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Top O' The Rockies

Written on: Friday July 29th, 2011

"It's sort of like short people riding motorcycles in the mountains, you have to work a little bit harder, but we're doing pretty good" -Mark Renfrow


Sitting in the breezey open space at the HQ of the Top O' the Rockies Rally, dad and I playing computer as BMW riders mill about getting a cup of coffee and conversing pleasantly.

Yesterdays ride was truly incredible. It turns out the Rockies are worth the fuss people make about 'em. Colorado. Oh. Yes.

I got an early start out of Durango, shockingly gorgeous it was. They day before when I came up from Farmington, NM, low and tan and dusty dry hot, into that SW corner of CO the change in temperature and scenery was stunningly sudden. I was riding in land not altogether unlike Tucson's desert (more like Santa Fe), feeling weary from the heat, then it was like I came around a corner, then I was in forest, then the mountains appeared, all green and soft looking, then it was cool and wonderful.

I rode NE from Durango, making for Salida, stopping often trying to get a signal to call dad and check on his progress. I was worried he might have already made it half across the state, putting me to shame. It was marvelously cool all morning- I got to wear my stylish leather jacket for the first time I've been back on the bikeI got to Salida before noon, considered taking a rest and waiting around there for dad. After making a couple of calls and having a snack I decided sitting next to the motorcycle, even in the shade, is WAY less fun that riding it. Hungry and tired as I was, I was more impatient and excited to meet my dad. I knew he was headed toward me on hwy 50, and so I headed toward him on hwy 50 as well. A low hot road that ran along a lovely river through a big ole canyon, big sweeping 40 and 45mph curves. I was feeling pretty good, so I took em fast and smooth. There were loads of bikes on the road, very many of which were Beemers headed here. Every time I passed on I thought "Ooh! Is that my dad!" At speed on a curvy road, those bikes passed real quick, I wondered if I might even pass him by. At that time, all the motorcycle folks raising a hand in greeting was just confusing. But, of course, soon as I saw him I knew him well. My hand shot straight up, like a zealous student with the right answer in class. He responded with the same gesture of excited rocognition, then made the universal hand motion for "turn around." It was somewhat unclear if that meant "I'm going to turn around" or "You turn around and I'll pull over and wait." I took my time getting turned around in the narrow slanty gravel-y wink of a shoulder, and when he did not appear around the curve, I figured he had pulled off on the West bound side of the road. As it turns out, he happened to be at a particularly large and level pull off, in a particularly picturesque place, with particularly easy access to the river. I dare say it was perfect. I pulled up next to his bike, dismounted, and we proceeded to do the dance of joy. There's just not that many fathers and daughters and their motorcycles who meet each other on river canyon roads in the middle of Colorado, hundreds (and hundreds) of miles from their homes. It was a pretty darn special moment.  We then made good use of the picturesqueness of the place.

The rest of the riding day was epically wonderful. 50 miles or so West of Salida, I had to pull off so I could shout about what a good idea this was. The views were altogether incredible. It felt so good to be riding with my dad. Mountains. They are a pretty big deal.

We decided to take the rougher road to get up into those mountains a little more. We went through Crested Butte, a totally weird wealthy city waaaay up in the mountains that is quite beautiful, then through Kebler pass. Dad had come through there when he came to this rally a few years back, so we knew that it was a long way of packed gravel/dirt roads. Dad says 12 miles. But that is a honking lie. It was at the very least 30 miles, though some of that was roughly paved. It goes through the largest stand of Aspen trees in the world, all connected through their roots. Pretty magical. We took it slow and had no trouble. Except for this one time. After a long while of the gravel, we came to a paved stretch, so I got to going faster. It was getting on into the evening, so the sun was sometimes blinding, and the dappled shade works like a strobe light on the eyes. I started around a curve and quickly realized I was going faster than I wanted to be, then the sun was in my eyes, then, once I was leaned over pretty good, the paved road suddenly had a not-so-packed patch of gravel. Too fast in the curve, sudden gravel, sun in my eyes, and an on coming car exactly where I wanted to go to make the turn less sharp. This was the first time since I'd been back on the bike when I thought "Oh. I might go down right now." I'm not exactly sure what I did. A very little bit of breaks. A very little bit of straightening up in the turn to slow down. Looking hard and a breath of a prayer for that space past the car and past the gravel. Whatever I did turned out to not be the wrong thing and I came out of the curve just fine. I exhaled. My chest had a hot stone in it. My eyes got a little wet. And I exhaled again. Whew.


We've been having a fine time at the rally. Got a real nice camping spot under a big tree at the Elementary School. We decided to act like the other "sophisticated" BMW riders and enjoy a wine tasting field trip (we rode on a yellow school bus) to a vineyard and farm by the river. Tonight I'll do a bit of juggling during the band's set break as a barter for the rally fee. It's really nice having a relaxing day and pa and I are quite enjoying each other's company. Yep. It's pretty darn special.


From rita on Jul 30th, 2011

This is it. The moment of time when your very breath is in slow motion. My chest is pumped with humble adoration.(oh, and p.s., the monsters on this end are holding their own rally. They call it, 'o top of the frig. love you!! hugs to the dad!

From Aunt Ann on Jul 30th, 2011

You take my breath away! Hold all of this very close to your heart - especially the "you and your Dad" part! This is something so very special and you will view the reruns of this time of your life for a very long time!