It was the first weekend that I had my Fat Boy. We had to do some kind of a long ride so I could get used to it, test its limits, etc. That morning I met John at H-D. I intended to pick up a kickstand puck (for the 715lb beast) but of course, forgot to do so. We decided our ride … East, up US-6 with no further goal, over some donuts and coffee. During the riding season, H-D supplies such a continental breakfast for would be passers by. It provides means for a handy parliament of bikers and travelers, who may stop and plan their route, use the restrooms, and just take a break. After our discussions, we mounted up … and headed East.
Riding with John just wouldn’t be the same if at least one clueless driver didn’t interact with him somehow so he could flip them off or lift his modular helmet to exclaim to them some un-friendly insight. I often request he ride lead, not because I don’t know the way, but because it’s grand entertainment. We started through Glenwood Canyon. It’s a shame really that I enjoy this leg of the trip the least. Such grand surroundings are stifled by one of the worst roads in the region. The entire ride is full of potholes, patches, and rocks. John looks like he’s dancing a jig on the seat of his bike as he points out obstacles. Pot hole to the left, rock on the right, uneven road, closed lane, pot hole, rock, it goes on and on.
We got off the highway at Gypsum, after a little 80 mph riding along the straightaway just before. I see the glamour of a 6-speed transmission, but as john says, “Harley’s have been around for over 100 years and people got along just fine without it.” Can’t argue with the truth. We pulled of for some Go Juice, at which point I realized I forgot to buy the kickstand puck. “FUCK!” I thought. You see, the day I bought the Fat Boy I brought it back to tehe office, proud as a mother with her newborn. Standing on the hot blacktop with the bike and 4 or more friends checking it out, it starts to tip over, the kickstand diging into the asphalt. Luckily I had been standing on the left side of the bike and as it fell my way I blocked all 715lbs of it with my legs and grabbed the bars. John, luckily, on the other, side grabbed the sissy bar and helped me pull her back right. What a possible catastrophe that could have been! Almost dumped on the first day! AWESOME!
Anyway, I decided to go in the Conoco and grab a can of Sprite. Took a few swigs, dumped the rest out, then rinsed it, and crushed it into my own kickstand puck and shoved it into my handlebar bag. Just then a group of 4 or so Goldwingers pulled by to park at the Gypsum Diner. Must be good eatin’ there.
We drove up US-6. What a beautiful ride. The road wasn’t pretentious, just a good ole 2-lane highway. It’s the road Kowalski drove in Vanishing Point, the original means through the Rocky Mountains before I-70 was built. And although we didn’t see a white 1970 Dodge Challenger en route, the scenery was still grand.
We reached Edwards and I thought it best to call Sundee, who now lives in Edwards, and see if she’d join us for lunch. She was on call for work, and was already cooking lunch with her girlfiriend back at her place. John and I needed a cold beer though, so we stopped off at Main Street, a nifty cajun burger joint in Edwards, and had one of their spectacular cheese burgers and a Stella. Sun hadn’t seen my bike yet, so afterwards we went to her place to show her the goods.
We hung out for a little bit, as the two were getting ready for work. I introduced John, whom she’d never met, and she introduced Holly, whom I’ve never met. They invited us to some kind of shin-dig going on that evening, and we added it to the travel plans. John and I were debating whether to turn back home or continue on to Minturn before turning back. “If we’re going to Minturn, might as well go to Leadville” I stated. “Good Idea” john said, “That’s a nice ride” and with that comment we were off.
The ride to Leadville was spectacular. We started through Minturn (Beware the fuzz here! They were in droves hoping for speeders through the 25mph town) and then up Tennessee Pass and by the ghost town of Gilman. This leg of the ride takes along the Eagle River, situated in a deep gorge alongside the road. The view was spectacular.
The road past Gilman was nice. Fun curves, spectacular views, and a few straightaways where we could open them up a little. We drove into Camp Hale for a little tour of the area and campsites. This would be a great stop during a longer road trip where we could camp for the night. You feel the climb to Leadville, which is the highest town in the U.S. at 10,500 ft. The weather, which was nice and warm all day, quickly began to get cold. I was wearing my convertible leather jacket, which I had removed the leather panels from earlier to cool off. I had to call a pit stop to put those back on the moment we arrived in Leadville.
If you’ve never been to Leadville, it’s a cozy place. Historical buildings lay strewn about, and portions of the town seem abandoned or at the very least, somewhat downtrodden. We rode through twon, past the coal mine, and onto the way towards Twin Lakes. We stopped at a gas station at the edge of town to check out the bikes, have a drink, and relax for a nminute. It was already 3:00pm, and we had to evaluate what was to be done next. We each had a Red Bull, checked our tire pressure, and shot the shit for half an hour or more. We could have easily turned this in to a two day trip, but John had an engagement elsewhere that night. So we packed it up and headed back home the way we came. Independence Pass was to open the following weekend, but if it had been open that day, what a great ride home it would have been. So we headed back the way we came, the long way round … US-6.
On the way back through Minturn, John spotted a bobber for sale on the front lawn of a quaint little house along Main street. We had to stop and check it out. We were careful not to u-turn, as there was a sherriff not so surprisingly parked at the corner. When we pulled up to the house, the owner dashed out as if he knew us. “Whoah, I thought you were my friends. I’m Coffman.” He stood about 6 feet, covered in ink and piercings. His hair was light brown and short, and he wore baggy shorts, a wife beater, converse shoes, and wrap-around shades.
“I built this thing from parts. I work over at the Harley Mechanics in town.” he cited.
“Right on” John retorted.
The bike had a Kawasaki motor, dual carbs, and high performance air filters. It was flat black with red wheels and the ape hanger handlebars were made of welded chains. The seat was no more than 18 inches off the ground, and it lacked a rear fender. It had no front brakes, but had passenger pegs. Where the passenger would sit was beyond us.
“I found those snow chains, and figured Hell, they’ll make sweet handlebars.” Coffman sat on the bike, cigarette in his mouth as he pumped the throttle, adjusted the choke and generally tinkered about a bit. The bike had straight pipes on it no more than 18 inches long. With a couple of motions, he fired up the bike, it let out a blast, then roared like a gargling lion blowing the grass behind it. He revved it a few times, probably in an effort to annoy the sherriff parked on the corner.
After a few revvs of the engine, he dismounted and let the bike idle … a moment later it stalled. “FUCK” he exclaimed. “Those are some sweet bikes you guys have there. You know, Harley doesn’t tune those things properly. I can get you 10 more horsepower if you bring them by the shop. I’ll do you right.”
We exchanged cards, shook hands with Coffman and were on the way home, careful not to do anything illegal as there was now a surely annoyed sherriff sitting at the corner looking to pinch Coffman’s new friends for sure. We rode by the numbers, and headed home.
The trip to Leadville was a great ride. We met some cool people, saw some great scenery and cool bikes. The weather was fantastic and my new bike handled well. I look forward to many more trips like these. I hope the Colorado weather holds this summer. I need to get some ride time before our week long ride to the Grand Canyon this August with Sean.
I can’t wait until the next trip.