Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Top O' the Rockies Rally and Brewery Tour, by Dale Nordlie

I took off the Saturday prior to the rally. My first stop was at Love's (not Pilot anymore) Truckstop for breakfast. I heard several comments about the new tires on my bike. (Some other “unnamed” person was destined to have the tire problems this year.) I noticed that my speedometer was not functioning just after I hit the interstate. Not a problem, as I had a "trusty" GPS?! I arrived in Rapid City mid afternoon and rode Nemo Road and Vonocker Canyon Road to Sturgis to see the new BMW shop. They are on the other side of town now. Took off to climb Bear Butte and then find a place to camp. Later that night I noticed that my "trusty" GPS had added about 200 miles to my trip and that I was really speeding all day. It said I had ridden 658 miles and my average moving speed was 91.3 mph.
I rode Spearfish Canyon Road the next morning and then headed towards Wyoming and then Colorado. The Corvette Rally was ending in Spearfish that morning and I managed to get behind a string of Vettes going about 85 mph between Mule Creek Junction and Lusk, WY. Had a sandwich in Lusk and continued on to Loveland, CO. I set my tent up at Boyd Lake State Park and then found the Left Hand Brewery in Longmont. I sampled a few of the beers (my favorite IPA was called 200 Pound Monkey) and then headed back to the park.
Monday morning I took off into the mountains and stopped in Lyons for breakfast. Dale's IPA is brewed in Lyons, CO, but the brewery wasn't open yet. I continued through Boulder, CO, into the mountains and stopped at Idaho Springs to visit the Tommyknockers Brewpub and then to Breckenridge to the Breckenridge Brewery where I had lunch. That night I camped at a national forest campground somewhere around Fairplay, CO.
I decided I should ride down to Del Norte, CO, on Tuesday. Get it? Dale Nordlie/Del Norte!! Anyway I saw that there was a brewery there, also. I had a small taste of the IPA and took off towards Gunnison. It started to rain in the mountains, but the first shower I just got wet and dried off fairly quickly. In a while I passed a Harley going the other way, and the woman passenger put both of her arms up like she was trying to tell me something, and then I noticed her rain suit. The sky was getting darker and I soon stopped and donned my rain suit. It rained quite a lot and I'm glad I stopped when I did. The problem with getting wet in the mountains is you also get pretty cold. I arrived in Gunnison and promptly found the Gunnison Brewery where I sampled their beers and had lunch. Then it was off to The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The north canyon road is about as fine a motorcycle road as you can find, and there is very little traffic. I camped at the north park campgrounds that night and watched the sun go down over the canyon.
Wednesday morning I rode into Paonia to have breakfast at the diner. I had breakfast with Dave Maly from Madison, WI. Actually we stayed there for quite a while as it had started to rain while we were eating. Dave has been riding for quite a while and knows several Autobahners. When it stopped raining I headed to the park to set up my tent. I was suprised to see that the beer vendors were already selling beer and was glad to see that they had the local brewery beer on tap. Revolution Brewery has been brewing beer in Paonia for three or four years now. They have the tasting room in a small church building that originally was owned by a Christian Scientist Congregation. Sarah Mandel & Friend Gerald Winter, Bob Mandel & Bill Claussen
Thursday morning I had breakfast early and headed back to the Black Canyon as I had booked a ride on a 40 passenger pontoon boat a few days prior. To get to the boat you have to ride down a fairly steep three quarters of a mile gravel road and then go down maybe 200 steps and hike three quarters of a mile. So I did it. Turned on my camera and it says I need to change batteries. Batteries are on the bike three quarters of a mile and 200 steps up. I knew I would hate myself if I didn't take pictures. So I headed back to the bike to get them. Got to the boat in plenty of time the second go around. The boat ride takes you through the canyon where once there was railroad. The river has been dammed so now most of the old railroad bed is underwater. After the boat ride I walked back as far as I could on the old railroad bed. This is a beautiful boat ride and I would suggest it to anyone who has the chance to do it. Black Canyon of the Gunnison from the top and “end of the line”
I decided to stay close to town on Friday. A bus tour of some of the local wineries was being offered, so I signed up for that. Five dollars got you food and a lot of good wine. After the tour some of us went to Revolution Brewery to do a little beer tasting. Later while visiting in the park Gerald and Bill show up frazzled from a hard day on the road and tire problems.
Saturday I had breakfast with Bill and Gerald and then I rode to Crested Butte, CO, via Kebler Pass on a nice gravel road that gets you high in to the old aspen forests. I did a little sightseeing and shopping in town and checked out where the brewery had been (they had moved down to Gunnison). I rode back on the Black Canyon Road again. We had the traditional chicken and rib supper that night and listened to the band called the Strolling Scones.
Sunday we packed up and Bill, Gerald and I rode together north through the McClure pass to Glenwood Springs and eventually through Rocky Mountain National Park. On the way, Bill took us on a nice gravel road that runs from State Bridge, CO, to Kremmling, CO. We rode as far as Chappell, NE and stumbled on a nice little private cheap campground. Monday we had breakfast in
Gerald & Bill in Rocky Mountain National Park Gerald throws snow balls Ogallala, NE, and continued our trek home.
I put something like 2800 miles on my new to me 1995 R1100GS and it ran great. I got between 40 and 50 miles per gallon on the trip and the only problem was a broken speedometer cable.

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