Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Colorado National Monument and a Beemer Rally

O'Dark Thirty - what folks who've served in the military know as a really early hour in the morning.

It was truly O'Dark Thirty, in my case 3:45 AM yesterday when I set out from my home en route to the other side of the state, the city of Grand Junction, CO.  Why?  I was going to check out the Colorado National Monument.  I'd seen its rock formations from a distance as I rode home from Montana, all the way from I-70, and it had become a destination in my mind.

In a happy coincidence, the BMW Club of Western Colorado was hosting its annual Thunder Mountain Rally in the small town of Hotchkiss, CO and I'd been invited by fellow Uralisti Dana and John to come by and visit.

It took me 5.5 hours to get to the park, riding on Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki V-Strom Dauntless Sidecar Rig.  She did great, I had a "re-introduction to bitter cold" experience as I rode through the Continental Divide and Vail Pass in the dark.  The temperatures were in the low 40s but with the wind chill and my lack of a big windshield on Yoshie, it was "brisk".  I was so glad I'd mounted the Oxford heated grips, they helped me bear the cold as I motored on towards the dawn and the welcome heat from the sun.

Once the sun came out in force, things were "warm" enough to not notice anymore as Yoshie and I cruised along steadily along I-70.

The rock formation just east of Grand Junction's eastern limit.
You see this, you're almost at the exit for Horizon Road
which is the road you take south towards the monument.

I arrived at the eastern end of the park and found out it was "National Parks Day" or something like that so all entrance fees were waved!  It was only $5 but hey...

The main venue is Rimrock Road which spans the park and allows visitors a paved road that borders all the main canyons within the park.  The temperature rose as the morning went on, so by the time I'd ridden and photographed my way through to the western end of the park, it was hot!  Frozen in the morning, bathed in sweat by noon.

 You gain a bit of altitude as you enter the park

 That's Grand Junction down there

 I think this was Red Canyon

Pano of one of the park's many canyons

Pano of Independence Monument

 Panoramic view of the above closeup

 Pano view of the above closeups

After a quick lunch at the town of Fruita, I retraced my ride through the monument, this time going from west to east.

I got on I-70 after getting a bit mis-oriented in Grand Junction and I found my way east towards the exit towards Grand Mesa.  Turns out, this is a scenic byway, quite twisty and very scenic with the fall colors coloring the countryside and hillsides.

The view from "Skyway" along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

I motored on through the Grand Mesa Byway until it plunges you down into the valley south of it and soon I was at the town of Hotchkiss.  It is a small town and it didn't take me long to find the city park where the BMW Thunder Mountain Rally was being held.

I couldn't find sight of John or Dana, or their motorcycles.  Especially Dana's since he'd told me he was going to ride his GS Sidecar Rig to the even.  However, I did spot another GS Sidecar Rig and I parked next to it.  I took off my helmet and asked the folks next to it if they happened to know Dana.  Before they could answer, I heard a loud "no!" behind me and there were John and his wife Cookie smiling at me!

Dana, it turns out, was out riding somewhere in town getting supplies.  The owner of the other sidecar rig was Greg and with him was his wife, Cathy.  Turns out, Greg has been "lurking" on this blog for a while and my "adventures" with Natasha and Vikki had partly motivated him to get himself  his own rig!

 The above rig is Greg's, sweet isn't it?  
He's got the same dualsport sidecar model that
I bought from Dauntless.

 That's Dana and his yellow GS Rig on the right
Quite a disreputable looking trio aren't we?

I managed to snag a room at a local "motel" and so was able to register with the rally for dinner.  It was a delicious gumbo (sorry, forgot my camera, so no food porn).  The BMW Club of Western Colorado also arranged for a singing duo called "Honey Don't" and they entertained us with bluegrass type music that was actually quite good.  I highly recommend you visit their website and sample their music.

Bill Powers and Shelly Gray
"Honey Don't"

We listened to them sing till 9PM and after the club gave out door prizes and the grand prize of $300 from the BMW of  Denver dealer, everyone retired to either their tents or in my case the hotel room and crashed.  It was a small rally, perhaps 90 riders in attendance, and I liked it a lot.  Not very crowded, everyone was pretty friendly.  I even ran into Dick Paschen and Nick who'd hosted the Airhead Tech event earlier this year.  It was quite the good time and I am glad I attended.


irondad said...

Oh-dark-thirty and bitter cold. Interesting how we do some things willingly in the name of fun that we would bitterly moan about otherwise!

Great photos, as usual.

bobskoot said...


There is great scenery where you photographed. I wouldn't mind travelling into that area, one day. There are so many things to see in this world and we would never know about them unless someone we know goes there and takes some photos for us.

I also like smaller gatherings and you seem to always find people that know you. We've had such warm/hot temps during the past month that 40°f seems chilly. When your temps go to freezing, then 40°f will seem hot

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

That first picture of the rock formation with the clouds in the background almost looks like a painting. Phenomenal scenery. I've spent quite a bit of time in the past doing field work west of Grand Junction. Really nice area but still pretty hot in the summer.

Do they have larger windshields for V-Stroms?


Oz said...

Sounds like a great ride. I love the Grand Mesa area. Visited there 3 years ago. Great area. Plan on visiting there again in July. Yet again, great photos.