A Great Long Ride

Learning

We woke up at 4am to begin our extended motorcycling trek to complete the “Colorado Classic 1000”. This BMW Riders Club sponsored event is not your typical Iron Butt Ride. Its 1000 miles in the mountains of Colorado which must be done in a 24 hour period. The preplanned route has a limited amount of highway miles, so one cannot make up for lost time with high speeds on the highway. Riding in the twisties of the Rockies is a different beast to tame when riding an endurance run. It’s not easy to increase your average speed while riding in the moonlight at 10,000 feet on a mountain pass surrounded by 3000 foot vertical cliffs that hungrily await your fall. Given the comparatively low speed one must take on the route, the challenge is definitely harder than say a jaunt from New York to Florida (about 1000 miles) on highway 95 where average speeds will be more robust. To be honest, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. The Colorado Classic 1000 was my third attempt at completing 1000 miles in 24 yours. The previous two attempts were lost in disappointment. The first being from a Hail/Tornado Storm which I hit head on in South Carolina, the other caused by a broken down Harley in New York. Luck was surely not on my side to begin this sojourn. Let me just begin by saying that the event was planned, organized and implemented in a professional manner. The route was superb. It’s hard to find a bad route in Colorado but the organizers of the Colorado Classic 1000 went above and beyond in finding a phenomenal route that severed to uplift and challenge ones spirit on two wheels. If you want to try out endurance run through the best roads in North America, then make your way to Colorado for this event. Sign up quick because they only have a certain amount of spaces available.

I normally ride solo for these types of events but this time I
took my buddy Greg on his 2003 Road King. This was his first attempt at an Iron Butt Award. We started the ride in the back of the pack poking fun at those who may have been taking this ride a little too seriously. I think I saw individuals wearing diapers so they would not have to stop to relieve
themselves. Whereas others took the challenge to seriously, we did not give the Colorado Classic 1000 the respect it deserved. Our first mistake was taking to many rest/gas stops. With each stop we were not properly disciplined to quickly get back on the road; instead we slacked off before hitting the pavement. These pit stops ate up crucial time needed and before we knew it, we found ourselves behind schedule. I made some rookie mistakes by not packing sun block, water and snacks. I assumed that there would be plenty of time to get a nice lunch/dinner but that was wishful thinking.

The sun was scorching on the day of the ride. I felt its rays eating through my soul and finally had to pull over at a Walgreens to get some sun block. I purchased the highest sun block legal in the State of Colorado. I wanted all the protection I could get so I smothered the lotion all over my bear skin including my scalp and neck. Newly protected from the Sun we took off like wild cheetahs looking to make up some time. About 15 minutes after my sun block lotion bath, my eyes began to sting. I thought the pain would work its self out so I pushed through it and kept riding. Soon after the stinging began, it quickly manifested into a painful blindness. This scenario was not cool while traveling 70 mile per hour down a river canyon road on two wheels. I was not thinking rationally because I continued to fight through the pain and lack of sight in a blind rage. Finally the blindness consumed me so I pulled over to duck my head in the river in hopes of washing away the sinister sun block out of my eyes. Thirteen years of motorcycling and I am still learning road lessons. My suggestion is to never put sun block on your body where it can eventually run into your eyes. This was a rookie mistake which cost me thirty minutes to wash out my eyes. The whole scenario was not my proudest or safest moment on two wheels.

Between the hours of 4pm and 10pm we actually made up some great time. We were on schedule to make our mandated 1000 miles by 5am if we could keep up a 45 MPH Average for our last 7 hours on the road before the deadline. Because we were behind, we drove through breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were surviving on flies, crickets and road critters which flew into our mouths during the ride. At 10pm we decided to buy some gas station road pizza which looked like cheese topped road kill. That crusty nasty pizza ended up being the greatest meal ever consumed on a road trip. Hunger has a special ability to make the worst food taste splendidly good. With full bellies, we took off into the night fully expecting to accomplish the mission to beat the race against time.

With our hunger subdued we mounted our rides not knowing what awaited us just beyond the town’s limits. Have you ever played Deer Roulette on two Wheels? Outside of Silverton, CO we were traveling up the Million Dollar Highway in pitch black conditions. On the sides of the road all you could see were deer’s eyes glowing like bright search lights in a dark sky. Then the deer would spook from our engine’s noise and would take off in the direction of their choosing. This deer crazed mad house created a Frogger Scenario on the skinny mountain pass. This situation mixed with the dread of falling down the dark foreboding cliffs lead to an adrenaline rush I have not felt for a long time. It is scary going up this mountain pass in the daylight on 4 wheels but doing in at 11pm in the pitch black on two wheels with kamikaze deer darting in and out takes the experience to a whole different level.

We got to the top of the pass and started our decent when Greg’s Harley started to back fire and sputter then without notice his lights went out. Thankfully he was riding lead, so my headlights covered his route to the nearest safe zone to pull over on this dangerous mountain pass. It’s hard to explain the precarious situation we were in unless you have been up this very perilous dark roadway. There are no streetlights or guard rails on the road; the pathway up the mountain does not have room for them. It’s just a maze of steep grades, radical curves and wondrously narrow lanes encompassed
with drop dead cliffs. It’s a great place to ride just not at midnight with a broken down Harley.

Once the Road King was safely on the edge of the road we spent about 45 minutes with our headlamps trying to fix the burdened beast.
Unfortunately her ills were beyond our limited mechanical expertise. Our only option was to drop my bags on my FJR and run two up to the nearest town to sleep off our failed mission. I made a goal to finish 1000 miles in 24 hours but there was no way I would leave a buddy stranded in no man’s land in the middle of the night. I guess we could have tried to finish the Iron Butt Ride with the both of us on my FJR but I am not that brave.
At the end of the day we had a great trip. We learned some valuable lessons which will serve us well next year in the Colorado 1000 Classic. I guarantee I will be giving it another try, so if you want to join me then sign up early and give me a shout. Colorado is Calling Your Name!!!

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About twotiretirade

Keeping the faith of fanatics who feel fired up for anything motorcycles. It’s all about the journey and the philosophy of riding on two wheels. Let’s bring alive the truly unique culture of motorcycling and never let the ride leave the fibers of our being. View all posts by twotiretirade

14 responses to “A Great Long Ride

  • kierk1

    Great vivid descriptions! Well done. Thanks!

  • Scott

    You made a memory in spite of the troubles you encountered.

    I’ve tried to avoid night riding. First, there is little to see. Second: the chances of finding an animal is so much greater. Even a jack rabbit is bad news on a motorcycle. I’ve run US 97 over the plateau toward Klamath Falls, Oregon at night during hunting season, hugging the center line. Lots of deer along that route, and I should have never done it. But when there is a job at the end of the week you have to fit in all you can, and hope for the best.

    I’ve traveled all your Colorado route on a 1980 Gold Wing. But without fuel injection I was short of power much of the time.

    A pair of deer whistles are a great investment.

  • coldyeti

    A very well written log. I guess there is always a next time, good luck. Moreover it’s the journey & experience that counts and not the destination. 🙂

  • Newbie Alaskan

    Whew – that was an exciting if a bit disconcerting log of your adventure! I felt like I was looking over your shoulder..!!

  • runandtakecover

    It is like I was there with you and Greg on the trip. Very vivid pictures. My father is riding through that same area and is on his way to California to return back to his home in Indiana.

    You may not have completed the Colorado Classic 1000 in the allotted time, but you did complete something much greater – being there for someone in need and having a story to tell for the ages.

    I am still learning, too.

  • twotonebiker

    I have found every good trip has story, surviving those moments and learning from them is what makes them great. I’d love to do that trip if it’s not too much gravel, my car tire on the rear of my V-star gives me more stability but averaging 45MPH on gravel is no fun because I like to look around and see you soon the sites.

  • LB

    You sure had me captivated! Great story and congrats on this excellent adventure. You sure make me want to take on this challenge. In fact, I just got home last night from an 850 mile ride in two, 9 hr days (with 5 days in between – ha!) and as I read your story I was wondering if I were up to this challenge. I was on highways , beach roads, and lots of curvy mountain roads.
    Hmmmm …
    So glad you you had company on this journey!

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