From: Edward Guzman 
To: European Motorcycles Mailing List 
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 96 06:37 PDT
Subject: Gather'96 Trip Report

3000 Miles of Smiles

heigira... the idaho pavement streamed endlessly ahead of us on into the gathering dark. the sun, a ball of orange flame was setting just off to my left. the ducati's intake was singing it's song and the power pulses told me "all's well". i checked my 'six' and saw my two companions, alan and jim's, headlights keeping pace. a fast formation. after the 16th hour in the saddle, i looked ahead again and started pondering the circumstances that brought all this about...

after a protracted e-mail exchange with "the one true beth" it was decided that i attend the The Gather. i posted on the colorado DoD list looking for riders. not too surprisingly alan fleming piped up. jim franklin also volunteered to fly 'wing' provided he could get his ally back in one piece. i offered my K75S as a substitute and as it turned out, he took advantage of my offer. jim flew out from san jose on tuesday night before we were to leave. we got him packed and ready and made an early night of it.

96.07.10 - we left my home in aurora CO at 6:15 a.m. much to jim's delight. (i bribed him with eggs and espresso.) after traversing denver's early rush hour we met alan fleming in idaho springs. we all topped off, mounted up and were treated to a preview of one of the trip's highlights: guessing whether alan's suzuki-valdez would start or not. alan quickly dismounted, removed his side panel, jiggled some wires and just like that, the bike started. the valdez name became appropriate later on...

i had picked a route that was hopefully not too boring but would make us some time. I-70 west to rifle then a zig-zag course up to US 40 to just outside of salt lake city. pick up more slab there and by then figure out a place to alight for the night. yeah right. oh well, the part up to US40 was ok. you can take everything from vernal to boise and cut it off the maps: there ain't nothin' there! miles of and miles of nothin'. we got to ogden when we all noticed something ominous. lots of skidmarks and blood all over the road. deer... it was only late afternoon so there were no worries but we must've seen over 100 strikes in 15 miles. wow.

inferno... the heat was oppressive. we had the sun at our backs most of the day but heat is heat no matter where it comes from. i had bought a camel-bak system for this trip and would've done without my leathers rather than give it up. originally the plan was to stop just over the idaho border but as there was lots of light we thought we'd just keep rolling. jim had found a nice rythmn with the beemer and alan was an old hand at long days. why anybody would put a class A interstate across this wasteland is beyond me. it was simply mind-numbing at 85 or 90. i couldn't imagine what the people on *bicycles* were thinking! yes, bicycles... every so often we see one or two (fool)hardy souls pedaling along on their bicycles. i for one wondered "why?"... we were all exhausted.

the ducati proved to be really comfortable. the only wibble was that my knees were a bit stiff from being bent so long. (they get the same way on the K75 too.) the corbin was worth it's weight in gold and the pro-grips provided a nice purchase on the clipons. the sun started going down taking the temps with it. not long after the air cooled raising not only our energy levels but our spirits too. i saw a sign saying that boise was "only" 200 miles away... yeah, go for it. jim and alan smiled and agreed at one of our fueling stops which brings me to the "valdez".

alan had set his valve tolerances just a day or two before. as his bike was previously raced, some of the fastener threads have seen better days. a valve cover screw had stripped and was pummping oil across the top of the engine. as the day wore on, the air stream started to push the oil through the fairing openings making the bike look like alan had gotten on the short end of a WWII dog fight. "i'm hit! i'm hit! i'm going down!". alan was a trooper and put up with not only wiping up oil at every gas stop but our snide remarks as well. he'd pay me back... in spades.

hours and miles rolled on with me riding point. i was racing the sun as i didn't want to be riding at 80 after dark. turns out i kept up the pace even after darkness fell. foolhardy maybe but we sure made time. we made boise by 11:30 pm i'd guess and checked into a holiday inn express by 11:45 for sure. 17.5 hours all told. we ordered domino's and seldom had any of us seen pizza vanish like that. i don't even remember eating. i was asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. those guys had bearly enough time to get in their earplugs... chainsaw time.

96.07.11 - thursday broke with the promise of more heat. the sun was brilliant and nary a cloud in the sky. the phone rang at oh-600. i was up first, showered and ambled down to the lobby for some coffee. i sat and soaked in the caffeine while rubbing my knees. a few minutes latter i staggered back to the room and woke up jim and alan. they hadn't even budged when the phone rang i think. while they each showered, i packed up my gear and refilled my lifesaving camel-bak with ice and water again. the three of us went back to lobby for some brekkie. we watched the weather report and pondered our impending immolation by the sun again. i thought the northwest was supposed to be cooler? sheesh...

again, we mounted up and were treated to alan's starting follies. hee. i led us off into the rush hour traffic. with construction, detours and lots of cars about, i managed to miss our turns only twice which was consistent with the amount of turns i had to make! some navigator... once on the right trail we started to stretch out again. there was a great grade full of big sweepers just north of town a few miles at horse shoe bend. as a matter of habit, i'd check my mirrors to make sure i wasn't leaving anybody. i noticed we'd picked up a trailer: a guy in some sort of toyota sportscar. i don't know about those guys but he made me nervous.

when we stopped for fuel he pulled up behind us and got out of his car. now, i'm not very talkative first thing in the morning. i dunno, it's just not me, but this guy needed a tachometer for his jaw. yacketty, yaketty, yak. made my dry clutch sound quiet. according to him he was a BMW/MOA member who rode all the time, etc. he insisted we hit that road and this road and stop here and there to eat. what a pest! finally he sez "well if you all don't mind me riding your six i'll stay with you if you keep it under a ton". yeah right. within 20 miles or so this guy was toast. later alan said he'd seen this guy make some really crazy passes to try and stay with us. good riddance.

we were heading north on ID-95 along the Payette river. colorado has some terrific roads but this stretch of tarmac is simply a biker's dream. as alan said "anybody got a tissue and a cigarette?". the road follows the river closely which flows within a beautiful canyon for miles and miles. the turns are marked at anything from 15 to 35 mph. we of course could do better than that...and did. left and right the turns would swoop along the water. the sun peeking through the ever- greens was leaving a golden trail ahead of us to follow. the previous day's fatigue was falling away now and a huge smile was making it's way onto my face.

this went on till cascade ID where we came upon the cascade dam and resevoir. with the mountains in the background the scene was like some- thing on a postcard. the road eased on out to some wide sweepers and finally straightend out. no matter. whoever designed this road at least left the biker some beautiful scenery to take in. the smell of clean air and pine was wonderful! we traveled on to New Meadows and stopped for a late breakfast. we're growing boys, doncha know? we stopped at a cafe' (breakfast anytime!) and had a great repast. not only in quality but i've seen hubcaps smaller than those hotcakes. i must've had a 2 kilo bag of potatoes worth of hashbrowns on my plate.

duly sated and 'camels' topped off we gassed up the bikes and pushed on to one of the high points of the trip: white bird pass. we rode on some nice twisties when all of a sudden we topped a rise and saw a huge downhill that twisted into a HUGE righthand sweeper that finished on an uphill (or so we thought). i dropped the bike into 5th and broke DoD nominal plus easily. tally-ho! alan and jim followed through and up the grade. i remember thinking "fun but not long enough". i needn't have worried. as i topped the rise i saw that this little bit of fun wasn't over. in fact it went on for what seemed like ages! wow. my turn for a smoke...

about an hour later we came upon lewiston ID, an industrial city set among the hills of the lewiston grade and cut by the nez perce river. we cruised up the lewiston grade and stopped at the top for a stretch and some piccies. there was a couple at the top who kindly took our "groupshot" and told us about the area. we walked over to the edge and looked down. we saw a gorgeous snake of blacktop that was over 9 miles long: the old lewiston grade. we were sorely tempted to run this section but we still had miles to go today. another time... onward to moscow.

moscow was a nightmare of traffic and police. i counted over 6 police cars alone and my radar detector never stopped beeping until we were out of town. one of moscow's 'worst' even hassled alan asking if he'd signaled to turn into the gas station! he sat and looked us over as if waiting for us to spit on the sidewalk. if the reader will allow a small digression, i'd like to state my philosphy on velocity. i do not intentionally speed in residental areas. when traveling i always slow to be at or even below the speed limit now matter how small or large the city or town. to be harrassed this way for no reason was simply not called for. enough. we paid and got out of there with me vowing never to return.

the rest of our journey to coeur 'd alene (what a pretty name for a city!) was fairly uneventful. we had a date with pat loughery's floor that night. i managed to get us lost one more time as i breezed past pat's street. so i thought the street sign was on the right, ok? pat wasn't home but he thoughtfully provided a key for us. one (two) not so small obstacles awaited us: his labs. WOOF! i just knew there was cold beer in the fridge. with this in mind i offered up my left hand through the door for a sample. licklicklickohhiwereallyneedtogo outsidecanyouopenthedoorandletusoutandohyeahthefridgeisovertherewhy donchahaveabeerandhaveyourbuddiesinwhileyoureatitok? woofwoofwoof! goodthing i know dogspeak...

making my way through the house i opened the garage and peeled out of my leathers. phfft! and a cold beer was soon coursing down my gullet. thanks pat!! a few minutes later sara schalke (sp?) rode up on her black VFR. in black helmet and difi suit she fit the stealth profile to a 'T'. pat soon showed up and we all headed for a local mexican bistro for some great food and margaritas. between the food, the drink, the friendly service and wonderful company dinner was finished off in grand style!

we headed back to pat's for some more benchracing and general kibitzing about anchovies... (you had to be there) alan got some threadmaker earlier in the day and resolved to fix the "valdez". after a scare when the stuff hardened faster than advertised, alan completed the job with some rgv-blue. with crossed fingers and a few mumbled mantras, alan buttoned up his bike. we would see. pat's lovely and charming wife shannon finally made it home from work. (pat you're a lucky man!) it was getting late so we divvied up the house. i slept in pat's office so as not to keep the household up with my nocturnal tonsorial sonatas and had pleasant dreams of twisty roads and pitchers of cold margaritas...

96.07.12 - we all arose in varying degrees of alertness. so desparate for caffeine was i that i even tried some instant heated via microwave. yech. duly fortified we headed to spokane to meet with marc lewis, our guide to The Gather. we pulled into a nice looking greasy-spoon where we met with marc, his SO (sorry her name escapes me!) [Wanda] and the one true beth who had borrowed a 900SS for the trip. after a goodly amount of calories and greetings we mounted up.

i won't even pretend to know where we went or how we got to republic. all i know is we were somewhere in the continental united states. i think. marc led us on some really nice roads. as i didn't have to navigate for once, i rode sweep with ms. beth and just took in the scenery. it seemed very dry to me. not at all what i expected. come to find out it had been very hot recently and that it never gets very wet on the east side of washington state anyways. learn something new every day! it was still hot. that much i did know.

traveling along a straight stretch of road we were in standard staggered formation. we came upon a piece of farm machinery and merged into a single file line. seeing this from the back of the pack allowed me the entire show... the boy driving the haybailing machine must've been distracted by us on our bikes and allowed a couple of the rig's wheels to slip into the ditch along side the road. soon the machine was teetering precipitously and bails of hay were being rocked off the trailer! fortunately he had the presence of mind not to try to drive back onto the road but allowed the tractor to slide into the ditch as well thus saving a rollover. *unfortunately* though, he ran out of room and directly into a tree! he impacted while i was almost upon said tree. the entire tree shook with dirt and leaves coming down in clouds. i thought the boy dead...

i quickly stopped and ran back to the tree where the boy was actually standing. lifting my visor i said in true Denizen fashion: "dude! that was spectacular! i wish i'd had my camera!" to which he replied, "uh, thanks!". nothing like a little sympathy to lighten the moment. i then quickly acertained if he was lucid and capable of walking. he could and started down the road probably on just the adrenaline in his veins. the others came back and offered to call for help or even a ride. he declined both and kept hobbling. i believe it was sara who said "boy, is his old man gonna kick his ass tonight!". on that note, we all took pictures of the scene (ghouls aren't we?). alan fleming had seen the boy "hanging off" with one hand on the wheel a foot on the fender. judging by the state of the cab, it was his only chance.

the gifford-inchelium ferry was close by. i'd never ridden my bike on a ferry before. it was an interesting and fun experience! marc led us to the front of the line as motorcycles are let on and off the ferry first. we had arrived just at the next ferry was on it's way over. the pilot had the boat in it's slip first try and quickly unloaded. in the meantime, bill johns and jeff earls arrived. we rode across some steel plates and simply put our bikes on their sidestands. marc explained that the state paid for one ferry while the feds paid for the other one due to the fact that the coulee dam project had cut off access to the locals. a rare logical move by a government IMHO.

the ride was only a few minutes. the breeze was refreshing as it had gotten hot again. all the bikers were standing with open jackets and helmets off taking in the cool air off the waters. soon we approached the other side and we remounted. i had the presence of mind to have mounted my bike and have both feet down as the ferry *bumped* into it's slip on the western shore. that red italian plastic is very expensive! we rode off and pulled over. marc "suggested" some of us split off with jeff to create a fast group. more like, "ed YOU should go with jeff and the other fast guys!". gee, what'd i do? i was riding sweep all morning! so off i went...

jeff either knew the road really well or has ESP. he kept up a spirited pace into republic on the road that followed the river's west bank. lots of nice sweepers punctuated with the occasional tight turn made the last 20 miles lots of fun! only the last 5 or so miles of perfect tarmac was ruined by fresh chip-seal and LOTS of loooose gravel. talk about pucker factor... after we cleared that section, overran the rally site and got turned around about the time the rest of the crew showed up.

the rest of the day was spent meeting and greeting and eating. lots of great beer. lots of great folks. Guy Pace the BOSS (and his friend Pablo) for this year's Gather did a terrific job. they even kindly took the time to explain some of their culture (native american) to this culturally illiterate hispanic. i learned a few things... it took some getting used to this crowd for me. they are quite reserved in comparison to the RnF bunch. must be our lack of oxygen. while good beer and good food is important to both groups, that is where the similarity ends. culture in music and discussion seems to be the sine qua non of our northwestern brother and sister Denizens. we here in colorado just like a good ballon launcher and hot tub. (good thing tom deitrich was there!) ah, diversity. i felt a little out of place but never uncomfortable. alan and jim i'm sure had a much better time of it.

that evening the stars came out and i settled in for some much needed sleep. i wondered about the boy who ran into the tree and hoped his dad wasn't too hard on him...

96.07.13 - the crossing... marc lewis had planned a ride over the northern border into canada for that day for some lunch. alan and i wanted to pop over but not have another long day in the saddle. we had a nice breakfast (a recurring theme?) and mounted up for the 30 mile hop into canuck territory. we hopped onto WA-21 through malo and danville crossing at danville. it was a nice twisty two laner. alan by now was getting a little ticked off with his bike's balky starting. (his repair of the leaking screw held and no more suzuki-valdez...) i bump started him at the gas station while in full leathers and helmet. whew, hot!

we arrived at the border after a nice run up the two lane road at The Pace. i had my first (potential) real scare when a semi came round the corner with it's two left wheel tracks right on the yellow line. that was not a problem in itself but there was a nice big rock in the middle of the road as well cutting off that escape route. don't ask me to explain this. i can't. not 15 seconds earlier, i had "seen" this about to happen... the vision was so startling in it's clarity that i didn't even give it another thought: i was already moving to just that one spot in the road that would get me through the truck and rock. when i was startled, it wasn't the truck itself but it's appearance right on cue that scared the hell out of me. i even already had my hand down and pointing to warn alan. (cue twilight zone music) when we got to the border station i told alan about it. i'm not sure if he believed me or not but it sure shook me enough to think about that all day.

the young woman at the canadian port of entry was pleasant and courteous asking only a few questions and waving us through. we picked up route 3 and headed up the valley a bit. the scenery was quite pretty with lush green forests rising above us. now THIS is what i was expecting! we stopped at a rest area about 25 klicks in for a stretch and some photos. (alan also wanted to leave his mark.) we decided that our mission was accomplished so we left on our own before being asked to leave. the trip back was fine until the border...

the US customs man was a fine example of a beaureacrat in action. first he made alan shut off his bike even though alan asked to keep it running. then he made alan remove his helmet and gloves and asked i don't know how many questions. during this i was sitting in the sun behind a yellow line. rather than bake i shut off my bike and pushed it into the shade whereupon said guardian of our american frontiers yelled at me to stay behind the line. i complied without comment or rancor. when he finished with alan, he waved me up. i stood and awaited for the green light instead. he wants me to follow the rules, right? he darkened and flipped the light to green where upon i approached with a smile on my face.

Border Grinch: "so i suppose you're from denver too?"

Silly Biker: "sort of. i'm from aurora." (if yer gonna suppose, why'd ya ask?)

BG: "how long were you gone?"

SB: "about 20 or 30 minutes." (he's gonna love that)

BG: "did you stop anywhere?"

SB: "just long enough for a stretch and a leak." (honesty is the best policy, right?)

BG: "got anything to declare?"

SB: "nope." (see answer above, dolt!)

BG: "ok then i guess yer free to go."

SB: "thank you." (gee, i'll sleep better now knowing he's on duty.)

and to top it off, alan's &%$*@#@ bike won't start again. push, push, push! flutter... push, push, push! flutter... push, push, push! flutter... dammit. last time or YOU push it! push, push... VROOM! (you'll pay for that.) we make our way back, me sweating and swearing and alan just plain swearing. alan leads for a bit until curlew where i *blow* past him. to be fair, i think he was waiting for me to catch up after slowing through the town. still fun though. move over troy corser!

alan decides to work on it (sure after he figures he won't have ME to help bump start after tomorrow) and figures out it's the alarm that keeps shorting the ignition... but that is later. back at camp, i shower up and get into party mode. tom deitrich has his water balloon launcher out and we're taking range on several targets. heh-heh. all is well until the one of the inner tubes lets go on yours truely. ouch! oh well... dinner is buffalo chili that's simmered all day and more cold brew. soon the awards are given out with jim garnering some award for his speaking abilities. the band starts up and i wander about just taking in the evening.

i pack it in around 10:30 or so only to be awaken by voice outside my tent. turns out it's just a brief warning as soon my ears are assailed by the rev-off! my ears ring as the sound is deafening! alan's bike is close by and that yosh pipe rattles the tent's fabric. i lay back and listen and grin... silence shatters the sound. and again i hear voices "lookit that! they're glowing!!" someone shouts. (i'll leave the rest of the details out here but suffice to say there were some VERY enthu- siastic participants in the rev-off...

i go back to blissful sleep dreaming of redlines and river roads.

96.07.14 - homeward... i try to rouse jim and give up. i go eat. i'd like to get on the road. hey jim! you in there!? nothing. back for more coffee. HEY JIM! *mumble-mumble* zip-zip and his head pokes out of his tent. earplugs. i get packed up while he gets caffeined. we wander about saying good-byes. i'm itching to get going. i want to go 500 miles today. we *have* to go 500 miles today. the route i've picked is direct if not imaginative: south. spokane, lewiston, lolo pass and missoula. pat says it's a bit ambitious. maybe but then he didn't ride out with us... alan headed off to seattle and points south. we bade our goodbyes and wished each other luck.

jim and i make the most of the cool morning zooming along the twisties. by spokane we're roasting again. doesn't this place ever cool down? we top the rise at Chenny WA and see...plains. "this is a bad thing" sez i. once out on them though we discover that the road isn't so straight after all. it swoops and dives in big lazy loops here and there. we make time. Colfax is a nightmare of police and again my detector goes wild. "not us ossifer. we ain't speedin' on your beat!" we stop in pullman for a bite. McDuck's never tasted so good. i fill my camel-bak again. we cruise. lewiston comes again only this time we go down the grade and glide onto US-12: the road to Lolo Pass.

US-12 follows the nez perce river and we follow the road. more lazy lefts and rights with cool air and nice scenery to look at. just before Lowell we come across a huge ominous plume of smoke. a forest fire is ahead of us. i'm thinking a detour would cost 200 miles easily and turn up the wick. as it turned out, the state police were on the scene and had traffic stopped where the fire had come down to the river. the smokejumpers had a helo and were filling a water bucket from the river. the operations made for an interesting stop. it looked like we'd get through as traffic was stopped only to allow the jumpers to hook up the bucket to the chopper while it hovered over the roadway. once gone the police hurriedly waved us through. seeing the fire up close, they didn't need to tell us twice.

it also meant lolo was left unguarded... "winding roads next 77 miles".

we stopped and took the obligatory silly pictures under the sign. i checked my gear, gave jim a thumbs up and off we roared. mile after blissful mile of perfect pavement and huge sweepers. 10, 20, 30 and more miles of 70 mph sweepers. it was intoxicating... at about the halfway point i waved jim onto the point and they became 80 mph sweepers. one thing i'll say about jim: he can ride! he looked like he'd been on my K-bike for years. smooth lines and a great pace. after a bit it actually became tiring. what the heck, we'd only ridden 300 or so miles so far that day! slower traffic was an excuse to rest. we stopped near the top at a closed ranger station for a drink and a rest. too bad alan wasn't with us...

we started back up and crossed into montana where we were greeted with the following speed limit sign: cars (and bikes): reasonable and prudent... i begin to laugh maniacally in my helmet. we stop in missoula for gas and see that butte is only 122 miles away. light is failing us but it's only 122 miles at what? 90 or 95 mph? a short hop! off we go. and this part of the trip resembles the heigira across idaho in reverse: away from the sun. the last 45 mins are in the dark with only tail lights on the horizon. now say what you will but going 90 plus for a short time is different than maintaining that speed for a period of time...

i find myself wandering from 85 to 95 or better. i'm still alert but it's hard to find a rythmn when you aren't used to such speeds for any period of time. i settle in at 93 or so and soon the lights of butte appear on the horizon. i get us checked into a best western where we just miss last call at their local steakhouse. perkins will have to suffice. adjoining the motel they let patrons walk next door and bring back a brew from the bar. how civilized! coconut creme pie and all is right with the world. we hit the sack around 11:30.

dream sweepers bordered by fire the color of my ducati fill my head...

96.07.15 - BIG sky country... jim and i sleep in. it's 8 when we come to. the last five days have taken their toll and it's best we get some rest. *yawn* again i get up first and head down to brekkie. most important meal of the day you know... i fill with coffee and some bagles and fruit. all fresh and nicely served and complimentary to boot. i go back to find jim has actually gotten up. i pack while he showers. and yeah i go back for seconds when he goes for food too. i like breakfast!

the usual routine: mount up, gas up and go. today's goal? south... we motor on, montana fashion. i've gotten the hang of it and we set up a good pace. the idea is to go "behind" the tetons today and miss jellystone park and the 'bagoes. geeze this is a BIG country. i can't imagine what say, traveling the old sov union would be like. we climb off the slab and head south on two laners. it's kinda cloudy thank goodness and the temps are nice and cool. we stop at an intersection for me to adjust the electronics. on take off i was um, a little enthusiastic... i was wondering why i wasn't going anywhere. as the tires came off the gravel/dirt and grabbed pavement i realized what i had done: i looked in the mirrors and a few seconds later i see my K75S and a now well powdered jim franklin emerging! whoops. traveling follies...

the road begins to twist a bit. nothing major, just enough to keep my interest. 85 is easy. we have to cross eastern idaho again so i'm on the lookout for the stateline. nothing to indicate that we had actually crossed into the next state was visible for miles until we see "it": speed limit 55 mph... blah! i release the throttle and back it way off. 60 is like walking. like sammy sez "i can't drive 55" and i slowly make our pace about 70-ish again. it's still too slow but a ticket for 80/55 doesn't sound too appealing to me. ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZzzzz.

on the horizon the tetons make their appearance. even though we're still pretty far away, the mountains tower into the sky. we ride closer and stop a couple times for some photos. got to do the tourist thing and how often do you see the "backside" of a mountain range like this? soon we swing easterly and head for jackson WY. just west of town we decend another HUGE grade. there's lot of really steep stuff including some 10% grade! amazing. into jackson and the tourist pit that it is. the traffic is horrendous. jim takes point as he's looking for a milkshake. lots of moving chicanes and dodge'em cars. it's nerve- racking for me after riding in virtually NO traffic for days. we finally get into a restaurant practically have to write the order and serve ourselves. i then have to track down the waiter to pay him. wanna tip? wait on your customers!

grumbling mightily we make our way towards pinedale. about 30 mins outside jackson it starts to rain. we stop and put on our oilskins. i have more trouble with my raingear than anything else on the entire trip! i have to stop three times to get myself sealed up against the rain. next time i'll test the gear a bit more. (sorry jim!) we get to pinedale and stop for gas. it takes the person inside almost 10 mins to realize there's somebody (me!) out at the pump despite my waving and yelling. yeah it's still raining too. when filled i then go inside where the woman is doing remedial math to give change. she then wants to charge me $18 and change for gas. "'scuse me ma'am but my motorcycle doesn't hold that much gas!". "oh..." she says. yeah i'm in helmet and full rainsuit too. we get that sorted out and what should've been a stop n' go has turned into a 20 min ordeal. sheesh.

20 minutes further south the rain ebbs and the skies start to clear. rather than lose more time stopping and removing gear we keep riding. my goal is I-80 at rock springs WY before dark to avoid the prong horns that inhabit this region. they're only about the size of a large dog but can take you down just the same. motor, motor, motor... rock springs heaves into view and we stop for gas and a stretch. in a break with SOP, i call HQ and check in with the spousal unit. i figure she'd appreciate it if i didn't call her at 11:30 pm to tell her i'm in some strange motel for a change. things at home are just ducky. jim has decided we should go in to rawlins WY that evening. who am i to argue?

we get behind a van who seems to like warp 9 and make some serious time. the buttes are glowing a dark red in the now setting sun. the union pacific railroad has lots of operations going on tonight and the trains keep me entertained as well. it's not too hard to imagine what the 1870's were like what with cowboys and cattle drives and such. "oh give me a home where the buffalo roam...". i'd better keep my day job. it's getting a bit darker now and those bushes look suspiciously like deer. nope, just more bushes. the turn off i had thought about taking south comes up and i exit to see if there's any lodging to be had. jim pulls up next to me with a puzzled look on his face. i explain my digression. he nods in understanding. we look and see nothing appealing at all. i express my regret at letting our van get away. jim just grins and says "let's catch him.". logical.

back onto the slab and we wick it up. there are lots of taillights ahead but i can't make out which is our boxy buddy. screw it, let's just rock. rawlins is still about 45 miles out and it's now offically "night time". the speedo climbs again and i again thank my lucky stars i'd had the idea to switch to a clear shield for this trip. we pass cars and trucks at a leisurely rate. traffic is wound up pretty tight and folks are in serious "get there" mode which is ok with us. we take the first exit and i make a slight error: i give jim point to find us a place as i chose last night's stop. we motor about rawlins for 20 minutes looking for someplace that jim swears he's stayed at before. sure jim, sure...

he gives up and we pull into the weston inn. "the best for less" the sign says. i'm too tired to argue. we get a room in the back and *just* make it to the motel's mexican restaurant before closing. "welcome my friends!" says the maitre'd. hey, i like this place already. friendly service, carne asada and a couple cold coronas improve our life's outlook immensely even if our room's yellow (and i mean *yellow*) decor doesn't. hey you can't see it with your eyes closed, right? the waiter takes care of us in fine style. heck i'd come back just for the chips and salsa.

another 550+ mile day. this is getting easy. ZZZZZZzzzzzzz....

96.07.16 - Last Hop... gnarly looking coffee and shrink wrapped donuts. so much for breakfast in bed. load and' boogie. another short stint on the slab we head south on two laners across the wyoming plains. nice turns jim! all three of them... we ride until a small town in wyoming called saratoga. my stomach is telling me "no further till you feed me!" so i aquiese and pull in to a nice little place called "mom's". the usual morning crowd is there at the counter with various seedcaps and flannels (real flannels not slacker stuff) on. "good morning" i say to which i get a bemused "g'mornin'". what would *you* say if some guy in a black and red power ranger suit walked into your diner first thing in the morning, right?

we get a table by the window over looking the bikes. jim orders a light breakfast of biscuits and gravy and a short stack. more hubcaps... i try the steak and eggs which are surprisingly good. "mom" keeps the coffee coming and we keep making the food disappear. i'm afraid i'll be pushing the max GVWR on the ducati and call it quits after doing major damage to the contents of my plate. jim barely makes it half way through his. and folks, this stuff is cheap too. i keep half an ear open as a family of french tourists is getting directions at the counter during their meal. the locals are friendly and respectful of their visitors and i decide i like saratoga wyoming. onward...

much to my amazement, the road actually starts to bend and swoop. huge sweepers and rolling hills greet our southern flight. gee i even have to slow for a couple. at one stretch i decide there's enough visual range to really stretch the duck's wings and we see a buck and a quarter. yeeha! i check my mirrors to make sure i'm not strewing camping gear and luggage all over wyoming. the bags look like they're bored: "can't you go any faster?". i love that wolfman stuff! i come back to a reasonable facsimile of reality and back off to 80 again. i see a sign ahead. COLORADO! home...

i stop and take some pictures. yeah i know i live here but what the hell? i haven't been here in awhile! i tell jim that we'll have to go a bit easier as the CHP is rather vigilant. (oh had i taken my own words to heart but that's another trip report.) we get to walden and fuel up almost missing our turn. this time however i asked the nice young lady (jim was enamoured with) BEFORE we took off. see? men CAN ask for directions! soon we're on cameron pass. it's a bit overcast and cool for a nice change of pace. the road is a bit bumpy in places but it's nice to be leaning again. jim and i had prided ourselves that we had worn off the squareness of our tires in all the passes we'd hit. we happily continue the practice.

after cameron pass is poudre canyon. taken early enough, the poudre is a fun ride with open sweepers and gorgeous views. we had a small problem in that we were a little later in the day than optimal and had to contend with lots of traffic. rafters, fishermen and hikers almost lined the road. two weekends before a riding buddy of mine had a serious accident on this very road. i kept that in mind as we picked our way down. rounding one blind right hander a little white car came screaming the other way almost 1/3 the way in my lane! @#%$!!! and i slam the bike to the very inside of my lane. out of the corner of my eye i see the driver sawing the wheel back and forth as they careened to the right and back to the left again. i'm sure my eyes were large as dinner plates as i began to hyperventilate... a couple miles later i was almost back to normal. i decided to stop and rest a little and pulled over about 5 miles down the canyon.

all i could think about was sharing a room with my buddy in the hospital. i had decided that morning to stop in ft. collins on the way home to see him but that wasn't what i had in mind... the rest of the trip into to ft. collins was uneventful. we chugged around town following the blue and white "H" signs to the hospital where we stopped in to see my buddy harl. considering he's being held together with more titanium than is found in a racing 916, he was in good spirits. (good drugs prolly had a hand in that too.) apparently he stood his bike up in a corner and was spit off. to add injury to insult the bike must've tumbled on top of him and crushed his pelvis. not good. 3-4 months in a wheelchair plus rehab.

we joked a bit and he offered to show us piccies of the bike. i tried halfheartedly to find them and quit saying we'd see it all before. mashed bodywork and bent hard parts. i didn't need to see it. we soon bid our goodbyes and thoughtfully we made our way back to the parking lot. one last stop for fuel and we sprinted to my home. we arrived tired and hot at about 2:30 pm. amid much barking from the dog and hugs from sue and the kids. 3,010 miles in a week's time...


jim caught a flight home the next day as he had some stuff to take care of before his trip to europe the next week. i hope he had a good time 'cause i sure liked having him along. when he returned the next week, alan told me the bike started and ran flawlessly. figures...

there's really not much that i'd do differently. the ducati worked almost perfectly. someplace in wyoming some of the foam in the fairing came loose but some duct tape held that in place. the tires are still round and actually have some thread left with about 7K hard miles on them. those M89s are really great tires. i guess i'm almost ready for the 90's. the suspension work was well worth the effort. the fox shock made a large difference in how fatigued i *wasn't* by the end of the day. the corbin makes a great perch although i might have it recovered and an inch or so of foam added so i have more legroom...

all in all the entire thing was a positive experience. it was great to see old friends (tom, beth!) and meet/see new ones (pat, ed, dennis!). i want to publicly thank pat and shanon loughery for their hospitality; the Gather folk for throwing a great party; jim and alan for "flying wing" and making a good ride great; all the law enforcement agencies who happened to be looking the other way when we all came by. *phew!*

last but definitely not least, i'd like to thank my family for being so understanding of my occasional motorcycle induced wanderlust.

Ride hard. Ride safe...

ADDENDUM -- some folks have asked what i took along, what worked and what didn't, etc. i'll outline that here for them:

bike: '93 Ducati 900SS - pipes, jet kit, etc. corbin saddle; pro-grips; michelin 89x tires; nissin front brake conversion. the bike worked flawlessly. i had the clipons set about halfway up on their adjustable range for a semi-upright seating position. the corbin saddle makes a great place to sit for longish stints. i might add some foam so i have more leg room but that's about it. triflow for the lubing the chain. the tires i inflated to 39/39 F/R so they'd run cooler. fully loaded i wasn't going to be dragging my knees anyways. considering all the slab ridden, they are still amazingly round in profile. they work well in the wet too... almost forgot: a fox shock, no fading.

luggage: wolfman(tm). this stuff looks good and works great. it handles some serious overstuffing too. nice features like outside pockets, D-rings all over the place and a sturdy fastening system of webbing and fastex buckles. (they stay put at really silly speeds) the backs have a nice fleece on them so no scratches on your body work either. i have the adventure tankbag, tailbag and wolfbag panniers. thumbs up.

gear: dainese(tm) T-2 two-piece leathers, shoei(tm) rf-700 helmet, teknik(tm) boots and held(tm) gloves. underneath i wear a longsleeve t-shirt to wick away moisture and bike shorts so i can slide inside the leathers. i also use a racer(tm) kidney belt for support. all the stuff fits well and is top quality. this trip i added a camel-bak(tm) drinking system. at first i though $40 was steep but in the middle of the afternoon heat, that's cheap insurance against dehydration!

stuff: kelty(tm) two man tent; therma-rest(tm) pad and chair; marmot(tm) sleeping bag in compression sack; small inflatable pillow and a space blanket for some extra insulation. sun screen and chap stick! breakfast bars for snacking. i used to chew gum but found that when it got stale it was a pain to get rid of while riding. (it'd stick to my goatee. :) i purchased a bel-tronics(tm) radar detector which saved my bacon quite a few times. it runs in parallel with a walkman (that crapped out on me) and into bass monster(tm) earspeakers in my helmet. i still had plenty of room for jeans, shorts, skivvies, shirts, etc...

that's all folks!

  /\          Edward Guzman "Gooz", DoD #1181 
 /  \/\    US WEST Technologies, SCM/DCM/Pure Software Coordinator
/    \ /\         <*>These are MY views... Not US West's!<*>  
COLORADO!       '87 K-75S ** '93 900SS ** And lots of Lionels

             Happiness: A two wheeled state of mind...