I left Fort Collins at noon on Friday, taking the freeways to Grand Junction where I was to meet the rest of the Colorado HSTA bunch. I-25 to I-76 to I-70 West to GJ is about 300 miles, and I figured it would take about 5 hours. Traffic wasn't bad, and weather was good starting off. I stopped just before the hill up to the Eisenhower tunnel to don my electric vest, as the temperature was dipping into the low 50's. While I'm stopped, Terry Mc rides past and waves - who else do I know with a worn red/black Aerostich and Black VFR?
I was chasing the storms, and about 1.5 - 2 hours out of GJ, I caught up with the rain. It was heavy and cold.. which wasn't so bad, but after about 45 minutes, my helmet shield (the part you look through) stopped beading water and it just sort of flowed over, which was really annoying because it was difficult to see. Later I learned that there were flash flood warnings in effect. At one point on I-70, police were slowing down traffic to a crawl because the drainage had decided to flow across the freeway. Yikes - I'd had to hit that at 80 mph.
Anyway, I roll in to GJ around 4.30, and try to find the hotel: a Best Western. There are three Best Westerns in GJ, and Mapquest had given me the wrong one (754 S Horizon, instead of N Horizon). I got that figured out, pull in to the correct one, and see Terry's cycle. As I pull up, he comes out (I assume he recognized the sound of the VFR), and we start talking about mc stuff. Both late planners (hey, he's the CO-HSTA director this year!), we planned on Thurs to split a room. Lucky for us, we were still able to get one - it became obvious that the Blue Angels acrobatic jet team (Air Force?) was in town, and various military jets were flying over. The show was Saturday at 3pm. Some people were thinking about cutting Saturday's ride short and coming back for the airshow.
About 10 HSTA people showed up on Friday night. Steve Munion (sp?) was in town from Mass., where he moved just less than a year ago, with his wife, a Coors something-or-other, on business. The last two years, Steve was the "host" for this ride since he lived in GJ. Just after last year's ride, he moved out to Mass. He had rented a Triumph for the weekend. Anyway, his wife Susan had rented minivan which we used to drive to a simple little Mexican place. Yes, 10 adults can fit in a regular minivan. No, I'm not telling how.
After the return, some BSing ensued, after which everyone retired relatively early. I watch about 20 minutes of a very old version of King Kong, and then go to sleep. "Sidestand's up" time is 8AM, so the wake-up call is set for 6.45AM. I wake up before the alarm at 6.30 (you all know how rare *that* is - what can I say, travelling is exciting) and get ready. I took off my 50l hard luggage "tail rack" last night so I can travel light today. I'm carrying just my tank bag, which is holding my electric vest, some water & emergency stuff, and my GPS, which I have mounted on the left handlebar.
The plan is to take 141 South, and end up in Telluride for lunch. 141 goes along the Unaweep Canyon, which is absolutely unbelievable. The geography out in SW Colorado is awesome. The mesas jut up from the "our" level with alarming abruptness and seeming power. Along 141, the rock is rounded in an odd way for maybe 20-80', as if it were part of an alien vessel - a very organic look. 141 connects Naturita in the south, and GJ in the north. In the middle is Uravan. Or, I should say, in the middle *isn't* Uravan. This road was built up to support the Uranium mine, who debris had corrupted the entire city of Uravan. If you look on the East side of the road, you see huge tracts of graded and in some cases capped earth. Where the city used to be is now levelled.
Another neat sight along this route is the Hanging Flume. When they were mining gold in this region, they needed water for the mining effort - lots of water. The hanging flume was a 4'x5' wooden "pipeline" for water several hundred feet up from the river level. It runs along the vertical face of the river's rock wall for approx. 5 miles. You can still see many of the wooden remnants of this impressive engineering feat.
Gas at Naturita, and we take 145 towards Telluride. Last year at this point, we took 90 West towards Moab, but this year we wanted to do something different. This is the first time I have been to Telluride. It is simply awesome. Compared to the desert-like climate on 141, it is extremely lush here. We find parking and have lunch at a little cafe. We meet up with Ned, who is skipping out of a Team-Building exercise in Aspen to ride with us. We see Steve Peterson, who had driven (as opposed to *ridden*) out to Telluride with his wife Inga and their baby. They are veteran HSTA-ers, and I think their kid is about 6mos or something?
Anyway, at this point, we splinter off into several groups. Tom V. and his wife Susan (him on BMW R1100GS and her on a SV650) had already split off and went to Moab for lunch. Tom is a notorious insanely-fast guy, but is still taking it easy after a bad racing crash several months ago. Another 4 are going to high-tail it bad to GJ to watch the airshow. The rest of us - myself on VFR, Brian H on R1100RT, Ira on V65 Sabre, and Willy G (the canuck) on Duc ST2 - decide that airplanes are boring, we want miles.
We take 145 South from Telluride, and go over Lizard Head Pass. There is lots of construction, which is actually a blessing, because the scenery around here is absolustely flippin' incredible. Lush trees cover the landscape, which is nearly as dramatic as the mesa drop-offs we've seen before. Off to the right, the hill drops away faster than I can see (better not fall off!), and at the bottom is a glimmering lake. Around the corner, and there are huge peaks. Since we can't talk between bikes, every few minutes someone gesticulates wildly at something they just saw. A thumbs-up from the other riders acknowledges. During the slow construction traffic, I wonder if I can take a picture while riding. Maybe I need a little practice.
From Dolores, we take 145 NW to 666 (really), to 141. This part of 141 is more south than we've gone on it before, and it's mostly really boring, passing through places like "Disappointment Valley" (again, not kidding).
Back at the gas station in Naturita, we meet two guys we just happen to know from track days. I'm not sure if it's dumb luck or they planned to be out here, but we convince them to ride with us and come back to our hotel.
Up until now, it's been pretty nice 50's - low 70's. But now, it's HOT. We jam up 141, and I'm getting tired and I want to absorb some more of the scenery, so I take it down a few notches at stay at a relatively sedate pace of 60-70. After some very frustrating slow traffic, we make it back to the hotel and I jump in the pool. Ahh.. Susan (the one from Mass.) informs us late-comers that they're going to be going to dinner in 15 minutes at the Italian place down the street. I get out of the pool in a little bit and go take a shower and get dressed. When I get there, there are about 8-9 people already there, but after I show up, after about 15 minutes, the rest (about 5) show up. Dinner is excellent. Susan (Mass) is apparently has massage therapy as a hobby, and "fixes" several people's shoulders. They generally stop talking coherently and start drooling when she does it. The bill comes to $22/person. Maybe I should start drinking - I'd not get shafted so bad on these things. Oh well.
We get back and BS for a few hours by the pool: the day's exploits, lies about previous years, why I need to get a dirt bike, wedding horror stories (Terry Mc. is getting married in several months), bartender war stories, etc, etc, etc..
Again, an early bed-time, since people are leaving at 8AM Sunday. I get up before the alarm again, and decide to just book it home. I leave at about 7.30AM. It's cold - about 50, but the weather is great. The sun it still just rising, and the mesas rise on both sides of the freeway for many many miles coming out of GJ. The hills are still lush with green - only a few of the aspens are turning. I will have to make another trip when those start to turn - *that* will be awesome. If only I could take good pictures while riding.
I stop in Frisco after about 150 miles, and at this point I'm cold. Under my Aerostich, I was wearing pants (which shorts underneath), a wicking t-shirt, and my electric vest. But the temperature was still in the low 50's, and dipped below 50 in the shady, narrow canyon. So, I put my fleece on over my vest (all under the 'stich). I was much warmer. Of course, when I continue, the air temp mysteriously gets up to 65. Oh well. At least I'm not too cold.
The rest of the ride home was uneventful. I pulled into my garage at about noon, as I expected. I *really* need to get a cound system in my helmet.. hours and hours on end get boring, and I only know the words to so many songs. Something else I realized: Scoobe-do's name is that, but in the theme song, they refer to him as "Scooby-scooby-do" and "Scooby-do-be-do". By far the most common rider apparel in our group is the Aerostich, and the grey-with-black is the most common color combination. I think at least 5 people have it (including me). (probably because it's the color they have in stock most often and we're all impatient.)
The weather in Fort Collins today was excellent.. mid 70's, few clouds, not too hot, slight breeze. I opened up the windows and took a nap and was generally lazy.
Total Miles: about 1050