We took off from Nederland about 8:30 towards I-70, which would take us to Copper Mountain. We were attempting to find our way from Black Hawk over to Idaho Springs. We tried to cut through Central City to get there, and indeed we found a road (8 miles long according to the sign) that would take us to Idaho Springs. Unfortunatly, the road was also dirt, and we were on top-heavy sportbikes. So we had to turn around and go back down to highway 6.
But, on the way back down into Black Hawk, we ran across one of these parked in a dirt lot off the side of the road:
If you've never seen one of these huge industrial mining trucks in person, it's an experience I highly recommend. I first learned about these things when I worked for Crosslink. I had seen the tires by themselves, but never on a truck. To give you some idea of how big just the tires on these things are:
That's right, even the upper part of the wheel, (much less the top of the actual tire) is taller than a 6' man. I stepped into the center of the wheel and tried to reach my hand up to the top of the tire. I could just barely get my hand over it. Climbing up onto the top of the wheel would have been harder than some of the rock climbing I've done.
If you walk around behind the front tire (which you can do quite easily, without ducking or having to squeeze yourself in), and hold your arms up, the entire area from where your knees are to above your fingertips is all part of the massive engine. They're big diesels, apparently, and they function purely as electrical generators - the actual wheels are moved by huge electric motors.
To get into one of these things, you have to climb up a ladder welded to the front grill:
And guess what happens when you're an idiot and park your car in the lanes where these mining trucks drive?
Bigfoot has nothing on these babies!
We opened the battery compartment for a second, just for kicks. There were six batteries inside, each one about three feet long by one foot wide! Imagine three regular car batteries end to end, that's how big these were.
I was tempted to climb in the cab and survey the driver's view, about 9 feet off the ground, but I didn't. Bad enough we were climbing around on the thing. I also wanted to try and climb into the bed somehow, as these things haul like, 100 tons of ore at a time, but the rear edge of the bed was like, 12 feet off the ground! I'm white, you know? I can't jump... ;]
So after that little adventure, we rode on over to "Idaho Spgs" as the interstate signs call it. (How are you supposed to pronounce "Spgs"? Is it "spugs"? Is that some kind of beetle?) We were both in need of gas by this time, so we filled up, and jade hadn't had breakfast so we hit McMongrels. (Mongrels was inside a BP station - erie how life imitates Snow Crash. Franchises inside franchises...)
While we were waiting in line, a tall chubby guy in motorcycle leathers struck up a conversation. Interesting guy, Chad Culver by name. He was, as expected, riding up to Copper Mountain for the motorcycle show just like we were. His friend and her girlfriend were also along. As it turns out, we rode up to the Eisenhower Tunnel from there with them, and ran into them a couple more times later in the day also.
Over the course of the day, we learned a fair bit about Chad and his friend and girlfriend. Chad lived in Wyoming for most of his life. He'd ridden motorcycles since he was about 10, starting out on dirtbikes. His dad had died in a motorcycle accident - well, his dad had a fatal heart attack (90% clogged aorta!) while riding. "He was dead before he ever went off the road," Chad said. He'd done auto sales for a while, made in excess of $200k/year, bought himself a boat on lake Powell and had a 300ZX(!) - all while living in his parent's basement.(!!) Unfortunately the dealership got bought out and all the employees fired. So now, according to his business card, he's a loan officer in Aurora.
(Click for a bigger picture. Yeah, technically that's a 954 not a 929 - sue me.)
He rode a Honda 929, and he liked to ride fast. I don't tend to weave in and out of lanes to pass, but he did, and I tried to keep up. We probably did 80-90 almost all the way between Idaho Springs and the tunnel. At one point we hit a stretch where the pavement was wide open for probably half a mile ahead. I slammed it wide open, and actually hit 140 before I had to put on the brakes. My 750 gix doesn't have the same insta-torque as the liter bikes, for sure. He could dust me any time he wanted. But so long as the liter bikes aren't really trying hard, I can keep nipping at their heels.
His friend and his girlfriend were cool too. The guy had apparently grown up in Colorado Springs, and had some scars to show for it. He pulled up his shirt and showed up an inch and a half scar in his left side, below the ribs, where he said he'd been stabbed by a switch-blade while being "a gang-banger for a while." But the impressive scar was the one from below his navel all the way up to his sternum. Apparently exploratory surgery to make sure they'd repaired all the damage from the switchblade. His girlfriend didn't look over 30, and had 2 kids already. Whew, brave woman. Cool folks, all. It's nice to meet people who aren't rich and upper-class once in a while. I don't see a lot of ordinary people in Boulder. :P
Oh, you want to hear about the actual show??
Well, it was alright but nothing special. We walked around quite a bit, sat on a bunch of bikes. Letsee if I can remember them all. Suzuki SV-650, SV-650S and TLR1000. Yamaha FZ-1000. Kwak 636 (sharp looking new 600 in a semi-dark red), a Buell ZX9, and a couple of others. I didn't get to sit on a Yamaha R1, which is too bad, since I really want to know what the ergos are like. Honda was notably absent from the show, apparently they were having some snit about the rules for the motocross race that was going on in the big track out at the parking lot, and refused to participate in the show. Each vendor that did show up brought about ten demo bikes that you could ride. Unfortunately by the time we got there about 11:30, they were totally booked for the day. They said they'd take early sign-ups for tomorrow's rides at 8pm, but we didn't feel like waiting around.
We saw a couple of pocket bikes for sale. Some amusing t-shirts. (My fav? One for the ladies that said "I have a motorcycle, vibrator and pizza delivery. Why do I need you?" ;D) We had lunch with Chad and crew, it was $28 for two burgers and two beers! Yup, that's ski area food prices.
On the ride home, we got soaked down. The rain wasn't particularly hard, just misting and pervasive. The entire way back between Georgetown and Idaho Springs was miserable. My shoes are probably still damp ever after being left to dry overnight. Jade got to really break in his new Joe Rocket textile jacket in ugly conditions. Great jacket, incidentally. Not only sharp looking, but seems to fit him like a glove too.
All in all, it was a damn good way to kill a Saturday. I got up at 6:15 and was on the road pretty much all day. Didn't get home until 6:30. About 300 miles in the saddle. My arms and shifting leg were complaining by the time I got back, but they're okay now. "That which does not kill me..."
It was fun. Definitely be doing it again when I get the chance.