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Old 06-11-2011, 08:55 PM   #1
ken phenix
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Iron Butt to Colorado

On my last attempt at the Saddlesore 1000 last December, my hopes were dashed by 45mph headwinds and a vanishing end witness. This time too, Mother Nature was determined to make me earn every mile.



I pulled out of Sour Lake TX at 9am Central time Friday 4/29 bound for Centennial, Colorado, in 24 hours or less. The first half of the ride was pleasant and uneventful, that is if you call sunny and 70 uneventful. I made excellent time.

Not far past Wichita Falls however, I ran into a snag. Traffic began to stack up, then stopped dead.



I saw smoke in the distance and could only assume with the drought conditions we've experienced that the strong westerly wind had blown a wildfire too close to the highway. After a time we began to crawl ahead and then took a detour onto FM1763 through the parched farmland. What a dust bowl! I got a snoot full. This diversion cost me over an hour and I had to fight that fierce crosswind until sundown. The signs went by, Memphis, Amarilo, Dalhart and by the time I reached Raton Pass the temp had dropped to 25 degrees. I had layered on all the winter gear I brought. I must add that the new PIAA HID driving lights are amazing! I could see small animals crossing the highway far in front of me. For the first time I actually felt comfortable maintaining highway speed at night, especially on that stretch of I-25 between Raton and Trinidad. At my next gas stop in Walsenburg I got a shot of the sign - 29 degrees.



I took a long break in Colorado Springs and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate. Onward. I'm so close now. I can feel the fatigue. That last hour silly things were going on inside my helmet as I did my best to stay alert. I turned on the GPS to guide me in. Last fuel stop 6:10am Mountain time - 1,010 MILES. NO RECEIPT! The attendant had just arrived to open the store and I walked inside to have a receipt printed. WHEW!



A few minutes later I was enjoying the warm hospitality of my good friend Dom Chang and his family. Alright, I was a basket case and they were there to pick up the pieces.




(photos courtesy of Dom Chang)

After a 4 hour nap Dom led me across town to get a new rear tire mounted on the Bandit.


(photo courtesy of Dom Chang)

Saturday evening I had the pleasure of helping to wrench on the new hack a little. It was an honor to observe the joining of Strom and hack. I even got to serve as monkey on the test ride.



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Old 06-11-2011, 08:56 PM   #2
ken phenix
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Sunday morning we headed north to Ft Collins and then west on Cache la Poudre Rd. Did I mention . . . . . COLORADO IS GORGEOUS!!





We stopped at this rock tunnel and played around with our cameras a bit.



Psst . . . . here comes the food porn. We stopped at Glen Echo for some AMAZING burgers!





It is unknown how many napkins were used in the consumption of those bacon swiss burgers. We pressed on gaining altitude toward Walden until the road became a little "slushy" and had to turn back.








(photo courtesy of Dom Chang)



Our return route included Stove Prairie Rd where we were treated to a nice snow flurry - remember, I'm from the gulf coast so you have to understand that riding through snow made me absolutely giddy. Dom did not share my enthusiasm. We stopped for pics here and I captured this shot purely by accident.
A thousand words



We made the short slab ride back before dark. 285 miles total. What an amazing day!
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:57 PM   #3
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Monday morning. Time to head south. I so wanted to see more mountains and snow but foreboding clouds covered the front range.

I had the pleasure of meeting facebook friend and rider Bob for lunch in Colorado Springs as snow showers came.



Southward. I'll be back in Texas tonight. Rain in the forecast. Clouds loom. I reached Walsenburg knowing this was my last chance. Do I slab it home in disgrace or go for it? What do you think? I took off west on 160 willing to take whatever mischief old Mother Nature had in store for me - at least one more mountain pass before heading back to the flatlands.





To my surprise, she smiled on me and held the clouds at bay. I made it to La Veta Pass and captured this shot.



I doubled back through La Veta on CO 12 for a view of The Spanish Peaks. As I climbed the pavement became increasingly wet. The temperature was barely above freezing falling fast. It's 4pm and I'm in the middle of a loop in mountains barely maintaining 30mph - do I turn back or press on? Again, Mother Nature smiled and held the sun high in the sky a bit longer.







Once I passed Stonewall, the road was dry and I could make better time. I stopped for a quick bite in Trinidad and headed south for New Mexico.

Raton Pass. US 87 seems to get longer as the temperature drops, and it seems mighty long down in the low 30's. I never expected to be wearing my electrics in May but I was sure thankful I brought them. I decided to call it a night around 9pm and got a room in Dalhart. Tuesday morning it's still in the low 30's.



I donned my gear and checked out. I spoke to a rider staying a few doors down bound for Colorado. He had minimal gear and had no choice but to wait for the mercury to rise. By the time I finished my breakfast in Amarillo it was 50 degrees outside and I peeled off a couple of layers. Mother Nature was much kinder to me than on the way up. The wind kicked up only occasionally. I encountered only moderate traffic through Fort Worth. I'm actually getting used to the drill: darkness falls, temp drops, Ken pulls over and layers up. I took it easy and made it home around 1:00 am. 2,466 glorious miles.

Man I love Colorado!
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:06 PM   #4
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Home again.



Back to the real world. I had my report filed to the IBA within a couple of days. Now the waiting begins. To my surprise, it took less that a month for my certificate and coveted license plate back to arrive! SUCCESS!

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Old 06-11-2011, 09:20 PM   #5
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Well done, Ken! Looks like a fantastic ride.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

great adventure and pic's
thanks
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:23 PM   #7
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Hey Ken... my brother and I did the Colorado Rockies last year (he lives in Greeley, Co.). We did the Poudre Canyon a couple of times on that trip... really beautiful. Thanks much for the post.
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Old 06-13-2011, 04:29 PM   #8
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Iron Butt to Colorado

Nice report & photos Ken !!
You definitely qualify as a 'Rounder

Colorado is on my list of places to see.....one of these days

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Old 06-13-2011, 06:38 PM   #9
ken phenix
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Re: Iron Butt to Colorado

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turkus View Post
Colorado is on my list of places to see.....one of these days
Yeah, there's a place in my heart for Colorado. My dad, also named Bruce, took me camping there several times when I was a kid. It took me 3 decades to get back there. Now I'm hooked. You can say "someday I'll" only so long.

blog ride report part 1 ride report part 2 300 pics
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