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Old 06-26-2009, 12:40 PM   #1
FatChance OP
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Free Advice for Motorcycle Tourists in Colorado

Note: I had this in another thread, but since we get about a hundred silly questions every day from flatlanders coming up to the mountains for their summer vacation, I thought as a public service I would start a whole, dedicated thread with some sage, well reasoned advice so we don't have to answer the same, lame questions over and over and over...

Some free advice I usually give to flatlanders coming up to the mountains:

1) Watch the weather. It will change faster up here than it does back home with less warning. It can be hot, sunny, cloudy, rain, hail, snow with wind gusts over 80mph all on the same day, maybe twice a day, every day. In the summer, it will usually start off beautiful, clear and cool, then warm up and maybe get hot. In the early afternoon it will cloud over and there will often be a violent storm in the afternoon. It will usually clear up before a beautiful sunset and get cold at night. It can and does snow every month of the year. The hail can pile up 6" deep. The weather in the next canyon over will probably be different. Make allowances for weather changes and be ready to be flexible. Rain washes sand, gravel and large boulders on the road. Have gear with you for snow in the 30s and sun near 100 and be ready to change within hours, or less. Your passenger may not like the weather extremes as much as you do. There are more lighting fatalities per capita in Colorado than anywhere else. Weather forecasts in the mountains in the summer are basically worthless.

2) The altitude takes a couple days to get used to. Take your time, get plenty of sleep at night, drink 2-3 times as much water as you do at home. You will not notice how low the humidity is and you will not notice any sweat to tell you that you need more water. Hold off on alcohol consumption. Take time to get off the bike and stretch your legs. Have a flexible schedule and if you get a headache or nausea or are short of breath, stop and don't get back on the bike until you feel better. Altitude sickness is real and happens to just about everyone who comes up here from down there even if you are an Olympic athlete. Worst cases can cause death.

3) 200+ miles a day might not be anything when you are back home where there are no turns, hills, scenic views, great little towns and charming locals, but it is different in the mountains. This is the destination, not the trip to get there. Plan on getting off the bike and exploring some of the neat little places up here. If you're just planning on riding all day long, you'll miss a lot of what makes the Rockies such a great place. Ask yourself if you're taking a vacation on your motorcycle or if you're taking your motorcycle on your vacation. It is much better to plan a shorter day and expand it because you found something you weren't expecting than to run out of time because your plans din't fit reality. In fact, the best plan is no plan at all. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. There are no secret "best" or "most scenic" roads that the locals are keeping a secret from the flatlanders (really, trust me!). Every road here is better and more scenic than any road you have back home. Find your own favorite!

4) We have two seasons up here, winter and road construction. Be prepared for some long waits. Then be prepared to be behind a mile long line of cars with no places to pass. Be patient.

5) There are deer everywhere and they are out there trying to kill you. Personally, we don't ride early in the morning or at dusk, in fact, we never ride mountain roads after dark because of the critters. By 5 or 6, find a place to spend the night and have dinner. There are more critters on the sides of the road than you can imagine. Too many motorcyclists are killed by deer every year, more than back home.

6) There is more and more traffic enforcement every year. Local budgets are strained and they need the money. Slow down and enjoy the view if you don't want to meet one of our friendly sheriffs or state patrolmen. Don't complain if they catch you breaking the law.

7) Our roads are fun, but keep the Joe Racer stuff at home. When flatlanders think their name is Rossi and ride too fast and crash and kill themselves it raises our insurance rates just because it happens here. Too often we read in the paper about some flatlander crashing because they are going too fast, not paying attention or don't realize that it is different riding in the mountains. All of those crashes are bad for the tourist industry and increase law enforcement presence for us when you're gone. In the summer, the roads are packed with locals, RVs, trucks, sheep and cattle drives and other tourists. With all the traffic, deer, road washouts, construction, idiot tourists who do not know how to drive (or ride) in the mountains, incredible views and other dangers, you have to be extra careful.

8) Spend a lot of money here before you leave and tip the waitresses well.

9) We are NOT lucky to live here. We live here on purpose...

10) Don't complain about all the damn tourists. You are one too. Even though it is tourist season, unfortunately we're not allowed to shoot any.

11) If you have to ask if you can ride your motorcycle over some high mountain 4x4 pass and survive, you probably don't have the knowledge or skills to do it. People who can do it safely already have informed themselves based on past experience and are confident enough in their skills and machinery that they don't have to ask. If you have to ask, don't do it, even if you have ridden all of the toughest trails in Iowa...

Have fun, be safe, buy the locals a couple beers to try to find out about those secret roads and send us a post card when you get back home.
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FatChance screwed with this post 06-26-2009 at 02:18 PM
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatChance
If you have to ask, don't do it, even if you have ridden the toughest trails in Iowa...
I'm from Iowa, I didn't know there were any tough trails

Good advice though!
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:33 PM   #3
fritzcoinc
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Thanks for the info.
Do you know if Tuckerville is a place you can ride. I hunted there in the 80's.
SW cor. of state near Valencia Reservior.
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:43 PM   #4
FatChance OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fritzcoinc
Thanks for the info.
Do you know if Tuckerville is a place you can ride. I hunted there in the 80's.
SW cor. of state near Valencia Reservior.
Yes, we've ridden up to Tuckerville way up above Vallacito Reservoir. Beautiful views up there. I have a couple pictures of our last ride up in that area HERE.
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Old 06-26-2009, 04:40 PM   #5
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June 26th 3:30pm...It just clouded over, black dark clouds! Wind picks up and is making the tress dance violently... whats that oh Tornado warning sirens... a little bit of rain... temperature drops 10 degrees instantly!

June 26th 4:30pm... everything blows over... beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies with a puffy white clouds here or there... temperature jumps back up 10 degrees....

Yes that just happened in SE Denver! Its more drastic in the mountains.
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Old 06-26-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
fritzcoinc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatChance
Yes, we've ridden up to Tuckerville way up above Vallacito Reservoir. Beautiful views up there. I have a couple pictures of our last ride up in that area HERE.
Thanks the place has not changed much. I thought I mis-spelled the name. Thanks again.
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Old 06-26-2009, 07:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatChance
11) If you have to ask if you can ride your motorcycle over some high mountain 4x4 pass and survive.............
Standard climbing guidance is to be off peaks and ridges by noon. I cut that close last September on Imogene, went over at 1130 and think I rode a stoppie halfway to Ouray the wind was so strong at my back.
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Old 06-26-2009, 10:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatChance
Yes, we've ridden up to Tuckerville way up above Vallacito Reservoir. Beautiful views up there. I have a couple pictures of our last ride up in that area HERE.
Nice pics of Vallacito, gonna be up there on the 4th of July. No riding though, marrying off the eldest daughter.

Maybe I can do some scouting............

Great post FatChance.
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:07 PM   #9
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Old 06-26-2009, 11:30 PM   #10
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My 2 cents worth

12) The left lane is for passing. Period. I know that's the law in every state, but here in Colorado, especially in the mountains it is imperitive. Passing lanes are few and far between, so when us "locals" finally get a chance to pass, nothing is more frustrating than finding the passing lane clogged up with tourists taking their sweet time. Nothing wrong with sight seeing. We want you to enjoy the view, but do it from the right lane. If you are not actively passing somebody, then stay in the right lane all the time. Even if you're driving up the mountain and there is NO ONE behind you, stay in the right lane. The people coming down the mountain that want to use that lane for passing will thank you.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDudeAbides
My 2 cents worth

12) The left lane is for passing. Period. I know that's the law in every state, but here in Colorado, especially in the mountains it is imperitive. Passing lanes are few and far between, so when us "locals" finally get a chance to pass, nothing is more frustrating than finding the passing lane clogged up with tourists taking their sweet time. Nothing wrong with sight seeing. We want you to enjoy the view, but do it from the right lane. If you are not actively passing somebody, then stay in the right lane all the time. Even if you're driving up the mountain and there is NO ONE behind you, stay in the right lane. The people coming down the mountain that want to use that lane for passing will thank you.

Thank you in advance.
+1

Here in AZ when I want to go at a slower pace I like to get behind a truck/RV or whatever so the traffic behind thinks it's the truck slowing them down not me. That way I'm not the bad guy and I can enjoy the scenery without being "pushed" to go faster. Passing lanes can be like the first turn at a MX race, I stay right and avoid the fight.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:34 AM   #12
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Great job! I edited it some (can't help myself) and saved it to use when the turista asks the standard questions.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:41 AM   #13
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A no-brainer, well it least it ought to be. Avoid the WEEKENDS if at all possible!! If you are traveling a day or two to get here, use Sat/Sun to cross those boring states to the East or enjoy the wide open scenery to the West.

YOU will enjoy your vacation riding time here much more if you can follow this plan.
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Old 06-27-2009, 10:10 AM   #14
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Well, thanks a lot you egotistical, know-it-all. FC, I see several problems with your sermon, reverend. I'll address them in the order you presented them.

1. The name of this site is called "Adventure Rider". If DS'ers going into the mountains are a little afraid of getting wet or dodging a few lightning bolts, they need to stay on the couch with reruns of the Paula Dean cooking show.

2. Withhold alcohol consumption???!!! Are you nuts? That one doesn't even deserve a response. Maybe the only caveat is not to drink and ride at the same time, as that can be quite dangerous. I tried it, but I have to keep my throttle hand on the grip to acutally go, and shifting was really tough as I couldn't work the clutch very well while holding a bottle of tequila. Maybe a Recluse clutch? That might do the trick, and as Hayduke says, "Safety Third".

3. 200+ miles a day too much? Refer back to #1. The site is called...well...you know it by now.

4. Road construction? We're riding dirt motors...they're small...a little torn up asphalt is no challenge. Again, I refer to #1 and the title of this site. Dodging road graders, bulldozers, and irate highway workers makes the best of this inconvenience. I would caution everyone to be a little more careful around those guys/gals holding the STOP/SLOW signs on the end of the pole. Some of them must have batted at least 500 back in Little League. A good full coverage helmet is a must here.

5. Deer? Man, I came to see the wildlife, and seeing it up close just adds to the experience. And riding after dark? I have just one response to that misinformation....GEEK!

6. Law enforcement? Pfffft! Those guys can't even catch a KLR on those roads.

FC, I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. What turnip truck do you think we fell off of just because we live out-of-state?



Seriously though...I think you know I'm totally kidding here. I've spent a lot of time all over the beautiful state of Colorado riding DS bikes and even the 4x4 when the wife was along, and your recommendations and warnings are pretty spot on. I still have a bit of an issue with #2. Sitting in a primitive camp in the evening with a river or waterfall as background noise and a bottle of tequila are about as good as it gets.
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Old 06-27-2009, 10:21 AM   #15
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At what elevation do the deer turn into elk?
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