Well, it’s been one hell of a ride through Colorado, Utah and Nevada. I made such a big deal about the beauty of New Mexico, but believe it or not it just kept getting better. Truly stunning. I remember Dad saying to me at the top of one of the 13k foot passes: “Mike, we may never experience a sight like this the rest of our lives”. I nodded in silent agreement.
There really are no words that can explain or convey this whole experience – not just a 13k foot view, but the entire trip in general – it transcends all communicable methods and is almost frustrating to think about trying to explain. Even with all the video, pictures, blog posts, and stories I’ll tell when it’s over – it doesn’t even convey 1/1000th of the experience – all I wanted was to grab everyone I know and put them in my boots so they too could experience it all. That said, the following post and pictures will have to suffice for now
Welcome to Colorado
Upon entering Colorado we stayed in Trinidad, CO – famous for being the “former sex change capital of the world”. I’m not sure what else they’ve got going for them but I hope they find something new to be known for. It was Paul’s birthday (the rider from England) so we ended up giving him a room full of empty beer bottles as a birthday present. We took the next day off for recovery and to get new tires for the bikes (more aggressive dirt style tires). Larry from Topar Racing was great – not only did he put new tires on the bikes, but he cleaned those suckers from top to bottom. I was kind of sad to see the mud go, but damn they looked brand new again!
We took off the next morning and had a great day of riding – so good that once again, I shot so much video in the morning that I ran out of battery power by the afternoon. The next few days through Colorado were filled with drop dead gorgeous scenery around every turn. Here are a few panoramic highlights:
Crossing the Rockies
Leaving Lake City, CO and heading for Cinnamon Pass, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Little did we know it would be the hardest day yet. Everyone – both my Dad and I, and our fellow riders Aaron, Harold, and Paul – went down at least once. I sprained my ankle badly (video coming soon) and Dad broke his thumb (which we didn’t even find out was broken until he got x-rays from a future accident – more on that later). At such high altitudes, picking up a bike is not a fun thing to do…let alone walking a few hundred yards uphill and THEN picking up a bike. It was an exhausting day for all, and our fellow riders, who’ve ridden around the globe, ranked this as one of their most challenging days ever. Here are some more pano’s from the California Pass.
Eventually we made it into the city of Moab, UT. Now I knew Moab was a popular spot for the outdoor enthusiast – but I was not ready for how freakin’ awesome this town was. Hiking, biking, kayaking, rapids, off-road jeeps, buggies, rock climbing…the list goes on. Not to mention the great restaurants and microbreweries – this town is officially one of my favorite spots in the country.
After two days of riding through canyons, a few highway bypasses (sadly the infamous Black Dragon Wash was closed off and the gate was locked), and a terribly long stretch through the desert, we finally made our way to the Nevada border. We were planning on staying in Baker, NV, but rode right through after it looked, well, deserted. We decided to get directions to the “Border Inn” which showed up with two different addresses on Google Maps. We pulled into the Great Basin National Park information center, where there were two Park Rangers behind the counter. Dad says “We need help” – and immediately they go into full alert mode, thinking the worst. Dad starts chuckling and says “sorry, didn’t mean to alarm you, we just need directions!”.
We made our way over to the Border Inn, which literally sits on the border of Utah and Nevada. The gas and motel is in Utah, supplychainforum.com/member.php/17043-Paulsen while the bar and slot machines are in Nevada. We met up with two new fellow riders, as well as the old gang of three. Besides the fact that I was about a foot longer than my bed, it was a neat place you wouldn’t expect to find in the middle of nowhere. Delicious home-cooked food, cold beer, good people…it was a great stay. And little did we know it would be our last night on the trail…
An Unfortunate Accident
Our first morning in Nevada got off to a slow start, which was not optimal since it was going to be one of our longest days. It was a nice ride in the morning, mostly remote desert trails in between mountains. We came across several barb-wire gates that were either permanently closed or had a makeshift latch for us to figure out, but for the most part it was an easy morning.
Sometime around midday, we got on some wide open roads and I started really hauling ass to make up some time. At every intersection I’d stop and wait for Dad, and then we’d ride again to the next major turn. I missed one turn, circled back and waited for Dad, but he didn’t show. I assumed he was taking a picture, and waited another few minutes. Still no sign of Dad. At this point I figured something was up, so I turned around and started booking it in his direction. After what seemed like forever, I found Dad off the side of the road under his bike. He was okay, but he knew something was definitely wrong with his shoulder, it hurt to breathe, and his fingers were tired of holding the gas shut (our aftermarket tanks have a vacuum line that leaks gas when the bikes are tipped over). I got some vice grips on the gas line and we got Dad out from under the bike. After taking a breather and making sure Dad was stable, I got the bike up and we assessed the damage: Front brake cable was broken and fluid gone. Instrument cluster and front end heading assembly was bent down into the front end of the bike, and the front plastics had broken off. The bike was ridable, but I wasn’t about to let Dad ride a bike with no front brakes (the front is most of your stopping power – the back usually just locks up in the dirt). We had no cell reception, and I wasn’t going to press the Spot SOS button, so we decided to ride to the nearest town.
It was a very, very long ride. I knew Dad was in a lot of pain, and probably had something broken. We had to keep it around 10 to 15mph, and there were several technical sections where I had to ride both bikes across. It seemed like forever, but we finally reached a town and found a gas station. Dad wanted to get the bike fixed at a dealership and “sleep off” his injury. I would have none of it, and got directions to the nearest hospital about 30 miles away (we got lucky – there wasn’t another town for 200 miles).
Luckily the Emergency Room was having a slow day and Dad got taken in right away. After some x-rays and an MRI, it was determined that he broke his shoulder and most likely fractured several ribs – not to mention the softball sized bruise on his chest. It was a very emotional time for both of us. The realization that the trip was over had begun to set in, and we both dealt with it how we needed to. I won’t go into too many details, but in that moment I realized just how lucky I was that my Dad was alive, how lucky I was that I had a father, and how lucky I was that I had a father who just shared 4,000 grueling miles over 20 days across the country with his son. I’ve made memories that will stay with me the rest of my life, and I hope that one day I’m able to be the same father he has been to me.
Thank you to everyone for your support and for joining us on our journey. I’ve decided to save the video highlights for a separate post, and will be assembling a “highlight reel” from the 60+ hours of footage in the coming weeks. Thanks again, and I hope you’ll stop back for the next adventure!