Back to the foothills
Originally I’d planned to continue my Big Trip™ down to Cañon City, CO and do some more dirt passes I’d seen in another persons trip, found here. This person had provided a GPX file that I could import into my GPS and follow his route. However I was tired, and I felt that the routes I’d be taking would be more adventurous than those I’d already taken, as you can see in the photos found in that link, that I felt I shouldn’t try to do them alone with my quite limited experience. So I dropped about two days of travel off my trip and decided to do something a little simpler and relaxing. Ride the foothills.
I can’t really tell you the route I took as I sort of just went at it and picked roads as I rode. I remember riding Sugarloaf Rd, and Coal Creek Canyon once again, as well as Lefthand Canyon Rd, but that’s about all I remember. I mostly just kept snaking up and down the foothills trying to stay as high as I could because the temperatures down below were way too hot. I should have saved the track on my GPS but I didn’t think to at the time. Oh well, I also know I went along some dirt roads, some quite steep but really didn’t stop for photos, I’d seen too much over the previous days nothing had stood out as interesting enough to bother with unfortunately.
Having returned from my Big Trip™ I was in need of a new set of tyres. I’d anticipated this moment well before even starting my trip to Colorado and had ordered a set of Heidenau K60 Scouts ahead of time and had them shipped down to my friends house. Now it was time to get them installed, so I went to a local place and had them installed. Immediately the bike felt different, but this was to be expected, the K60s are a completely different type of tyre than what I’m used to, they’re a 50/50 tyre, that is 50% off road, 50% on. What I’m used to is either a 100% on road, or 80/20. They rode smoothly and had an interesting tendency to ‘fall’ into turns when turning which I completely got used to.
Hoping to leave that weekend I made some quick plans with an IRC friend who lived in the area to meet up and grab lunch, meeting them in person for the first time. Riding onto the highway for the first time the bike seemed quite skittish, anytime a car would pass me the bike would wobble in a way it hadn’t prior. I wondered if it was the compound being less sticky or the reduced footprint on the road due to the tread design, or if I was just noticing things too much because of the change. I arrived at the restaurant safely, voicing a little bit of concern to the friend I had met there but passed it off. I brought Horo along with us into the restaurant and set her at one side of the table, not really sure how my friend was going to take this. Turns out he got a huge kick out of it, way more than I thought he would, everyone who walked by who looked over and saw her, the attention she brought, enough that he decided he might get a Dollfie himself (yes!). Eventually one of the waiters was forced, I think, by other staff to ask us what exactly was the point of the doll, what did she represent. I kind of explained but had expected some follow up questions that didn’t arrive, so it ended up being a fairly half assed explanation, oh well, I’ll never see them again anyway.
After lunch was finished we went out to the parking lot and grabbed a couple photos of Horo around and then went our merry ways. I got about 70% of the way back to the place I was staying and then it happened. The bike had been pretty skittish all this time but I was getting reasonably confident with it despite that, starting to ride the bike more how I would normally do so. I passed a big truck and then changed lanes, and the bike went into a speed wobble. One of these:
Now, of course mine was no where near that severe, nor was it at that speed. But I was doing 120 km/h (speed limit), I was in traffic, the car in front of me was braking to slow down, and the bike was uncontrollable, handlebars going left/right/left/right/left/right in much the same way as that video, just slower. I couldn’t brake because of the wobble, if I did it would have been a far worse situation, all I could do was nudge the bike in the direction I wanted and ride it off the road, riding out the wobble until it was gone, then return back to the road. I wonder what it looked like from the perspective of the other drivers, did I just meander off the road to them, or did they see the wobble. Regardless, this terrified me and I wasn’t willing to ride the 2,400 km home on tyres I didn’t trust.
I posted on the forums that had recommended the tyres I’d bought, and got some interesting info, I’d also Googled and got some info as well. I wasn’t the only person to experience this, and I learned that 120 km/h is considered high speed. Despite the tyres being rated to 190 km/h. Still the general consensus was that the tyres were acting within specification and that I’d done something wrong. Perhaps this was true, perhaps not, but I was still not willing to risk the tyres and purchased a new set of Michelin Anakee 3s, which are also a dual sport tyre like the K60s, but an 80/20 variety once again. This whole process took another week of waiting somewhat stranded in Colorado as I wasn’t willing to use the bike on those K60s, I’d been scared too much by them. Unfortunately I didn’t get to test Anakee 3 tyres out much before I headed on my way home so I was a little worried that perhaps it was all the bouncing around in the mountains that had made the bike unstable rather than the K60s. In addition to that, I was leaving as Colorado was flooding, so there was rain and wet roads everywhere, and crosswinds the whole way out of the state.