Monday, August 31, 2015

Meeting Ara & Spirit, with bonus Rider: Gina

Most of the motorcycling blogosphere knows of Ara & Spirit.  They've been traveling for more than nine years in a sidecar rig.  Spirit is Ara's companion, a very mellow and friendly Pit Bull.  Ara's rig has been mainly a BMW GS with sidecar attached though he did (for a short stint) drive a URAL sidecar rig as well.

Ara is currently in Colorado and pinged me on Facebook messenger after my last posting went public.  He was in the Gunnison area and was wondering if we could meet.  Of course, it was a yes, once I re-arranged a whole bunch of stuff but in the end it worked out.

I motored out of the Metro Denver area at 6:55 AM and about 4 hours and 30 minutes later was at the campground where Ara was staying.

Mount Princeton as one nears the junction of US285 and US24

They were checking out Crested Butte at the time I arrived in the area (all arranged beforehand) and I took the opportunity to go find and photograph the Curecanti Needle:

There's no spot at the Pioneer Overlook site, located on the North Rim of the Black Canyon area near the Blue Mesa Dam.  I walked to the overlook spots and got these shots of the Curecanti Needle:

 The needle is that triangular rock formation centered above.

A view of part of Black Canyon, looking towards the Blue Mesa Dam

Leaving the Pioneer Overlook area and heading back along the canyon rim, I found a spot that allowed Scarlett to be part of the picture with the needle in the background.

 I climbed up the opposing hillside to get the above angle

 Zoomed all the way in with the 55mm lens, note the artifact
caused by the camera when showing the tour boat's wake.

This shot taken with the camera mounted on the monopod.

Arriving back at the campsite, I rode towards Ara's reported site and found him and another rider talking by their motorcycles.

Turned out, Ara was also being visited by Gina, another real rider on a Yamaha TW200 on which she's exploring the USA over the next year or so.  She's been on the road four months already and was spending some time with Ara & Spirit before heading towards Zion National Park I think.

Introductions done, I setup camp and took a few pictures of the motorcycles.  All three of us had some very interesting conversations during this time, and around 4:30PM Ara made us a dinner of Curry Chicken over rice.  Yummy.  

After dinner, it was time to take Spirit for a little walk.  All four of us walked slowly to the nearby shore of the Blue Mesa Reservoir/Lake.  Engaging and flowing conversations continued throughout as we waited for perhaps a nice sunset.

 Gina, Spirit and Ara

 A nearby rocky mesa 

Centered, you can see part of the Dillon Rock formations.

Clouds blocked the sun as it set alas, so no pictures of a nice sunset.  I was shown by Gina, a really awesome sunset picture of the evening before though.  It was a beautiful shot, especially since she shot it just using her camera phone.

Evening progressed and we talked until we lost all light, though we did get to enjoy a sporadic display of lightning bolts to the west as things got progressively darker.  The wind picked up and after a failed attempt on my part to capture the golden almost full moon as it rose in the east, we packed it up for the night.

In the morning, I packed up my tent as Gina also prepared to depart for points north and west.  I said my goodbyes to both Ara and Gina, and petted Spirit one last time before heading back home.

Had a great if short visit with Ara, Gina and Spirit.  Great company and full of good stories of their times on the road.  

On the way home, in spite of some "incidents" with two separate idiot cagers ( both towing large loads and generally behaving like a-holes), I did get some pictures of part of the Collegiate Peaks as I motored on US/24US285 homewards.

 I believe this is Antero Peak
(note visibility of headlight)

Scarlett performed in an outstanding manner.  Recently, after some research sparked by comments made by RichardM as to RPMs he was using on his URAL while riding home; and checking with the Ural dealer and the mothership at IMWA, I rode the rig a bit harder than usual while in 3rd gear and on inclines.

I cruised at 60-65 mph on the flat straightaways and while in third was able to hold at least 50 and sometimes close to 55 while on the steep hills along the route!  

Heck, the RPMs never crested 5000 RPM, in third gear, as I managed to pass not only several cars and trucks but also four Harley-Davidsons while on the way to the summit of Monarch Pass on US 50!  Of course, the harleys were in a group and the first harley was towing a trailer but still!

As I passed the total of five cars during this trip, I remember thinking: "Dude, you got passed by a URAL, on a hill!"

Before all the research, I had limited my rigs to about 4200-4300 RPM and had been content to just motor along at about 45 mph on the hills.  These engines apparently prefer to be in the higher revs, not the lower revs so it's all good.

Round trip mileage: (716 Km or almost 430 miles)


ToadMama said...

VERY cool meet and greet. I'm jealous! In a nice way, of course. And you're riding at speed, too?!? You go, Dom! I really enjoyed this post. Amazing pics, too.

Mike Spille said...

Good stuff as usual, Dom.

Unknown said...

Great write up as always. Ara & Spirit are of legend status, I would love to meet them, I think you're a lucky fellow. Some GoPro footage of the passing would be approaching legend as well ;)


redlegsrides said...

Thank you Kathy K.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Mike!

redlegsrides said...

Still in a bit of state of disbelief Don, I don't think the HD guys would have been "amused" to see a camera as I motored ever so slowly past them. Thanks for your comments.

RichardM said...

Great write-up of the meet up. I'd like to meet them as well.

Artie & Leinen's Grand Adventure said...

I haven't read your blog in a few weeks. I enjoyed this one, especially the pictures. I had to ask Richard what an idiot cager was. Ride On!

redlegsrides said...


Thanks, they were so friendly and down to earth.

redlegsrides said...

Glad you liked it Bridget, so what's the next ride with Richard going to be ?

VStar Lady said...

A two for one meet up special, how lucky. As usual awesome photos of the area.

Trobairitz said...

Meeting other moto-enthusiasts is always a good excuse to get out. And you managed to camp too.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Loved the photos, miss the area and so need to get back out there (not that I needed that reminder). I did too much hiking alone, Peg a bit too much morning-sick.

I'd have given a lot to be in that campground that evening for many reasons, very jealous Dom.

mq01 said...

fantastic meet-up and ride! :) i hope the "incidents" turned out ok!

FATTKAW said...

cool stuff. I ran into Ara back in I think 05' down by deals gap at the Iron horse campgrounds and man he made a killer apple pie. also back then he was on two wheels and I got to chase him down RT 28. Very nice guy...

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, yes, and they are friendly all the time.

Coop, come to the state and visit again.

mq01, thanks...the incidents are part and parcel of riding, it just ruined my "qi" for a bit.

fattkaw, thanks....I am sure that apple pie was delicious.

Steve Williams said...

Ara and Spirit are moving toward legend. Can't believe you don't have a selfie with them.

I think you and Riepe are the only legendary characters I've met. It is odd meeting larger than life individuals.

And the scenery -- geez -- everything is working for you.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Steve but am hardly legendary unlike Jack Riepe of whom tales remain to be told ......