And by we, I mean, myself and the bike.
The day dawned bright and clear. It was as if the storm from the night before had not only knocked the humidity from the air but also the temperature. Of course I’d barely gotten any sleep the night before. Between the thunderstorm, which was pretty impressive and a water valve in one wall that kept firing every six or 10 minutes, I got very little sleep. So by 5:30 AM, I was loading the bike and by 6 AM I was rolling. Heading for Kit Carson about 40 miles away. I must’ve blinked and missed it because before I knew it, I was in Colorado.
Here’s a few shots of Kansas before I crossed the state line…
A monument to one of the trails heading west… Apprently not a very safe trail either.
The road west…
My shadow couldn’t wait to get to Colorado either.
I’ll be honest, the first bit ofColorado is a bit underwhelming. You’re still very dealing with the prairie, so things are mostly flat or tey rise in altitude to another level of flatness. Though unlike Ontario, the road dips and winds its way in interesting tracks across this flatness.
In my haste to get a move on, I’d looked at my fuel and figured I had enough to get to where I needed and there was no ned to top up or fill my two auxilliary cans. As you can guess, fuel sources are scarce in the big empty. I was bingo for fuel by the time I finally found a set of pumps that could fill me up and just to be sure, I filled my aux cans as well. This would prove to be my undoing later in the day. Well that and my thick head…
Once I got past the city of Pueblo, the ride got interesting. Though I passed six Federal Prisons in twenty minutes on my way through and out of town. I guess in that part of Colorado, incarceration is a growth business.
My track took me up through Pueblo Mountain Park. I checked my altitudae and at one point it was 9700ft. Some of it’s pretty steep but it’s well graded and has minimal washboard sections. I thought my helmet cam was running but apparently it had died somewhere back in Kansas. However I did get these shots when I stopped to look at a mountain meadow.
It was a great road and even though the backside of the track is a bit steep, you can manage it easily.
The next bit of my day took me past Canyon Ciy and into the Royal Canyon.
Nice and twisty and the scenery is stunning. If you’ve got the money and the time, there’s tons of river rafting and zip lining on offer. There’s also tons of State Park Camping on offer long the banks of the Arkansas River. I was just having fun carving my way through the canyon. I was worried I was developing a flat spot on my rear tire from the interstate riding of the previous day.
See, Cactus don’t just grow in little pots…
Back the way I came.
Trying to look all windswept and interesting in my Steve McQueen sweatshirt…
Of course I was having a great day. I seriously needed to mess it up. I’d programmed in a track to take me over Hayden’s Pass. The GPS was having none of it. I of course ignored its misgivings and pressed on regardless. Here’s the track results…
The Strom is a lot of things but a hill climber she is not. Picking her up once sucked but she and I went down three times. It was here that my decision to fill the auxilliary tanks worked against me. They add 45 lbs to the back end. On the second dump, I knew I had to ditch the fuel to lighten the bike because trying to get back down the track was too hard with her fully loaded. I mashed my one Pannier pretty good and had to do some surgery to it with an inappropriate tool and a handy rock. It took me five minutes to get up there and about an hour and a half to get back down. It wasn’t pretty and the smell was probably worse because I was in full gear (which is why I’m not too banged up). However my newly installed Bark busters took it all in stride and my crash bars did their job. There was no real damage to the bike annd seeing as I’ve got about 107000 km on her, I’m not thinking there’s much resale value there anyway. I did blow the cover off of my right turn signal but the lens was intact, eventhough the mounting screw had buggered off into the nether nether. I fixed it later that day with a few wraps of electrician’s tape. I was stiff sore, hot and somewhat out of breath. No more steep grades for a while (ever), the Strom’s a bitch to pick up on the flat, but a total pig on a hill. I think my favorite was when I almost had her up and my feet shot out from under me. Nothing like a face full of Suzuki to make your day just that bit more special.
Seriously Honda or whoever, make a 450cc Dakar style bike, with good ground clearance and a decent weight and I will buy it…
My next destination was a campsite with a natural hot springs. Lying in a natural hot spring is on my bucket list. And after my hillside debacle, it had reached the point of near fantasy. After a quick bitch to Kelly from the next McDonalds via text, I pressed on the next thirty miles through more fabulous canyon riding. The wind was picking up and it looked like there might be rain heading my way. So by the time I got to the turn off to the hot springs, things were pretty blowy. It didn’t help that my GPS had tried to send me to the back side of the Hayden Pass track. Though that was only a mile of detour.
The track out to the hot springs is flat and groomed and reminded me of the road just after Happy Valley on the way down the coastal highway. I was also riding into a fantastic mountain valley.
That thin ribbon is the track that brought me here. I wasn’t joking about the scenery.
Looking up the valley back the way I came from. You can see it’s getting a bit weather intensive.
And that clump of trees is the hot springs. Unfortunately for me, it’s a restricted land use site, which means only a limited number of people each day. The very hippy girl behind the counter was very sad to inform me of this. If I hadn’t spent two hours in an intimate embrace with the bike on a mountain, I’d have beat out the crush… Still, the ride out had been great and the vista was worth it. I asked the GPS for the closest lodging and it sent me to Saguche, CO where I’m in the Big Valley Motel. A big guy in a cowboy hat had to cll the owner down for me as she’d left for the day. It’s small but it’s clean and cozy. It’s also quiet and whoever installed the shower knows about tall guys like me so I don’t need to duck to get my hair wet. The hot water took a bit to get there but there was plenty off it when it did.
My body is now telling me what a complete asshole I am, my right knee and left should especially (though I’ve got to keep telling myself to relax my shoulders so that’s more on my riding position) and my ass feels like it’s getting ready to bitch from me standing up on the pegs, which forces those muscles to do more than just sit there.
Mishap aside, it was still a great day of riding.
I’m off to Mesa Verde to check out the cliff dwellings. It’s only four or so hours from here.