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Down the hill to Golden for dinner, then up to a friends for what would become more than a week of errands and running around town visiting other friends and family. One errand was to find some Filter oil for my friend’s new intake filter that we would install along with exhaust and luggage and a few other improvements to his KTM 690. I got some engine oil to top up the 990 and stopped by Wolfman Luggage to pick up a replacement for that lost clip. I repositioned the strap anchors later to get the straps to reach better at the back. While I was at Wolfman, they offered to make longer straps for me. That is service right there.

WHile I was there I had lunch at a nice cafe in town. Parked at the curb behind this great looking little car. Reminded me of my mom’s 1963 Karmen Ghia drophead.

Soon enough it was time to load up and head to WestFest.

We stopped at the top of Kenosha Pass for a photo before dropping into the valley for breakfast.

We were camping at the Ouray KOA for Westfest.

With our campsite set up we were all checked into the rally so headed back into Ouray for dinner. Well, refreshments first. We have to keep hydrated at these elevations.

The next morning there was breakfast provided by the rally int a motel nearer town. Cold ride up there and back with the sun not warming the valley yet. We piddled around at come waiting for warmth and putting together some guys to go ride. We shot some photos for fun.

We were looking for this easier route over to Lake City, but never found the track before Silverton. No idea where that is really. I was still figuring out my navigation app, which didn’t help. This photo below is yet another of our several wrong turns/guesses.

From here we made our way back to the highway then took another left up some gravel road that lead us around to the backside of town. The trees are golden and the view of Silverton and the surrounding peaks is very nice.

As we got higher my bike began running hotter and hotter and I began to feel the affects of the altitude. My twenty plus years of living near sea level, even with a good deal of cycling training I was just beginning to have breathing issues. Then at this point above the ghost town of Animas Forks, I was panting and trying very hard to breathe. After all the jeeps came by, we headed down to Animas Forks parking where I sat in the grass trying to regain my breathing. IT didn’t work. I was better maybe, but not good. Slightly dizzy when standing up, so not a great experience.

We defended to Silverton and got cold water and fuel. Then back over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray. Once on the pass, there was a point where I was suddenly back to normal. That was a very odd experience.

In Ouray we stopped at the Brew pub for a rooftop lunch.

The next morning was another ride away rally breakfast up the east side of the valley to an old mine. This was an even colder ride than the previous morning and I made full use of my heated grips. Once off the bike though it was very cold. A couple of cups of hot coffee helped.

We had decided that this day would be a restful day. The hot springs pool was calling to us. We rode up to the pool parking lot to find we were more than an hour early. SO, we walked up town in search of coffee and pastries.

And us, with some local art.

Coffee and sweets were good.

Then it was back down the hill to the pool, a much easier walk I might add. The soak in the hot pool was a welcome relaxation.

After the pool we walked across the street for the best lunch salad I’d had all trip.

That ended our time at Westfest 2018. The next morning we broke camp after a quick coffee and light breakfast in Ridgeway. Paul heading back to Morrison and I headed back west toward home, with another stop at 3 Step Hideaway.

This would be my 28th day out away from home. Back at 3 Step I’m camped in my now, regular spot. The view is very nice.

After an enjoyable evening and meal listening to stories and telling of my ride it was time for bed. The next morning I woke early. I was headed south and west into the heat and I wanted an early start. That got me my sun rise shot.

The long ride in the heat took a toll on me. I was beat, after trying some dirt tracks that quickly went from graded gravel to two track to bull dust. When stopping and putting a foot down, my boot would disappear over my ankle in what looked like dusty liquid. About an hour of that I was getting hotter and hotter with the slight breeze at my back not helping in any way to cool the big motor. I turned back to the two lane blacktop and headed for Mexican Hat. I’d originally planned to camp up on the point overlooking the Goosenecks, but the weather was more than 100°F, so I headed toward the Grand Canyon. I stopped and called to see what the campground situation was like only to be told it was already full at just after noon. So, Flagstaff it was. where I rode the last half hour into town in the pouring rain and gusting winds knocking me about. There was a fire on the mountain south of town that had the air full of smoke as well. I tried the KOA and found it also full. I stopped at a Starbucks and searched using their wifi and found a nearby hotel that wasn’t full up at dinnertime. I don’t remember what I did for dinner. Maybe I made some oatmeal. I was too tired to do much of anything other than shower and sleep.

I set an alarm for 4AM. I figured to beat as much of the heat as I could I’d be riding I-40 across the desert to I-15 south and home on the coast. At least that was the plan.

Twenty nine days of riding ended here.

RIding with the sun chasing me I was making time until a slight loss of power that quickly led to a loud clattering. I simultaneously flipped the kill switch and pulled the clutch in. Coasting up a ramp to rest here. I had cell service so called the auto club. I would end up being hauled to Bullhead City on the river where I was able to get a U-haul rental truck, but no ramp. Three of us lifted the bike into the truck after I got tie downs at a local hardware store.

I had a long drive to contemplate the fate of the big 990R.

The options as I saw them were to quit riding and sell the salvage, buy another bike, or fix this one. I decided that buying anything else would mean starting over in terms of getting anything else outfitted to where this one was, other than the motor. If I were to quit riding that would free up a lot of room in my garage and closets. So, this was a seriously considered option. Then I decided to fix the bike. Buying a used motor was mostly finding a SMR motor that was salvaged then swapping tuning and all that needs to be done. My small garage really didn’t have space for that. Tearing a bike apart would leave an unusable garage that serves more than just a storage space. It is the laundry room and our primary access to the house. So, the shop would get the call for a rebuild. I took aim at the shop then.

The next steps were going to be costly. I was not in a hurry since I had no riding plans. Being retired meant I didn’t need the bike to commute. The shop took while to fit the rear down inspection into their schedule then found that the head, piston, rod, and cylinder were all beat. Big money. I told them I wasn’t in a huge hurry so the rebuild continued into 2019.

A valve stuck then was hammered to pieces by the interference piston. The chunks tore up more stuff. I’ll continue the story in recounting 2019.

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