There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain and I’ve discovered that line here in the high country of north-west Colorado.
We are on the ninth day of our 3200km trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on a Victory Cross Country Tour and the mountain roads, scenery and people just continue to amaze us. But the altitude has struck me in another way.
We’ve been mainly over 6000 feet (1800m) for the past few days with dashes through mountain passes greater than 10,000ft (3000m). That’s a big deal for this coastal Aussie. Just as a comparison Kosciusko is 7310ft (2228m).
I thought I had a hangover, but a day without a drink in the evening and I’ve realised it’s actually altitude sickness. It doesn’t affect everyone. Mrs MotorbikeWriter is fine.
There is a constant dull headache and a persistent nausea. It’s not enough to drive me away from these gorgeous gorges, stunning mountain passes and churning rivers, but I’ve been taking some precautions. I have slowed down, taken ibuprofen, eaten bananas for the potassium and drunk plenty of water.
Today started with the faint smell of sulphur in the air at Glenwood Springs as we headed east on Interstate 70, which is an engineering marvel and a spectacularly beautiful canyon. On one side are two massive roads which are basically bridges for mile after mile, on the other is an old railway line and in the middle is the cascading Colorado River with rafters romping down the rapids.
On the advice of Harley Street Glide rider Glenn Kapner, whom we meet the previous night at our hotel, we take the 131 north at Wolcott and pretty soon I realise this is the same road we did on the Harley Rushmore Project launch last August.
I also remember the turn at McCoy toward Gore Pass on route 134 where we meet up with a bunch of Harley touring riders who are attempting to do all 40-odd Colorado passes (although a later check reveals there are more than 70 passes).
The riders – Ron McNeill, Gary Fiedler, Errol Fisher and Ron Williams (the Gov) – give us some great tips on the best routes to Sturgis. And some of them might even catch up with us when we get there.
We lunch in the quaint Moose Cafe in Kremmling where the apple pie is TDF, then head to the ski resort city of Steamboat Springs past the Rabbit Ears pass at 9426ft (2873m).
By now, my head is thumping, I’m occasionally gasping for breath and my stomach is churning yet my lips are smiling after the challenging, but grippy roads, the stunning scenery and the friendly people we have met along the way.
Tomorrow we head across more mountain passes for Laramie after a hearty breakfast of bananas, water and ibuprofen!