Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gas Savings? Sure!

Well, you hear about "gas savings" as one of the reasons people start riding motorcycles instead of their cars when commuting back and forth from work. It was, one of the main reasons I had gotten the go-ahead from my loving wife to buy a motorcycle as my main commuter vehicle since my car is quite the gas guzzler; she's got a V8 engine from 1987 after all!

Her name is Liesl

On a "good" week, my car would get perhaps 16mpg, whereas on a bad week she would get 11-14mpg. On the other hand, my motorcycle gets 40mpg on a bad week. You can see the disparity there. Of course, the fact that Liesl's engine is 5.6 liters vs Maria's 1.15 Liters....

I looked up maintenance records today and turns out I had changed the oil both on the motorcycle and on the car same day: 21JUL07. At the time, my car had 152, 138 miles on the odometer and the motorcycle had 36,000 miles on its odometer.

Since that day, I've put a grand total of 31 miles on the car and 8843 miles on the motorcycle! Can you tell which vehicle I prefer to ride? : )

So, back to the "savings" theme for this posting. I did some quick math calculations and just counting work commuting miles I came up with a total of 3872 miles which I would have had to drive from 21JUL07 till today for work.

The cost of gas, at $3.00/gallon as an average for premium gas which is what both vehicles demand came to roughly $829 for the car and $290 for the motorcycle to cover that work mileage.

"Well!" You say: "there's some obvious savings!"

However, remember that I wrote I had put 8843 miles on the motorcycle since 21JUL07? That represents about 4971 miles of pleasure riding on the motorcycle on weekends and such. That pleasure riding then cost me about $373 in additional gas money. Add that up to the cost for work commuting on the motorcycle and it comes to about $663.

So, once you do the final numbers, I save perhaps $166 in gas money after all is said and done.

I think I'll sum it up this way, a la the MasterCard commercials:

Gas Money to run the car back and forth to work: $829

Gas Money to run the motorcycle back and forth to work AND play: $663

Pleasure and enjoyment derived from riding a motorcycle vs driving a cage: PRICELESS!!!

Getting mentioned in the November edition of the BMW Owner News Magazine

Some of my pictures from the 100,000 ft Pass Ride sponsored by the ColoradoBeemers motocycle club I belong to made it into the November edition of the BMW Owner News Magazine that's put out by the BMWMOA organization! Link to the blog entry for that ride.

Glenn Hanlin, their IT guy, and his brother Brent had been fellow riders during that ride along with another rider named Dick. Glenn went and wrote up a trip report of the rally for the magazine and was kind enough to use three of the pictures I took as part of his article. Hopefully, there will be a web-accessible version I can link to but I thought I'd post the pictures that appeared in the magazine for your viewing. He even mentioned my name in the article and Maria appears in one of the shots used (see below). Good Stuff.

Here's the Rally's Lunch Site

North Pass, after lunch

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oktoberfest at Pete's

Pete Homan, an indie BMW motorcycle mechanic whom I go to for work I can't do myself, was hosting an Oktoberfest gathering at his home/shop on the west side of Denver. I spent a couple of hours there admiring the motorcycles he's got on display (all race ready it seems) and the motorcycles belonging to customers that he's working on or customers like me who showed up for the gathering.

Oktoberfest Oompah music was being played, Pete and a couple of others were in German costume, to include lederhosen! Beer and Brats were available and there was to be a drawing for a K1200LT Motorcycle for which I signed up. I left before the drawing though so hopefully I'll get notified by Pete if I win! : )

Pete's specializes in wrenching on BMW Motorcycles (but does work on other marques as well I believe) with an inclination towards the vintage models it seems as they're plenty onsite and most of the people who showed up were on vintage motorcycles. Plenty of modern ones as well like mine but the preponderance was the older models. Pete has raced motorcycles in the past and his trophy case was filled with impressive marks of achievement. He now only races in the vintage categories apparently.

Here's a link to Pete's website: LINK check it out if you've a Beemer that needs certified/expert wrenching.

Part of Vintage Row

Row of motorcycles in front of Pete's House

Pete's Racing motorcycle, on display in his living room

An R75/5 Beemer in front of Pete's shop, which is in back of his house

An old Airhead Engine, an R80/7 close up

Amusing sticker on Pete's off-roading motorcycle, which is shown below

Swedish Fairing on a Vintage Beemer, kinda cool eh?

Maria and an older cousin (an RS) posing in front of Pete's

I went home via Evans Avenue to the I-25 Slab southbound until I got to County Line Road which I took home, meadering as I went since the day was so nice for riding. Kept "missing" the turn for my neighborhood and wandered about a bit but finally went home.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Ride to Victor, CO and Cheyenne Mountain

Temps in the low 70s to high 80s. Sunny and very little wind.

I had today off since I have to work this coming weekend so after a late wakeup and start, was headed out by 1020 just for a short ride to see if I could find a compact weather radio to take along with me on the rides with iffier weather.

Well, that was the original intent, however that was quickly thrown by the wayside and I just kept going past the shopping mall and took familiar back roads down towards Parker where I picked up CO83 and headed through Franktown towards Colorado Springs.

The day was just made to order for motorcycling in the morning and early afternoon. Traffic was very light and there were times when I was by my lonesome cruising down the two lanes which make up CO83. I got to Colorado Springs in good time and cruised on the I-25 slab for a little bit and turned off on US24 intending to go towards CO67 North towards Deckers.

Like the original intent, this too was thrown away as I neared the junction with CO67 and instead I stayed on US24 only to turn shortly afterwards south on CO67 towards the towns of Victor and Cripple Creek. The idea now was to see a good view and pictures of the "backside" of Pikes Peak. I followed the signs which led to the small mining town of Victor and it's "active mining country" and Cripple Creek with its casinos is nice and windy with some steep grades in spots. Very nice riding and the roads were nice and clear of gravel for the most part, unlike last winter when I went to Cripple Creek and spent a lot of time dodging gravel in the middle of the lane!

Here's some of the sights one sees as one approaches Victor from the North:

Historical Mining Structures one can peruse

The town of Victor is small and a bit delapidated. Still it has its own atmosphere and the people seemed friendly. Here's a rather unique way to advertise to visitors that one has arrived at the town of Victor:

Victor's Town Hall

After I went through the town, the next town along the "Gold Belt Tour" byway is Cripple Creek. It's a larger town than Victor and it's claim to fame is casinos apparently. I did not tarry here long as I'd been here before. I kept going on CO67 and some more winding roads along mountain sides and ridges. I must again repeat myself I'm afraid, some very lovely winding roads on south CO67 which ends up at the town of Flourissant and its fossil beds.

By following the signs to Flourissant, I ended up back on US24 and started heading back East towards Colorado Springs. Its while I was on this heading that I spotted what turned out to be the best view of Pikes Peak:

Pikes Peak from Woodland Park

Once I got to Colorado Springs, I spied Cheyenne Mountain to the South and decided to try and get some pics of it as long as I was this far south from home. I got on the I-25 Slab for a little bit and took the CO115 exit towards Canon City. Fort Carson, the home of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment makes its home here and I stopped by the post's Gate 1 to take these pictures at a Soldiers' Memorial site which featured some military hardware and a statue of Kit Carson for whom the post is named.

Bet no cager would cut me off with such an escort!

Soldier's Memorial Site with Cheyenne Mountain as background

Kit Carson in his "younger and wilder days"?

Across CO115 from Fort Carson's Gate 1 is the Cheyenne Mountain State Park where I got this picture of Cheyenne Mountain itself. I did not go towards the NORAD entrance which lies on CO115 right of Fort Carson's Gate 2 exit. The road is now clearly marked but full of dire warnings for "trespassers". Make sure you've your military ID or you won't get too far I think.

Another shot of Cheyenne Mountain

After the Cheyenne Mountain State Park part of the ride, I headed North on CO83 towards Academy Boulevard. Unfortunately, I did not realize I would have to do several miles of city traffic on CO83, with lots of cars and temperatures in the mid to high 80s! I had noticed that my internet-enabled phone had reported me in a 3G connectivity area so I pulled off at a sandwich shop for some water and a geek break where I checked out how much faster 3G speeds are when compared with Edge speeds which is what we still get in Denver for now. It was much faster, with speeds averaging 4 to 5 times faster! I can't wait till Denver's 3G service gets activated.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, I was glad to leave the heavy city traffic behind and hit the open road portion of CO83 as it took me once again through Franktown and Parker and from there the usual back roads towards home.

Got home at 1730 or so, I estimate about 240 miles ridden today with about six hours of saddle time perhaps. A very nice ride day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Found the Cause of the Oil Leak

So yes, BMW Boxer engines are known to 'use' a bit of oil during regular operation. I frequently check the oil level and had been regularly topping things off as needed and not giving it much thought.

However, that changed when I started noticing some oily stains on the bottom area of the left side cylinder cover and around the oil filler cap.

I could not spot any obvious leaks both with the engine hot or cold. I was also having to top off the oil level a lot more often than normal so I was a bit concerned.

I went to beemer dealer to get a new O-ring for the oil filler cap thinking perhaps that was the cause of the leakage. The parts guy asked me at the time if I wanted to replace the plastic insert as well. I'd not even thought that piece was replaceable so had not closely looked at it. Since it was only a few bucks I went ahead and got one as well.

I discovered when I removed the old insert (it just pops out with the aid of a flat tip screwdriver) that somehow dirt and sand particles had collected around where it seats into the cylinder cover and its own O-ring! I believe this is what was causing the oil seepage of late.

So I suppose I could have just simply wiped it clean and put it back in place but went ahead and put the new insert and O-ring in place. I cleaned off any oil remnants and its been over 700 miles since I did this and the oil level in the oil sight glass has remained rock steady; no evidence of any oil seepage either.

I am pleased with this easy fix and post it here for other Boxer engine riding owners to perhaps benefit from this experience of mine. See below picture, it's part #5 and 6 that were replaced.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Snow of the Season

Right on schedule, the first snow of the season, always appearing it seems on the week of my birthday. No riding today.....

Update: 1600hrs.

I was wrong! This is the kind of snow storm I signed up for when I moved to Colorado. 2-3 inches of wet snow in the early morning, tapering off by noon and mostly melted off the roads by 3-4PM! It was the wet snow too, I guess because it was melting fast, but my snow blower clogged constantly....finally resorted to snow shovels. My sons and I cleared a path out for the motorcycle but I probably could have waited and not done as much shoveling either. It got into the high 40s this afternoon and I was able to go out for a short 45 minute ride that include a trip to the grocery store for bread.

Maria at the Safeway's parking lot

Much better looking culdesac than this morning!

The roads were mostly dry, with stretches where it was wet from all the melting snow along the sides of the roads. Tomorrow's commute should be quite doable once the sun is out and I am sure no ice remains from what I am sure will be freezing temperatures tonight.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Carhenge and going for the Easy Rider LDR Patch

Mostly Sunny with temps ranging in the low 40s at dawn to low 80s in late afternoon.

There's a chance of snow starting tonight so I decided to try and do a long ride to qualify for the 500 mile in 12 hrs patch from longdistanceriders.net before the snow gets here. As I'd mentioned in a previous posting, they're kind of an alternative to the Iron Butt Rally guys for such certifications. Though I don't see a 1000 mile ride in 24hrs anywhere in my near future, the 500 mile in 12hr certification they offer was very doable.

After much searching on the map yesterday for something within 300 miles of home so I could do a there and back ride; finally realized that Alliance, NE was within that range and not only that but there was something cool I'd been wanting to go see before:

Carhenge! It's a replica of the famous Stonehenge but with junk cars. Lots of information about the Carhenge Car Art Center here at the roadsideamerica.com website. LINK.

I took off from home just before 0600 and went to tank up to obtain a date/time stamped receipt as my proof of start time. Wouldn't you know it though, I tanked up at my regular gas station, then forgot to tell the pump to print out a receipt! Doh! So I trickled in about 25 cents more under a new transaction and got a receipt, I was so mad at myself at this point. Then to put icing on the cake, the dang receipt had a date but no time stamp! Arrrrggh.

So off I go to the next gas station, trickle in another 25 cents worth of gas and this time the receipt reflected a start time of 06:04. I was now good to go and started heading out on this route. Starting mileage was 43609.

As you can see, I took the E-470 slab to the I-76 East slab out of town until I got to Sterling where I started heading North on CO113 after a brief ride on US138 out of Sterling. It was really cold during my ride from home to Sterling, never got below 40 according to the onboard thermometer but it was cold when going 80mph!

I crossed the Nebraska border and the road became NE19 which I took to Sidney. Turns out Sidney is the location of Cabelas world headquarters!

After Sidney, I got on to US385 heading North towards Bridgeport where you cross the North Platte River. Not much to tell about the countryside, pretty flat, mostly farmland and rolling hills. Now with the sun up and riding at no more than 70mph, things were considerably warmer and they got warmer as I got closer to Alliance. Nice.

I got to Alliance, NE at 1030 so it took me 4.5 hrs to do around 250 miles or so according to the GPS. Alliance is a fair sized town but I was able to spot the small sign telling me to get on NE87 to get to Carhenge which is less than 4 miles out of town. It's quite the sight, this carhenge, I think it was worth the trip even if I was not qualifying for the Easy Rider certification!


Some other "art" was spread around Carhenge, here's a fish and a dinosaur I thought were cool. Most of the other stuff was pretty junky.

One last look

As you can see I was able to park Maria pretty close to Carhenge, there wasn't a sign specifically saying you could not do so and since no one was around but me......

I did not loiter her long as I wanted to start heading back to make it back by the 12 hour deadline. I went back towards Alliance and got a brunch sandwich and a large coffee at the local Arbys. After eating, I headed on back the same way I came. The day had really warmed up by now and it was in the mid 70s!

I lost some time around Sidney after I had decided to stop and divest myself of the warming layers I had on since the start of the trip. Not sure why, but kept missing the dang exit that would take me back to NE19! Part of it was fatigue I am sure but mostly it was my GPS unit locking up and ceasing to work and me not realizing it and waiting for voice prompts to make turns.

I had to reboot the gps unit in order for it to start working again and after a couple of false starts due to faulty programming of routes on my part; finally got on the right road.

The rest of the trip was just steady riding at 10 mph above the limit where I tend to cruise on highways. Pretty boring with no incidents. As I neared Denver, I first saw the Front Range and the Rockies at the 59 miles to Denver marker and you could see a big front coming in and blanketing the tops of the mountains already! I guess the forecasters could be right and we might get snow tonight!

It sure was windy the nearer I got to the Front Range, the last 30 minutes or so were spent making sure the wind did not blow me into the adjacent lane at times. Other than that, got home at 1648hrs with and ending mileage of 44201.

This was well within the 12 hours alloted for the Easy Rider Certification from the LDR folks so I'll be sending my documentation in soon. If you're a long distance rider, I encourage you to try out for their certifications if you find the IBR ones take too long. You get a patch/sticker/certificate and license plate holder same as the IBR folks. Here's a link to their site: Link.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Price of Haste when working on your motorcycle

Hopefully, this posting will help others who service their own motorcycles, avoid the mistake I made this past Friday while servicing my motorcycle.

I got home from work and had perhaps 2hrs of good light to work in before the sun set. So I made haste to get Maria prepped so I could do a valve clearance check and a throttle body sync as part of her 42k service interval.

Trying to make time, I neglected to get a tie-strap and secure the centerstand to the front wheel so she would not be able to roll forward off the centerstand while being worked on.

Part of the process I follow while doing a valve clearance check is to use the rear wheel to rotate the engine to the TDC or Top Dead Center position on the side which I am checking the valve clearances on. I had removed the spark plugs to eliminate engine compression and had the motorcycle in sixth gear as recommended.

Even with all the above, it still takes some effort to rotate the rear wheel so that the engine goes to TDC. As I was doing this for the right side piston, I must have pushed too hard on the wheel for the motorcycle moved forward! Yep, off the centerstand and it slowly fell onto its left side as I watched in horror. I could not move fast enough from my position behind and to the right of the rear wheel, no way to stop it. No, the sidestand was NOT deployed, I had raised it enabled the gear indicator display so I could tell when I was in sixth gear. Just as well since I don't think it would have stopped the fall and probably would have ended up damaged as well.

Maria impacted against a plastic shelving unit where I keep the recycle bin first, then proceeded to hit the floor with quite the horrible noise. Aaaarrrggghh.

Oil of course started coursing out of the left side of the engine since I had the valve cover off for servicing! I lost perhaps 1.5 to 2 quarts I think. The oily mess on the floor did not help things as I struggled to get into position to lift the motorcycle upright. Took two attempts to get a good grip/position but finally I was able to muscle her upright and put the sidestand down.

What a mess, spent the next 30 minutes or so putting oil absorbent sand down and cleaning up the oil spill. Then I assesed the damage. The left side driver's peg had broken off. No damage to the engine that I could see, thank the motorcycling gods, and what appeared to be a scuff mark on the lower part of the windshield.

I thought myself pretty lucky at this point since I was able to take the left side passenger footpeg and substitute it for the driver footpeg that was history. I would be able to do the weekend ride I thought.

I was also feeling pretty stupid at not securing the motorcycle as I'd been taught before working on it. Never again will I do this, although it does follow the pattern of learning for me.....the hard way is the way I learn life's lessons.

I completed the services, the valve clearances needed no adjustment and I used my hand-built manometer to do the TBS. This was my first time doing it solo and it took a good 30 minutes. Ended up having to adjust slightly the right-side throttle cable nut in order for the oil levels on the manometer to stay even no matter what the rev level was. I also corrected the idle from the 900rpm it had been on to 1100 where its recommended.

I put Maria back together, and a short test ride later I was done. It was 10pm by now and I was bushed. So much for getting everything done before the sun set!

The weekend ride totaled 1268 miles of riding as per previous posting with no mechanical issues except one. Sometime during the ride, I noticed my windshield seemed a little crooked. Hmmm, I thought as I rode, did I bend something when the windshield impacted the plastic shelving unit. The only thing I could see while on the road was that the left side windshield mount seemed to flex back more than the right side mount. Damn.

Finally got around to taking the cover off and examining the windshield mechanism last night and yep, part of the base carrier plastic unit for the windshield had broken during the fall. It's a wonder the windshield worked fine during the whole trip. Here's a pic of the part that I'll have to replace someday, I made "field repairs" last night along with the help of my loving wife that should hold for quite a while. I ordered the part and will have it onhand for when I feel brave and have more time do tinker with the motorcycle (such as during a winter storm). In the meantime, my repairs should hold and I can raise/lower the windshield at will and it feels secure.

The red line is where the plastic carrier cracked.

The replacement carrier is on order and should be here next week at the dealer. That's going to cost $60 but its way better than the original guess by the parts guy who thought you could not get the carrier without the windshield motor too which would have been $600!

The replacement left-side driver peg is onhand and I'll be picking it up today, that's cost an additional $27. Add in all the time I used and you can see what not taking two minutes to properly secure my motorcycle before working on it ended up costing me. So, always secure your motorcycle! Don't be like me and learn things the hard way.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My First Overnight Ride with Maria


The family was in California this weekend and I could not go due to work schedules. This left me by myself over the weekend so I figured it was a good time to get in a long ride with an overnight stay.

After some dithering on Saturday morning due to some iffy weather reports, I decided to go for the trip anyways and left the house at around 0630 or so. I made good time winging my way around the southern edge of the Denver Metro area and riding West on I-70 towards Grand Junction. Glen Canyon was gorgeous as ever as I rode by but I took no pictures, my poor little camera just cannot do it justice in such confined spaces with such magnificent rock canyon displays.

Here's a picture of a small park on the way to Grand Junction, I think it was the Colorado River State Park:

As I neared Grand Junction and my turnoff to head South On US50, I spotted this nice rock formation to whet your appetite:

The exit was immediately after the above picture so of course I missed it and had to go down to the next exit and turn around. Oh well. : )

US50 takes you down towards Delta and Montrose where you junction with US550 which takes you down to Ouray, a nice ride by the way. Once you get to Ouray you are at the north end of the Million Dollar Highway. It's a very twisting and beautiful ride, this road, but I am not sure I personally would have called it the million dollar road in terms of scenic panoramas. Mind you, there were some but not as much as I expected. Perhaps it was the heavily forested roadsides, or the overcast skies I was traveling under; I was not "overwhelmed" by the ride. Beautiful motorcycle riding regardless! Here's some pics:

Near the Summit of Molas Pass

Two major passes are crossed by riding US550

I got to Durango in the late afternoon and after a brief break at a park, decided to press onto Cortez which is about another hour to the west nearer to the border of Utah. The plan being to overnight there and hit Four Corners and points beyond the next day before heading back home. It was 500 miles from my house to the hotel in Cortez. I had been thinking about steak all day while riding and satisfied my hunger at a restaurant near the motel called Shilohs. Good steak, good service.

Had I been thinking and planning ahead, I could have documented a 500 miles LongDistanceRider qualification and gotten the patch later!

Sacked out early, having spent nearly 11 hrs in the saddle.


Woke up before 0400 with a huge sinus headache, I never sleep well in strange beds and the motel I stayed at in Cortez, CO was no exception. I was unable to get back to sleep so I crossed the street to the Denny's and had their meatlover's breakfast special since I was not planning on doing lunch during the day's ride.

Finally, I could wait no longer, and set off at 0530 towards Four Corners which was 38 miles away on US160W. Now, it's dark and cold so the electric vest and grips were on keeping me nice and toasty. It's quite dark out there in the desert as you ride along trying not to overshoot your highbeam light. I could see large dark shapes to either side of me as I rode which were rock formations I assume. I was more worried about deer since it was nearing dawn and they tend to move then. But either the terrain did not suit them or the fact that it was elk/deer hunting season in the area had driven them all away. I did not see elk or deer during the whole trip!

I got to Four Corners with no problems but found it closed. I had read where it opened at 0700hrs and that's when I arrived. I pressed on, later I found out they were under winter operating hours which meant they opened at 0800hrs. Either ways I was not wasting time waiting for them!

I soon crossed over the AZ state line in the dark and as dawn rose I was riding on US160 through the teeny tiny settlement of Teec Nos Pos heading West. Not much out but desert and some beautiful mesas in the distance. As the sun gained altitude, I could see further and further out. It's quite beautiful if a bit deserted countryside. The road was long and straight as most Arizona highways are reputed to be. Maria kept wanting to go faster and faster and I kept reminding myself to not let her earn me another performance award from the local tax collectors!

We made it to Kayenta, AZ just fine. This is the town to the south of Monument Valley. Here's a pic of a rock formation you see just before getting to Kayenta. The sun was hitting it just right you know?

The following pics are in and around Monument Valley. I entered the valley from the Southern Side and the light at the time was no good for shooting. So I headed as far east as I could which led me to the Navajo Tribal Park Center where I paid $5 to find out that the "trails" provided for tourists to get real close to the rock formations were not good for my poor RT. Damn near dumped it a couple of times before I decided to turn around and head back towards pavement. Now, if I had been on a GS, that would have been different.

I was a bit dissapointed that I could not get closer to the main rock formations that form Monument valley but as I headed North on US163, there were plenty of spots alongside the paved road that afforded nice shots of some of the formations:

First major rock formation one sees when entering the valley from South

The requisite border signs

At Tribal Center Parking Lot

Northbound on UT163

On road leading to Tribal Center

More pics from Northbound UT163

The view South as one exits Monument Valley

Once I exited the Monument Valley I headed for Mexican Hat, Utah which was close by, less than an hour I believe. The way there, by the way, is beautiful canyonland with sweeping views of the area.

Here's some pics of the rock formation known as Mexican Hat for obvious reasons. My wife and I had stayed nearby at the lodge by the bridge that leads into town from the South. I took Maria closer to the rock as you can see. The dirt trails here were not too bad and the RT did fine on the one you see.

I continued on North on UT163 and after a brief detour onto UT261 and Gooseneck Park which I believe is part of the Glen Canyon NRA where I got the below pictures. This park features great canyons carved in a serpentine fashion by the Colorado River. It's served as the backdrop scenery for several western movies, including one of my favorites: Fort Apache with John Wayne.

Gooseneck Park, Utah

I then left the park, rode the 11 miles back and got back on UT163 and came upon the town of Bluff, Utah near where 163 junctions with US191 and found the Apache Twins rock formation. The idea was to take US191 and head towards Blanding and Monticello and from there take I-70 Home.

Apache Twins

Big Rock Formation next to the Apache Twins

I got to Monticello, Utah around 1230, tanked up and called up my loving wife who told me there were reports of snow on I-70! Oh Oh. I spotted an Internet Cafe across the street and sure enough, the webcams provided by CO DOT confirmed conditions were crap for a motorcycle near the Eisenhower tunnel which is where I-70 crosses the Continental Divide. So much for heading home in that direction!

Some studying of google maps told me to head back to US491 (which happened to junction with US191 at Monticello) and back to Cortez where I had started from this morning. This highway used to be numbered US666 but I guess the people were leery of living near something with "the number of the beast" so it was renumbered to US491.

I got back to Cortez, Colorado around 1330 and from here it was a marathon ride to try and get home before snow hit the Denver area. Although the first few hours of riding on US160 eastbound were sunny and cool, I could see some wicked cloud formations to the North, representing the snow advisories that were blanketing that part of Colorado.

As I neared Pagosa Springs, Colorado I had to traverse Wolf Creek Pass, as you can see below, the snow flurries were quite evident at this altitude. The snow was not sticking though so while it was cold, it was still not bad for riding. The nearby ski resort, Wolf Creek, turns out to be the highest located ski resort in the state!

Rain clouds were forming to my front as well. I remember vividly riding past towards Alamosa and Blanca watching a huge bank of clouds slamming into Blanca Peak, completely hiding the upper third of the mountain. The Sangre de Cristo mountains all had their own crown of clouds and you could only see their lower halves. The skies by now were gray and solidly overcast.

yep, that's snow falling

I kept pressing on and when I got to Alamosa I figured I was home free. All I had to do was get to Walsenburg which was on I-25 and bebop on home via superslab. Well, it was not to be.

Rain started soon after I left Alamosa and I discovered that there was La Veta Pass between myself and the superslab. Damn. The rain was not bad but as I neared the summit I kept a close eye on the thermometer and watched it steadily drop to a low of 37.9 degrees. Visibility was crap, roads were wet, splashback everywhere from the cages as they passed me since I had slowed way down in order to make it up and down the pass safely. I am sure the passing cagers must have been saying things like: "Look at that idiot on the motorcycle in this weather!". I agreed with them.

It was not a fun time, the thought of ice kept coming to me but there was no turning back since it was same crap the way I had come. No way I was stopping up there at altitude either with night approaching!

I was finally passed by a semi-trailer and I tucked in behind it. Not too close of course but kept it in view and more importantly kept the tracks it made on the wet pavement in view and made sure to ride in those tracks since I knew for sure there'd be no ice forming there after all those wheels had gone over it!

Following the semi-trailer, I got safely down the pass and into the town of Walsenburg. That was some pretty scary riding I must admit. Had I known about this pass, I probably would have stayed overnight in Alamosa. As it was, weather reports I obtained from my loving wife while gasing up in Walsenburg led me to quit trying to get home.

I got a cheap room at a cheap motel called "The Anchor". Dinner was Carl Jr's burger and fries and I was glad to get it. There were reports of freezing rain in Colorado Springs and I knew that it could only be worse North of that city near Monument where historically there's always ice/snow related accidents in bad weather.


Woke up before 0500 and saw that the motel parking lot was dry, I hurriedly packed everything back up onto Maria, geared up and was out the door towards the I-25 superslab. The pavement was nice and dry all the way past Colorado Springs and once I was near Monument, it turned wet of course. It also turned very cold, later I found out it had been 33 degrees. However, I was not as worried since traffic was pretty heavy all around me and I figured I'd see someone slide before I did. Kept a nice wide distance from everyone and was definitely not the fastest guy on the road that early morning!

Made it home safe at 0645 with the sunrise. A total of 1268 miles ridden from Saturday Morning to Monday Morning. Maria did great as usual. In fact, that TBS I did before I left seemed to have cleared some of the buzziness away from the grips as she ran a bit smoother than before. Could be my imagination of course.

Quite the adventure for my first overnight ride, which turned into two nights and some pretty gnarly riding conditions at times. Hope you enjoyed the telling as much as I did the riding.

The route I took

Note to Self: Started off with front tire having maybe 2.1mm of thread left, 1268 miles later, about 1.7-8mm left. Time for a new front tire soon.

MPG Note: Avg: 45mpg