An Old Fart and Young Punk Ride the COBDR: Part Two

May 20, 2014 View Comments by

The Young Punk and the mighty Colorado River.This is part two of John Privette’s story, you can read part one here.

Day 5: The nice leisurely breakfast at Jan’s Family Restaurant had us all primed to hit the trail. However, while packing my bike, I realized the Blue Beast had a broken left windshield bracket. It must have been damaged during the camping spill on day two. The MacGyver in me emerged as I used JB Weld, a cut up REI card, and some packing tape to fix it. This nuisance only delayed us two hours.

In spite of the late start we did four water crossings and the rugged Weston Pass (11,920 feet) for a total of 115 miles of rough off-roading. As far as wildlife goes, Seven Mile Creek probably had 50 beaver dams. We encountered numerous cows, a bobcat, and many horses today. We even saw a naive Canadian riding his spotless, new V-Strom 650 on the east side of Weston Pass. I don’t think he could have safely made it down the rugged west side with his street tires. God help him!

A well-deserved burger lunch was finally served to us at 3:00 in Leadville. We had attempted to eat at the Silver Dollar Saloon earlier but the service was so bad we walked out. We decided to bypass off-roading and continue by street to our overnight point as the two-hour delay fixing my windshield put us behind schedule.

About 25 miles short of our destination of Gypsum, Fly fishermen wetting their hooks.David’s clutch cable broke. Forty-five minutes of roadside pleading (What was life like before iPhones?) with insurers, mechanics, and towing companies was fruitless. I ended up riding the Dakar with no clutch for 10 miles to a hotel in Eagle for the night. The nearest clutch cable we could find was located in Denver, 130 miles away. This was dual sport riding at its finest!

Day 6: My 5:30 wakeup got me through the cold mountain passes and to Foothills BMW at 8:30. My heated handgrips were a touchdown. I rolled back into Eagle again at 11:30, $40 poorer, and 260 miles more weary. The Dakar fix took 15 minutes, but the total delay was half the riding day. After a grocery store deli lunch, we finally hit the trail at 2:00.

This day’s 110 miles of off-roading was once again magnificent. The highlight was riding along side the Colorado River. We saw an Amtrak train beside the river as well as many boaters and fly fishermen.

It was hot but lovely. I was pretty tired as we approached State Bridge, a funky, rustic camping resort noted on the back of the COBDR Map. I half-heartedly inquired about the accommodations. The cheapo pilot in me emerged again as I laughed when the owner said $87 for a yurt for the two of us. My response was: “You’re kidding, $87 for a yurt?  We can camp for free!” My cheapness got us two more hours of free riding in lots of rain and mud.

We finally found a nice Forest Service Campground at Lynx Pass and managed to make camp just before the heavy rains hit. Our simple dinner was oatmeal, trail mix, and beef jerky. It was fit for a king!

The irony of weather in Colorado is the fact that I was freezing on the way to Denver this morning, sweating like a pig riding along the river, then, once again, freezing in the rain while working my butt off just trying to keep the bike upright on muddy mountain roads.

Day 7: Our bikes and we were filthy as we packed up. We knew that the return to the Phoenix area would be grueling so we decided to finish section five of the COBDR in Steamboat Springs and then head home.

It was 40 miles of magnificent off-roading to Steamboat Springs. We rode down Main Street and stopped at the busiest restaurant for a delicious Sunday morning breakfast.  The waitresses and other customers gave us the hairy eyeball as we were grubby and probably a little funky smelling. A trip to the toy cleaner helped the appearance of the bikes, but not ours

Next it was 375 miles on the street to Durango. Most of the ride was on two-lane country roads, which were splendid. I’m not an Interstate fan but I-70 between Eagle and Glenwood Springs is one of the most picturesque roads I’ve ever ridden. It’s in a deep canyon with a river and railroad tracks just to the side. The other wonderful road we experienced was the entire Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Durango. It’s beautiful although it is considered one of the ten most dangerous drives in America.

Stormy skies beckon us toward RAMAH, NM.We rolled into Durango around 6:00 only to find a biker rally. Our relatively quiet, rugged-looking Beemers totally contrasted with the loud, chromed-out street rods. The Durango Brewing Company was filled with bikers, so we grubby off-road riders dined elegantly at the Chimayo Stone Fired Pizza restaurant. As we prepared for bed, I noticed an interesting smell emitting from our closet. It turns out that the Young Punk has been wearing the same socks in his heavy motorcycle boots for five days. The funk was killing me!

Day 8: Relaxation was the order of the morning as we chilled for a couple of hours in Durango after breakfast to recover from the last two long days. After a fast drive to Farmington, we stopped at the Four Corners Regional Airport for a tasty deviled egg and hot wing lunch. Taste, my friend, is in the tongue of the beholder.

Our trusty blue BMW steeds carried us swiftly through some light rain to Grants, NM, where we enjoyed some McDonald’s coffee and waited for an ugly looking storm to pass. Our old Luftwaffe riding comrade Helge once said: “There is no bad weather, only bad riding gear.” Our riding gear was just fine but had no lightening protection. A little later, the hinged gas cap broke off on the Dakar. I “MacGyvered” it with the leftover packing tape I bought for my broken windshield mount three days ago. My father would have been proud.

We fed the steeds (91 octane), hopped back in the saddle for another 70 miles, and then stopped for a chicken-stuffed sopapilla (huh?) dinner at the Stage Coach Cafe in Ramah.  The ride was scenic but nowhere near as majestic as in the Colorado mountains. Still, the El Morro National Monument is very nice. Dusk, rain, and darkness brought us through 80 more miles to St. Johns. Although our planned destination was Show Low, prudence beat out valor as I deemed it unsafe to continue in the dark and rain (Old Fart judgment). The Days Inn in St. Johns was a beautiful sight.

El Morro National Monument under dark skies.Day 9:  Our ride from St. Johns to Goodyear was the toughest of the trip. This was due to the extreme temperatures (My bike thermometer showed 120-degrees on the AZ 101) and the heavy, waterproof riding gear. We felt like baked potatoes when we finally finished the day’s 300-mile ride.

We conquered the COBDR! We survived and, contrary to my fears, my Blue Beast worked out pretty well. It only fell down four times (only two with me on it). David dropped the Dakar twice also. The final tally was 2,600 miles in nine days. It was not a laid-back beach vacation. We turned in exhausted and with smiles on our faces every night after 13-14 hour days. Still, as we approached the home stretch, we didn’t want the journey to end. There’s something appealing about riding the beautiful, steep, and curvy mountain roads on a big, powerful, and smooth BMW. That 85 horsepower steed always wants to go faster. It seems to ask me if I’m up to the challenge. I’m sure it’s a better bike than I am a rider as my whole body is tired and sore. The COBDR was an amazing, new adventure everyday. I’d do it all over again tomorrow if given the chance!

David and I are proud to be COBDR veterans now. What a privilege it is to live in such a beautiful country and to have to freedom to explore it on motorcycles.

Text and photography by John Privette

If you want to see even more photos, you can check out John’s video slideshow here.


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