Monday, September 15, 2014

The Intersection of Riding and Blogging

bob skoot
Bob's photo - I hope he doesn't mind
Perhaps more often than not, Death comes for you at the worst time. But if we're to learn anything from it, it's to live life like there's no tomorrow.

I never met Bob "Skoot" Leong, but I respected the guy.

Reading his motorcycle blog, he seemed eccentric, strange, serious, very serious, and shy. Kinda like myself. I suppose that's why I felt attracted to his writings. Often times, his writings were really just a collection of photos and captions. But sensing he and I shared something similar deep within the tangled mess of our neural pathways, I assumed there was even a method to the madness of his postings.

Sometimes, you just have to ease off the throttle, and let it coast.

He'd often comment on this blog of mine about how he grew up feeling isolated, lonely, and wanting to feel included. He wrote those words because I would often describe similar feelings of my own. I spent many lunch hours during high school hiding in the library, reading Kurt Vonnegut novels, because I didn't want other kids to notice me being alone. For me, loneliness progressed into anger.

The anger only alienated me from other people, and I became even more alone.

I learned to bottle up my feelings and stay in my intellect. I was always calm and cool there. I didn't act like an idiot or a baby, and people respected me for my thoughts. But being disconnected from my emotions made it difficult for me to be in relationships.

But the longer I kept them bottled up, the more I wanted to let them out.

By the time the Internet and Blogger came around, it was possible to journal those feelings and have a small audience read them and comment back. Except, I often find myself easing off the throttle, worried that I'm going to alienate people.  Instead, I use a lot of symbolism and double-entredres so that only the people who know me better will understand.

About 40% of the articles I've written on this blog, I never published. Just writing down the thoughts helped me enough.

In the end, the writing is like therapy.

I tend to think that Bob and I rode motorcycles for very similar reasons. I think we blogged for the same reasons too.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Sash Takes a Second Crack at Wolf Creek Pass

Me and Jared watching football and drinking beer at his place
Last April, Sash and I tried to ride up and over Wolf Creek Pass along US-160 through southern Colorado. It didn't work out. The snow fell too fast, too strong, and Sash lost control of her motorcycle and spun out.

A guy named Jared happened to come by and saw us stuck up there, some 10,000 feet with snow continuing to fall on us. He offered to ride Sash's bike back down the mountain to Pagosa Springs, while Sash drove in his truck. I followed Jared back down on my Honda ST1300.

Over the next several months, Sash and Jared struck up a friendship, followed each other Facebook, and made plans to hook up again.

Fast forward to a week ago.

We arrived at Jared's house in Pagosa Springs, CO, September 5, and stayed there until September 8.

But before getting there, Sash had a date with Wolf Creek Pass, yet again.

Leaving our motel in Salida, we continued south along US-285, and picked up US-160 in Del Norte. After a rather nice lunch at the historic Windsor Hotel, we set off west towards Wolf Creek Pass. Sash still hadn't conquered it on motorcycle, and was determined to do so.

Except it wouldn't happen without Mother Nature. She started throwing some heavy winds and rain at us. We stopped at a rest stop to put on some rain gear. Sash took in a deep breath, and was determined to ride her V-Star 650 fully loaded with gear up and over the pass.

"It's only water", I told her, my way of putting a wet and windy ride into perspective. Asphalt in and of itself is not dangerous. It's always the rider that makes it perilous.

In the end, Sash made it to the top just fine. It was just like any other road. It's kinda funny how a beautiful mountain road can become a frightening nemesis.

In Pagosa Springs, our reunion with Jared was like a homecoming party. Several of his local buddies dropped by for grilled steaks. Jared let me test ride his Honda VFR800. If you don't know the VFR series, they're like a sport touring motorcycle more weighted towards the sports part. I took it up Wolf Creek Pass. Heading back down, I found myself leaning into the curves at 85 MPH. The bike is so much lighter than my ST1300 and handles so much better.

At the bottom of Wolf Creek Pass, along the western side, there's a long straight away running about a mile and a half. I cranked the VFR up to 120 MPH. Once I got it slowed down to 70 MPH, I happened to pass by a State Trooper. But he didn't bother going after me. "Whew!" I thought. But I couldn't stop thinking about Jared saying he had gotten the VFR up to 160 MPH down the same stretch, and that he also got his CBR 929RR up to 201 MPH. After going 120, I couldn't imagine 201.

Jared was figuring since the VFR800 has optional sidebags and top box, he offered a atraight up trade between his VFR and my ST. As tempted I was, the ST is still so much more comfortable for our long distance riding.

Sash was rather blue about leaving Pagosa Springs.

Me riding along US-285
south of Villa Grove, CO
Sash along US-285, along
the same stretch.
Sash resting along US-285
near Saguache, CO
Me resting along with the
on the same stretch
Me standing in the middle of
Sash and I along the same
rest stop.
Lunch at Windsor Hotel
restaurant, Del Norte, CO
Rain coming down at a rest
stop near Wolf Creek Pass
Sash making her ascent up
Wolf Creek Pass
Rain falling on Sash as she
heads up Wolf Creek Pass
Sash makes it to the top of
Wolf Creek Pass
On the other side, Sash checks
on some riders pulled over
Snacking on pork cracklins at
Jared's house.
Jared let me ride his Honda
VFR800 up the pass
Sash caught this rainbow at
Jared's house
We grilled steaks at Jared's
Sash and Jared were like two
peas in a pod.
Chicken tacos at The Buck
Stops Here Deli.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Crazy Nights in Salida, CO

US-285 Colorado motorcycles
Sash and I riding south along US-285 towards Salida, CO.
When Sash and I left our comfy digs in Longmont, CO, we shed a few tears knowing we weren't going to see the friendly faces that surrounded us there.

But after a lunch stop in Golden, our buddy Jason ON rode his Suzuki SV1000 to meet us and ride with us part of the way to our next stop, Salida.

Salida didn't sound like much of a place, actually. It was just a half-way point towards our destination in Pagosa Springs. We had only intended to stay in Salida an extra day so that we could get caught up on some work.

The cold and partially rainy ride down US-285 South didn't do Sash all that well. While the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity, we were eager to get to our hotel in Salida due to the late start we got. But Sash was getting cold and tired, and I knew I had to get her warm and fuzzy soon. By the time we got to Salida, it was already dark and raining.

Salida is actually a cool little town. Locals tell us it's become an arts colony of sorts, explaining that the community is undergoing a transition between the traditional farming and the blossoming new cultural. As it stands now, the two sides are struggling to get along.

You can ride your motorcycle downtown, along F Street, and see herds of deer walking across the street and grazing on lawns. They don't seem at all spooked. I suspect the locals are in adoration of them and perhaps offer salt licks to encourage more. I wonder if the town has a mountain lion problem.

The first night, we opted to get Chinese Food. The only Chinese joint in town, however, didn't deliver. Perhaps they don't have to, being the only Chinese joint in town. So I rode over there. It was rather expensive too, $35.00 for boxes of Broccoli Beef and Tofu Vegetable.

Our stay at Salida was hosted by the local Super 8 Motel. I tend to pick Super 8 and Days Inn for our one & two night stays because they're cheap, still better than Motel 6's, and I can collect rewards points. It seems like every 14 nights, I earn enough to get a free night. This particular Super 8, however, had really nice hot tubs, three of them. These were the above-ground, fiberglass kind with jets in your back, jets on your legs, and jets up your butt. It seems like half of the people staying at this Super 8 were on motorcycles.

The second day, Sash did some shopping downtown while I nursed some local brews at River's Edge Bar & Grill.

That night, back at the motel, Sash and I got into a pretty big fight. At one point, we believed our relationship had come to an end. But Time has a way of healing, and I don't think either of us really wanted it to end. By the next day, we had gotten back on the road, headed to Pagosa Springs, and realized how lucky we are to have each other. But by the same token, it takes a pretty dedicated woman to put up with my shit, and it takes a pretty patient man to put with hers. I think every now and then, we need a good fight just to realize this.

FYI: This update is rather late. We arrived in Salida on Sep 3, 2014 and left Sep 5.

Sash preparing to leave our
hotel in Longmont, CO
Jason ON and I riding along
US-285 South
Myself and Jason ON at a
viewpoint along US-285
Sash in my rear view mirrorSash and I riding south along
US-285 towards Fairplay, CO
Sash took this shot of her
windshield and the clouds
Sunset over US-285 heading
into Buena Vista, CO
Downtown Salida, COSalida, CO is known for its
growing arts community
My burger and beer at River's
Edge Bar & Grill, Salida, CO
Sash's boots at River's Edge
Bar & Grill
Leaving Super 8 Motel in

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)