Friday, December 25, 2009

New Trip!

Los Angeles to Tierra Del Fuego

As you might have noticed there have been a few changes to my blog as I prepare for the second half of my Continental Divide Adventure. This trip will take me from Los Angeles, California USA to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina, and will take approximately 70 days to complete. Please follow along as I ride through the various landscapes and interact with the many cultures along the way!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 12-14

The group splintered on June 10 – I went to Jenny Lake, south of Yellowstone, and camped; Frank Floyd went to Driggs, Idaho and camped on property he recently purchased; and the rest of the group (Joe, Steve, Peter and Gerry) camped in Lima, west of Yellowstone.
On June 11 Peter and Gerry both developed problems with their motorcycles. Gerry’s final drive went out (a BMW has a gearbox on the rear wheel rather than a chain). This is a major repair which Gerry knew was inevitable. Peter’s oil light went on thereby sending him to the dealership as well. They hired trucks to haul their bikes to the dealer in Missoula.
Frank later connected with Gerry and Pete. On their way over a snow covered pass, Pete made a run at a snow bank in the middle of the road, caught his leg and jammed his knee. They did however make it down the mountain and camped in a beautiful spot next to a raging river in Basin, Montana.
The following morning Pete nursed his was to Missoula staying on hard roads. Gerry and Frank drove to Ovando, Montana and hung out at a bar called Trixie’s (no telling what happened there) and spent the night in a teepee at the site where Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) negotiated his passage home to Missouri with potentates from the Blackfoot Indian Tribe.
On Friday the 12th I took the day off and hung out in Missoula resting and admiring the town. I used this time to repair the rear brake on my bike which I had screwed up the day before.
On Saturday I headed up to Glacier Park to touch base at the Canadian border.

On the way I passed Flathead Lake which is probably 30 miles in length.

I was surprised at the number of sailboats – I can’t imagine a marina surviving with such a short season.
At the border my intention was to take the “Road to the Sun” (a gorgeous highway that twists up the side of a steep mountain, providing breathtaking views of an enormous valley). My last visit to this highway I saw a grizzly foraging a comfortable distance away in the valley.

I found this nice place to take a nap in the afternoon.

As it turned out however, the “Road to the Sun” was closed 1/3 the way up the mountain.

I headed back down the mountain and looked for an alternate way to enter Canada. I stayed in a beautiful old lodge, built in the early part of the last century, which reminded me of the woodsy, doggsy, Paul Harvey lodge at Yellowstone. I had an excellent dinner and breakfast and then departed for the border by way of a dirt road on the western side of Glacier Park. On the way up I was shocked to see that there was nearly 30 miles of burned timber along the road. Glacier, which is only 2 million acres, has had a rash of fires in the past years. In 1987, 450,000 acres burned in the park and its immediate surroundings; in 2001 another 100,000 acres burned and in 2003 another 250,000 acres burned.

On the dirt road I saw a variety of wildlife – a number of whitetail deer (including a small fawn running alongside the road), three black bears – one of which (about 400 lbs.) was walking along the road in front of me and would not run when I honked my horn. Generally, black bears are rather timid so I was a bit surprised by this behavior. I got up a full head of steam and raced by him (about ten feet away) without an incident. This was the image rushing through my head at the time:

When I reached the border, it was not open and had several warning signs and a monument acknowledging the border.

I drove back to Missoula on Sunday and had dinner with Joe, his wife Kristina, Frank and Gerry – all the remaining members from our spectacular ride. Kristina had already downloaded some 2,000 pictures taken by the group – she will forward them to the rest of the group on flash drives.
Gerry and Frank immensely enjoyed their first point to point long distance adventure ride and their lightweight Kawasaki KLR’s were definitely the right choice for the trip. Their bike were 200 lbs. lighter than the rest of our BMW’s but still had sufficient power for the highway driving. It was not all milk and honey for Frank however. On Saturday he slipped on a pavement and gravel road and was not wearing his leather jacket. He had quite a nasty road rash on his arm. When asked why he was not wearing his jacket, he replied that he was delighted he wasn’t because he would have torn a hole in it. My response is – that’s what they’re for! Of the six riders who completed the trip (not including Roger) half were limping. Frank had injured his Achilles tendon at the beginning of the trip and Peter and Gerry injured their knees. All accept one of the BMW’s sustained damage that required some sort of repair.
On Monday morning, the 15th, we dropped our bikes at the BMW dealer in Missoula and caught Joe looking at a new knee device – for the next ride.

I will be posting one final blog in about a month after I have gathered edits and additional pictures from the rest of the group.
We all enjoyed sharing this experience with you and hope it will lead others to take the same journey.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 11

The night of June 10th I camped at Jenny Lake. In ’66 after business school, Marge and I took a belated honeymoon for two months before I started work at Sohio. As I mentioned in the last blog, a twister tore down a fir tree and dropped it down on our tent with Marge in it. I was trying to find that exact spot. Below is a shot of our campsite in ’66 that Marge emailed to me. We have it in our scrapbook.

The following photo is taken from the Jenny Lake campground as it is today.

The area has changed so it was difficult to get my arms around it, but staying in this campground evoked an interesting group of strong emotions. First, imagine Marge, pregnant with Wendy at the time of the accident, yet Wendy was born well and developed well. Marge had a serious head injury and months of amnesia and yet her brain health is better than mine, I’m sure! Marge has had numerous orthopedic problems that have been solved by a combination of diligent exercise and The Cleveland Clinic. The message is, that often times in disastrous situations things work out perfectly well, and things always look worst when you are in the midst of the situation.
It rained all night and was still raining when I awoke on June 11th, but it gave me the opportunity to get some well needed rest. I packed up a wet sleeping bag and did some additional touring of the park. Yellowstone is one of the most actively visited parks. Next to it is Jackson Hole. They have done an extraordinarily good job of managing the crowds at Jackson Hole, but Yellowstone is pandemonium. At 9:30 a.m. the road to Yellowstone was jammed with cars traveling at 25mph 100 ft. apart. It shows the need for additional parks and for providing more nationally funded outdoor recreational venues. Instead of driving north through Yellowstone, I drove south through Jackson again and then north through Idaho. It rained virtually the entire time so I got very few photographs – for the next trip I need a waterproof camera mounted to a helmet to make this whole process easier.
There were several interesting things in Idaho. First, there is extensive irrigation. Even though it was raining, the irrigating devices were working.

Most of what I saw was high prairie 5,000ft-6000ft with intensive growth of agriculture – potatoes and sugar beets. There are vast expanses of this in valleys that are several miles wide.

It is interesting, however, that with the exception of Idaho, the states through which we have traveled all have bits of the same type of ecosystem – desert or near-desert, high prairies, valleys with lush vegetation looking a lot like Ohio, and of course, mountainous areas covered with snow.
I drove approximately 450 miles, fatigued and not realizing I was putting weight on my rear brake the whole time instead of just my foot peg. The brake is not responding correctly so I need to get it to a BMW dealer in Missoula.
There were two other breakdowns today. Joe’s rear drive stopped working on his 1200GS Adventurer. Fortunately it is still under warranty. He had to be towed to Missoula. Pete’s low oil pressure light is on, so his bike also had to be towed – but a different tow company since his bike is registered in Canada! Frank and Gerry are somewhere in Montana. I have had an exhausting day so my plan is to fix the brakes on my bike and tomorrow (June 12th) take the day off. I will proceed on to Canada on Saturday or Sunday minimizing the off-road experience so I can be sure to make my Monday flight out of Missoula.

Great Divide States Statistics Comparative to Ohio

Here are some interesting facts:

1. Ohio has near the same population as all five Great Divide states combined, yet they are 13 times the size in area.
2. Ohio has a larger gross state product than all five Great Divide states combined even though there is quite a bit of extractive gross state product in mining and oil that come from these states. I believe the largest component of Ohio’s gross state product is still manufacturing.
3. Although I have not checked this carefully, the total tax burden per capita in Ohio is not unusually bad. This, of course, does not take into account the tax for the higher income component of the population.
4. The poverty is much more oppressive in the Great Divide states than in Ohio.
5. Note that Colorado has the highest median household income. That is largely because Colorado the most entrepreneurial state of the six (including Ohio).

To me the most amazing part of these statistics is that the nearly 11mm people in the five Great Divide states have ten senators, but the 11mm people in Ohio only have two senators!
The people who have devised how to produce these blogs and who put them together on a daily basis – Terri Martin, Carolyn Orlean and Nancy Keene - have the weekend off, so the next one will be coming out sometime on Monday when the office reopens.
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend!

June 10

We stayed in a motel in Pinedale, WY listening to the rain. The motel was a Best Western – neat, clean and filled with an unusual combination of foreign tourists, truckers and construction workers. The construction workers seemed to be working on the huge oil and gas projects in the area. The tourists, like us, were on their way to or from the Yellowstone/Teton park area. Packing up in the rain, we proceeded 70 miles to Jackson WY. I did not take pictures because of the rain, but we ended up at the $1,000,000 Cowboy Bar in Jackson – a place recommended by Frank. Notable are the bar stools crafted from saddles and the burled pine trim.

Gerry was very disappointed that there was no off-road riding in the rain – but the rest of us could not have been more delighted.
Jackson has grown into a significant “212” (New York area code) gentrified cowboy town with every fancy shop you can imagine, including Orvis. There were some interesting shops showing some creative woodworking using tree roots and burled logs. But the majority of the shops featured representational art of cowboys, the old west, and landscape panoramas. The cowboy art was interesting because it was either bronzes attempting to copy Remington’s work or paintings that I would think would appeal more to an old fashioned cowboy than a sophisticated New York investment banker. The majority of the landscape paintings, because of the natural beauty of the region, could have easily been replaced and enhanced by another picture window. In short, the art was “Jackson trendy” and a good example artistic arrested development. One of the art dealers to whom I spoke said that Jackson was the fifth largest art market in the U. S. – I assume beyond New York, San Francisco, L.A. perhaps Dallas and Houston. From the work that I saw, I find that a bit depressing. Here is an example of a piece of Indian art that you would like in your living room. Notice that he is not taking very much instruction from me.

We split up in Jackson with Gerry and Pete going on to Lima Idaho to hopefully reconnoiter with Joe and Steve. Frank planned to visit a new area in Idaho where he had purchased some land. I planned to go to Jenny Lake in the Tetons where Marge and I had our nasty honeymoon experience with a tree falling on our tent. It was a short trip from Jackson to Jenny Lake, but when arriving, I found that they had reconstructed the road and part of the campground, so it was difficult to find the location of our camp. For me, it was an exceedingly emotional visit. Marge had been severely injured when a small twister tore down a tree and dropped it on our tent and car. She was in a coma for three days and had amnesia for six months – at the same time, pregnant with Wendy. With the exception of a couple of metal hips, the situation could not have turned out better. There were two rangers who helped me look for the site and several others who had experience with the campground going back 40 years who helped as well.
I plan to spend some time tomorrow at Jenny Lake and then head toward Montana and the Canadian border.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 9

On June 9th we had breakfast together and planned the day. Joe would ride on hard surface because of his injured knee. Steve, who recently bought a new BMW 800GS would travel with him because the front fork on this new bike was leaking oil. Roger, who is delight to ride with and with whom I will be riding again from Mexico to Tierro del Fuego in January 2010, decided that he would drive to Boulder CO to visit his daughter and new grandchild. That left four of us for the next dirt road experience. Our goal was to meet the others in Jackson Hole. Pete replaced Joe as our leader. Here we are after breakfast about to leave.

I was not reading my GPS properly. It appeared to me that we were randomly moving overland – getting lost from time to time, spending a fair amount of time off our “bread crumb” tracks. But a beautiful ride through big sky country.

We stopped for lunch and were amused by the tractor seat bar. It might be a good idea for the decorating committee at the Kirtland Country Club.

The going got rough after lunch. We had some trouble finding our way to the proper trail. The road/trail at times seemed to disappear.

This, of course, is the ultimate of adventure motorcycling – getting lost, not knowing what will happen next; all the challenges of exciting riding – sharp corners, combinations of loose sand, deep gravel and mud. This is adventure motorcycling at its best.
Frequently there would be cows on the road and we saw dozens of pronghorn antelope and elk.

Peter, the veterinarian, can’t keep away from the cows, but he gives them wide passage as he goes by. There are numerous cows and almost as many calves on the range.
The vegetation seems to be an equal amount of scrub shown here as there is grass. The scrub has a woody-like stalk and appears like a tiny tree. It is a wonder to me that there is enough grass to feed the game and livestock that we see.

We are riding well as a group, but Frank’s numerous spills have certainly hampered his ability to see in his rear view mirror.

The Rockies in the distance are gorgeous and the expanses are enormous.

As we move up through Union Pass into the Tetons, at only 7,000 ft. we begin to see snow. We should have known by this that we would have trouble up ahead. We begin to encounter snow drifts covering the entire road. We bypass these areas by going across alpine meadows that also have both snow banks and are saturated with water and do not provide footing for large motorcycles.

It is also impossible to ride a motorcycle in deep snow. The approach we used is to get a running start and blast through as fast as possible - then the four of us pull the bike the rest of the way. By the time we reach 9,400 ft., we are more or less trapped – there is snow covering the road and the alpine meadow routes are blocked by streams, snow and soggy footing. The small motorcycles are also running out of gas and if we got over the top of the pass, we would have the same trouble getting down. Gerry acts as the recon guide and with his lightweight Kawasaki and remarkable skill, is able to scope out possible routes.

As dusk is coming and the small bikes are running out of gas, we decide to turn around and go back. Gerry does not want to sleep on the mountain and the rest of us are not particularly excited about it either.

Retracing our steps is a lot easier than finding the original route, but it is still taxing. There is less falling, but there is a big concern about running out of gas. We raced down the mountain to beat nightfall. At the end the sun has set. It is wonderful wild ride that reminds me of college when my roommates, Wilbur Shenk and Michael Malm, and I would race through the Berlin Reservoir outside of Hartford with our motorcycles.

On the way back, Gerry ran out of gas first. We took the tube off my camelback and tried to siphon gas out of my motorcycle, but we were unable to do it. So Frank contributed one-half of his gas to Gerry. Later down the road, Gerry ran out again and Frank devised a way to siphon a gallon of gas out of my tank. He took a large gulp of gasoline in the process – I don’t think he will be kissing his wife for a month. We ended up back in Pinedale WY at 11:00 p.m. - exhausted and black and blue with a wasted round trip of 70 miles.

We called Joe when we got cell phone connections and he and Steve were somewhere in West Yellowstone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 8

We left Steamboat Springs after enjoying Roger Hansen’s exceptional hospitality – warm showers, a fabulous massage, an opportunity to meet some of Roger’s old high school friends. We got a late start not moving out until 9:30 a.m., but we were fully rested.

We headed onto the dirt trail. Since it was cold and raining, I got very few pictures. My camera was neatly stashed three layers deep. The first part of the dirt road was easily passable – lots of gravel and good drainage. But very soon we got into fine sand that had been soaked by the rain. It created a grease-like surface. After several falls, there was a difference of opinion as to whether to go forward on 81 miles on this same sort of road or turn back. Joe had fallen and got pinned under his motorcycle, slightly injuring his knee and ankle. As Joe said later, there is always something good that comes from something bad. He had hurt his ribs in a previous fall, but now his ribs didn’t hurt at all, only his knee.

At lunch Steve noted that there was oil leaking out of his new BMW 800GS forks. The bike only had 8,000 miles on it. He called BMW and they want it brought back. So it looks like the dirt road part of Steve’s ride is over. It is somewhat amazing to me that the forks would leak after such a short period of time. His riding has not been of the sort that would challenge a fork, and nothing was bent. I would assume it is covered under warranty but the person from BMW who was on the telephone suggested that it might not be.

Roger and I turned back with Joe and had a comparatively uneventful 400-mile ride to Atlantic City WY. We drove through some fascinating country – large green lush valleys, wide expanses where heavy oil and gas exploration was occurring, desert areas that looked very much like New Mexico with upheaval areas exhibiting red sedimentary stone, and desert eco-systems. There is a lot of sky in Wyoming. When we finally arrived at Atlantic City Wyoming where we thought we had bed and breakfast reservations, we found that it was not actually a B&B but a motel in Lander still 50 miles north. We arrived by nightfall not hearing the whereabouts of the other four of our group who had continued on the nasty dirt road. Their intent was to camp at Atlantic City.

There were several interesting lessons for the day. The first (which we already knew) is that these big 650 lb. motorcycles do not handle well in slick mud, but there is a technique that will optimize your chances of staying upright. Gerry had some excellent advice. First, keep your eyes on the horizon so that you are oriented as to what is straight up. As the bike begins slowly to go over if you are staring down at the ground in front of you – your immediate problem – you loose track of what is vertical. This was the most helpful advice. Second, just like in skiing, look at where you want to go not where you are. If you are skiing through the woods and you stare at the trees, instead of the openings between the trees, you will end up in close contact with a conifer. Third piece of advice was to use power sparingly and keep your weight on the back wheel as much as possible. Pete also had some excellent pointers. Instead of standing on the pegs like you would normally do in sand, sit on the seat holding the motorcycle tight like you would if you were riding a horse, but keep most of your weight on the pegs. This keeps your center of gravity low. Another important piece of advice is with a large motorcycle, it is best to pass through these areas as slowly as possible so if you do slide sideways, you can catch your balance with your feet. However, it is NEVER appropriate to take your feet off the pegs unless you are definitely going to fall. This is different than the advice you give to someone riding a motorcycle that is 200-250 lbs. lighter. There you can go faster and your weight shifting and handlebar control make a more significant difference in the outcome of what is occurring.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 7

We woke up the morning of June 7th at the Como Depot B&B that was being managed by a young Welshman named Dennis and his wife. I am always fascinated by people who would want to operate a B&B such as this – an 1800’s depot that was run by the company that operated the narrow gauge railroad that connected the silver mines in Colorado (Leadville, Breckenridge, etc.). As you might expect it was difficult to get the answer to what motivated them to run a B&B. His wife, an IT technologist from Britain, was interested in running a restaurant, but I think he was interested in something else – perhaps it was the renovation of the building; perhaps he just wanted to meet people. His answer was elusive. The building required an enormous amount of work to be done. The tourist season is short at best. We were the first occupants and as you can see from the photos of the previous day, the accommodations were rough at best – no sheets, artwork not yet hung – still very much a work in progress. The most interesting part was the financial arrangements. We were intending to camp the night of June 5th and went to this place as an alternative to camping. In its current condition, our group determined the rate was worth about $15 per person to sleep on a mattress and not have to put up our tents. So we negotiated $100 for all of us, which included a spectacular breakfast. We all wish Dennis and his wife the best of luck in completing their dream of renovating the depot. The service was spectacular; everyone was friendly; we appreciated the important part that mining had in Colorado’s early history. It was a terrific stay and the best news is we were not asked to invest!

We talked to the local sheriff, who stopped by to say hello. Fortunately, he did not recognize Joe, so eventually he let us continue our trip. Como has a population of 21. The bright young sheriff has several counties in his jurisdiction and his nearest backup is one hour from there. His biggest problems are domestic disputes among people who have had too much to drink – a common problem is this remote area – and cattle rustling. Speeding and the like are not problems. After bidding Dennis goodbye, the group split up into 3’s. One group went fishing. Sunday was a free fish day where anyone could fish without a license, so the good areas were packed. The fishing group went to a crowded alpine lake and fished off a snow bank. They caught nothing.
On the road again!

Roger and I branched off and took a beautiful narrow gauge railroad path that had been converted into a road. This road connects Como and Leadville and Breckenridge. We went through Bores Path and encountered a snow storm. During the day we saw the incredible devastation of the pine beetle. Approximately one-half of the forest is gone and there is an ongoing argument of what to do with the dead trees. Some think that they should be cut down to prevent further forest fire devastation. Others think they should be kept in place and the entire event should be viewed as a mass stand clearing, like wind damage, fire damage, etc. There is currently no market for the lumber either here or in China. The same devastation is occurring in Canada, which will cause further deforestation. A serious problem is that with the pine gone, the pine beetle is adapting to the fir and the spruce trees, which will cause further devastation. Part of the cut or not cut issue relates to whether or not the Aspen or Osier Willow should be planted to help hold the soil and to reduce the erosion that is caused from rain drops hitting the soil.

Events come in twos. Joe took a corner a little bit two wide and a little too fast and was confronted with a pickup truck. His antilock brakes were off and reflexively grabbed the front brake and ended up in the dirt staring at the grill of the pickup truck.
Joe's fallen bike...

A few bruises – no significant damage. The same type of accident happened to me in Breckenridge.
Joe's muddy bike

Joe's broken pannier

Joe nursing his injured knee

I do not have antilock brakes and I reflexively used my front brake and locked the wheel. I skidded sideways and narrowly avoided going down onto the pavement, but it was a close call. Another event that was notable in Breckenridge was both Roger and I were extended “you are no. 1” with a middle finger. I don’t know what we did right or did wrong, but we both consider it a compliment. Roger and I encountered heavy rain at the end.
Before going into the mud we deflated our tires from 35psi to 20psi

The ones who spent more time in the woods had no rain. At one point, all of us were stopped by a stream crossing which was engorged with snow melt and rain, making it impassable. Roger and I had lunch at his country club and the group of us spent the night at Roger’s lavish Steamboat Springs condominium. We had dinner with some of Roger’s childhood friends from New Jersey.
Our goal for tomorrow is to reach Atlantic City WY.

Peter's family pics close at hand inside his pannier

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 5-6

Now that we are safely into Colorado, we can retrospectively look at our 800 mile trek through New Mexico. New Mexico has 1/5 of the population of Ohio (2 million vs. 10 million) but is three times the area. The federal government owns a tremendous amount of the state for military installations, federal labs, national forests and parks whereas the own a very small part of Ohio. Perhaps the most unique part of New Mexico is that for every dollar that the federal government collects in taxes – it spends $2 in New Mexico, making it the number 1 recipient of federal budget dollars. An estimated 11% of the state's total employment arises directly or indirectly from military spending. The state hosts three air force bases (Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base); a testing range (White Sands Missile Range); and an army proving ground and maneuver range (Fort Bliss - McGregor Range). Other federal installations include the technology labs of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
New Mexico has _ of the average rainfall of Ohio, but this figure is misleading. In the southern part of NM which is desert, most of the rainfall occurs during the two rainy seasons when it comes down in a deluge. Making matters worse, the northern part of the state has fairly normal rainfall evident in the aspen forests, the lush grass and the presence of standing water.
New Mexico’s GDP is about 1/6 of Ohio’s ($645 billion vs. $113 billion) but a significant part of this is from the government. Some other stats on New Mexico vs. Ohio:
New Mexico Ohio
Median Household Income $36,043 $42,240
Percent below poverty level 19.3% 12.5%
Total tax burden per capita $2,103 $1,963

Now for what happened today.

We spent the night of the 5th in Monte Vista Colorado after falling far behind schedule dealing with the snow blocked pass.
We got into some nasty soft sand and shortly thereafter into some deep gullies.

Frank Floyd completed the trifecta of motorcycles upside-down – wheels up (no injuries). This was the only photo I was able to get.

Frank did the same thing yesterday along with Roger Hansen.
I don’t think it’s possible to find a sign or piece of sheet metal that doesn’t have a bullet hole in it in both New Mexico and southern Colorado.

We stopped at a lovely diner called “La Garitas”

During lunch they were playing John Wayne westerns in black and white on an old TV.

They had numerous signs:

And a sign to which Wal-Mart could aspire:

Most of the rest of the ride on the 6th was through high meadows –

Several times we traveled passes over 10,000 feet and one pass over 11,000 feet.
The story of Alfred E. Packer occurred in the spring of 1872 in this area. In January, against advice, Alfred and several other prospectors headed up into the snow packed San Juan Mountains to look for gold. In April when Packer returned to town, he had a significant amount of cash – he later confessed that his companions had died fighting amongst themselves and he survived the winter be eating one of the men. The following summer five decomposed bodies were found – one had been killed by a bullet and the other four by blows to the head – all had their flesh stripped from the juiciest part of their thighs and from the pectoral muscles. Packer escaped from jail and was on the lam for nearly 10 years but was recaptured and convicted for murder. As he was sentenced it is said that the judge told him “there were only 10 democrats in Sasquache County and you, you man eating son of a bitch, ate 5 of ‘em.” Some enterprising bureaucrats in Washington persuaded the GSA into naming a cafeteria after him – Packer was pardoned after serving only 5 years by a republican governor.
Marshall Pass was a spectacular ride - where it was necessary to ford pools of mud and a shallow drift of snow – everyone fell!

Steve ended up tearing the second pannier off his motorcycle while dashing through the drift and catching the pannier on the edge of the ditch.

We cobbled up a way of holding it on using cargo straps.

This photo shows the GPS reading at the top of the pass.

Gerry shaking hands with his friend on the side of the road

We were not able to make our original goal but we happily ended up at a bed & breakfast that was not open for business. They allowed us to stay and put our sleeping bags on the beds for the extremely reasonable price of $100 for all seven of us.

We had an exquisite meal and enjoyed the proprietor’s stories of the early days in Colorado and the part that this particular bed & breakfast had played in it.
There are three lessons that deal with motorcycle riding in general that we have learned on this trip (and are metaphors for life as well):
The first is no matter what the terrain or how difficult the challenge, always look far ahead and only sporadically look at what’s directly in front of your wheel. Concentrate instead on what’s way ahead of you. The most common mistake while riding is to look at the road just ahead of the bike and therefore not have the time to react to major challenges in the distance. We all agreed that in life we focus too much on the details and not enough with the broader issues.
The second concept (and it particularly applies to riding in groups) is don’t worry about the people in front of you – worry instead about the people behind you - how far back they are – can you see their headlight. This applies in life as well – successful people don’t need nearly the help that struggling people do.
The third concept is that speed doesn’t kill – the danger of speed is vastly overrated. It’s stopping suddenly that is dangerous. Wise people deal with the issue of stopping rather than the issue of speeding.