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Diary 11

30 Aug.

Someone said to me a while back "It's not a real bike run unless you cross 3 state borders" (think it might have been Woovis).
Well in the north east that might be easily done - but I'm sorry, in the bigger states it's not what I've been doing.

I spent today on one road. US40 across Utah then Colorado.

Nothing much to report.

The landscape is becoming what I'm used to in the west.
Strange rock outcroppings and canyons.

The ride today would have been OK it it wasn't for the wind.
Strong and continuous, made it difficult to relax.

I think an early night is in order.
Back into the Rockies tomorrow.

Let's take a wander through perception.
No - I'm not playing with drugs - apart from the couple of beers in the sink under ice.
I got thinking about how bikers are perceived in the US and the UK.

In the UK the image is based on the riots of the 1960s when the Mods & Bikers beat the shit out of each other on the 'pleasure beaches' on the south coast of England.
There are pubs in the UK with signs outside "No Bikers".
Bikers are considered "dangerous, smelly, violent, scum"

In the US most pubs (especially in the Black Hills during Sturgis) have signs outside saying "Welcome Bikers".

Both groups, UK & US, tend to be people who have enough disposable income to have a bike as a toy. The US riders tend to be on Harleys and wearing HD clothing. The UK riders tend to be on sports bikes and wearing colourful full leathers.
The differences are actually smaller than at first glance.
They are riding the 'common' bike for the country. The style of bike is mostly because of the type of roads.
Long straight roads with little traffic and tight twisty roads where you have to overtake regularly.
They mostly only ride at weekend or on holiday.
They often go out specifically to visit a gathering of similar bikes.
We're mostly talking about middle class, middle income, 30 / 40 something's who enjoy the riding and the camaraderie.

Why are they considered scum in one place and welcomed into bars in the other.

One difference might be that - as a Harley rider said to me "We just cruise from bar to bar" where as the sports bike riders in the UK will drink orange juice during the day and beer once the bike is parked.

But that can't be enough to explain the difference.

The 'worst' reputation that bikers ever had must be the Hells Angels out of California - but the US is not where they are least welcome.

One similarity is that the majority makes mock of the minority.
In the UK the guys on sports bikes laughs at the guys on cruisers, here the guys on cruisers laugh at me.


The diary has become my contact with the outside world.

You meet people at work, in the evening you catch up with friends. There's the neighbours and family on the phone.
I don't have that on the road.
I have this text - and peoples reaction to it.

Days on the road become monotonous.
Yes I'm heading for pretty places but there are big spaces between. And my thoughts are often on the diary.
What can I say about today that will entertain & enlighten.

OK - so that's not all that goes through my head.
I'm pretty certain that I have a perfect rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' that I can call up at any moment.
(The first line is not "Mama I killed a man - it starts 'Is this the real life')

Hold on a sec.
There's beer in the sink.
Right - sod off you lot.

31 Aug.

Nothing special.

It gets cold at 12,200 feet, and the edge of the road has a drop off in the thousands of feet.
Stayed in the middle of the road through Rocky Mountains National Park.

1 Sep.

I'm tired.

The bike is due a service and is getting hard to start in the mornings.

Ran some lovely roads with stupid speed limits.
Great twisty through the mountains, no houses, no junctions, 35 m.p.h. limit.

Heading south to New Mexico to stay with some folks there for the labour day weekend when the roads and motels will all be really busy.

2 Sep.

Headed south down some real straight roads into New Mexico (state number 22 in my travels) to visit Steve & Linda in Albuquerque.

They usually avoid travelling over holiday weekends for exactly the same reason that I'm not keen on being on the road this weekend.

Pretty much as soon as you get into New Mexico you start coming across the Spanish influences. The architecture, the restaurants, the place names, the driving ...

Linda used to live in Ohio & knows the folks that I stayed with there.
Isn't the biker community great.

3 Sep.

Dropped the bike off for it's 28,000 mile service.
Don't need tyres this time, the 020s are starting to square but there's still life in them.

Linda gave me a tour of Albuquerque old town where we wandered round an old church and some gift shops.

Spent the afternoon & evening getting a history lesson of the Spanish & Mexican 'ownership' of the area before we ended up going through the history of the US from the declaration of independence to the final addition of the last of the lower 48 states.
I hadn't realised how much of it went on in so few years.
The first half of the 1800s were a little busy over here.

4 Sep.

Chilling on a Sunday morning in a coffee shop with free wifi.

Linda and Steve had promised me that if I visited then I would experience the words best Margarita.
I'm no Margarita connoisseur but damn they were good.

5 Sep.

Washed the bike & did little else.

I realise that I haven't written much over the few days.
That's because I've been spending time with folks rather than in my own head inside a helmet.

6 Sep.

Back on the road again.

The trip south to Albuquerque was down 285 to Santa Fe then I-25.

That was my first view of New Mexico - a dump.

Having spoken to Steve & pored over maps I came north in a big "S".
West of Albuquerque then east to Taos, then back west to Chama.
New Mexico is lovely.
You just have to stay away from the interstates.

Through native pueblos, mountain passes, desert, cliffs and escarpments, river gorges and dry gulches.
Wonderful scenery, great roads - I'd recommend it to anyone - but get some good route advice first.

Spending the weekend with Linda & Steve was a very refreshing break.
The time before I landed at theirs is the longest I've been on the road, living inside my own head inside a helmet, with only bar staff & gas station staff for company (and other lonely folks sitting outside no smoking motel rooms).
It was so invigorating & relaxing to be able to have conversations about 'real' stuff - and expand my knowledge of US history and native mythos.
It means a lot to me that folks whom I've never met will take me in like family (yes I know that there is a 'biker brotherhood' but the fact that that idea is actually realised is always heartening).

Spent the evening with a lovely couple from Indiana - sitting outside the motel.
We talked roads & places - here & Europe.
Maybe my new career should be trip planning & travel agent.

Back into Colorado tomorrow and playing in the high passes.

7 Sep.

Spend most of the day above 8,000 feet.

Four passes - two in the 10,000s and two in the 11,000s.

For any biker reading this - check out Hwy. 149 from South Fork to Gunnison - cracking road !

I don't often see many other VFRs.
Today I saw two other red VFRs with Givi luggage like mine.
The first was in a traffic queue for the remodelling of Wolf Creek Pass.
We sat and chatted for some 30 minutes while they blasted some rock & cleared the road.
If I didn't know better I would swear it was Willem Dafoe.
The second was in the parking area at the top of Monarch Pass.

Back in Salida - where I was last Thursday.
In the same motel room.

Time to post this.

Diary 13