Ouray and Corkscrew Pass

So today was a big day. @suldrew was right in reminding me how very much I prefer saddle time to office time.  Not that we talk about riding on the blog much, but I really do love to travel on a motorcycle.  Right now I’m in Farmington, New Mexico and riding Southern Rocky Mountains, specifically the San Juan Mountains.  I’ve been through these mountains a couple of times, and I’ve been yearning to summit Engineer’s Pass for several years. I’ve lost a lot of time day dreaming of how to approach it, what I would need… but alas today was not the day.

In both information security and aviation, we have observed that major events are rarely caused by isolated events, but rather through a series of mistakes or issues. The siren of Engineer’s Pass was taunting me to make all the right decisions to create a really bad scenario.

Much to my dismay, we chose to abort the attempt on Engineer’s Pass due to wrong tires, my incorrect gearing ratio, a very heavy motorcycle, and (primarily) lack of skill. Some of the trails had considerable boulder wash, and massively unsettled stone slides.  We weren’t ready today.  We live to ride another day!

While I am confident in my on-road riding abilities, I was humbled today in my first major foray into ‘big-bike off-road riding.’  Both Bill and I had several solid spills, with no real physical injury and some (hopefully) minor damage to the bikes.

In one particular crash, I was motoring up a long switchback, which was heavily littered with washed boulders- and my tires were NOT holding up their end of the bargain. So I’m there, unable to gain purchase while floating my clutch (my stock GS transmission doesn’t have the ‘granny gear‘ that the GS Adventure model includes), so the rear wheel flails out to the side.  As I low side (fall to the inside of the turn) I am faced with the awesome reality that a HOT 700 pound BMW motorcycle is about to chase me down the mountainside! I dive, duck-roll to a low ready position, only to find the bike has come to a rest on her side right where she tipped.  (phew!)  Here’s the bonus, the two jeeps that just cleared the switchback above me watched this whole ninja evasion maneuver… which is about the time I realized the Camelback in my jacket was crushed, ruptured, has completely soaked my pants!

On a side note, while we do plan on doing some camping on this trip, the first several nights of this adventure have been taken care of by some great friends.  Here in Farmington, we’ve been staying with one of Bill’s dearest friends.  Mary is the kind of gal you meet, you just feel like you’ve grown up with her- she’s got a quick wit, a great sense of humor, a genuine smile and infection laugh. Mary and her sister-in-law (yes, not kidding) Mary cook up some seriously amazing food, I may actually gain weight if I don’t get out of Farmington soon!

All in all, another great day riding.  Enjoy the pics!

Heading for Silverton on CO 550 'The Million Dollar Highway'

Gaining altitude heading for Silverton, CO.

Really clean sweeping turns on the glorious CO highway 550.

Corkscrew Pass Trailhead

When a 700 Pound BMW R 1200 GS wants a nap... she gets it.

A view from the top of the pass- just not Engineer's Pass...

Me. Smiling ... and catching my breath.

This is an overview of the abuse my GS endured today. I can attest that BMW build a HIGHLY resilient machine!

Another view during an off-road descent (and prior to my rear brake overheating...)

Speeding back to Mary's house for some Southwestern style Green Chili Lasagna!


3 Responses to “Ouray and Corkscrew Pass”

  1. dayphoto Says:

    We have always traveled this pass in a four-wheeled drive pick-up. I’m amazed you did it on a bike!


  2. Paul McNeil Says:

    we go to Avon every year; beautiful country!

  3. Landis Says:

    If all the bolts stayed on, WIN!

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