Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fort Collins, CO to Albuquerque, NM via 285

I headed out of Fort Collins at 5:30AM this morning. Rush hour traffic through Denver is just as bad as Chicago, even at 6:30AM it was first gear, stop and go for a bunch of miles. At least I didn’t have to go very far in that mess. From I-25 I got on to I-76 - way less traffic on that one, and then took 470 to 285 and headed for the mountains, then south toward New Mexico.

On 285 west of Bailey, CO

Same shot as above, with river and horses

I have never been on 285 before. Nice road with some straight sections, some sweepers, some nice twisties but nothing really tight even through the mountain passes. Much better then the interstate. I was riding at higher elevation once I got on 287 and had the Gerbing cranked on high and the heated grips as well. It was 35 degrees in Fort Collins when I left, but at 7,000 - 10,000 feet in elevation on 285 it was a lot colder, in the 20's. it was especially cold through the many passes along 285 - Kenosha Pass at 10,000 feet, Red Hill Pass at 9,993 feet, Trout Creek Pass at 9,346 feet and Poncha Pass at 9,010 feet.

Sign for Kenosha Pass

A stop at Kenosha Pass on 285 at 10,000 feet in elevation

Getting close to Fairplay, CO on 285

One of many sweepers along 285

Some nice curves along 285, this was either going up Red Hill Pass or Trout Creek Pass, they looked similar

285 near Buena Vista, CO

Going up through Poncha Pass on 285 south of Poncha Springs

Once you get through Poncha Pass, the rest of 285 is pretty straight all the way to the New Mexico border

Finally in Southern Colorado I turned off on 17, straight and boring, but still great views of the mountains. In Alamosa, CO I hooked back up with 285 and took my first long break and ate some of the food I had with. 285 goes out of the way to hook up with some towns so 17 is a short cut.

Once over the border in New Mexico 285 is nothing special. The curves or scenery don't get nice again until past Tres Piedras, NM. Just before Santa Fee I got on 599 to by pass most of the city, then got on the interstate for a bit to Albuquerque.

When I planned the original 3 day ride to Silver City, on day two I was going to stop in in Albuquerque and spend the evening at a BBQ with some riders who were also heading to the meet. But when I didn’t leave on Wednesday, I decided to split the distance in half for the two days to Silver City, so I would not be making the BBQ. I would be camping somewhere around Santa Fe.

Colorado - New Mexico border

Since the bike and the rider can't be in the same picture... 2 pictures are necessary :)

As It turned out the first private campground I was going to stay at, was all gravel. I don’t do gravel on a loaded bike. I wasn’t too worried because it was still early in the day, I was making excellent time and I wanted to keep going. I had a second camp site figured out that was paved according to their website and was just north of Albuquerque. If I could camp here for the night I could make the BBQ after all. The Coronado Campsite in Bernalillo, NM used to be a State Park, now it‘s owned and operated by the town of Bernalillo. It was right off the interstate and I was glad my day was ending. I was getting tired and it was 80 degrees here - hot. I pulled in to the campground, there was no one in the office and I was supposed to find the host. I rode around the campground, which had the largest speed bumps I have ever seen. There was no way to around them, and they were so tall that I heard my exhaust pipe scrape on few of them even going as slow as I was. Very enjoying! I found the camp host and was informed that tent campers couldn’t camp here, they had to go out back to the tent camping. The road to tent camping was gravel. I looked at it, sometimes gravel isn’t all bad. But these were small boulders and it was deep. Having no idea where I would be sleeping tonight, I headed to the BBQ that I wasn’t supposed to be going to.

Pavement in New Mexico is not as nice as on the Colorado side

After a long straight section, finally some curves and mountains come in to view on 285 in New Mexico

Getting closer to Santa Fe the pavement improves as does the scenery

When I pulled up to Dean’s house half an hour later he was very surprised to see me. He had two other riders staying the night already, there was no extra beds for me, but there was a spare room with floor space and that’s all I needed. I was glad I could crash at Dean’s place and didn’t have to look for a camp site, I would enjoy the BBQ and then just go upstairs and sleep.
Dean and his wife Cindy cooked up a nice BBQ and they had some friends and neighbors over as well. All were motorcycle riders, so while the burgers and hot dogs were consumed, the motorcycle stories continued. A great way to end a day of riding.

Section of 285 from 470 at Morrison, CO (West of Denver, CO) to Buena Vista, CO - riding through Kenosha Pass at 10,000 feet, Red Hill Pass at 9,993 feet and Trout Creek Pass at 9,346 feet in elevation

Section of 285 from Buena Vista, CO to Alamosa, CO through Poncha Pass at 9,010 feet (left), section of 285 from Alamosa, CO to Santa Fe, NM (right)

The whole 480 mile route from Fort Collins to ABQ: I-25, I-76, I-70, 470, 285, 17, back on 285, 599, and I-25 to ABQ

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