Monthly Archives: September 2017

GDMBR2 – DAYS 19-22

The good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes all in one day.

I woke up early, packed up my tent and, as I was fumbling through my tank bag, I noticed my granola bar was opened. It took a minute to realize a mouse had crawled up my motorcycle, under the cover, and chewed a hole through the fabric and zipper of my bag to get at the bar. Fortunately, the critter was not in there when I was fishing around. But, the bag is shot.

Then, when I went to start the motorcycle, it barely turned over and started. Oh,oh. Something is still wrong with my battery or charging system. I headed west towards the next largest city, Montrose, to see if I could get a charger or battery jumper.

Traffic jam along the reservoir

My guess was right, Montrose was large enough to have a Wal-Mart. I bought a trickle charger, went back to my bike and it was dead. I pushed it to an alcove where the employees smoke and take breaks. There was an outlet there that I shared with a couple of transients charging their cell phone and drinking a slushie. Nice.

While the battery charger was working, I ate a sandwich and started searching the internet for motorcycle repair shops. I talked to a guy in Macon, near Durango, who refered me to a guy in Montrose who was off the internet radar. I called Randy, talked to him for quite a while about the suspected problem, a bad stator or regulator,or both. The mechanic in Macon had warned me that the BMW replacement parts were around $1100 but that there are aftermarket parts at a fraction of that cost. Randy said he knew a guy in Denver who might be able to FedEx them to him by Friday Noon. He could then fit me in after another customer and before he leaves for the holiday weekend. A lot of if’s and maybe’s. I decided to put my faith in a stranger and told him to order the parts.

With my battery 44% charged, I headed back to the KOA I had seen coming into Montrose, got a tent site, did laundry, took a shower and ventured back out of town 6 miles to check out The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I was disappointed there was no ranger in the entry booth that I could flash my Senior Card at… The park was a complete surprise to me. A very deep gorge (blackish of course) in the middle of a desert landscape.

The view from the first overlook

I stopped at the visitor center and watched a 20 minute video a guy in the laundry room at the KOA said not to miss. It talled about exploration, the building of a railroad in the canyon and the tunnelling of a water diversion path to make the arid desert around Montrose a fertile farmland. Very interesting.

I ventured as far as I thought I could risk with my battery and the rain clouds to a few overlooks.

Montrose traffic jam

Back to the KOA, and a short walk to a local brewpub, Horsefly, for dinner and beverage. A text to my nephew who lived in Montrose for a spell determined it was a favorite spot.

The back page of a paper I found at Horsefly…

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To bed for a restless night worrying about how tomorrow would play out. I put the charger on the battery and hoped for the best.

Since I had until at least Noon and I had a fully charged battery, I went back to the Park to explore further. There was a ranger led geology hike which talked about gneiss, schist and pegmatite. She talked about the unique circumstances that led to the canyon including uplifts, volcanoes and erosion. It was all fascinating but the real highlight was back at the visitor center where a volunteer had a telescope with a special filter so you could look at the sun’s surface. You could see the spots. Freaky cool.

Around Noon Randy called to say my parts were in but that he needed until 3 to finish the other guy and start on my bike. I drove out at three to his address, it was a house with a big garage at the end of a gravel road miles out of town. Breathe deep.

I met Randy and he told me some of his life history which gave me more confidence. He had worked for the BMW dealer in Denver for a while but that was before my bike was built. Breathe deep.

He started and I helped pull the shiny parts off so he could begin the surgery. The stator went well and it smelled burnt which gave me confidence it was the root cause of the problem. The regulator was a challenge but after two hours the bike was back together, it started, and a check of the battery voltage indicated it was charging. Hooray!

I thanked Randy sincerely and rode off to Grand Junction to meet an old biking friend, Greg and hjs wife who had moved from Golden Valley earlier this year. I got there just at dusk, they fed me food and an Indeed beer. What a relief to a stressful day.

In the morning, Greg and Shari took me to Rocky Mountain National Monument, anther spectacular geological feature I’d never seen. To my dismay, they had a National Park pass and I didn’t get to flash my card. It was a beautuful climb along the park road to the visitor center.

The prominent feature, Independence Peak

Another Ramger talk on geology.

There were few barriers to falling to your death. But there was this sign..

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I bid farewell to Greg and Shari and headed east across Colorado on I-70, a National Treasure, towards Boulder, and the home of a former work associate/friend, David.

It was hot. 90+ degrees until I hit Vail Pass. I got to his home in Longmont around 7. His wife and son joined us for dinner in Boulder, a town like no other. There were street performers on a pedestrian mall and all sorts of people, really. I was thoroughly entertained.

In the morning , David took me up into the mountains for a 6.2 mile hike to a cascading stream with a view to Long’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 58 14’ers.

It was a great outing. We had lunch, I packed up and headed my bike out of Colorado and homeward. The adventure is coming to an end..

The temperature was over 98 and the winds were strong out of the north, of all things, making the riding a slog. Add to that, the air was filled with dense smoke. Something is burning somewhere. The sun was an orange ball that looked just like what I had seen in the telescope.

I made it back to Scottsbluff for the night. Another 12 hours of riding to get home…

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GDMBR2 – DAYS 15-18

After finishing the ride, we had a group hug/ picture and packed into the adventure cycling van and shuttled back to Steamboat, leaving Marie in Salida, and dropping others at hotels and bike shops in Steamboat. I put my new battery in my motorcycle, gave my bicycle and gear to Jim to transport home and hopped on my motorcycle to begin phase 3 of my adventure. It felt odd to be solitary once again but nice to be moving at my own pace and direction.

The plan was to head south towards Leadville. Thirty miles in there was a detour. I didn’t believe the real detour sign which pointed to a gravel road (not my favorite on the motorcycle) and stayed on a wonderful curvy road that passed huge mining operations. My assessment, mining pays for nice roads in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunately, that road looped back almost to Steamboat… new plan. There looked to be a Scenic byway through the Flattop Wilderness so I headed west and then south. It was getting dark as I looked for a campground 30 miles along the road through the National Wilderness. Then, the road turned to gravel. As I said, not my favorite. It was getting too dark to head back and fortunately, after a few miles, there was a campground. Thank goodness. There was deer in the campsite and bear boxes so I knew the wilderness description was accurate. The ground was too hard to drive a tent stake into so my tent was free-standing.

Morning… The camp host stopped by in his golf cart. He talked my ear off for a good 45 minutes. Among the topics, he is building a rail gocart. What is that you ask? A gocart modified to ride on the million miles of abandoned railway tracks in the US. From the Salton Sea to Salida he’s going to be buzzing around. He’s a bit of a train but, has 300 boxes of toy trains waiting for a place in Silverton to agree to display.

He said the road was gravel for the remaining 51 miles. I elected to see how bad it was. It was fine for 11 miles and then turned to soft, deep gravel. I rode another 3 miles with my front wheel squirming around. The Sheriff came by and said the rest of the road was the same. I tucked my tail between my legs and turned around. New plan, ride further south around the area and drop into Salida. Maybe I’ll ride the Monarch Crest mountain bike trail (an IMBA Epic Ride) after all.

I called the shuttle company, for a 10 am shuttle, rented a bike at a shop in Salida and went to the local hostel to get a room. Tomorrow will be epic.

Up early, the bunkroom was full of Colorado Trail through hikers, some of whom were calling it quits and taking a bus out of town at 7:45. You know my opinion of solitary through-hikers.

I picked up my bike and rode 5 miles to the shuttle company in Pancho Springs for the lift to Monarch Pass, 12,000 feet and change. There were six of us including a local packing a “varmit” rifle.

The trail starts at 12,000 and goes up… I was feeling it, 32 miles to go. Eventually it starts down, and gets below the treeline.

I was glad there were others on the trail as I might still be out there.

My shoulders and wrists were killing me from the death grip on the bars and the constant bashing over and through big rocks. Yikes.

Kid’s Club rules prohibit any more description of the ride but suffice it to say, I made it down in one piece and rode back to drop off the bike by 4:00, to the surprise of the shop manager.

Back on the motorcycle and west to find a campsite west of Gunnison. Made it just before dark…

Tomorrow is another day, and another plan.