Archive for June, 2009

Texas Rides The Rockies

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Texas rides the Rockies map

I’m frequently asked to help people plan their routes when they’re coming to Colorado to ride, and I’m always happy to oblige.

Last year I posted a series I called “New Zealand Rides The Rockies” where I laid out the day by day rides of a group on New Zealanders planning to come here this year. Unfortunately, the world economic meltdown derailed their plans, at least for now.

However, if you don’t have to fly halfway around the world and you don’t have to rent motorcycles, coming to Colorado to ride is actually one of the less expensive vacations you can take. I can confirm that a good number of people are doing just that.

Among them are Ray and some of his friends from Texas, who are cruising around Colorado right this moment, presuming they didn’t have any last minute glitches. I’m not going to lay this out in the detail I did for the Kiwis but I figured you might have some interest in their plans.

Days One and Two

Ray and friends are coming from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area (I believe) and were riding to Las Vegas, NM, the first night. From there, on Day Two, they were planning to head north to Taos and on up to where they would reach U.S. 160 at Fort Garland. They planned on taking U.S. 160 west to South Fork, then CO 149 over Slumgullion Pass to Lake City, and then the gravel roads over to just south of Ouray. Ridgway was their destination for the night.

These plans were revised considerably when I pointed out to Ray that it would be a much nicer ride to take U.S. 64 west from just north of Taos, via Chama, and then U.S. 84 up to Pagosa Springs. From Pagosa, a run over Wolf Creek Pass would put them at South Fork. I also mentioned that they must be riding dual sport bikes if they were planning on taking that road west out of Lake City.

Apparently they aren’t, so that road was nixed. Instead, they adopted my suggestion of the Chama route and then just continued on through Lake City to Gunnison for the night.

Day Three

Day Three was to be a fairly easy one after a long Day Two. Heading west out of Gunnison they planned to stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and ride the South Rim Drive and the East Portal Road. Then they would make the easy cruise to Ouray and make that their headquarters for two nights.

Day Four

Day Four is planned as a circle route through Ridgway, Placerville, Telluride, Cortez, Durango, Silverton, and back to Ouray. This will take them over Lizard Head Pass and Red Mountain Pass. Red Mountain Pass, of course, is one of the best in the state.

Day Five

On Day Five, Ray and friends are heading north through Montrose and Delta and will then head northeast on CO 92 to Hotchkiss and up and over McClure Pass on CO 133. At Carbondale they will turn southeast on CO 82 through Aspen and over Independence Pass, another of Colorado’s very best.

A run through Leadville and then down Fremont Pass to Copper Mountain will put them at I-70, where they will head east to Silverthorne. They’ll take U.S. 6 up over Loveland Pass and end up for the night in Idaho Springs.

Day Six

From Idaho Springs our travelers will head south on CO 103 up Squaw Pass with a sidetrip to the top of Mount Evans. From the Bergen Park area they’ll head south to Evergreen and on to Conifer where they’ll pick up U.S. 285 for just a short jaunt. At Pine Junction they’ll head south on CO 126 through Deckers and on to Woodland Park and Colorado Springs.

Days Seven and Eight

In the morning of Day Seven, Ray and the rest will make a run up to the top of Pikes Peak, then head back down and blast homeward as far as Amarillo. Day Eight will see them home again in the Dallas area.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
10th Annual V2V: Victory riders ride Victory Highway

Biker Quote for Today

Fun is not a straight line.

New Motorcycle Examiner Takes on Colorado

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Dom Chang, also known as Redleg, is off and running hard as the newest motorcycle Examiner in Colorado. Some of you may already know Dom/Redleg as the blogger of Redleg’s Rides, which is where I met him.

Colorado Motorcycle Travel ExaminerAs you may know, for one year I was the Denver Motorcycle Examiner, and have now become Examiner.com‘s National Motorcycle Examiner. That created a vacancy at the local level so I contacted Dom to ask if he would be interested in the spot. “Heck yes I would,” was his reply.

The folks at Examiner have their own approach to these things, however, which are not always clear to me, so Dom actually ended up as the Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner.

Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me, and I presume it doesn’t matter to Dom. The point is, he’s burst out of the starting gate like a rocket and is putting up a lot of great information about places to ride in Colorado. And Dom is no weekend biker; he rides all the time. Here’s his Examiner bio:

A late blooming motorcycle rider, Dom explores motorcycle-accessible Colorado year round. Averaging 20 thousand plus miles a year on his beemers, he’s a ride-reporting, farkle reviewing, basic motorcycle servicing, solo touring rider and blogger.

He also had this to say in his first Examiner post:

I’ve been motorcycling since the Spring of 2006 and have accumulated over 50,000 motorcycling miles since then. I commute to work on my motorcycles unless there’s ice or snow on the road. I’ve traveled the length and breath of Colorado in search of motorcycling destinations and byways, this information and experience I hope to relate to you in future articles.

Did I mention that Dom is a terrific photographer? Dom shoots pictures wherever he goes and frequently stitches multiple images together to give you great panoramic views. Unfortunately, Examiner does not accommodate his photography the way his blog does, but when he presents one of these panoramas on Examiner he links to the shot on his blog so you can really appreciate it.

So check him out. Blog and/or Examiner, Dom’s sites are good adds to your Favorites list.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
One more sweet motorcycle road in southern Utah

Biker Quote for Today

Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat………..

Bikertv.ca Gives a Taste of Canadian Motorcycling

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

How hard must it be to be a motorcyclist in Canada? I mean, almost the entire country is north of North Dakota, so their riding season has got to be way too short.

BikerTV logoOn the other hand, when they can ride, how incredible must the riding be? There’s the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia. I’ve been there and it’s gorgeous. Then there are the Eastern Seaboard provinces, and everything I’ve read says they’ve got some great riding, too. Quebec and Ontario are also gorgeous.

In other words, Canadians do ride, and in fact, they even have their own television show, BikerTV. It shows on Canadian TV but it is also available on the web. They have a couple young ladies who emcee the thing, and they’re not terribly convincing as in-the-know biker types. They’re more eye candy. But the stories cover a wide range of topics and follow Canadian bikers doing some rides I’d sure like to do.

The show is in its fifth season and they have more online viewers than broadcast viewers: 70,000 vs. 51,000.

It’s worth a look. Who knows, maybe your next trip will be to Canada.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motorcycle control in high winds

Biker Quote for Today

Don’t choose a destination — pick a direction and go.

Big Changes on MotorcycleColorado.com

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

You’ve probably already noticed. At least if you’ve ever been to this blog before.

Hoosier PassAfter four years with the same basic design, we’re making a big change here. The blog has already changed, as you can see, but the Passes and Canyons, Motorcycle Touring in Colorado website will not get its make-over for another day or two.

This has been a lot of work for my brother and for me. He is a professional web designer and I guess he decided it was time for me to have a more professional-looking site. I built and have maintained this thing all by myself all this time. I don’t have the skills to do what he does. I’m a writer; he’s the designer.

Here’s an interesting example of what he’s done. You see this picture in the body of this post? And you see the image across the top of the screen. They are the same picture. It’s the second shot on the Hoosier Pass page.

What I saw as just a shot of the road at the top of Hoosier Pass he saw as a defining photo to make the theme of the whole site. Just crop a lot from the bottom and a lot from the top and you have a guy on a motorcycle with the mountains behind him . . .

When he asked me if I had a high resolution copy of that image I couldn’t understand what he wanted it for. I was impressed when I saw.

So anyway, I hope you think the change is good. There have been a few mishaps along the way and it has been a lot of work for both of us. I doubt you’ll see another major change for at least another four years.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motomarathoners cruising some of the best Colorado has to offer

Biker Quote for Today

When you feel like playing hooky, play it. When the sun is shining, go for a ride. If you need a motorcycle, just buy it. Sooner is better than later.

The Randy Run (Or Was It the Randy Race?)

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Judy and I went on the Randy Run on Sunday. After doing the Broken Wings series on Randy and Joan there’s no way I was going to miss it.

group motorcycle rideIf you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that going on poker runs and such is not something I’ve done much of. My first poker run turned out to be one without motorcycles, due to cold, snowy weather. This was only my second.

The weather was great but I still couldn’t really do it right. We had a conflict. We had tickets to yesterday’s Colorado Rockies game, which they won, for their 11th win in a row. We weren’t going to miss that.

So we gathered at the appointed time and place, greeted folks and chatted a bit, but then in order to get to the game we took off ahead of the group. We barely had time to get to the final destination and then head straight for the ballgame.

The route was nice, down some roads neither of us had ever been on, and we were taking our time and enjoying ourselves. Suddenly I saw in my mirror that a horde of bikes was racing up behind us. I pulled over and waved them around and the Randy Run group, with Randy and Joan in the lead, roared on by. I jumped in behind them and found that I needed to really crank it to keep up with them.

Arriving at the final stop, I heard the guy we parked next to laughing about how they should call it the “Randy Race,” not the “Randy Run.”

So for me, the jury is still out on doing poker runs and all. The truth was, we were having a very nice time riding the route, taking our time and enjoying the scenery. Once we joined up with the group I don’t even remember the roads we took or the countryside we went through. I was just riding to keep up.

I’m going to have to try this at least once more, and try to do the whole thing, without any competing commitments.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Inaugural Motomarathon event now in progress

Biker Quote for Today

If you ride for the rush don’t rush for the ride!

Broken Wings: The Back Story

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

How hard is it to go on after losing a leg in a crash when all you did wrong was to take your eyes off the oncoming car for an instant to check the cross traffic? That was essentially the question I asked Randy and Joan Savely while speaking with them for the series of articles I just posted on Examiner.com.

Randy and his new legWhat I seem to be doing with some regularity lately is working on a story for Examiner and then giving you the background here. That’s definitely the case now.

I met Randy when I joined ABATE earlier this year. I’m in District 10 and Randy is the district rep, which is to say, he runs the meetings. It didn’t take me long to notice that Randy was missing his left leg from the knee down.

One reason I like going on poker runs, going to ABATE meetings, and getting involved in other motorcycle-related activities is that every time I go somewhere I come home with new story ideas. That’s a good thing considering that I write a minimum of five articles every week, frequently more. I smelled a story in Randy.

First, let me make it clear that this is definitely their story, Randy and Joan’s, not just his. When I first proposed the story idea it was Joan who replied that the two of them would be happy to speak with me. Up until then I had been thinking solely of Randy, but it soon became very clear to me that this was indeed their story.

What I hadn’t counted on was how powerfully their story would hit me. I met with them two weeks ago today, expecting to spend less than an hour in the interview. Going on two hours I finally said we ought to stop because there was only so much that a reader will read.

The next day Judy and I left on vacation for a week and on the drive to Utah it was practically the only thing I could speak of. And this was after spending hours telling her about it the night before. The lead sentences quickly formed in my mind and they made it into the story unaltered, even though I never wrote the rest of it until 10 days later:

When everything finally came to a stop, Randy Savely sat up, thinking, “Well, I’m alive.”
A couple moments later he noticed his boot laying in the middle of the intersection.
“That boot don’t come off,” he thought. Then he turned to the driver who had hit him and asked for his belt to use as a tourniquet on his leg.

For two weeks now this story has haunted me (not in a bad way) and has been in my mind almost constantly. Not out of some fear that it could happen to me, that’s not it at all. Probably a lot of it is Randy. Can you imagine having your leg removed by a car and having the presence of mind to put a tourniquet on yourself?

Randy and JoanA funny thing there: I asked Randy if he was wearing a helmet and whether he had any head injuries. No and no. But he told me that he really believes in chaps more than helmets because it was the fact that he was wearing chaps that enabled him to tend to his own needs. They covered up the fact that his foot was gone, whereas seeing a bloody stump may well have shaken him up enough to go into shock.

I could go on and on. As I said, this story has haunted me for two weeks. But I won’t. Go read it yourself. It’s not that I’m such a great writer, it’s that their story is an incredible story. I just can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have had the opportunity to tell it.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
Broken wings: When a biker goes down hard

Biker Quote for Today

Live every day as though it was your last, but ride to make sure it’s not!

Some Great Motorcycle Roads in Southwestern Utah

Monday, June 8th, 2009

When we get out of Colorado, one of our favorite places to ride is Utah. Judy and I spent the last week in southwestern Utah, and although we were there in the car, not on the bike, I spent a good bit of time while we were there scoping the place out for next year’s OFMC ride. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ll be pitching to the guys to convince them this is the trip we want to make. And here’s a map showing the roads we took. Unfortunately, the mapping software doesn’t show the actual roads in some instances due to the degree of zoom, but I’ll try to be sufficiently specific.

map of southwestern UtahFirst off, we blasted out on the interstate to the ski area of Brian Head. This was about 650 miles, which is one of the reasons we didn’t go on the bike. We are definitely not iron butt candidates. We got off I-15 at Parowan and took Utah 148 to Brian Head. It was a nice ride up a canyon, and steep. Up at the town they have a sign telling folks heading down that it’s a 13% grade for the next 10 miles. Of course that spells fun on a motorcycle.

Utah 148 runs on south from Brian Head through Cedar Breaks National Monument. We had never been there before and it was gorgeous. High cliffs looking down on sculpted red canyons. Numerous scenic overlooks. Very nice. Highway 148 connects a little south of Cedar Breaks with Utah 14. We took it first to the west, to Cedar City. More gorgeous canyons and incredible panoramic views. Highly recommended.

On our second full day we again headed south on Utah 148 but quickly turned off heading east on Utah 143. This goes to the very nice small town of Panguitch, and from there we turned south on U.S. 89 just a few miles to Utah 12. This road very quickly comes into Red Canyon and it’s a stunning sight. It portends what you’re going to see further up the road in Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon is fabulous in its own right.

Another 10 miles or so down the road you do run into the road that goes south into Bryce Canyon. This is Utah 63. You have to pay to get into the park, $12 per person for motorcycles, but it’s worth it. Take the road all the way to the end, at Rainbow Point, and then stop at the turnouts and scenic viewpoints on your way back up. They’re all on your right that way, and that’s a lot easier than constantly turning across traffic.

After Bryce we continued on Utah 12 down to Cannonville, where we turned off on Cottonwood Road and headed down to Kodachrome Basin State Park. This is nowhere near as spectacular as Bryce Canyon but it’s a nice side trip if you have the time. The road is paved all the way in.

We rested our tired feet for a day (we did a lot of hiking) and then headed out on a two-day tour of Zion National Park. Back down Utah 148 to Utah 14 to Cedar City, and then south on I-15, until we came to the turn-off for Zion National Park-Kolob Canyons. This is just a short jump off the interstate, about five miles to the end, and you get a spectacular view of a different part of the park than most people see. I never knew it was here. Admission is the same as at Bryce.

Then back on the interstate, down to Utah 17, to La Verkin, where we got on Utah 9. Arriving at Virgin, there was no sign for Zion but Judy had done her research and knew that if we turned off on Kolob Road it would take us up into the park. This was absolutely the highlight of our trip. This road is sensational! It’s a gorgeous ride and the views are the best you’re going to see in this park. And almost no one knows it exists. Well, now you do, so don’t miss out on it if you’re down this way. It’s incredible.

Back on Utah 9, we came to the south entrance to Zion and this is touristville. Springdale has turned into a little Aspen since the last time I was there and you can no longer drive up Zion Canyon, except during the off season. They run frequent shuttle buses and that’s the only way to go. I was not thrilled with the idea at first but when I saw how much nicer it was than the incredible congestion I remember I decided it was OK. But really, I could just about skip this part of the park. It’s nice and all, but I’ve been there a number of times and it doesn’t thrill me any more.

Heading on out of that part of the park you then climb a terrific series of switch-backs and then cross through a long tunnel with numerous windows, opening in the rock walls, until you get outside of the canyon. There is a parking lot right at the east end of the tunnel and a trail that leads back over the hump to give you an incredible view of where you just came from. I strongly recommend this hike. It’s not far and it’s well worth it.

On out of the park on Utah 9 and then north on U.S. 89, until we reached Utah 14 at its east end, and then back to Utah 148 and home to Brian Head. Very scenic the entire way. We loved it. We’ll be back. And I’m hoping the OFMC will be heading that way next year. I do have an ace in the hole with the guys: Mesquite, NV, is just down the road from here about 45 miles and they love to gamble. Utah here we come.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
ABATE sponsors racer in outreach to sportbikers

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes you end up going down the wrong road. That’s an adventure.

Nearly 10,000 Bikers Stopped By Here Last Month

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Oh man, I’m blown away. I track unique visitors to this website each month and last month, May 2009, the traffic nearly hit 10,000. There were 9,754 unique visitors last month, to be exact.

Just to give you an idea of how big that is, the best month the site has ever had before was July 2008, where traffic hit 6,051 unique visitors. I was thrilled in May 2008 when it topped 4,000 for the first time, 4,024, and then it only went up to 4,504 in June 2008.

After four years I know the pattern here. Traffic climbs from December through July and then tapers off. What that means is that this 9,754 record is destined to fall, and soon. And the numbers show it. Already this month, only 3 days and 21 hours in, the total of unique visitors is 1,579. That works out to about 12,000.

This all just blows me away. I built this website out of passion and my own interest, and hoped that at least a few other people would like it and my work would be appreciated. Hitting these numbers leaves me in awe. Thank each and every one of you for your interest. This is so rewarding.

Recent from the National Motorcycle Examiner
A terrific motorcycle sidetrip in southwestern Utah

Biker Quote for Today

HEY! Let’s go ride our BIKES!!!!

Rifle is no longer a drive-through zone; Loveland Pass reopens

Monday, June 1st, 2009

The oil rigs are gone! Motels have vacancies! You can visit Rifle, CO, again!

Judy and I are on vacation in Utah at this moment, so we came through western Colorado the other day and I have to tell you it’s like night and day. A year ago I was advising that anyone considering coming to Colorado to ride not even think about spending a night in the area around Rifle. With gas prices over $4 a gallon, a drive along I-70 at night was like Christmas, with lighted drilling rigs dotting the landscape everywhere you looked. Of course, all those drilling crews had to sleep somewhere, and there was not a motel room available closer than Grand Junction.

What a difference a year makes. First off, we only saw two rigs along the way. The landscape is now dotted with what I take to be pumping stations, where the wells have been drilled and now the machinery is just doing its thing, extracting the oil or gas. You don’t need a lot of people to manage those.

Even more telling are the parking lots of the motels. They’re empty. We stopped at a rest area in Rulison and I asked the fellow tending the tourist center and he confirmed my assumption.

“They’ve all gone back to Oklahoma and Texas,” he said. He told me that at the height of the boom, a new La Quinta was built in Rifle and it was full immmediately. They built an addition and it was full immediately. They built another addition and it was full immediately. Then work was begun on a new Ramada Inn and another motel and work on both has been suspended.

On another note, it appears that Loveland Pass has reopened. I reported last week that it was closed, and the notice from CDOT said they would send word when it reopened. Searching their website it appeared that perhaps the pass was open again, although the main notice page had not been updated with that information.

With that in mind I was all eyes as we came past the turn-off to the pass the other day, and yes we saw traffic on that road. In fact, what we saw was three motorcycles coming down the pass. So now Colorado is truly open for the season.

Recent from the National Motocycle Examiner

Biker Quote for Today
Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to stop for the night.