Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lunch Riding - Views of Mount Evans

It's been over a week since Winter Storm Kayla swept through Colorado, depositing at least ten inches of snow in the metro areas, more to the south of Denver in the Colorado Springs area but enough to cover the landscape with pretty white snow.

All our roads, including the tertiary neighborhood roads are basically clear.  I even managed to get Brigitta out for a ride today during lunch.

Yesterday, Scarlett and I went out during lunch to work on getting better pictures of nearby Mount Evans, framed within the near foreground scenery of the ranching neighborhood I like to frequent.

Bright, bright, bright sunshine conditions led to shadowy portions in the pictures so there was more post-processing than usual in the below shots, still they came out OK.

Different focal lengths and angles: (A sharpening mask was used to "bring out" Scarlett and still get some kind of focus on Mount Evans itself.  Previous attempts at using a long focal length setting had proved unsatisfactory.

If only I could shot the scene above from further away without losing sight of the rig or the mountains being blocked by the trees.  Alas, the terrain won't permit that in terms of sight angles.

 Heavy use of masking to bring out the details in the snow and
lightening the shadows on the rig.

Here's the best shot of Brigitta that I got while posing her near the parking area near Buckley Air Force Base:

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Guanella Pass Recce

Recce: A shortened version of the word reconnaissance.  To go look and ascertain conditions.

This past Sunday, Scarlett and I rode out via US 285 to the small settlement of Grant, CO to do a recce of Guanella Pass Road from its southern end.  The northern end of the road is in Georgetown, CO but I didn't want to be on I-70 on a Sunday afternoon, Superbowl game or not, as traffic on a Sunday is usually rather hectic, and during ski season, swarming with impatient imbeciles that like to ski.

I wanted to check snow conditions on Guanella Pass Road since next weekend is the usual weekend wherein riders try and reach the gates near the summit of the pass, while negotiating the snow covered road since the county does not do winter road clearing past the Burning Bear Campground area, several miles short of the summit.

My brother and his family are visiting next weekend you see, and so I would not be able to join whatever riders did show up to make this annual event's attempt to get as near as possible to the usual locked gates.

The ride on US285 was without incident on roads that were 95% clear and dry.  Shadowy areas sheltered some ice/snow but nothing major to report.  Temperatures ranged from the low 40s to the mid to high 30s near Grant, so not too cold and the sun was out in force.  The winds though, wow.  They got especially strong west of Pine Junction, forcing me to use third gear even on the flat spots just to maintain 45 mph!

Bottom line, this year's Elephant Ride riders are going to be blocked even further down the mountain than in previous years.  There's now a new metal gate installed near where the road for Duck Creek Picnic and campground splits off from the main road up the mountain.

The road up to the new gate was mostly dry, but had some large patches of snow-packed ice which caused Scarlett to feel a bit squirrely at times.  Not too bad but I wouldn't have wanted to be on two wheels shall we say.

Here's pictures of the new gate, barring vehicular access further up the mountain.  It's less than one mile from the Burning Bear campground site.

 5 miles or so from Grant, it was about 28ºF (-2ºC) here.

 Probably too deep to go around the barrier on the right side

 Dirt bike riders will no doubt slid their smaller bikes under the barrier
or go around it on the left side.  There's about a four foot gap between 
the trees, and it's not exactly flat ground, but probably doable
for the smaller bikes.

View from the other side of the barrier

The barrier obviously will stop a URAL sidecar rig like Scarlett, so after taking the above pictures, we went for a ride down towards Duck Creek campground:

 Forest Road 119, leads to Duck Creek Campground

The snow on the road to the campground was about 5 inches high, packed in spots and rutted in others.  I found myself hanging off to the right to offset the sidecar wheel being higher than the tug's wheels due to the ruts.  2WD proved necessary almost immediately and throughout.  I went perhaps a half mile, to a point just beyond the sign below and turned around.  I was alone you see, no sense asking for trouble.

Once I got back on Guanella Pass Road, it was just a short hop to another road leading off to the west.  I remembered a large field on a previous outing so I thought I'd give it a try.  I didn't get far, Scarlett got stuck on a low spot right by the large trees pictured below along the trail.  Took me a few minutes to back her out of there but 2WD proved its worth once again, saving me from having to dig her out.

Not much more to do, Scarlett and I rode down back towards Grant, stopping here and there for pictures:

 The river valley one rides by on the way up and down Guanella Pass Road.

 Further south, near the Burning Bear Campground site.

 Descending along curvy roads with just enough ice to keep one
from not paying attention.

This large motorcycle art was positioned near the junction
of Guanella Pass Road and US 285 in Grant.

As I had time on my hands, I elected to motor further south towards Kenosha Pass and to try and get some views of the Continental Divide mountains visible from near Jefferson, CO.  The winds continued to batter at us as we made our way to Kenosha Pass and then descended down to the vicinity of the Lazy Bull Ranch.

The strong winds were blowing up so much loose snow in the mountain peaks that they looked covered in fog.

Wandering a bit closer to Jefferson, the winds blew the snow across the road in such quantities that at times one couldn't see the road!  Good times.  I turned onto Lost Park Road to try and record a short video snippet to give an inkling of conditions.

Lost Park Road, it might be something worth exploring on some other ride.

Now it was time to turn back and head back up to the summit of Kenosha Pass to get a look at the views from the scenic overlook located there.

 About two thirds of the way up to the summit of Kenosha Pass
coming from the direction of Jefferson, CO

At the Kenosha Pass Scenic Overlook.
Check out the view of the mountains forming part of the 
Continental Divide

Here's one last shot, a majestic view of snow-clad mountains visible to folks heading north on US 285 soon after they've gone past Kenosha Pass.  I actually had to turn around to get this shot, the view is usually not that pretty, but the snow made it worth the time.

Refueling at Bailey, CO, it was then just a matter of retracing our route on US 285 back towards the metro Denver area and the home neighborhoods.  Traffic was not heavy, but not as light as I'd hope given the big game but then again, I got home at 1:30PM so the game hadn't started yet.

5.5 hours in the saddle, 255 km or almost 159 miles round trip.  Great day for riding here in Colorado, beats sitting in front of a TV screen any day.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Uraling with views of Pikes Peak

Yesterday morning, Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig and I motored south from the Metro Denver area to see how much snow had fallen in the area between Denver and Colorado Springs.  The main area to be explored was roughly centered on the small settlement of Greenland, CO.

We took CO Highway 83 through the busy town of Parker and the not so busy town of Franktown.  There wasn't a single cruiser type motorcycle, for that matter, any motorcycle, at the biker bar near the junction of CO83 and CO86, go figure.

 One's initial view of Pikes Peak, near Castlewood Canyon State Park

The roads were dry, but there was snow remaining on grassy areas and parking lots.  Scarlett and I started the ride with temperatures in the high 30s and would end up riding home in the low 50s!  Once that sun breaks through the clouds, the rise in warmth is almost immediate.

The first stop was Douglas County Road 80.  It's a dirt road which takes one into the neighborhoods to the west of CO83.  Houses with a bit of land around them, some of them are ranches I believe.  I like this road because it gives one a good angle on Pikes Peak for pictures.

 Views of Pikes Peak along Douglas County Road 80

We then motored back north to Greenland Road which we took towards Greenland, CO.  This dirt road was snow-packed but with patches of dirt and mud showing.  More mud developed as the morning and day wore on and temperatures rose.   I arrived in Greenland but didn't find it as scenic as I'd expected.  So we kept motoring west, past many other ranches and a couple of valleys containing Open Space parks.  Finally, the road, Noe Road to be precise, ended at a junction wtih  CO105, Perry Park Road.

We turned around and retraced our route, taking a slight detour heading south on Spruce Mountain Road until we went past the entrance to Spruce Mountain Ranch.  Here we turned around and explored this old railroad overpass we'd spotted along the way:

Now back on Greenland Road, it was time to at least take one shot of Greenland's large barn (look closely in the picture below).  The barn is a subject of many photographs of Greenland, CO.

Motoring onwards, we turned south on Mesa View Road but failed to find a view of a Mesa that "stood out".  There's several mesas in the area so I guess it was one of those.  This road took me to Best Road which we used to turn east back towards CO83, by way of Spring Valley and Lorraine Roads.

 Near the junction of Spring Valley Road and Lorraine Road

One last view of the snow-clad valley to the west of CO 83.

Getting back on CO 83, Scarlett and I motored on home via Franktown and Parker Town with no incidents but plenty of traffic.  Got home around 2:30PM, washed all the mud off of Scarlett in preparation for pictures on Sunday's ride to Guanella Pass.

Saturday's sunset colors.....I am sure Broncos fans took it as a good omen for the big game.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Colorado Sunrise on Superbowl Weekend.

Soon it will be time for the Superbowl Game tomorrow, for me and other riders, it'll be a time where the roads are near empty in terms of unwary and uncaring cagers because they'll be sitting agog in front of TV screens.  Primo riding conditions!

I plan to ride to Guanella Pass, now that it's fully paved, to see what road conditions are like.  I'll not be able to attend the annual Elephant Ride next weekend as my brother and his family are coming to visit us.

However, today is the day before the game and I woke early enough to gear up as first light lit the eastern skies and Scarlett and I motored over for sunrise pictures along Quincy Avenue.  I was too late to capture the initial deep reds but did manage the latter colors:

 An interesting cloud formation caught my eye for a bit

Heading back home, I passed by Martha's high school where she works and was reminded by the sun's position and the shadows that it might be a good time to take the below shot:

Jet contrails add to the sunlit sky

Conditions were no wind with temperatures same as yesterday afternoon: 25ºF (-3ºC), a bit brisk but not a big deal with heated grips.