Saturday, Idaho Falls.
I hit the road and take Highway 26 east to 31 and then over Teton Pass.
I've always liked this pass. It's one of the steepest in the country. The last time I came down this pass, it was in a Checker (like an old Yellow Cab) with a 3 speed manual transmission. That car weighed 4500lb and could go 50mph in first gear. Those 10% grades and 10mph switchbacks on Teton pass become real exciting, real fast.
It was much more enjoyable on the bike. I stopped near the top to eat lunch
and admire the view, looking down over Jackson Hole.
From Jackson, it was south on 189 then 191 all the way to Rock Springs. This is a very nice stretch of road and for once, the wind was blowing at my back rather than in my face or from the side. My plan was to go all the way to I-80, then head east on I-80 to a little dot on the map called Creston where Highway 789 goes south again, down into Colorado near Baggs.
Everything worked out until I got out on I-80 for a while. 20-30 miles short of Creston, I started looking for the right signs. I passed a billboard saying "Next gas 15 miles" and thought to myself.. "That sounds to be about where Creston should be. 15 miles later, sure enough, there's the exit, but there is nothing even resembling a town. No gas, no houses.. nothing. I figured it must be a few miles more down the road. By the time I figured out that the sign had lied, I was 10 miles past Creston and 15 miles out of Rawlins. (and now 25 miles past my last gas station) So on to Rawlins where I gassed, turned around, and drove the 25 miles back to Creston, the un-town. Bah Humbug.
Highway 789 south is a pretty nice road. Wide open, fast albeit somewhat boring. I cruised down to Craig CO and then headed east on Highway 40. I figured I could make it to Steamboat Springs. I made it, picked up something to eat for dinner and breakfast, but could find nothing resembling camping near town. I finally found a sign mentioning Steamboat Lake State Park north of town and took off in search of it. It's gotta be a good 15-20 miles out of town, over winding gravel roads. It was starting to get dark and I was about ready to collapse on the ground next to my bike.
Finally made the state park, only to find that the campgrounds are totally booked. I should have expected that, it being a Saturday, beginning of August. I finally flagged down a ranger and asked him if there were any open camp grounds and he said that the National Forest land was "just up the road" (about 10 more miles in the dirt). I think he saw the dejected look on my face and took pity because he then told me to wait while he went off and found one of the reserve camp sites that was empty, and let me have it..
I unpacked all my stuff while the last of the sun disappeared.
Enjoyed cold fried chicken for dinner again, watched the fire till late and then caught half a dozen meteorites of the Perseids shower out the front of my tent before I fell asleep.
Next day packed up, rode the 20 miles back to Steamboat, got on Highway 40, headed toward Winter Park and zoom.. away I go. Rabbit Ears Pass is just south of Steamboat. While booking up the mountain at a reasonable clip, about the speed where I never look in the rear view mirrors, I happened to look in the rear view mirror. There was a funny looking splotch of red. I didn't let off, but I stopped drifting across the two upward bound lanes and let the guy pass. He was driving a bright red Acura NSX, and was followed by, probably his wife in a similarly bright red Mercedes SLK convertible. They played tag all the way up the mountain, and I watched them. The road turned back to two lanes, I passed a few cars and left them behind. The road down the other side of that mountain is beautiful, smooth and twisty.
The traffic started to back up at Granby, 25 miles short of Winter Park and never let up. The run up Berthound Pass was fun and then excruciatingly slow down to I-70. As I'm coming up on Idaho Springs my bike sputters and I switch to the reserve tank. Normally I've got at least 30 miles once on reserve, and Idaho Springs isn't that far out of Lakewood so I didn't stop. There are a few big hills east of Idaho Springs, up and down.. up and down..
The very last hill crests at the top of Lookout Mountain and looks out over the Denver metro area. About 1/2 mile past the summit, my bike sputters again and dies, in the left lane, on a 6% grade, at 65 mph. I work my way to the emergency lane on the right, let out the clutch to see if the bike will suck up some gas and start... no go. So I leave the clutch in, coast all the way down the mountain on the edge of the road through the C470 interchange at 50mph (everyone merges there at 70), down the offramp to 6th Avenue, down 6th to my exit, Indiana Street, down the Indiana exit ramp and I finally coast to a stop about 40 yards short of the stoplight and 100 yards short of a gas station and a mile from home.
I'm home! Returned in style too.. :-)
I opened the gas cap at the station and sure enough, there was plenty of gas in the tank. I figure that last 6% grade was steep enough that the half gallon of gas remaining in the bottom of the tank sloshed forward and uncovered the gas line inlets.. I hope that's what happened at least.
All in all, the trip was very enjoyable. Nothing on the TDM broke. Mileage ranged between 40 and 47 mpg depending on my average speed and the prevailing wind. After all the wind in Wyoming I could wish for a bigger windscreen but I don't know if it would help much with the sidewinds. Other than the rain that one day coming back, the whole trip was clear. Rained for a solid week after I got back. It hailed too.
Anyway that's the story and those are the pictures.