Archive for the ‘Colorado motorcycle rides’ Category

Getting In Some February Rides

Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Rokon wheel in snow

Some people ride even in this kind of conditions. You’ve got no excuse at all not to be riding in this warm weather we’ve been having.

I was out riding Wednesday on that warm February afternoon. Is Colorado a great place to live or what?

As always at this time of the year, I was being opportunistic. It was warm; I rode. I make a point to ride each of my bikes at least once every calendar month and I can check February off the list.

But even if I didn’t have that incentive I would have been out. It’s just too nice not to. It has been quite cold in the morning but by 11 o’clock it has been in the 50s and that’s good riding weather. And there’s no snow or ice on the ground, unlike in that photo above. (I shot that photo at the Elephant Ride a few years ago. Yeah, there was plenty of snow then.)

Riding the fully faired Concours and then the unfaired CB750, back to back, it was pretty dang obvious how much benefit that fairing offers. I was perfectly warm on the Connie but definitely felt a chill on the CB. But I turned on my electric vest and all was just fine. Didn’t even need the electric gloves.

Now, I would hope that this is not the last of my February riding. I see nothing in the forecast that suggests we’ll be snowed in the rest of the month, but you never know. Assuming that doesn’t happen I should be out a bunch more times. I’m really counting on getting a lot of miles under me this year. And I’m not waiting till May to get started.

Biker Quote for Today

Whether rain or sunshine, heat or cold, my bike and I are on the road.

Finding Riding Trails In Colorado

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

The TrailTaker site could be a good tool to spark riding ideas.

I owe Mark Odette on this one. He sent me an email way back in September and I forgot about it, but was digging through old emails today and ran across it.

For those of us who like to get off the paved roads (I include myself generously; since getting my V-Strom I haven’t been off the pavement nearly as much as I wish I had), one topic of interest is where to go to do so. Sure, there are gravel roads all over, but which of them are worth riding, and pack the best bang for your time buck?

Maybe you should check out Click on that link and go to their trails map and then click on one of the markers. That enlarges the map to show an area of the state and if you give it some time the map starts filling in with all kinds of trails.

For instance, I clicked on an area that runs from Lake George on the east to Aspen on the west and Alma on the north to Salida on the south. There are more trails than I can count, colored red, green, and blue. Red is advanced, blue is intermediate, and green is beginner. The legend also shows grey as unknown and black as expert but I don’t see any of those here.

And what are these trails? Well, I clicked on one that runs off US 285 toward the Collegiate Peaks. I’ve been down that road many times and looked at a road going off into the hills and wondered about it. I’m thinking this is that road. The site tells me this is Clear Creek and that it’s 9.18 miles long. It’s blue. Clicking on the “Trail Details” link it doesn’t actually give me that much more information, other than that it’s a gravel road suitable for a passenger car. And there is a link to download a GPS file (.GPX) of the trail. It also notes that the information is not verified because it has been imported from public date provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Many of these trails are like this.

Over to the east of Fairplay, near Tarryall Reservoir, there is the Packer Gulch trail (7.8 miles). Here the blue of the trail actually refers to being intermediate for 4×4 vehicles. For motorcycles it is rated unknown. It calls for high-clearance vehicles and the road is not maintained for passenger cars.

Let’s get to something a bit gnarlier. A little west of Buena Vista, with a southern terminus near Tincup, is the Timberline trail (30.3 miles). This is rated advanced for both motorcycles and ATVs and 4x4s are not permitted. This is listed as Trail Class TC4, Highly Developed. This appears to be a Forest Service designation meaning “high standard trail with significant structures, tread hardening possible.”

So you get the idea. Is that just a gravel road going off to nowhere or is it actually a trail? This site might be just the answer.

Biker Quote for Today

Why bikes are better than women: If your Motorcycle is misaligned, you don’t have to discuss politics to correct it.

Stick These In Your Pocket

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Do thermometers lie? I was out riding on Saturday, a sunny 48 degrees and my fingers were turning into ice cubes. And I was wearing my non-electric winter gloves, with Thinsulate© lining. How could I be so cold on such a warm day?

I understand that the 60 degrees showing on our thermometer out front is not to be trusted because it is sheltered and has a southern exposure. But I trusted the 48 degrees the thermometer out back, in the shade, told me. Of course I wore my electric vest–I never ride without that at this time of year.

chemical hand warmers

Put some of these in your jacket pocket.

So I took off on the V-Strom and hadn’t gone three blocks when I realized I would have been happy to have had long underwear on. Sure I could have gone back but what the heck, I can live with it. So I won’t whine about my legs being cold, although they definitely were.

But then by the time I was gone about five miles my hands were really getting cold. And it was a sunny day! I don’t get it. This is Colorado.

Oh well, I was going for a ride. So I did.

I headed down Jordan Road to Arapahoe Road and turned east. I crossed Parker Road and decided to follow Arapahoe further and see where it went. I knew I’d been out that way before but just at the moment I couldn’t remember. And it did go on straight pretty far, until just before reaching C-470 it started wiggling. Then I remembered, it twists around and then heads north and intersects Smoky Hill Road.

Yep, that’s what it did, but then, where does it go beyond Smoky Hill? I guess I’ll have to find out.

Well, the answer is not very far. It winds around through a shopping area briefly and then dissolves into a housing development, becoming nothing more than a small collector street. And then it just ended where new development is still going on and there are more empty lots than new homes.

I turned south on Titus Way, which quickly brought me back to Smoky Hill. OK, my hands are cold enough, I’m turning right and heading home. It wasn’t as long a ride as I might have liked but at least I did get out. Friday would have been better–it was warmer–but we were just coming home from Grand Junction and I missed the better, warmer part of that day. So I rode on Saturday.

I had a realization though. There I was with freezing hands and while, sure, I could have worn my heated gloves but I didn’t, still, there is really no good reason why I didn’t have some of those chemical heat packs stuffed in my jacket pocket for just this sort of occasion. I have some, and once you buy those things there is no reason not to use them because if you keep them too long they lose potency. Why weren’t they in my pocket?

They are now.

Biker Quote for Today

Missing: Husband and motorcycle. Reward for motorcycle.

Exploring! I Love It!

Thursday, December 7th, 2017
map of my route

My route

With this terrific December weather–and portents of cold to come–I’ve been getting in a lot of riding. And lately that has meant exploring. I love exploring. Generally I just follow my nose and go.

On Saturday I headed out on the Honda with kind of an idea that I might ride up Deer Creek Canyon, cut over by Tiny Town, and then come on back down on US 285. But my plans got thrown off.

First I headed west on Belleview but I had forgotten that a little west of Federal you run into Bow Mar and can’t continue. I jogged north to Quincy and continued west as far as Wadsworth and then turned south on Wadsworth. That got me to thinking, “Where does Wadsworth go, way far south?” I kind of had the idea it came out at C-470 near Chatfield Reservoir but couldn’t remember it all exactly. So I went south.

Sure enough, I crossed under C-470 and there was Chatfield on my left and I was running on south along its western boundary. My (perhaps incorrect) recollection was that this road ran down to Martin-Marietta and to Waterton Canyon, where you had no choice but to go up the canyon, and I was pretty sure that was closed to vehicles. Which is to say, that the road ended. We’ll see. Can you go all the way around Chatfield?

There’s a point where the road bends to the right if you’re going to Martin or you can turn left onto Waterton Road. It looked like it might go through. Sure enough, it goes around the south end of the reservoir/park and hits a T-intersection with Rampart Range Road. Really? I’ve only ever gotten to the Rampart Range via Sedalia. I’m going to have to check this out someday, but for now I was interested in getting around Chatfield Reservoir so I turned left.

Rampart Range Road goes north until it bends right, now heading east. This was now Titan Road, which hits South Santa Fe/US 85 at that fairly new interchange (marked “Titan Road” oddly enough!). So I’d done it. I never knew you could go around Chatfield ever before.

Heading north then on US 85 I was going to just hit C-470 but I came up on Highlands Ranch Parkway and decided to explore some more. I had been on this particular road before but only parts of it. I had no idea where it came out on the other end. Time to find out.

This parkway winds its way through this whole, large development, now passing houses, now passing through massive, sprawling shopping districts with their all-enveloping smell of fried chicken. I passed Lucent Boulevard, then Broadway, then University Boulevard. Where the heck does this thing go?

Well, right after University I found out. It bent sharply north and I suspected I was on a different street. I looked at the first sign I could see and–holy smokes!–I was now on Colorado Boulevard. Really?

OK, so the rest of the way home was pretty standard: Colorado to Orchard, to DTC Boulevard, and home. But that was a fun ride. I went places I’d never been before. Did I ever tell you I love exploring?

Biker Quote for Today

I might look like I’m listening to you but in my head I’m riding my motorcycle.

Exploring Leads To New Things To Explore

Monday, December 4th, 2017
motorcycle on Delbert Road

The end of the city–for now.

I had to take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having in early December so I headed out Friday to put some miles on my Honda CB750 Custom. Not sure where to go but following my nose I decided to follow Smoky Hill Road out as far as it goes–and find out where that is.

Smoky Hill goes a long way. I know I’d been out that way before but at one point I got to where I was pretty sure I had gone east on some other road and so staying on Smoky Hill meant something new. Well, a short while later it ended at the entrance to some big country club housing development. So I wandered on through and found my way out the other side, onto County Line Road. What do you know.

I turned east on County Line and it was just a short distance to the eastern edge of the development, and that was also the eastern edge of development in this area. On east it is all prairie. See the photo above.

That eastern boundary is Delbert Road. I was interested in going south but was just a bit more interested to take it north and see where it went. So I turned north. But it didn’t go far before it became a dirt road and I stopped. I was on the Honda, and the Honda can go just about anywhere as long as it’s not too extreme but this road looked dicey.

Plus, this all looked familiar. I was convinced I had been here before, though having arrived from a different direction. Doing a search on this blog I found this post from January 2016 that confirmed it.

But here’s the thing: when I wrote that post nearly two years ago, I was coming north and ended up going west. That means I’ve never been further east on County Line Road than right there. That’s some place new to go sometime soon.

This time, however, I headed south on Delbert Road, unknowingly reversing my path from last January. I was looking for a paved road headed west so I turned onto Buckboard Road but that soon turned to dirt. No matter, the Honda can take this. I then wound around and found myself right back where I had been, having just navigated a large circle. The area is full of ranch-style homes with lots of acreage–horse properties, I presumed.

Having looped back I ended up going back out the way I’d come in and continued south on Delbert. This brought me to East Parker Road and I headed west to CO 83 and from there on home.

So yeah, technically I was revisiting ground I had been over before but you know what they say about a road looking totally different when you go the other direction. Plus, there has been a lot of development out there in just two years. And who knows, maybe the next time I try following Smoky Hill Road to its end it will keep on going. Heck, five years from now I’d bet on it.

Biker Quote for Today

Whether you are sad, lost, lonely, or broken, there is always a fix . . . motorcycle.

Cold In Them Thar Hills

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
motorcycle in Coal Creek Canyon

Stopped at a more open space coming down Coal Creek Canyon.

I took another potentially “last ride in the hills for 2017” yesterday. The weather was so nice, and I knew the roads were clear, so what else could I do?

While it was very warm in the city, as soon as I turned up Clear Creek Canyon, with the deep shade cast by the steep canyon walls, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. That’s OK, I had my electric vest on and had finally found my misplaced winter gloves, the ones with a Thinsulate lining. I was cool but not uncomfortable.

Cruising up the canyon, however, it soon also got quite windy. When the wind comes howling down a canyon it can really turn into a blow but this was moderate, though gusty. At one point I passed a guy on a Harley heading down the canyon and I was convinced it was Bill. Bill lives right off CO 93 and runs up to Black Hawk to gamble frequently and this guy was dressed like Bill dresses, had the same open-face helmet, and even looked for all the world like Bill. We waved.

Reaching Black Hawk I stopped for a belated lunch and texted Bill. No, he and his wife were busy planting tulip bulbs they had just brought back with them from a trip to Holland.

With a free lunch in my belly and a little extra pocket money, courtesy of the Lodge Casino–thank you very much–I got back on the bike. And I noticed immediately that the temperature had dropped while I was inside. Plus, I was going to be climbing for a while. Thank goodness for the electric vest.

Getting further up on the Peak-to-Peak I was as last in the sunshine, though the wind was whipping. Initially I had considered going all the way to Nederland and the Boulder Canyon road but had long ago ruled that out. And at the higher elevation it was colder and I was now reconsidering my plan to cruise over to the Coal Creek Canyon road to head down. But I’ve been up and down the Golden Gate Canyon road so often lately that I really, really wanted to do a different route. So I blew on past the Golden Gate turn-off when I got to it.

It seems I wasn’t the only motorcyclist who had the idea that this was a day for the hills. This was mid-day on Wednesday but there were still a good many bikers up there.

And it got colder. By the time I reached the turn-off for Coal Creek Canyon my fingertips were getting numb. Thank goodness for the electric vest! And now I could start losing elevation, although I still had to climb up to Wondervu. Would that road be icy? There was melted snow running across the road in numerous places along the Peak-to-Peak and sooner or later that snowmelt would definitely be turning to ice.

But the road was OK and I got over the hump at Wondervu and headed down. And it was really nice to be going down Coal Creek for a change. And despite the cold it was, still, a great day to be out riding.

So I came down to CO 93 and turned south. Of course, this road between Boulder and Golden is notorious for high winds and on this day it lived up to its reputation. I rode close to the right side of the road to give myself all the room possible whenever the gusts would try to push me into the northbound lane. I came through the west side of Golden and past the Taj Mahal then turned south to get on C-470.

It was when I had just crossed over I-70 and the southbound lanes were converging that the most powerful gust of the day blasted me relentlessly across my lane and into the lane on my left. Fight it though I might, resistance was futile and I had only a split second to check my mirror to see that while the car behind me to my left was close, there was room for me in front of him. If he’d been 10 feet closer it would have been hairy.

And oh yeah, it was right after this that it occurred to me that my fingers were no longer cold.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful. Chalk up one more ride in the hills for 2017. Will this one be the last? We’ll see. I’ve got all winter to ride the prairie.

Biker Quote for Today

If you don’t like motorcycles then you probably won’t like me, and I’m OK with that.

Where Does This Road Go?

Monday, November 20th, 2017
motorcycle and dead end

Where Monarch Boulevard ends–for now.

I turned south on Quebec from Belleview, figuring I’d cruise down toward Daniels Park. It occurred to me I’d never much been south on Quebec south of Arapahoe Road so it would be interesting to take it further. Then I thought, “Where does this road go, anyway? Where does it end?” So I decided to find out.

Turns out Quebec goes a lot further. Past C-470, which I knew, but even on past where University Boulevard has bent east and become Lincoln Avenue. Is this going to take me all the way to Daniels Park?

But then a little further, when it hits McArthur Ranch Road (a road I’m totally unfamiliar with) it changes suddenly and is now Monarch Boulevard. And keeps going. From here we’re no longer going straight, but instead curving all over and the further we go the more it curves, even heading due east for awhile. Are we going all the way to Castle Pines Parkway? That’s the road that runs west from I-25 to Daniels Park.

Yes we hit Castle Pines. And Monarch was still heading south. Holy smokes, where does this road go?

Not much further, as it turned out. Yet.

Monarch curved around a bit through a neighborhood and then ended abruptly at the dead end in the photo above. But a sign nearby announced that soon it will be extended into the new Lagae Ranch area now filled with bulldozers shoving dirt around, which you can see beyond the sign.

So I found the end. I headed back to Castle Pines Parkway and went east to I-25 and then wondered where that road goes as it continues east past the interstate. Well, let’s find out.

I think I’d been on this road before, though. It arcs northeastward first above and then in front of the relatively new Rueter-Hess Reservoir, and the road itself became Hess Road apparently just on the other side of I-25. Hess Road, I knew, comes out on Parker Road a little south of the town of Parker.

But I got there and saw Hess continuing east and wondered, “Where does this road go?” I guess I’ll find out.

Hess itself does not go far at all. It almost immediately intersects with Hilltop Road and I knew where that went. It bends south and then east until it hits a north-south road that runs down to Elizabeth.

I didn’t want to go that far and just have to come back so I took the first turn I found, which led me into The Pinery. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in The Pinery but it is labyrinthine and easy to get lost in. But I knew that Pinery Parkway will take you back to 83 so I just meandered around until I hit that road and took it out of the development.

Now I was back on 83 and there was nothing to do but head north and home.

I call that a good ride. I love exploring and finding out where roads go. I’m one of those riders who doesn’t pick a destination but instead, just picks a directions and goes. And I never seem to run out of roads that make me ask that question: Where does this road go?

Biker Quote for Today

Four wheels may get you there, but two wheels will make the journey memorable.

Motorcycle Travel Network Brings More Good Guests

Thursday, October 19th, 2017
motorcyclists taking off gear

John and Cindy on their arrival.

In this era of AirBnB it may not seem as odd as it once did to open your home to total strangers, but that is what the Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) has been about since long before AirBnB ever existed. We have belonged to MTN for years and have been hosts and guests numerous times. We had a chance to be hosts again last week, and as always, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

John and Cindy are from Pennsylvania and they had been on the road on their new 1600cc Beemer for a month, mostly out in Utah. Being from the east, they had never spent time in Utah and were thrilled with the beauty of what they encountered. Of course, those of us who live out west are fully aware of what Utah has to offer. One of the beauties of MTN is that if we were to go to Pennsylvania, I fully expect John and Cindy could direct us to some places we are just as unfamiliar with.

It was a spur of the moment thing. I opened my email that morning and there was a note from them, from Grand Junction, asking if we could host them that night. I quickly checked with Judy, who assented, and I emailed back that we would be happy to have them. They called a few minutes later to ask if we had any route recommendations.

Mind you, this was just after our snowstorm last week so I may have done them a disservice. I mentioned the storm and suggested they just stick to I-70, that they might find Vail Pass covered in snow and ice, which would be bad enough. As it turned out, Vail Pass was totally clear with 60-degree temps. Maybe I should have suggested Loveland Pass. But I have no idea if it was clear then or not.

They arrived and turned out to be really nice folks. You always kind of wonder before you meet someone but we have never had a guest we wished we had not met, and many have been people we would love to see again. Maybe it’s just that the kind of person willing to stay with a total stranger is just going to be on the same wavelength of the person who is willing to open their home to a total stranger. Of course, you always know right from the start that you are going to have motorcycles in common.

As it turned out, we had much more in common with John and Cindy than just motorcycles. And this has been their experience in the group as well. John told us about several good friends of their who they have ridden with many times who they met through MTN. I guess it’s just a good bunch of people.

So come morning we decided to ride with them a ways. They were going to be heading east but staying south to avoid colder weather so we led them out Parker Road down to Franktown and then east on CO 86 to Kiowa. There we said our good-byes and turned north on the Kiowa-Bennett road and looped back home while they continued east.

And you know what? We have another MTN guest coming next week. Oh, boy! This is fun.

Biker Quote for Today

Nobody gives you freedom. If you’re a biker, you take it.

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.