After making that sort of emo, whiny video, I finished putting the last few things onto the bike and headed back to the main road, back down the stupid steep and mostly washed out trail.
I've been ignoring the fact that I'm not on a dual-sport for the last 25,000 miles, I wasn't about to give in on the last few days.
My target was Grand Junction, which was still ~100 miles north of me, along what had looked on the map to be a fairly curvy, but not quite twisted road. What the map failed to note was that this road traced a river through a small canyon for the majority of it's length. Not twisted enough to entertain most sports bikes, but it was great to ride through.
So, excuse me for deluging you with more road pictures, but there's not much I can say to caption them.
Somewhere ~30 miles south of Grand Junction, I stopped at a resort area for gas, and to take a bit of a break. For obvious reasons, this place was pretty popular with cruisers only. I didn't see many sport-bikes around.
I love being the one filthy bike in a sea of perfect chrome. None of the other riders so much as make eye contact, let alone wave. :)
Om nom nom!
Anyway, heading on north.
As usual, stuff so big it's hard to put it into perspective.
Just before I got to Grand Junction, I ran into someone who put an end to my spirited riding sessions.
I thought about stopping for fifteen minutes or so to let him get well ahead of me, but I worried that he might just be set up in a speed trap somewhere waiting for some dumbass riding way faster then he should. So I just hung back far enough to keep him in site, and enjoyed the views.
For the past couple weeks, every town of significant size that I'd stopped at, I'd always checked in to the local motorcycle stores to see about getting a new air filter for the bike. I hadn't changed it before I left on my trip, which was 25,000 miles ago, and who knows how long it had been before then that it had been changed. No place I'd checked with previously had one in stock, but FINALLY I connected with this place in Grand Junction that had want I needed.
It was hot, really hot. Air temp was indicated at 95 degrees, but sitting in a parking lot working on a hot engine, it felt hotter. Replacing the air filter only took a few minutes, and wow did it need it. As I put it onto the counter so the parts guy could match it up with a replacement, a tablespoon of dust fell out of it.
As he was writing up the receipt, I struck up a conversation with him. I explained that I was heading in the vague direction of Denver, but I didn't like the interstate and was looking for a more scenic route. Furthermore, I didn't mind if it took me an extra day (or two) out of my way.
"Hrm . . . " the man said as he looked me over, glanced at my bike outside, and raised an eyebrow at me. "You don't mind mud, do you?"
I chuckled. :)
Eventually, he was nice enough to doodle me out a map with what he thought was one of the best ways to get over the continental divide.
Man, I love some motorcycle shops.
Following his directions had me on I-70 for only about ten minutes, before getting off and starting to head way up into the mountains.
I did a lot of climbing very quickly, and one I got up here I saw one of the clearest signs yet that my trip was almost over. The leaves were just starting to change.
How in the hell is that even legal? I guess that's the financial services version of a Romex watch.
Anyway, true to the guy at the shop's word, the pavement did soon run out. And the weather turned lousy, too. It had been 95F and sunny in Grand Junction, but up here it was mid-60s and rainy.
Even so, it was so nice being here.
Tthe road was pretty slick and these tires had next to no grip, in addition to being on the totally the wrong bike for it (Story of the trip). But whatever, it was better then the interstate! :)
It rained on and off (but mostly on) for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, I only rode out from under it just after the sun had set for the night. Best I figured, I had maybe 20 minutes to find someplace to camp before the rain caught up with me, and it was close to 9pm at this point.
I found a forest service campground that was nearly packed to capacity; all of the car sites were filled, and there was just a single R/V site left open. In what I'm sure was probably a bit of an asshole move born out of desperation, I claimed it, hoping that I wouldn't be pestered later on by some pensioner in his gigantic trailer ornery about why some little bike and a tent was taking up the last R/V spot. Hey, finders, keepers.
I rushed about setting up the tent; There was lightening in the distance and the thunder was getting louder, and you could smell the nitrogen in the air of an impending rainstorm. My timing couldn't have been more perfect; I got everything into the tent, and literally 30 seconds after I shut the door for the last time, the rain started.
And holy shit, did it ever rain. We're talking noah's ark levels of rain, complete with thunder, epic lightening, and water coming down in buckets. And through it all, I stay snuggled happy and warm in my sleeping bag.
Of course, mountain weather is famously neurotic; In contrast to the amazing storm that we'd had the night before, the next day dawned warm, and perfectly clear.
Of course, I had still higher to go; I was maybe halfway through the map the guy had drawn out for me. I packed up, and went on my way.
Part of the route took me up past a rainwater damn. Big 'ol pile of rocks.
Not used for electricity generation or anything, serves mostly as a reservoir to help conserve the spring floodwater to last through the hot summers. But once I got up higher in these altitudes, the clouds and ever-persistent hints of rain were back.
Off the pavement again my route took me.
Eventually I got out from under the rain, and it cleared up again.
Only once I got to the pass did I fully turn around and see where I'd come from.
Goddamit, Colorado. Why do you get to look like this when the midwest is stuck being so horrible.
Obligatory "Bike next to pretty stuff" picture:
Aaaaand I made it!
The new air filter for the bike was helping a LOT, but use of fifth gear was mostly a distant memory. It was mostly 3rd gear now, occasionally 4th for the flatter bits. Fortunately, it was all downhill from here! :D
Oh, happy roads. Happy, happy roads.
Dropping back down to saner altitudes, I stopped in at a little diner place for munchies. Not going to lie, biggest reason I picked this place was the car parked in the lot.
Food was blah. Tasted okay ,but nothing special about it.
I consulted my GPS for a while to figure out where I wanted to go from here. I figured that as long as I was here, I had to go through Rocky Mountain National Park, which looked to still be a day or so of riding away. With that in mind, I got back on the road.
I took a ~20 mile detour back up into the moutains in search of some spirited riding places, and again found the bike amazingly low on power. I was probably dripping raw gasoline out of the tailpipes, I must have been running so rich.
Some guys were filling up some kind of plastic tubes. I didn't know, and didn't care enough to ask.
It was rainy, it was cold, and the only other bikes around were fully dressed Harleys puttering around at 10mph. To be fair, I wasn't going much faster. The roads were too wet/slick looking, and traffic too bad for anything spirited. I took a short walk to some lookouts, but other then that I just turned around and headed back the way I came.
Even after getting back down out of the pass, there was more rain in my future.
At some point, I spotted a beautiful vista off in the distance. The sun was at the right angle, the trees were framing it perfectly, it was beautiful. So I pulled over to the side of the road, and JUST as I pulled out my camera.
ARG FUCKING OLD PEOPLE AND YOUR RETARDED MOBILE HOMES. I HATE YOU ALL SO MUCH. Not only do you clog up our roads by driving everywhere 15mph under the limit because you have no fucking idea how to manuver your 40 foot long plastic shit-♠boxes, but you also insist on stopping EXACTLY spot on to screw up my shot. And damn right they did it intentionally, there's no other explaination. And they weren't even taking pictures of it or anything! They were just sitting there arguing amoungts themselves, by the looks of it!
Erg. R/Vs make a strong argument for euthinasia. I moved up the road a bit to get my shot, but the framing wasn't as good. *grumble grumble bitch*
And on and on I rode.
Seems that bike wash a few days ago hadn't done much good. I'd gotten it all dirtied up again already.
Sure, there was still the occasional rain. But there were always clear skies ahead to keep the spirits up.