Colorado Motorcycle Trip – 9/20/2015

Today was a day of pain, opportunity, and luck. It started out as the previous two had, in a motel room quickly getting ready before the sun came up. I had about an hour’s ride before I got to Silverton, CO, the northern gem of the Million Dollar Highway. From there south for at least an hour would be some of the most spectacular views of my ride. I was off to a gas station to fill up my bike and my belly!

Riding any Colorado road in the mornings or night can leave a person bone chilled. The sun was out, but it was frequently behind the scenery. I realized that if I was too cold, I wouldn’t be in top riding form, and found it best to stop and put on my rain suit for extra wind protection. Here is what that looked like!

Finally warm, I was able to ride normally and happy. Its worth not looking “cool” to be happy and warm and the stop only took about 10 minutes. It didn’t take long till I further south and the road got very interesting as did my ride.

Watch the video below, and you’ll see around minute 4:50, I pull over to look out at an overlook with a waterfall. Its a great view, but when I get back on my bike I mess with it a bit cause it won’t start. Eventually it fires up and I go on my way. At the 7:25 mark, I have to stop for a traffic signal for one way traffic. It seemed that I was going to be there a while, so I shut off the bike again. At 9:55 you can see the traffic light turn green and me try to start the bike. It took about 20 seconds for me to get it to work including some frustrating hand work and attempting to wave on the traffic backed up behind me. But she did start and I was off.

My problem now was I knew that the next time I turned off the bike there was a very high likelihood that it would not start again. At this point in the trip, I’m ahead of schedule and willing to stop more to view the things around me, with a machine that doesn’t want to cooperate. Deep down inside I knew that the moment of truth would come and I didn’t want to ride in fear all the way to Durango without stopping.

Eventually the moment was right and I stopped on an uphill to see a scenic looking waterfall coming down from the mountain. Delaying the inevitable, I hiked around to get a good look.

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From the parking lot up into the waterfall.

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Back to the pull out I parked out.

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This is how the water goes under the road, they must expect lots of water in the spring!

Eventually I went back to the bike and it failed to start. But a few summers ago, I did a solo ride in St. Louis and had a similar issue. I rode out to Hermann, MO and stopped at the river to enjoy the view. When I got back on it wouldn’t start. After a Facebook post to the Concours Owner’s Group, I got a reply telling me to check the fuses, and it turned out I had blown one. So with past experience as my guide, I started to take off the side panel that hosted the fuses.

With the first panel off, I learned that I took off the wrong one 🙁 But I also saw the manual adjustment for the suspension that I have never tried before. So I took a chance and adjusted it. I wouldn’t know what this did until I could get the bike started and back on the road. So I put the panel back on and went around to the other side. I took off the panel and found the fuse box. Then I triumphantly took out each fuse knowing that I would find a blown one and could just replace it and be on my way.

When the last fuse was pulled and none were blown, I got momentarily flustered. I have no cell signal to call for help and I’m not sure what is wrong with my bike. I remember reading a story by Daniel Meyer about approaching a guy on the side of the road in Alaska beating his motorcycle gear because his bike wouldn’t work. Once the guy calmed down, they went over the bike system by system till they found the problem and got him going again.

With a little patience and a happy mood cause I was in Colorado about the farthest away from home I would be the whole trip, I started taking the motorcycle apart checking every electrical connection I could find and then testing to see if it would start. Eventually, under the seat was the ignition pack that when wiggled caused it to work once then fail. After some working of the harness, I was able to get it to work 5 times in a row.

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With things back together, the ignition didn’t give me any more problems for the rest of the trip. Ohh, and the seat adjustment was amazing, making it more bouncy. My butt complained a lot less which made me happy. Come back in a few days for the continuation of the rest of this day.

Hogan Haake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Motorcycle Trip – 9/19/2015

Sunrise in Goodland Kansas.

Sunrise in Goodland Kansas.

I woke up to a brisk 41°F this morning. I didn’t want to waste any sunlight, so I packed quickly and got some gas station breakfast and headed out. I made it all the way to Denver and a little past on a single tank of gas, getting 220 miles without hitting the reserve. I was getting a bit nervous about running out of fuel because I was going up and down large inclines, but it all worked out. With another full tank, I looked for Squaw Pass road. Once found,the road quickly delivered breathtaking mountain scenery with amazing curves. I was laughing to my self!

It didn’t take long to find the road with signs to drive up Mount Evans, the highest auto road in North America. The gentleman at the toll booth took my money and advised me of some rough pavement around miles 8 and 9. Ohh, and to be careful… I enjoyed the ride going up to the half way at Summit Lake. There, I stopped too cold to continue. Time to add some much needed gear. And maybe the view was awesome too!

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From here up, I continued much slower. I noticed at Summit Lake that I was having trouble breathing the cold thin mountain air. Its likely that I was also just so excited to be here hardly 24 hours after I left home! There were many hairpin turns that I was extra careful on as I wasn’t at 100% power. Eventually, I got all the way to the top of the mountain and was again greeted with an amazing view. But there was trouble at the top.

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Parked at the top, I realized that I wasn’t at the top. There was still a trail to climb if I wanted to actually be at the top of the mountain. Light headed (fat and out of shape) from the altitude, I started climbing the trail. I left my one piece rain suit on as extra wind protection as I was still cold. I was tempted to wear the helmet for my head, but thought that would be too much. So I started up the trail. About half way up, I was passed like I was standing still by a group of nuns that didn’t appear to be wearing any extra clothing for the cold. I no longer felt like the stud that conquered the mountain!

Proof that I made it!

Proof that I made it!

This is Summit Lake from the top.

This is Summit Lake from the top.

Those pesky nuns!

Those pesky nuns!

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I asked somebody for help with a photo, not too bad!

I asked somebody for help with a photo, not too bad! She said it was “badass” as she took it!

 

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A view of the parking lot at the top of Mount Evans. Notice the observatory. Must be a nice view.

Video of going up Mt. Evans

Video of going down Mt. Evans

After a nerve wracking ride down the mountain, I went north up to Idaho Springs, CO. I was ready for lunch. Most people would stop at a local restaurant and take stuff in, but I had other ideas. So I found a Hardee’s and got my first official meal of the trip. But with the spirit of the trip, I went outside to the parking lot to eat and look at the scenery.

After a fast lunch, I was back on the bike riding again. I left I-70 about 10 miles west and took 381 in Georgtown, CO. I was afraid that I made a wrong turn. All the maps said I was going the right way, but the road kept leading towards a dead end. Eventually, it lead to a switch back that started climbing the mountain. I had no idea it was possible and was just along for the ride. Special note here, I expected all highways to have a 55 mph speed limit, but this highway was often 25 mph. Its important to plan accordingly.

There were some amazing places to stop along the way, that I want to go back with the family so we can randomly stop and see the sights! At the end of the pass, I stopped at Al’s Pits Barbecue. It was interesting enough to stop for a photo, but not to eat.

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This next stretch was long. I turned down a gravel forest service road and went till I felt I was completely alone. Then parked to take an isolated photo.

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I also was motivated enough to take a video of how lonely the road was. Of course at the end of the video, a truck comes by…

From here, it was an easy ride all the way to Montrose, CO. Once there, I went to 3 hotels before I found one with vacancy. It was over $130 for the night, but I didn’t want to miss out on a room and have to ride any more as it was quite dark out now. Danelle was a bit worried about me at this point until I called her. If it wasn’t for the Spot Tracker showing her that I was still moving, she may have been in a panic.

Hogan Haake

 

Colorado Motorcycle Trip – 9/18/2015

Today is the start of a multi day trip via motorcycle to Colorado. I’ve been planning this trip for a few months and the time finally arrived. The goal for the day was to get out of work and get on the road asap, making as many miles as possible the first day so I had lots of time in Colorado for riding.  The document below is the document I created for the trip. Its basically a city to city plan of where I want to go. There are a number of cities on the way out so I can decide if its worth pressing on or not.

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Around 10 am, I had finished all of my assigned tasks at work and asked my boss if I could take off a bit early for the day (was planning to take a half day anyway). Since it didn’t’ make sense to start anything new for an hour, he sent me on my way. I was quite excited to get home and trade the minivan for a loaded motorcycle. I put on all of my gear: riding jacket, gloves, armored pants, and helmet. I placed the printed notes from the word doc above in my tank bag. Then turned on my Spot Tracker, put my phone in airplane mode and headed for the interstate!

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I took the photo of the odometer so I could keep track of the distance I would ride during the trip.

I had overcast weather and ended up putting on my rain suit about an hour into the ride and topped off the fuel tank and got lunch. Since I didn’t have anybody with me to complain, this would be the first of many gas station meals on this trip!

Around Kansas City, I encountered rush hour and had to sit in traffic, waiting for a fresh accident and lots of rubbernecking. During the traffic jam, I unzipped my Tour Master Elite II one piece rain suit to navel level. Eventually traffic started flowing and the wind cooled off my sweating body. But only a few miles further back at highway speed, the wind started catching the open suit and made it difficult to hang on to the bike. I was able to zip it back up one handed after a few tries.

If there is one thing that I dislike, its interstate toll roads. The only one I would encounter during my ride was on I-70 in eastern Kansas. Once at the gate, I had to stop and grab a ticket. But in order to stow the ticket, I had to take off a glove. On the end of the toll, I again had to stop and take off wet gloves. Then I grabbed the ticket and paid. It took me about the same time as 5 cars going through due to my equipment. Eventually, I gave up on the wet gloves and rode a short distance sans gloves away from the toll gate to the shoulder to get out a dry pair of gloves before continuing on.

I have not been to western Kansas since 2002, so a lot had changed. There were tons of wind farms collecting power from the wind all around me. I forgot how windy it got out there. In fact, I apologize to whoever ends with some of the trash from my gas station diner late in the day. I set the paper down on the motorcycle and it was gone before I could think to catch it.

I ended up going about 650 miles and ending up in Goodland, KS for the night. I found a nice hotel right off the highway. While I can ride at night on the motorcycle, I prefer not to if I have a choice for safety. Now I was in mountain time zone. What a great start to my adventure!

Hogan Haake

Two Ferry Ride Again – 9/13/2015

Okay, I swear this is the last time for a while that I do this ride! I went with Eric Ent from work and Sonora on the back of my bike. We tried to get his sister to join us, but she couldn’t make it. We made a slight variation on the last two rides, making a small side trip to Pere Marquette start park for a view over the river.

Eric got  quite a kick out of both of the ferry rides and Sonora enjoyed her second pass at them. IMG_20150913_084232 IMG_20150913_084206

And of course from on top of the bluffs!

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Finally, if you’re still interested, I have a video from each motorcycle. First from Eric’s bike. Its a fixed mount at the handlebars.

Second is a mount from the top of my helmet.

Hogan Haake