October 5, 2005

Start: Durango, Colorado

End: Page, Arizona

Miles: 245 miles

Route taken: Route 160, exit at Durango


        The rain left and was replaced by bitter cold and I couldn’t have been less prepared.

        I wanted to get an earlier start than usual, so by 9 a.m. I was packed and ready to go. I just wanted to run down to the self service car wash and rid the bike of about 20 pounds of dirt and mud I had picked up from yesterday’s wet ride.

        The bike looked better than she has in weeks and it was worth the delay. I packed the bike up and headed out through town towards Route 160.

        When I turned on to the four-lane highway the air was cold and crisp. The rain had left behind a cold front and the temperature at the bank said 47 degrees.

        I had my jeans on and sweatshirt, but that mattered little. The cold air burned every part of my body that was exposed with its stinging chill. I had 45 minutes until I got to Cortez and figured I would tough it out until then, but I would certainly try and arrive there as quickly as I could.

        That is when I noticed the flashing lights behind me. I hadn’t even gotten out of Durango and the state trooper had snared me in a speed trap.

        The sign is 45 mph and he said I was doing 62. He could have been right, though it might have been faster. There wasn’t much traffic and the bike does tend to like to move quickly.

        He was wearing one of those Canadian Mounties style hats and I knew I was in trouble. Anyone who would agree to wear that type of headgear has issues and Mr. speeding, scummy biker isn’t going to break the law in his town.

        When he approached me I was still sitting on the bike and noticed he had his hand on his gun. I told him “Well, that’s a bitch of a way to start the day, isn’t?” He didn’t laugh. He didn’t do much of anything really. He was rather robotic in asking me for my license, registration and proof of insurance.

        He told me I was speeding and I didn’t disagree. He said he was going to give me a ticket. “You do what you have to do,” I told him. “I will,” was his reply.


        It was funny. I didn’t get mad like I used to. My emotion was more realistic. I have gone 11,000 miles on this trip, much of it above the speed limit and I only have one ticket. I liked those odds.

I took the opportunity to do a little stretching and pull out a face mask I brought for temperatures such as this. Then I took a couple of pictures to commemorate the event.

That didn’t please the cop at all. He got out of his car and told me to get over by my bike and stop taking pictures. I went over to the bike but I didn’t stop taking pictures.

Police believe in ultimate control and I believe in ultimate freedom. It was definitely opposing philosophies and in his mind there wasn’t much middle ground.

When he gave me the ticket, he said I told him that I felt fortunate this was my only ticket in two months of riding and he didn’t seem happy at all.

I wanted to ask him why he was so miserable. Maybe it was a problem at home. Maybe he isn’t happy having to write tickets for a living and making other people dismal. Maybe he saw me on the bike and knew that he couldn’t do this and was a little jealous.

Who knows. I never asked him though. I didn’t think a conversation with him was possible, nor would it be productive. He had his way of living and I had mine. He told me to drive safely and got in his car and sped off, presumably to sit behind the same building and catch another lawbreaker.

I put on the face mask and my long gloves and got back on the bike. I thought that would be enough to keep me warm, but it didn’t. My legs were freezing with just the jeans covering them and the breeze slicing through the denim. When I got to Cortez I was going to put on my chaps.

Cortez is a little town that bills itself as the gateway to the Southwest. It is at the far left corner of Colorado and is the last city until you reach the four corners of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.


When I got there I was ready for breakfast and a warm place to eat it. I stopped in a restaurant and got some chicken. After eating I went back out to the bike and got the chaps out of the saddlebags.

As I opened them I could see the mold on the outside of the leather. I figured I could deal with that, but when I opened them up and saw there was mold on the inside of the lining as well, there was no way I could wear them. I threw them in the trash and wondered what I was going to do.

I was 8,000 feet up and the temperature couldn’t have been more than 55 degrees. I was going to head north on Route 666, but instead went south, figuring it would be a bit warmer.

Route 666 has been changed because enough religious zealots thought the road might be possessed by the devil. The road is now called Route 491 and travels north to Utah and south to Arizona.

By going south I was going to head into Navajo Nation and Monument Valley. I unfortunately wasn’t going to head into any warmer weather. The temperature stayed in the high 50s, low 60s as I sped across the reservation, trying to beat back the cold.

I reached Kayenta, Arizona and had lunch. I talked to a couple who were out here from Kentucky and on their way to Monument Valley. They said the temperature wasn’t much warmer from the west where they had come from.

Page, Arizona was about 90 miles away and by this time I resigned myself to the cold. I got on the bike and was doing 85 mph across the reservation. Even though I had the neoprene mask on my face, I was still tearing up and the town couldn’t come quick enough. I got there in 70 minutes and checked into the first hotel that had a Jacuzzi.