Valkyrie Road Trip Day 4, August 24th, 2004
Thermopolis, Wyoming to Nederland, Colorado

The day started well, with the weather looking really good, and I was feeling
well rested and quite fresh. Heading south out of Thermopolis at around
8:00 A.M. the day seemed full of promise, and I knew I would be at my
friend Beth’s place in Nederland, Colorado before sundown.

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Just a few miles south of Thermopolis I rode into theThe Wind River Canyon,
which leads into the Boysen Reservoir. It is utterly spectacular.
I’ve seen bigger canyons, but few prettier. Fantastic rock formations, and a
river winding through the cliffs, littered with rocks the size of large
houses, its banks wooded with beautiful big mature trees. I wish I had
stopped to take photos, but it just didn’t seem right to stop the buzz of
simply riding through this gorgeous canyon, and I rode through the
gently sweeping smooth corners gawking and grinning. After a mile or

The Wind River Canyon

so the canyon starts to widen, and the river spreads right out and turns
into a massive lake, which is the Boysen Reservoir. The scenery was
still pretty, but began to level out and look more and more like
featureless desert, with mountains off in the distance. South to
Riverton, and then Lander, the roads straighten out quite a bit and it is a
vast and spread out vista, punctuated with spectacular small sets of
mountains with shoot up out of the prairie skyward up to 8,000 feet
altitude. Through Sinks Canyon and past the Shoshon National Forest,
I then headed southeast on route 287, which is a very lonely highway,
and quite a long stretch with no towns or services. Down through
Jeffrey City, a tiny town of a handful of ranches, and then through the
Muddy Gap Junction, where I hoped to stop for gas, but didn’t see a gas
station, so I continued on towards Rawlins, getting a little concerned
about whether or not I would have enough gas to make it. 11 miles
south of Muddy Gap, I stopped in the town of Lamont, at ‘Grandma’s
Restaurant’ to ask where the nearest gas was. Walking in to this remote
wind-blown remote restaurant I was treated to a real slice of the
American outback. About a dozen people were hanging out, only one of
them eating. The fellow eating was a good old boy in a filthy baseball
cap, who must have weighed about 300 pounds, and the rest of the
clientele were a fiercely grizzled old bunch, wind burnt and wrinkled,
and dressed as if they’d walked right out of an old cowboy novel. But
they were smiling, and curious, and as helpful as can be, just a wee bit
standoffish. Turned out I had missed the gas station in Muddy Gap, and
Rawlins was 32 more miles, which I was afraid I wouldn’t make with
the amount of gas I had left. One old fella offered to drive a couple of
miles into Lamont to get me a gallon of gas he had at his house, but I
declined his kind offer and rode the 11 miles back to Muddy Gap. I was
glad I did too, I had a really pleasant chat with the fellow who owned
the gas station, and I also got some very cool photos of a fantastic rock
formation on the ride back to Lamont which I hadn’t seen the first time.
These formations looked like an enormous thick plate of rock had been
thrust violently up through the surface of the desert, which I am sure it
had actually been, once upon a time.

Fantastic rock formations near Lamonte, Wyoming

I continued my ride south, into Rawlins Wyoming, with a half a tank
full of low octane gas, the only kind you could buy in Muddy Gap.
There were a couple of rain squalls off to the west, which were heading
in my direction pretty fast, and building up in to bigger and more
serious rain storms as they went. So I ate some real fast (Burger King
chicken burger) fast food in Rawlins, and kept moving as fast as I
could, to stay ahead of the approaching rain storms. I was now off the
back roads and onto Interstate 80 heading east into Laramie, Wyoming.
The wind was at my back leaving Rawlins, and although the high
altitude was having some negative effect on my Valkyrie’s
performance, with the tail wind I was able to really fly along, averaging
about 90 mph for the next 50 miles or so, passing long lines of 18
wheelers in a flash. I had put on my full rain gear again just in case, so I
was nice and warm, but I never really hit more than a few spatters of
rain. In Laramie I got back on to a smaller country road, route 287,
which brought me down into Fort Collins Colorado. On this leg of the
trip I really noticed the Valkyrie losing power, when I tried to pass a
truck going up a big hill. I had been gaining altitude constantly heading
down towards Colorado, and the wind had also shifted into a pretty
strong headwind. I was surprised to feel how much effect this had on
the Valkyrie, which really started to bog down at 80+mph. I pulled off
the road and gave it a once over just to see if anything looked amiss, it
was running that badly. But after a short rest the
Valk seemed to run a little better, and so I pressed
on, just slowed down a notch and gave the bike a break.
Riding into Fort Collins, I realized it was really hot, so I pulled over for
gas and stripped down to some hot weather gear, a tank top with my
leather jacket, thinsulate removed, my lighter summer gloves, and my
half helmet. From there I shot over to Interstate 25 which heads directly
south into Denver. I took route 52 west to 119, straight into downtown
Boulder, where I stopped for a coffee at a Starbucks in a Mall. It was
about 5:30 P.M. I was only 17 miles from Nederland, and Beth, and the
Katmandu Restaurant where Beth was working that evening. So I
sipped my yummy coffee leisurely and read the Boulder newspaper,
(which was an extremely illuminating experience, EXTREMELY liberal reporting…)
before heading off up the canyon to Katmandu.

Nederland, Colorado

The last 17 miles of my 1,800 mile ride to visit Beth in Colorado, was
the best 17 miles. (Aside from the fact that the setting sun was blinding
me coming around some of the hairpin turns) The road from Boulder up
to Nederland follows a rushing river through an amazing canyon with a
never ending series of tight corners that takes you from 5,000 feet
altitude to 8,500 feet. The road climbs steeply the entire way, and the
temperature dropped at least 15 degrees in the short ride. It was a
stunning climax to a wonderful ride. I arrived at the Katmandu
Restaurant, where Beth treated me to an amazing dinner of curry
chicken. I rode on to Beth’s beautiful little cabin in Eldora, while she
finished working at the restaurant. I sat on her cozy couch,
downloading my photos, and chatted with her sweet 18 year old
daughter, Brooke. My head buzzed loudly from the days of riding,
Beth’s cabin was so quiet and serene. I was happy and exhausted,
looking forward to a lazy day hanging out in Colorado with Beth. I had
ridden 1,900 miles to sit on that couch. The first half of my Valkyrie
road trip was done, another 1,900 miles waiting for me on the other side
of Colorado and westward.

Beth and Me in Eldora, Colorado

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

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