Well, in honor of it now being October, we did our first annual Pun-Kin Run. If you SQUINT and use your imagination, our ride was in a pumpkin shape. Okay, I admit it looks like one of those pathetic rotting pumpkins that has spent a couple of weeks on a hot door step and was kicked in by that damn neighbor kid. That is STILL pumpkin shaped... Kind of... Maybe next year we will go through Townsend to round it out if the road construction that way is done. We rode down through Boulder, Whitehall, Butte (with an extended stop at Copper Canyon H-D), Garrison, and back home. Here is the route (220 miles or so)...
It has been a long time since we have been able to put any real miles on our motorcycles. Penny and I FINALLY got out and rode about 230 miles on Sunday! It was a pretty nice ride toward the north. We hit the point at Choteau and found out we had enjoyed a nice tail wind. Unfortunately, it then was a severe head wind so the ride home wasn't nearly as fun... BUT, it wasn't the WORST day riding we have ever had (is there such a thing?) and we saw some different country and saw a young elk next to the road while we were headed toward Canyon Creek. On our way out of Choteau we scared the deer berries out of two young deer twins who seemed to be intent on playing in the road. Nothing that a fist full of clutch and a couple twists of the wrist couldn't fix though...
Here was our route... In this case, 8 IS enough if you are looking for a 4 hour ~200 mile ride. We didn't follow the classic figure eight though. We did the left side of the eight up, and the right side down; turning left each time we came upon the junction of Hw 287 in the middle. Could have shaved an additional 10 or so miles off the trip if we'd taken the Hw 587 shortcut from Fairfield to Simms on the upper right part of the eight.
Family reunions... Another fine excuse to ride somewhere! We added another 950 miles to the odometers of our bikes! In other words, with other random and miscellaneous rides, that brings us up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,500 miles on our cruiser style motorcycles in the 30 day period from the 16th of July to the 15th of August! What is our secret maximal gluteal comfort for the longer rides?? This is what you can see where our hind-end meets motorcycle... It doesn’t stop the bun burn entirely, but it delays it so you can ride further. THEN, when you rest your haunches for a few minutes you are good for another tank!
It was a nice ride! We left home at about 9am on our latest journey. Headed down I-15 to Butte. We decided to top off the tanks at Rocker and as we were stopped there a couple rode up on a pair of Goldwings. We got to talking to them and they were from Des Moines and were taking the scenic route to Seattle to visit some family. They were planning on riding down I-15 to Divide and across to Wisdom but I showed them the route we had planned toward Anaconda and then past Wisdom and they thought that it looked like a nice ride so we ended up playing cat and mouse with them for a while. As we rode into Wisdom, there was a LOT of manure on the road. We stopped for a glug of water in town and as we rode out of town, there they were... A herd of angus being cowboyed by a bunch of fellas on horses. The road had a green hue (about the shade of this text) and as we followed them slowly down the road for a couple miles, Penny and I ended up with more manure on our chaps than bug guts. It was a little bit gross but oh well... Frankly, I think they should quit feeding grass to the cows, it seems to give them diarrhea! We stopped and visited with the folks from Iowa at the rest area at the border of Idaho and Montana on highway 93 and then they headed north to go over Lolo pass and we headed south.
We rode down to Salmon Idaho where we had some lunch then headed down to Challis and hit the road toward Stanley Basin. We were craving some time off the bikes so we stopped in Sunbeam (which is basically a place, not even a town, with four buildings and two port-a-lets and is where you turn to go to one of my favorite places to camp in all the world, there is also a really cool old gold dredge about 15 miles up the road which you can tour if you are ever in the area) and bought a couple ice cream cones at a quaint little bar and burger joint. We sat out in the shade of their porch and ate them and enjoyed the scenery. We had planned on stopping and soaking in the hot springs alongside the Salmon River a mile or so from Sunbeam but by the time we got there, the idea of stripping down to swimming suits and then getting all leathered back up when we were done wasn’t that appealing so we just stopped and looked for a little bit and then headed on down the road.
We gassed up in Stanley and rode out toward Sun Valley. Stanley literally CRAWLS with bikers. It is basically the center point of three awesome rides; one along the Salmon River toward Challis, one over Galena Summit toward Sun Valley, and one toward Lowman ID and Boise. You can’t go wrong on a bike in any direction. There is beautiful country everywhere with lots of opportunities to stop for pictures of the Sawtooth range, Redfish Lake, Galena Summit, and many other scenic vistas, rivers, streams and lakes. Also, there are many MANY camping sites and cabins to be found in the area! We decided to go ahead and just ride without making any photo stops on the way down so we could get to our hotel and cool off.
Once we reached Ketchum... WOW, talk about money. It is like mansion, mansion, mansion, crappy trailer park with wornout 40 year old trailers, mansion, mansion, mansion, mansion, crappy trailer park with wornout 40 year old trailers, more mansions... The weird thing is that even though they have all that money, the roads in the area SUCK! All rutted and bumpy... And the traffic! We got there at about 7pm and the traffic was bumper to bumper headed in to town.
We finally made it to our hotel in Hailey at about 8pm, flopped on the bed and passed out. I admit I was dubious about the family reunion, but, we got there Saturday morning and it was fun all day! We called it quits at about 7pm when my brothers (and their families) had to leave. We went to town and had a pop with them in the local McDonalds before they hit the road home then returned to our hotel and fell in bed again.
We got up and were on the road by 9am. We returned the same way, well, up until we got to that rest area where we left our Iowa friends. This time, we met a couple of riders on Harleys at the rest area. They were from Georgia and had shipped their bikes to LA and were doing a zig zag route up and down the states on their way back home. They had ridden up the Pacific Coast Highway and were riding down to Bonneville Salt Flats for Speed Week. Then back up through Teton, Yellowstone, over Beartooth and over to Sturgis, etc. They were headed to Redfish Lake for the night but when we told them it was another 200 miles, they started rethinking that... We bid them farewell and safe travels and headed back toward home again.
HOT! We got into Hamilton to gas up and the thermometer at the gas station read 89 degrees. However, when we got back on the road, a thermometer on the other end of town said it was 100 degrees. It sure felt like it, even at 65 mph it was toasty in the black leather at 6:30pm! If you are thinking of riding down highway 93 along the Bitterroot mountains, they are doing major road construction between Hamilton and Florence! Miles of no paved bumpy gravely road. JOY!
We finally fought our way through Missoula and then hit I-90 for a brief run over to Bonner, where we got off the interstate and rode highway 200 up toward Lincoln. We stopped in Lincoln for a quick bun break and to top off the tanks and hit the road for the home stretch over Flesher pass. We stopped at the top of Flesher pass for a break and noticed the clouds and heard thunder. JOY! We hoped to make it through this trip without hitting rain... Hey, my biker friends, if you haven’t been over Flesher lately, the road has been repaved and is AWESOME from the Stemple Pass road almost to Canyon Creek, which BTW is where we hit the rain. SO, we got rained on and lighteninged at from Canyon Creek until we pulled into the garage at about 9:30pm. Safe and sound. Even though Penny is now officially riding on a bologna skin rear tire. She went over 10,000 miles on her bike as we pulled up to the reunion!
I think this is our last BIG ride for the year. Dang it, need vacation time or personal wealth so we can ride more!!! COME ON LOTTO!!!
2056 miles in 7 days… It was an awesome trip!
Day 1: We ended up stopping at Steve’s Café for breakfast on the way out of town. If you are a Helena local and haven’t tried them, DO! Their food is delish and it is a nice clean and friendly place to eat! We rolled out of town at about 9:30am on our adventure.
Of course, it is road construction season. We made it half way to Townsend (about 20 miles from Steve’s) before we were stopped for road construction. Annoyingly, while we had to wait for traffic to clear the zone, wait for a pilot car and a green light to go, we had to fight with oncoming traffic the whole way through the zone. Don’t know why they even bothered making us stop if we were going to have to battle traffic anyway. Took us about 20 minutes to go the 4 or 5 miles of the construction site.
Finally we made it through Townsend and headed East on highway 12. I had used Google Maps and had found us a route on County Road 300 south out of Ryegate because we wanted to go from Highway 12 to Columbus MT. Well, turned on the road and rode 5 miles, beautiful roads… All of a sudden it was gravel. Seemed well maintained but not what we were looking for, so we headed back to Ryegate to a gas station. I shot some gas into the bikes while Penny went in to gather a map with more detail and ask about the road. The cashier told her “OH, it is a great road, a few narrow spots where there was some damage because of the flooding from the wet spring but it was a nice road". So, we decided to go for it. Yeah, nice road… It was pretty nice to start. A few narrow rough spots like she mentioned but pretty soon we started hitting roads not on either of our maps and were essentially lost to our destination. I hit a HUGE bump and broke one of the straps holding my bag on the seat and shattered my spleen (not really about the spleen but it HURT). We stopped and asked directions from some fellas that were installing some communications cables or something and claimed they “grew up” in the area, but they didn’t know how to get to Columbus from there. They did point us in a general direction to one of the towns on our map. The roads kept getting narrower and narrower, even to where there was a grass strip down the middle. Finally, the road started getting wider and more travelled looking again. It started coming up out of the canyon and we had some hope that we would be able to make it to Columbus. As we putted around this corner, I noticed a cow standing in a HUGE culvert alongside the creek we had been following. As I got further around the corner, I noticed the 30 foot wide 15 foot deep washout across the road where the culvert USED to be… As luck would have it, a couple locals were arriving at the other side of the washout (on four wheelers) as we were getting off our bikes. We chatted with them a little while across the washout. They told us we were on the right road, that it was in fact well travelled, even a school bus route, but that the washout we were eyeballing was the first of five similar washouts as the road worked its way out of the canyon. That the only way through was on four wheelers. Though, if we rode back 5 miles, there was another even lesser maintained road that would get us passed the trouble we were in… It was at that point that we decided to cut our losses and return to highway 12 and reroute through Billings. This little side jaunt cost us about 2 hours of time, riding around on dirt roads as well as time lost riding through Billings and returning to Laurel. Anyway, I guess the moral to this section of the story is… DON’T PUT BLIND FAITH INTO GOOGLE MAPS (or gas station attendants)!
It was starting to get a little late when we finally reached Red Lodge. As we were gassing up, we debated whether we should forgo the ride over the Beartooth Highway and through Yellowstone and divert directly to Cody from there. We decided to go ahead and ride the Beartooth pass but to skip the ride through the Eastern side of Yellowstone. That was actually an AWESOME decision! After riding over Beartooth Pass, we turned onto the Chief Joseph Highway toward Cody! INCREDIBLE!!! Just a bunch of beautiful mountain vistas, grassy meadows, lush forests, rushing clear rivers and best of all, windy well paved roads to carve. While we made it into Cody well after dark, it was TOTALLY worth the ride. I wish we hadn’t gotten “lost” in the canyon south of Ryegate but if it had worked out like we’d planned, we most likely would not have discovered this awesome route, instead riding a path through Yellowstone we had ridden last summer.
Day 2: We got up and washed the dust and dirt off the bikes, loaded up and hit the road to Colorado. By the way, if you are a motorcyclist, I definitely recommend staying at the Best Western in Cody. They have nice rooms AND a dedicated spot for bikers to wash their scoots! Our intended route was to leave Cody on highway 120. We would ride to Thermopolis, Rawlins, hop on the interstate for about 20 miles to highway 130 and work our way to Walden Colorado. We stopped to gas up in Thermopolis (thank goodness) and were talking to another gas station lady. She said we would like their canyon (we did!) and told us about this route to take to Rawlins. It turned out that this was the path we had already chosen. Unfortunately, we skipped a gas stop in Riverton Wyoming thinking we could gas up in Jeffrey City or something. Yeah, Jeff City has a FEW houses and several abandoned well forsaken gas stations and nothing else. Penny’s low fuel light had been on for a while by the time we got there and we still had 60 miles to go to Rawlins with nothing on the map in between. For the record, her bike gets about 50 MPG and she has about a gallon left when the light comes on… SO, we were sweating it. Just when we thought I was going to have to go get a gas can full of gas for her, we came to this “T” intersection with a gas station. Of course, it was out of 91 octane premium that we run in our Harleys, so we shot a gallon of 85 octane into each of our bikes (at $4.85 a gallon) to get us to Rawlins and were thankful. We hit the highway from Rawlins and made it to Walden without incident. Then we hit the Poudre Canyon Highway… 50+ miles of AWESOME canyon carving! WOW! We saw MOOSE CROSSING signs and signs with big capitol letters stating "MOOSE ON THE ROADS AFTER DARK! DRIVE WITH CARE!" Sure enough, we saw three moose (2 bulls and 1 cow) in broad daylight! It would be an awesome area to visit again for some camping or something. This was definitely a fun ride. It was another late night on the roads. We rode through downtown Ft Collins Colorado at the height of party time on Thursday night! Seems like EVERYONE was out! We finally arrived in Longmont CO at about 10:30, found our hotel and hit the hay.
Days 3-5: We spent the next three days at the Rockygrass Bluegrass Festival! Talk about FUN! It is definitely an interesting mix of people. There were about 3,500 at this one. It is situated at the north west end of Lyons Colorado, along the St Vrain river that follows this cliff which is the North and East boundary of the venue. It is about 20 miles further to Estes Park. Boy it was hot, but it was nice to have the river there to cool off in. We met our friends, Jim and Leslie who had also driven down from Helena to attend the festival. We hung out with them and we also made a new friend; a fellow named Matthew who came all the way from England, ENGLAND!!!, to attend this festival. We had a BLAST visiting with Jim and Leslie and Matthew. It turns out Matthew is also a struggling banjo player so we compared notes about banjos and life and the U.S. versus England, etc. It was a lot of fun! I hope we see him again next time we attend. It was three hot days, sitting in the sun, but the music and friendship was TOTALLY worth it!
The line up...
- Friday, July 29, 2011
- 10:00 - 11:00am — Henhouse Prowlers
- 11:15 - 12:15pm — Brother Mule
- 12:30 - 1:45pm — Darol Anger's Republic of Strings
- 2:00 - 3:15pm — Bryan Sutton & The String Set
- 3:30 - 4:45pm — Shawn Camp Band
- 5:15 - 6:30pm — Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band
- 7:00 - 8:30pm — David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
- 9:00 - 10:30pm — Del McCoury Band
- Saturday, July 30, 2011
- 11:45 - 12:45pm — Della Mae
- 1:00 - 1:45pm — Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg
- 2:00 - 3:15pm — Kruger Brothers
- 3:30 - 4:45pm — Sarah Jarosz
- 5:15 - 6:30pm — Psychograss
- 7:00 - 8:30pm — Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers
- 9:00 - 10:30pm — Hot Rize
Day 6: Monday morning, we got up and loaded up the bikes for our ride home. We hit I-25 South toward Denver and found a Cracker Barrel for breakfast then hit the road. We rode right past Denver and out Interstate 70 to Idaho Springs Colorado, rode over some nice passes on the way. Gotta love that Denver traffic! WOW! We were happy to leave Denver in the mirrors. Thank goodness we missed rush hour! Once we reached Idaho Springs, we jumped off the interstate to ride up Mt Evans. That was AWESOME! Lots of windy narrow roads with no guard rails, we made it to the parking spot at 14,130 feet in elevation and got off and wandered around a bit and took some pictures. There was a path to the peak - another hundred feet higher or so - but I didn’t want to be all puffed out and loopy while trying to ride down the narrow road back to Idaho Springs. After this side trip, we rode another 8 miles or so West down I-70 and took off toward the North on the secondary highways again. This time we rode over a high pass, got snowed on a little bit, rained on a little bit and rode down the other side to Winter Park Colorado. It was definitely and “exclusive” zip code… There was even a sign warning drivers to be careful for "dashing sleighs". Of course, that sent me off on a couple rounds of "Jingle Bells" at top volume (a definite benefit of wearing a full face helmet on these long rides)... We rode through before they recognized us… We did a bunch more canyon carving and pass riding, even some rain splashing, and got back to Walden where we retraced our tracks to Rawlins. This time though, we kept on going down the I-80 and made it to Rock Springs Wyoming at about 9:30pm, where we spent the night.
Day 7: We got up the next morning and loaded up again for the final stretch of our trip. We gassed up and headed up the road to Jackson Hole. It took us a few hours of desert riding before we finally got into the mountains. We got to carve a few more canyons. Lots of fun! We finally made it to Jackson and gassed up. We rode into Teton National Park and rode through Yellowstone from the South Gate and out the West Gate to West Yellowstone. At this point, we decided to ride past Earthquake Lake and up through Ennis. We were going to gas up at the Wheat Montana at the junction with I-90 and ride to Townsend on home, but once we arrived, there was no pavement on the road. It was about 9:30pm by this time and the signs indicated 66 miles of road construction. SO, having nightmares about riding on dirt roads, we followed the suggestion of the signs (motorcycles should consider an alternate route) and rode over the hill on I-90 to Cardwell MT where we took the highway up to Boulder and got on I-15 for the trip up to Helena. We pulled into our garage at 11pm on the dot… TIRED!
All in all, it was an AWESOME trip! Can’t wait to do it again next year!!!!
The rest of the pics (of course)!! I actually took the video camera on the trip too and will post the videos I took to the photo gallery once I have a chance to convert them to an internet worthy format...
Well, anyone who knows us has heard about our NEAR completion of a Saddle Sore 1000 last year. We ended up at Lewistown with 875 miles behind us and EXHAUSTED! Well, we MADE IT this year! It was a long LONG day. We left home at 4AM on Saturday the 16th and got home at 1:20AM on Sunday the 17th. Sitting almost continuously in the saddle for just over 21 hours and 1,056 miles is PAINFUL.
We actually modified our intended route once we reached Lewistown (point J). Originally, we were going to turn toward Harlowton, a few miles past Lewistown, and take highway 12 through Townsend and into Helena. However, it was getting late and we decided that staying on highway 200 through Great Falls might be a bit better since it seemed like a more well traveled road. I was concerned with how many deer we might come across. Turned out to be a pretty good decision I think. We had a few interesting events and sightings.
1. We rode in a thunder shower at about 5 AM for about 15 miles, starting right about the time we turned onto highway 200 toward Lincoln MT (point B)... Pouring rain and 46 degrees, BRRRRRR! Thank goodness we were leathered up, at least we weren't wet to the bone, just cold...
2. On the Seeley Swan highway, (between points C & D on the map) I had to get on the brakes HARD as a deer ran across the road right in front of me.
3. There was a LOT of road construction heading to and leaving Havre (point F) that cost us probably an hour of time.
4. We stopped at the Fort Peck Dam spillway, 20 miles South of Glasgow (point H), and checked it out. They are STILL releasing an incredible amount of water, and have been since early June!
5. On the Southbound stretch after the spillway stop, I had a young pheasant doink into my left toe and boinked into my shin as it spooked and turned 180 degrees to fly right in front of me. Penny told me it kept on flying so it must not have been hurt too bad when I ran into it doing 80 mph. I don't think it even left a poo print on my chaps! Well, I couldn't see one in all the bug remains anyway...
6. Penny almost flipped over her handlebars as we rode a rough section of road headed West toward Jordan (point I). There was a sign that said bump right at a huge pot hole that took up most of the traffic lane. She was riding behind and to my right. While I was able to skirt the left side of the hole, she was too far to the right and could not swerve over far enough to avoid the hole. She hit it HARD at about 70 mph and I saw her almost do a superman in my mirror! We both hit a few spleen busters on the trip. There are some ROUGH roads out there!
7. We crested a hill about two miles east of Winnett (between I & J). About a quarter mile down the road we could see a couple semi's stopped in our lane. There was something dark across the road, but we couldn't tell what it was at first. Check it out here... We pulled up and a fella with a stop sign said we could either ride down into the ditch to get past or wait a couple hours until they were able to move it. We rode into the ditch. It was after we had ridden back up onto the road on the other side that I took this picture. Apparently the driver was okay after he awoke from the nap that caused the accident. I suspect he is one of the fella's down looking at the tractor with the cops.
8. I almost jumped off my motorcycle when a HUGE owl appeared in the darkness on a road cone in some road construction near Craig MT. As I passed, it decided to take off from it's cone and FREAKED ME OUT!
You can see ALL our pics from the trip here. And yes, Penny did it on her little Sportster 883 Low. She is TUFF!!!
*** Several people have asked me what in the world would prompt such a seemingly crazy feat. Here it is, Iron Butt Association. It is simply to have the chance to be able to pay for a certificate and patch that essentially confirms that we are plum loco!