Back to the Yukon and into Alaska again, June-July, 2010


West Fest in Darby, Montana, and home to Colorado

Friday, July 23, 2010

While most of the riders were out riding the roads and trails around Darby, Laurie and I were sleeping in late. After breakfast, we motored down to the campsite where we spent the remainder of the day. Most of the attendees were there, but a few stragglers were still pulling in.

The large event tent was the main gathering place, food was provided all day, and in the early afternoon, the first of the beer kegs showed up. Yummy.

Dave, a KLR rider, was trying to replace his steering stem bearings, but he couldn't get the bearing races out--even after having a local mechanic try to make a tool for him. Dave was also having a heck of a time getting a couple of tires mounted without pinching the inner tubes.

Nathan had ridden to the gathering with Sadie in her usual position--on the seat behind him.

Most attendees were in the campground, but many had found hotels and motels in Darby. The crowd kept growing. There were about two hundred people signed up to attend, and many were still showing up unannounced (with the humble registration fee in hand).

Okay, this sometimes happens when you leave your camera unattended. At least it was his face and not another (less seldom-seen) body part.

Paul (on the left with the sandals) was the only Ural rider there. During the next day's de-noobing warm-up, the axe that he had loaned me for an axe-throwing contest got broken. Sorry, Paul.

As Friday night wore down, lots of campfires sprung up. All that wood laying around, remember? That makes it strange that someone would feel the need to burn a cheap chair that they had just bought at a thrift store.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

We again chose to sleep late rather than go to the campground for the breakfast being served there. After we had eaten in town, we again headed for the event site. I made a detour to a used clothing shop in town, and I bought several items for the evening's silliness.

There was a large pit on the field that had been filled with water for us. The two logs spanning the pit had already been there from the lumberjack games.

As usual, there were a lot of KLRs there, but most of the bikes were BMWs or KTMs. A lot of other bikes as well. We managed to get many of the KLRs lined up for a photo, but it was a haphazard affair.

Because my bike had street tires and lots of luggage that I didn't want to pull off, and because I was in relaxation mode, I did none of the local rides. Laurie was happy to skip all the dirt roads, and even the local paved roads and scenery weren't much of an attraction after being on the road for seven weeks.

On the other hand, most riders were attacking the hills. The hills fought back on occasion. Here's Hayduke's KTM front wheel. He wasn't the only one with this kind of ding.

There were three kinds of beer, and two were on tap at any time. So, for those who were done riding for the day, refreshment was on hand. The food was great, too. BBQ pork and chicken galore.

When the sun was near to the horizon and things started cooling off and most people had been fed, Putts called for the games to begin. We moved to the bleachers, where I had the noobs sit in a separate part of the stands. Most noobs were honest, but I found a few who were hiding (trying to avoid any embarrassment). Laurie had the camera, so these are her photos.

While folks were getting their beers refilled and taking their seats, I started a simple obstacle course using logs. Any of the noobs who participated were automatically de-noobed. There were several participants, and after each pass, I moved the logs closer together and they went through again. The ability to keep your bike moving smoothly at very slow speed while weaving through the course is very important. Here's your winner.

A few KLRs took part, but the only bike to fall down was a KLR. After helping him get his bike back up (he didn't really need my help), I threatened to throw the shoe he had lost into the water-filled pit. The audience was in favor, but I spared him.

After the obstacle course, Putts took over and welcomed everyone. He thanked those who deserved some applause for their work for this year's rally, then handed the reins back to me.

Putts had concocted a Devil's brew of moonshine, habaero hot sauce, bacon, and other mystery ingredients. The brew had been intended as a punishment for those were not able to answer their Question, but a few of the noobs asked if they could just drink the vile liquid and get it over with. I guess they thought that it would be safer than having to walk over a saggy log suspended over a flooded pit. Putts agreed, and half the crowd of noobs swarmed him for their poison.

I had warned them about the drink, but did they listen? No, they did not. I had tasted it before the festivities, so I knew how bad it was.

While those who had partaken of the drink were struggling with their health, I had each of the other noobs file down, one by one, and introduce themselves to the large crowd of spectators. In West Fest tradition, each noob was then asked a question by myself or by someone I selected from the crowd of veteran West Festers. If the noob answered the question correctly, they were de-noobed and could join the vets in the stands.

As intended, not many noobs were able to answer the question, so there were consequences. I gave most of the noobs a choice of either walking the log over the water, wearing something that I had in my bag of cheap dresses, or they could sing and dance for everyone.

Nobody sang and danced, but several men and women ended up in unfortunate attire. I made the men remove their pants, but I had less luck with the ladies (as usual...).

I had gotten a tiny teddy-like bit of lingerie that was intended to be a teaser, but at one point, Putts put it on and danced around in his tighty underwear. No photo from Laurie of Putts, but here's the lingerie so you can imagine it in your head. (There's a photo of Putts wearing it on ADVRider. Jus' sayin'...)

I had made a point of having a few dresses and one purple shirt that weren't too bad. One gal (I don't want to mention many names) did switch her garb for one of the noob dresses, but I later saw that dress on another gal while the no-longer-noob had switched back to her boring clothes.

There are a lot more photos of all this nonsense on, in this photo thread:

And here is the original WestFest 2010 thread, but skip ahead to post #2039 to see the first photo posted there (and no, what's happening is not what you think).

As I write this, more photos are being added to those threads, so check back there every now and then to see more.

Dave, originally from South Africa, was one of the noobs who had a special demand made of him when he couldn't answer his question. The joke he told involved taking off his pants. (Dig Dave's pointy leprechaun sandals.)

Most of those who chose to walk the log did so without falling into the water.

Some of the kids tried to mess with some of the log-walkers, but only one guy fell into the water. When he knew he was doomed, he took a stylish pose into a big splash. Laurie didn't get the splash, but she got him climbing out.

When this cutie was up, someone in the crowd suggested that she might bypass her question by doing a "favor" for Putts for a certain amount of money. Hey, he's a buddy, so I checked my wallet to see if I could help him out.

Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with enough money, so I put the Question to her. Even more unfortunately, she was able to answer the question and I didn't get a chance to trick her into the teddy.

When the de-noob ceremony was over, Putts gave me a box full of prizes to dole out. I had already given one of the sheepskin seat covers to the winner of the obstacle course, but I had several left. The axe-throwing contest got scuttled when someone broke the axe before we even got started, and there were only a few who would have participated in a log-running contest, so I started improvising. I had already gathered up all the used tires that riders had changed out, so I started a tire-bowling tournament. First, just the ladies.

Then, after the men had had their turn, I ran a log-rolling competition. Again, I was taking advantage of the environment so that I didn't have to work too hard.

It was dark by then and folks were wandering back to their campfires, so I walked around the event field giving the remainder of the gifts away. Some inmates had contributed to the event, so they got a prize, others were just too cool not to give stuff to. In the end, all I had left were some stickers and a final seat cover (all of which were donated by Barb at Alaska Leather, so kudos and thanks to her). Putts said that I had done enough, so we were done with the give-aways. He took the last stickers and said I could have whatever was left, so that's how I ended up with the final seat cover. (Full disclosure provided here at no extra charge.)

The beer kegs were still calling my name, but I still had to ride back to the hotel, so we called it a night. Had a blast, met new friends, enjoyed the company of old friends, and I'll see them all again another time.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

We had another late morning, and after some final good-byes, we hit the road. Back south-west, 388 miles to Montpelier (where I had gotten my riding pants' zipper fixed over seven weeks ago). A hot, dry ride. Didn't take as many photos as usual.

Sometimes the road was really good, especially when they had just re-built it.

When it was really hot, both Laurie and I had surging issues with our motors. Mine was worse, and I suspected the thin vinyl vacuum line that I had put on the petcock weeks ago. When it's that hot, the line gets soft and the vacuum in the line causes it to collapse. When that happens, the vacuum is partially interrupted and the vacuum-operated diaphragm in the petcock delivers less fuel to the carburetor. The surging we felt was the result. I realized that we had a slight tail wind at the time, so there was less effective airflow over the bike to carry away the heat. Things got better as the afternoon wore off and the wind changed.

We decided to skip Craters of the Moon this time around, so we cruised through Pocatello (stopping for a snack and a cold drink) and found a hotel in Montpelier where I lazed around while managing lots of photos.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Yet another hot, dry day. We passed through Green River, Idaho, continued past Flaming Gorge, Wyoming, through Vernal, Utah, and ended up in Craig, Colorado. A four-state ride today, 372 miles.

Photo interlude:

In Craig, we wimped out in a large Holiday Inn and quickly found our way to the lounge where we ate and played Uno. Laurie had another rare win.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our final day of riding was ahead of us. In no time, we rode through Steamboat Springs and over Rabbit Ears Pass.

It was a cooler, cloudy day, so that was nice. Rabbit Ears Pass had been almost chilly. It warmed up again as we got lower.

From Kremmling, I chose to take highway 9 south, since it was a road I hadn't ridden before (as far as I could remember, anyway).

When we got to Interstate 70 at Silverthorne, I relented on my "no more Interstates" mantra, and we zoomed into the tunnel under Loveland Pass and out the other side into rain. By the time we had gotten down to Georgetown, I was ready for some hot chocolate.

Getting home after that was just a bit more Interstate highway and other familiar roads.

We hadn't been home in almost two months, but everything was the same. I felt about the same when I had gotten home from my ride around South America.

Well, there were a few more weeds in the cracked driveway.

The end.