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Our trip to Gunnison - Part 5 "On Any Sunday...or Monday"


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( Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 )


Hello's have been said. Hugs have been exchanged. Now it's time to do what this group does best...get out there and RIDE!


We set out to do the Gunnison/Aspen loop. We picked up a small group including Sean and Shelly, Bigfoot and Littlefoot, SageRider, and I'm not sure who else. We set out towards Crawford with me in the lead, and Sean hot on my tail. Sean and I have been dying to ride together for a long time and I have a confession to make...we didn't ride like responsible PACE ride leaders...we were HOONS. smile.gif I brought us up to speed gradually. Just about the time I was getting up to pace, we came upon a 35mph hairpin. I entered one gear high, so I decided to drop down across to the other side of the road to cut the corner off (don't worry...we could see almost a mile up the road ahead). Just as my throttle hit the stops, Sean went blazing past me on the outside like I was going backwards! I kicked it down a gear and struggled to get the bike up to speed. To this day, I think Sean had JATO or something. wink.gif Sean snapped the bike through a series of fairly shallow S-turns like the bike was on rails WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH Left, Right, Left, then out...and he picked up 4 bike lengths. With a big grin, I wicked it up to follow. Through the use of heavy pre-corner braking and lots of hard acceleration, we were able to stay with them. Boy, was it work...but BOY, was it FUN!!!


A few things I noticed about our riding styles: Sean enters corners faster than I do, but I typically get on the gas a little sooner. Sean's road-reading skills are much better than mine...I'll come out of a corner on the "perfect line" only to discover that put me way out of line for the next corner. He was much more consistent. We both use a fair amount of body weight to steer the bike, but I tended to "hang off" (not really...just "cheek cheating") a little further...this got us through the turns with slightly less lean angle. Any way you slice it, Sean's definitely a fastmofo and he was lots of fun to ride with.


Eventually we broke out of the hills and sprinted across the flats towards Crawford. We came across several other RT riders who politely waved us past. We rolled into Crawfor thirsty, so we headed for the Mad Dog Ranch with it's collection of RT's parked out front. We went intside and joined a big table full of bmwrt.com members. We had a few sodas, then headed back out. We picked up some more riders this time (the more the merrier)...I believe the final role call was Sean and Shelly, us, SierraRider, Lester V, Murrag, SageRider, Bigfoot and littlefoot. We set out again...this time with Sean in the lead (he'd wind up there anyway, right? wink.gif ) Hooning complete, Sean led a very PACE pace and we kept the group mostly together. FRS worked great...mostly. SageRider's setup had some big advantages and big drawbacks....more on that later.


I'll probably mess up some details here. Rain threatened much of the ride, so we didn't get many pictures. I usually use the pictures to jog my memory for the ride tale, so we'll see how it goes.<BR



Through the 8,700ft McLure pass and down the other side. Red rocks. Wow...really red. Not quite Utah red...mabye more like the Sangre de Cristo's in New Mexico. Beautiful stuff. Chatting on the FRS the whole way...giggling through the turns...soaking up the view. This is what it's all about.


Up to Carbondale, then right and up the hill towards Aspen. One thing I noticed...Colorado drivers up here are just plain rude. One raced past us getting into a construction zone...only to slow way down and take the first turnoff. Several vehicles raced to get ahead of us at traffic lights...diving in and splitting the group when they failed to get around all of us. Now...we weren't hooning per se, but we weren't exactly riding like a bunch of little old ladies either. The winner, I think was a Jeep Cherokee that tried to get ahead of us coming into Aspen. He split the group and came in right on my rear wheel....and I mean RIGHT ON IT. Then...when we came to a roundabout on the outside of town, he tried to pass on the outside...the doof tried to put a wheel on me around the turn. shocked.gif Needless to say, I closed the door and he slid in behind...only to go screaming past us and around a 15mph turn (in town) at 35mph. Good grief.


We stopped the bikes and found a Mexican restaurant that looked promising. I forget what I had, but it was pretty good. laughing and talking and eating and laughing. Way too much fun. One other thing I noticed...there are a lot of REALLY RICH people in Aspen. Like...duh...big suprise. You could smell the money on some of these people. Ahh...some day.


After lunch, we loaded back up and headed for Independence Pass...which is (I believe) the highest paved road in North America. Anyway, about halfway up the hill, it started to reall look nasty. Sean pulled us over and we all switched to raingear and stowed/covered the electronics. Back on the road...we weren't a mile up the road when the sky opened up on us and it really started pouring. Around the summit, the rain slowed to a drizzle. It was SO beautiful up there!!! Huge green hillsides, the road winding down ahead of us with a switchback at the end, then winding down the valley below. I only wish it wasn't raining so we could have our camera out for this.


Down the hill...stop for gas and to change back into normal gear and bring the electronics out of hiding. Somewhere back on the road...not too far down, we get a call from SageRider..."The group is split...the last two riders are stopping....broken throttle cable." Lester V's cable had decided that was all the abuse it could take. OK, now my first thought is "CRAP"...then I realize that, of all the groups to be with when a cable breaks...this is probably one of the best. I've replaced several...including mine in the parking lot at Death Valley in the freezing cold...Sean does all of his maintenance, SageRider does his own maintenance...why...he's with a bunch of Vegas Tech Daze graduates!!! We decide to split the group...We head up the road to scout a place to work on the bike while SageRide stays with Lester and rides sweep. This is where SageRider's FRS comes in handy. Mike's an old Ham radio junkie and has some ungodly setup on his bike capable of transmitting at 50,000 watts or something like that. What this means, is we can hear him when he's FAR AWAY. We got dsplit by a construction zone and wound up about 20 minutes ahead of him, but he gave us constant status updates all the way. OK, I said there was a downside to his setup earlier...the mike is right in front of the chin vent on his helmet, so at speed he's very hard to understand. Anyway, we found a Texaco station and rolled in. We asked the lady behind the counter if we could take up one of her stalls and she said YES..we could take one of the diesel stalls. Very cool...she could have easily told us to take a hike.


This was another one of those Tommy Roe feelin' the love BMWRT.COM moments. Everyone assembled, I think SageRider suggested that not everyone needed to stay...most of the group could continue on to Gunny to make dinner. We all looked at each other and said, "We're in this together" (or something like that). Even the ladies...they could have easily turned this into a living *...Just through a rainy mountain pass and now we're stuck in the middle of nowhere, we're going to miss dinner, and it looks like it's going to rain again. But they didn't. They smiled and set up camp on a bench out front and commenced a lip-flapping that would make WURTY proud. (For all we know, they were making fun of us...but that's not the point.)


Anyway, we broke out the tools and prepared for their arrival. After a while, they rolled in and we attacked the bike. At first, I thought "attacked" was too harsh a word...but no...that's what happened. Tupperware was off in about 3 minutes. We discovered that, though some creative use of a flower pot, a 2X4, and someone holding it, we could move the tank out of the way without disconnecting the fuel lines. Pull the old cable...yep...it broke just like every other one does...an inch from the bottom inside the junction box.


We're in the middle of working on the thing when a real celebrity shows up. No, not him...Dakota Dave!! wink.gif He elects to stay as well...he wasn't even part of our group, and he's in there with us working on the bike.


OK, now the other celebrity. We're all up to our armpits in RT parts when a gentleman pulls up in an older Jeep wagoneer. He gets out and asks if we need help. "No, we're good." "OK, are you sure...because I own a BMW dealership, so I could call someone for help if you want." "Really...who are you." "Oh, hi...I'm Malcolm Smith."


For those unfamiliar, "Oh, Hi...I'm Malcolm Smith." is the equivalent of "Oh, Hi...I'm Mario Andretti." or "Oh, Hi...I'm Michael Jordan." or "Oh, Hi...I'm Chuck Yeager." This guy was really the first motorcycle superstar. Star of the greatest movie ever made, "On Any Sunday", multple gold medals at the six day trials, multiple wins at the Elsinore Grand Prix, Multiple wins in the Mexican 1000...you name it...this guy won it. And I can say that he's every bit as cool in real life as he was in "On Any Sunday". We made him stand and take photos with us...we were so giddy. Eventually, he finished getting gas, left us with his personal cell phone number (if we needed help), and left. Malcolm Smith. Neat.


On a major Malcolm Smith high, we slammed the bike back together, suited up and got ready to leave. Then Lester started it. It ran fine except for the fact that it idled at 6000 RPM...and REALLY ROUGH. Dang. Off with the gear, off with the tupperware. The left butterfly was at about 1/2 throttle. Dang. In the middle of working on it, the stormfront hit and the sudden wind blew Lesters tupperway (propped up against a pillar) over. Then it started to rain. Any other group would have at least one sourpuss at this point. Not us. Someone moved the bikes in out of the rain (thanks...whoever you are), SageRider started singing, and the Ladies moved their chat session inside. Wow. What a great bunch.


After lots of fiddling, we discovered the problem. The short cable on the left side wasn't seated against the junction box. Since it's just about impossible to see that, it took us a while to figure it out. Eventually, we got finished. We used our brains this time and tested it. It worked fine. Whew. Oh yeah...someone had been in contact with recourses the whole time so they wouldn't send out the search party for us.


OK, now it's dark. Real dark. And raining. And we have the 11,300ft Monarch pass standing between us and Gunnison. Since I've got all that (as Laney says it) PIAA stuff, I led the way. As soon as we got into the pass, traffic went to almost zero and the 910's were called to action. click. LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!! Wow, good golly jeepers and gee whiz those things are bright. They cut through that rainy blackest of all black nights and we just carved our way right on through the pass. Not that it wasn't still really dark. We dodged some rocks hidden around corners (later learned that Ron B had some fall off the mountain into his path, but he managed to keep the bike upright with only rim and belly pan damage.), and had a really religious experience passing a truck. We couldn't stay behind him because we couldn't see. But we couldn't see enough road ahead to make a comfortable pass (There was a passing lane, but I didn't want to get us going too fast passing the guy and run out of road trying to get back in.) Eventually, we came to the summit. Very disorienting. The summit opens up to a large parking lot type place. I tried as best I could to follow the yellow line to keep me on the correct side of the road. The weather started to clear as we came down the mountain. By the bottom, it was still overcast and very dark, but no longer raining. 910's blazing the way, we upped the pace towards Gunnison. The "On Any Sunday" soundtrack repeated in my head. If I could have wheelied...I would have.


"Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of bmwrt.com, we'd like to welcome you to Gunnison, Colorado. We realize that you do have a choice in your travels and we thank you for choosing bmwrt.com." That (or something like it) was the ultra-cheesy announcement that came from us over FRS. SageRider answered back "The weather is overcast, 64 degrees....." smile.gif I swear, I'll never forget the feeling of triumphantly leading the group back into town after such a great ride, cruising into Gunnison...all the lights green for us...I swear there was an orchestra playing a triumphant fanfare as we rolled in.


We were immediately surrounded by concerned family when we rolled into the KOA. Tool (big hug), Tom Roe (You met WHO?? That's SO COOL!!!), Fernando (OK, you guys are here...I can breath again.), Jake (We couldn't hold off the crowd...here's your money back from dinner.), etc. We hopped on the bikes and raced back to Marios where we shared some pizza and more laughs than should be allowed by state law. I mean we laughed and laughed. We laughed about laughing. My stomach hurt from laughing so much. The awesome staff at Marios not only tolerated us coming in 5 minutes before closing time and making lots of noise...they seemed to really enjoy it. Great people. MurrayG was really in his element...saying how he was sure he was going to go over the cliff on Monarch pass and wind up on "Movie of the week". Then he'd say, "Which way are y'all goin; tomara? I think I'll go the otha way." laugh.gif We decided that, in light of the fact that he kept up with Sean during all of this and helped replace a throttle cable in the rain, he would receive a promotion...from the rank of Hoon in Training, to First Class Hoon in Training. smile.gif


Eventually, we drifted back to the hotel room. I didn't sleep much. I was way too excited. Dick Frantz, at the group riding seminar that morning said that one of the great things about a group ride is overcoming adversity together. Today's ride was the textbook perfect group ride. Great roads, great people, spectacular scenery, great food, and some mechanical trouble and weather to bind us together. Oh yeah...and Malcolm Smith. Yessir...this was a day for the history books. For years to come, when people talk about great group rides, someone will always say, "Well, this is great, but there was this bunch of RT riders once out in Colorado...."




Dick Frantz leads a Group Riding seminar





Fernando Belair





Sean and Shelly (foreground); Bigfoot and littlefoot (background)




Red mountains coming up towards Carbondale








At a rest stop: SierraRider (back to the camera), MurrayG, littlefoot, Bigfoot, Lester V





Approaching Aspen














Stripping the tupperware





heheh...Nekked RT





No, really guys...the tail light bulb is in here...





Lonely RT parts





Left to right: Bigfoot, Dakota Dave, Lester V, MALCOLM SMITH, MurrayG (behind Malcolm), SierraRider, SageRider, russell_bynum, Sean





Russell and Sean put things back together while SageRider serenades us with the theme song from "On Any Sunday"







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Thank you for bringing those good memories back. I rode the same route you did, but I don't have any pictures of my trip through the area, now I do. THX.


Dang you were up late last night laying this down for us.

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Thanks for bringing back some of those BMWRT memories. As we were riding yesterday, littlefoot and I were remembering some of those same things you discussed. And yes, Sean and you can both really ride, I felt I was doing really good just to keep both of you in sight. We really enjoyed riding with you and look forward to doing it again!



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Thanks, RB... nice way to start my Monday - with a virtual visit back to Gunnison. Just what I needed.


FWIW, there have been LOTS of threads about riding in groups, and I hear (what I think is) too many folks saying, "No, not for me." Well, this story, about not just the adversity, but the comraderie and shared memories... shows another side - that's why we "Gather" and "RIDE" - together.


The old saying goes, "You can choose your friends, but not your family" (or sumthin like that). Not exactly true is it? smile.gif


Thanks again for taking time to share the series of stories and photos. Good stuff.



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Well, this story, about not just the adversity, but the comraderie and shared memories... shows another side - that's why we "Gather" and "RIDE" - together.


Thanks Denny. That's what I meant to say, but I couldn't find the right words.

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Thanks Throttlemeister: A great telling of an incredible time. I loved the pictures and I really loved riding with you folks. A hooning we will go, a hooning we will go, all over Colorado a hooning we will go. Of course for our little group Sean aka Data was the Head Hoon. A time of great comradery that won't be forgotten. See ya down the road. smile.gif

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