New Mexico/Colorado/Kansas - June 2000
Near Buena Vista. Colorado
It was a crazy idea but I decided I needed to find out what it was like to make a long-distance, cross-country ride, something I had always wanted to do. My good friend, Lew, spends his summers in Colorado and a couple of lifelong friends had invited me to their 40th Wedding Anniversary Party so I decided this was as good a time as any.
I installed Iso Grips, a Throttle Boss and highway pegs and was ready to go. I left in mid-afternoon and rode 220 miles to Quanah, Texas, where I spent the night with some old friends. Before going to town, however, I rode 12 miles out into the country to pay a call on a client. Unfortunately, they lived a mile up a sand road. About half way up, me riding with both legs spread out to keep the bike from sliding out from underme, it did. There went a groin muscle as I caught the bike before it went down. The rest of the trip was in pain and I was only four hours into the ride.
Left at 7 am and headed north on US 287. Cut across country to Dalhart to Raton, New Mexico, and up I-25 to Pueblo. Wind was blowing across the road at better than 25 mph with gusts to 50 all the way. About a mile souith of Raton two different gusts blew me across one lane. Now in addition to a sore groin muscle I had a stiff neck. Made it inot Canon City after 550 miles about 5:30 pm. Ate dinner and soaked in a hot tub.
The next morning I rode US 50 along the Arkansas River to Salida, then north to Buena Vista and to Leadville. On down to Frisco and Silverthorn, Colorado. I headed north from Silverthorn and rode over a pass onto a gravel road. After five hellish miles over washboard gravel I made it to the Aspen Canyon Ranch where I met up with old friends and Lew. I followed Lew into Parshall over another 13 miles of gravel and onto US 40. We rode on US 40 for about 8 miles and Lew turned off onto another gravel road. 18 terrifying miles later I was 1500 feet higher at Lew's.
A couple of days later I made my way back down the mountain to Kremmling, 75 gravel miles later. Back to Silverthorn and, on a whim, rode over Loveland Pass. Now that is a great and thrilling ride. On into Denver to visit with several clients.
I left early the next morning for points east. Cold as hell and stopped on the I-70 access ramp and donned my cold weather gear. Wasn't enough. Feet almost froze. But I made it into Byers,Colorado, for breakfast. I planned to take US 36 straight east but knew gas was going to be short for the next 145 miles across eastern Colorado. Nobody at the resturant or at the gas station could tell me where the next gas station might be. Pretty critical because 145 miles was on the outer limit of my tank capacity. I took a deep breath, said "I'm off" , and turned east. About 80 miles down the road I came upon a COOP station in some teeny town in the middle of nowhere and stopped for gas. It was the only gas between Byers and St Francis, Kansas. After 470 miles I pulled into Blue Rapids, Kansas, about 5 pm. What a long lonely ride. I saw 12 vehicles in 300 miles, and that included tractors. I figured if I had a flat or a breakdown I would just push the bike in the ditch and hopefully, sooner or later, someone would come along and give me a lift somewhere and it would be good-by bike.
I got to Blue Rapids on Friday evening. After an all day and late night party on Saturday I got up early and was on the road by 6:30. Thirty five miles or so down a country highway I looked in the mirror and saw the bubble gum machines working overtime. Seems that the cop had been chasing me for 5 miles. With the helmet on and the bike noise I never heard him. He let me off with a warning and I was on my way again. Turned left on US 81, picked up I-235 in Salina and I-35 in Wichita. Started sprinkling on me six blocks from home. Another 575 miles made it a 2200 mile solo ride. Was glad to be home.
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