Day Twelve


"Colorado Beach Vacations"

September 16, 2002

Buena Vista, CO -
Pagosa Springs, CO

318 miles

5:37 riding time

4 Passes Today
39 Passes To Date

Whizmo predicted that the Colorado segments of our Great Divide Tour would be the most challenging.  The combination of as many as seven passes in one day, plus the highest altitudes of the trip, plus lots of traffic, plus the uncertainty of weather has made for two challenging but pleasant days of riding.  Being over 10,000' has noticeable effects on my ability to concentrate, and the bikes don't perform as well in the thinner air.  I'm glad that we've crested the highest parts of the trip.  Fortunately, the weather has been perfect with afternoon temperatures in the high-50s to mid-60s.  I expect we're going to be heading into increasingly warmer weather.  It's almost time to pack away the extra layers of clothing.

I had the opportunity to have dinner with my wife's family during our layover day in Boulder.  My niece and nephew wanted to sit on Uncle Gizmo's bike - no problem!  My mother-in-law noted that we would be riding right through Nathrop, the town where her best friend Norma lives.  Norma was out of town, but we made a quick stop to document the appearance.  I'm holding a sign that says 'Hi Norma!'.  Honest.

Luke and Jill Hoffman, the Izmettes Hi Norma!

Most of the places that we stay are nice enough, but not memorable.  The lobbies, hallways and rooms blend into a continuous series of bland color schemes, thin towels and uncomfortable beds.  Last night we stayed at the Super 8 in Buena Vista Colorado, run by Chris and Janice Martin.  It would be hard to point out any particular feature that made this place feel more homey, but it did for some reason.  They were very accommodating, letting us park the bikes under cover next to the front door, and making good suggestions for where to eat dinner.  When we checked in, Chris was having a conversation with his young daughter about their next vacation.  She wanted to go to an ocean beach, and Chris was patiently explaining to her that Colorado has no beaches.  If you're headed through Buena Vista, tell them Whizmo & Gizmo say hi.  And ask if they got to the beach yet.

Chris at the Super 8 in Buena Vista CO

Riding in the morning offers the best combination of little traffic, brisk temperatures and great light for photos taken while riding. Watching the sun play with the bikes' shadows in the early morning is delightful.  The dramatic angle of the sun leads to all sorts of experimental shots.  Whizmo took a shot of me over his shoulder, with his camera's neckstrap blowing in the breeze.

South of Buena Vista CO

Gizmo in the distance

Our first pass of the day was Monarch Pass.  It was in the low 40's by the time we got there at about 8:15.  These mountain bikers were getting ready for a 5-hour ride down the mountain.  Whiz talked bicycle shop with them for a few minutes before we headed on our way.

Originally called Agate Pass, still a controversy

Preparing for a 5-hour downhill ride

As usual, we met lots of friendly motorcycling types today.  Everyone's enjoying the perfect riding conditions and the great roads in southern Colorado.  Mike (left, below) is out for a three-week trip.  Fred (right) was just goofing around for the day.

Patagonia, Arizona Mike - 1986 Goldwing Florida Fred - 2002 BMW K1200RS

By far the most stunning visual aspect to our Colorado legs has been the turning colors of the aspen trees as fall approaches.  Every time I thought I had the perfect picture of a dramatic fall color panorama, we'd go around another corner and there was a better one. 

Aspens turning color as fall arrives

We stopped in Creede CO for lunch, a famous old company mining town that is attempting to transition to a tourism-based economy.  We did see quite a few art galleries and little trinket shops.  While suiting up to leave after lunch, we chatted with Diane and Evelyn from Norman OK.  They said it was their third trip to Creede.  They keep coming back for the great shopping!  (I sincerely hope we don't see an outlet mall spring up in Creede.)  All we bought was lunch, although Whizmo did recommend the chicken burrito to anyone who would listen.

Creede CO "What am I supposed to do with this card?"

The last pass of the day was Wolf Creek Pass, just before arriving at Pagosa Springs.  Do you think we're getting blasť about this trip? 

Whose idea was this, anyway?

We're pretty much at the midpoint of the trip.  We have three more named passes in New Mexico before the Great Divide becomes not much more than rises in the road.  As soon as we hit the Mexican border, our thoughts will turn to the trip home.  We're anticipating a maintenance day in the next few days - Whiz needs a new rear tire, and my brake pads sound like they need to be replaced.  Gotta keep the gear in top condition.

We'll leave you with this poster from the little cafe where we had lunch in Creede:


Wrap Up - Contest #7 - Music from the Road II

We have a winner!  Congratulations to Mr. Thomas H. Boyle, hailing from St. Paul, Minn-e-SOH-ta, who submitted the first completely correct response.  Hot on his heels was Glenda Revelle (NYC) who also submitted a perfect response.  Also of note, J. Ozinski and Dan Newell submitted almost-but-not-quite- completely correct responses.  We tip our hats to this foursome who distinguished themselves in fine fashion and thank all who attempted this tough challenge.  We have one more music contest that we are confident will stump even the best of you. 

Here are the correct answer to Contest 7, Music From the Road II:

Title Artist
1. Life in the Fast Lane The Eagles
2. Crosstown Traffic Jimi Hendrix
3. Along For the Ride Danny O'Keefe
4. Low Rider War
5. Route 66 Natalie Cole
6. Ride of the Valkyries Wagner
7. Drive My Car The Beatles
8. Runnin' Down a Dream Tom Petty
9. Baby Driver Simon & Garfunkel
10. Truckin' Grateful Dead

!!!  New Contest - Contest #8 - Caption the Contraption  !!!

While speeding along near Breckinridge Colorado the other day, we spied this strange road warrior, sitting forlornly on the side of the road.  Doing lurid power slides, we hung a quick 180, let the tire smoke clear, and snapped this picture.  Your mission,  if you decide to accept it, is to caption this photo and, by doing so, inform our entire readership of exactly what is going on with this strange vehicle.  Let your imagination run wild folks, and click here to make an entry.  As always, if you are captured while captioning,  the secretary will disavow all knowledge of you and your caption.  This web page will self-destruct in ... well, when you close the window.

Your caption goes here