Archive for the ‘Dual sport bikes’ Category

The Article I Want To Write

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Riding Off The Pavement

I just have to get out to places like this more.

I have my Google Alerts set to pick up articles with the word “motorcycle” and today it brought me to an article I find particularly interesting. Titled “On Motorcycles, the Real Fun Begins When the Pavement Ends,” it’s by a guy who is an experienced street rider who is not so experienced off the pavement. Kind of like me.

And what this guy did sounds like something I probably ought to do. He took his KLR 650 off for a few days in the mountains and just did it. The first day out he wiped out several times and had his confidence badly shaken, but he perservered and by day three, he writes, “By the third morning, the bike feels dialed in. . . . Off-road, headed up a rock-and-mud slope, I push maybe a little too hard and almost lose it a few times. Almost.”

He got it. You just have to do it until you’ve got it. I do understand this. This is exactly the sort of article I’m going to write some day–just not today. Not yet.

I remember when I first started riding seriously. I knew better than to take a passenger at first but eventually I did. It was not comfortable. I was pretty comfortable with the bike by that time but with a passenger it was different. I don’t want to be responsbile for someone else, someone who has trusted me, getting hurt.

It all changed after John and Bill and I went on our very first OFMC trip. By the time I had lived on the bike for a week, with luggage strapped on, putting a passenger on back there was not even a question. I got it.

Later, when I bought the Concours, I was very uncertain about it for a long time. It is just so tall. I was used to being able to plant both feet firmly, flatly on the ground. Not on the Connie. In the beginning I only rode that bike wearing my boots with the highest heels, to give me that extra bit of assistance.

Once again, the only real answer was to ride the thing. It wasn’t a clear-cut moment as it had been with the Honda and passengers, but gradually I got used to the height of the bike. I learned to be comfortable with that height and now I don’t hesitate to ride in sneakers if that’s what I have on. It’s just no big deal. I got it.

So now I’ve got this V-Strom. I’ve done a fair amount of riding off-road, even went over Cinammon Pass a few years ago on a similar V-Strom. And yes, I’ve gone down, and even got tossed head over heels one time. (It’s amazing how a bike can just flip you like a rag doll.) But it hasn’t been enough. I haven’t got it yet.

But I will. I’m just getting started. I swear the day will come when I’ve got this, too. I’m just not there yet.

Biker Quote for Today

It takes less time to do things the hard way than to be too nervous to even start at all.

Adventure Motorcycling Business Growing in Colorado

Monday, July 7th, 2014

That sales floor was pretty empty on Saturday but by the grand opening on Friday it should be full.

The growth in the number of outfits in Colorado renting off-road capable motorcycles–dual-sport and adventure bikes–has been startling in recent years. We have definitely been discovered.

Now for a twist: One of these outfits–House of Motorrad–is adding a retail store to its rental business. Although the store is already open, as of Saturday there was not much stock in the store, but owner Ben Kriederman says things have started arriving and by the grand opening on Friday he expects the sales floor to be full. In the meantime, he got his stock of bags from Wolf Man and has already had to reorder a few items.

The store is located at 5446 Conestoga Court, in Boulder, which is just off Arapahoe at 55th.

(For full disclosure, Ben has done some advertising with me previously on the Passes and Canyons website, and has an ad up now promoting his grand opening.)

The shop is still a work in progress, too, or at least it was when I was there. That particle board you see on the right in the photograph will be replaced with a glass garage door that will allow bikes to be rolled in and out. Not shown, but directly opposite that is the work area where bikes will be serviced. Ben has no intention of doing major work, such as engine replacements, but if you want to have tires put on or your oil changed he’ll do that.

The shop will be focused strictly on adventure bikes and gear for them. That said, if you want to order parts for other bikes through House of Motorrad that can definitely be done. The sort of gear that will be stocked includes helmets, jackets, gloves, boots, Butler maps, Garmin GPS units, bluetooth communicators, GoPro cameras and the like. Also with a focus on adventure riding, Ben will stock tents but not a lot else in the way of camping gear. I spoke to him about a JetBoil one-burner camp stove, which we see as filling our two-up motorcycle camping needs, and he suggested I go to REI. Ditto for more-compact sleeping bags.

While the store gets off the ground, the rental business is doing quite well. As of Saturday Ben had 20 bikes in his stable, though he said that changes constantly–the day before he only had 19. They are all BMWs, Triumphs, and KTMs. How well are rentals doing? So far this year he has had four riders who took bikes out for more than 25 days. These were all folks from other countries coming to the U.S. to do some serious riding. Most of the rentals are for shorter periods but he only had five in the shop when I was there.

He’ll be renting pretty much the entire fleet as chase vehicles for the USA Pro Challenge Professional Cycling Race in August, and Edelweiss Tours will be hosting its first Colorado adventure tour and using his bikes for that. As I said, adventure riding is becoming a booming business in Colorado.

And Ben is nothing if not a dreamer. He’s just getting the shop opened and is already planning expansion. The adjoining space is coming available and he hopes to put in a motorcycle-themed cafe there. And then as other space also opens up he expects to take it and add extra bays for the mechanical stuff. The shop is open for retail business Thursday through Monday but only by special appointment on Tuesday or Wednesday. Bike rentals go in and out every day.

Biker Quote for Today

Ride a GS, it makes your butt look smaller.

Adventure Rally Series Coming to Gunnison

Friday, July 4th, 2014
Adventure Rally Series 2014

The Adventure Rally Series 2014 is happening this month in Gunnison.

This is the kind of thing I’m more and more interested in but once again it’s something I will miss.

Seems a bunch of interested parties–Bonnier Motorcycle Group brands, Cycle World, Motorcyclist, and Dirt Rider magazines–put together something last year called the Adventure Rally. The idea, they say, is “The Adventure Rally Series is for passionate adventure riders to explore epic roads and become better riders while making new friends.”

And now this year they are having two, one of which–the Rockies edition–will be operating out of Gunnison July 24-27. Of course, those days conflict with our annual OFMC bike trip, so count me out–darn! Not that I would necessarily do it, though. I’m still new enough to this off-road riding thing that I’m not sure I’d be particularly welcome. I could easily be the guy who better riders have to watch out for rather than getting out and doing the serious riding they want to do. I swear I will get more competent at this. At least right now I can say that I am really comfortable and familiar with riding the V-Strom. I’ve been out on it three times this week alone and I’m loving it.

But maybe your schedule doesn’t conflict and you’re more experienced than I am. This Adventure Series thing could be just your ticket. Here’s a bit more of what they have to say about it:

This year’s Adventure Rally-Rockies Edition will be based at The Inn at Tomichi Village on the edge of town, smack in the middle of Colorado’s best adventure riding. Competitors will be treated to both paved and dirt road options, which include twisty mountain passes, flowing two track and difficult off-road sections. There is limitless potential for exploration in this area for riders of all skill levels.

In addition to the navigational element, which will send each team on their own unique adventure, this year’s Adventure Rally – Rockies Edition will feature special tests hosted at The Inn at Tomichi Village. Judges and instructors will be on hand to challenge competitor’s adventure bike skills and teach new ones.

At the end of the day, this unique event format, combined with the stunning backdrop of The Inn at Tomichi Village and the Colorado Rockies, provides an atmosphere that is designed to be both competitive and casual—putting as much emphasis on the campfire camaraderie as the desire to win the coveted Adventure Cup.

And as for what it costs, there is this:

What do we mean when we say all-inclusive?

Well, for $550 (double occupancy) $650 (single occupancy) you get:

Three nights at the exclusive The Inn at Tomichi Village
Three breakfasts
Three dinners
Two drink tickets per day for post-ride libations
Chance to compete for the Adventure Cup
Custom Adventure Rally road book & keep sake
Custom Adventure Rally Map of Bonuses
Special tests and rider training
Adventure Goodie Bag

So it ain’t cheap, but you get a lot for the ticket price, including food and lodging. You’d have to pay those yourself if you just went out and rode. And Gunnison is a great area. My friend Kevin Smith, who runs Colorado Mountain Moto out of Gunnison, reminded me some years ago that on my own website I say that “If you’re in Gunnison it really doesn’t matter which direction you go, every road is a great motorcycle road.” How true; give that guy a medal. (Oh yeah, that was me.)

So OK, maybe next year for me. Surely by then I’ll feel more competent. And all I have to do is ensure that the OFMC doesn’t schedule its trip at the same time again. That could be the harder thing to do because we set that date in December. So many roads, too little time.

Biker Quote for Today

But I have to lead, because I’m very allergic to dust!

The Personal Side of the Intro to ADV Ride

Thursday, May 8th, 2014
Pushing a motorcycle back to the road

What's he doing riding out there in the woods?

On Monday I gave the basic run-down of where we went on this Colorado Motorcycle Adventures “Intro to Adventure Riding” ride I did with Scott Lee and the folks who signed up for it. That recitation left out any of the personality and interaction that went on, and that’s the stuff that makes things truly interesting. That’s where we’re going today.

The first little bit of excitement occurred when we had come down Foxton Road to reach the Platte River and South Platte River Road. I was bringing up the rear and the group pulled over and parked next to the Platte. It was sloping ground and the other bikes pretty much took up the more level spots. I jockeyed into a position I cautiously deemed satisfactory–maybe–and then proceeded to climb off the bike very carefully. Then I stood there a moment checking it out to be sure the bike was stable. It seemed to be.

Damage To The Motorcycle

This bolt broke but if that's all I have to replace I'm pleased.

So I turned around and walked over to talk with a couple of the folks. A couple minutes later someone yelled “Look out!” and I turned in time to see my V-Strom topple over. You probably know: No one likes seeing their bike fall. It gives you a horrible feeling.

Of course there were plenty of folks to help get it back up and then moved to a more level spot. Damage was pretty minimal. It apparently hit on the end of the handlebar and the weight at the end that serves to dampen vibration busted off along with the hand guard that was attached at that point and further in on the bar. I haven’t done anything with it yet but it looks like all I need to replace is the long bolt that holds that weight on and all will be fine again. I can’t think of a less expensive motorcycle repair. But I still hated to see that bike fall.

We took off and rode along the Platte and this time I was second from the rear. This road is gravel and even on the V-Strom I could feel my tires slipping occasionally. The guy behind me was going pretty slow and I didn’t want to leave him behind in case of trouble so I hung back while all the rest of the group passed out of sight ahead. They eventually stopped and waited for us, fearing trouble, but no, it was just a guy who wasn’t used to riding on gravel and was skittish. After that a more experienced rider took the sweep position so I didn’t worry when I lost sight of them behind me.

At lunch we had more opportunity to get acquainted. I was surprised to find that most of the group was from the Denver area. There were a father and son from California and a woman by her self who was also from California. Everyone else was local. I found that kind of odd; why sign up for something you can just go and do? But they did have reasons. One guy was looking to buy a new bike and wanted to try out a couple of the ones he was considering. He and Scott traded back and forth during the day so he could test both bikes. And another guy had had the idea that this intro to ADV was going to be more of a training ride. Maybe that’s something Scott will want to consider in the future for this particular ride.

After lunch we turned off onto West Creek Road and then turned off it to go down a dead-end road that was just nice riding. We got to the end and Scott suggested that anyone who wanted to make a more spirited run should go ahead and just wait for the rest back at the main road.

So the father and son took off along with a couple others and I was in about the middle of the pack. They got out of sight ahead but in a couple minutes I came up on them, seeing that they were stopped in a group. Then I saw why. Seems the son had gotten a bit too enthusiastic and had run off the road on a curve, right into the woods. Oops. I don’t know if he went down or not because by the time I got there the bike was upright and several people had run over to help him wheel it back to the road. No injuries and only minor damage to the bike.

It was funny for me how my perception of the whole thing evolved. At first I thought, why is he riding out there in the woods? It was only as it dawned on me that he hadn’t had any such intention that I realized, oh, he kind of screwed up, didn’t he?

Then we went on to where we were crossing water. Everyone did fine in the water, and if anyone had gone down it wouldn’t have been a major mishap, though it would have been uncomfortable. Wet. I raised my legs when I went through but a couple times it still splashed up enough that I got soaked below the knee. Glad I had high boots on. And there was that one time in the middle of the muck that my rear-end started sliding away, but I caught it and got through OK. Hey, what’s adventure riding without a little adventure?

So that’s a bit more of the human side of this ride. Now, of course, I need to take Judy out and show her these roads.

Biker Quote for Today

When noobs give up, they’re not quitters, they just stay noobs.

Taking the V-Strom Where I Intended

Monday, May 5th, 2014

These were exactly the kinds of roads I bought the V-Strom to ride. There are probably a couple thousand miles of these roads in Colorado alone, and I want to ride a lot more of them.

Crossing the creek on motorcycles

Yeah, we got a little wet.

As mentioned previously, Saturday was my day to ride with Scott Lee and a group he was leading on a Colorado Motorcycle Adventures tour. It was a good day.

We met early at Foothills BMW/Triumph and all the paying folks did their paperwork. As a tag-along there was no paperwork for me but Scott’s wife, Lorie, did insist that I take a T-shirt and a Butler map of Colorado, and I spent some time getting acquainted with some of the other riders.

Taking off, we went out Sixth Avenue to C-470, down to the Morrison turn-off and up CO 74 to Evergreen. We turned south on CO 73 to Conifer, jogged west very briefly on U.S. 285, and headed on south along Foxton Road. That brought us down to the Platte River where we headed southeast along the river to where we hit the road that comes over from Sedalia, via the Rampart Range. A turn-off from that road took us back into an area I don’t think I’ve ever been in before, because of course, all of this was on gravel. That’s why I bought the V-Strom, to ride these gravel roads.

We twisted and turned our way along these roads until we finally came out on CO 67 a little south of Deckers, and then went to Deckers for lunch.

After lunch we headed south again on CO 67 for about eight miles and then turned off onto a gravel road called West Creek Road. This road took us down into an area that, like so much else in the area, was burned out in the Hayman Fire years ago. You know that eventually the forest will regenerate but it’s surprising after this many years how few and small the young trees still are. At the same time, with the trees gone it opens up vistas that you never would have seen before, and which are pretty dang impressive.

We turned off onto one road that was a dead-end but Scott figured the area it went through was worth seeing so we went down and turned back. It was definitely cool. I really wanted to be shooting pictures but I needed to steer the bike. The two people in the group with the GoPro cameras undoubtedly good some good footage.

Back on the through-road again, we continued on into an area that is designated for dirt biking. I’m really not at all sure what this area is. It’s not the Rampart Range, and it’s over on the back side of Pikes Peak so that we got a great view of the peak as I’ve never seen it before. We did see a couple dirt bikers whizzing along.

We stuck to the road, which by now was pretty narrow and uneven–exactly what dual-sport bikes excel at. We were having fun!

The route looped around and we picked up a stream that wove back and forth across the road. There were no bridges; we rode through it and definitely got wet. This was the first time I’ve ridden the V-Strom through water. I’d crossed little bits of water other times on other dual-sport bikes, and then there was the time on my Concours when we were coming down Hoosier Pass toward Breckenridge and there was water running eight inches deep across the highway, so it wasn’t my first time with water. But it was an adventure just the same, especially the one time when my back end started slipping sideways before my traction hooked up again.

After looping around through all this fire-scarred terrain I was surprised when we emerged back out onto CO 67 less than half a mile from where we got off it. So from there it was just back to Deckers, back along the river and up over and down to Sedalia. At that point people started peeling off and heading their own ways home. It was a good day to be out riding.

Biker Quote for Today

Always take the road less traveled, unless the riding is better on the other roads.

New: Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route

Monday, March 31st, 2014
Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route

A video worth watching on the Butler site.

Those folks at Butler Maps just keep on going. The latest offering they’ve come out with is the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route. This one is looking even more ambitious than most.

First let’s lay some groundwork. Butler produces and sells maps that highlight the best motorcycle roads in whatever state the map is for. They’re waterproof, rugged, beautiful maps that cater to what we’re interested in. And they’re good maps. Judy and I have traveled with a slew of maps and with her doing the navigating, and she says the best are definitely the Butler maps.

Then Butler took another step, introducing the Backcountry Discovery Route series. In these they map out a mostly off-pavement route from one side of the state to the other. Bill Eakins at Butler tells me they are very specifically routes that are good enough that you can ride them with a big adventure bike; no little dirt bikes necessary.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all easy riding. No way!

That’s what I was saying at first. You may want to take a couple minutes to go watch this video from their ride of the Arizona BDR. It’s not just beautiful scenery or cool riding. There are several scenes where these guys on these big adventure bikes wipe out.

And the map this time has more alternate routes than I recall on other maps. In some cases they say “Difficult Alternate. Damage possible.” Or “Roads are impassable when wet.” And this one I love: “Expert only. Damage to bike is possible due to rocky sections! No bailouts 16.8 miles.” And then, “Deep sand 3.3 miles.”

Yeah, this is why it’s called adventure riding. I’ve ridden in deep sand for a tenth of a mile a few times and that was more than plenty for me. And then there was the time I got in really deep sand and ended up going end over end after about 10 feet.

It all comes down to how you like your riding. Some folks never leave the pavement. Others like things a little spicier. If you’re the latter sort, these Backcountry Discovery Routes are right up your alley.

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes I get off the bike before it has come to a complete stop….

RawHyde Adventures Opens Second Training Facility Here

Monday, December 16th, 2013
motorcycle riding in the dirt

The dirt is calling me.

My introduction to RawHyde Adventures was excitement followed by disappointment. Back a few years ago when being the National Motorcycle Examiner was a viable gig I was contacted by someone asking if I’d be interested in participating in a media event at their then only facility out in California. This was to be–I don’t remember–a four or five day session where they would put us up and feed us and give us several days of off-road training. All I would have to do would be get myself there and get home. Of course I said yes instantly.

It didn’t pan out. This was a short-notice event and while I was totally flexible and able to leap in an instant, apparently the folks working for the more traditional magazines and such could not drop everything and go. It got canceled. I was bummed.

Well, just Sunday I discovered that as of June RawHyde has opened a Colorado facility. I can’t tell from their website just where exactly they are; all it says is “Located high in the Rocky Mountains on the Continental Divide Trail, in the heart of the best Adventure Riding in America.” So it’s somewhere up there in the hills.

If you’re looking to get some training for adventure riding–this is not just riding dirt, it’s more ambitious–RawHyde seems to have a pretty good program. The classes or whatever they call them are:

  • Intro to Adventure Training Camp
  • The Next Step Training Camp
  • Rocky Mountain Adventure Ride
  • High Rockies Adventure Ride
  • The Continental Divide Ride

And they say coming soon, the Triple Nickel Test Ride Program. Not sure what that is.

It looks good. The intro unit is described as, “For experienced street riders wanting to get comfortable in the dirt.” Here’s what they say it will include:

  • An introduction to dirt riding techniques and the top mistakes people make
  • Body position for effective off-road riding
  • Throttle, brake and clutch techniques
  • Weight-shift techniques for steering
  • Balance techniques
  • Turning technique using counterbalancing
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • How to control front and rear wheel skids
  • Hard Acceleration technique on dirt and gravel
  • Hill Climbing
  • Descending steep hills in a controlled manner
  • How to ride in Sand and Gravel
  • How to recover from a stall on a steep hill
  • How to turn around, fully loaded on a steep hill

That sounds like that would about do it. Where do I sign up? And how much does it cost?

Oh yeah, cost. Get out your wallet, cause it ain’t cheap. If you ride your own bike (they do have rentals) the sign-up is $1,395. Ouch. Some people obviously have more money than I do. Maybe you.

What you get for that money is a two and one-half day program, food and beverages, three nights lodging, and a T-shirt. And not just any food. “All meals prepared by Cordon Bleu trained Chefs.”

So, wow. Wow, I’d really like to do this. Wow, I really don’t have that kind of money. Hey RawHyde, if you want to do a media event to help publicize the fact that you’ve got this new operation running, give me a call. I’ll say yes in a heartbeat once again. I’ll even bring my own bike.

Biker Quote for Today

That hill doesn’t look too hard… go first!

Exit Tours M/C Does Off-Road Tours

Thursday, October 24th, 2013
V-Strom On Phantom Canyon Road

Phantom Canyon Road appears to be one part of one of these tours.

There’s no way I can keep up with the magazines I subscribe to when I’m working a full-time job–which I am now–so I’m always way behind. I just read the May issue of American Motorcyclist and was very interested to find a cover piece about a tour outfit here in Colorado. Got to check these guys out.

It’s an operation named Exit Tours M/C and it took some reading and some looking at their website to figure out that–at least as far as I can tell–they are a nonprofit organization that puts on three rides a year. Not that they’re a bunch of do-gooders; my take is that folks from three motor sports dealerships in the Buena Vista area put this thing together to offer these rides and they presumably benefit by sales of gear and bikes. Nevertheless, as a nonprofit, their prices for their tours are pretty reasonable.

Ride one is the Rocky Mountain Singletrack trail ride. It was held in mid-July this year and, as they say, “starts and finishes each day at the Tomichi Creek Trading Post in Sargents, Colorado and follows blue ribbon legal singletrack trails through the Heart of the Rocky Mountains.”

As a nonprofit, they ask for a “donation” of $425 for this ride.

Ride two is the Rocky Mountain Dual Sport Adventure which “starts and finishes each day at the County Fairgrounds in Salida, Colorado and follows the headwaters of the Rio Grande and Arkansas rivers for over 500 miles. The 535 mile Colorado 2 Day Dual Sport Adventure is a serious ride, not meant for those who aren’t serious about riding. The adventure will take you over mountain passes over 4 mountain ranges. The Sangre De Cristo, the Northern San Juans, the Sawatch & the Collegiate Peaks and the Mosquito Range.”

This one ran in mid-August. “Donation” for this one was $325.

And then there’s the Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure Tour, which ran this year in early September. This one started at “Cottonwood Hot Springs in the town of Buena Vista, Colorado and take you through roughly 1,000 miles of the most spectacular scenery the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The Tour will visit 3 Hot Springs on an Epic Journey through the Rocky Mountains laid out by Sean Barr of Mountain Tech Yamaha. This can be either a self guided or guided tour with sweep riders & chase truck with trailer and luggage portage. And will most likely be a ‘3 Day Adventure.’ Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

For this one, “$600 entry fee includes 3 nights lodging at iconic Hot Springs, hot springs passes, breakfasts, welcome BBQ, chase truck & trailer, luggage portage, guides and sweep riders, GPS Tracks, hoddie, swag and Camaraderie. AMA Membership is required.”

Oh yeah, that’s how this whole thing caught my attention. All three of these rides are American Motorcyclist Association-sanctioned. They are part of the AMA Yamaha Super Tenere National Adventure Riding Series and the AMA Husqvarna National Dual Sport Series.

So this is just an FYI. If you or anyone you know is looking for this sort of thing, guess what, here it is. Maybe next year I’ll try to wangle a free trip in exchange for writing about it. You’ll see it here if I do.

Biker Quote for Today

Serious. Just like that scene from the matrix, except the chick was me and the ducati was a klr. — DirtyDog

Kebler Pass on the V-Strom

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
V-Strom on Kebler Pass

V-Strom on Kebler Pass.

It’s not a challenge in any way but I’ve now ridden Kebler Pass on the V-Strom.

After spending the night at Powderhorn, at a ski condo, we ran over Grand Mesa and down to Cedaredge and turned east. At Hotchkiss all the other guys headed south through Crawford, to the north rim of the Black Canyon, over to Gunnison and up to Crested Butte. Me, I kept going at Hotchkiss, through Paonia, and turned off to ride Kebler Pass to CB.

I told these guys Kebler is a great gravel road but I had no idea just how great it would be at this time. My friend Kevin, in Gunnison, who I called once I got here, said they went hog wild with the mag chloride on Kebler this year and it’s practically paved. I would agree. Heck, there was even a guy on a bicycle. You don’t ride bicycles on really bad gravel roads.

Of course I’ve been on Kebler before, too, so the only thing noteworthy about this whole thing is that once again I’m getting out on unpaved roads–the reason I bought this dual-sport bike.

I did have a little trepidation heading for Kebler, however. Talking with a guy at a gas station at Cedaredge, he told me they had had a lot of rain lately and there had been mud slides and roads had been blocked. He thought Kebler Pass might be bad. He told me to take it easy because I might come around a curve to find a boulder lying in the road.

Then I pulled off at a station in Paonia and spoke to some guys there who were on dual-sports and they said they had just been over Kebler recently and it was the best they’d ever seen it. That was reassuring. And they were right.

So it wasn’t an adventure, but it was fun nevertheless. And of course it was gorgeous. Kebler Pass runs through some terrific country and if you haven’t been up there you owe yourself that treat. And if you’re on a Harley, do it anyway. You won’t find a gravel road in better condition.

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you won’t ride down a gravel road.

Exploring Unpaved Colorado: Tarryall and the Hayman Fire

Monday, June 24th, 2013
Forest road through denuded hills.

The road winding through the area scorched by the Hayman Fire.

The whole point of getting a dual-sport bike was to explore parts of Colorado where the road is not paved. We did that this weekend.

The plan was to go down the road to Tarryall Reservoir and then loop back up to Bailey on a series of roads. We didn’t follow the agenda.

First off, we got off U.S. 285 about a mile and a half east of Jefferson, rather than at Jefferson as planned. That put us on Park County Road 56, Lost Park Road, rather than Park CR 77, which is Tarryall Road. That was fine because CR 56 was gravel whereas, as we learned, CR 77 has been paved all the way to Tarryall Reservoir. We ended going up through some beautiful country that we had never seen before, and that’s the whole point.

We met up with Tarryall Road a little north of the reservoir and cruised past and the pavement ended. But only for now. Turns out that the entire way from Jefferson down to Lake George, on U.S. 24 just west of Florrisant, is in the process of being paved. And what a nice route! Once they finish this will be a must-ride street bike route. It’s not very often that an entire new paved road becomes available. This will be a good one.

We didn’t go all the way to Lake George, however. I had been reading in Steve Farson’s terrific book, The Complete Guide to Motorcycling Colorado, about Matukat, a series of roads that runs from Bailey down past Wellington Lake and down through the heart of the area burned by the Hayman Fire a few years ago. This road meets up with Tarryall Road a few miles north of Lake George and we turned onto it, heading back north again.

As Steve describes it in the book, “From the roads you ride to the sights you see, this route delivers big time.”

Part of the route is wooded; much of it shows the charred landscape of the fire, although things are starting to green up again. It will be many years before the forest comes back the way it used to be but that provides an opportunity. We couldn’t help but think about how different the view is with so many of the trees gone. There were many places where we could see forever and the whole landscape was visible. If there had been tall trees lining the road we would have been happy to find the occasional unobstructed view so we could see the area around us. In fact, it makes me think about going back and shooting a bunch of photos from specific spots and then doing so again every 5 years for the next 30 years or so. And then what an interesting exhibition I could put on!

So we diverged from the agenda again along here. There are a number of intersecting roads and they’re not all well marked, so we missed our turn that would have taken us up by Wellington Lake and out at Bailey. Instead, we came out onto CO 126 down near Deckers and followed it up through Pine to catch U.S. 285 at Pine Junction.

Oh well, that just leaves us with a piece of road we still have to get to. Next time! And next time we’ll reverse course and head south from Bailey. And then probably find some different road going somewhere else. I mean, we’ve already seen Tarryall Road now. Although I will be back there on my Concours or my CB750 when that road is finished.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Going two-wheel on Ride to Work Day

Biker Quote for Today

One day, I will take it easy. Today won’t be that day.