Monday, February 18, 2008

Stevie and the Rough Riders

Journal Entry: Eighteen, Stevie and the Rough Riders

One of my Texas neighbors, Stevie, is a weekend warrior bike enthusiast. That means he and his band of merry friends are bankers, salesmen, business owners, and doctors in their every day lives. But on the weekend, you can see them in their leather clad bodies, head bandanas and boots; cruising their low riding “Bikes” along the highways and byways. This group decided to cruise from Texas and Oklahoma into Colorado. The chosen route for them in Colorado was the Million Dollar Highway. This highway stretches for 75 miles in western Colorado. It follows the route is US 550 between Ouray and Durango. Though the entire stretch has been called the Million Dollar Highway, it is really the first twelve miles south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. The origin of the name Million Dollar Highway is disputed. There are several legends of its origin from “it cost a million dollars a mile” to build; or built back in the 20’s, that it contains a million dollars in gold ore in the fill dirt. This highway crosses three mountain passes; Red Mountain Pass, elevation 11,018 ft. (3358M), Molas Pass, elevation 10, 910ft. (3325m), and Coal Bank Pass, elevation 10, 640 ft. (3243 m). I convinced this group to stop by my mountain retreat for lunch, as part of their trip was bringing them down Hwy. 24, south from Leadville, through Buena Vista, and into Salida. They were traveling only a few miles from my house.

Although these extremely educated professionals were equipped with the latest and most modern GPS devices, I still got the call from their cell phones that they were at a hotel in town and needed assistance in finding my house. I jumped into my trusty jeep wrangler and drove down to town to be of help. There was Stevie with his dusty bandana on and his four compares. Introductions were made and hand shakes exchanged by all but one man. He explained that once he strapped himself into and onto his large example of bikery and saddlebags and wired for sound and communication, it would be near impossible to stand and shake my hand. I assured him that it wasn’t necessary, but thanks for the thoughtfulness. This group then proceeded to follow me to the house. I somehow forgot to inform them that two thirds of the way up to the house was dirt, gravel road; and that my actual driveway is a steep, curvy, gravel driveway. When I turned on the dirt road, the first biker following me slowed to a stop. I stopped, still watching him in my rearview mirror. It was obvious to me that they had probably not been prepared to have a dirt, gravel road. He slowly started to follow, very slowly as did the other men. They all decided to just park their “bikes” down on the road and walk up the driveway for lunch. Only two of the five drove up. Stevie drove up and parked, he said he felt comfortable taking the gravel because his bike was lighter in weight than the others. The second one to ascend the driveway did not have a choice, as he had broken his “kick stand” and needed the hard concrete floor of the garage to put down his “center stand” so his bike would be stable.

The first biker walked up and informed me immediately that their “bikes” were “crusing” bikes, not mountain bikes, hence their hesitation to follow me on the dirt, gravel road. But they were all good natured about their side trip and the lunch and mountain/valley view proved all worth the effort.

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