Thursday, July 31, 2008

Denver to Colorado Springs and 6 mt. passes

Yesterday afternoon Mike received a phone call from Foothills BMW Triumph that his bike was done. Wow, that was quick! The plan was to get there to pick it up as the dealer opened up at 9AM.

At Foothills BWM Triumph picking up Mike's Tiger

We left Colorado Springs two up on my 954RR and at 8:40AM we were in Denver. We even had some time left to grab a quick breakfast. The traffic heading in to Denver was heavy on I-25 but at least it was moving most of the way. As soon as we reached the Denver metro area the traffic was stop and go. We were lucky that our exit was coming up quick and we didn’t have to go further north on I-25.

As far as dealerships go, this must have been the best experience ever. Not only did they take the Tiger in right away and fix it, but it was warranty work on an out of state bike. We were so pleased with our experience there that we even stopped to tell the owner about it. The forks on the Tiger were fixed, but they had to order a radiator cap for the bike, the one of the Tiger was indeed faulty. It would take about two weeks for the new radiator cap to arrive, we will have to swing by the dealership to pick it up when it comes in.

Mike brought his GIVI top case on my bike, which he transferred to his bike for the ride back to Colorado Springs. He needed to get back to the computer and get some work done. I needed to explore some of the roads around here.

Heading up to Loveland Pass on highway 6

Loveland Pass at 11, 990 feet in elevation

See the people in the snow down below?

Loveland Pass scenery

Heading west on 6 and down the mountain

Highway 6 and Loveland Pass

I took 6 west and then headed West on I-70. I wanted to get away from Denver quick and then be able to enjoy some of the back roads. My first twisty road was highway 6 and Loveland Pass. I remembered this road from my 2005 trip, unfortunately we weren’t able to ride it then, so I made sure to ride it now.

A stop near Dillon, CO

The road was great, but the traffic was horrible. I got stuck behind some slow semis and I had to follow them all the way to Loveland Pass. At Loveland Pass I stopped for some pictures and I wasn’t the only one, there were at last 40-50 other people here doing just the same thing.
Continuing on 6 heading west traffic was still a bit heavy with trucks, so I pulled over and let a bunch pass me so I could enjoy the curves. Near Dillon I got back on I-70 and continued west.

Highway 91

A stop near highway 91

Highway 91

I took the exit for 91 south which was also designated as scenic highway. In 2005 when planning the route I remember choosing 24 over 91 even though both end up in Leadville. This time I’d get to ride 91 and see if I missed anything. By the time I made it to Leadville, which by the way is a cool little town to explore, I realized why I took 24 last time. It was obviously the better road, and I’m sure when I did my research I read that. 91 just wasn’t that scenic and the road was very wide with many miles of passing lanes and not that many twisties, it was the faster route if you wanted to make it to Leadville quicker.

Highway 24 North of Buena Vista, CO

Further down on 24 I arrived in Buena Vista, got gas and as I passed the road sign that stated Cottonwood Pass was open, I remembered that this road was also one of the original roads that I wanted to ride but did in 2005.

I pulled over to think about my situation. It was around 2PM already and I didn’t even have lunch yet. I wanted to be back in Colorado Springs by 5PM so I could either skip this road and stop and grab lunch or skip lunch and ride the road. I did have a granola bar with me and some water so it’s not like I would starve to death and I really wanted to see Cottonwood Pass. After a few minutes of deliberating I turned around and went for it. 306 was a straight little road as it headed west out of Buena Vista but then all the sudden the curves started and continued all the way to the top.

Heading up to Cottonwood Pass on 306

Cottonwood Pass at 12, 126 feet in elevation

The other side of Cottonwood pass is 209 and it's not paved

Looking down at the twisties I just rode

306 to Cottonwood Pass

I was again stuck behind some slow moving vehicles. And this was the second time today where the slow vehicle displayed Kansas license places. This slow vehicle was an RV, going 15MPH under the posted speed limit. There were a few pullouts on this road but the driver wasn’t pulling over, they were taking their sweet time and letting 4 vehicles behind them suffer every inch of the way. Usually when presented with this kind of situation I’d just pull over and let everyone get head of me so I could go and enjoy the road but at this point I’d have to wait 30+ minutes since the RV was going so very slow. I had no choice but to pass all 3 vehicles which per usual, were traveling right behind one another making passing more difficult.

As I started to pass the first of the vehicles I got launched in to air. Then I realized this road had some speed bumps or just big bumps, not cool. After a few minutes of finding some appropriate places to pass, I was ahead of the slow vehicles and finally able to enjoy the road. The road got a bit twisty near the top of the mountain as the pavement contorted in to narrow and steep hair pins to make it to the top of Cottonwood Pass.

At the top of the Cottonwood Pass there was a large parking area which was full of cars. This was the end of the road for me, as the other side of the pass was not paved, so I’d have to come back the way I came.

This was my view as I ate my granola bar at Cottonwood Pass

Snow at Cottonwood Pass

The views from the top were beautiful. I found a rock to sit on overlooking the area and had my granola bar. After a few minutes of relaxing it was time to head back. As I headed back down the road I ran in to a couple on dual sports with Idaho license plates. She was on a CR230 and he on a CR650. We chatted for a while about motorcycle stuff and riding. Since I’ve been curious about living in Idaho, Boise to be exact, as a place to live, the conversation switched to living in Boise. After a few more minutes I found out that he was from Boise and she was from Greeley, CO which is right next to Fort Collins. I was curious about the comparison between Boise and Greeley… which was the better place to live and which place had better weather and milder winters. The answer was Boise hands down according to these two. As much as I wanted to get out there on this trip, and I’ve even gone as far as mapping it out, it was just too far since the only time we could ride far was on the weekends.

Heading back down from Cottonwood Pass

I was surprised how late it was already. I got on it and headed towards Colorado Springs not wanting to waste any more time knowing that I‘d be delayed by traffic once I reached the city limits.

A very flat and straight section of 24 east of Buena Vista

I made it back just before 6PM, without even stopping once from Buena Vista. I was very thirsty and hot when I got back, knowing that again I didn‘t drink enough water.

Today’s ride was 360 miles long and went across 6 mountain passes, not bad for a day ride. The passes crossed were Loveland Pass on RT 6 at 11,990 feet. Fremont Pass on RT 91 at 11,318 feet. Cottonwood Pass on RT 306 at 12126 ft. And on RT 24 I went over Wilkerson pass at 9165 feet, Ute pass at 9165 feet and Trout Creek Pass at 9346 feet.

Today's 360 mile route


Mike said...

Absolutely beautiful! Thanks

Mark said...

How fast did you go on that flat part on 24? I've had my handa (cruiser) up to I've only seen one cop on this road, I used to go this way most weekend to Keystone. Nice pics, have you done hw50 from canon city to Salida, not far from this route and just as fun/beautiful.

Anna said...


Fast, not sure how fast though LOL I was just on 24 again this past weekend.

I've been on hwy 50 many times. It's a great road, I love all of it.