I woke way too early from a fitful night of sleep. Too many nightmares about seized con-rod bearings, or bent valves. The last three days before a big trip seem to get sucked into a crazy vortex of manic double-checking and last-minute worries. I must have checked oil levels and spare parts three times before I finally left it alone. Lola, on the other hand was still fast asleep without the knowledge of the days that lay ahead for her.
After several cups of strong chicory coffee while giving everything the once-over, it was really time to leave. I gave Kait a big hug and kiss, patted our other dog (Rory) a couple times, and heaved on the Ural’s kick-starter. With a faint ‘doff-doff-doff’ we idled out of the driveway, and down the road to the start of our great adventure.
Stopped north of Woodland Park, CO to gas up. I scarfed a quick continental breakfast of more coffee and a few donuts while Lola looked on, earnestly hoping I’d drop one. She let out of quiet whimper when I finished the last donut without any of it ending up in her mouth. “If you had a job and paid rent, I’d probably give you one” I told her. She gave me a look, as if to say “Hey man, I don’t have THUMBS!”. Touche.
West of Woodland Park, things open up a bit on Rt 9. High mountain plains, with ever-distant peaks. Reminded me a lot of Montana in many places through here. The temperature was perfect, and the Ural held a steady pace at 55mph. The valves clicking softly in the breeze.
We headed north towards Breckinridge and Silverthorne. The mountain peaks became sharper, the valleys narrower. On some grades, I was reduced to 30-35mph. Rather than wring the engine for everything it had to try and get one gear higher, or 5mph faster, I was very happy to just let it purr along.
I did find a few trucks and RV’s stacked up behind me, and I smiled deviously. For all the previous times campers, or trucks towing RV megahomes had held me up on my motorcycles on twisty mountain passes, I felt now that I could finally return the feeling to them in full.
I passed quickly through Breckinridge and Silverthorne without stopping. Flush with tourists and guests for the fourth-of-july weekend, both towns seemed to be bursting at the seams as I rode through. Throngs of people of all ages, races and creeds wandered around with fanny packs, cameras and “Colorful Colorado!” t-shirts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see so many people enjoying our fine state. I just prefer to enjoy it somewhere with less people. While the British may be great at “queuing”, Americans seem to loose IQ points the longer they are standing in line with each other. Rude behavior, harsh words and sometimes even fisticuffs are usually the result when the line is long enough.
After gassing up in Kremmling and chatting with two riders on their way back to New York, we rode Rt 40 northwest out of town. The sharp peaks and narrow valleys opened up into rolling hills, and green plateaus of cattle festooned National Forest land. Right at 55mph, the Ural was tuned spot-on for the undulating roads,
I didn’t have to downshift until I approached Muddy Pass on Rt 40, outside Steamboat Springs. The road wound up the mountain slowly, and I chugged along at 40 mph with a slow even rhythm. The Ural is oblivious to throttle input at certain grades. No matter how much you twist the throttle, it simply won’t go any faster.
With the sun low in the western sky, and Steamboat Springs on the other side of the pass, we stopped for the day. Only 7$ for the night, I paid the “honor system” campground fee, and picked a spot as far away from the generator-run tow-behind trailers as I could. Shortly after I set everything up, a big one pulled up into a spot right next to me. Oh well.
After a day of new towns and places to poop, Lola was in good spirits. I do keep her off leash most of the time (outside city limits) and she seemed pretty happy to be in the country.
Hard to believe on a rafting trip years ago, we fit two humans AND two large dogs in this tent. Sleeps a man and his dog very comfortably though. Note how Lola always sleeps with her head facing my feet. This is so she can use her aging digestive system, to fart in my face all night long.
Total Mileage: 202 miles