Adventure Bike Week

Lunch stop on day one heading toward Del Norte


After months of planning we’re on adventure!
My friends Mike and John launched out of Cuba NM about the same time I left out of Fruita and we met in Del Norte, CO.

Mike riding upright in New Mexico

Day one for me was a hair-raising experience. I’ve likely never ridden more than 25 miles of pavement at one time in my whole life and my first day on the road lasted for 250 miles of pavement and more than half of that at 70 MPH. The Honda Africa Twin is a heavy bike (I’m guessing about 600 pounds plus me, so 760-ish on the road?) and it handles well on the highway.

The rocks defeated John on their first day crossing New Mexico

I left on a tuesday and traffic was very light. I mostly had the road to myself and less than a handful of people caught me from behind. I managed to figure out how to handle the bike while it was going 7 MPH or more. Under 7 MPH it gets very heavy and if it starts to tip over it’s going to finish the job.

John, Mike, and Darren custom-bending the new copper clutch lever

On day one Mike and John rode a rough dirt section of trail in New Mexico and both of them had a date with the dirt. I got to see the battle scars when we met up. Mike broke a side case and John picked up some new scratches

Custom clutch level. Steam-punk edition

We all met up at the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte. It’s a nice place. Fully remodeled: A/C, hot & cold water, nice bed, nice people. The only down-side was the sloth-like pace of the people running the restaurant. I should have eaten before I went down to dinner. Breakfast was even slower. It took an hour to get two scrambled eggs and some potatoes out of the kitchen

This place rocks! Darren had the fix for a broken clutch

We stopped for gas at the corner station in Del Norte and John was attacked by a gravity storm and went down. Broke the clutch lever on his VFRX 1200. We called a few places looking for a replacement with no luck. Then John had the bright idea to stop at Kens’ Tire and Automotive where Darren had the solution. We hammered a section of copper pipe on the broken lever stub and Darren bent it into a curve. Brilliant! I’m guessing it will last about a hundred years like that

Mike and Mike repairing a flat

After repairs were complete we rode from Del Norte north-bound past Natural Arch then zig-zagged our way through the mountains on dirt roads to Sargents, CO. Mike ran over a nail and got a flat tire just past the arch. While we were fixing the flat some people stopped by to chat and offer extra tools. Adventure bike people are nice and it was fun to meet and chat with the folks who stopped

Mike and Mike posing for the camera. We’ve been doing crazy stuff together since 1984

It took all day to go ~100 miles and we ended the day at the Monarch Mountain Lodge on the east side of Monarch Pass. The hotel’s hey-day was likely in the 1970’s. The building has that Swiss-chalet look that was popular oh-so-very-long-ago and now it has a sort of Tammy Fey Baker make-up sagging off the facade look to it

Break time on the side of the road

They served dinner, but only the stuff that could be cooked in the fryer. There was only one person both cooking and serving and she was 10x faster than the Windsor restaurant. Next day we got up hoping the restaurant would serve breakfast like the desk-guy said they did, but no such luck. Apparently pillow-cases and breakfast were in short supply. We powered up to the top of Monarch Pass and ate at the gift shop. Very tasty breakfast sandwiches were had by all

Break time in Ridgway CO

Day three took us down the Gunnison River playing tourist at all the beautiful spots. Blue Mesa, Cinnamon river, and then over to Black Canyon where we rode down to the bottom and had lunch at the rivers edge. My upright motorcycle luck ran out at the entrance gate to Black Canyon N.P. I fell over at the gate house and LOTS of people were in line behind me. SO embarrassing!

The Handle Bar logo cut into the top of their chicken pot pie

After our canyon adventure we rode pavement west then south through Ridgway, Ouray, and over the Million-Dollar highway to Silverton. There were SO many avalanches in the mountains this past winter and the amount of broken trees is staggering! The area has that fresh pine scent that only comes with millions of snapped-off pine trees oozing sap in the spring

Mike, Mike, and John at Black Canyon of the Gunnison N.P.

We arrived at the Prospector Motel to find that the office had been converted into a room. We had to walk a block down the road to check in at the quicky-mart then walk back. The Prospect Motel peaked in about 1980 and while it was clean, had both kinds of water, and was quiet, I wouldn’t book my next vacation there

After getting cleaned up we set out in search of a meal and met some people who have been coming to Silverton for 40 years. They had some fine recommendations. We ate dinner at the Handle Bars food and saloon (look for the mustache) and the next day breakfast at the Brown Bear Cafe. Both good choices!

Day four we split up and went different ways. I headed back north over Red Mountain Pass and down valley to Grand Junction. Mike and John rode toward Durango and back into New Mexico where John had another go at falling down. Sand got him this time

All told it was a fun ride with great friends! I arrived home exhausted yet unscathed so I call that a win!

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