Pat - 3,143 miles, 102 hours
Being out here on the bike every day definitely has me thinking of you and your family's love for the ride often. I know we've never had the chance to ride together since it's been less than a year since I've gotten mine, but we'll have to change that once I'm back in the midwest. My latest travels had me moving from Denver to Salt Lake City by way of a few national parks, and boy do I have a great riding story for you.
On Monday, I woke up in Black Canyon of the Gunnison and had plans to spend the next night in Moab, just outside of Arches and Canyonlands. A modest 185 mile trek between the two, but I had planned to hit up Mesa Verde in southeastern Colorado first, so I could check out the cave dwellings there. I knew I'd be adding quite a few miles to the trip by doing this, but I was ready to tack on some extra digits to be able to see more of what Colorado has to offer. Little did I know, how many extra hours these miles would take.
I left Black Canyon at about 8AM, and for the first time on the trip, decided to skip closely reading the directions in favor of feeding the directions through my headset via Bluetooth. What could go wrong?
A little over 60 miles into the ride I hadn't heard any directions from the headset, and I noticed my shadow sitting on the left side of my bike. Moving from Black Canyon to Mesa Verde requires a pretty straight shot southwest, so after getting a little turned around in the winding canyons I decided to pull over given my newly discovered information of my northbound route. Sure enough, I missed a turn off somewhere along the way - likely due to lack of service and consequential lack of update from Google Maps - and was now headed away from Mesa Verde. After some rerouting, it looked like I didn't lose too much time and that I could just take a county highway straight south to Mesa Verde. Perfect.
I hopped on the county highway, which at first started out as a paved road with painted lane lines. After 10 miles or so, the painted lines disappeared but the pavement continued on smooth. Another 10 miles pass, and up comes a sign that read "End Pavement." Sure enough a mile later the pavement ends, but the road continues on packed dirt/gravel. I slow down a bit, but am still able to make good progress. About 2 miles later, the packed dirt becomes loose gravel so I back off considerably to about 30. Give it another mile and now we're really off road on loose rock with holes scattered across the road like a minefield...
Yeah, not so perfect after all. At this point I'm in first gear going about 10 mph when I finally get bumped around enough to pull over and assess what the hell I'm doing with my Monday morning. GPS tells me I'm 23 miles from when I turned onto this "county highway" but there's another "county highway" a mile ahead that I need to turn onto. I decide to check it out, but when I arrive at the crossroads, I am again met with nothing but loose rock and gravel. I'm only 60 miles from Mesa Verde at this point, but at my current pace of 10-15 mph, I decide to turn back around, and not spend the next 4 to 5 hours on these country roads.
Once I backtrack the 24 miles to the original turn off, it's about 11AM and I'm now only 100 miles from Moab. Way to go Jonathan - you've managed to go 80 miles in 3 hours, and aren't really all that close to the middle destination of Mesa Verde. The sensible thing would have been to just forget about Mesa Verde and go straight to Moab, but my pride got the best of me, so I filled up the tank, and memorized the 150 mile directions down to Mesa Verde.
That ride was smooth, but once I arrived in town, some nasty clouds started to creep into sight. As I pulled into the park entrance I could see lightning strike far off in the distance, but I'd already been through enough that day that a little rain wasn't going to stop me from checking out some archeological sites 20 miles into the park. Queue the pouring rain for the next 40 miles of switchback roads downhill and now we are really having fun... and soaking wet.
Are you still reading? I'll try to wrap this up here. Once leaving Mesa Verde things stayed dry and I was able to push to Moab and dry out completely in the sun. I arrived at camp around 8PM, and in total drove almost 500 miles in 12 hours to a place that was only 185 miles from where I started the day at. I'm not sure what it is about riding that makes us do stupid shit like this, but I just can't get enough of it. I'm sure you and the family have had your share of crazy days on the bike and hopefully we'll be able to make some shared memories like this soon.
Give my best to the fam, Jess, and all the boys back home as well. I had the chance to hang with Morgan while in Colorado and we both agreed we all need to get back together sometime soon. I know I've been the worst at keeping contact the past few years, but I hope to do a better job at it moving forward. My time with Pat made me realize these old friendships are just too special to stop caring about, and so I know it's time for me to put in the work now to make up for years past.
Love you big time buddy,