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Old 06-30-2013, 08:53 AM   #121
jdrocks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AspentureRider View Post
Sidenote- Brian (b dash rian-owner of the garage where the Versys currently resides in ANC) lost the driveshaft on the BMW outside of Whitehorse (en route from Seattle)... bummer. He's got it handled, but still sucks.
i've been tempted many times by those BMWs, but these stories (and there are plenty) have kept me in check. the total cost can be enormous when dealing with the fix on those northern roads, maybe more than the bike is worth in this case.

sucks, as in sucks a bushel of greenbacks right out of your wallet.
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Old 06-30-2013, 09:16 AM   #122
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I told Mike early on that I could ride from Denver to Anchorage without a map, seems an outlandish statement until you look at a large scale paper map yourself. The route traverses the West, both in the States and Canuckistan, an area containing numerous mountain ranges, and crisscrossed with rivers. Combined with a small population, the region contains only a limited number of roads, a tiny selection compared to the Eastern regions on both side of the border. When the choices are limited to paved roads running generally north and west, it’s slim pickin’s, near impossible to go wrong. I brought a GPS anyway, ya know, just for data collection…maybe some other functions as well.

I had rehearsed the airport jailbreak, was buttoned up and moving, an all around system check underway, getting used to the fiery growl of that Leo Vince. The bike was running along fine, nothing unusual, ergos good, no adjustments, not even the mirrors. Nothing had fallen off the back of the bike yet either. I thought I could get out of the airport without the GPS, wasn’t happening, and when I pulled up the GPS map, the track was plotting where there was no road shown, aha, new road. My other problem was getting the boot from the airport before I could open the vents on my jacket, liner was still in too, and I was cruising 80mph in100 degree temps, a freakin’ furnace. Is this supposed to be dry heat, and does it matter?

I bumbled and fumbled my way over to I25 north, lucky I was damn good at the improvisational process, then the first exit, man, I needed liquid and calories. I’d been effectively traveling for 12 hours, had moved the bike all of 30 miles, and my itinerary said 300 to go, that is, if fatigue didn’t get me first. When I came back out of the quick mart, there was a big puddle under the bike, naw, the bike wasn’t leaking fluid, it was sweat running out the sleeves of my jacket. I was finishing my ice cream when a guy came over to look at this bike, all packed for travel. He was shaking his head as I explained how I came to be riding it today, the first of one million such explanations, scratch that, more like two.

Kicked the tires, checked the oil and chain, tightened some straps, did a walk around, and found nothing but a missing M4 fairing bolt which was of no consequence. The bike was prepped and tight, just like Mike said it would be. Back on I25, I was sliding around on the seat, testing my new aero package, I hadn’t had a windscreen on my bikes for the last 100,000 miles. The results with me in the saddle were mixed, but hopeful. The bike was still pulling a big ass refrigerator down the road, but it now it was only a 27cf double door, heck, I was positively slipping through the air, one sleekified mofo. That’s my story, anyhow.

I was headed to the mountains, and had traded some speed for a more straight line route that local knowledge might have provided. I was looking around, not paying attention, when I rode past the 66 exit, had to grab all the brakes and turn around in the median. Yeah, there was one of them signs, but I figured I was on an “Official” international mission, an airtight excuse. This road would start me almost due west, away from the Denver metro sprawl, and into an area that I hadn’t traveled for over 50 years.

The route transitions to 36 at Lyons, and takes me up through Estes Park, gradually shedding development and traffic, although the remaining traffic with RVs mixed in was agonizingly slow, few opportunities to pass. Estes Park itself was busy for early in the season, with near roadblocks on the west side of town where people had stopped to photograph elk grazing along the street. Climbing the foothills, I finally got a hint of what I was after, grabbed the camera, and never packed it away for ten days.



Highway 36 changes to 34 west of Estes Park, and I found the entrance kiosk to Rocky Mountain National Park. Mike had left his park pass in the tank bag for my use if needed, so I handed it over to the Ranger. He looked at it, then asked, “Where you from?” This might be a trick question, so I said “Well, most recently, Denver”. After a very long pause, “Ok, do you need a map?” Man, still no gunfire from anyone in uniform, I was on a roll, too tired for a running gun battle over a Park pass.

The road in the Park starts northwest into higher elevations, smokey haze in the air.





Some snow up high, but I have no way to gauge if this amount is average or not. In my part of Virginia, you have to buy fake snow in a spray can if you want frosted windows for a Christmas scene, and here it was still on the ground in the middle of June. No thanks, I don’t ski any more…too dangerous, I ride motorbikes instead.





The valleys below always have a creek, maybe a river depending on who had naming rights, prime habitat for elk and deer.





There wasn’t much traffic, although cars were parked in most of the turnouts.



Climbing, the mountain views fantastic, with the temperature about 50 degrees cooler than the I25 corridor, what a relief.







There was a cutoff to the south that vehicles were using if they hadn’t used the same Park gate I had, creating a different loop with a few more vehicles, I stayed right and kept climbing.





I crossed the Continental Divide, the first, but not the last time on this trip. Above the tree line, high wind warning signs, and now it was downright cool. This was a different world, and it struck me, I was a long damn way from Virginia.



I’d seen some HD cruisers coming down this mountain road, but no dual sport type rides until I found a pair of BMWs parked in a turnout, eastern Ontario riders on board. They tried to schedule a ride west in the States every year, a cheap vacation for Canucks, all things considered, and they laughed while agreeing when I said as much. They were four long days from the mountains just like I was, and all of us knew the way. Goodbye, I had to keep moving, shopping the view.









I made my way across the top in windswept rarified air, thinking the brash notions of a travlin’ man.

(to be continued…)
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:24 AM   #123
AspentureRider
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NOW we're talkin'. GO JDROCKS!

The bike was there on Trailridge just eight months earlier- Estes at 6am.


Only, I didn't take many pictures- just the beginning and end, and I got snowed on a bit while above timberline- saw some of the biggest coyotes I've ever seen (the other tourons were convinced they were wolves!!)(They were wrong) Here's Grand Lake-

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Old 06-30-2013, 01:30 PM   #124
jdrocks OP
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...the other tourons...
that's a fun road, but must be plenty of traffic in the summer.

i did see one "touron" of particular interest on top, a big haired young lady in a string bikini getting her photo taken standing in some snow along the road, barefoot. a big gust of wind pushed the bike over closer to that side of the road, couldn't help but notice she was looking a little...nippy.

no other furry creatures spotted.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:21 AM   #125
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Through a series of switchbacks, snow poles marking the edge for the plow operators, and I was running almost due south, huh, I was supposed to be headed to the GWN.



There are only so many roads through these mountains, and I would connect to my northbound road in another 40 miles or so, but in the meantime the scenery was great as I gradually rode down to lower elevations.







The camera could be pointed in any direction, tough to miss.



I had burned up some fuel since the airport, and hadn’t yet gotten an accurate feel for what the bars on this bike’s fuel gauge meant, but what I did know was that the bike would run quite a ways on a flashing warning light. Hold that thought, ‘cause I was low on fuel, unsure of how far ahead a fuel stop would be, other than “by the lake” according to the Ranger at the gate. I should have slowed down, and I did once in a while trying to get a photo of some grazing elk, no luck, but otherwise I was flying along, Wyoming on my mind. The Leo Vince was great for keeping animals from jumping into the road, not so good for a photo sneak, can’t have everything.

It looked like there could be some good camping locations along this road if needed, and then I passed the Park boundary, residential and commercial activity picked up instantly. I found the Lakeview country store the Ranger was talking about at a large body of water I thought was Shadow Mountain, as opposed to the smaller adjacent lake called Grand Lake.



Nice setting, but they had fuel and ice cold Mountain Dew, all I really cared about. Well, that and ice cream, it was hotter than heck again down low.



Caught some shade, cooled off as best I could, then southwest, passing Lake Granby to the east. The Colorado River flows out of these reservoir lakes, looked like very low water level to me.



The floating dock marina must have relocated their slips several times already.



Low water lever, that’s ok, I wouldn’t have turned down a boat ride if offered.



Down to 40, crossing the Colorado River on the way, then a jog northwest to 125, where I turned north. Kremmerling was just a short distance west of this intersection, and was the first of several instances in which I would be close to or on roads from the CDR portion of my 2011 ride.

Highway 125 follows a north/south valley at it’s start, and is a fine moto road, foothills to the east and west.



A creek follows the road, crossing occasionally, possibly Coyote Creek, perfectly completing the foothill image.



Dead pine beetle afflicted trees in all directions, it doesn’t take much imagination to see a picture of what a forest fire could do in this area.



I crossed the Continental Divide again after not many miles, part of the Routt National Forest to the east, the Arapaho National Forest to the west.



This valley gradually opens to 50 miles in width, the Rockies running north northwest on both sides, yielding to room for large ranches running cattle, also irrigated hay and alfalfa.





I was moving, cruise right up there in the optimal digits, cooler in low sun, with just an occasional ranch truck on the road for company.



The land was far from flat, eroded ridgelines and creek bottoms lending the country interesting features.



Highway 125 turned northwest at Northgate, now I was riding headlong towards the state line.



I had to stop when I saw the Wyoming sign, both a photo and a needed break, the first of many of these signs as I crossed state lines and provincial boundaries, can’t forget borders.



Wyoming in the bag, I was afraid to look at my watch to see what time it was, and was thinking in dog years by now.



The road number had changed to 230 in Wyoming, while the country had flattened out, the appearance not concealing the wild.



I had my sights on Riverside, I knew there was a campground there, but when I finally rode into town I found a pair of biker bars and a campground populated by a dug in Hurley crowd. I did stop, gave it that much, but I had the antenna extended and was receiving a bad vibe, just like that little tingle of warning you get when you’re about to short an AC circuit. I even took a minute to talk to a local woman trying to start a beat up riding lawn mower, she must have wanted it for transportation, there wasn’t any grass around. Between what she said and her body language, the message was clear. I was ready to stop, heck, I needed to stop, but…pass, I wasn’t into meth, and I continued due north up the road to Saratoga, didn’t buy the T-shirt. Riverside, a small, dusty, half boarded up town, had become a destination for the black chap, head bandana boys, unlikely, but there it was.

The sun was very low now, the searing temps of the day gone, and the locals came out of the shady places where they had been resting most of the day.



I did intend to camp, but by Saratoga that option was off the table, no freakin’ way. I rode right up to the very first hotel I sighted, seemed ok, but no senior discount, I didn’t try that hard. I unloaded the bike, dragged everything to the room, and tried to unwind with some cold beer and an eight pack of fried chicken. That’s right, I ate the whole thing, couldn’t get through all the beer, even if it came out of the cooler at 35 degrees.

I did check my watch as I hit the light switch, no wonder I was tired. I’d been going non stop for exactly 24 hours, an eventful first day, the pace was outrageous. It was adventure that didn’t translate easily, but a language I fully understood.

(to be continued…)
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:56 AM   #126
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I hate to ask, but you didn't mention it, so I will...........was the wind blowing in Wyoming?
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:08 PM   #127
jdrocks OP
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I hate to ask, but you didn't mention it, so I will...........was the wind blowing in Wyoming?
maybe, but i just got there.

stay tuned.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:46 PM   #128
fasteddiecopeman
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130/80 TKC up front = great choice! On my run up to and around Alaska I ran those front & back on my V. Never heard of the Fullbore tires until now; they look good. Kinda like a Tourance. You'll have to report back on how they handled & mileage as I'm in the market for another V in the near future.
I have a Tourance 130/80 on the front of the GREEN HORNET, and on the Denali Hwy they filled in 'dips' with pit-run gravel. Standing, weight back, ran thru that with no problem (a little EXCITING tho'...), then pulled over onto a 'turn-off' that was 6" sand masquerading as hard-pack.... Oh well. Nice visit w/ Dave in Dawson at D2D on Thursday the 20th.

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Old 07-01-2013, 09:52 PM   #129
fasteddiecopeman
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Helluva ride.

Appreciate a little intel on the roads, especially the Cassiar, when you get around to writing it up.
ALL paved except for about 2 miles coming down to the Stikine River, south of the bridge.
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Old 07-02-2013, 07:56 AM   #130
jdrocks OP
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...they filled in 'dips' with pit-run gravel...

i'll show ya a "DIP" and raise ya a thousand.

are you home yet, or still doing missionary work in Alaska?

good to see you in Dawson, even if i found out you're so old ya should be restricted to a 5HP scooter named the Green Hornette.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:11 AM   #131
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ALL paved except for about 2 miles coming down to the Stikine River, south of the bridge.
that wasn't there when i went through, goes to show how quickly the roads change. all i saw were spot repairs where the shoulders had eroded.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:21 AM   #132
fasteddiecopeman
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Originally Posted by jdrocks View Post
i'll show ya a "DIP" and raise ya a thousand.

are you home yet, or still doing missionary work in Alaska?

good to see you in Dawson, even if i found out you're so old ya should be restricted to a 5HP scooter named the Green Hornette.
Dave - missionary work's all done - home last Saturday at 1720.

(I hope all you ADV guys notice how I didn't say anything derogatory about a certain large Virginian who used MY tools for a bit of maintenance in Dawson about 2 weeks back....)

Up till that meeting at D2D I figured that this "jdrocks" who writes all those adventure stories was merely a figment of someone's imagination....

Well, boys and girls - he's REAL, and it WAS a pleasure shaking his hand...!
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:23 AM   #133
fasteddiecopeman
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that wasn't there when i went through, goes to show how quickly the roads change. all i saw were spot repairs where the shoulders had eroded.
The 2 mile figure is probably not correct, but on the south approach to the Stikine it was gravel thru those switchbacks, but that was the ONLY gravel on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy both up and down for me.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:05 PM   #134
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Day 2: Saratoga, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana (513 miles)

I rarely, let’s just say never, reset a watch on a trip like this, and when my internal clock said it was time to get up, boom boom, and I was on my feet, padding around the room through a train wreck of gear. The motel was quiet, I reckon it should be at 7AM eastern. I had been down for all of 4 hours, the heck with that, can’t get to Montana by bed nesting in Wyoming, and I went about the process of reorganizing gear. My junk hadn’t found it’s place quite yet on this already packed bike, no problem, now that was fixed.

There was a utility crew working the area, they were stirring by 5 mountain, and I heard those diesel trucks crank not long after, beat some of the heat, work long days, head home Thursday night. None of the construction crews I saw working the big jobs were local men, always travelers. I had the bike packed up, grabbed some free coffee in the lobby, time to go, headed for the Big Sky.



Adios, Hacienda, thanks for the 4 hours and hot shower. PS, left a couple beers for the housekeeper, hope it works out.



Through Saratoga, crossing the North Platte River on highway 130, and the river looked a little high for that float fishing trip. This road runs due north, and I cleared the outskirts of town quickly in light traffic. I got a look at the sky north and west, my direction of travel, hmmm, mixed, dark clouds on the distant horizon, not sure which way the day would go. The good news, only 65 degrees, and I pass the utility crew from the Hacienda, trenching line along the railroad tracks. Recognizing the bike, I got an enthusiastic wave.

From various reports, many riders don’t like crossing the big spaces as found along this road, way too much of the undesirable heat, wind, and dust, nothing of interest anyway. Not me, this terrain is part of what I came west to see, riding through, not around, looking things over, always.

I had been through the area before, but didn’t recall all the high snow fence, maybe it was new, or I hadn’t noticed. Not sure, but there were miles of it now.



There were many antelope along the road, sometimes in shade and out of the wind next to the snow fence, couldn’t sneak the damn things. They would let you ride by a hundred feet away, never even look up, but if you stopped, they were long gone before you found neutral. I was riding the only north/south road connecting I80 and points south in this area, still only an occasional vehicle. This was not a remote road, but points directly to bike prep, man, there is absolutely no good place for any kind of problem out here, none. If you’re a person of eternal optimism when it comes to diligent prep, these places are where your luck could instantly evaporate.

I needed fuel at the I80 intersection for a push of riding all the way up to Lander, and now the wind was whipping around the gas island, gray clouds of dust swirling off the gravel. There were various ranch trucks there, some with stock trailers, some without, the drivers clothes bleached by sun and wind, brown bark skin where showing, and not much was showing…the idea was to stay covered up, there were consequences.

Of apparent good humor, face it, these were good examples of men found across the west, they’d seen it all, or most of it. When a Civic pulled up for gas, and that guy jumped out wearing homie shorts, wife beater, ball hat backwards, maybe an ex break dancer, you had your choice. I’d take the guy leaning up against the building, ya know, the one with that saucer sized rodeo belt buckle.

West on I80, straight into a wind that was now blowing hard enough to rock those tractor trailers loaded to 40 tons. The gusts were moving the bike around, special effects around the big rigs, passing me except on grades, and I was grateful when the Rawlins by-pass exit came up quickly. I’d dropped a bar on the fuel gauge since I filled up less than 40 miles back.

Now on highway 287, Chief Washakie Highway, I was riding north northwest again, the cross wind severe, the Great Divide Basin to the west. At about the ten mile mark above Rawlins, I crossed the Continental Divide again at approximately 7,200 feet.



This is another well known connector road, not much out here today.



I was feeling sorry for myself having to deal with the heat and wind, then I passed the first of six long range bicycle riders, four southbound, two northbound, four women, two men. I quit complaining when they smiled widely and waved, I must be a freakin’ wimpy mofo. This road is part of the Transcontinental Bicycle Route, all I can think to say is, good luck.





Before 287 turns to the west at Muddy Gap, the Divide is crossed again, a long climb for the hardy bicycle people.



Plenty to look at on the east side of the Basin, but I think all of the early settlers were looking for one thing only…water.





West from Muddy Gap, part of 287 follows the old Oregon Trail, no mystery, the creek sized Sweetwater River runs parallel to the route on the north side. I’d crossed this road before and had seen herds of wild horses, few cattle, now, few horses, but plenty of cattle, or as many as water and grass would allow.

The Granite Mountains were visible to the north.





This dome was a known landmark, the Sweetwater River only a mile or two south.



This is the scene the overland travelers were looking at as they continued west, and then southwest.



There were some ranch road entrances off 287, no ranch headquarters visible, meaning the buildings themselves were nearing 20 miles from pavement at minimum, a long slow way to travel if ya have the misfortune to run outta beer or Copenhagen. Not beer, but I was craving some liquid, and dialed the speed up to rip. I was racing west into a shimmering mirage stretching across the horizon, a dragon’s fiery breath in my face, adding a whole new dimension to hot.

(to be continued…)
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:18 PM   #135
jdrocks OP
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(I hope all you ADV guys notice how I didn't say anything derogatory about a certain large Virginian who used MY tools for a bit of maintenance in Dawson about 2 weeks back....)
hey, what's with the "large"? robust sounds much better.

that's right, used all your stuff, used up your shade too...but it was that special Father Edward's Holy Water that got me to Anchorage. much grass, and with my schedule, i might be able to write about it by September.

i did depart before you got into the booze, you should thank me for that.
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