.

My loose plan was to travel north towards Steamboat Springs go through Walden and camp near Gould. The next day I was going to head south of I-70. I had no set plans but that was the idea. I exited I-70 onto CO-9 and headed north.

Nothing too wild of a road but it was nice to be in the mountains again. They remind me of the Andes but the Andes are a bit taller and a bit warmer.

In Kremmling I take US-40 West towards Steamboat Springs but I see it’s raining and/or snowing up ahead and decide I don’t want to get wet so early in the trip.

I turn around and stay on 40 east. I come to a town called Fraser and I’m getting a bit cold. I pull off into a hardware store parking lot to put the liner in my riding jacket and I see a KLR 650 with Jesse bags on it. Hmm, another adventurer I guess.
As I fiddle with my liner a guy comes out of the hardware store, hops on his KLR, and heads over to where I was parked.

He thought my R might have been a GS as they are quite a bit similar and I did have it loaded like a mule. The man says his name is Karl and we talked about ADVRIDER.COM, riding in general, my plans, etc. The really cool thing is after talking a few minutes Karl says his wife and daughter are out of town, he has a pot of chili going on the stove, and I am welcome to have dinner and even stay the night at their place. Wow! That’s hospitality. That evening Karl and his son Tristan and I talk motorcycles, shooting, family, life experiences, and other things. It was very enjoyable. Karl and I talked about roads that would be good to travel and I took his advice. I was on some great roads, but some were still closed but the ones I found to replace the closed ones were great. It’s hard to go wrong in the mountains.

For a guy that was cold, hungry and tired (nearly no sleep the night before, a very early morning, and two time zones away), this was heaven being invited to Karl’s! Thank you Karl and Tristen. Karl is an ADV inmate, a veteran of riding in Mexico, Moab, and lots more. Neat guy and 8 yo Tristan is learning to jump his Kawasaki too. Honda used to advertise, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” Well, I met the nicest person on a Kawasaki, free2speed to be exact. Thanks buddy. If you get to Michigan you know you have a place to stay and some nice meals even if you have the whole family with you.

To be continued.....

n8zuz screwed with this post 05-16-2012 at 05:59 PM
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:33 PM   #2
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Wednesday morning after Karl makes a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon, I head out to go on US-40 south to I-70 around 6:40 am.

From there I go west and get off on US-6 to go over Loveland pass.

Did you see my new favorite sign in that photo?

Yep, Karl, that was great! On the way down I found about 8 mountain goats in the road. Fortunately I wasn’t going too fast to stop. I did get stopped but they were pretty much gone before I had the camera out. That route is used for hazardous cargo to not go through the tunnel on I-70. I didn’t hang out in the road to find the goats because a tanker was coming down the hill behind me (I know because I had just passed him a few curves back). From there I get back on I-70 west to CO 91.

On I-70 there is a picnic area and I needed a drink of water so I pulled off. Up next to me pulled in a car with two girls traveling from Ohio to Utah. I take their photo and they offer to take mine.

I take that south into Leadville. If you’re a pilot, you know Leadville is the highest airport in North America at 9,927’ above mean sea level. I got a photo with my bike in front of the sign by Mike, the airport manager. We talked high altitude flying because I used to be a bush pilot in the Andes and landed on gravel airstrips at over 14,000’ above sea level.

From Leadville I head down US-24 to Buena Vista and I had plans to take the road up and over Cottonwood Pass, do a bit of gravel, then come down into Almont but Cottonwood pass was still closed. :-( bummer. I decide not to let that ruin my day.
I keep heading south into Poncha Springs. From there I pick up US-50 west and take that into Gunnison by going through Monarch pass..

It was near noon so I grabbed a footlong at Subway, ate half and stashed the other half for supper and headed west on 50 to CO 149. 149 is a very nice road with very little traffic.

You gotta love it before vacationers come out and also on a work day! I take 149 to South Fork then go over to Del Norte then 112 east to US 285.

From here US-285 going north is very flat, open and desert. Traffic moves about 80 mph and I take that back up into Poncha Springs. From there I get on US-50 east, go through Salida and head for the exits haha (if you know your Spanish). This stretch of 50 keeps dropping down and goes through some gorgeous canyons with red rocks. It was a nice leisurely ride. I went down 50 to Penrose to get on CO 115 north towards Colorado Springs. I spent the night at the Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

I forgot to mention in the first post but Tuesday I did 303 miles til Karl's place. Wednesday I did 493 miles.

to be continued one last time...

n8zuz screwed with this post 05-16-2012 at 06:01 PM
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:53 PM   #3
n8zuz OP
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continued again

I woke up to some nice sunshine. Here's a view looking at the mountains, then looking east to where I'll be heading the next two days.

I got a good nights sleep and headed out around 7:40 AM on Thursday as I start heading back to Michigan after my time of play in the mountains. I stop and take a couple of photos looking forward, then looking back...what a fun time in the mountains.

I took US-24 through CO Springs, and up to Limon.

I grab a blueberry oatmeal and water at McDonalds. When I leave I see how this Harley guy camps and rides...or rides and camps...or...

Limon is where I caught I-70 until CO 59. I saw some antelope in the distance and they really stuck out in the green fields and their white bellys. I went up 59 north to US 36 where I stayed on that into Missouri. On 59 I saw a nice big rattler sunning himself on the side of the road just as proud as can be to show his rattles. I thought about stopping and taking a picture but I’ve seen those babies before and no need to “rattle” his cage so to speak. I barely missed hitting a flying ringneck pheasant and saw several others that were hit.

I finally get to Kansas!

Going across US 36 in northern Kansas reminded me of “the song that never goes on and on my friend.” It was pretty as the wheat was so very green on the rolling hills but it just seemed to go on and on. An interesting note in the center of the state along 36 I noticed most of the traffic waved “howdy” as I went by. Perhaps they did this in western KS but I did notice it in central and by east KS they had stopped. Everyone’s a friend I guess in central KS.

I finally rolled into Missouri and found my way to the Pony Express Campground west of Cameron. I rented a tent site but as I was unloading the bike in the dark, I noticed a lot of thunderstorms were blowing around. I have camped in the rain a lot, in tents even, but the tent I had I knew didn’t do well in rain as it leaks badly. I figured I wouldn’t get my money back but I let the owner know I was going to get a hotel in case a tornado came by they wouldn’t be looking for me. They kindly refunded my money and gave me directions to Cameron where I found a clean room at Super 8. As I was unloading my bike a kind gentleman was just waiting for someone to talk to. He was in town, from Ft. Collins, CO, for his daughter's funeral that day. She was 40 and passed suddenly and he was heartbroken. I was glad to give him a listening ear as he was hurting over the death of his child. It’s good now and again to put life into perspective and live every day with purpose as today could be your last.

Thursday I went from CO Springs to Cameron, MO which was 720 miles.

I got up at 5:45 AM, got breakfast down in the lobby only to find it POURING down rain.

I was so glad I wasn’t in that tent at the time. I loaded up the bike and it stopped raining long enough for me to get fueled up and going down the road. From there I keep heading east on 36 in the rain all through Misery, (aka Missouri). The bike has a headlight modulator that I’ve never liked but when semi was trying to turn left in front of me, I turned it on and he slammed on his brakes as he finally saw me. Like them or not, I think they might actually work.

US 36 becomes I-72 once in IL, so I take I-72 to I-57 near Champaign the go up to US-24 near Gilman, IL and ride that east to Reynolds, IN.

In Reynolds I got on US-421 north to Michigan City (yea, no going near Chicago!). In Michigan City I get a case of “get-home-itis” so I hop onto II-94 to Kalamazoo, then up US-131 to my home in Plainwell. My wife was doing some gardening and my daughter was playing with a neighbor but both came running to greet me and welcome me home.

Friday I covered 657 miles to home with half the day in rain (all
across MO and IL).

It was a fun ride. I rode rode 796 miles in the Rockies in a day and a half, then rode 1377 miles home in 2 more days for a total of 2173 miles in 3.5 days. No “Iron Butt” type riding but man was it fun. That’s my little “Fly and Buy” adventure story!

Many thanks to my wife who lets me do crazy things on my own, my daughter who prayed every night for my safety, Karl and Tristan for taking in a complete stranger and feeding him and letting him spend the night, for Bill who summed it up best that doing an internet deal sometimes you just have to trust people, and to a God who answered my little girl’s prayers!

n8zuz screwed with this post 05-16-2012 at 06:03 PM
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:24 PM   #4
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I grab a blueberry oatmeal and water at McDonalds. When I leave I see how this Harley guy camps and rides...or rides and camps...or...

must be comfy though, sometimes i would kill for a bed and warm home made meal.

great RR thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:26 PM   #5
Green Stainz
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Nice report. Glad to read about someone else perspective of the Rockies. If you venture out west again give a holler. Happy to ride with you or pitch a tent in my yard.

Ride safely
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:05 PM   #6
n8zuz OP
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Thanks for the invite Green Stainz. I'd like to get out there again and hope to do that. It will probably be a little while again though.

The motorhome with the Harley isn't a bad way to go. It just struck me funny as I have often camped on trips by taking it with me all on the bike. He might have it figured better than I do...but I don't have a motorhome.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:30 PM   #7
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Nice RR thanks for taking us along for the ride.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:08 AM   #8
garrett the nerd
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Good read! (and hello from kzoo )
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:39 PM   #9
n8zuz OP
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PM sent
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Old 05-18-2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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Nice photos. Both of the scenery, and of the nice bikes.
I was on those roads and some more in Colorado last September. It's so beautiful. Cottonwood pass was open, and the western approach is quite a fun dirt road.
I must say you have only scratched the surface of Colorado.
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Old 05-25-2012, 05:11 AM   #11
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Nice report. I grew up a bit north of you in Lakeview, MI.
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Old 05-26-2012, 04:40 AM   #12
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Thanks for the reports and pics.. can't beat riding in Colorado
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:59 AM   #13
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REALLY ENJOYED THIS R/R and all the really great Pic's..... Now I am pumped!! SO, today I am going for a ride here in our great mountians of New Mex. I've done two 'fly, buy and ride'. had great times, Now you have me wantin to do another.... Thanks..................................
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:18 PM   #14
n8zuz OP
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Originally Posted by David13 View Post
I must say you have only scratched the surface of Colorado.
That's an understatement. I've ridden in CO before starting down near Durango from the 4 corners area but that was back in the 80's on my old R60/5. As people have stated, it's hard to go wrong in the mountains out west.

Glad folks enjoyed the writeup and photos. It was a lot of fun doing the fly and buy. I'm now thinking of joining the "Iron Butt" group by doing a "Saddlesore 1000" ride. While looking at that the 48-10 caught my eye but I'd have to work up to that...48 states in 10 days. Wow. Maybe next year!
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Old 05-31-2012, 02:13 AM   #15
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Great report, great ride thank you for the effort.
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