Arriving in Denver last week to attend the CASE Editor’s Forum the last think on my mind was riding. Walking the streets it was hard not to think about it as I passed scooters on the sidewalk and watched riders pass by on the street. Riding gets in your blood and it doesn’t take much to trigger desire.
The city seemed to belong to scooters. Maybe the motorcycle riders bloom later this time of year. The Triumph was the first motorcycle I saw all week but would not be the last. Serendipity, a stroke of good luck, or just a fortunate chain of coincidence, Dom Chang, aka Charlie6, author of Redleg’s Rides, determined I was in Colorado and contacted me about meeting at the end of the conference.
The conference ended early Friday afternoon and I was soon standing at the light rail station waiting for the train to take me to Nine Mile Station. The ticket cost four dollars but no one on the train ever asked to see it. As I suspected Denver residents are exceedingly honest.
As trains go this one was first rate with lots to see inside and out. Loved how much is invested in artwork along the train route and highways – etched images in the concrete of buffalo and prairie. Pennsylvania puts its cash into wildflowers.
At one point we passed the place Union Pacific locomotives go to die. There were hundreds of them decorated nicely by enterprising artists for their eventual move to the recycling graveyard.
Riders are everywhere in Denver including on the train. I asked this young woman if I could take her picture as she leaned against the back of the car with her bicycle. After removing her earphones and listened to my question she nodded and I made the shot. Everyone in Denver was nice. Even the two young people I gave money to the day before because they needed bus fare after losing their wallets.
This is where Charlie6 lives.
A plainsman who also rides in the mountain wilderness of Colorado. Well, not quite. After picking me up at the Nine Mile Station in a new BMW X5 we made our way to his home where he introduced me to Vicki and Brigitta. Natasha was away. After telling me he had some work to do he suggested I take Vikki for a ride. For a moment I wondered what Jack Riepe would say.
Not every rider offers up their motorcycle to another rider and I was honored that Dom trusted me enough to take care of Vikki, his DL1000 Suzuki V-Strom. After cobbling together some gear he suggested I ride east towards the plains. After about 20 minutes the traffic lessened and the development gave way to more open and rolling roads.
Dom suggested I return in about an hour to have dinner with his family. When questioned about directions I assured him I would find my way back. After riding for half an hour I parked the bike, took a few pictures, and promised Vikki I would take her home. I assumed she knew the way.
Watching the clouds move in from the mountains I had to stop and make another picture. It was hard not to think about those mountains in the distance but people would be waiting for me.
I should probably comment on the V-Strom. Nice bike. It has always been on my list of machines to consider owning and now I know why. Tall but easily managed. Fast. Nimble. Reliable. Couldn’t ask for much more. The soft sand and fine gravel mix on the sides of the road meant I had to be careful to not park in a place where the kickstand would descend into the softness and tumble Vikki to the ground.
And still, those mountains in the distance were calling. I couldn’t ride to them but I did stop often to make pictures. And the clock continued to tick. As I rode back into town the landmarks got blurrier until I found myself lost. Dom chuckled when I called on the cell phone. He knew no one could find his or her way back to his place. An hour late I met his wife and kids and sat down to a fine dinner.
Before dark I was invited to take a ride on Natasha, a Ural sidecar rig. The light was fading fast and I asked Dom if there was a place with a big sky to make a picture. He knew a place. Minutes after we arrived a fellow raced up on a Royal Enfield screaming, “Hey, that’s a motorcycle with a sidecar.” As he bent Dom’s ear I made a few pictures of this modern version of a motorcycle classic.
A quick portrait with the Ural. When I commented how much he looks like a police officer Dom told me that he had heard that before. He’s one serious rider.
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to spend the night until later in the evening. With the promise of more riding in the morning we headed into town to pick up my stuff at the Grand Hyatt. If necessary I bet Dom would pull a tux out of the trunk of the sidecar.
The valet raced out when we arrived, not to welcome us to the hotel – he was a scooter rider enthralled with the Ural. It is an interesting machine and Dom wanted to make sure I fully appreciated a properly setup rig after my less than pleasing ride on Piaggio MP3 with a sidecar.
After an enjoyable ride in the sidecar and enough time piloting the rig to determine how it handled I can say that it was a pleasure to ride. Even with all the weird characteristics of the Ural. Things like marginal braking and grinding gears.
I could see myself with one.
The ride home was fast on the freeway. With temperatures dropping into the thirties I just pulled the sidecar cover up around my neck and enjoyed the ride.
A great first day of riding in Colorado!