Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Monday, October 10, 2005

I (heart) motorcycles…

Author: site admin
Category: Motorcycle Trips

I know I’ve said before that I love motorcycles but let me reiterate that for a second. I love motorcycles!

This past weekend was a perfect reason of why that is. Motorcycles, as you undoubtedly know, are vehicles. However, they are not only vehicles for physical travel but also vehicles for emotional travel. The past week at work has been pretty hectic and as I’m sure everyone knows, a bad week at work is pretty much a reason in itself to be down on life. Coming into the weekend, I really needed to recharge my emotional batteries. Earlier in the week I dropped long time riding buddy Todd Unpronounceable an email suggesting we get out this weekend and do our annual end of the summer ride. My thoughts were that we head up into the high country in Summit County and spend a long day zig-zagging our way across a bunch of the passes over the Continental Divide. Well Todd, ever the dirt riding nut, proposed a different plan which centered around exploring forest service roads in the Routt National Forest in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Being an easy going kind of guy, I agreed.

Now a little bit of history is needed here. I’m not a good dirt rider. Todd, on the other hand, started riding dirt around the same time I did but has taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. When riding on pavement we are pretty evenly matched but when the riding moves off road I’m often riding over my head. As a result, I’ve decided Todd is actively trying to kill me based on the rides we do that he deems “easy” and I deem “Holy crap, I’m gonna die if I try to go down that cliff”. I’ve been giving Todd a rash all summer about this despite his vehement denials of any such thing. So based on this situation I hope you can appreciate how bad my week must have been that I was willing to blindly accept anything Todd might put me through and still consider it more relaxing than what I’d just experienced at work.

The second sign of just how desperate I was go to get out and ride was that I agreed to an 8am meeting time in the town of Lyons. That’s about an hour from my house which means I’d have to somehow drag my lazy night-owl butt out of a warm, comfy bed at 6 freakin’ am so I could leave on time. Despite knowing full well that I had an early morning planned for Saturday I was still up until well after midnight Friday night…its hard to break a pattern even when I know I’ll be paying for it the next day.

Despite all this, we finally got out and had a fantastic day of riding. After leaving the house at 7am, I got back home at 9:30pm Saturday night. That’s fourteen and a half hours of riding with only a couple of meals and a couple of gas stops to break it up. The mileage total was just under 500 miles with 150 of those completely on dirt. We explored some favorite paved roads, a lot of forest service roads, a couple of double track trails and a few little rural dirt roads. We probably spent half the day above 9500 ft in elevation and most of that was in gorgeous national forest land. In the end, we not only put a lot of miles on the bikes but I also went from being stressed and tired on Friday to being downright ecstatic by Saturday evening. That’s how motorcycles can really move me.

Some of my highlights from the ride:

1) We rode Stove Prairie Road in the morning on our way to the Poudre Canyon. Riding down into a little valley there was mist rising up from the wet grass in a meadow as the morning sun first shown through onto it. Trotting through the middle of this foggy landscape of yellows and oranges and greens was a coyote with his winter fur all fluffed up for warmth. Its hard not to loose a little of the work stress when you get to see something special like that.

Snow on Buffalo Pass

2) We had planned to ride over Buffalo Pass from Walden to Steamboat Springs. That idea slid to a halt three miles short of the Buffalo Pass summit when we hit snow. We’d been riding through snow patches and mud for a few miles before that but eventually we hit a spot where the road was completely covered with about 2 inches of snow. Todd put forth a valiant effort in an attempt to push through but after about 15 ft his KTM started kicking up a rooster tail of slush and stopped all forward motion. We scrapped the plan to check out the Routt National Forest and spent the rest of the day exploring the Roosevelt National Forest area instead.

3) Riding on some little county roads in a wildlife refuge near Walden we came upon a big antelope buck. We ended up pacing him for almost a mile as he bounded along at speeds topping out near 30 mph. What a beautiful animal and it was amazing to see him so close and to watch him for so long.

4) We rode over 100 miles exploring Forest Service roads between Cowdrey and Rustic but my favorite two were the Kings Canyon Pass and the western end of Deadman’s Road. Both are beautiful one lane dirt roads that go over passes in the Medicine Bow range. The area is full of thick pine forests, lush creeks and panoramic views but are very lightly travelled. I think we only saw a couple of other vehicles in the three or four hours we were exploring these roads.

5) I got home a few hours after the sun had set and pulled the incredibly grimy GS into the garage. After a full day of riding, Todd hadn’t actually tried to kill me and instead was the catalyst to an fantastic day of motorcycle adventure. Despite being exhausted I really wasn’t ready to quit riding. The day’s ride had been so close to perfect that I really didn’t want it to end. I was also having a hard time remember exactly what had bothered me so much the previous week and wondering how something so minor as work could bug me when there was so much more to enjoy in my world.

Have I mentioned that I really love motorcycles?

[image from my photo collection.]

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