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murrayg

My Gunnison Chronicles III

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murrayg

The Roads and the tales thereof:

 

Roads I would gladly do again in order of my love for them.

Rt. 92 To Crawford

Rt. 550 to Ouray, Silverton and Durango aka the Million Dollar Highway so called because of the expense for each of its 60 miles when originally built in 1900s or so I was told by a Coloradoan.

Rt 82 from Aspen through Independence pass 12,095 ft.

Rt 149 from South Fork through two passes Spring Creek and Slumgullion to Rt. 50

Rt. 50 from Montrose to Gunnison

 

I left Bella Vista at Friday, July 18th at 5:50 a.m. heading to Gunnison. The most common way west is through Kansas. I have never ever heard anybody say anything good about running through Kansas so I decided to try running across Oklahoma. Well Oklahoma ain’t no picnic either. As a matter of fact while in Gunnison I referred to my trip through Oklahoma as purgatory.shocked.gif You sit atop your bike blasting west and being blasted by trucks, wind and sun and if you’re not careful the joy of your ride can be leeched away. With 100 miles to go before stopping for the day in Clayton, NM I got off the bike and took a couple of pictures of Oklahoma’s flatness. In too many places the road just ran into the sky without a single undulation.

 

If you’re stopping in a hotel-motel for the night try and avoid Clayton, NM they have a Best Western and a Days Inn Suites and they both on this night where charging over $100 for one night. Yikes, boy I didn’t like that one bit. But I guess it serves me right for not doing better planning. Actually someone at my local BMW Shop suggested staying in Clayton instead of stopping in Guymon, OK, where I originally plan so that I would be closer to the fun riding. This was a big ride day, 600 miles my longest day so far.

 

I’m not a morning person so leaving Clayton, at 6:00 was a chore, but I was excited to see some mountains. I’d plotted a route that by my map looked like fun. I was to take Rt. 370 out of Clayton and then make my way west. Well 370 ran to gravel after five miles. After three gravel miles hoping that pavement would return I turned around. I headed north into Colorado on Rt.87.

 

In Trinidad I headed west on Rt. 12 and went through my first mountain pass, Cucharas Pass, 9,941 ft. When I saw those mountains I thought it was worth 600 miles of 90-99 degree temps across Oklahoma. Shortly I had my first RT sighting and I was more excited by that than seeing the mountains. Rt. 12 ran into Rt.160 and I ran west towards Alamosa. My goal was to have some fun so I plotted a route up Rt. 149 starting at South Fork. This is a great route. It runs north into Rt. 50, turn east and you sail into Gunnison. Rt. 149 was my first special road. You run through great little towns, Creede was my favorite. Be sure if you’re in the area that you stop at The Best Little Doghouse and have a bratwurst. While off the bike I began strolling up the main street and that’s when I felt the difference elevation makes. I felt pressure in my chest and was short of breath. My strolling moved in to low gear and I lumbered up the street in my one piece bike gear gathering curious glances as I went.

 

At this point I was getting tired and wanted to get up the road and head over to Montrose to find a room for the night. I’d called a couple of places in Gunnison and there was no room in the Inns so I was going to head into Montrose and get a room.

 

Route 149 has two mountain passes Spring Creek, 10,901 ft and Slumgullion pass 11,361. I was enjoying all this new and beautiful scenery. The clouds perched on top of the mountain peaks like little derbies. Just outside Lake City a 1800 Honda Goldwing and a 1500 Honda Goldwing pulled up close behind me while I was hemmed in by traffic. The 1800 would zoom up close then fade back. I was tired and kept repeating to myself, “ride your own ride.” What happened next was Paperbutt’s fault because I remembered her posting something to the affect of, “Let’s have them for lunch.” So you see I was duty bound to defend the honor of BMW vs. Honda. Truth be told BMW was represented by a so-so rider, but I did my best. I had a nice little lead until we hit a straightaway with a serious head wind. My eMap GPS said 115 mph, (not bragging, nor promoting, just fact) the 1800 said good-bye. He shot ahead not meandered, but shot ahead and held it until I was pushing him in the corners and he went into the oncoming lane in which he could not possibly tell if there was oncoming traffic. At that point the fun was over. I backed away and after awhile the 1500 Goldwing caught up and I waved him passed.

 

I pulled into a combination campground cabin with convenience store called Pleasant Valley, about 23 miles east of Montrose and 45 miles west of Gunnison and I got the last cabin. BTW, my two Honda friends from earlier were also stopped and we had fun telling our version of Honda vs BMW. By this time it was cold and rainy and I was done in. I started a fire in the cabin had three ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner and passed out. Larry the proprietor of Pleasant Valley and a couple of his customers took time to recommend roads and since I was headed to Gunnison they suggest Rt. 92 the north rim of the Black Canyon. If there would only be one road in all of Colorado to ride this would be it. So on Sunday I was headed north on Rt 92. If you don’t pay close attention to what you’re doing here you could wind up being a part of the canyon. The vistas are great the canyon is awe-inspiring and the road can be a bit intimidating for the first time rider. Well let’s put it this way while I was riding, the road and I had the following conversation:

Road: “Heh, hey new meat.”

Me: “Just be smooth.” Don’t worry about fast, fast will, whoa where is the road going?”

Road: “You can’t ride me.” Look at you, you brake at the wrong points and why are you in third gear here?”

Me: “Just read the road, pick your braking point and yikes lean over or go over, whew man this road’s got my number.”

Road: I’ve got more than your number go ahead and say it, whose your Daddy? It would be good for you to pull over and go back, before they have to send a search party out for you.”

I straggled into the scenic overlook of the Black Canyon and gathered my wits about me and became determine to ride much smother going down.

 

Going down was much better and on Monday I went all the way up to Crawford and I had this conversation with good old Rt. 92. Now this was my third time on the road and I felt better.

Road: “Hey, so you’ve come back for more of a good thing, huh?”

Me: “I’m like’n this road. Ok, lets pay attention, but we are here to have fun.”

Road: “Oh, so you feel better do you, well remember there is a canyon not seven feet from your front tire.”

Me: “I handled that down hill 20 mph turn much better this time. I love this road.”

Road: “Remember, pride go before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall and boy what a fall.”

Me: Better shifting, better braking; better throttle control and leaning over more comfortably, man, I Love This Road.

Road: “BTW, while you’re having fun remember trucks have been throwing up the pebbles from the side of the road and it’s likely to be in the apex of the corners, not that you know what an apex is. I saw you waddle around that last turn.” I’m still you’re Daddy.”

Me: Yeah, I still have lots to learn, but MAN, I LOVE THIS ROAD!

 

I cruised into and out of Crawford and had to turn around to find the Mad Dog Café. With in 30 minutes about twenty RTs and assorted Beemers’ were parked out front with a rollicking group inside. After slamming a great breakfast down I was heading north to see if I could rendezvous in Aspen with the Three Amigos.

 

I hooked up with a group of * hoons that turned out to be Sean and Shelly Daly, Russell and Lisa Bynum, Soon to be Dean and Connie Henegan (sp), Michael (Sagerider), Lester V and Sierrarider. While I was riding mostly at the back with this group I was afraid that we would cause a forest fire with the scorching of the turns we were doing. Later in Aspen, I learned that they had taken their riding down a couple of notches. Sean was planning on ratcheting it up again so that we could make it back to the camp in time for the pizza. I was thinking, no ratcheting up.

 

On our way back to camp we twice tried to join the movie of the week of harrowing experiences. The first was traveling Independence pass in the rain and light hail. Sean exhibited real leadership getting us stopped, into rain gear and easing us down the mountain. I’m sure our prayers helped also. Thanks Sean. The second hair-raising experience was traveling through Monarch pass at night. Fortunately Russell had two mini Suns on the front of his bike and he lead us through. Most of the time between the rain and the fogging helmet shield it was beyond hard to see. It all worked out and we arrive at the campsite more than fashionably late and grateful. Then Jake surprised us all by refunding our money. Jake that wasn’t expected and I was too dumbfounded to refuse, so thanks.

 

On Tuesday, I wanted to take an easy ride due to Monday’s excitement. However I also wanted to ride the Million Dollar highway. I also wanted to hang with Sean aka Data, but they were going through the Million Dollar Highway on their way home on Wednesday and where thinking about going down to Creede. Michael Cortez asked where I was headed and invited me to ride along with his group; Hannabone, Patallaire and Darryl. When Mike started leading it was apparent from the moment I let out the clutch that this was going to be another fun run. Mike ran like if he went fast enough the yellow color of his bike would change. We strafed Rt. 50 and on a long up hill straight I passed Pat. After that our pace which was up tempo went up another notch as Pat and Hannabone passed me.. In Montrose we gassed up decided that we should simmer down a bit. See we weren’t totally out of our minds. Pat lead and Mike followed as he thought that would help him slow down. For Mike to slow down he needs a broken throttle cable.:P Ron B from the Chi-Town Crew joined our party into Ouray.

 

As we headed south toward Ouray we came upon five motorcycles, one a Boss Hog deal. They were loping around and Pat and Mike passed them before they could react. Hanabonne, Darryl and Ron B made their way around and I was last. About this time I guess the 1800 Goldwing that was leading the group had enough of being passed. So on a straight with the dotted passing lines leading to an up hill turn I started passing the bikes. As I got near the Goldwing he started speeding up and guarding the left portion of his lane. An 18 wheeler now appeared roaring down the Mountain. I had no choice but to cut in on the Goldwing. It may have been fun for him, but It became dangerous for me.

 

We cruised into Ouray without any other excitement and marveled at the beauty surrounding this little town. Riding south into Ouray was the first time I’d seen an avalanche tunnel. Along Rt. 550 the mountain walls are much closer and gave a different spatial feel for the ride. I had better cues as to where the road was going. I found Rt. 550 a great road but less difficult for me to ride up-tempo than Rt. 92. In others words Rt. 550 didn’t talk to me.

 

The size of the mountains’ called attention to just how small we humans are as we were skittering among them on our motorcycles. After a Beemer get together at The Gold Belt restaurant we strolled through town while Hannabone sought out a special balm (I’ll let him tell you about it). tongue.gif

 

We wound our way through to Silverton and after taking pictures and walking around some with the group I was tired and wanted to head back. Also it looked like it was going to rain and I’d had enough rain and mountain passes the day before so I said adios to the boys and headed back. It was a great ride. It was hot but not too bad, I only received a few sprinkles and cage traffic was light until I got pass Montrose and got held up by road construction, but even that wasn’t terrible. I cruised into Gunnison and gassed up to be ready to head home in the morning.

 

Chris K volunteered to ride back with me to Arkansas so that he could play on some of our roads. We agreed to take off at 7:00 am and stop in Guymon, Ok. I was fidgety and got to the Ramada where Chris was staying a bit early. We wanted to have as much fun as possible going back and decided to take Rt. 149 south instead of through Monarch pass into Colorado’s flatland and run across Kansas. We planned to run across Oklahoma. It was a cool morning that turned a little more brisk in the Mountains. Unfortunately road construction was taking place on Slumgullion pass 11,361ft. This was not your ordinary road construction this was newly spewed gravel.:( I hate gravel, especially on a Mountain pass with 15 mph turns.

 

Following working our way back to firm pavement we had picked up a green Ford pick up truck that was either chasing us or wanting to have fun. In the words of Sean we ratcheted it up a couple of notches and were doing our level best to lose the truck. Well he proved harder to lose so we picked it up again. He appeared to be gone, ok we will now slow, oh, oh, here he comes again. We soon run into serious fog, the I can’t see what the road is doing variety. The truck is still with us. I’ve now taken an oath, when we get out of this fog we are losing the truck. And so it finally comes to pass. We get out of the clouds and lose the truck before pulling into Creede.

 

Chris hadn’t been in Creede so we got off walked around and took pictures. We detoured my original route and got some more mountain pass riding done around Taos, NM. Just outside of Taos we crossed over the Rio Grande Gorge. We got off the bikes shot pictures and held on while truck made the bridge shake. Neither Chris or I are great when it comes to heights. We stopped in Guymon, Ok for the night having covered about 470 miles. We gorged ourselves at an all you can eat Chinese food place and visited. Our Econo Lodge was no great shakes, but offered a price we could live with. The next day we headed to my house and Chris let me know that the flat lands of Oklahoma were Mountainous compared to the flatlands of Kansas.

 

In Spavinaw, OK the flat lands give way to rolling and rollicking hills. I ran upon a Harley two-up and he made a go of making things interesting in the end we passed him and waved. I was either so excited to be in the twisties again, tired or just not paying attention because I hauled off and ran wide in two consecutive turns. Now that got my attention and I focused in better the rest of the way home. We pulled in to Casa de Goodwin after about 570 miles. We had more adventures planned on Friday as I was going to show Chris some of our great mc roads. It was great to be reunited with my family and to have Chris visiting.

 

Next Installment: The experiences I won’t forget.

 

 

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daryll

We were afraid we had scared you away with all the talk of rain. Good to hear you were just getting tired. smile.gif

 

You neglected to mention our little walk through Ouray. You ditched your stitch and ended up walking around in your shorts and boots. That was a sight!

 

We walked past a couple of real estate agents offices with signs in the windows. There were some amazing tracks of land available for pretty reasonable prices. We also noticed that a big chunk of land between Ouray and Silverton was for sale as a single lot on both sides of the road. Some gorgious territory.

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sierrarider

Hey Murray.

Great story of your experiences on the Gunny trip. You're certainly using up your share of bandwidth on this board. It makes for great reading and I can't wait for the next story. I only wish I could type faster so that posting stories wasn't such a chore for me. I guess I'm gonna have to listen to the road a little more carefully so that I can hear how it's challenging me. I'm looking forward to the next time we ride again...

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murrayg

Jon: The way you were riding maybe the road takes orders from you. It was a great time. With great people, great places and wonderful food and the roads where spectacular. I know this is beginning to sound like a beer commercial, but it's true. smile.gif

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