3 April 2005

                                                David Lawrence
                                                186 S Bear Swamp Rd
                                                Middlesex VT 05602


        Editorial Office
        Vreeke & Associates Inc
        250 E Easy St, Ste 3
        Simi Valley CA 93065

        Dear Editor:

        I've been quite behind on my reading, but finally caught up
        with the Honda Red Rider from May/June of 2004.  In it,
        Clement Salvadori outlines a few different loops, including
        one that ran along the eastern Rockies northwest of Denver.

        What jumped out at me in this particular loop was the comment,
        "If you are of the dual-sport mind, an interesting dirt road
        runs above the [Moffat railroad] tunnel over Rollins Pass,
        from portal to portal."

        Actually the road doesn't quite run from portal to portal.  On
        the eastern side of the Continental Divide, the road goes
        through the Needle's Eye Tunnel, or used to at least.  One
        summer day back in 1990 the tunnel collapsed and has been
        closed to vehicle traffic since then.  Perhaps it is feasible
        to go around the tunnel on a dual sport bike; from photographs
        it does look like this may be the case.  Still, it isn't quite
        the same as just saying that a road goes from portal to portal.

        The real motivation for me writing is that to the best of my
        knowledge, I was the last vehicle to travel through that
        tunnel, and I did so on a motorcycle.  When I was 22 I took my
        first major cross-country bike trip from Troy, NY, to Boulder,
        CO, to join a bunch of motorcycle geeks I'd met on the
        Internet through the Usenet newsgroup rec.motorcycles and its
        parody biker gang, the Denizens of Doom.  The ostensible
        reason for this trip was the Assault on Rollins Pass.  Seems
        one local with a Honda Interceptor had declared he would take
        it over the 4wd-only jeep road and been challenged by another
        member to prove it.  This local bet turned into an international
        event, with a few dozen riders coming all around the US and
        Canada to take part.

        As for me, this predated my getting the Honda religion.  I had
        an unfaired Suzuki GS700E at the time.  (Three liter bike CBRs
        and a VFR800 have followed.)  Try not to let that tarnish the
        story, though; it was my first bike, and a fine bike that
        initiated my love of riding.

        On the appointed day of the ride, I was a bit too exuberant
        and while whooping it up jumping across the water bars that
        frequently stretched along the road on the ascent from the
        east, I hit a rock that sent me end-over-end and split wide
        the side of my engine.  I was ok, but the bike wasn't going to
        be usable for a couple of weeks as a new part had to be
        shipped from a salvage yard in Florida.

        When finally the bike was ridable again, I was determined to
        accomplish the task for which I'd come to Colorado before I
        left for home. Unfortunately I mistimed things and got a later
        than anticipated start and didn't make it to the tunnel until
        after sunset.  Young and foolhardy (as opposed to the way I am
        now, old and foolhardy) I pressed on through the tunnel and
        struggled my way up the 4wd jeep section to the summit.

        Triumphantly I put the bike directly in front of the sign for
        the Continental Divide and walked back a couple dozen feet to
        take a photo of it there, turning around just in time to watch
        it fall to the ground.  I had neglected to deploy the
        sidestand.  There was something poetic about that all, but
        I still haven't determined exactly what the cosmic symbolism was.

        It then being well after dark, I followed the road down to
        Winterpark and then continued essentially along the rest of
        Clement's route to eventually make it back to Boulder.  It was
        quite the adventure.

        The next day I was on the road back to Troy.  When I returned,
        I heard the news ... Needle's Eye had collapsed.  Though I
        have no concrete proof I was absolutely the last vehicle to go
        through the tunnel, the likelihood is high.  It was after dark
        on a weekday evening, and that area is not one that got any
        kind of normal traffic at that hour.  The tunnel reportedly
        collapsed near dawn the next day.

        Oh, the fellow with the Interceptor ... he won his bet.

        Now that I've finished my tale I see that it is quite plainly
        too long to be useful for the Posted Note column, but thought
        you might be interested to read of the memories Clement's
        column brought back.  (As an aside, the introduction for that
        article was a bit peculiar for a motorcycle enthusiast
        magazine, extolling the virtues of riding.  We already KNOW
        the virtues of riding.  Perhaps it would have been better as
        an op-ed piece for the New York Times.)


                                                David C Lawrence