Saturday, July 18, 2015

Things don't go as planned - A wandering ramble through the great American South West - Part 2.

Picking up from where I had left off in Part 1 (clickable link). 
If you haven't read part 1 yet, please click on the link and read that first. :) 

Also, fair warning. Part 2 is even longer than Part 1. I had a request from a reader, asking me to make Part 2 as long as I wanted to. Request granted. :D

As voiced in Part 1 - Brian and I were having a disagreement with our riding styles. The ride plan now in effect was that Brian leads and we curtail our picture stops. I still have route suggestions and we attempt to strike compromises on the routes. Brian just wants to get to Albuquerque, he has his tall blonde 'girlfriend' to look forward to there, and to lighting up cigars and telling tall tales in the IBR parking lot with all his IBA buddies. He lives for moments like these, and I don't blame him. They are all very lovely people, some of the best that I have come to know, but we will be there all weekend long, and I am in no hurry to get there right away.  

Brian wants to take the most direct and efficient route there. As you would, perhaps, if you were in a competitive rally. Why dilly-dally, when there are points to be accumulated, and points per mile statistics to stack in your favor.
I am on the other side of the spectrum, for me the journey is the destination. I want to enjoy the journey, and linger, and soak up as much as I can. The destination is secondary and it can wait. 

I also wonder if "Been there, done that, got the T-shirt" has a role to play here. In his 57+ years on this earth, Brian has criss-crossed the country many times over. I on the other hand, have not enjoyed these vistas as often as I would like to, I still marvel at the sights, they still take my breath away, I still want to sit and stare at them. Will I still do that 20 years from now? Oh God - I sure hope so!  

To his credit, Brian is taking what scenic route we are taking, and the resultant torture - for me. If it weren't for me, he would have run across I-40 to Albuquerque, interstate freeway riding is his thing anyway. For all intents and purposes, for him, he is dragging an anchor, and I am holding him back.

Crossing into Colorado from Utah, we route on CO Hwy 141 to Hwy 62. Hwy 141 is in the rain shadow and a high desert at the start, a fun twisty ride in the beginning, eventually giving way to valleys and high farm country. Not quite as scenic as Hwy 145 through the San Juan Mountains and Telluride, but then again, not as busy either, and Hwy 141 is the most direct route to Ouray. It's obvious I am not the one routing today, if I was riding by myself, I would have taken the longer but more scenic route. Riding separately is unmistakably the solution, but it isn't happening just yet. 

My first view in almost 5 years, of the rugged and jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains looms ahead. Brian is in no mood to stop, but I am, and I am not letting it pass by. I wouldn't do this on a remote back road, but we are on thoroughfare highways, if we get separated, we can pull over and wait for the other, or just link up with each other along the way. We both have SPOT and GPS devices and we know exactly where we are going.  

San Juan Mountains from CO Hwy62.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Things don't go as planned - A wandering ramble through the Great American South West. Part 1.

Things don't go as planned. How many times are we reminded of the idiom - "Best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray"? Now this might sound like a pessimistic view to hold, but I disagree. Is it still a compelling story - if everything goes as planned? If everything is instrumented and executed smoothly and perfectly, like a machine? Although, aren't machines just as flawed? Conceivably inheriting the inherent flaws of their human creators? 

I am reminded of a recent conversation I had with a new acquaintance over a campfire in Yosemite. This person had just hiked the Mt. Whitney trail, a 22 mile round trip, and a portion of the longer John Muir Trail (a 210 mile hike with a ~10,500 feet elevation gain), which he is planning to tackle next. An avid hiker, who takes great pride in his planning and execution as well as his physical abilities. During our conversation, we started to discuss the protagonist in the recent bestseller - Wild. I asked him if he had read the book, and he had, but didn't like it. When aksed why, he replied in a long-winded fashion, but which I distilled down to the woman having made every mistake in the book. I countered - that's what made her story a fascinating read. She was/is flawed, she made mistakes and lots of them, she encountered peril - even if sometimes it was of her own making, but there was also perseverance, learning, and growth from those hard knocks. I don't think I sold him on the concept. What do you think? If she had done everything by the book, how many would have bothered to read her story?

This story is not nearly as exciting, except things didn't go as planned. It isn't even by any means - concise, so go grab that coffee, tea, or maybe even a real drink. You might need it! : )

This jaunt through southern Utah had been planned several months ago, with Brian - my mentor and riding partner on some such touring excursions in the past. Despite our starkly different riding styles, we had on previous occasions managed to ride together with only a minimum of friction. That may have been because those outings were some years ago, and being new to longer distance touring at that time - I mainly just acquiesced to his plans, riding style and wisdom, the last of which he does have an over-abundance of. At this point you may be wondering, what is so inexorably different about our riding styles? It boils down to our personalities and motivations. Pitching the stop to smell the roses, and stop to take in the sights personality vs. the stop for nothing, just keep on riding, there is still miles to go before I stop/sleep type. The satisfaction we derive from the type of riding we prefer also resides in different hemispheres.  I prefer the twisty and scenic byways and back roads, Brian prefers the freeways and the long, plumb highways through vast valleys and farm country. Something had to give for this dynamic to work. Would it work?

A brisk and for summer, a surprisingly balmy run across the high desert of Nevada was first on the agenda. Brian was on his Honda ST1300 a proven touring and rally bike with over 100,000 miles on it. I had left the veteran, just a bit shy of 80,000 miles Yamaha FJR1300 in the garage, instead deciding to stretch the legs of the rookie Suzuki DL1000, it only had about 12,000 miles at the beginning of this journey and hadn't before been ridden past a 500 mile radius from home.  We weren't setting any speed records in the desert. We had chosen the northerly route on US Hwy 50, over the much faster and much hotter E.T. highway, running nominal speed out of towns. It was an uneventful journey across Nevada, we noted and commented on the desert being unusually green for this late in the season. Spring Valley pictured below in White Pine county, Nevada was still grassy and living up to it's name.

US Hwy 50, Spring Valley, Nevada.