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Old 11-01-2014, 08:11 PM   #1
ZeWhiteRabbit OP
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Two 18 Year Olds Head For the Hills

…And boy were they big!

We’re a couple of 2014 high school graduates from Kansas. All we know are the wide open plains and mile after mile of wheat fields. So we decided to head to the closest and largest mountain range we knew of - the Rocky Mountains.

Now let’s start with a little background.

My name is Levi and I’ve been buddies with this crazy guy named Jared since 3rd grade. I began riding motorcycles the summer of 2012, and just this past summer Jared decided to join in on the fun. He purchased a KLR and what better way to break it in than a trip to Colorado! We decided to leave Wichita, Kansas the very last week of our summer break, before we each headed our separate ways to college. So, after over a month of planning routes, testing equipment, and preparing our bikes, we were ready to go.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:14 PM   #2
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Well, post it already!!! I'm in.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:15 PM   #3
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Let's see it!

Sounds like a good time.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:16 PM   #4
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Day 1 - August 10, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 0

Here we are the morning of August 10 - about to embark on an epic adventure!

We traveled north on I-135, until we reached Belleville, Kansas where we stopped and ate at a Mr. Goodcents for lunch.

Then we began the long trek westward towards Colorado. We decided to take US-36 because it is more scenic than I70 (which isn’t saying much here in Kansas). We knew no matter what the riding would be long, boring, straight roads. We each turned on our Sena SMH-10 headsets (best investment I’ve ever made BTW), cranked up some tunes, and put the cruise control on. As we neared the Kansas-Colorado border we began to look for a camping spot for the evening. Being young and inexperienced, we assumed we’d just find a campground somewhere along the road. Nope. We were dead wrong. That is when we decided to make our own campground. So, we got off US-36 and began to explore some dirt roads.

Eventually, we found a nice little spot below an old bridge.

We each cooked our Campbell’s soup on our stoves that night for supper. Then we texted our families to notify them we were still alive. We were excited for the mountains ahead of us and happy to finally be getting away from the flat plains of Kansas. Finally, we brushed our teeth and hit the sack.

Our trip mileage for Day 1 was 418 miles. A record number of miles in a single day for both of us. We would soon come to find out that that record wouldn’t stand for long…

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:30 PM   #5
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Day 2 - August 11, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 418 miles

We woke up to an absolutely beautiful morning for our second day of the trip.

We ate a quick breakfast consisting of coffee, oatmeal, and animal crackers and then packed our tents and the rest of our belongings. Soon we were on the road again headed west. Just as we were beginning to get settled back into the pace of riding, we saw the Colorado state sign. We had no idea we were that close to the Colorado border.

Being naďve and all, I figured now that we were in Colorado, we’d be riding in the mountains in no time…right? Wrong. We were still well over 150 miles from Denver, which is only at the base of the mountains. Eventually my eyes tired from straining to see the mountains on the horizon, so I sat back and let the miles pass by. Lucky for me, I didn’t get too complacent because when I checked my trip meter next I was just about out of gas (of course my tank just barely holds 3 gallons). I didn’t hit reserve, but I was very happy to see this rural gas station in nowhere Colorado.

For all you old timers, this gas station isn’t anything new. However, the majority of my generation has never seen an analog gas pump (including myself). I was slightly embarrassed to have to ask the guy inside for help on how to use the darn thing! It was also the only time I’ve ever paid AFTER filling up with gas. Anyways a cool, unexpected experience for both of us.

We continued to follow US-36 west and eventually arrived at this little café along the road. I don’t remember the name of the town, but the food was excellent. I’d eat there again in a heartbeat. We also saw a guy and his wife from Illinois. They were on a trip headed west (can’t remember where) and were just a down-home nice, friendly couple to talk to. We also envied their pretty BMW’s that looked to be much more comfortable than our budget dual-sports.

Eventually, we started to near Denver, Colorado. We decided to ride through Denver (because it won’t be that bad…right?) Hah! Wrong again (I’m beginning to lose count). The traffic turned out to be pretty hectic, and at times dangerous. It didn’t help that we were riding right around the 1 PM timeframe, when everyone is rushing from lunch to get back to work. Nevertheless, we made it through and were soon on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park. As the elevation began to increase, so did the gas prices ($4.29/gallon….that’s unheard of here in the Midwest). The roads began to get more curvy, and the scenery was starting to become simply gorgeous. Finally, we reached the park entrance, paid our fees, and soon began to see landscapes like never before.

To say I was stunned by the beauty of the mountains is a drastic understatement. Jared has seen the Colorado mountains on several vacations with his family. However, this was the first time I’ve ever seen the mountains. And what better way to experience the mountains for the first time than on a back of a motorcycle. My poor photography skills simply don’t do the majestic splendor of the mountains justice.

In short, if you haven’t been to Rocky Mountain National Park, go there before you die. Otherwise you will have missed out on one of the most beautiful places in all of the United States.

We really wanted to camp inside Rocky Mountain National Park, but all the camping spots were taken by the time we arrived late in the afternoon. The closest KOA was also completely full. Finally we found a campsite, and were lucky enough to snag the very last tent camping spot available. Unfortunately, they only allowed a single tent per spot, so Jared and I were forced to sleep together in my cheap $25 Ozark Trail tent. Our closest neighbor was also about 8 feet away from our tent, but we weren’t about to complain as it really was our last option. They also offered bathrooms and hot showers, which was very refreshing.

Our trip mileage for Day 2 was 316 miles. Overall, it was probably my favorite day of riding, simply because it was my very first experience seeing mountains (other than pictures of course). And carving those wonderful, curvy roads on a motorcycle up through the mountains alongside my best mate is something I’ll never forget.

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:35 PM   #6
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Day 3 - August 12, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 734

We woke up the morning of Aug. 12 cold and tired. For some reason, I didn’t install the fly on our tent (dumb mistake) and it had dipped into the mid 40s overnight. We both had cheap sleeping bags that are supposedly good down to 40°F, but realistically they are only comfy down to about 50°F. Again a newb mistake on our part, but you gotta learn somehow, right?

Anyways, our goal for today was to reach and climb Pikes Peak (on our motorcycles of course). We began to head south, but quickly realized just how much sleep we had lost from the night prior due to the cold. So, we decided to pull off the highway and take a quick nap. Of course, leave it to Colorado to have the most beautiful, quaint rest areas. We took an exit that led to a small dirt road far enough off the main highway that all was quiet when we turned off our motorcycles.

The power nap worked with great success and after a quick snack, we were once again headed south to Pikes Peak.

By afternoon, we were near the base of Pikes Peak, so we decided to stop and eat a quick lunch at Subway. Soon after, we were riding up this 14,000 foot mountain. It’s an enjoyable ride up the mountain, and we were thoroughly entertained by our bike’s complete lack of power at altitude. You would go round a hairpin turn, shift up to 3rd and give full throttle - nothing would happen. I knew we’d lose power, just not to that extent. Our bikes never showed any signs of dying, but the lack of oxygen was quite obvious. Finally, we reached the top of Pikes Peak.

Obligatory selfie. Myself not included (I'm not into that kinda stuff).

You don’t truly begin to grasp just how high 14,110 feet is until you’re up there and begin to look around.

It really was amazing up there (and cold too). After going back down Pikes Peak, we tried to find some off-road motorcycle trails to ride. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. All the trails that were supposedly dual-sport friendly (at least that’s what the internet told us), stated “no motor-vehicles” at their entrances. In short, we were unsuccessful, so we hit up a Sonic for dinner and decided to find a place to camp for the night. We quickly learned that the area isn’t very tent friendly either. We checked a total of four different campgrounds (including a KOA), and not a single one allowed tent camping. We finally gave up at just past 11 PM and found a cheap hotel for a night.

Our trip mileage for Day 3 was 249 miles. Pikes Peak was cool…what else need I say?

ZeWhiteRabbit screwed with this post 11-01-2014 at 09:03 PM
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:41 PM   #7
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Your pics are great, keep em' coming!
"There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. All you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball." - Ty Webb
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:42 PM   #8
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Day 4 - August 13, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 983

It turns out that sleeping in a hotel wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing fancy about the one we stayed at. However, the warm bed and hot showers felt very good. Needless to say, we slept much better than the previous night. The complimentary breakfast was nice too. Pastries, cereal, and fresh fruit were a welcome change to our typical breakfast of coffee and oatmeal.

Today’s goal was to get to Telluride, Colorado. Feeling refreshed from the previous night’s rest, we were ready for the adventure ahead! Not far from the hotel, we stopped so that Jared could fix his rear brake. His brake system must have had a leak somewhere, because the brake fluid was low and a couple days later he had to add even more fluid.

The mighty DR650 looking majestic as usual.

Once Jared got his KLR sorted out, we were quickly back on the road. On our way west, we encountered several areas of construction that slowed us down considerably. However, once we got passed all that we turned onto US-50W, and it was an absolute blast to ride! Wide sweeping curves, two lanes wide each direction, and gorgeous scenery. The miles were flying by, and soon we reached Monarch Crest. We stopped to eat lunch and of course Jared had to talk to the locals.

We eventually made it to Montrose, Colorado and began to head south for Telluride. By supper time we had arrived.

I stole the above picture from Wikipedia. I think it gives a good view of this tiny little town nestled among the massive mountainous landscape.

We decided to eat supper at this wonderful place called, “Steamies Burger Bar.”

Their food was so darn expensive, but it tasted so good. Since the weather was so gorgeous, both entrances were wide open to passerby’s and main street. It was an excellent place to enjoy a meal, and take in the wonderfully, positive vibe exuding from the locals. Everyone seemed so happy, and we just sat there taking it all in.

We camped at Sunshine Campground for the night. It was the most beautiful campsite on the whole trip, because it was located on top of this 12,000+ foot elevation mountain. The views were incredible and surprisingly the campground wasn’t even close to full capacity. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the campground. It did begin to rain that night, and that is where my $25 Ozark Trail tent failed me. It leaked all night, and I was none too happy about it. To say the least, it was not a very good night of sleep for me.

Our trip mileage for Day 4 was 336 miles. US Highway 50 was a blast to ride, and Telluride was such a neat little town to visit. However, the rain not only caused loss of sleep for me, but quite a few headaches the next day…

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:47 PM   #9
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Day 5 - August 14, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 1319

Day 5 would probably be considered my least favorite day of the trip. I should have seen what was coming, when I spent over $10 for a single breakfast burrito (it wasn’t even that tasty). Anyways, it had rained all night and continued to rain as we sat in the restaurant eating our overpriced breakfast entrees. Jared wanted to attempt riding Imogene Pass in the soggy conditions. To be honest, I wanted no part of that affair. We were just a couple of Kansas boys with very little off-road experience. Sure we road some dirt trails around the Wichita area, but that is nothing in comparison to the mountains of Colorado. We were also riding very large 650cc dual sports that handle like big heavy pigs off-road. To add on top of all that, it was pouring rain outside, which I knew was going to make for extremely slippery conditions. However, Jared was stubborn so I gave in and decided I’d give it a try. So we began to ascend this wet beast of a mountain.

I think Jared is having fun in this picture, meanwhile I’m contemplating my life. By the way, notice my tires in the picture. Yep, zero knobs to be found. To say it was the hardest riding of my life is a huge understatement.

I must admit though, the scenery was beautiful. But don’t look too long or you’ll fall off the side of the trail to your death. It’ll ruin your entire day for sure.

Eventually, we got to a very steep portion in the trail (unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it). Jared actually made it up past the difficult part. However, after already going down twice (breaking part of my brake lever and bending my Barkbuster handguards) I decided I was not willing to go any further. I was just plain scared out of my mind. It might sound stupid, but I was honestly in fear for my life at that moment. Jared (being the stubborn guy he is) wanted to press onward and upward. He even offered to ride my DR up the difficult part for me. As he and I went back and forth, a 4x4 jeep pulls up behind us on the trail. We asked the driver (who gives tours of the trail for a living) if the trail got any more difficult. He told us it got much worse, took one look at the tires on my DR650, and said I had no chance of making it. So we turned around. Jared may well have conquered Imogene Pass if it hadn’t been for me slowing him down. However, I was very grateful for a friend that was willing to turn around when I knew he so desperately wanted to continue further. That is a sign of a true friend, putting someone else’s wants or needs in front of their own. That being said, Jared and I shall one day return to Imogene Pass and conquer it.

After that exciting experience, we were done riding for the day. We returned to the burger bar in Telluride (where they serve blueberry ketchup) and chilled for the rest of the afternoon. To be honest, by this point in the trip we were both tired and ready to head home. We headed back to the campsite (same place as the night before) and did some minor maintenance on our bikes that evening. As we watched the sun set behind the mountains, we both began to think the same thing: What if we could make it home by tomorrow night? It seemed crazy to both of us, traveling almost 750 miles in one day to get back home. However, with my tent being drenched with water inside and out, and both of us yearning for home - we were very motivated. So that evening we made the decision. We were going to wake up at 4 AM the next morning and leave Telluride by 5:30 AM. We didn’t know if it was possible, but we were going to try. Regardless, we stayed up really late that night. The rain had finally cleared, leaving in its wake a cool, crisp summer night. The stars were magnificent on the 12,000 foot elevation mountain, like nothing we’d seen before. This was the last night we were going to spend in Colorado. And in that atmosphere, we sat and enjoyed life. Sometimes we’d talk to each other. Other times we’d sit in silence and ponder our deepest thoughts. It was an experience I will never forget. At last, we finally forced ourselves to go and get some rest.

Our trip mileage for Day 5 was 48 miles. Imogene Pass chewed us up and spit us back out. Both our bikes and our bodies were beat up and tired. We were ready to be home.

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:50 PM   #10
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Day 6 - August 15, 2014 - Total Trip Mileage: 1367

Day 6 started at about 4:30 AM. We each had less than 5 hours of sleep and we struggled to motivate ourselves to pack up and get going. We skipped the usual coffee and oatmeal breakfast, and instead hit the road as soon as possible. We traveled a few miles and stopped at the first gas station we saw. As we filled our tanks with gas, we attempted to psych ourselves up for the long day ahead. Once our tanks were full we put our cold, damp helmets back on, cranked up the tunes, and headed off into the silent, dark atmosphere. We traveled for several hours as the sun slowly began to rise and warm our bodies and our spirits. Eventually, we decided to get some breakfast, so we stopped at a McDonalds. The food provided much needed energy, and as we hit the road again we were very motivated to make it home without stopping. We continued eastward on US-50 as the sun continued to warm the earth and we slowly descended from the mountains - the ride became quite enjoyable. We were moving at an excellent pace, when something very unexpected occurred.

That thing that Jared is holding would be the muffler from his KLR. On most occasions it would be attached to the bike, but not at the current moment. It decided to fall off on its own accord, midway through a curve, traveling at about 55 mph. We were lucky that traffic was light, and no cars were following us closely when it fell off. Jared was also very fortunate that it didn’t get tangled up between the swing arm and tire and cause some crazy wreck. So what to do next? I thought for sure we’d have to get it repaired and we’d be stuck in Colorado for another night. Nope, not Jared. He decided to strap it down and continue onward (told you this guy is stubborn). Boy was that KLR loud! It was like nothing I’ve ever heard before (or ever want to hear again to be honest). Needless to say, for the rest of the trip home I made to sure to stay in front of Jared.

I have no pictures from the next 10 or so hours of riding. We pressed onward, with very few breaks. We got into a rhythm, ride about 120 miles, stop for gas and water, and then hop back on our bikes and continue. We knew every stop only increased our arrival time. Late afternoon turned to evening, which turned to sunset as we crossed over into Kansas. At some point, my speedometer cable broke and I had no speed readout. However, I continued to lead (because of that noisy KLR). After so many hours of riding at 75 mph, I hardly needed a speedometer anyways. Every half hour or so, I’d ask Jared how fast we were going, but he consistently told me that I stayed within +/- 3 mph of 75 the entire way. Anyone who has ridden for that long in a 24 hour period starts to become one with their bike. The vibrations coming through the seat and handlebars were all I needed to tell me what speed we were traveling at. We arrived in Dodge City at just past 10:15 PM. We pressed onwards. At around 12:30 AM we arrived in Hutchinson, Kansas. By that point we were like zombies. We stopped for the final time to fill up with gas and downed another couple energy drinks. Then we rode off into the night for the final leg of the journey. That last hour of riding was actually very exhilarating. As we headed south towards Wichita, the highway was completely void of any traffic. We rode side by side, each in our own lane, our high beams illuminating the darkness. We talked very little, but we each realized with a mix of emotions the epic ride we had been planning for months was about to come to a close. It was a bitter sweet moment, when we rolled into Jared’s driveway in the wee hours of the morning of August 16. Our arrival time was 1:22 AM. After almost 16 hours of straight riding, we finally completed our epic day trip, of which we didn’t think possible.

Our trip mileage for Day 6 was 749 miles. It was a long day, but the reward of being able to sleep in our own beds that night was well worth it (much improved over my $25 soaking wet tent).

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:51 PM   #11
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Conclusion - Total Trip Mileage: 2116 miles

Overall, it was an amazing trip. For many on this website, a jaunt to Colorado might just be a weekend trip. However, for a couple of 18 year olds to attempt such a trip was certainly a considerable adventure for both of us. Through the amazing scenery we were so privileged to see, and the many, many hours spent on our motorcycles we each learned a little about ourselves and each other. Although, on occasion we’d get on each other’s nerves, having a friend to lean on throughout a trip is a huge benefit. With so many questions that come with a motorcycle trip like this one, we answered almost all of them: Yes, we like adventure riding. No, a $25 tent is not “good enough.” Now, as we are both back in college; constantly studying for the next exam, staying up late, and writing paper after paper - the only question left unanswered is this: Where shall we ride next year?

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Old 11-01-2014, 08:53 PM   #12
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Great to see you are out there exploring. I didn't start riding until I was 24. I finally rode the rockies when I was 28. Glad to see you making it an adventure at such a young age. There will be plenty more you will learn. I'm 32 now and I wish I would of started riding sooner. Nice report as well. Looking forward to more, Fred.
2300 miles on a 250 all for a sticker
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ZeWhiteRabbit View Post
the only question left unanswered is this: Where shall we ride next year?
Have any suggestions?
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:08 PM   #14
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Well done.

I started riding the fall I started college in 1989. The bikes, the rides, and, most importantly, the people I have met are what make motorcycling the best addiction.

Good luck. Ride safe.
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:11 PM   #15
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Alaska! Go big or go home!

A Great Colorado trip done by intrepid adventurers.. learn from the experience and keep on keeping on.

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