Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 5 - Cheyenne

We managed our best fuel mileage of the trip today, 52.01 miles per gallon! Woohoo. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today was planned from the beginning to be a short day. We were going to Rocky Mountain National Park and didn't want to be rushed. However in the interest of tomorrow's travel to Gillette we decided to make it a little longer to save time tomorrow. Total length of today's ride, 229 miles. We took advantage of the continental breakfast again and this time Reagan made sure to eat. Then we checked out of the room and headed across the street for fuel. It was was just after 8 o'clock when I thumbed the starter and pulled away from the pump. Just like yesterday the plan was to go west to get out of the plains and into the mountains. But first we had to get on I-70 to get out of town.

Just outside of Denver we took hwy 6 into Golden and stayed on it. Outside of Golden, 6 turns into a great little river road twisting through the mountains. I found about this road from the Internet and was glad I did. It was a fantastic way to start the morning. The only downside was the ever present smell of gasoline. Last night I had pulled the tank off to work on the mic-mute module and I was beginning to think that I had split a fuel line. To make things even more entertaining Reagan came on the intercomm and asked a trivia question. In a down hill sloping tunnel which way do you run in the event of a fire? Oh great I can see it now, the bike is going to erupt in a ball of flame while we are passing through a tunnel and I have to worry about which way to run. Oh, the answer is downhill.

Hwy 6 runs into I-70 west bound so we merged back on and I took the first exit into a little town so I could stop at a gas station and sort things out. Once stopped, I removed the tank bag and low and behold the gas cap had not latched all the way. I was relieved and annoyed at the same time. I had just worried my way through a fantastic road over something that should have been taken care of at the fuel stop. Oh well, it was a chance to take a quick nature break and let Reagan get some gatorade. At this point I also discovered why she was going through so much gatorade. It seems a good bit of it was spilling on the bike as the valve wasn't completely closing.

Back to I-70 west bound until exit 232 then it was north on Hwy 40. It was clear that we were in the more touristy part of Colorado now as there was more effort in speed control. And you saw more little lodges and places to spend your money on stuff. But Hwy 40 also had it's perks as we got to climb to over 11,000 feet before decending. The road was in great condition with very little traffic. The curves were great and the scenery was fantastic. Of course the higher you go the colder it gets, not having my thermometer any more I can't tell you how cold it was but it was definitely chilly.

Just past Granby we turned right onto Hwy 34, we were just 16 miles from the park. There were signs of tourism all over the place. And there was more traffic. The scenery was nice, the temp cool, and the road was just sort of there. Not a super twisty stretch but not board straight either. Just a road to ride to another place.

At the park entrance we paid our $20 and talked to the attendant. She said that the Pine Bark Beatle population had just exploded in the park and that was what was killing the pine trees. It's sad to see so many dead trees in the forrest. So we continued into the park. Speed limit was 45mph, experience from Big Bend tells me to keep it at or below the posted speed. At one point along the way it seemed everyone was all over the road and out of their cars. Upon stopping we discovered it's because they were trying to take a picture of moose. We see the backside of the moose as he's trying to graze and figure there's got to be better things to see so we go on. There's a Goldwing couple in front of us and we end up following them all the way up to the Alpine visitor center. The climb was great although a little slow thanks to the cars in front of us.

We had talked about stopping at the visitor center to get some post cards and take a break so that's what we did. There was a neat snow shelf to look at and I found a cool post card with it's picture, I figured that was probably a better shot than we'd get with our camera so I bought it. We also had "second breakfast" next door at the souvenier shop. They had Smuckers "Uncrustables" PB&J sandwiches. Folks involved with the 3Day event know just how good they are. Yum! Then it was time to get back on the bike, we had a few hundred feet to go before we'd reach the 12,226 foot high point along the road.

Up the hill and around the corner and I thought we had made it since the gps read 12,000 feet so I pulled over into a look out and snapped some pictures. Then back on the road but wait, it kept climbing. Around a corner we got stuck behind a van load of people who just decided to stop in the road. When it was safe I passed them only to find the reason they were stopping had to do with 3 big elk bulls resting in the field below. Finally I got to see my elk, and he wasn't in the road. Reagan managed to snap a picture as we kept moving and then a little ways farther we found the rest of the heard, no bulls just cows. Again people were all over the road taking pictures.

Finally we reach the peak elevation of the road and it begins to slowly descend. And as we descend the temperature begins to rise. We get behind 2 Harley's with the lead rider really using his brakes alot. Finally we pulled off to let them and a car behind us get on down the road a bit. I didn't really want to have to watch a motorcycle crash if I didn't have to. Besides it was a chance to snap a few photos of the gorgeous scenery.

I pulled off at a ranger station to shed my liner and let Reagan run in. Meanwhile I met a Goldwing couple from northern Arkansas. They were coming in from the north and hadn't seen anything bigger than a ground squirrel. I told them to be patient as the elks were a few thousand feet higher in elevation, when the gps said 12,000 they would almost be there. The wife was excited.

Finally we left the park still on 34 and stayed on it until we reached I-25. Much of the road followed a creek and so we had lots of curves, the only problem was the traffic and the lack of passing opportunities. So I puttered along, looking around and trying to stay cool. It was warming up and without a good 50 mph breeze it was getting toasty.

We stopped just before I-25 for a quick break and to put our ear plugs back in. There was a red BMW RT fueling up but didn't seem much into conversation. Ashame really, he had a cool USA themed paint job I would have liked to know more about. With plugs in and breaks taken, we hopped on I-25 and struggled with the traffic. The posted speed was 75 but we were doing good to go 65. It seemed people just weren't in a hurry and it wasn't like there was law enforcement or anything to slow people down.

Finally a few miles up the road the traffic cleared and the road opened up. I set the speed as close to 80mph as possible and just rode. We only had 50 miles to Cheyenne. We talked about pushing on to Douglas which would have been another 100 miles. Alone I probably would have done it, but since we had a reservation and I didn't know what the room situation was in Douglas we stopped as planned an enjoyed an afternoon nap. Afterwards we went into Cheyenne for dinner. Everyone knows you ride over 1700 miles to eat mexican food in Wyoming. But that's what we found and it was even good. The queso was made from pepper jack cheese and I really enjoyed it.

We have already filled up for tomorrow, hence how I know we got 52mpg today, so we'll get an early start in the morning. As Reagan says "we'll be getting up at the butt crack of dawn". That's my charming wife for you. But she's right we plan to be up by 5 and on the road by 6. With four and a half hours of riding planned we should be able to get there before noon so we can get checked in and attend a seminar starting just after 1pm.

My rant for the day:
What's up with not waving to fellow motorcyclists? It seems that most of the riders (mainly Harleys) don't even want to acknowledge us much less a wave. I know for a fact that they can see us as hi-viz green and pink are 2 colors you can't easily miss. The problem seemed to worsen the farther north we've travelled and now that we are in Wyoming riders will just stare at us like we are aliens from outspace. One guy was turning into a parking lot as we were pulling out, as we waved he just stared, I thought he might actually fall off his bike from staring. I don't know if this is some misguided only-Harleys attitude or what but it's just down right silly and rude. Reagan thinks it's because people up here aren't used to seeing riders actually wear the gear. They are all concerned with looking cool I guess. What ever. We'll keep on waving until one falls over.

No comments: