On the Roadster to SpyderFest: Part 1
10 days. 9 states. 4,400 miles. 700 of my closest friends.
Those are the basic stats for my first epic road adventure of the year, a ten-day odyssey that took me not only across the country but also back in time.
It all started in Irvine, California at Mission Motorsports, when I picked up a brand new 2012 Neutron Green RSS for the trip. The guys at Mission Motorsports were just as excited as I was to see my pull away on this thing. After smiles and handshakes I was off to take a get-to-know-you ride before the big trip.
I made my way over to Laguna Beach to take some pictures and right away I noticed people staring and taking pictures of the Spyder. When I stopped to take pictures by the beach, I parked behind an SUV. The couple inside jumped out and talked to me for about 20 minutes about the Spyder, and by the end of the conversation we had made a pact to go riding when I got back from the big trip. Like so many people I talk to on the road, they had seen the commercials and they were curious, but this was their first chance to see it up close. I think they were sold.
I left Santa Ana on Sunday around 6:00am, with the sun coming up and shining off the San Gabriel Mountains. By 7:45 I was back on the Mother Road, the first of at least three trips I’ll make on it this year.
In Seligman, I stopped off to take a break from the blazing heat and spotted a woman riding a white RT through town. I jumped back on and tracked her down at an ice cream shop, and asked if she was headed to SpyderFest. She said she wasn’t, just out for a nice Sunday ride. Her name was Margie, and she loves the Spyder. She told me she hadn’t made any plans to go to the owner’s event in Durango, but she was thinking about it. I get so excited when I see Spyders in the wild. You know the motorcycle wave? Normally, it’s a cool flick of the wrist type of thing, but when I see a Spyder on the road I’m like the teenage girls you see in clips of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.
In Flagstaff I made a detour to the north. I had plans to meet up with a camera crew from BRP to shoot a video series
of things that you can do on your way to Durango this summer. We met up first thing in the morning (by accident) at the Utah state line, and headed from there into Monument Valley.
I picked Monument Valley
for riders coming in from the Western part of the U.S. because I’m a huge fan of westerns and also because I’d never been there myself. You recognize it immediately. Due to the great movies by guys like John Ford, Monument Valley is what we imagine when we think about The Old West. But, it’s not just the old classics. While we were there we came across a film crew shooting the new Lone Ranger movie with Johnny Depp, insuring that the moviegoers of today will have that same imagery embedded into their imaginations for generations to come.
There is a 17-mile dirt road that goes around the valley, giving you tons of picture-perfect vistas. It is a bit bumpy and there’s lots of deep sand and gravel, so enter at your own risk. The Fox racing shocks on the new RSS took it like a champ, but some people may want to be a little more cautious. If that’s the case, you can still see plenty from the visitor’s center.
We had lunch just a couple of short miles away at Goulding’s Stage Coach restaurant
, which offers a stunning view of Monument Valley. It’s part of a hotel that sits back against a red rock wall that rises up a couple hundred feet, so if you want to stop and spend the night in the area, you won’t do better than this. I had the Navajo Taco, which is basically chili, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese served on top of some Indian fry bread. It was delicious, but I’m not sure it was the best choice before another four hours of riding in 80 degree heat.
After lunch we rode to the Four Corners Monument
, at the point where four states meet up. We took turns standing on the hallowed spot then high tailed it to Mesa Verde National Park. The ride up and through Mesa Verde is a dream, with lots of easy switchbacks, taking you higher and higher to views of the Rockies and the sea of green below. There are ancient ruins you can visit, if you can pull yourself away from taking pictures of the mountains.
We spent the night in Durango, and headed east the next morning for Pagosa Springs
. We wanted to find something to do for riders coming from the Eastern part of the states
, and who better to ask than the nice folks at the visitor’s center? They pointed us to a great little hike to a place called Piedra Falls
. The hike was fun and the falls were beautiful, but the ride out there is the real treasure here. More dirt roads and lots of switchbacks, but occasionally the whole thing opens up to wide open fields with the snow covered mountains as a backdrop. Those mountains that seemed so far away from the top of Mesa Verde rise up over top of you.
That night we met up with my friend Mariah Kaminsky, an artist and Durango native (of 11 years). She has a fine art studio right downtown where she does portrait painting and other artwork for local restaurants, homeowners and civic organizations. I asked if she was willing to paint portraits of Spyders and their owners and she said, “Absolutely!” So, if you’re interested in a beautiful portrait of you and your 1,000 cc work of art, check out her work at: www.mariahkaminsky.com
Mariah and her husband Jason hung out with us for dinner and gave us some tips on local roads. One thing they both agreed on was that Spyder riders should definitely check out the Million Dollar Highway. Jason told a great story about seeing two Ducati riders pull over after crossing it and high fiving at a gas station. I have a feeling a lot of the riding around Durango is going to be high five worthy.
After spending a couple of days in and around Durango I couldn’t be more excited about the Owner’s Event. There are some rides of a lifetime, and Durango itself is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited. Picture your favorite small town downtown. Now, multiply it by eight and you have Durango.
On my last night there, I said goodbye to the crew and packed up to make the ride east through Colorado and Kansas. It would take me two days to get to Cuba for SpyderFest, but first I’d make a detour through a little more history of the Old West in Dodge City.
Stay tuned for part two of my journey to SpyderFest!