#139x I70 West of Denver: The FUN Interstate!

Fleeter Log #139x
I70 Colorado
Day 30 - Thursday
May 14, 2009
350 miles
 Moab, UT to Denver, CO
Interactive Spotwalla map of this trip

Part of me is ready to get back to fleetering on my own schedule, but I feel a bit glum at watching my friends pack up to go their own way. I reluctantly watch as my MTF friends pull out of the parking lot one by one, or sometimes two by two as they will share a bit of road on their way back home. I know my next destination stop is in Denver, 350 miles away. It is time to have the GS serviced as I have been on the road for about 6,000 miles since leaving Virginia almost a month ago. But my pending visit to Foothills BMW could be today, tomorrow, or even the next day. I just need to decide whether I am ready to leave Moab today or stick around for another day. 

As I take a survey of schedules, I learn that Joe and Deb will be staying another night. This was their first MTF gathering. I have really enjoyed their company and I would like the chance to get to spend some more time with them. I go into the office to negotiate a discounted rate for my room at the Inn as I try to motivate myself to stay another night. Management is agreeable to a reduced rate, but in the end I realize that I am getting itchy from being in the same place for four nights in a row and opt to pack up and roll east. Pulling out of town, I see Joe and Deb walking downtown and stop to let them know of my decision. It's almost 11am by the time I leave Moab. If it is possible, I may be getting weary of the beautiful, breath-taking scenic views. I find that it is possible to get scenic overload after awhile. I think I am ready to get back into the land of green. And I miss trees. I like trees.
I take the River Road out of town and stop at the Historic Dewey Bridge. The skeleton of the bridge had intrigued me a couple days before when riding back into Moab from Colorado Monument in Grand Junction. The bridge was built in 1916. It lasted 92 years before it was destroyed by a fire started by a 7 year old boy playing with matches on April 6, 2008. The cables dangle from the suspension support. There is nothing for them to connect to since the wooden plank surface that made the bridge serviceable has burned to ash.

Getting back on I70 heading east, I enter Colorado near Grand Junction and push on past Rifle. Shortly after Rifle, the Interstate took on a complete different personality! It became a fun road. Hard to believe, I know. It is an Interstate after all. Interstates are generally the conveyance that allows you to travel from coast to coast never leaving the ground, yet seeing nothing of the country. This freeway exception lasts for 150 miles from Rifle to the western suburbs of Denver.

This route was first carved by the Colorado River, then the native peoples of this land used the passage as a way through the mountains. Looking to shorten travel time and move goods to the West during the Great Expansion, the railway came through. Not wanting (or able) to change the topography of the Rocky Mountains, the engineers of the Eisenhower Highway System designed the new Interstate along the same route. Where the fit was tight, with a River and a Railroad already squeezing through the mountains, the new highway went through double stacked.


Some of the topography was more challenging than others. If you can't move it or go over it, and if it isn't practical to go around it, then you must go through it. And so they did.

Interstate 70 in Colorado


The Rocky Mountains are looming ahead. Before the day is gone I will be on the other side of those mountains, thanks to the explorers and engineers that came before me.

Can you imagine crossing those rocky peaks without a paved road sliced though for your convenience?

Vail Pass, Elevation 10,603 ft.
But I will be going still higher.

The I70 rest stop on Vail Pass is at 10,662 feet. This rest stop offers the perfect place for me to switch jackets. The temperatures have dropped significantly as I've climbed into the Rocky Mountains. This comes as no surprise with all the snow around me. I shed the mesh jacket and pull on the heavier textile. It feels so good and warm! Cozy!

The folks at Foothills BMW are very accommodating to travelers and got the GS right in for its 6,000 mile maintenance service. Time for new tires, but it so happens that the correct sized rear tire is not in stock. Turns out that BMW changed the tire size on the new twin from the single cylinder F650GS. Most dealers have not yet realized this detail because they have not had the opportunity to put new tires on this new model GS. Its only been on the road in the US for less than a year so there's not many of the new model owners ready for a new set of tires. Matter of fact, the folks at this BMW dealership said that this was the first one they've seen come in for scheduled service maintenance. I decide to keep the tires I have and try to find the right size tires down the road. I get on the phone and start searching. I also get my friend Sharon, from Chicago, in on the search in her area. My original tires are the Trailwings. They are showing wear at 7,900 miles, but still have plenty rubber left to get me across the plains. I'm bound to find a set of the right sized tires in Omaha, Chicago, or somewhere in Ohio.
I've already made reservations with a hotel down the road a few exits and the nice service writer at Foothills BMW gives me a ride there. I have supper at the Lone Star Restaurant next door then get welcomed into the Comfort Suites with an official Welcome Bag. The bag contains a bottle of water, snacks, etc all tied up with a nice ribbon. Nothing extravagant, but such a nice gesture. What a nice surprise!

 Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs


  1. Another excellent post . . . thank you so much for bringing us with you :)

  2. Thanks, Wendy. Always my pleasure!

  3. Don't you just love the name "Rifle" for a town? I turned north there on my Bear Tooth ride a couple of years ago. Like you, I'm very fond of Moab, Utah. Great scenery and great people. I was sorry to see the story about the bridge. I went through there I think in 2005 and remember that bridge very well.

    Great country! Thanks for the ride.

  4. WOW! Very nice, you are getting so good with this blog. Very professional
    Enjoy your trip Bill and Judy