Archive for the ‘Colorado motorcycle rides’ Category

Riding In The Waning Days Of Summer

Monday, October 16th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

Summer is waning and there won’t be many more rides like this this year.

I was heading up Clear Creek Canyon when it started to rain. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that my rain suit was in the bag on the Honda. I was on the Concours. Not going to do me any good now.

No matter, it never rained hard. In fact, it was pretty cool. They were tiny drops and so rather than plummeting to earth they danced on the breeze, hanging semi-suspended. With backlighting from the sun, each individual drop was visible and scattered color around in a zillion mini-rainbows. I had my visor slightly cracked and so the moisture was coming in and wetting me around my mouth, which was also pleasant. Felt good.

It wasn’t long, though, before I was reminded that my number one job at the moment was riding the bike. A sharp curve brought that focus back very abruptly. Oh yeah, first things first.

As I climbed through the canyon I paid attention to the steep rock walls. Many years ago I became jaded, having been through this particular canyon so often that I lost all sense of its beauty. That appreciation has come back to me, however, and with the weather as it was it was particularly beautiful that day.

All along the road there were cars pulled over and people hiking and climbing and generally enjoying the day in the canyon. My focus was spread wide to take it all in. Then I passed into Tunnel 2 and was struck with the abrupt constricting of my focus–the literal reality of tunnel vision. No wide-ranging view, just the road ahead of me. I don’t recall it ever striking me with that force before.

Gaining in elevation as I was, it was getting cooler. This was the first time this fall I have used the electric vest and I was glad to have it on. And this was just a harbinger of the ride I took up Guanella Pass a couple days later. Summer is over. Pretty soon, chilly days like this are going to seem balmy and demand that I ride. Right now I’m just trying to take advantage whenever I can.

Later as I was headed home it occurred to me that I would be just in time to stop and have dinner with the RMMRC. Only one more big ride left this year and the next few meetings will be focused on rides for next year. I had planned to go on a bunch of them this year but family matters conflicted and those rides mostly didn’t happen.

The year is coming to a close and now my sights are on the future. I’m looking forward to a good 2018.

Biker Quote for Today

All I care about is riding . . . and like maybe three people and beer.

Last Ride In The Hills This Year?

Thursday, October 12th, 2017
motorcycle in the mountains

A beautiful day on the pass, even if I was too late for fall colors.

Sunday was warm and sunny, and you could still ride up onto Guanella Pass. I know, because I did. By Monday, not true. This may have been my last ride in the mountains in 2017.

I had been wanting to get up in the hills to enjoy some of the fall color but with my Mom ill I had been in South Carolina for awhile. Then I got back and we had almost two solid weeks of overcast and rain–not at all like typical Colorado weather. Finally the sun came out but other demands kept delaying me, until I realized it was Sunday or not at all. I geared up and headed out.

Not that I really geared up sufficiently. Heading out of town across Hampden/U.S. 285 I was already getting chilly but I did have my electric vest on so I flipped it to on. I was wearing long underwear and had multiple layers on top, but only my least warm gloves. And I had intended to wear my leather chaps but forgot them as I got ready.

No matter, the vest really did the job. With it pumping out heat, everything else abated.

My intention was just to run up Guanella Pass from the Georgetown side and then back the same way. I had other things I needed to do at home and going down to Grant and home on 285 would have taken a lot longer. But I began reconsidering as I saw all the traffic streaming down on I-70 and realized it was the dreaded Sunday afternoon. Maybe I better rethink this.

Off I-70 at Georgetown and starting up the pass. I didn’t really know for sure if the road was clear or if maybe it had ice on it at places. Turns out it was completely free of that kind of slippery stuff but in all — and I mean all — of the switchbacks there was plentiful gravel, obviously spread there to improve traction–for cars, not motorcycles. Take it slow; not a problem.

The V-Strom is a fun bike to ride on twisting mountain roads. It is (relatively) light and agile and every time I got clear of traffic in front of me I was able to whip it (except on the switchbacks). This is what makes riding in the mountains so fun. There were very strong winds in just a few spots but not for the most part. What caused those isolated blasts? Heck if I know.

So before I even got to Georgetown I knew I was too late for any color up on the pass, but there was snow alongside the road and on the hills, so that was a different kind of beauty. And the top of the pass is particularly scenic, as you can see to an extent in that photo above. Still worth the trip, especially if the real purpose of the trip was just to go for a ride.

I did decide to go back the way I came and then I was surprised to find that the dreaded Sunday afternoon traffic was absent. Maybe because Monday was Columbus Day and a holiday for some, and/or maybe because it is mud season, where it is too early to ski but too late to camp or do so many other summertime mountain activities. Whatever the reason, I blasted back down into town rarely going slower than 65. Often a good bit faster.

All in all, a nice day on the bike.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to ride in the rain.

Riding The Smokies–In Colorado

Thursday, September 7th, 2017
smoke in Colorado mountains

No, this is not the Smoky Mountains, these are smoky Colorado mountains.

Forest fires in Routt County, up around Steamboat Springs, have cast a haze over the Front Range and Denver. I decided on Wednesday to take a ride up into the hills to see what it’s like up there. As you can see from the photo above, taken along the Squaw Pass road, the Colorado Rockies at this point look very much like the Smoky Mountains out in Virginia. Which just goes to show how well-named the Smokies are.

I headed west out on Hampden, through Morrison, up the canyon to Evergreen, Evergreen Parkway to Bergen Park to the turn-off to Squaw Pass. Yes, it was hazy but what a beautiful day to be riding in the mountains.

Heading up the Squaw Pass road I found that the apparent theme for the day was large vehicles coming the other way encroaching into my lane coming around curves. I rode very defensively. At first I was looking for just a place to get a photo where instead of mountains in the background, as per normal, there was only haze. Then I came on the overlook with the view back toward Evergreen. That’s where I got this shot. I was not the only one stopped there to get pictures.

I continued on past Echo Lake and was headed toward Idaho Springs, when, not having been watching my rearview mirror, I was startled when a couple guys on big adventure bikes and another on a big BMW touring bike suddenly blasted past me. Wow, what are you guys in such a big hurry about? It’s a day to just cruise in the hills.

So I got to Idaho Springs, jumped on the interstate just long enough to reach the exit for the Central City Parkway, and headed to Central City. Stopped for lunch and then down through Black Hawk, over to US 6, and down through Clear Creek Canyon to Golden. Then home. What a nice day’s ride.

Biker Quote for Today

There are seven days in the week and “someday” isn’t one of them.

A Ride With A Motorcycle Travel Network Guest

Monday, July 10th, 2017
Map of our route.

Our route.

It strikes me as odd realizing this but I’m pretty sure that with all the various Motorcycle Travel Network guests we have hosted, I had never before gone riding with any of them. Until this past weekend.

Carolyn called about mid-week to ask if we were able to host her for two or three days beginning either Friday or Saturday. She was in Spearfish, SD, at the time and headed our way to go on to Colorado Springs for a Women on Wheels event there. And she also asked if it would be possible for us to go for a ride with her, showing her some of our favorite places to ride. OK, it’s a plan!

She got in on Saturday later in the day and on Sunday, with Judy not joining us, we headed out, her on her 950cc Star cruiser and me on my Concours. We went out Hampden/US 285 to C-470 and north. I wavered all this time as to whether we should go up Clear Creek Canyon or something else. I figured she would enjoy Clear Creek but I wondered how busy it was. This was, after all, the Fourth of July weekend.

So we got to US 6, Clear Creek Canyon, and made the turn. We had gone about 100 yards and came to a stop and it was clear that traffic ahead of us was not even moving. We quickly did a U-turn and headed back, turned north again, and took the Golden Gate Canyon road up to the Peak to Peak Highway. I was afraid it might be busy, too, but it was fine.

Originally my plan was to go to Estes Park for lunch before heading back but thinking about the holiday I decided instead to turn east down the South St. Vrain to Lyons. While that’s a very scenic canyon, there was very little traffic. All the traffic, we could see when we reached Lyons, was going up to Estes via the North St. Vrain. And coming down it, too. Terrible, terrible traffic.

So from Lyons we headed south on US 36 to Boulder, crossed through Boulder on Broadway, and continued south and back to Golden. Then I got the idea to go up Lookout Mountain. Carolyn is sort of from Ohio, sort of from South Carolina, and the tight turns on the Lookout Mountain road were a bit challenging for her but, with the exception of the first one, she managed to stay on her side of the line.

We enjoyed the view from up at Buffalo Bill’s grave and then continued on that road over to I-70/US 40. No reason to get on I-70 with US 40 right there so we rode it down to where the road down to Morrison crosses under the interstate and took that road to Morrison. Then east to pick up C-470, US 285/Hampden, and home. Total 171 miles and a really nice ride up in the cool on a very hot day.

Biker Quote for Today

Forget glass slippers, this princess wears motorcycle boots.

Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Bikes

Monday, April 17th, 2017
motorcycles on the road

It’s the time of year to head for the hills.

Saturday was my first day on a bike up in the hills this year. I was not alone.

I headed out with a group of five others from the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club, three Gold Wings, two Kawis (including mine), and one Ducati. Pretty soon, though, Donnie got impatient with the traffic and blasted off on his own, leaving five of us.

We headed out on Parker Road, CO 83, all the way down to Colorado Springs. That part of the ride itself was pretty interesting because I realized it had been a long, long time since I’ve gone all the way to the Springs on that road. I had forgotten how beautifully Pikes Peak rises up in front of you as you get down south. I was seriously wishing I had my camera with me to get a shot of the rider in front of me set off against the mountain.

Oh, and I want to mention that by this point we had already seen many dozens of other riders. This was a day to be out on the bikes.

Reaching the Springs we jumped on I-25 briefly until we reached the exit for US 24, which goes up through Manitou Springs, past Pikes Peak, to Woodland Park. Here again I was struck with the realization that I had not been up this road in this direction in many years. I know I came down it somewhat recently but all roads look different when you’re going the other way. So it was almost like going down a road I’d never been on, especially coming into Woodland Park.

Normally my experience of Woodland Park is to come in on CO 67 from Deckers and turn west when I hit US 24. So there’s that whole portion of Woodland Park east of CO 67 that I almost never see. Holy smokes, there’s a whole town there.

The whole deal with these RMMRC impromptu rides is generally “Ride to eat, eat to ride,” so we stopped for lunch in Woodland Park. Ross, who was leading on his Ducati, pulled into a bank parking lot. I thought that was odd, that the bank might object, but he said he parks there all the time. And considering how huge this lot is, it’s hard to see how the bank could object too strenuously.

We had lunch at the Ute Inn. The service was slow but I still recommend it because the food was definitely good. I enjoyed what I had but I looked enviously at what some of the other guys had, too.

After lunch we headed up CO 67 through Deckers and on to Pine and US 285. Then back to Denver on that road. This was my first time in the hills this year and I guess I knew it could get chilly but I didn’t wear the electric vest. I could have used it, though it was not very chilly without it. Still, it was nice to get back to lower elevations and warmth.

And oh, everywhere we went in the hills there were hordes of bikers, too. Seemed like everyone was out. I guess winter is definitely over. Time to start putting some real miles on the bikes.

Biker Quote for Today

There exists a set of people who believe 2 > 4.

Examiner Resurrection: Motorcycle Rides Retracing Vanished Highways

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Riding your motorcycle on old Route 66 from coast to coast. Retracing the route of the old Victory Highway. Nostalgia has never been more in vogue than it is right now for bikers exploring this country’s vanishing old highways.

Indian motorcycle

An Indian motorcycle at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum.

The problem with many of these higher profile rides, such as Route 66, is that to do them end to end you need a lot more time than most people have. But hey, everyone’s doing Route 66 these days, in whole or in part. Why follow the crowds?

The fact of the matter is, before everything got all depersonalized with route numbers, highways had names. And there were a lot of highways, some that you may be familiar with and many that you’ve probably never heard of.

For instance, growing up in Lincoln, NE, I was well acquainted with Cornhusker Highway. Not because it was a clearly defined highway that started somewhere and ended somewhere else, but just because it was the name of a particular road.

Likewise, living in and around St. Louis I was familiar with Kingshighway. Was there a story behind that name? You bet. Did I know a thing about it? No way.

But now we have the Internet. And one of the greatest things about the Internet is that many, many people put a lot of time and effort into putting up a wealth of information about whatever is of interest to them.

It’s not surprising, then, that someone has put up a site with details about old highways all over the country. Dave Schul has built a North American Auto Trails site where you can learn about more highways than you probably knew existed. Interested in the Black and Yellow Trail? This road runs between Chicago and Yellowstone National Park. The site doesn’t have a lot of information about it but it shows the towns that it passed through and gives links to sites where you can learn more. It’s a starting point for your own exploration.

How about the Detroit Lincoln Denver Highway? Just as the name suggests, this old road ran from Detroit to Denver, passing through Lincoln.

And then there’s my old acquaintance, the Cornhusker Highway. Turns out this road ran from Sioux City to Oklahoma City. I never knew that. It was always just that road up on the north side of town.

Then there were the smaller highways, confined to just one or two states. For example, the Mayo Trail was a route that just ran between Ashland and Jenkins, KY. Is it still there? What does it look like today? Are there any surviving road signs or monuments along the route? This stuff can be very cool to investigate and explore, and it can add an interesting element to your rides.

There are a lot of other, related sites out there. I ran across one focusing solely on the old highways in Colorado, which I definitely plan to explore. In fact, I spent three days last week out doing exactly that. Now I’ve ridden parts of old US 6 that probably don’t see 10 vehicles a week.

Try it. You just might get addicted.

(Note: Dave Schul’s site does not appear to be there anymore. Fortunately, all these pages are preserved–for now–by “The Wayback Machine,” which is an internet archive.)

Biker Quote for Today

I ride so I don’t choke people.

Incredibly Warm February Means More Riding

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
motorcycles in Kiowa

A quick stop in Kiowa.

How warm has it been this February? Well, for starters, riding across the Cherry Creek Dam I see that there is very little ice on the reservoir. It’s mostly open water. I’ve never seen that before. Not in February.

So I’m starting to get a feel for these impromptu RMMRC rides: Any time the forecast is for a gorgeous day (at least in the middle of winter) you can count on someone planning a ride. The forecast for Tuesday was 75 degrees. Sure enough, there was a group going out.

Five of us met up: Maynard on his Kawasaki ZRX 1200, Roy and Bob on their beemers, Pat on his Concours 14, and me on my V-Strom. We headed east out Quincy, which becomes County Road 30, to the Kiowa-Bennett Road and north to U.S. 36. Then east to Byers. We stopped for lunch at the Country Burger cafe.

This is apparently a frequent stop for these guys; the guy running the place said welcome, haven’t seen you for a couple months, and knew exactly what Roy takes in his coffee (honey). So we ate and talked about riding and upcoming rides. Roy is leading the ride to the Barber Motorcycle Museum, which I’m considering going on, and I voiced my concerns about several very long days.

Roy assured me it isn’t bad, that they start very early and then take several extended breaks during the day. I know that’s the best way to cover a lot of miles. I’m still undecided about going.

Meanwhile, the guy at the cafe was very gregarious and likes to talk about motorcycles. He doesn’t ride but he works the track out at High Plains Raceway just east of Byers. He told us about seeing a couple riders go down wearing these inflatable jackets that are triggered when you separate from the bike. Very effective, he said. High-speed get-offs and no injury.

The coolest thing, though, was while sitting there eating, facing toward the window, I happened to spot a bald eagle cruising by outside. Absolutely no question what it was, it was totally identifiable. Who knew they had bald eagles in Byers?

After lunch we backtracked as far as Quincy and the Kiowa-Bennett Road but then we continued south to Kiowa, then west to Franktown, and finally back into Denver. Just a nice ride-to-eat, eat-to-ride day out on a balmy February day.

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re a biker when you recognize your friends by the sound of their exhaust.

RMMRC Ride Plans

Monday, February 20th, 2017
RMMRC rides upcoming

All the planned rides are listed with details on the RMMRC website.

Yes, I know I’ve written quite a lot recently about the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club but I’m doing so one more time. There should be other topics coming along after.

What I want to do, however, is go through the list of planned rides the group has coming up this year. I know I talked about potential rides awhile back but the list of actual rides was just released recently. Here it is.

Big Bend National Park, Texas Ride — departs April 6 and returns April 14

Forney Transportation Museum — day ride on April 15

Pilgrimage to Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Via the Ozarks and Mississippi Delta! — departs April 29 and returns May 7

North Central New Mexico Ride — departs May 24 and returns May 28

Pie Ride — just what it sounds like, on June 3

Kit Carson Carousel / Burlington, CO — day ride on June 10 to see this very old-style carousel

Mesa Verde National Park — departs June 16 and returns June 18

45th BMW MOA International Rally – Salt Lake City, Utah — departs July 11 and returns July 16 — not just for BMW riders

Wind River Canyon / Beartooth Highway — departs July 21 and returns July 23

3rd Annual Mountains of Ice Cream Ride — again, just what it sounds like, a day ride on August 5

Gateway Auto Museum & Black Canyon — departs August 19 and returns August 21

Eastern Canada Tour — departs August 24 and returns September 4 — this is the big one; these dates are only for part of the trip

St. Francis Motorcycle Museum – First Annual Rally — a day ride to a new rally, on September 2

14th Annual KTM ADVENTURE Rider Rally – Crested Butte, CO — September 15 to September 17 — another not-just-for-KTM event

Roy’s Mystery Ride — a truly fun day ride on October 7

Fall Colors in the Ozarks — departs October 21 and returns October 27

So OK, I don’t know about you but there are a bunch of rides there that sound pretty darn good to me. We’ll see which ones I actually make it on. It’s going to be an interesting year of riding.

Biker Quote for Today

When life gets complicated, I ride.

Another February Day To Ride

Monday, February 13th, 2017
motorcycles in gas station

Stopping for gas in Limon. It was 82 degrees there on this February 10.

And just that quickly I went on my second impromptu ride with members of the RMMCR. After a group of eight of us went out on Tuesday, a group of five headed out on Friday, which was even warmer, though much windier.

The plan this time was to meet “at the gas station” at C-470 and Santa Fe. Of course, there are two stations there, but for whatever reason I figured it was probably the Diamond Shamrock. I pulled in and only saw one bike but went ahead and got gas. Then I pulled over to that guy and asked if he was with the RMMRC and he said no, that I probably was looking for the large group over at the other station. Sure enough.

And it was a larger group. I parked and walked over to the one guy I recognized and was informed that actually, this was two groups, both meeting in the same place. After waiting awhile longer for more people to arrive we took off. There were five of us: Linda on a Beemer, Mark on a Beemer, Donny on a Gold Wing, Ric on a Harley, and me on my V-Strom. Destination: Limon, but by a very roundabout route.

We headed south on Santa Fe/U.S. 85 to Sedalia and then cut over to CO 105 down to Palmer Lake. I expected we would turn right into Palmer Lake and go on to Monument, then continuing east on 105. No, we turned left, with me thinking that doesn’t make sense because that road would just take us back north up to Larkspur and I-25 at a point where there are no paved roads east. Guess what? After going left just a few yards we turned right again, crossing the railroad tracks, and headed east on what the map now tells me is County Line Road, between Elbert and El Paso Counties. I’d never been on that road; didn’t know it existed.

That road is straight as can be, so no thrills there, but it turns out to be the most direct route from I-25 to Palmer Lake. Who knew? When we crossed I-25 I recognized where we were as I have been east from that interchange. This took us into the Black Forest area and through some zig-zagging we eventually came out on U.S. 24 heading east out of Colorado Springs. Once again, this was a new road for me.

U.S. 24 actually heads in a northeasterly direction, passing through Peyton, Calhan, Ramah, Simla, and Matheson, on to Limon. We stopped for lunch in Simla.

Along the way I had been confused. I was second in the order and looking back it seemed at times that there were six of us, not five. I couldn’t be sure. Pulling over in Simla, there were definitely six. Donny, who had been bringing up the rear, introduced us to Larry. Larry was late meeting some folks but knew they usually headed south on 105 so he blasted along hoping to catch up with them. He caught up with us and thought at first we were his group. By the time he realized we were not it was too late and Donny told him to join us. So he did. Larry was on a really nice, new Concours 14.

At lunch I had a chance to start getting acquainted with these folks. Mark is a semi-retired geologist. Donny pours concrete. Everyone else, including Larry, is pretty much retired. Ric and Linda are newly an item and were like a couple of teenagers in love. And as at breakfast on Tuesday, there was much talk about the upcoming RMMRC rides for the year. I’ll go into detail about those another time.

We headed on to Limon and stopped for gas and from here people started peeling off. Donny just jumped on the interstate to blast back to town. The rest of us headed north to pick up U.S. 36 and take the two-lane back west. Coming through Calhan earlier we had seen a lot of wind turbines but that was nothing compared to what we rode through heading north out of Limon. We rode for miles with turbines all around us; at one point you could look in any direction and see turbines as far as you could see. I’ve never seen a wind farm that big. Mark tells us the wind farm he is doing some consulting on is four times as big.

Hitting U.S. 36, Ric kept heading north on CO 71. I have no idea where he was going but that roads continues on to Brush at I-76. The rest of us headed west into Byers and stopped there briefly to stretch. Linda said she was getting on the interstate and took off. Mark, Larry, and I went into Byers and continued west on U.S. 36, which quickly crossed under I-70 and stayed north of the interstate from then on.

Due to some misunderstanding on my part, I left the threesome heading toward Bennett and found myself on the interstate. No problem, it would better for me to go to Watkins and south from there anyway. I passed under the Bennett overpass and shortly afterward glanced in my mirror to see Larry right there behind me. While Mark had headed south on the Bennett-Kiowa road, Larry had decided to take the interstate, too.

We went south on the Watkins road and turned east on Jewell. Larry headed south at Tower Road and I continued on to I-225 and home. Altogether I covered 250 miles that day. That’s a pretty good little jaunt, especially in February.

Biker Quote for Today

Here is the complete list of why you should not ride your motorcycle:

First Impromptu Ride With RMMRC

Thursday, February 9th, 2017
motorcycles in Kiowa Colorado

Ain’t it grand that February 7 can be a perfect day to ride!

February 7 and temps in the 60s. Clear and sunny. What a perfect day for a ride. I got a notice of an impromptu ride with some members of the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club (RMMRC) and I went.

While the RMMRC sponsors numerous planned rides during the year, for those who can head out on short notice in the middle of the week there are additional “hey, let’s go for a ride–now!” opportunities. If anything, I’ve figured these are more likely to be to my interest than some of the others. I have the availability and I have the inclination.

So we met up at Performance Cycle, just off Dry Creek Road, at 9:30. It surprised me how busy and unpleasant I-25 still was at that time of the morning. There were eight of us altogether, mounted on three Kawasakis and five beemers (I believe–not completely sure of the fifth).

The initial plan had been to head up toward Palmer Lake but a couple of us had things going on later that conflicted. We both said we’d just peel off when the time came but the guys organizing this ride put their heads together and came up with an alternate run. We headed out to Kiowa.

As I’ve learned, if you go south and east out of Denver you get into some really pretty country down along the Palmer Divide. Kiowa is south and east of Denver. And I had been out to Kiowa last year and found a really nice place to eat, Patty Ann’s. Turns out I’m not the only one who knows this place because Patty Ann’s was our destination.

Being as how this was my first group ride with the RMMRC I was interested to see what it would be like. I know the group puts a strong emphasis on safety but I also know some groups carry it a bit too far, at least by my estimation. That was not the case here; it was just a ride with a bunch of guys who rode intelligently, and safely. Totally comfortable.

I’m new to this group so I’m still getting acquainted and learning names. This late breakfast (early lunch, for me) was a really good time to get further acquainted with some folks and I have to say they seemed like a really nice bunch of guys. We ate and shot the bull and told riding stories. But mostly we talked about the upcoming RMMRC rides this year. Recruitment efforts were directed at the new guy. No problem, guys, I’m definitely going to be joining you on the rides I can.

The food was eaten but the talking was not done when I needed to leave to get home to meet with a contractor who was coming over to spec out some remodeling work we want done. I said my good-byes and headed out. And it was still a perfect day to ride.

You can sign me up for that kind of thing any time. In fact, there is another impromptu ride already planned for tomorrow. Supposed to be a high in the 70s. Hot diggety!

Biker Quote for Today

No one hates winter like someone who has a motorcycle sitting in the garage.