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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Geek, Mar 8, 2010.
When was the last time that you were in Taylor?
The cat has long ago gotten out of the bag on that one.
It's been a year and yea, I know. Some habits are hard to break. (it was a joke!)
Actually.. I've really come to enjoy the plains this Winter. Pawnee Grasslands have become one of my favorite places to get away from it all.
...but that said, most people looking to visit Colorado are going to be looking for mountains so I'll keep focusing on those for this report.
Last weekend's ride in North Eastern Colorado:
...and my first time in the Pawnee National Grasslands was March of last year:
I'm a "put my tent on my bike and go" type person, although we do load up the trailer to go out to Moab and the like (my girlfriend's bike doesn't have the legs of my 610 or 950).
I'll start to detail time lines when I post specific routes.
From here in the Boulder area we often leave early morning and ride places like Summit County and are home that night.
Or we'll do an over night if riding Aspen/Crested Butte type stuff...
Or we'll load up the dirtbags and take off for 9 days at a time (my favorite)
...more to come
Merfman reminded me of something I meant to post and forgot
Hydration! Hydration! Hydration!
all my buddies keep insisting this is NOT proper hydration
Colorado is DRY.
Not like Utah where the beer sucks.. but meaning very low humidity
Despite what you'd think with our "epic powder", afternoon thunderstorms, etc.. it really is DRY here. If you are from the east it is a downright desert here.
There is a reason the snow here is so powdery and fluffy.. its dry! Its nothing like the snow in Canada or upstate New York, etc. It is so dry here we can literally get a foot of snow and two days later be wearing shorts & t-shirt (no-exaggeration - its one of the reasons I moved here ).
EVERY time you stop your bike when riding in Colorado.. drink some water.
Wear a camel back and drink constantly while you ride.
Sure it sucks cuz we're getting old and have to pee too much to begin with.. but do it anyway.
When I first moved here people told me this constantly and I didn't give it nearly enough attention. They were right. Day two of a ride I would be wiped and then I'd realize it was because I didn't drink nearly enough the first day and I was dehydrated.
If you are doing a multiday trip here and you forget to force yourself to drink water the first day you are going to cost yourself a lot of energy later on.
The dryness sucks the moisture right through your skin... it doesn't matter if you are hot or not.
Do yourself a favor and drink several liters a day while you are here. Force yourself to drink a full liter of water right when you first wake up each morning (I do every day as soon as I wake up.. I did this morning too ).
Your body and energy levels will thank you
I've been standing in the sun when the wind picked up and started blowing snow off the peak above me and it was snowing on me without a cloud in the sky while I stood in the summer sunshine
"Layers and Flexability".
Many places I've lived have the motto "Don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes".
In Colorado I think it should be "Don't like the weather, ride 5 miles".
When you visit Colorado you are likely going to ride a lot of Passes. Passes are the fun stuff because they are ways up and over mountains instead of going around mountains. Due to this you end up with huge altitude changes not to mention specific micro-climates generated by the mountains themselves.
General rule: The temperature will drop 4 degrees every 1000 feet you climb. That said, when in the mountains it can change a lot more severely than that just by rounding a corner.
Keep in mind that weather elsewhere can effect you. We crossed this creek one morning and it was about a foot deep (and the mountain range above us was receiving rain). 4 hours later when we got back to this creek it was nearly 3 feet deep :eek1
Be ready for anything:
The first time I was on California Pass in 2007 it was sunny and beautiful the entire time.
In 2009 I was in freezing cold and wet the entire time I went over California.
In 2008 I was going over California Pass sweating my butt off in a cloudless sunny sky... went around a bend and ran into a vicious hail storm (above tree line no where to hide I got pounded with marble size hail) started to descend and got soaked by torrential rain and then popped into a valley where the sun was out and steam was coming off my gear. All this in 20 minutes of riding (and dropping from 12,930 feet to ~10k feet).
All three trips were in August.
You need to be dressed flexibly. You can literally go from 90+ degrees to into the 40s or 30s in a matter of hours (and back to 90 again!).
You'll be hot down low.
You'll be cool up high.
You'll get soaked for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
The other rule they try to drum into us around here:
MAKE SURE YOU ARE BACK BELOW TREELINE BY NOON.
Why? Because when the afternoon thunderstorms roll in, you are going to be the best lightening rod above tree line and get your arse fried.
Every summer we have reports of people hit by lightening and sometimes there isn't a cloud in the sky where they are (the storm could be behind a peak next to you and you wouldn't know it.. but the lightening can still use you as a grounding rod :eek1).
Sure that seems to be a "do as I say not as I do" rule with me... but the times I have been above treeline when thunderstorms have rolled in they have been genuinely terrifying/dangerous. The feeling of every hair standing up on your body is not a feeling you'll soon forget (or a feeling I recommend you try for).
One time @ 14K feet Ironbrewer and I were watching the thunder and lightening form below us... that was a freaky situation to be looking down on lightening :huh.
Not good :eek1
I can't count the number of times I've been on a mountain and watched a storm roll up the mountain at me (at a speed far faster than I could go).. I'll see if I can dig up some video I have later.
So long story short:
Have a water proof outer layer
Get below tree line before noon if you can.
p.s. when I do road rides I use electrics and it is a great solution. Turn up the temperature as you climb, turn it back down as you descend. I don't tend to wear my electrics off road though.. too bulky and they don't breath well enough.
p.s.s. Plan on every/any night camping getting into the 30s (of course depending on how high you camp.. but be ready). Make sure you have a sleeping bag capable of keeping you warm. The desert climate usually means the temperature drops dramatically after dark
sure it is sunny where I am.. but those clouds in the distance means I have no business going above treeline right now
ok.. enough on fundamentals... next we're on to specifics.
Routes Routes and more Routes
Fall 2007 ride route had some of everything!
...more to come...
The locals may be crusty old jerks, but they respond well when you are polite and buy them drinks...
Does this work?
It's not Ska, but it is OK!
I genuinely appreciate all the PMs I've been receiving about this thread
Please don't be shy though and feel free to post your questions in this thread... even the "non-colorado specific" questions. There is a good chance someone else is wondering the same thing so then I can post the reply publicly.
One question I keep getting is about the mad-max looking bike you see in some of the pictures. It is a 1984 Honda VT500 Ascot.
It is lovingly known as The Loser
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It is a bit of a legend of a bike around here.
Dirty_Dave (Dave Kilkenny) from Milwaukee gave it to me when I moved to Colorado (yes GAVE a motorcycle - to a complete stranger with only the request "have fun and write some cool ride reports about it") because I couldn't afford a bike at that time. That bike has been to many places it had no business going and it always did admirably in the process. I've since paid forward the bike to Spooph and he is in the process of preparing the thing for its next chapter of epic adventure s
If you want to learn more about it.. paste the following string into google:
site:advrider.com "The Loser" geek
...and you'll find some of the old ride reports and tales of the great people that helped keep that bike going (and going.. and going)
Thanks for taking the time to do this project. It is one of the best regional ride guides available. And yeah, I would buy the coffee table book...
This is dangerous.
Oh boy is this great!! I'm planning a trip out to Colorado in mid July this year and this is going to be a HUGE help. Thanks again for taking the time.
This is terrible, no wait I mean great, no I uh...crap. I have been itching to get a dual sport to play in some of the areas you're highlighting and now you have really made me want one BAD! I wonder if I could trade someone the old Suzuki for a serviceable older XR or something? Anyone want a great old 450 road bike
I've been making Colorado my annual sabbitical since 1992 only missing one year since. Stayed in Silverton for the first time last year and going back again this year. Will be staying at the Red Mtn camground july 3rd-10th, then going to Taylor Park area july 10th -16th. I ride a plated KTM exc 450 and it works great up there also have atv's as well -1 day on bikes, next day on kwadz. Can't wait! Everything Geek says about alt alt sickness and dryness is TRUE. You can't drink enough water up there. I have also experienced all 4 seasons in a days ride up there. Take it easy for the first few days if your a flatlander like me and you'll be okay! If anyone is in the area during these dates, come look us up! We'll be in the largest toyhauler in the campground!
Great thread Geek! Keep it up.
This thread is great! I moved to Colorado springs in May '08, deployed to Afghanistan in June '09. Did not have time to ride too much due to train up and such. As I sit here in Afghanistan reading this it is giving me so much more information than I would have gotten on my own.
Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
This is one of the greatest...I grew up in Evergreen and rode a dirt bike and camped around the hills all the time, left in the mid 70's and have been trying to get back every since...I now have a 08 KLR 650 and this is making me want to get back even more...
Thanks Geek and keep up the good work...look forward to seeing many mor pics and maps
Being from Steamboat, this thread is giving me ideas for rides this summer, we get summer right??!!.
How about a Guide to Utah? Moab?
I still have 3 feet of snow to melt before I can get my bike out of storage.