Glenwood Springs, CO to Salt Lake City, UT
Day 5 arrived the same as the previous 4, bright and sunny. It took a second for me to realize that by this time tomorrow, assuming everything went to plan, I would be at the finish line being scored.
However, things weren't going to be easy for me today. Not by a longshot. I had a lot of miles to cover. One good thing would be that I'd be getting into a part of the country that I'd been through on several occasions and pretty much knew what to expect.
The previous night I gone through my (now) normal routine of getting everything ready for the next day. Set the alarm, plug in the phone, plug in the Sena Headset, etc. In my distracted state the night before, I'd plugged the Sena into an outlet on a lamp, which later turned out to be a switched power outlet that was switched off and my headset did not get charged up. Dammit.
No problem! I don't need turn by turn directions for the first part of the day. I'll just plug it into the tank bag power for the morning (off my helmet this time) and get it charged up when I really didn't need it. I was pretty sure it still had some juice from the night before, however the Sena gives you a cheerful, "Battery low" announcement, followed about 30 seconds later by, "Battery low, Goodbye!" and shuts off.
As I was getting the bike loaded, I figured I might as well start charging the Sena. I turn on the ignition and plug it in. No charge light on the Sena. No light on the USB dongle. Not a good sign. I pull out my V1, which is on the same aux fuse box and plug it it. Nothing. Really not a good sign. No PIAAs, no lights on the heatroller, no nothing on anything for my aux electrical system.
I pull off the seat, which is something I'd really hoped to not have to do, due to it being such a pain in the ass to get back on. I first checked the 30A inline fuse between the battery and the aux fuse box and found it was still good. This made my heart sink a little, as I started getting the feeling that this might not be something I could fix without removing lots of pieces of plastic. Next I checked each fuse in the aux box. All were good. I have the aux fuse box sitting in the tool tray and have the relays in the space below that. When I started examining the relays, the first thought that came into my mind was, "Well, there's yer problem..."
I have two relays - one that provides switched power to the fuse box and another which controls the driving lights. The problem most definitely was with the relay for the fuse box, or should I say the melted hunk of plastic that once was said relay and its harness. I was able to separate the harness from the relay without too much trouble, but the harness itself had melted and therefore was slightly misshapen. Fortunately, I'd planned ahead and brought a spare relay with me. Through a combination of brute force and duct tape, I was able to get the replacement relay in place and working. All and all it only cost me about half an hour to troubleshoot and fix, but today was really a day that I didn't want to lose much time as I had some hard deadlines at the end of the ride to hit all the In-n-Outs.
However, there was nothing I could do about that now. After verifying everything was working and getting gas, I set out again on eastbound I-70. I was quickly reminded of why I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip as I was treated to some amazing views from the freeway as it wound through the Aspen and Vail areas.
Eventually I exited I-70 and started heading south towards Silverton. Silverton itself seemed like a nice little place though the gas station I'd planned to use was closed and the only other gas station in town was VERY crowded with shiny new Jeep Wranglers, many of which looked like the only offroading they'd done is when they accidentally backed over their wife's flower bed.
Incidently, if you are missing your Jeep Wrangler or RV, chances are its on the Million Dollar Highway. I've never seen so many Wranglers in one place. It become sort of laughable after a while. The RVs were more slow and annoying, only to be trumped by the RV pulling a Wrangler that I got stuck behind.
The Million Dollar Highway proved to be aptly named. I'm not sure if the name refers to the value of the views or the cost per foot of the road, but both are probably accurate. This road is cut out of the side of the mountain valley and winds its way up the mountain. The lanes are very narrow and on the outside edge you get the white fog line and about 6 inches before a drop off of about a thousand feet with no guard rail. The 25 mph speed limit seemed reasonable for the first part of the ride. I didn't want to be "that guy" who drove off the side.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pictures, so I guess I'll have to go back some day. You'll have to take my word that it was amazing. Not as cool as Beartooth in my opinion, but awesome none the same. The traffic was the biggest problem in my book, but I image Beartooth gets like that too.
I got my picture of the Post Office in Durango to get the bonus points, then headed off north west towards Moab and eventually I-70.
Fast forward through several hours of hot dry riding and I've reached I-70 and am heading towards the turn off for Loa and my last motorcycle road bonus. I had just passed by Capitol Reef and had been eyeing the several storm cells in my path. I'd been lucky coming into Denver and had shot the gap between two storms, but today my weather luck ran out. The temperature fell from 105 degrees to 65 degrees in the space of 20 minutes and then came the rain and the wind. The wind was gusty and one gust really hit me hard. Despite leaning waaaaay into it, it still pushed me over nearing a full lane's worth on the freeway. That was a little scary and I slowed waaaaay down until I got through the gusty wind.
At this point I had to make a choice. Bail out and head for Salt Lake, or go for one more bonus. At this point I could see no reason to bail out, other than thinking that every sound coming from my engine was a sign of its pending destruction. I was still hearing the squeeking noise coming from the engine, but it didn't seem to be effecting anything. I finally decided to ride the damn route I planned and stop being such a worry wart and made the turn towards Loa.
The road down to Loa was fun. It had some nice curves and the weather had turned overcast so it wasn't too hot. I reached Loa and made my final gas stop of the trip. I left and went a few blocks down the street to get a picture of the Post Office, then off to ride one of the most...boring roads ever. This was solely my fault for trusting a GPS. The road I was routed on apparently was quicker than the road indicted, which I alter learned was one of the best roads in Utah. The road I took was very remote and very straight.
While I suspected I was on the wrong road, I couldn't be sure until I was able to stop and review the rally book, and that wasn't going to happen any time soon. I was committed to this road and wasn't going back. Luckily, this little mishap didn't cause any rally issues. After later review of the MERA list-serv emails, I found one from the rally master indicating that you didn't actually have to ride the road - just get the pictures at either end. Essentially, your loss if you don't choose to go on the cool road. My loss. The road I took sucked.
I eventually reached Panguitch and then high tailed it to I-15 for a final 80 mph blast back to the finish. Time-wise, I was doing great and wasn't concerned about hitting all five of the In-N-Outs prior to closing. The first four were pretty uneventful, though I apparently wasn't the only one hitting up the In-N-Outs, since one of the cashiers remarked how odd it was that there a bunch of people with motorcycle helmets only buying drinks.
The last In-N-Out I decided to actually get some dinner since I hadn't eaten yet. There were a bunch of kids sitting outside when I went in. I got my burger and ate outside to keep an eye on the bike. They were leaving about the same time I was, and as they drove by one of the little bastards yelled, "FAGGOT!!!"
I got a chuckle out of it and headed for...the FINISH LINE! I ended up arriving around 12:30 am, so I was in no danger of being time barred. There were a lot of rally bikes in the parking lot and I eventually found a spot and got the bike secured for the night. Check in at the hotel was painless and I headed for bed after a few texts to family and friends to let them know I made it in one piece.
Indicated mileage: 906
The next morning at the scoring table, as advertised, was pretty painless. My indicated mileage total was 4,225 which corrected out to 4,301. Here's the entire route on Spotwalla, which will show most of the bonus locations. (I wouldn't recommend clicking this link if you're reading this on a phone.)
For reasons that I haven't figured out yet, I showed I should have had about 5000 more points than I was scored, but at that point, I really didn't care. In the end, it wouldn't have mattered in where I placed.
Since my goal was simply to finish, I really didn't care where I placed. However, this said, i really didn't want to be last. I was very relieved when the first score was called, and my total was higher. I ended up placing 10th out of the 16 riders who finished, and 20-something that started, the 5 day rally. I was thrilled with this result. Final rally results are here.
The banquet and party in the bar were both a lot of fun and I spent as much time as I could talking with as many people as I could. After a fun evening including some fireworks which were definitely purchased legally in Utah, I hit the sack since I had another long day ahead of me on Monday.
The ride home was uneventful and I arrived home around 9:00 on Monday night. Unfortunately there was no rest for the wicked and I was back at work at 8:00 for a meeting on Tuesday morning. Yay work!