TAT Day 19 – To Pass the Impassable Pass

Poncha Springs, CO – Telluride, CO

Miles Ridden – 202

Total Miles – 2,766

Today’s Travel Time – 11.5 hrs

Animal Totem – Moose

What I learned today – Snow + Motorcycle = Going Nowhere Fast

There weren’t many breakfast options near the Poncha Inn so we cooked breakfast on our camp stoves next to the parking lot- something Stefan had been hoping to do for quite a while. 

       We thought we had a fairly easy day ahead of us- we’d stay on the TAT until Sargents, roughly 40 miles, and then hop on the highway all the way to Telluride. 

As we pulled out and continued on the pavement changed to dirt and started to climb higher. I saw signs for Marshall Pass, and it occurred to me that we had not checked online to see if Marshal Pass was open, but I figured we would continue to ride until we couldn’t go any further.

 We took a pause halfway up the mountain in a beautiful aspen grove, where some big horn sheep were eating something out of holes in the road. They seemed just as curious about us as we were about them. 

 Again the air was getting chilly, and we started to see snow.

The snowmelt was making some gnarly mud and as I rode up through some, I saw the bikes parked – not a good sign. 

Just around the corner was a large swath of snow covering the road. Just beyond that was a huge puddle complete with more mud. 

Stefan went first, staying on rock as far as he could, and then once he hit snow, promptly got stuck. 

   Dad helped push him along the rest of the way, and he found a fairly shallow line through the puddle.

 Dad was next, we pushed him through the snow, he got a little bogged down in the mud, but came out alright.

 I on the other hand, dropped my bike in both the snow, and in the mud. Luckily ‘lil Henry did not get wet. 

 Once we finally all made it through we found we had reached the continental divide! 

     We had conquered the snow, mud, and water, but had no idea what what might be ahead. Sure enough, a few turns later we found the trail blocked by some downed aspen trees. 

 Unfortunately Stefan had mailed his saw home back in NM. Fortunately we had an engineer on our team. We found a log of the perfect height to brace the one branch we couldn’t get to the ground, rode over two, ducked under one, and came out just fine. 


The views continued to be amazing (including seeing a mama and baby moose!) and before too long we began to decrease in altitude. 


 At the bottom of the pass it became clear why there was still snow at the top. 

Yep, the pass was closed.

Stefan found a line to get around the barrier, and we rode down a gravel road next to a beautiful creek of snowmelt winding through a meadow. 

 At the bottom of the road we were happy to find the newly opened Tomichi Creek Trading Post Cafe where we all opted for salads today, in hopes of staying awake during our upcoming highway slog. 

Stef got fired up for the next 160 miles to Telluride, and then we took off!

Although route 50 was a highway, it was a CO highway, and therefore incredibly beautiful. 

    We took a short break on the side of the road for stretching and Peanut M&Ms (a TAT rider favorite), and decided we would pin it until Montrose, where we could get some gas and ice cream as a reward for the hot highway miles.  

 There was another treat in store for us besides ice cream at the gas station in Montrose – Yves Besancon and his wife, who weren’t just traveling across the country on a motorcycle, but around the word! They began in their home country of France in 2008, and had ridden thousands of miles through Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and more. You can check out Yves’ blog here – http://beubeuverslasie.motorecit.fr

They also had a little Ganesh (remover of obstacles) on their bike that they had acquired in India.   

Telluride was now in our sights, with only 60 or so miles to go. My dad’s good buddy Rube had moved out to Telluride back in the 80’s, and we were excited to bask in his hospitality. My parents and I had visited Telluride numerous times, both in the summer and winter. I had told them when I was in high school it was the only place besides Blacksburg I wanted to live, so I was excited to return, if only for a night ☺️ We also knew that staying with Rube would be awesome!! 

So needless to say we were booking it down the highway as fast as we could…which wasn’t apparently fast enough. About 15 miles out of Montrose we got pulled over for going too slow. That was a first for us all!

Luckily none of us had any warrants out for our arrest so after a quick stop we were on the road again, making sure to pull over any time a line of cars formed behind us. 

As if the day hadn’t been long enough at this point, about 30 miles out we decided to do a quick air filter change, since my bike was having a little trouble keeping up on the hills. 

    It seemed to help and I took the lead as we powered up through the mountains to arrive at 9,000 feet to the gorgeous Mountain Village. Rube was out to greet us with gin and tonic in hand and we gladly dismounted our bikes to enjoy a wonderful evening in this amazing Colorado town, complete with Detroit style pizza and picking up our tires. It was the perfect ending to a long day and a great way to celebrate- we had passed the halfway point on the TAT!


12 thoughts on “TAT Day 19 – To Pass the Impassable Pass

  1. Great write-up! I just procrastinated a good portion of my afternoon away at work reading and looking at every entry! Did they really stop you for going too slow? Doh! Was the altitude hampering the bikes’ performance that much; just wondering since my little TW200 is able to keep up with traffic but I’m at nearly sea-level. Can’t wait to read more! Good luck and happy trails!


    1. Haha that’s a great way to procrastinate! Yea, my bike has been a little slower on the hills but they have all done better than we expected at altitude. A bigger problem is I start to get a speed wobble when I’m over 50mph!


  2. How cool! great photos, and looks like a great time being had by all.
    can’t wait for more posts,
    Your weather window looks favorable, bars up knobs down!!!


  3. Congrats on your progress. There is a lot of humor in getting pulled over for being too slow. So much for smelling the roses. 200 miles is pretty impressive!


  4. Fully enjoying your detailed account of your ride on the TAT! Keep up the great work and enjoy the ride! Looking forward to the remainder!


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