"I think maybe we do not
climb a mountain because it is there. We climb it because we are here."
- Jon Carroll, 20th century American writer
After two and a half days
of not being on the bike, I was itching to go. Quite literally ... one,
because I couldn't bring myself to take a shower at 2 am ... the only time
they seemed to be open, and two, because the callus on my throttle hand
was beginning to soften from lack of use - and it was itchy. However my
anxiety was not the same as the others at the rally who began packing up
at first light as the sound of their idling engines warming began about
5 am. They had states and time zones to cross in one day. They had to hurry.
I had adventures waiting in unknown times and unseen places. I wanted to
For years I had been saying the Top Of The Rockies Rally was one of the best small rallies in the west. That statement is changed now, and I'm upgrading it as the rally has grown ... To'R is THE BEST *large* rally in the west. Over 750 people attended this year, and you would never know it wasn't the same small gathering that it has always been. Very well organized, excellent location which can accommodate that number in the city park next to the peonies for which Paonia is named, and the joyous participation of the town. Great fun all around ... although I am just a little miffed that they wouldn't even give an honorable mention in the long distance category to the fellow on a K75 who traveled 6,963 miles to get there. (They use direct route. Obviously, I don't. :)
A couple of observations from the days: as more of us gizmo geeks get GPS, we find new uses for them. On the message board was a note: Butch, we are at N38.... W107.... . (If you remember my experiences with GPS accuracy, let's hope Butch didn't select a tent in the middle of the night based on his GPS.) Although Herb never got the Texas cheerleaders to do a bike wash at the Blueberry Rally, there were band members doing a benefit bike wash in Paonia. Considering they had to deal with 30 days of intracontinental dirt, an extra contribution to the band uniform fund was called for - especially after one washer commented that he had never seen bugs (squashed on the front) like that in Colorado. We surmised they were the remains of those two pound Minnesota mosquitos.
The unclear on the concept award goes to the person who hung a used tire for sale on a fence post. The attached note gave details of its usage and an asking price ... The attached note was affixed by a thumbtack into the sidewall of the tire. It would have been a good deal ... without the hole in the sidewall.
As the bikes streamed away
from the town, impromptu riding groups formed by necessity as other traffic
was overtaken. It was interesting to see the automatic rules of the road
that motorcyclists follow fall into place. Riders would form staggered
formation without needing direction. Groups would pass vehicles in coordinated
bursts. Faster riders would restrain their urges long enough to establish
polite deference to slower riders ahead, then pass in a friendly line dance
- and the slower riders would know to "right side" their lane (ride on
the right to allow passing with crossing the centerline). It all worked
so well, even when the rally departees came upon other motorcycles who
had no idea where the crowd came from. I happened to be behind four slow
GoldWings (following while waiting for a turn off shortly ahead) when an
impromptu pack came from behind, bunched up behind the Wings, then blasted
past like an express train. The Wingers all looked, pointed, and pulled
over to talk about it.
Colorado is a landscape that shows in another way how we depend on water not just for sustenance, but also for travel. All the major roads, and many of the others too, follow a water course around and through the mountains. This is not a "let's go that way" map, like the open desert. Even in the northwestern corner of the state where plateaus and mesas are more prominent than mountains, rivers and creeks make the map. And following them can be fun even on an Interstate, believe it or not. I70 through Glenwood Canyon is probably the nicest Interstate this side of West Virginia. Here, though, the rock formations have been left uncovered because of limited rain, and you can see the muli-layered colors cut and carved on angles that make rock look swirled like a parfait after its glass bounced a couple times.
Through the town of Rifle, where the streets Colt and Shotgun intersect with Remington, which parallels Winchester ... a town of high caliber, undoubtedly, I rode north looking for a road I noticed on the map that just had the right feel for my wandering. "Blue highways" are too big for my taste. They attract RVs, trucks, and minivans. Piceance Creek Road, unsigned Rio Blanco County Road 5, meanders through a valley, nearly circumnavigates a ridge, and is only a thin black line on the map, but it has the magic words that called to me - Trucks not recommended. While not in the league of other venues in Colorado, it was the perfect ride for my needs this day. It got me back into the groove, Stella. And there was one sign posted near a picture perfect ranch in the valley which at first seemed amusing, but on second look was "painted like it meant it". Bold, serious, letters: Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be prosecuted.
Passing through more northerly
towns I began to see 'dropouts' from the rally, bikes who got an early
start and were now parked at small motels to break from the growing heat.
It is definitely bike vacation time in America. All brands and all ages
are represented now, unlike during the first part of this trip.
Within a couple miles of the border, Utah reclaims the terrain from Colorado cowboy country, now showing open, arid, barren rock mesas in desert colors of seared sienna and muted magenta. There still are places in America where there are no fences beside the highway - and no fences visible for as far as you can see. This is one of them.
FuelPlus 292 miles, 5:36 hours engine, 53 mph average
Paonia CO133 CO82 I70 US6 CO13 county5 CO64 US40 UT121 Roosevelt
Sam Lepore, San Francisco