Just Ride

Just Ride

Friday, August 21, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 37

 2020. Yeah it’s been one of those years. 

I’m not going to blame today’s decision on 2020. I’m not going to blame today’s decision on KTM (though, I should). 

We purchased two 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R’s with the objective of a midweight adventure motorcycle able to support luggage for camping and traveling over 5,000 miles across country - essentially, the Trans America trail. 

However, after a culmination of issues with the KTM 790, we have decided to end the adventure. This decision did not come lightly. In fact, we made it into Utah and began the ascent into the famous Moab via Geyser Pass. However, Paul’s bike didn’t make it. High RPM’s and Low Speed, apparently was the death of the KTM 790 Adventure R. It couldn’t make the ascent. Sadly, it overheated multiple times. 

After the clutch failure and the multiple brake failures, we thought we had it beat with the replacement clutch pack and the bleeding of the lines. We were excited to tackle Moab. And more importantly to complete the Trans America trail. 

For the first time on the trip and one of the first times in my life, we backed down off of the objective, retreated to our original position, and succumbed to the aggressor. The aggressor in this case was the multitude of issues we ran into with the KTM 790. 

We’re had not made the decision to close the doors on the trip until we found this magical issue with the rear rotor. 

Funny part about the rotors, I was told be multiple people that Ktm has sourced an expensive/high end rotor for the bike. They were surprised when at less than 6,000 miles, both my front rotor we’re considerably warped. “Due to Covid, completely on back order”. Well. How would you feel if your rotor played like this:

Yeah, doesn’t make sense. No physical damage that can be found other than the thing is completely unstable. 

KTM, this is deplorable. 

So, with massive regret and with no other alternative, we are calling it quits. We cannot identify the root cause to the over heating that was experienced on Geyser Pass. 

With this heavy decision weighing on us, we decided that there is no better way to end our trans America trail wine tour than to have some very good wine and a bottle of champagne to boot. 

So we've acquired a uhaul and strapped down the bikes to make the long journey back home.  

I’m sad to see it end before the objective, though I’m excited to say we met new likeminded people and got to see many different parts of the country!

We will come back to finish.

Thank you for joining us and to those that offered help/advice, thank you very much! We're really glad to be a part of the ever-growing TAT Family.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 36

Back in the Saddle!!

It's August 19th and we're riding again! 202 Miles for the day, 4,625 total (these miles may be a little inflated now due to needing the GPS for a little while to get us to Arizona... apparently we weren't smart enough to use the GPS that was built into our rental car - oh well, all part of the adventure)

We started in Montrose, Colorado and ended our day in Monticello, Utah! It is kind of comical to me that we spent so long in Colorado, especially in Montrose, when it literally took us less than 200 miles to leave Colorado. I'll admit, we did in fact cheat a little to start with today. Because our last off-road TAT experience before we needed major service on Paul's bike (clutch) was Poughkeepsie Gulch, Paul and I decided to take it easy for the morning. We didn't want our first miles back on the bike after such a long layover to be Ophir Pass. So we skipped it. Please don't berate us... I'm not sad that we skipped it. We went straight down Colorado 145 or something like that and ended up meeting up at the TAT just west of where you'd come out after you complete Ophir. From there, just a little bit of slabbing to get to some dirt.

I'll also admit (shamelessly) that even I was a little nervous about what the day would bring. I could see on my GPS that the turn was coming up to go up a mountain and I knew it was dirt. As I came around the corner and looked at the parts of the road that I could see was basically going straight up the side of a mountain, I was nervous. I won't forget those feelings. With some trepidation, we took the right handed turn and ascended. AHHHHH, it is good to be in the saddle again. The jitters went away, the saddle was comfortable, no naps for the bikes. 

I could tell that Paul still needs to build his off-road riding confidence - remember, Paul got his license to ride motorcycles this year. He was hanging back considerably when we got to some of the loose gravel near the end of Colorado. Rightfully so... he's had a couple spills here and there that elicits reluctance. He'll need a couple days of the loose gravel to get comfortable again. No worries, we're not in a rush (obviously, DAY 36!).

Off topic for a moment - sometimes work prevails... At one point, I pull over to take a picture of the mountains/valleys and I decided to take my phone out of airplane mode - wow, service. I was pleasantly surprised, until I received a couple emails and messages from my work brethren. Someone is 'dead in the water' and can't do their job. I quickly pull out my laptop on top of this mountain in a very secluded place while still wearing my helmet and solve the issue (nothing major fortunately).

The Break: I recognized pretty quickly how the rhythm of our days had been so fluid and then, like hitting a brick wall at 50 mph, abruptly we had no where to go because we couldn't. The flow, the rhythm all stopped. For several days, we didn't even get to ride motorcycles - had to get a rental car. When you're on the TAT, you become an expert at managing your day, your gear, your motorcycle, your everything. For instance, you become extremely efficient at packing for the start of the day and unpacking to end your day.

But after almost two weeks without the daily rhythm, I noticed I missed it. I missed the efficiency of the process. We don't have much longer, but for now, I will have my efficient process in place again.

Near the end fo the day, we decide to stay in Monticello - we stopped by the most highly rated Bed and Breakfast in the area - they only had one room. I asked them who they recommended - they suggested Horsehead Inn - which is pretty much a motel, but it is clean and has good owners. We ride over to Horsehead and as we're pulling up to the front to checkin, I see a motorcycle at the front. I say to Paul, "that's Hector." He disagrees... but I pull up very close to the motorcyclist and as I'm pulling up, blow my horn. He turns to me quickly and I smile at him. Practically fell off my bike as we both gave each other a hug. (oh yeah, men give hugs - don't let them lie to you) We chat for a minute before I go checkin. We've all got rooms next to each other and decide to go get some dinner/drinks at the local bar. It was great to catch up and a helluva coincidence that we all ended up here weeks later after first meeting each other way back in Tennessee. Despite delays and all the other things, here we are in Monticello Utah. It was a great evening - we even reviewed our maps (Hector rides GPS Kevins and we're riding Sam's) and decided that we can all ride together tomorrow.

One last thing, if you find yourself in Montrose Colorado in need of some service, stop by and see Marty and his team at Humble's Vintage Motorcycles, they really took great care of us and put aside all the other many cool projects they had going on to fit us in so we could get back on the TAT!

Monday, August 17, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 34ish

Way back on August 8th (today is August 17th), we stopped in Montrose, Colorado. We had issues with Paul's clutch that needed immediate attention.. sadly, we've been 'locked down' ever since then. We have made zero progress on the TAT since we took the "short cut" onto Poughkeepsie Gulch.

We're told that the bike should be ready by end of day tomorrow (Aug 18th). Fingers Crossed.

My birthday was yesterday, so we decided to rent a vehicle and get out of the Montrose area for a little while. (Montrose is nice to use as a base - but, I can't 'live' here anymore!) We drove all the way to Jerome Arizona - great drive down through the mountains and the desert. Jerome was a pleasant surprise! My goal was simply to visit the Caduceus Cellar Wine shop... (which was a complete flop - more on that later)

Several Call-Outs for Motorcycle Service (Both good and bad):

1. Highland Cycles in Montrose - These guys really tried to help us as much as possible. Unfortunately, because of riding motorcycles in some events and the lack of parts, they didn't have the time to solve Paul's problems. However, they did point us to Humbles Vintage Motorcycles. I will say that they helped solve one of our problems: my brakes. Appreciate everything they could do for us.

2. Humble's Vintage Motorcycles in Montrose - Marty took us in and is going to get it done for us so we can get back on the road! (this is the clutch pack install on Paul's 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R). 

3. Davis Service Center (Montrose KTM [and other bikes] Dealer) - The parts guys did a great job of ordering and delivering on the clutch pack as soon as possible. I think we ordered it on Tuesday and we had it on Thursday. Davis "Service Center" on the other hand didn't even want to talk to us at all. Didn't care to even attempt to work on Paul's bike. They were busy and didn't have time.

Caduceus Visit was very disappointing...

1. Talk about awkward and non-inviting. They had some sort of 'barrier' up to enter the premises. Almost had to give them blood to enter. Then, they proceed to tell me that they're not doing any wine tastings and that I can't purchase any wine and drink there. Then, they say 'go over to our sister store (puscifer), two doors down. they've got wine you can try/taste. Uh... OK? Why can they do it and you can't? MJK, I know you're reading this... (hahaha) Logic is important. The complete and utter lack of Logic being deployed by your employees is astounding.

2. I attempt to ask if I can purchase wine and take it over to Puscifer. Nope.

3. I attempt to ask if I can purchase wine and ship it home. Yeah, on our website, not here.

so what you're saying is, you should just remain closed until Trump wins the election in 2020?

I then go down to the Puscifer store. They have a nice little wine bar with nice people running the show in there. They were mostly accommodating (reminder, this is one day before my birthday and Paul and I love to drink copious amounts of wine). We drank four bottles sitting there (with a great view by the way). 

I tried to pull a fast one: "Can I go next door and purchase a bottle of wine and you charge me a cork fee to open it in here?" - Response: "Uh, no, I don't think my management would go for that". 

20 minutes later: "Can YOU (the puscifer store) go buy a specific bottle from Caduceus and then charge me a markup as a product you're selling to a customer" - Response: "Uh, let me ask my manager." Five minutes later: "No, unfortunately that won't work either"

As we used to say in the Army - SNAFU and/or WTF. 

Enough crying... Honestly, I had a great day despite their attempts at ruining my birthday celebration with roadblocks and other various 'rules'.

Dinner on the 15th and the 16th was at the Jerome Grand Hotel in their Asylum restaurant. This place has some serious character! Check it out if you've never been to Jerome Arizona. When I bring my wife to Jerome, we're staying at the Jerome Grand! (maybe by then, Trump will still be President and Caduceus Wine Cellars Tasting Room will actually allow Wine Tasting)

So... now we're back in Montrose again after leaving Jerome AZ this morning and driving 8+ hours back to Montrose.

Day 35 is going to be a work day for both Paul and I - bikes won't be done until the end of the day anyways. Day 36, we should be back on the TAT!!

Friday, August 14, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 31


While our bikes are in Montrose Colorado getting worked on. We rented a Yukon and took a detour to Jerome Arizona. 

I’m a fan of wine and Tool. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 25 - 28

Day 25 - August 8th 

Day 26 - August 9th

Day 27 - August 10th

Day 28 - August 11th

Aug 9th - My Wife's Birthday!! Happy Birthday Honey, thank you for putting up with me and my motorcycle habits. I love you!!

Not much to report. Stayed local in Montrose recuperating since Poughkeepsie Gulch. 

We’ve let the bodies mend, we’ve rehydrated, but our bikes are still needing some service. There is a local shop here in Montrose that we visited with today - Highland Cycles - Morgan was helpful up to what he could do for us immediately. The local KTM dealer, Davis in Montrose, was pretty much useless. Their service guy wouldn't even attempt to talk to us due to their backlog of work. So we wait on parts... 

The plan is kinda stalled due to maintenance issues on the new KTM 790’s. We had the brakes on my bike bled - hopefully this solves my problems. Paul's issues are a bit more complicated. His clutch plates are burnt and need to be replaced. He's started leaking oil - not sure from what. We ordered a clutch kit from KTM today, should be here by Thursday (hopefully). If that comes in, on Friday, we've got a company that works on vintage motorcycles that is willing to do the work on Friday. If the clutch kit comes in Friday... well, we're going to be here the weekend because the two shops we know of in the area will not be available over the weekend.

I’ve spoken with Mark at Madstad, he has a windshield to replace Paul’s missing windshield. We will get it ordered and shipped out ASAP. (Paul's windshield broke in Mississippi in the powder silt).

We are currently at the Hampton Inn in Montrose for the next two nights. Yesterday we were in Ouray. 

All this downtime isn't easy - I want to get started again. But we can't ride these bikes as is... even though today we rode 35 miles from Ouray to Montrose and felt it was great to be back in the saddle. I miss it already. I've also noticed an interesting mode that one gets into while riding this type of adventure. The last four days have been 'different' in the sense that our daily process and rhythm is gone. It's missed already. I imagine the changeover from this trip back to normal life will not be taken lightly.

No major pictures to speak of lately - but I've uploaded videos to YouTube the other day because we had good internet. I've posted them on this post just to get caught up...

Saturday, August 8, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 24 - Aug 7th

Written on Saturday, August 8th (Day 25)

 This day started out great, woke up from camping in the wild. With the views of the sun-rise on the rocks

99 miles for the day - of which, 32 of them were us going from our actual objective to another city because hotels were sold out everywhere. (Friday/weekend in Colorado). 4,283 total for trip.

Breakfast with a new friend.

After breakfast, we hit the trail and we are immediately headed up Cinnamon Pass. Great ride, wonderful views. 12,640 feet above sea level! 

After coming 'down' Cinnamon Pass, we end up in "Animas Forks" - a Ghost Town from 1876 - mining town.

From there, we're headed to California Pass. Great views with one very evil corner. In a switchback that was steep, both Paul and I took the outside and ended up in deep gravel. I powered out of it after a considerable amount of effort and maybe a bike nap or two. I park up the road a ways waiting on Paul to get out of the "devil's Switchback" (aptly named by me). He doesn't get out, he goes down, so I leave my bike up on the road (highly trafficked by OHV / jeeps) and walk down to him to help out. We get his bike up and I offer to get it out of the deep gravel. I immediately notice that his clutch is slipping - badly. I power through and we get it out. I'm certain that his clutch is not doing well, even worse after trying to get out of that mess.

This picture below is taken from Paul’s perspective. If you look closely, you’ll see me up further from him  

This is resting because fatigue is setting in. Little did we know what the day had in store for us. 
This view below is my perspective on Paul’s location compared to mine. That corner he is in is evil. 

I ride his bike up to where mine is, which, by this time, I'm sure that all the Jeeps/Side-by-sides passing by are glad to see us moving our bikes out of the way. It probably took an hour or so to get through this corner. Sadly, I walked down to him to help, he had to walk UP to the bike's new position. Very arduous at this altitude. Shortness of breath is prevalent for us "Florida boys" (he has technically become a Florida boy recently - he is from Indiana).

Below picture is Paul attempting to climb the road back up to where I parked his bike and mine.

Once at the top, we're delighted to reach "California Pass"!

After the frustration of "Devil's Switchback", we were both tired and interested in getting to Ouray. We could have kept going the route of the TAT or we could find an alternate path. Critical Decision Point (CDP). This decision will haunt us the rest of the day - and likely be remembered forever.

I'll remind you, we're amateur off-road at best. We didn't grow up on dirt bikes. 

The story goes... sitting on top of California Pass, we look at the map and realize there is a shortcut to Ouray. 10 miles, straight down the valley. Our experience with valleys are 'that can't be too difficult'. So we decide that we don't want any more "Devil Switchbacks", we're tired, we're hungry, and we're thirsty.

Let's talk about the water situation for a minute... remember from Day 23, we camped. Which means, we cooked and drank water. No wine, no Jack Daniels, just water. Next day, we start off pretty quickly and fuel up. But we knew it would be a short day, so we kinda felt like the water in our hydration packs would be enough. This is a lesson to all those in the future riding the TAT - Always Get Water (AGW) (should be part of ATGATT&AGW).

We start down a pretty treacherous hill with large rocks - no dirt. They’re stacked on top of themselves. It is slippery due to the rocks moving under your tires. Front brakes will lock up going down this hill and it'll send you down. Rear brakes lock up and you slide out of control. Pretty steep. This is a start of a really bad decision.

A good friend of mine once said, Bad Decisions, Make Good Stories. (he actually said it many times...)

We get to the bottom of this hill, not without incident. Paul is down in the corner, side-by-sides are coming up and causing us grief. We eventually get down, we are elated. We pull over to drink some water and have a chat with a group of Jeep People. They were having a grand ol' time there by this lake (Lake Como). Grilling, hanging out, joking. They all have lifted Jeeps, lockers, etc etc. 

The Jeep People invite us to have a hot dog or hamburger with them. They just watched us struggle to get down that hill just above them, just after California Pass. Yeah, it was that bad. They offered us a bottle of water, etc. They listened to us explain that we were on the "Trans America Trail" and that we wanted to go to Ouray. They asked if we knew about this road that we were headed towards. We said we took a shortcut off of the TAT so we could get to Ouray. 10 miles seemed easy versus the probably 50 around the mountain and possibly through more "Devil's Switchbacks".

They were a little hesitant - but they started hinting at the fact that the roads in front of us were difficult. One gentleman went so far as to pull out his phone and GAIA GPS app to show us the two routes that are possible. He explained that once we get going, there is a fork that we will come to pretty quickly. Going left was probably a bad idea. Something about "The Wall". He said, he wasn't sure where the fork was, but to be on the lookout and take the right. Don't go towards "The Wall".

Of course, the first thing we are looking at is this major incline. I even walk up it before we attempt. I wanted to make sure we had a good line. It was steep enough that if you stopped, you'd likely slide all the way back down the hill. No stopping is the rule. Forward Momentum is the goal. As you can see in the picture below, there were two paths, left and right. both go up the hill. I discern after much study that it would be best to take the left side. 

Please note, this picture above, does this hill no justice. It is much steeper than it looks and for an old and inexperienced rider like me, I was a bit scared of what the outcome might be.

I look back and forth between this hill and the hill we came down to get to the Lake Como area. "Should we just go back up and complete the TAT track?" - we answer by stating that we don't think we could get up that hill if we tried. not enough traction on our "one wheeler" - we watched many four wheelers with lockers go up it and it was a task. So, reluctantly, we decide that 6.4 miles of Poughkeepsie Gulch (click to learn more about this "road") can't be that bad, as long as we avoid "The Wall" (please, click the link to better understand what the nice Jeep people helped us avoid). By the way, did I say that Poughkeepsie Gulch is a favorite amongst four wheel off-road vehicle enthusiasts? Note four wheels.

I will say that there were dirt bikes riding Poughkeepsie Gulch - though, none had luggage, all were on dirt bikes. None of them were like us. 

I go first up the hill, taking the left, the line I chose. Went up with no problem. Paul followed my line and he made it with no problem. I'm certain the Jeep crew thought, "they'll be ok if they can make that".

From there, our ride continuously got worse. So worse, that at times, we worked together to walk bikes down the massive boulders / steep declines. We would try and get on, ride a couple feet and crash. Albeit slow, there was still damage being done to both our bikes and us. Nothing serious on either part, bruises, cuts, and most importantly, fatigue. All the while, we're above 12,000 feet and descending. Can't breathe, need water.

There were many times that I would ride down a small section. Park my bike and wait for Paul. Helping him understand the line that I may have successfully or unsuccessfully used to get to my position. The unfortunate part about a road like this, you don't get to walk it like I walked that hill. You have to make decisions on the fly as you're riding. Most of the decisions I made on this road were wrong or at least, there was not a good decision to be made. So as I would wait, Paul would crash, I would attempt to go up the hill I just came down on foot. I would tell, it is going to take me a while. Thin Air, Heart Racing. Pain and Fatigue. Legs like Jello.

There were many vehicles (Jeeps and side-by-sides) going up where we were coming down. They'd see us struggling, they'd ask us if we needed help. Sometimes, we'd say yes. Help us lift our bikes. Fatigue. Every time we would lift a bike, it would make it that much harder the next time.

There were sections of PG (Poughkeepsie Gulch) that we thought, oh, the pain is over, this nice little section means it'll be easy from here on out. No, because just around the corner was another disheartening realization that the pain does continue and it does get worse. (PG, maybe it should be rated R... Restriction: No old guys on adventure touring bikes allowed)

We continue to struggle. My water in my hydration pack is almost empty. All the water I had is now sweat in my jacket (which now weighs five-ten pounds more than when we started the day). We'd sit for 10-15 minutes and rest. Anywhere. sometimes, when our bike went down, that was the time to rest.

I can remember (and it was only yesterday that we went through this) that we started with 10 miles on the GPS to get to Ouray. There was a point early in the day after the initial hill ascent (Lake Como) that the GPS said we had 7.2 miles remaining. It took about two hours to go those grueling 2.8 miles. 

It didn't get better.

There were times when my mind was yelling at me - how are you going to get out of this? There is no way out. You have to keep going. You're far too deep, going back is not an option! There were other thoughts too - can we just camp here and finish it tomorrow? I would say to myself, no, not an option. You don't have water. No resources. Bad Place. Get Going!

There are not many pictures from this section - due mostly to the fact that we were in survival mode. 

We keep going. I've mentioned my fear of heights before. We come to a section of PG that is so frightening to me that I tell Paul that I'm going to crab-walk my bike up against the wall because I can't look over the edge or I'll simply die. It was that steep. It was that scary. I wish I had a picture to show you. 

We keep going. We ask some people going up their thoughts on 'how much left' - "uh, it is all gravel and rocks". I was hoping for light at the end of the tunnel. They provided none.

4.5ish hours into this descent, we traverse the 6.4 miles and come to pavement. Happiness for pavement. Happiness that we're almost in Ouray. Happiness that we'll get water.

There is a sign down at the bottom of this monster called Poughkeepsie Gulch that says Engineer Mountain Road 4x4 Vehicles Only. I wish that sign was up at the top where you can decide to go LEFT and stay on the regular route or go RIGHT into hell's abyss.

Then we hop on the Million Dollar Highway - WOW. Any other time and I would be enjoying every second of it. Not this time, I'm too tired to recognize the amazing scenery and the magical work that it must've taken to create this road on the side of the mountain. Also, I have no front brake.

Story doesn't end there. We just had the most grueling day on our motorcycles. I'm looking forward to a nice hotel. We stop by a gas station to get gatorades and gas. I start calling all the local hotels/motels/cabins/etc for lodging. Everything is booked. Solid. Only place that has any availability is 32 miles away in Montrose, CO. So, despite what my body was telling me, the fatigue, the dehydration, the mind that is not entirely sharp, we go the 32 miles. Checkin to the hotel. Shower. Go next door to a steak restaurant. Drink copious amounts of water - I even tell the bartender, give us the pitcher. I eat my steak. I eat my potato and my Brussel sprouts. I need this food and water in my body asap. My hands are cramping, My feet are cramping. All my muscles are now tightening. Paul suffers less than I do, he is in much better shape and he is younger. But... he is still suffering. 

More pictures from our misadventure:

Today, we're sore. We are resting. Our bikes are resting. 

I didn't mention this - but let's talk about the other challenges of the day. Our motorcycles. His clutch is going bad, his clutch handle is broken because of a crash. My brakes (front and rear) kept going in and out all day. Imagine going down a hill and realizing your front brake is out or your rear brake is out. If you've never ridden motorcycles, this is frightening on just a regular road. Now do it on a rocky steep road created by the devil himself.

For those that are going to ride the TAT - this is mostly all CO-04 tracks from Sam. Unless you're a VERY experienced rider, do not take the "short-cut" (PG) to Ouray.

Lessons learned... the hardway.

Life is still good.

From Jenny Morgan on the TAT Facebook page:

For anyone else reading, if you want to go to Ouray from Animas Forks, take Engineer Mountain Road towards Engineer Pass, then head downhill - don't go via California Pass and Poughkeepsie Gulch (well, unless you are on a smaller bike and are a confident rider) - there is a reason Sam continues his official TAT from California Pass via Hurricane and Corkscrew Passes to hwy 550; where you can always head down hwy 550 to Ouray if you do want to visit that town. 

Oh, and if you struggle on California Pass, don’t even think about Imogene as part of the TAT, nor Black Bear - again, the reason Sam sends you over Ophir is because it is gentle on both sides, even though there is a lot of flat rocks on the west (downhill) side.

note. There is an alternative pass much further south still - Bolam Pass (out of the Purgatory ski resort), which connects to the TAT route just north of Rico on hwy 145. That is easy in good weather, not so much in the rain. You also get to ride pretty much all of hwy 550, and visit Silverton too if you wish.

2020 TAT - Day 23 - Aug 6th

Written on Saturday, August 8th (Day 25)

Interestingly enough, MANY people have texted me, including my mom - why no posts? You ok? We're good - Day 23 we camped without Internet and Day 24... you'll just have to read to understand.

Ahh, another late start. Had a few meetings to deal with - then on the Trail!

I won't have any videos to this post because we have bad internet right now...

It was a good day overall, we knew we wanted to camp, so we kept that in mind all day. Our goal - camp by a river/creek/some sort of water. We also got to ride our very first 'pass' in Colorado.

140 miles for the day, 4,183 total.

I’m writing this a couple days behind because 1. No internet where we camped (ahh… relax, no connection) 2. Day 24 was a mess.

Ok, now onto the important stuff. This was the first day of some challenging riding (for us). There was one section that was quite rocky - boulders and such that we both agreed it was great to complete. But we should’ve practiced on Hurricane Road earlier in TN or MS or wherever it was :)

Riding across the tops of mountains in Colorado is quite breathtaking. The views are something that we’ll keep with us through our memories and our pictures forever. Everyone should visit Colorado…

More riding: Our very first “pass” - Marshall Pass was completed today! Anyone know what Marshall Pass represents? The Continental Divide! 10,842 feet above sea level at the sign. I remember seeing 10,900 on my GPS.

A very cool thing happened sometime after Marshall Pass, as we were coming down the mountain - which in itself was a great ride. We ran into a Cattle Drive by two Cowboys and approximately 30-40 head of cattle. The cowboys, were a sight to see, the two of them and one dog did an amazing job getting the herd to go up the hill and out of our way so we could pass by them. We of course waited patiently with our motors off so as to not disturb their organized efforts. As the cowboys started pushing the cattle up the hill, we started up and ‘helped’ the drive by pushing some of the cattle in the right direction.

For lunch… UGH, we decided to go to Lake City. Unfortunately, we got caught in a one lane traffic jam. They were spreading tar and gravel on paved roads. Uh… ok. We gas up and grab four big waters for drinking and cooking - we had some water left in our hydration packs and my hiking bottle. Note, this will be important for Day 24 as well. 

As we entered Gunnison National Forest, we were looking for a spot to end our day. On my GPS showed a “picnic table” symbol just ahead of us - wasn’t sure what it meant, but figured we would check it out as it was around 3:30 or 4pm. Roll up, no one there, it is labeled “day use”, but was a perfect spot for some primitive camping. There were signs in several spots stating "Pack In, Pack Out" - It is sad that people need to be reminded.

We setup camp and begin the cooking process. This time… I DIDN’T CATCH THE PICNIC TABLE ON FIRE!!! :) Ramen noodles for dinner - we picked them up the day before at a gas station / market in a small town. We also had a couple cans of tuna, beef jerky, and some fig newton cookies. After dinner, we listened to some music and checked out our surroundings. The river and the wall of rocks surrounding us really gave us a good feeling about the spot we had chosen. 

We were harassed a little by a Forestry ranger because of how we parked our bikes - which was close to our tents in a ‘non-parking’ area. When we explained that parking them over in the ‘parking area’ (I say that in quotes because there wasn’t a parking area, just an area you could tell by the felled / carefully placed trees they didn’t want people to park) - that our bikes could be at risk for theft. He looked at us and I could tell he understood the logic. He then made the statement “only ride the bikes on the dirt”. Both Paul and I had a good chuckle at that as he left. “It is all dirt - where else would we ride?” Anyways… great evening. 

It did get quite cold - somewhere in the mid-30’s. My Big Agnes sleeping bag with down in it was PERFECT. I stayed warm all night - with one caveat. As long as my body parts stayed on my blow up therms-rest backpacking mattress, i was warm. Every couple hours, I would awake to a body part (arms mostly) that had some how come off the mattress and ended up on the ground. Gotta understand how down sleeping bags work - they build warmth because of the ‘layers’. However, if you’re laying on the down directly and you compress it, it will not provide warmth. That is why the air mattress is a necessity. 

I woke up around 7am, starting taking apart my part of the camp. Was so cold, I put on my motorcycle jacket, gloves, and wore my neck gaiter around my ears (yes, I’m a Floridian). 

Sunrise on the mountains. 

Pack In, Pack Out.

Life is good.