Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Grand Tour - West

This Hard Riding Adventure is all about The George A. Wyman Memorial Grand Tour ride.  I've been working on the Grand Tour Rider's Guide and have a section for each of the GAW waypoints from San Francisco to Cheyenne.  Starting on Wednesday afternoon I'll be visiting all the points along the way to verify the particulars.

Follow along via the BubblerGPS Pro track below or the full SpotWalla Map.  Watch for the pix at points along the way.

After reaching Cheyenne I'll be turning south to Denver to attend the Iron Butt Association International Meeting.  I'm scheduled to give a "dinner talk" about George and his long distance riding accomplishment.  Should be fun!

Tue 8/19:  Fort Steele was the first point along the way today.  Not too far from Rawlins it's right off of I-80.  The park hours are 9am to 5pm during the summer and I got the just as the caretaker was opening 8:20am.  I was able to take a couple of pictures of the bridge foreman's building and the point were GAW may have crossed the river via the old immigrant trail.  From there it was onto Walcott where GAW remained overnight.  I couldn't find the hotel but there were lots of other buildings in the vicinity of the RR. I rode up to Medicine Bow passing several of the other points not accessible by road.  Medicine had a nice depot turned into the local museum.  Headed south to Laramie to the Lovejoy Bicycle Shop location.  Then over the ridge to Summit then down towards Cheyenne.  I was looking for the place where GAW got stuck and helped by SC Schrader (Shaver).  No luck, the whole ranch are had been subdivided into ranchettes.  I got to the Cheyenne UPRR Depot where GAW checked his motorcycle then I headed to the central library to look up where GD Pratt's bicycle shop was located.  Got a 1902 city directory and found it no problem.  The name of his establishment was the Grainger Cycle Company at 1711 Capital the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank.  Dang.....

I left Cheyenne for Denver and the Iron Butt Association International Meeting.

Mon 8/18: Across Wyoming for the next two days.  The riding out of the Salt Lake valley was great.  First of the points along the way was Weber Canyon.  The narrow gap that pilgrims traveled to the Salt Lake basin.  I was following George's tracks going the other way....east!  Got to Echo and checked out the Pilgrim Rock, what's left of it and the Weber pony express location.  Rode past the Devil's Slide rock structure that GAW mentioned....still there.  By the time I got to Evanston it was time for another cup of coffee.  But first, a visit to where GAW slept on a chair for the night.  The Evanston RR Depot, built in 1900, is still standing and completely restored.  I met with Key Rossiter of the Uinta County Museum and she gave me a tour of the Depot as it was closed to the public.  I told her the GAW story and she was very interested in all the details.  Seems her Facebook fans love all this history stuff.  But, anyway, the Depot is divided into two sections, men to the left, woman to the rights. That narrows down where George slept on the chair in the depot.  How about that, I got a picture of the actual room George did an "Iron Butt Motel" stay.

In Granger, where GAW stayed for the night, I was able to locate the building that was the Hotel.  It was donated to the school district in the 1920's but the basic hotel building is still there and intact.  I visited all the points along the way except Spring Valley and Altamont tunnel.  There was no access to either of these except on foot.  At Point of Rocks I spoke with Paul Varley, who's family have been in the area for a hundred years.  The Varley's had a thriving business in Bitter Creek.  I asked him about it and if the road was good.  It was and I went.  Not much circa 1903 structures remain.  Just the water tower and an old section house near the tracks.  But I got the location marked and I was on my way.  Wamsutter was another of those places that have seen better days.  But I did go to the old part of the town and took pictures of the road that GAW rode through on Monday June 1, 1903.

I wanted to find the Continental Divide monument that GAW visited but it had since been replaced and moved closer to I-80.  But, it was fun searching for it.  I stopped in Rawlins for the night.

Fri 8/15:  Over the top of the Great Salt Lake and on to Ogden.  Just five stops today.  Two of these, Tacoma and Terrace, will take me off the paved road.   Both Tacoma and Terrace have BLM information signs on UT 30 where any motorcycle can get to without issues.  But, I'm riding a Dual Sport motorcycle designed for off road riding.  Tacoma was easy being just about a mile off the paved road.  The gravel road out to the Tacoma station sight was hard packed and well graded.  The only indication at the site is a BLM sign with the word "Tecoma" on it and the remains of the Tecoma station foundation  Still is was great to get to the spot GAW rode through.

Terrace was a bit more of a challenge but the pay off was splendid.  A couple miles off UT30 and I intersected the actual RR bed that GAW rode over. It is straight as an arrow right into Terrace.  It was an incredible experience to be in such an isolated place riding in GAW's tracks.  When I got to the Terrace site it was struned with the remains of the once thriving station complex.  There lots of broken bricks where the RR roundhouse stood and I could see lots of other structural remains.  BLM has two "Terrace" information signs and I took close ups of each.  BLM also produces a map of the Trancontental Railroad National Back Country Byway which traces the old RR around the top of the Great Salt Lake.  I was very early in the day and I decided to follow it around just like GAW.  I got about 8 miles and the road was washed out.  So I turned back to the cutoff to UT 30 and took that route. 

Update:  I learned the Zenda siding location is not were I thought.  So, I'm adjusting the location back to my original conclusion at the RR siding near Pioneer Park in Brigham, UT. 

The last two stops on this leg were the UPRR Express Office where GAW picked up his two tires and a gallon of oil.  And, the LH Becraft Bicycle Shop location just a couple of blocks from the Union Station.  Then I headed to Salt Lake City to stay the weekend.

Thur 8/14:  East over the Sierras and on to Nevada.  What a great ride today.  I managed to get to all the GAW points along the way.  I stopped for the night in Wells, same as GAW, and will do all the Utah waypoints tomorrow.  Check out the pictures at the waypoints on the map above.  I also took lots of other pictures with my camera.  At Donner Summit and Palisade I took pictures of the tunnel GAW had to ride through as he followed the tracks.  All pretty interesting.  The Upsal location is not accessible by road so I put an offset waypoint on the highway.  When I got there, there was no place to run off safely.  So, I'll probably change the task to for information only.

Wed 8/13:  Chilling out at the Beemer Shop. The shock install went great and I was back on the road about three.  I headed up the ferry terminal at Vallejo, where GAW spent his first night on the road.  Check the map for the stops I made along the way. I stopped in Colfax for the night, just like George.

Tuesday:  Since I have all day to scout out GAW points I'm riding to Oakland to visit the final resting place of GAW.  Then cross the bay to SF to visit the SF Ferry Terminal east, Lotta's Fountain and the 1903 location of the California Motorcycle Company to take a picture of what's there now.  At Lotta's Fountain I'm going to identify the possible buildings to mount a GAW Memorial plaque if the political track, to get it mounted on or near Lotta's, doesn't work out. 

The Mountain View Cemetery is beautiful!  Very well run and maintained memorial park in Oakland.  I had an excellent conversation with my point of contact at MVC regarding GAW.  They are in the midst of reprinting all their tour documents, brochures and portfolios.  The committee that makes the decisions about who gets into the Famous People locations meets in September.  They are very keen to include GAW and a memorial plaque somewhere appropriate on the grounds. 

After leaving the paying my respects to GAW I headed over the bridge to San Francisco.  Check out the pictures in the map above.  After I finished in SF I dashed down to Scotts Valley to check into a hotel for the might.  Tomorrow, I'm having my ESA shock redone.  On the way down from SF I got to practice my California "lane splitting" exciting!

Sun & Mon:  Left the Wimberley suburbs at noon.  The plan was to ride to Van Horn and stop for the night. But, by the time I got there the sun was still high in the sky so I rode to Anthony at the border.  The temperatures and winds were good on Sunday all across west Texas.  Got an early start on Monday.  The plan is to get to I-5 in California around sundown.  Riding was good with no traffic or construction issues.  But the temperatures started to hit triple digits around Tucson and stayed hot all the way to Banning CA just past Palm Springs.  Got up to 112f for most of the desert starting at Phoenix through Palm Springs.  I styed hydrated with chilled drink in the Under Armor insulated drink bottle and cool water from my insulated CamelBak Antidote system.  With the quick release bladder/hose connection it makes carrying the bladder into a store easy.  Because the 100oz bladder is flexible it fits under a soda fountain ice dispenser with ease. 

I got to Wheeler Ridge, on I-5 around 2000 local time.  Had a veggie Cantina Bowl and bean burrito from Taco Bell.  Checked into a brand new Microtel for the night and all is well. 

This is going to be a leisurely paced trip but I do have sort of a plan.  I'll be posting the blog along the way, using my usual format, of the most recent posting on top. 
  • Sun 8/10 - Tue 8/12:   Make my way to Scotts Valley, CA
  • Wed 8/13:  Wilber shocks installed on the GSA at the Beemer Shop.
  • Thu 8/14 - Sat 8/17:  San Francisco to Ogden UT  Grand Tour scouting
  • Sat 8/17 - Sun 8/18:  Salt Lake City family visit
  • Mon 8/19 - Tue 8/20:  SLC - Cheyenne Grand Tour scouting
  • Wed 8/21 - Sun 8/24:  IBA International Meeting in Denver
  • Mon 8/25 - Tue 8/26:  Ride home to near Wimberley, TX

Friday, August 1, 2014

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project

Memorial plaque, metal, 11 by 8 Inches, raised letters, picture is a zinc etching

Please see:  The George A. Memorial Project

All the content of the Project has been moved to the link above.  Listed below are the major content of the Project web site.

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project, established August 2014,  is a historical preservation and educational tax exempt non-profit organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (ID 47-3332474)  Snail mail:  The George A. Wyman Memorial Project,  P.O. Box 1728, Wimberley, TX 78676-1728