Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ride: Loveland, Willow Creek & Cameron Pass

Finding people to sport-tour with that have a similar riding style is not as easy as one might think. Out of the many people that ride motorcycles, only a small percentage of riders regularly travel on their motorcycles. And from that group, not too many ride the way I do. I enjoy the roads and curves but I like to stop and see things along the way also, take many pictures, maybe do a hike and I also like to camp.

Today I was heading out for a ride with another sport-tourer that supposedly had a similar riding style to mine. Unfortunately I went to a BBQ/birthday party last night so I didn’t have a chance to plan a route for today. This was a last minute type of a ride, since originally I was supposed to be in Northern California this weekend but a job interview at the beginning of June made me cancel my two week ride out to California and the Pacific North West.

Dalton and I decided to meet in Longmont this morning since he lives east of Denver, and Longmont was kind of in the middle. My tentative plan was to ride 119 which I haven’t been on yet and some of the roads west of Denver and beyond.

I always plan my rides in the software
Microsoft Streets & Trips, but today I was going to do it the old fashioned way, with a paper map. Dalton and I looked over the map and selected some roads that made a loop, unfortunately we didn’t total up the mileage, so we really didn’t know how many miles we had to ride but it didn't look like that many miles.

We headed west from Longmont on 66 and in Lyons we made a left on 7 heading south. Then we took 72. I haven’t ridden either of these roads since last summer when I was visiting
Colorado and staying with Rita & Carl. These are great roads although there was a bit of traffic today. From 72 we continued to 119 heading south. 119 had definitely the tightest curves of the three roads, and lots of motorcycles on it but also more car traffic.

On 119 heading south

From 119 we turned on to 6 heading west and then I-70 just for a bit. From there we took the exit for 6 and rode up to Loveland Pass. This is one of my favorite passes. We stopped at the pass for some pictures and I had to throw a warmer layer on. The midday clouds were moving in already and the air was chilly at this elevation. We arrived in Silverthorne around lunch time and wanted to eat at the brewery but they were not open yet, so we went to Smash Burger. The burger was very yummy.

Heading west on 6 to I-70

After lunch we took 9 north. This road doesn’t have many curves actually but the scenery is very nice. In Kremmling we turned on 40 east, also not a very twisty road, but just before we reached the town of Hot Sulphur Springs, there was an amazing section of road that traveled through a canyon, with some beautiful rock formations, that right there made this road totally worth it.

Heading up to Loveland Pass on highway 6

The bikes at Loveland Pass

When we left Silverthorne there were already many dark clouds forming around us and once we got on 9 we were heading straight for them. We finally encountered rain on 40. Today was a cool day, but the rain plus being up in elevation made some sections of the route a bit on the chilly side.

Highway 6 climbing to Loveland Pass

Dalton took this picture of the scenery from Loveland Pass

Looking east from Loveland Pass

Looking west from Loveland Pass

Moving road obsticle on highway 6 coming down from Loveland pass

West of Loveland Pass

Some of the tight curves on highway 6

Lunch at Smash Burger in Silverthorne

From 40 we turned off on 125 heading North. I haven’t been on 9, 40 and 125 since my ride out to Colorado in 2004. 125 is a great motorcycle road because it’s so remote with very little traffic and very nice flowing curves, nothing really tight though, not even through Willow Creek Pass. But I remember this road having much better pavement when I was on it in 2004, today there were a few sections of very bumpy pavement but there were also some orange construction signs present so maybe they are fixing the road. We rode at least half of 125 in the rain and when we got to Walden to gas up it wasn‘t raining there but there were more dark clouds in the direction of Fort Collins.

Highway 40 west of Hot Sulphur Springs

125 before the rain

125 in the rain

Approaching Walden, more dark clouds to the east

On 14 near Cameron Pass

Some snow left over near Cameron Pass

East of Cameron Pass

When we stopped for gas today, we were not stopping for a very long time, so we took a longer break here in Walden and by the time we got going again, the clouds in the distance have moved and we didn’t run in to any more rain on 14. We stopped for a picture just west of Cameron Pass and didn’t stop until we were in Fort Collins. 14 is such a great road and I really love riding it from west to east the best, but on a Sunday afternoon we ended up following an endless caravan of cars all the way to Fort Collins. Definitely not as fun as having the whole road to yourself.

I love this section of 14

Approaching the canyon on 14

Dalton has the road all to himself

Closer to Fort Collins there was a bit of traffic on 14

Once we got to Fort Collins the ride was over for me and my total mileage for the day was 380 miles. Dalton still had a ways to ride before he got home. His mileage for the day ended up being about 508 miles and he ran in to a wicked storm and with very strong winds east of Denver on the way back.

My 380 mile route: 66 to 7 to 72 to 119 to 6 to I-70 to 6 to 9 to 40 to 125 to 14

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New posts are coming!

Yikes! I am posting this in July! I'm about a month and two weeks behind on the blogging, I've been very busy. So very busy.

I haven't been on line in about 3+ weeks. I took a nice long motorcycle trip, then I moved, then I went on another motorcycle trip. I just got internet at my new place today and I just started to unpack also. I should be ready to start posting pretty soon and there will be lots and lots of new posts. So stay tunned!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ride & Hike: Old Flowers Road to Flowers Trail

It was a chilly night, I forgot to bring my altimeter which has a thermometer so I don’t know how low the temp dropped over night, but there was frost on the picnic table in the morning, so the overnight temps did get below freezing.

Al getting the "bear proofed" food out of the tree

Breakfast: a Red Bull and a swooshed banana nut muffin

This whole ride was an experiment since I‘ve never done an overnight camping trip on the XT before that didn't involve towing the bike. Today was the second part of experiment, a ride and hike. There were lots of hiking trails out here and lots of dirt roads. Today we were going to ride out to one of the trailheads and do a hike from there.

But how do you ride a motorcycle to a trailhead and hike from there? That’s what I wanted to find out. The trail we were going to hike today was the Flowers Trail located just a few miles from Jack’s Gulch Campground.

I struggled making up my mind on how to prepare for the ride to the trailhead. Should I ride in all my dirt riding gear, some how secure all of it to the bike with a cable and padlock? The only thing that I couldn’t secure to my bike with a cable and lock were my motorcycle boots. I thought of carrying them in my pack on the hike, but unfortunately they wouldn’t fit inside my small Camelbak daypack. After doing some thinking I decided to leave my motorcycle boots inside my tent. I figured they would be safer out of sight, and ride with my hiking boots, which had some ankle protection but obviously not as much as my awesome BMW Santiago boots.

If Old Flowers Road was like some of the roads we rode yesterday that would be fine. Unfortunately Old Flowers Road was not like the roads we were on yesterday. I’ve only been on the section of Old Flowers Road near Stove Prairie Road, where it’s just a mellow dirt road. I knew Old Flowers is a local favorite for the dual-sport riders, so I figured that further down up it probably got more rugged and technical.

We geared up and took off from our campsite. A mile or some behind Jack’s Gulch Campground there are a few trailheads and Old Flowers Road. At first the road was narrow but not technical, a mile further we started to encounter rocks, small hills, some sand. We weren’t actually sure how far we had to ride Old Flowers before getting to the trailhead. We thought it was about 2 miles but after about a mile and half of riding we saw a sign posted that said “2 miles to Flowers Trailhead”.

Old Flowers Road

A meadow on Old Flowers Road

Horses on Old Flowers Road

The road got a bit rougher with large rocks in the road and tree roots sticking out, all I kept thinking was, were my hiking boots going to protect my ankles if I dropped the bike on my foot. Not a good thing to think about while you are riding a bumpy and rocky road trying to navigate between ruts, rocks and tree roots.

A rocky section on Old Flowers Road

Al chekcing out a fork in the road that went no where

Leaving the bike behind and starting the hike

We arrived at a meadow and decided to leave the bikes here and hike to the trailhead. We wanted the exercise anyway. And we already knew we couldn’t be hiking for too long, because we had to vacate the campsite in a few hours anyway.

The sky is so blue in the mountains

Flowers Trail Trailhead sign

Commemorative plaque at the Flowers Trailhead

Hiking the Flowers Trail

It was very sunny and warm now, about 45 minutes later we arrived at the Flowers Trailhead. The trail entered the forest and we started to hike among the trees, where it was much cooler. The trail gently was climbing but was mostly straight. This trail is rated as “difficult” and it’s 18.4 miles long and travels all the way to the junction of the Big South Trail, gaining an additional 1,184 feet of elevation from the 8,159 foot elevation start at the trailhead. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail except for two horses and their riders. Not sure how far we hiked, but after 45 minutes we decided to turn around. We passed a few more horses and their rides and arrived at the bikes.

The ride on Old Flowers Road back to Jack’s Gulch Campground was just a bit rougher, then when we rode it a few hours ago. The soil had dried out in the sun, the puddles shark and there was a lot more sandy areas.

I really did enjoy the ride and hike, but next time I want to ride out to the trailhead in my motorcycle boots, so I have to figure out what to do with them while I‘m hiking. Maybe I'll have to bring my larger pack so I can carry them since hiking in my dual-sport boots is not an option.

Heading toward highway 14 on Pingree Park Road

Lots of curves on Pingree Park Road

Back at the campsite, we had lunch, packed up and headed out. I ended up pouring all the gas that Al’s had in the MSR bottle in to my tank, figuring with the extra gas in my tank now, I was just going to make it to the gas station on highway 14 at 287 near Ted’s Place.

Getting chased by some dark clouds, no rain today though

Some nice views of the mountains from Pingree Park Road

The clouds started to roll in as we headed out. Descending down the curves on Pingree Park Road, the road appeared much steeper than when we rode up yesterday. Most of the traffic was heading out of Fort Collins, as we were riding into town, so that was nice.

This was a very fun two daysand I'm glad I didn't have to ride out here alone. I definitely have to do some more rides like this and I’ll definitely be coming back to Jack’s Gulch area and do some more riding, camping and hiking here. The total mileage for the two days was 140 miles. The only items I forgot to bring were the altimeter, rain pants, pen and knife. I didn’t actually need the knife but I like to have it on all my camping trips just in case.