Streeterville ScramblersThat Chicagoland Motorcycle Club

2016 Colorado Catastrophy

September 29, 2016

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Colorado Catastrophy

I'm not the superstitious type, but choosing 9/11 as the start date for the Colorado trip was probably a bad idea. The trip started uneventfully. But as events unfolded, we decided to rename the trip the Colorado Calamity and then later the Colorado Catastrophy.

Ten Scramblers met in Lakewood Colorado to begin the great Colorado/Utah adventure. David & John Young, Greg Stepanovic, Roger Ensminger, Bill Milam, Barry Willey, GB Willey, Jason Howard, Scott & Mary McCuskey, and Jason Kmak. Bud Melto, Bruce Holland, Tom Jugle and George Matocha would join us for a few days during the trip.

On Sunday morning, we headed west out of town thru Morrison, Evergreen and take a scenic curvy road to Idaho Springs. We ride the Loveland Pass and make our way to Frisco where we stop for lunch.

Cottonwood Pass

Cottonwood Pass

The road from Buena Vista to the pass is paved, but on the west side leading away from Cottonwood pass is a very well maintained dirt road. We start down the road and at about 3/4 mile, there is a moderate bend to the right. A conga line is following a Lexus SUV climbing the hill in the opposite lane. The road was hard packed dirt with a sandy surface. GB somehow lost control of his bike and hit the SUV. The collision threw GB very hard onto the ground and then he slid into the ditch. He was in a lot of pain and couldn't move. An ambulance was called and he was taken to a hospital in Salidas, and later tranported to a trauma center in Lakewood Colorado.

Later we learned he had a compression fracture on the 9th and 10th vertebrae, his pelvis was broken in 4 places and he had broken a few ribs.

SV650

Totaled SV650

As you read this, GB is still in the hospital in Lakewood Colorado. Please send get well wishes to his email gb@nationalcycle.com and his cell phone number: 708-870-6512.  Update: As of Oct 7, GB is now recovering at home.

David & Greg rode the 150 miles back to Lakewood and got the Van and trailer used to haul the bikes out to Colarado. Then they drove it back to Cottonwood pass and loaded the SV650 that was left in the ditch alongside the road. It was now 11:30pm, but a guy in a jeep happened to be passing thru and stopped to make sure everything was okay. They asked if he could help them load the bike into the trailer. He cheerfully agreed, and it took all three of them to drag the bike into the trailer. No sooner did they get it in the trailer, a storm front passed, the wind picked up and it started to rain!


They finally made it to Gunnison around 1:00 am. The mood was somber, but everyone received word that GB was going to be okay, but was going to require multiple surgeries for his pelvis and vertebrae injuries.

Lower Antelope Canyon

It turned out that the group needed the trailer for additional mishaps. John's Aprilia was running real rich, and nearly unrideable. So the trailer was handy to transport the bike until it could be worked on.

Then on the Gunnison to Durango leg, Roger Ensminger's bike lost a seal and bearing in the final drive on his bike. So the van/trailer fetched Roger and took him to Mancos. It just so happens there was a BMW mechanic there that was willing and able to fix his bike. But he or the Denver dealership didn't have the necessary parts. A few phone calls located the parts. Roger borrowed the mechanic's car, and drove to Pagosa Springs (90 miles each way) to fetch the parts from a guy that always carries the necessary parts ON his bike. What are the odds of that?

Roger's bike is repaired around 6pm, so they now begin the trip to Ouray. Roger follows the van/trailer to Delores where he and John stop to eat dinner. It's starting to rain, so at John's suggestion, Roger decides to load his bike into trailer to avoid the rain and long cold ride.

So Roger attempts to ride the bike into the trailer, but has his flip helmet open. It slams into the top of the trailer, stuns him, he loses control of the bike, it rolls back down the ramp, flips over and pins Roger underneath. In the process his leg also gets all wrapped up in the steel cable for the trailer door and he's unable to move. John unable to do anything except to watch the whole thing happen in abject horror.

John was able to loosen the cable, get Roger untangled and free him from his trapped situation. Fortunately, Roger was okay other than a bruised ego and a raspberry on his arm that eventually turned into a huge black and blue bruise that consumed his whole arm. The bike on the other hand now had a new problem. The kickstand switch was ripped off it's bracket and now the bike won't start. They figured out the problem and jury rig it so they can start the bike and finish loading it in the trailer.

Despite the disastrous attempt to ride it into the trailer, it turned out to be a good decision. The temperature plummeted into the 40s, and the rain came down so hard you couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of the van. They finally made the 107 miles to Ouray around 12 midnight. Hip Hip Ouray!

Near Engineer Pass

The next day was a free day. Scott rode north to see the black canyon and the Aspen groves off route 92. David & Greg attempted Black Bear Pass but it started to hail and rain on them, so they did some off-roading toward Imogene Pass. Roger and Bill rode route 550, the "Million Dollar Highway".

The following day, Scott's rear tire was getting quite bald, so he gingerly rode it up to Gateway Colorado where we saw a very nice car museum. At this point Scott's tire was was showing about 2-3 inches of cord around the entire rear tire, so as a precaution, it was decided to CAREFULLY load it in the trailer to make the last 50 miles to Grand Junction.

Utah Utopia

Grand Junction was the midpoint of the trip and is where we entered Utah for our second week. We decided to leave the van/trailer in Grand Junction, since all bikes were working and we'd be coming back through at the end of the trip.

Roger, Bill and John decided to take a loop thru the Colorado National Monument just north of Grand Junction before heading to Mexican Hat. Bill was leading the three-some and received a speeding ticket for going 42 mph in a very slow 25 mph speed zone. I guess we just couldn't leave Colorado with yet another calamity.

Monument Valley

Utah was the turning point of the trip. No more mishaps or problems during the Utah loop. We visited some very scenic spots: Goose Necks State Park, Muley Point, Valley of the Gods, Moki Dugway, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Capital Reef National Park, and Shafer Trail. Along the way George Matocha and Tom Jugle met up with us for a day or two. Bud Melto and Bruce Holland left the group after riding with us for a few days in Colorado and Utah.


We had a brilliant ride from Moab to Grand Junction to pickup the van/trailer, and then proceeded to Glenwood Springs over the Grand Mesa Summit. The Aspens were a bright yellow and the scenery incredible.

Grand Mesa

We're back in Colorado, so our problems "just resumed". We stop to eat lunch at the Grand Mesa Lodge, but they said they were closed because they kept losing power. It was pretty windy, so it must have been playing havoc with the aerial wires.

For the most part we hit very little rain. But a pretty strong storm blew in on Friday when we were leaving Glenwood Springs. We waited a few hours for it to blow over. But riding East we caught up to it and into the rain. 9000ft + Snow & Rain = VERY VERY COLD. John and Dave rode over Gore Pass (9527 ft). Can't remember a ride colder than this one.

Fortunately, after we went over the pass and reached Kremmling, the rain stopped, the sun came out and we welcomed the much warmer weather. Good thing, we're not sure we'd been able to make it over Trail Ridge and make it to Estes Park without a huge detour.

Everyone immensely enjoyed the trip, despite the problems that seemed to swirl around us. Greg did a fantastic job planning the locations. Dave planned multiple route options and this provided the necessary flexibility for weather or other situations encountered along the way. Everyone is looking forward to the next trip Colorado trip. However, we'll hopefully avoid the bad karma.

David J Young

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