U.S. Continental Divide

June 8

We left Steamboat Springs after enjoying Roger Hansen's exceptional hospitality – warm showers, a fabulous massage, an opportunity to meet some of Roger's old high school friends.  We got a late start not moving out until 9:30 a.m., but we were fully rested.
We headed onto the dirt trail.  Since it was cold and raining, I got very few pictures.  My camera was neatly stashed three layers deep.  The first part of the dirt road was easily passable – lots of gravel and good drainage. But very soon we got into fine sand that had been soaked by the rain.  It created a grease-like surface.  After several falls, there was a difference of opinion as to whether to go forward on 81 miles on this same sort of road or turn back.  Joe had fallen and got pinned under his motorcycle, slightly injuring his knee and ankle.  As Joe said later, there is always something good that comes from something bad.  He had hurt his ribs in a previous fall, but now his ribs didn't hurt at all, only his knee.

At lunch Steve noted that there was oil leaking out of his new BMW 800GS forks.  The bike only had 8,000 miles on it. He called BMW and they want it brought back.  So it looks like the dirt road part of Steve's ride is over.  It is somewhat amazing to me that the forks would leak after such a short period of time.  His riding has not been of the sort that would challenge a fork, and nothing was bent.  I would assume it is covered under warranty but the person from BMW who was on the telephone suggested that it might not be.

Roger and I turned back with Joe and had a comparatively uneventful 400-mile ride to Atlantic City WY.  We drove through some fascinating country – large green lush valleys, wide expanses where heavy oil and gas exploration was occurring, desert areas that looked very much like New Mexico with upheaval areas exhibiting red sedimentary stone, and desert eco-systems.  There is a lot of sky in Wyoming.  When we finally arrived at Atlantic City Wyoming where we thought we had bed and breakfast reservations, we found that it was not actually a B&B but a motel in Lander still 50 miles north.  We arrived by nightfall not hearing the whereabouts of the other four of our group who had continued on the nasty dirt road.  Their intent was to camp at Atlantic City.

There were several interesting lessons for the day.  The first (which we already knew) is that these big 650 lb. motorcycles do not handle well in slick mud, but there is a technique that will optimize your chances of staying upright.  Gerry had some excellent advice.  First, keep your eyes on the horizon so that you are oriented as to what is straight up.  As the bike begins slowly to go over if you are staring down at the ground in front of you – your immediate problem – you loose track of what is vertical.  This was the most helpful advice.  Second, just like in skiing, look at where you want to go not where you are.  If you are skiing through the woods and you stare at the trees, instead of the openings between the trees, you will end up in close contact with a conifer.  Third piece of advice was to use power sparingly and keep your weight on the back wheel as much as possible.  Pete also had some excellent pointers.  Instead of standing on the pegs like you would normally do in sand, sit on the seat holding the motorcycle tight like you would if you were riding a horse, but keep most of your weight on the pegs.  This keeps your center of gravity low.  Another important piece of advice is with a large motorcycle, it is best to pass through these areas as slowly as possible so if you do slide sideways, you can catch your balance with your feet. However, it is NEVER appropriate to take your feet off the pegs unless you are definitely going to fall.  This is different than the advice you give to someone riding a motorcycle that is 200-250 lbs. lighter.  There you can go faster and your weight shifting and handlebar control make a more significant difference in the outcome of what is occurring.

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