Colorado Cruise 2006 – Day 7: Rocky Mountain National Park

Breckenridge to Rocky Mtn National Park
(Click map to enlarge)

Wednesday, July 5

  • Riders:
    • Paul, Grady, Eric & Trev:
      • Breckenridge, CO to Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
      • 149 miles
    • Scott:
      • Breckenridge, CO to Burley, ID
      • 647 miles
  • Highlights:

Interstate 70 westbound
(Click photo to enlarge)

I decide to head for home today as I don’t know how my back will hold up to all the superslab miles ahead of me and I need to be back to work on Monday. This will give me extra time if necessary as well as alleviate the homesick feeling I get by this point in every ride. So I pack up, bid everyone farewell, and head West on I-70 which is a superb piece of interstate due to the passes, canyons and marvelous scenery. I hope to do the ride to Seattle in two days which was achievable on my Gold Wing 1800 due to its comfort, wind protection, stereo and most excellent cruise control. The ST is just about as comfortable but all I have for throttle control is a Throttlemeister, a simple friction device. My brother, Eric, installed it for me just before I rode to Alaska but compared to the Wing’s cruise control, I find it to be very primitive and so I haven’t really used it. But as I have little else to do except ride safely and listen to music, I decide to fiddle with it and give it a proper testing. With all the hills to deal with, I need to keep adjusting it to maintain a somewhat legal highway speed but it’s a welcome distraction and provides relief to my throttle hand. By the end of the day, I deem it crude yet effective.

I take an additional measure to mitigate the monotonous ride and cue up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig, on my iPod which I had purchased and downloaded prior to leaving on this trip. It seems like I’m the last guy on the planet to read this book. It’s been recommended to me countless times and when I ask what it is about, they all just shake their heads and say, “It’s heavy, dude. You gotta read it.” Thanks. Good review, Bro. That’s really compelling. But I figure as the title refers to two topics I find very interesting, I can’t really go wrong. Well, it works. Mile after mile, chapter after chapter, I’m riveted. There’s a lot happening in this book. I am very attracted to his use of the topic of maintaining and repairing his motorcycle to explain what quality is. It feels very right to me and something to be sought in everything we do in our lives. (Sounds just like what a Virgo sun sign with a Sagittarius ascendant would say.) It also goes without saying that I love the story of his cross-country tour with his son and friends. He’s got it all: the simple pleasures, the minor hassles, the aches and pains, the neat people you meet, the campfire storytelling, etc. that touring provides. And then woven throughout all of this is his metaphysical journey and the transformation of his conscious mind by philosophy, logic, madness, and Zen. This latter subject is indeed very “heavy” but every time my mind begins to sag under the strain, the author switches back to the more mundane subjects of touring and tinkering. After many chapters and before I know it, I’m in Southern Idaho and looking for a motel to rest my weary body. I’ve ridden 647 miles today.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew heads North through the mountains to Rocky Mountain National Park, a real gem of a destination. The ride through the forest up along the West side of the park is very nice cruising but the magic and power of the place isn’t truly revealed until one emerges from the forest into the treeless tundra zone. The unobstructed view of this from the seat of a motorcycle just can’t be achieved in a car unless, of course, one drives a convertible. Feeling the bike and your body move through the thin air while you interpret the road beneath you and mix up the best blend of throttle and lean angle to produce the appropriate speed and friction for it is a sublime experience. Note the smiles in the photos as proof.

After exploring the terrain on foot above 12,000 feet, the guys descend the Eastern slopes and find good camping just outside the town of Estes Park. It’s been a very good day.

(Click photos to launch the slideshow)

Go to Day 8: Heading For Home

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