Less than an hour into our ride we encounter a construction zone on CO 13. These are usually no big deal but seeing signs like ‘Motorcyclists use extreme caution’ and ‘Motorcycles not recommended’ will get your attention, especially Diane’s. I could literally feel her tensing up. While waiting for the pilot car we discuss our options. Heading back and going through Steamboat Springs means going through another mountain pass with tight turns and switchbacks – not very appealing to Diane. I try to encourage her noting that there is a motorcyclist in front of us and while waiting some riders were coming from the other direction. So, construction site it is – a long one too at 5 miles.
Pilot car has arrived, here we go. Lot’s of RVs and big trucks so the pace is slow at around 15mph or less. Which sounds good but can actually be a problem on a motorcycle because you are constantly slipping the clutch and not going fast enough for good stability. This construction zone had it all, packed dirt with potholes, gravel, worn out driving lanes and something you usually don’t see, loose dirt with sand-like consistency :-o. Oh boy. Pucker factor. I’m constantly checking my mirrors and cheering Diane on in my helmet. Thankfully, she already had some gravel under her belt riding from Hovenweep and on campground pathways. We both made it through without incident but that was a looong 5 miles going at that pace.
Onwards we ride towards our next turn off, route 71, which on the paper map is a solid line (i.e. supposedly paved). As soon as I turn on the street not 100 feet down the road I see gravel starting. Well crap. Not wanting to push our luck, we decided to head through the pass into Encampment, WY instead. You guessed it … more technical riding plus the wind was starting to pick up. Diane’s mental resource meter was quickly approaching empty plus the reroute meant we wouldn’t make our planned destination so we decided the head for Rawlins, WY and call it a day.
F*ing wind got really bad coming at us sideways (20-30mph with gusts) at such a force that we had to lean the motorcycles into the wind on straight roads. The day was quickly turning from ‘I’m tired, let’s stop’ to ‘danger Will Robinson’. Seventy miles to Rawlins with some interstate (of course with construction and single lane traffic) for good measure. Oh yeah, plus dark clouds on the horizon threatening rain. By the time we made it to Rawlins the rain started.
No camping for us tonight so we hoteled it. The Fairfield Inn at $190 a night it eventually was….that’s after making an online reservation via one of the travel apps at a Day’s Inn (owned by Wyndham) for a $150. As soon as we pulled up to the Day’s Inn I knew this was a mistake. Crumbled concrete, weeds, the building looked ready to be demolished. Didn’t like the cars or clientele I saw in the parking lot. Nope. Not staying here tonight. Lesson learned. Drive by the properties before booking and don’t assume anything based on a name. Our long day finally came to an end at 15:30.