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#703978 - 06/13/11 11:42 AM Re: Day 3 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
OoPEZoO Offline

Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 5851
Loc: Amish Country, PA
Good stuff thumbsup

I miss that part of the country........2012 Torrey or bust!.....or maybe 2012 UNrally or bust! Have to wait and see where it is first grin
-Keith (Yup, thats me...and my rubber chicken)

Making the world a better place, one rubber chicken at a time!

'98 Buell S1 Lightning
'06 R1200GS
'86 Honda CB125
'00 R1100RT (parting out, PM me)

#704219 - 06/14/11 02:32 AM Day 4 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 4: Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Route: Louisville, CO to Ouray, CO
Distance: 413 miles

The last time Shawn and I went to Torrey, we did two day trips from Louisville into the Front Range, and then took two days to commute from Louisville to Torrey. This time, it was a single day trip, and then a three-day commute, hoping for the opportunity to visit new roads and roads we hadn’t seen for a while.

Before departure, I had an opportunity to test-ride my brother-in-law’s electric bicycle:

In that second pic, you can see the battery pack hanging behind the rear seat. That powers a brushless DC motor inside the rear wheel’s hub. As modest as it looks, this thing has impressive acceleration and top speed. It ain’t gonna place at Laguna Seca, but it’ll hit 26 MPH without pedaling, and it’ll go 16 miles between charges. Not bad at all.

OK, enough fun with the e-bike, it’s time for departure. Get ready:

Get set:


We headed up to Nederland again, then down CO119 all the way to I-70. Instead of Eisenhower Tunnel, once again we took Loveland Pass. Why? If you have to ask, you don’t ride a motorcycle. grin

Instead of Breckenridge and Fairplay, our route this time took us down CO91 through Leadville. At 10,152 feet, this is the highest incorporated city in the entire country. It feels like it, too; the RT’s engine was much less ambitious than it had been back in Louisville.

After lunch in Salida, we headed west on US50, where we hit some construction on the approach to Monarch Pass, with a shutdown lasting long enough to take a quick snapshot:

Back at lunch Shawn noticed one of his headlights had burned out (didn’t this happen on the last Torrey trip, too???). We stopped in Gunnison for gas, and then set about replacing the bulb:

Whereas this is a relatively easy job on most bikes, it’s a serious PITA on the 1200RT. The upper-right side panel has to be removed so that your arm can approach from an anatomically reasonable angle to access the rear of the headlight assembly, and even then, you’re still pretty much guaranteed to get your hand cut up on the various zip ties and metal bits in the area. Also, the harness wires are very much in the way even after you pull the plug off of the bulb. Compared to Shawn, I have little girly wrists and forearms, so I volunteered for the job. It still wasn’t easy, and I ended up touching the bulb glass at one point, so I had to take it back out and clean it before attempting to install it again. When all was said and done, I was bleeding from several points on my hand and wrist, but Shawn’s RT was once again operating at full photon capacity.

After leaving Gunnison, we turned onto CO92, a fine stretch of road that tries to maintain its current elevation by following the contour of every ditch, gully, ravine, valley and gorge, resulting in a spectacular stretch of twisty pavement.

Miles into it and just a few minutes after passing a couple of fully-loaded dumptrucks, we stopped at a scenic overlook, and were slightly surprised a few minutes later when the dumptrucks slowed and turned in to the same overlook:

I was even more surprised when the lead driver pulled the nose of her truck to within maybe ten feet of my bike, a prelude to backing up and dumping her cargo on a nearby gravel pile:

At her closest approach to my bike I gave her my best “terrified” expression, and she got a good laugh out of that. grin

BTW, it’s a nice overlook, with a clear view to the San Juan Mountains in the south, and to the Gunnison river far below:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)

CO92 mellowed out once it pulled away from the river, and then it was a nice scenic cruise through Crawford, Hotchkiss, Delta, Montrose, and finally to our destination for the night, Ouray. Once you’re in Ouray though, if you go a quarter-mile in any direction except due north, you run into mountains. The map gives you some idea what’s going on:

The town has pretty much expanded as far as it can without bolting structures to the hillsides, and as soon as you get to the south end of town, US550 – the famed Million-Dollar Highway - begins a steep, switchbacked climb to get out of the canyon in which Ouray resides. Standing on Main Street, no matter which way you look there are mountains (and a Shawn grin):

From our hotel we took a nice walk through town before settling on the Ouray Brewery for dinner. They sell T-shirts if you’re interested (come to think of it, what would Jesus brew?):

The beer there was pretty tasty, though Shawn found the Buffalo wings to be a tad warm (so did I):

As far as tourists go, mid-May was pretty much the off-season. Ski bums and snowmobilers were scarce, and school was still in session, so families from around the country hadn’t yet launched their summer vacations, all of which meant the locals were out on the town enjoying some peace and quiet. We had a nice conversation with a retired fellow seated next to us while other local folks relaxed on the swinging seats at the bar:

It was a good end to a great day’s ride.

#704221 - 06/14/11 02:42 AM Re: Day 4 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
1MPH Offline

Registered: 12/20/03
Posts: 1125
Loc: Phoenix, Az.
Most enjoyable travelogue. Thanks.
2004 R1150R
Piedmont Red

#704245 - 06/14/11 07:12 AM Re: My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Fugu Offline

Registered: 06/01/07
Posts: 1828
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Joe Frickin' Friday
Well, that was a helluva trip. The weather was incredible.

Heh. I almost stopped in Torrey on my way back to Portland from Denver. Ran out through the rain and snow, hung out with family, returned through a small break in the snow, to hit more snow heading into SLC. Got a dry day and rode about 750 to home- happy to not be applying anti visor fog goop at every gas stop and watching my gear indicator freak out due to water contamination.

I've said it 100 times this year, I don't know how I used to ride w/o heated gear. Dodging the snow icon on the Zumo weather screen across the Rockies....

2000 R1150GS

#704254 - 06/14/11 10:31 AM Re: My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
eddd Offline

Registered: 12/04/06
Posts: 5809
Loc: Hurricane, UT
Good pics and tale. Keep 'em coming!
12 Kawasaki EX650
13 Yamaha XT250
16 KTM RC 390
96 R1100RT - forced retirement at 175,000

#704320 - 06/14/11 04:14 PM Re: Day 4 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
tobyzusa Offline

Registered: 07/08/05
Posts: 1312
Loc: Southlake,TX
'05 1150RT

#704489 - 06/15/11 01:58 AM Day 5 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 5: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Route: Ouray, CO to Moab, UT
Distance: 299 miles

Even before going to bed the previous night, we pretty much knew we would have to abandon our original planned route, which was to take us south on US550 through Silverton and Durango, then west and (eventually) north on CO141.


Wednesday’s forecast for Silverton (the first town south of Ouray) had called for a high of 23, and 4-6 inches of fresh snow. Never mind riding, these were conditions that would make people think twice about even driving.

Instead, we backtracked north to Ridgeway, then went west on CO62 and CO145. We passed through Norwood, stopping at the same gas station where Shawn and I repaired his 1100RT on the previous trip. On to Naturita, then north on CO141, stopping for some photos along the way:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)

Where we came from:

We had a little rain around Norwood and Redvale, not much. However, after this photo stop, it started to rain pretty steadily, dumping on us until we were within a few miles of Delta. Despite our soggy condition, the abandonment of the Million-Dollar Highway gave us an opportunity to ride through Colorado National Monument. Located just outside of Grand Junction, the monument includes a road that climbs up to the top of a cliff, and then winds along the cliff edge for maybe 15-20 miles, passing several scenic overlooks before descending back to lower elevations. All we can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. It began raining as we climbed toward cliff-top level, and by the time we got to the top, it was raining hard and steady – and the temperature dropped into the 30’s. Not the best conditions for sightseeing on a bike, but we still stopped at a couple of overlooks before we decided it wasn’t particularly fun and turned back:

By the time we got back into Grand Junction, the steady rain had evolved into a right proper downpour. We sheltered under a gas station canopy for the worst of it while we scoured the GPS, looking for a lunch place where we could relax for a couple of hours and let the crummy weather pass by. Turns out Grand Junction has a nicely developed Main Street, with lots of shops and restaurants – and a parking ramp with free daytime parking for motorcycles. :clap : We ditched the bikes in the parking ramp and wandered over to the Rockslide Brewpub. Not for the beer this time, as we still had 100 miles to go – but for a sammich and a couple of cups of nice hot coffee. Good food; if you’re ever in Grand Junction, check out the Main Street area, and Rockslide Brewpub in particular.

After warming up and stretching out over the course of a long lunch, we headed out – under rain which still had not ended – to cover the final 100 miles to Moab. For the last leg, instead of the straight/short US191, we took long/twisty UT128. The last time we had been on this road was on our 2003 Torrey trip with Ron. Back then, it was a bright sunny afternoon, and the stop by Fisher Towers looked like this:

(photo from 2003 trip)

This time, conditions were less hospitable:

Shawn left his helmet on for that stop, and so did I; it was warmer and drier that way.

Tell you what, Mother Nature is one mean-spirited old lady: the rain stopped just about the time we rolled into Moab, and a couple of hours later we were walking from the hotel to dinner under blue goddam skies:

Dinner itself was a cheeseburger at the Slickrock Café. It was…OK. Nothing to write home about. Afterward we stopped at the Red Dirt Shirt shop. Their facility in Hawaii was featured a couple of years ago on Dirty Jobs, and the Moab store has a lovely cardboard cutout of the show’s host, Mike Rowe:

After that, it was back to the hotel to rest up for the final push to Torrey the next day.

#704508 - 06/15/11 02:45 AM Re: Day 4 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
EddyQ Offline

Registered: 05/30/07
Posts: 1194
Loc: Lexington, Ma
Really cool Mitch !

I'm taking the family from Estes Park to the Grand Canyon through Gunnison, Ouray and Durango at the end of July.

Your story/pics has got me chomping . . .
2007 BMW R1200RT

#704780 - 06/16/11 02:43 AM Day 6 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 6: Thursday, May 19, 2011
Route: Moab, UT to Torrey, UT
Distance: 322 miles

First order of business after breakfast? Reassembling my Autocomm push-to-talk switch. During the previous day’s rain, the switch had filled up with water and began causing all sorts of bizarre comm behavior. I had disassembled it at the end of the day to give things a chance to dry out:

While fueling up and stuffing more air into the tires before departure, I spotted this fine artwork on the side of a bicycle shop, a giant spider pursuing several cyclists across the desert:

We left Moab around 8:30 under sunny skies, with the temp at a comfortable 50 degrees. An hour later, it was raining again and the temperature had plummeted to just 34 degrees (did I mention the weather was incredible???). Before long the temperature had climbed back up into the 40’s, but the rain persisted almost until we had nearly arrived at the top of the Moki Dugway, where we stopped for a few pics:

That’s Shawn’s picture of me, in which I’m busy taking this picture:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)

The panoramic didn’t turn out as cleanly as I’d hoped. Shawn’s pic does a better job of showing the sheets of rain coming down far ahead to the left:

That pic also shows one of the switchbacks the gravel road goes through during its 1100-foot descent (at bottom-center), followed by the zig-zag path of the paved road across the desert floor (up the right side of the photo). We had considered riding the Valley of the Gods – a 17-mile gravel road purported to pass through some very scenic territory (the dirt road that veers off of that zig-zag and heads toward the downpour) – but the rain so far had sapped some of our enthusiasm, and standing at that overlook and seeing that downpour off in the distance kind of cemented our decision to skip that potential mud bog and just go straight into Mexican Hat for gas and lunch.

After a few minutes at the overlook, a guy on a V-Strom arrived, travelling in the same direction as us. He had no heated gear, not much insulation on his body, no heated grips, and the bike wasn’t providing much in the way of weather protection. He had improvised with some duct tape and (I think) aluminum foil to create weather guards for the handgrips:

Even so, as soon as he stopped he took off his gloves and tucked them into a hot space on the engine, and as he chatted with us he kept reaching down to warm his hands on the transmission. Shawn and I soon headed on down the road, and a few miles later as we were carefully navigating around gravel switchbacks, this guy came roaring by at about mach 1, apparently very anxious to get to Mexican Hat and find some place to warm up. grin

Mexican Hat…I wasn’t sure what to expect as we pulled into town. But there were places to get gas, and places to eat. Two of the restaurants weren’t open for lunch, so we ended up at the Old Bridge Grill, down by the river. The restaurant is wedged in between the river and a nearby cliff. Here’s the cliffside view from our table:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)

Maybe it’s just me, but if I saw a big yellow sign that said “DANGER – FALLING ROCK”, I don’t think I’d park my car there:

The food there was pretty good. If you order a “Navajo taco,” you’re gonna be there for a while, and you better call ahead and put off your dinner reservation:

Feeling much better after a long lunch:

After lunch we headed back up to the top of the Dugway. Not knowing when we’d be back, we stopped on the way up for one more photo op:

From there, the 20-mile run north to UT95 is open-range, and we encountered a few cows who obstinately refused to recognize our right of way. A deer in the road will generally skedaddle when they see you coming from a long way off; cows, as we discovered, will stand and stare, right on the double-yellow line, until you get to within twenty feet of them before they decide that maybe they should find a different place from which to stand and stare.

Cows playing chicken. Huh. They’re pretty good at it, too. Not wanting to hit a side of beef at highway speed, we had to slow down a few times, even as low as 20 MPH before the cow decided to moooove off. grin

Somewhere in that same stretch of road the rain started up again, and stayed with us for the next hour. The temp also dropped back into the mid-40’s. Coupled with a low ceiling of clouds that obscured the tops of the bluffs and mesas, it was pretty dreary riding, except for one particular quarter-mile stretch. I remember looking down and wondering, for a half-second, why the road was light gray instead of its usual black.

That conscious thought was quickly replaced with the visceral comprehension that we were now riding through an inch-thick layer of icy slush.

At 60 MPH.

In a left-hand sweeper.

Looking back on it now, I guess it wasn’t that bad because I never felt the slightest loss of traction. But at the time, I was experiencing industrial-grade mortal terror, the kind you get in your nightmares when Frankenstein’s monster is chasing you and your legs just aren’t working right. Shawn had the presence of mind to pull in his clutch; the best I could manage was going for neutral throttle. Apart from that there wasn’t a damned thing we could do but ride it out. We wanted to go straight, but couldn’t, because the road was gently arcing to the left; we just HAD to follow the curve of the road and hope for the best.

It was a solid ten seconds before our speed had decreased (and the road had straightened) enough that we knew it would end well. I had never seen anything like that before. You expect this kind of extremely localized snow squall in the mountains, but in the desert? There wasn’t any kind of mountain nearby to generate this sort of thing, and yet here it was: mid-40’s, in the middle of steady pouring rain, and the skies had dumped a quarter-mile-wide swath of snow. Sheesh.

Shortly after that we made a brief stop at the Hite overlook to let the adrenalin rush fade:

Seems strange to me that there’s no bathroom at the Hite overlook. That dictated another stop five miles later at the Hog Spring rest area, which does have a bathroom.

Seeing double:

An unabridged bridge shot:

The rest of the trip into Torrey was pretty uneventful. The weather was mostly cooperative until the last five miles or so, when we started to get really dumped on, actually turning to hail as we pulled into the Chuckwagon.

Wade (Kitsap) captured our arrival:

The view from the handlebar of Ron’s GS (me, Shawn, Ron, Wade):

Although the rain soon stopped, the temperature never did come up (Wurty, Brian, Al, Shawn):

This – riders hanging around with a lot of their gear on in an effort to keep warm – was a common sight for the first couple of evenings.

Here Shawn is hijacking Ed’s truck to ferry a bunch of waterlogged riders off to dinner at the Rimrock (thanks, Ed! thumbsup ):

Back at the Chuckwagon after dinner, a few of the bikes (and a Shawn) in the parking lot:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)

They say the cheapest thing on a BMW is the rider. I agree. I got a helluva deal on a rain cover for my seat (a chunk of garbage bag):

All in all a good day: we arrived cold and wet, but rubber side down. thumbsup

#704809 - 06/16/11 05:31 AM Re: Day 6 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Tasker Offline

Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 3493
Loc: Indianapolis, IN, USA, Earth
My man Mitch: No one creates a better ride tale. Thanks for taking me along (again).
Perseverance is genius in disguise...

2016 R1200GS/WC

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