Archive for the ‘Routes to Add to Website’ Category

Passes & Canyons On The Radio (Or Podcast)

Thursday, December 1st, 2016
The "Bernie's Colorado Journeys" website

The “Bernie’s Colorado Journeys” website.

I did a radio interview today. Bernie Jwaszewski had contacted me and wanted to talk about the website for the benefit of people interested in touring Colorado. Bernie does a podcast/radio broadcast called “Bernie’s Colorado Journeys” on KCMJ.org or at 93.9 FM.

Seems Bernie has been into touring for a long time but just last year got himself a Harley trike. That opened up a whole new world for him, as you might well imagine. So he is interested in the best motorcycle roads in Colorado. Bernie, you came to the right place.

So we talked about the Passes & Canyons: Motorcycle Touring in Colorado website.

First off he asked about myself and why I built the site. That was easy: it combined my interests in writing, motorcycling, and tech. And then we went through each of the tabs at the top of each page that go to the main pages on the site, discussing each as we went along.

What was interesting for me was to have a chance to see the site at least partially through someone else’s eyes. For instance, Bernie looked at the page for motorcycle-accessible campgrounds along the Peak-to-Peak Highway and he came to the conclusion that Cold Spring Campground would not be suitable for someone pulling a camper. No, no, no, I assured him. The campground has pull-through sites but I just don’t go into that because the website is about motorcycles. I also mentioned that the campground pages are very dated and it is my intention in 2017 to update all of them.

That was the other point of interest for me. Time and again we would discuss this section or that page and I would add that my intentions are to expand this or update that or redo this–it just comes down to time to do it all. Hopefully I will find that time once I am no longer working for the National Park Service (hello end of January). But the updates and revisions I want to do could probably keep me busy for a solid month.

And then there are the other states in the region. When I first started building the site it was my intent to then do the same for other states in the west. When you figure I’ve had this site up for 11 years now and still have a ton of work that I don’t have time to do, it’s not hard to see why that plan has never gotten off the ground. But I haven’t given up on it. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll do a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding and then just go off for a month to two months and do an entire state all at once. Ride and shoot pictures and gather information during the day and build pages in a motel room in the evening. Get up the next morning and do it again. We’ll see.

So I’ll be interested to see what Bernie does with the interview. I mean, I’m sure he’ll want to do some editing, so it will be interesting to see what he focuses on. Also, just a note, he has also spoken with Steve Farson, who wrote the book The Complete Guide to Motorcycling Colorado. Steve’s book is very good and I’ll be interested to listen to Bernie’s podcast with him, too.

And one other thing: I’m interested to explore Bernie’s site. Who knows, maybe he has found some places in this state that I’ve never seen. You never know.

Biker Quote for Today

A cold hamburger can be reheated quite nicely by strapping it to an exhaust pipe and riding forty miles.

Adding Guanella Pass To The Website

Monday, September 12th, 2016
motorcycles on Guanella Pass

Were you riding on Guanella Pass last week? Is this you? This was shot with the GoPro sitting on top of my helmet.

When I first built the Passes & Canyons website I had all I could do to just ride, photograph, and write about all the paved roads over passes and through canyons in Colorado. Anything unpaved was just left out, at least for the time being. Then after awhile I did add the Dirt Roads and Side Trips page, with a few dirt roads.

One of the roads on that page was Guanella Pass. While the road on the Clear Creek County side coming up from Georgetown was paved, heading down to Grant on the other side, in Park County, was not. So it didn’t get a full page of its own.

But guess what! Guanella Pass has now been paved all the way. And it’s a really nice ride, not that far from the city. If you haven’t been over it you owe it to yourself to do so. Probably the best direction is from Grant to Georgetown because that way you come down the steep descent into Georgetown and it’s a good view.

So now I need to add Guanella Pass to the website as its own full-blown page. And the first step in doing that would be to ride the route, shoot photos, and gather information. That’s what I did last week. In fact, I didn’t just ride it, I rode it twice, from Grant to Georgetown and then back to Grant. I was shooting the ride the whole way with my GoPro camera and a road looks different going one way than it does going the other way.

Now, of course, I need to build the page. And it will really be a matter of building two pages, because there are four campgrounds along this road and I’ll also do a “Campgrounds along the Guanella Pass Road” page with information about those campgrounds. And then there’s the whole ripple effect of all the other pages that will need revisions to include these new pieces.

So, it was a beautiful day and I loved getting up in the hills and having a good ride. I was interested to see how the fall color was going but there really wasn’t much to see. I saw some stands of aspen that were still green, but the ones I saw that were turning were very pale. I didn’t see any at all that were the brilliant yellow that makes this time of year so beautiful.

I know the weather has an impact on how brilliant the colors are and maybe this year we’re just not going to have all that much color. That will be a disappointment if that’s the case. And I know the Georgetown side of Guanella Pass can be spectacular. I guess we’ll see.

I’ll let you know when the new Guanella Pass page is up on the website.

Biker Quote for Today

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery. Ride and live today.

Guanella Pass Really Is Open Again

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Guanella Pass

I owe thanks on this one to Steve Farson, author of the newly released The Complete Guide to Motorcycling Colorado. I reviewed his book last week and mentioned that he did not tell his readers that Guanella Pass is closed. They closed it in 2008 and the most recent thing I had heard was that there were no plans to reopen it.

Well, what do you know, Steve emailed me to thank me for the positive review AND to tell me that in fact, Guanella was reopened earlier this year. Finally. And he said the road was beautiful, that they have done a terrific job.

Of course Judy and I had to go see for ourselves, and we did on Saturday.

Holy smokes, what a nice road! The asphalt is beautiful, there are a lot of guard rails where there didn’t used to be any, and the new retaining walls are impressive. On top of that, the pavement goes a lot farther than it used to. Used to be, it was paved all the way to the top on the Georgetown side and then just over the crest it turned to gravel. Then it was gravel all the way to Grant, except for some spots where the asphalt from many years ago was still holding together a little.

We checked it on the odometer and here’s what we found. From the top headed toward Grant, the new pavement extends another 3.8 miles. At 8 miles from the top the old surviving pavement starts to get bad and at 9.2 miles it ends altogether. There are then 3.6 miles of gravel before you hit pavement again 0.5 mile from Grant.

So there’s really no reason not to ride this pass. The 3.6 miles of gravel are easily traversable on any street bike as long as you take it nice and easy. Heck, before they closed it for nearly 3 years I used to see Harley baggers and everything else up there, and there was a lot more gravel back then.

Truth is, this road is so much better than it was before I’ve concluded I need to promote it on the website from just a “Dirty Road” mention to its own full page. Look for that sometime next year, as I doubt I’ll have time to get to that right away.

Thanks for the update Steve.

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Biker Quote for Today

So many roads, so little time!

Rocky Mountain High on Cinnamon Pass on a V-Strom

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Cinnamon Pass

Friday was one of the most incredible days I have ever spent on a motorcycle. I went dual-sport riding with Kevin Smith, who rents V-Stroms out of Gunnison, and it was a day I will never forget.

First off, we got extremely lucky in that it was one of those absolutely glorious days that we sometimes get here in the fall. Secondly, not only were we going to some gorgeous areas, the autumn leaf turn was at its peak. If the ride itself had been nothing at all it still would have been a breathtaking excursion.

Trust me, the ride was not “nothing at all.”

This was my first time really getting some seat time on a Suzuki V-Strom. I had a short ride earlier in the summer but this was all day and more than 200 miles. And it was challenging. We rode down to Lake City and took the road up Cinnamon Pass, over to Silverton.

After dumping the bike on the first really tight switchback, I concluded I had to attack these things with vigor and let the bike’s power carry me through. Just moments after the dump, I came to another tight switchback and I could see the general method in use was to power the bike well up the sloping rock wall, at a considerable lean angle. I goosed it and did exactly that and it went just fine. Now we’re having fun!

Up at the top of the pass Kevin told me that going down I should avoid the front brake, and use just the rear. He also said to put it in first and don’t worry if it stalls, don’t grab the clutch. It will jump start on its own if it dies. Good thing we had that discussion, because just about 100 feet past the sign at the top of the pass the road takes a sharp left and there is a completely straight plummet down about 50 yards or more. I’m talking steep, the kind of thing that, coming up, you would want to get as good a run at as possible and then hope you don’t lose all momentum before you reach the top.

As for not grabbing the front brake or the clutch, that was no problem as my hands were clamped to the grips for dear life. Down I went, standing on the rear brake, which only served to vaguely slow me down a tad. But I rode it out just fine and on we went.

We got down into Silverton and had lunch, then took the highway north through Ouray and Ridgway and then turned off to go back to Gunnison over Owl Creek Pass. This gravel road is very rideable, even on a bagger, provided you can deal with a bit of washboard. It heads east toward a rock formation called Courthouse Rock, crosses over, and then goes north through the Cimarron Valley, reaching US 50 just east of Cimarron.

It was gorgeous! I’m thinking this may be one of the best-kept secrets in Colorado.

Back on the highway and I saw again how well the V-Strom handles the pavement. It handled the dirt just fine. Most of my experience on gravel is of the I-hope-we-don’t-have-to-go-very-far-on-this variety. The V-Strom was very sure-footed and it was easy to ride on gravel all day, literally.

So I’m planning to do a lot more of this kind of riding. I may have to actually buy a dual-sport bike of my own. How amazing would that be? This was just too much fun.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcyclists and whiskey get better with age.

Marveling at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The road up Pikes Peak

I have a recollection that I may have been up on Pikes Peak about 35 years ago. Otherwise, I know I was up there 50 years ago. Suffice it to say, when I rode my Concours up to the top on Friday it may as well have been the first time. Oh my god, what a road!

Last week was race week for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a race with cars, trucks, motorcycles, quads, sidecars, and a few divisions that have peculiar names because, well, probably because no one knows what to call that vehicle. Tuesday was sign-in and tech inspection, followed by three days of practice, and then Saturday was free before the race on Sunday.

I ran down to Colorado Springs on Tuesday to meet up with the racers I had made contact with via the Adventure Riders forum, and to get my press credentials. I went down again on Friday to talk to my contacts about their experiences in practice and hopes for the race, and to go to the top of the mountain myself. Then Sunday I went down one more time for the race.

The road up Pikes Peak
Let me tell you, you have to ride that mountain yourself to really understand how incredible it is what these racers do. From the starting line to the top is 12.2 miles, and it took me about 30 minutes to cover that distance. Granted I was behind a couple cars with tourists who thought the 10 mph posted speeds on some of the switchbacks were excessively high. I ended up shifting down to first gear a few times when I would rather have stayed in second.

But it’s not like I was grumbling about them holding me back. I would probably only have shaved a couple minutes off that time on my own. So consider this: The top racers were shooting to make this run in under 10 minutes for the first time ever. That is to say, they would have needed to average 73 miles an hour the whole way up. Yikes! There is no portion of that road I want to take at 73 mph period, much less average that speed the entire way up.

Now, the 10-minute barrier wasn’t broken, so the record remains all of 10:01.41. And the fastest time this year was 10:11.49. Oh yeah, that guy was going slow!

So the race was fun and very interesting but the real trip was the mountain. If you’re coming to ride in Colorado you have got to ride to the top of Pikes Peak. Yeah, there’s a $12 fee per person but it’s worth it. And while the road used to be only half paved, there are now just two remaining stretches of dirt and the rest is asphalt. Paving is to be completed in 2012. So if you want to ride it while there’s some dirt left you’d better come soon. Or if you’d rather avoid the dirt you only need wait a couple more years.

For myself, I would have welcomed a dual sport bike on that gravel, but I did it OK on the Connie. And I’ve ridden over high passes before many times but I wondered if going up on a bike with carbs would be an issue by the time I got to 14,110 feet. No problem. It ran just fine. Remember though, I’m tuned for Denver elevation already, so if you’re tuned for sea level it could be a different matter. But I didn’t see anyone who was having any trouble.

Of course I’ll be adding Pikes Peak to the Passes and Canyons website. Hey, I’ve got the photos and the info now, and all I need is the time to get it done. I’ll let you know when it’s up. Till then, you can check out these pictures.

The road up Pikes Peak

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Biker Quote for Today

Accelerate until you see God, then BRAKE! –Kevin Schwantz

Cottonwood Pass and Taylor Canyon Now Up On Website

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Eight months ago I went up Taylor Canyon and over Cottonwood Pass shooting pictures and gathering information to put these places up on the Passes and Canyons, Motorcycle Touring in Colorado website. Taylor Canyon is a beautiful canyon, with lots of good motorcycle-accessible camping spots. Cottonwood Pass is only paved on the east side but the gravel road is passable on the west. Both deserved to be on the site.

I’ve been busy. But I finally got it done. Here are some photos from these places.

Taylor Canyon

Cottonwood Pass

The top of Cottonwood Pass

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Biker Quote for Today

To me, the best kind of trips are the ones you planned on the way, allowed yourself to change, and maybe didn’t end up where you expected.

Douglas Pass Deserves to Be on the Website

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Douglas Pass, in Colorado

And here I thought I had all the good passes in the Colorado included on this Passes and Canyons website. Wrong. I just did Douglas Pass last week and it’s going to need to be added.

Update: I did, at long last, add this pass to the website. It only took about 13 months to make the time. Here’s the link: Douglas Pass

Douglas Pass mapIt’s not that I didn’t know this pass existed, because my buddy John rides that route periodically when the OFMC comes home through Dinosaur. John lives in Montrose so he splits off from the group in Dinosaur and heads down CO 139 home. He has told me there is a pass there but he never really impressed on me that this is a really nice pass.

So anyway, I was headed for the Salt Lake City area last week to cover the Bonneville Vintage GP and Concours and, although it was out of my way, I decided to check out this road. Yeah, I’m a little overdue. This was worth the extra miles. And I got photos and other information so I’ll be adding Douglas Pass to the website as soon as I can make the time.

One other note: I was also looking at Baxter Pass as a possible route but fortunately I had the chance to ask someone at a Colorado visitor center about it and we looked on the web. Baxter Pass runs sort of parallel to Douglas Pass, a little to the west, from Mack up to Vernal, UT, but it is a really bad road that even jeeps have trouble on. Just so you’ll know.

Update 9-24-12: I just got this note from Doug Bulkeley, saying “Just a note to tell you that Sept. 21, 2012, I came over Baxter Pass with a 34′ rv 5th trailer pulled by a 2012 Chevy 2500HD 4X4. Damn GPS said that was the quickest way. 5 hours later I disagree. I wouldn’t mind doing it again with an ATV and a camera. The only good thing was that it was dry. I may be working near Ridgway next summer. Oh, and by the way, I’m 70 years old.”

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Biker Quote for Today

I come from the era when you ride for an hour, and then you wrench for three hours, so the idea that you have a machine where you just ride, well, it’s not an alien concept, but I just feel I’m missing part of it.–Jay Leno

Taylor Canyon and Cottonwood Pass Are Keepers

Monday, July 27th, 2009

After cruising Kebler Pass last weekend we went on up Taylor Canyon and over Cottonwood Pass. This was another of those Colorado roads that I haven’t been on because it wasn’t paved and I wasn’t sure how good it would be on a motorcycle. I had been hearing that it was decent gravel, however, and needed to check it out.

sport bikes
  Cottonwood Pass looking west

Well here’s the verdict. It is not as good a gravel road as Kebler Pass. It is passable, however. I know this for a fact because there were Harleys and all sorts of bikes doing the ride.

I knew that Cottonwood Pass was paved on the eastern side, from Buena Vista, and I have been up there on my bike previously. What I didn’t know was that on the western side, coming east out of Almont, you pass through Taylor Canyon, which is absolutely gorgeous, and the road is paved all the way to Taylor Reservoir. It’s only about 12 miles then from the reservoir to the top of Cottonwood Pass.

Considering all that, I would definitely add this road to my list of good rides in Colorado. Personally, I would prefer going east to west so all of the gravel would be downhill. I just feel more comfortable on a street bike going downhill on rough gravel. And some of it is rough, make no mistake. But if those Harleys can do it anyone can.

I’ll be adding Cottonwood Pass and Taylor Canyon to the website as soon as time permits. I have a lot of good photos but you’ll have to wait until I get the new page up to see the rest of them.

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Biker Quote for Today

Destinations are merely excuses to ride.

I Finally Make it to Kebler Pass

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I have to admit I was feeling a bit peeved with myself with my failure to have ever made it to Kebler Pass, especially with all these out-of-state riders coming through and doing that route. That shortcoming got rectified this past weekend, and I have to say, it was long overdue.

Kebler Pass
  Kebler Pass is gorgeous

Kebler Pass is the extremely well-maintained, hard-packed gravel road that run from Crested Butte down to CO 133 over McClure Pass between Hotchkiss and Carbondale. This road may not be paved but even the biggest bagger can take this route with no problem whatsoever. That’s especially great because otherwise, when you go to Crested Butte, you have no choice but to go back the way you came in.

An additional benefit to doing Kebler Pass is that you can take a short side-trip and hit Ohio Pass as well. Just a short distance downhill from the sign marking the Kebler summit, Gunnison County Road 730 heads off southwest to Gunnison. Ohio Pass is just a short distance away and then it’s a rough road heading on down, good primarily for a dual-sport bike. Don’t take your Road King on this one. Extremely scenic, however.

So I want to thank Steve Smith, a rider from North Carolina who used this site to help plan his trip and then sent me his report. I didn’t even know where Ohio Pass was until he described his ride. And now I don’t feel so bad that he has been to Kebler Pass and I haven’t, because now I have.

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Biker Quote for Today

Enjoying life one ride at a time.

Update on Guanella Pass

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I wrote just three days ago about the conditions on Guanella Pass, so with that on my mind, when my wife wanted to head for the high country the next day I knew where I wanted to go.

The last time we were up there was two years ago, and what we saw then was what I described. Well, there is a lot that has changed in two years.

For one thing, the reconstruction work I mentioned has begun, and going up from the Georgetown side the road is horrible. Horrible! It’s one lane in several places, with traffic signals stopping you or letting you pass, but the road surface on most of it is so bad it’s amazing. I can hardly believe the county would let it get this bad, although I wonder if perhaps it is the heavy construction going on that has torn the road up like this. If that’s the case then of course they won’t want to repair the road surface until the heavy work is done. The project won’t be completed for another couple years.

After awhile you get past the mess and then the road is pretty good the rest of the way up. It’s mostly paved, although still rough, and just as you near the top it turns to gravel. It’s definitely passable. We couldn’t really tell what the condition was two years ago because it was all covered with snow at that time.

And it is beautiful up on top! It was beautiful last time, too, but it was an all-covered-with-snow beauty. I had forgotten just how spectacular it is when the snow is gone.

Heading on down the other side it continues as gravel and gets to be a lot of washboard. Then abruptly, about a mile from the top, you hit nice new asphalt. We guessed that this was where we hit the county line. If you look at the picture I included in the last post and you see the poor surface, that’s all been redone. The new asphalt continues for several miles and then you get back to the older surface and intermittent gravel. It’s all very passable, although if it has rained you will face mud.

So bottom line on all this, I still wouldn’t take a Gold Wing on this road but anyone who doesn’t mind doing some dirt would find this a really nice ride. You’ll need to go slow on the part where the surface is so bad but you definitely can do it. Just try not to get caught in a thundershower.

Consequently, I will be adding this road to the Dirt Roads and Side Trips page of the website.

Biker Quote for Today

Patience is the ability to keep your motor idling.