Journal

Day: 1 & 2

Date: June 27 to June 28

Start Location: Fulton, NY

End Location: Ft. Collins, CO

Miles Travelled: 1647

High Temperature: N/A


Since Keith had flown out to Colorado already, Seth and Ed set out with trailer in tow racing in Seth’s new BMW X5. Seth was supposed to arrive at Ed’s house at 9am but did not arrive until about 11am. Keith’s bike and Ed’s bike was already loaded with all the gear strapped to the trailer. When Seth arrived we had to fabricate another mountain bike rack for Seth. That took about 15 minutes and we were on our way at about 11:15am, a couple hours late, but we had until Saturday evening to get to Ft. Collins. Seth and Ed took turns driving at each tankful. We ran into a little rain somewhere in the midwest but in general the weather was perfect for such a long trip. Nothing unusual or exciting happened on the way and we arrived at Steve and Jenn’s on Saturday in right about 26 hours total, which was excellent time. All the preps for the trailer worked perfectly. We had lunch and dinner with Keith, Ed, Seth, Steve and Jenn. We then offloaded the bikes and gear and loaded the gear onto Keith and Ed’s bikes so we could get an early start the next day. Ed was totally exhausted having had just two hours of sleep during the drive from New York to Colorado. Early to bed on Saturday.


Day: 3

Date: June 29

Start Location: Ft. Collins, CO

End Location: 12 miles south of Gypsum, CO

Miles Travelled: 199

High Temperature: 93

Low Temperature: 60


Today our goal was to at least get to where the trip ended last year when Ed broke his ankle in Gypsum, CO, hopefully reaching Leadville CO by nightfall. We got up around 8am, ate eggs and bacon prepared by Steve and finished prepping the bikes and gear. We left Steve and Jenn’s at about 9:30am. Rather than taking the highway to Denver and cutting across westerly to Gypsum, we decided to cut through Estes Park (Rocky Mountain National Park), which would be a much more interesting and Scenic route. Seth would lead the way in his X5. Along the way Keith noted that his clutch seemed to be acting oddly, but we decided to continue on, hoping it was a momentary problem. In the park we saw herds of elk and mountain goats. The scenery was amazing. We had 30 degree temperature fluctuations as we reached a height of 12000 feet. The snow in some areas was still many feet deep with warnings of icy roads. Much more snow than last year due to us being here a month earlier in the year. At the peak, we visited the Alpine Viewing Center and had some lunch. Ed said he was having some difficulty shifting into second gear and that his ankle was very painful. He put on a heavy wool sock and loosened up the buckles on his boot. That seemed to stop most of the pain but still had problems shifting into second gear. Later, we adjusted the shift pedal to see if that would help, but it didn’t. Apparently his ankle has lost some strength from last years injury. This is where Keith and Ed separated from Seth, who headed back to Ft. Collins. Ed and Keith headed to Gypsum where we purchased our evening food (ribeyes, potatoes and radishes). We then headed toward Leadville back on the trail where we ended last year. Since it was getting late we decided to stop just short of Sylvan Lake State Park. Found a very cool campsite along a snow melt stream and set up camp. We collected firewood, cooked our meal, smoked a few rum cigars and realized we forgot to fill our cooking stove bottle with gas. No coffee or breakfast in the morning. We decide to get breakfast when we got to Leadville. Went to bed about 11pm.


Day: 4

Date: June 30

Start Location: 12 miles south of Gypsum, CO

End Location: Grand Junction, CO

Miles Travelled: 157

High Temperature: 96

Low Temperature: 53


We woke up at about 8am packed up all the gear and headed down the trail. We soon ran into the toughest terrain yet. Ruts were a foot deep and you know how we like ruts. It was a scary few miles but with the techniques we learned for riding ruts we were very successful maneuvering through them. Neither of us crashed!!!! Lots of different terrain, rocks ruts and silt as we travelled Crooked Creek. Amazing drop-offs on either side, hundreds of feet deep. Keith dropped his bike twice due to his clutch problem so when we got to around Thomasville we decided that the route was much too treacherous with a bike that had a clutch problem. We looked over the map and decided to head to Basalt on better roads where we could call BMW Roadside Assistance. When we got to Basalt Keith made the call and arranged a tow truck to take the bike to Grand Junction where the nearest BMW dealer is. Grand Junction is about 110 miles west of Basalt. While waiting for the tow truck we had some lunch at a quaint diner and a beer at a bistro located across the road from where we parked the bikes. The tow truck operator arrived as promised and we loaded Keith’s bike. Keith rode with the truck and Ed followed behind. What a ride for Ed. It was at least 96 degrees and all desert for 110 miles and this tow truck driver travelled in excess of 80 mph. Ed’s bike, equipped with off road knobby tires, was not conducive to high speed travel in high temperatures. Whenever Ed exceeded 80 mph the bike would start to wobble, similar to getting caught in ruts. He’d have to back off and hope to catch up at a stop light. Scary ride, but made it without incident, other than being dehydrated. Of course when we got to the BMW dealership, the service department was closed. Motorcycle shops are always closed on Mondays, but we were able to at least get the bike checked in. While we sat at the dealership, Keith realized he did not have his cell phone, the phone that contains our trail maps. Keith made a quick call to the tow truck company, who contacted the driver to return to BMW. Saved again. We decided that it would be wise to load the trails on Ed’s phone also, just in case something happened to Keith’s phone along the way. We checked into the Holiday Inn right next door to BMW. Once we got to the room, Ed took off his boots and socks to disclose a very swollen ankle. Maybe eleven months recovery isn’t quite enough (or maybe he should have exercised more! There we discussed our options assuming a two or three day delay, had some dinner at an Italian eatery that we could walk to then had a swing in the pool. Very relaxing after a long, hot, treacherous day.


Day: 5

Date: July 1

Start Location: Grand Junction, CO

End Location: Grand Junction, CO

Miles Travelled: 43

High Temperature: 95

Low Temperature: 77


Got up today at about 8am and had breakfast at the hotel. BMW opens at 9am and we were there just as they opened. Keith explained the clutch problem to the service manager, as well as another minor issue with his rear speed sensor that may have been affecting his ABS system. BMW said they would try to work him in, but they get 10-12 breakdowns a day. Luckily, we talked them into giving us a loaner bike for the day, a BMW F800, so we decided to take in Colorado National Monument while we waited. The views of the mesa basin and erosions caused by millions of years of water were absolutely amazing. While it was only 43 miles start to finish, it took us most of the day, stopping at viewing sites for some great photographs. Beautiful country. When we got back to Grand Junction, we had lunch/dinner to a brewhouse and then went to the dealer to see how the bike repair was progressing. When we arrived, they were just finishing up the bike. That’s the good news. The bad news was that they could not replicate the problem and said the clutch was fine. They were very apologetic that they could do nothing. They did fix the rear speed sensor, though. So, Keith got the bike and ran it for another 40 miles in scorching hot weather and sure enough, it worked fine. We decided we would head out back on the trail in the morning. We figure we’ll lose about two full days since we still have a 110 mile drive to get back to the trail from Grand Junction. We washed all of our dirty clothes and went for another swim and spent a little time in the spa, really roughing it. We’ll give it a try in the morning after a good rest. Did I mention, hot is hot, dry heat is still hot.


Day: 6

Date: July 2

Start Location: Grand Junction, CO

End Location: 32 miles west of Denver

Miles Travelled: 330

High Temperature: 94

Low Temperature: 77


Got up at about 6:30am, showered and started packing the gear. We ate breakfast at the hotel and headed towards Basalt to pick up the trail where we left off on Monday. We took a different route back that was less highway and should be about 120 miles. we stopped at Carbondale because Keith’s bike started acting up again, same problem. So Keith called and left a message at the Grand Junction BMW. We discussed our options and decided to call Max’s BMW in NY to see if they had any ideas as to what could be causing the clutch issues. The service manager thought that it would most likely be the slave cylinder but could be another more complicated issue. Keith then looked up other BMW dealerships in Colorado. Grand Junction was the closest, but we felt they were not an option, since they did nothing before. Keith called BMW of Denver, about 165 miles away and described the problem and told them what Max’s thought. They agreed to take a look but they close at 6pm. So we immediately set our GPS for Denver and headed out. We knew it would be close. We arrived at the dealership at about 5:40pm. They were just beginning to close up shop but they held a mechanic over to work the bike. After about an hour they said the bike was ready. They replaced the slave cylinder and flushed the hydraulic system. The manager said that there was no indication of a leak, but thought it might be fixed. The only thing left to replace would be the master cylinder, but they didn’t have parts in stock and would need to be ordered. Because of that and the holiday weekend, they wouldn’t be able to work on it again until next week. With that said, we thanked them and headed to Chief Hosa Camp Ground to spend the night about 32 miles west. By the time we got to Chief Hosa’s, the clutch was again acting up, such a disappointment. We had stopped along the way to pick up food, tonight it would kielbasa, sauerkraut and corn on the cob. We set up camp and cooked our meal. No fires at this campsite, so we boiled everything. The corn sucked. We decided to call the other BMW dealers in Colorado in the morning to see if 1) they had a master cylinder repair kit and 2) can they work on the bike tomorrow. We figured that if we can’t get it fixed tomorrow that the earliest possible time would be next Tuesday, a total bust on our trip. We washed up and went to bed at about 11:30pm. We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings. It’s not looking good. This really blows.


Day: 7

Date: July 3

Start Location: 32 miles west of Denver

End Location: Ft. Collins, CO

Miles Travelled:

High Temperature: 93

Low Temperature: 67


We got up this morning around 6:30am. Just some coffee and a quick shower. Fortunately, we had a few quarters for the shower. Then we started taking down the tent and packing the bikes. An couple came over to look at the bikes and commented about the Canadian flag sticker on Ed’s bike. Ed told them that his parents were Canadian. The couple said they were from Toronto. We had a nice discussion with them about our travels in Canada and Colorado. They said they were on their retirement trip across Canada and the USA. They left Toronto one year and four days ago, amazing. A trip of a lifetime. They said that their first motorcycle trip was in 1979 when they met and they travelled from Singapore to England on a motorcycle, unbelievable. We left the campsite at about 8:45am heading back to Foothills BMW in Denver. Keith explained our situation to the service manager, but of course they did not have a master cylinder kit, in fact, the closest one was in Kansas according to their online inventory. Nothing they could do. Back on the bikes and north to Ft. Collins BMW. Same result there, a week to get the part and they couldn’t get to it until late next week. So Keith and Ed came to realize that this years trip is officially over. We ran about 30 miles of trail and several hundred miles on roads looking for repairs (four BMW dealerships). Maybe Keith and Ed were never supposed to complete this Colorado Backwoods Discovery Route. We will sign off now but hope to be back next year. At this rate, Ed will die of old age before we ever finish.