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Old 06-17-2012, 09:13 PM   #1
JackJack OP
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ISO Colorado Twisties

“It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” Or so the saying goes. Several things didn’t go according to plan, and there were some decidedly low moments, but in the end it all worked out. I got to ride some of Colorado’s best roads and take lots of photos.


The eye candy:








The Plan: Minneapolis to Moab, Mesa Verde, RMNP over 2 weeks
The Plan went right out the window as I high-tailed it across Nebraska. It wasn’t so much “high-tailed” as it was painfully slow due to construction zones and heavy truck traffic, 93+ degree days, and frequent hydration stops.



Day 2 I left Lincoln, Nebraska and watched the horizon as two storm systems emerged and darkened the skies. One system stayed North of I-80 and the other lingered to the South. Despite stopping to put on rain gear, I did not get wet. I probably would have if I had stayed on I-76, but I checked the weather and made a crucial decision to head to Fort Lupton, CO and call it a night.


Why Fort Lupton you ask? Because there is a Motel 6 there and it’s close to Ft. Collins and the Roosevelt National Forest. Motel 6 always seems to have a room available and I never paid more than $47 for a night’s stay at a Motel 6. And they have laundry on-site.



Let’s get started already!


Day 3: Ride Poudre Canyon and find a campsite. (CO 14)


Poudre Canyon is a blast of twisty goodness. Being in the canyon I wasn’t blasted with unpredictable wind gusts like the rest of my Colorado rides.












I headed out to Mountain Park Campground and got my site set up:



And the river at the back edge of my camp site:



I just love the smell of a pine forest.



Colorado Highway 14 and the Poudre Canyon sit at a neat junction of pine forest on the south and near desert on the north side of the canyon:



After setting up camp I rode twisty CO 14 back to Fort Collins to do laundry and get groceries. In the hour I sat at the decidedly non-air-conditioned laundry mat I started to not feel so good. So I drank a bottle of Diet Dew, stuffed my clean laundry in a backpack and headed across the street to a place called Serious Texas BBQ. (new to me) After some good grub, I went into the grocery store next door. That’s when it hit. Sudden dizziness, nausea, weakness, heart racing. Uh-oh.


I pushed my cart over to the in-store café and sat down. For an hour. When I got up it was to get a Gatorade. Then I sat back down and drank 32 oz of life-altering Gatorade over the course of another hour. Finally, I felt well enough to head back into the heat and to the campground. If this had hit me 15 minutes later I would have been on the bike and heading into the canyon. It would not have been pretty.



I wish I had been able to stay in Poudre Canyon longer but the road was calling. Unfortunately, the High Park fire has now destroyed most of the great scenery between Fort Collins and the Mountain Park campground I so enjoyed. As of this writing, the fire was about 2 miles south and east of the Mountain Park campground.



Day 4: Rocky Mountain Park here I come…or so I thought.


I slept like a rock under the pines with the Poudre River rolling by in all its turbulent glory. I woke up feeling like a million bucks and itching to ride more twisty roads.


I took off up the twisty and stunningly gorgeous Hwy 27 to US 34.
Along the way:



I wonder if they are trying to make a statement of some kind:









Then I rode up the gorgeous Big Thompson Canyon into Estes Park. Then I started to not feel so good. This wasn’t the dehydration/heat exhaustion of the day before. I immediately recognized this as Altitude Sickness. Blimey!


I went in search of a motel. A wrong turn took me down to Estes Lake. I parked the bike to check my load which I had felt shift. Parked on a hill with the kickstand downhill I set about tightening the Rok Straps. Suddenly I am standing there dumbfounded as the bike teeters over toward the uphill side. “How the F does the bike fall up hill?” was all I could think.



Finally, I came out of my stupor and with the help of a local fisherman, got the bike back up. The only damage was a scrape on the lower cowl. The saddle bags kept the pipe from touching asphalt. My pride was bruised but I took this as a sign from the universe to stop riding until I had acclimated to the elevation.



Twenty minutes later I was lying in a cheesy 1950’s motel room. With only 60 miles under my belt for the day I took a four hour nap. Then took a brief swim as I watched storm clouds build over the mountains. Seeing the clouds made me feel a bit better about taking a couple rest days.





When I checked the local TV channels I saw the weather was hell south of Denver. Hmm. The next day I was still feeling thrashed and the weather to the south didn’t look any better. I re-upped for another night in the motel.

Day 6: Ready to ride RMNP! The riding was sublime as was the scenery and weather. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to ride through.























Then it was South over Berthoud Pass:



And on to the Glenwood Canyon Pearl Harbor Memorial rest stop:



What strange dandelions they have here:



And lovely rocks:



Then it was forward, ever forward to HWY 113 from Carbondale to Hotchkiss over McClure Pass. I think this was the best section of my Colorado ride. There were endless long sweepers, a few tight turns, perfect weather, golden late afternoon light, and zero traffic on this stretch. This is what I came here for. I didn’t take many photos as I was enjoying the ride too much to stop.









I spent the night in Hotchkiss then headed down to the Million Dollar Highway. If I could do it over, I would have went East on Hwy 92 from Hotchkiss through the Black Canyon instead of through Delta to Montrose.


Sorry there aren’t any pics from the Million Dollar Highway. Between the 10 mph blind curves and gusting winds, and thinking I lost my little camera, I didn’t stop to take out the big camera. Looking back, I really didn’t enjoy the ride from Ouray to Silverton. The loss of the little camera was weighing heavily on my mind and coloring my day. I did find the camera in my tank bag later and felt silly for having worried so much.


Durango: As I rolled into Durango my first impression was “Tourist Trap”. I decided to skip Durango and head on out to Mesa Verde National Park. I have to say the park offers some very nice twisty riding among other things:


Cliff Palace:





















After a couple nights camping in Mesa Verde it was time to hit the road. I headed east on Hwy 160. I fell in love with the area around Pagosa Springs and through Wolf Creek Pass.






After Wolf Creek Pass the scenery died down and the storm clouds started building to the North.












Fortune smiled on me and I didn’t get wet prior to stopping for the night in Pueblo. The next morning I mailed my camping gear home, significantly lightening my load and reducing the sail effect on my bike.


I-70 across Kansas was a dream of fresh asphalt and low traffic. The wheat fields looked like gold velvet and where the harvesters had been, the tractor tire prints looked like finger tracks across the velvet. It was a gorgeous ride. Near Fort Riley I found the Cox Bros BBQ and it was good. Really good.





I spent a couple days with family near KC, MO then headed home up I-35. All went well until I finally had to pay the devil his due – there was a huge storm system hovering over southern Minnesota. At Albert Lea I donned my rain gear and waited for a break on the radar. I made it about 15 miles when hell broke loose. I ducked into the rest area where I waited for an hour and 45 minutes for a break. Deciding I didn’t want to sleep on a picnic table I ran to the bike at the first let up of rain. In my rush I forgot to put my rain pants back on. I realized this at the end of the on ramp when the deluge started again and the cold rain soaked the crotch of my riding pants.


The next ten minutes were a harrowing, white-knuckle, ass-clenching terror-fest. Cars and trucks couldn’t see me until they were on my ass, then they would spray me with water on their way around. The wind was gusting and I was getting blown all around my lane. All that and the rain was coming down so hard I couldn’t see beyond 50 ft. Finally, the Owatonna exit with hotels appeared. I started to sigh in relief until I saw the road into the hotel was flash flooding. I crossed a 4 foot wide creek about 8 inches deep to get to the hotel. Thankfully they had a room available.


The next day dawned bright and sunny and I rode the last 50 miles home thinking, I wonder when I can do this again?


Many thanks to the motorcyclecolorado.com website for ride and campground info and to Steve Farson's book The Complete Guide to Mortorcycling Colorado which I used to find great route info.



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Old 06-17-2012, 10:52 PM   #2
pineconeMN
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Gorgeous photos, Jack. Looks like it was worth all the pucker moments!
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:48 AM   #3
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Gorgeous photos, Jack. Looks like it was worth all the pucker moments!
Thank You! It was a good trip and totally worth it.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:14 AM   #4
Grainbelt
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Thanks for sharing the ride! I haven't been out to CO in a number of years, and really should head back that way. I tend to stay north toward MT.


Now, go buy a hydration pack that either fits in your tankbag or a low-profile backpack. Really the only way to travel.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:22 AM   #5
JackJack OP
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Originally Posted by Grainbelt View Post
Thanks for sharing the ride! I haven't been out to CO in a number of years, and really should head back that way. I tend to stay north toward MT.


Now, go buy a hydration pack that either fits in your tankbag or a low-profile backpack. Really the only way to travel.
The sad part is I was using a hydration pack. I think the 90+ degree heat over the course of several days just took its toll.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:15 PM   #6
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Thanks for the report on the ride through God's country. Makes me want to go back to Colorado.
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Old 06-18-2012, 05:08 PM   #7
JackJack OP
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Thanks for the report on the ride through God's country. Makes me want to go back to Colorado.
I will definitely be going back for some more camping. I've been vacationing in the SW US for 5 years now trying to locate someplace that I might want to retire to. Top on my list is the area around Pagosa Springs, CO.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:21 PM   #8
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Great report! Glad you enjoyed Colorado. You did the right thing about getting acclimated, you don't want to mess with altitude sickness.

I'll be riding my V-Strom up to Menahga, Minnesota in a week and a half for Midsummer and a family get together.

Well done and good photos.
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:52 AM   #9
JackJack OP
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Great report! Glad you enjoyed Colorado. You did the right thing about getting acclimated, you don't want to mess with altitude sickness.

I'll be riding my V-Strom up to Menahga, Minnesota in a week and a half for Midsummer and a family get together.

Well done and good photos.
Thanks! And Menahga is in beautiful country, too, especially if you like to fish. Stay safe!
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:35 PM   #10
JackJack OP
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The CO routes

The maps, in case you wanted to know.

Day 1 and 2, slab to Ft. Lupton, CO

Day 3 Ft Lupton to Mountain Park Campground, Poudre Canyon, CO:
Photobucket

Day 4 Mountain Park Campground to Estes Park, CO:
Photobucket

Day 6 Estes Park, CO to Hotchkiss, CO:
Photobucket

Day 7 Hotchkiss to Mesa Verde, CO:
Photobucket

Day 9: Mesa Verde to Pueblo, CO:
Photobucket

Day 10 Pueblo, CO to Hays, KS:
Photobucket

Then the slab to MO and the slab to MN.
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