Day Three: Burning Miles on the Motorcycle!
Some people view flat, straight roads as the enemy of the motorcycle. They're just too boring. Personally, I find solace in the rhythm of a big Harley (or any motorcycle really) just eating up miles on a big open road.
From my previous experiences in Kansas, I was sure that US 50 would deliver this solace. I was looking forward to getting out and just putting some miles under the Harley on our trip towards Colorado.
We woke up that morning, packed up the motorcycle, and hit the Starbucks in Emporia on the way out. The sun was just beginning to rise and I couldn't see a cloud in the sky. This was looking like the makings of a great day.
You can't really be verbose when describing this portion of US 50 through Kansas. It was simply flat, straight, and had very little traffic. I find the flat expanse of prairies in Kansas to be beautiful and almost hypnotic.. The rustic sites along the way, like abandoned school houses that are right off US 50, also offer lots of opportunities to explore while still putting some serious road behind your motorcycle.
Another interesting thing along US 50 in Kansas is the feed ranches. While the smell isn't exactly the most pleasant, it is impressive to stop along the side of the road and gaze out over millions of cattle on a prairie.
In particular, there is one spot along the way where you will see signs for a scenic overlook. At the top of a lone hill, there is a pull-off where you can stop and look out over a particularly large feeding ranch - there must have been literally millions of cows out there!
As we motored away my wife said she didn't like the idea of a feed ranch at all, while all that I could think of was finding a juicy t-bone as soon as possible!
Kansas does a great job of putting a lot of easily accessible historic markers along US 50 ,Most of them were dedicated to the Santa Fe Trail and various battles. You could easily pick up a lot of history along the way without even getting off the motorcycle! Typically, we would spend a little more time exploring, but we had a destination to make!
The pavement along US 50 in Kansas is great. This fact, combined with straight roads, and the company of a couple of other motorcyclists (one on a Harley, the other on a Hyabusa) meant that we found ourselves averaging around the 90 mph range through a large part of Kansas.
A quick breakfast, lunch, and dinner had us crossing into Colorado with 517 miles between us and Emporia, KS by the end of the day. We rolled into La Junta, Co in the late afternoon, and then decided to take a quick detour and see if we could find anyplace to camp off of highway US 350 through the Comanche National Grasslands.
The Comanche National Grasslands is incredible! But it was getting dark, and we didn't have much time to see the sites. After confirming that there really wasn't anywhere to camp, we turned around and headed back to La Junta to stay at the Holiday Inn Express we had passed. We were both hungry and I didn't want to get caught in the dark with no hotel room on a motorcycle. This ended up being a smart move; we got the last hotel room in the Holiday Inn!
As we went to bed, I made a mental note that we needed to explore US 350 through the Grasslands tomorrow. With the state of Colorado in front of us, we discarded the idea of sticking only to US 50 just as we had planned on. But, we did decide that we would take US 50 through Colorado on the way back home.
One thing to note about US 50 for the camping motorcyclist is that there are very few decent camping sites along the way in Kansas. There were a few RV camps, but personally, we try to steer clear of these when camping as they usually don't provide a nice experience for those not in RV's.
Here we are entering Kansas. This was actually on the Kansas Colorado border. We missed the sign in at the Missouri Kansas border. Ooops.
A Kansas prairie...the sky was a gorgeous blue this day.
You know how everyone says Kansas is really flat? They're right.
This is an old, abandoned school house from the 1800's that was just a little ways off US 50. If you spend a little bit of time exploring around the little towns or down the dirt roads of US 50 you can find a lot of neat stuff like this.
This is the road leading up to the school house.
You know that a large part of a state's economy is beef when they have "scenic overviews" off the highway that look over cattle feeding yards.
More flat, straight roads. I love this stuff.
Hey look, some hills!
More of those great, flat, straight roads.
This is the last road shot from Kansas, I promise. I liked this one because it shows the potential storm we were riding into. Rain on this trip? Go figure.
Shadow riders...we never did catch them. Pretty good looking couple though. :)
Kansas is a state made for just getting in a groove on a motorcycle...
We stopped for lunch in Dodge City. The place was very "touristy." I wouldn't really recommend spending much time there. We got lost and ended up on this dirt road (guess what, it was flat and straight!)
Finally! We made it to Colorado!
When you spend a day on a motorcycle riding through the flat expanse of Kansas, you have a tendency to build up this idea that as soon as you hit Colorado that "flatness" will disappear. Unfortunately, this isn't the case as the eastern part of Colorado can be just as flat as Kansas. Hey, any road that you ride on is a good motorcycle road right? Here's what the eastern Colorado looks like...
Do these pictures of Eastern Colorado remind you of another state? (I'll give you a hint: its flat)
We passed through this little "town" in Colorado, there was a small grocery store (and I mean small) behind me and this post office. That was the extent of the town. You see a lot of these types of places on US 50. I think they're pretty interesting.
Hey, I think we're finally starting to get some elevation!! This will be the last shot for the day, next stop La Junta, Colorado and tomorrow the Comanche National Grasslands!
great read , ive had the rt.50 trip on my mind for years, time, money, life been kinda in the way. havent done a trip this long ever, but hoping to get around to it by next summer. i thoroughly enjoyed the pics and story, thanks for sharing!
Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 7:36 AM
Great ride brutha. I rode for 2 weeks with some friends from NC to out West, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, S Dakota and circling back around to NC. It was a great ride. Loved your story and pics. Thanks for sharing. Dave
Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 12:02 AM
I took a nine day trip from East Tennessee to Vermont in September. Trip was great,we had only two days with any rain (first and last). Vermont has some great areas to see and to ride.
I am planning on a Highway 50 ride next summer. Your log and pictures have given me some great ideas.
Other than the gravel, it sounds like most of the road surfaces were in good shape.
Sat Oct 17, 2009 at 11:00 AM
i'm planning a coast to coast trip on hwy 50 on my restored/modified honda 750 four in spring of 2010. was going to do it this year but the restore ran longer than expected and i still want to get the bugs out.
Tue Jul 28, 2009 at 12:04 AM
Totally enjoyed it, better than a RT.66 trip.Would like to do the RT.50 from beginning to end one day.......
Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 6:36 PM
Poker Alice in Lake City opened the 2008 season with new owners. Best to pass it by until matters get sorted out.
Plan your trip to ride 149 during daylight hours. Ride at night and you will miss some of the best Colorado has to offer.
Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 7:32 PM
Oh no...you were so close. My favorite road in the whole U.S.is just west of there. It's hwy 92 through the Black Canyon. just west of Gunnison is Blue Mesa Resevior and at the Dam,(which is a sight in itself)is hyw 92 it goes to Crawford,where Joe Cocker has his "Mad Dog Restaraunt" bikers riding in get a free bandana. All his gold and platinum awards are hanging on the wall. He lives on a ranch not far from there.anyway it is a beautiful ride you can ride the whole Canyon or cut back to Delta to get back on hwy 50.I have traveled thousands of miles on my harley all through the states and Canada many times and anytime I am anywhere near colorado, I will go out of my way to ride this stretch of road,sometimes twice in one trip,especially in the fall. Oh well... I guess you will just have to take another road trip. RIDE SAFE...Scott
Wed Sep 26, 2007 at 10:39 AM
Hi Chachi - we packed pretty light - you're forced to when riding two-up for over a week. Bare essentials only plus a laundry stop. No problems whatsoever with the wind in Colorado - riding was smooth and easy. It was a little gusty in Kansas, but still not bad if you are expecting it.
Mon Aug 27, 2007 at 9:52 AM
How light did you pack ??? Any problems with wind in Colorado ??
Fri Aug 3, 2007 at 11:33 AM
Great story! I grew up in Colorado unitl I joined the Navy which brought me out to Maryland. I think I might be riding US 50 back to Colorado to see the folks because of your story. Thanks!
Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 10:45 AM
Great story and thanks for the advice about raingear...I have been planning a multi-day trip from Lynchburg, VA down the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the end of the parkway in North Carolina. Its about 500 miles of twisties, mountain passes and so on. The one thing I hadnt really though very hard about was raingear and I realized after reading your story I had best get something better than I have for this trip. While I am down there, I'll be riding the Dragon's tail. I plan to take some notes and photos and write something to post here when I get back.
If you have any other advice for a first-time multi-day traveler, I am all ears.
Sat May 5, 2007 at 5:58 AM
Great pictures! You need a map of the trip.
Thu Jan 11, 2007 at 8:52 PM