The annual Ducati Sport Touring "Reefer Madness" gathering for 2007 was held in Torrey UT. I planned on taking a few weeks to enjoy the ride to the event by revisiting the Colorado Rockies.
After madly getting my bike ready for the annual meeting of Ducati ST owners; forks reworked by RaceTech, stock shock reinstalled after new Olhins shock was too hard, 1200 mile maintenance, new rear tire, etc., I met Mike at a local hotel here in Spokane.
We had decided to head south as fast as possible so we jumped on I90 east until we reached Missoula MT for a gas and lunch break.
As we sat in the sun eating lunch, we knew the interstate was not going to cut it anymore, so we took US 93 south out of Missoula to Lost Trail Pass. Turning east on US 43, we passed the Big Hole Battlefield where the US Infantry attacked some 800 Nez Perce men, women, and children lead by Chief Joseph. We continued on to Dillon, MT for the first night of the trip.
The next morning I, woke to a bike that refused to start, or I should say, would not turn over due to a five year old battery deciding it was too cold during the night. The bike did start after a few good pushes from Mike. Little did he know this was really a planned exercise program that he would enjoy for the next several days as we headed to Fort Collins to pick up a new battery at North Colorado BMW/Ducati.
From Dillon, we traveled through Yellowstone National Park to the east entrance and US 14. As we left the park, we encountered road construction and rain which turned our ride into a wonderful mud bath. At times the road felt like it was covered with eight inches of slime as the ST squirmed and sliced its way down the mountain towards Cody, WY. The mud was caked onto the radiator so thick that it would later take 4 washes at a car wash in Ft Collins to remove enough mud so that the temperature would drop below 200 degrees.
The next morning, my trusty bike starter started showing signs of wear. I'm thinking Mike is going to be happier than me to get the new battery that afternoon in Fort Collins.
We arrive at North Colorado BMW/Ducati 30 minutes before closing, only to be informed that the battery that was on hold for me - and on the charger, had been sold. "No problem," said the parts guy, "I'll put another one on and you can pick it up in the morning."
With the repairs done, we could finally continue our trip. Heading back to Boulder, we retraced some of the roads I had ridden on the Harley. This time the ST4 handled the wonderful curves of Boulder Canyon Drive, US-72 and US-119, with ease.
We had to alter the few plans we had when we found Hwy 103 closed due to snow, so it was south to US 285 and the town of Fairplay. The weather had been deteriorating all day and when we reached Fairplay, we decided to turn north on to US 9 to take refuge in Breckenridge. Spending the night in Breckenridge proved a good decision, as the next morning we awoke to blue skies. So, it was off to Independence Pass via a short run on I-70 to US-91 and finally US-82. US-82 is a great road with several switchbacks as it heads up to Independence Pass and then gets narrower and more technical as it winds down to Aspen.
While driving to Salt Lake, I started noticing how many Harley shops I had seen and I started thinking how easy it would be to get parts if only I was riding one. Do Harleys break down more often? Is this the reason for all the shops? Are the shops just a social gathering spot? Do Harley riders go to these shops to checkout the new models? Does Harley make new models? By this time, all my talking of Harleys had really started wearing on Mike, so I decided to keep these new thoughts to myself.
I bought a new retaining plate and some tubing for the Pro_oiler at Salt Lake Motorsports. Both were an easy repair and as I finished putting the tools away, a familiar voice of a fellow mad-one, Gary Egan, was heard coming from the back of the shop. Gary was there dropping off a Multistrada for last minute adjustments before leaving for Torrey. We made plans to meet in the morning and then we checked ourselves in to a hotel downtown.......all was good.
The next day, we awoke to rain. Now normally, rain is not a problem, but so far on this trip it had either rained or been cold enough to require an electric vest, so I was really looking forward to heading south and getting into some warm weather. I had no problem drinking a few cups at the designated coffee shop, waiting for the other mad-ones to arrive and the rain to stop. About two hours later, and after several phone calls, it was apparent the the group was having problems getting organized, so with a belly full of coffee, it was time to leave.
Zion is a cool park. I've been here once before. Every time I see the place, I want to take my backpack and disappear into the rocks for a few weeks. We dropped our stuff off at the ThunderbirdLlodge at the east entrance and headed into the Park to catch a glimpse of the rock formations before dark.
When I got there, I realized I had been there before!
Zion can do that to you........
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a 3 mile long, 2000 foot deep amphitheater that's at an elevation of 10,000 feet. We took I-15 after leaving the west side of Zion and stopped at this National Monument. I'd never been here before, but was glad I stopped. It didn't seem like this place gets much traffic as the whole time we where there only a few other visitors showed up. I guess with Zion being so close, most people just drive by.
Leaving Cedar Breaks, Highway 143 winds down to Panguitch where we catch US 89 and start heading toward Torrey.
It was on US 89, a few days earlier, that I was being followed by this white (or was it pink?) Cadillac. Anyway, I would twist the right hand a bit, blast around some nice sweepers, relax the hand on the straights and there in the mirror was the damm Cadillac. This goes on for awhile, until we get to some small town, maybe it was Spry. I pulled over to take a break. The Cadillac pulled up next to me, and in the driver's seat is a middle aged woman with this big grin on her face. For a moment I think its Olga, but no, she would be following the guys from California; anyway, she would need to be driving a Mack truck for all of her accessories. The window rolls down and she says I must like riding that bike as much as she likes driving her car. I'm getting worried as to what she is going to say next and start looking for ways to get out of this. I could dump the clutch and try and get enough of a head start to pull off some side road and let her zoom by, but......just then she starts telling me about how the next town is known for their speed traps, so I should keep a good lookout and then she's off.
It's time to attend the Madness and visit the Mad-Ones.
There was already a good sized group at the Wonderland Inn when we arrived. Unpacking and getting our stuff into the room was a the second priority. Another mad-one had already taken care of the first priority.
During the next few days, everyone enjoyed the company, the rides and the entertainment at the Madness.
At times it was better to just pretend nothing was going on
Or get involved
And of course, there was Kirk's new 1098 to admire
And that was the Madness......
I left Mike at the Wonderland and started my trek home. Highway 72 out of Fremont was a little dicey with the highest concentration of tar snakes I'd ever seen. After reaching the summit, the other side has quite a nice stretch of blacktop.
Highway 31 winds up through the Manti la Sal National Forest and over a 9655 foot pass before dropping down to Spanish Fork and I15. I took the interstate to Salt Lake City and had lunch.
I met a family group consisting of three generations riding their Harleys to this summit. It was the Great Grandpa's birthday and they had rented him a bike and took off for a Sunday morning drive.
I was basically in "get home mode" so it was the great American pastime of driving on interstates to get to Ketchum, Idaho before dark. There are some good things about riding the interstate. I spent the time going thinking of the days spent on this trip, the dead battery, replacing the starter, cursing the streets on my rented Harley, rain and cold weather, catching one's breath after bump-starting my Duc, the first good warm day of riding, a glass of good beer; the mad-ones, a great riding partner, what else could anyone ask for?
I awoke to good weather and headed up highway 75 toward Stanley. The route home was going to take me on 500 miles of some of the nicest secondary roads in Idaho. Yeah, it was going to be a good day, riding through the Sawtooths, along the Salmon River, over some back roads south of Coeur D'Alene, and out onto the Palouse.
About 30 miles out of Stanley, I was starting to get cold. As I continued to ride the Duc, waiting for a good reason to put on the electric vest, I was stopped by this herd of sheep. I quickly pulled out the vest and plugged it in. While I sat there waiting for a chance to continue my quest for home, I realized this would be the perfect destination for a future Madness. I mean it's got all the makings for a marvelous event...great roads, hot springs, good food, drink and sheep. ARGGGHH!!!!
4,040 more miles on the odometer and another 14 days of riding bliss