Saturday, October 06, 2007

Guanella Pass and South Platte River

Sunny and warm with some pretty strong winds towards the afternoon. Temps in the mid to upper 80s.

I left home shortly after 0900hrs and crossed through Denver via the I-25 slab and took I-70 westbound towards the mountains. Today's objective was to cross the continental divide at yet another pass: Guanella. The road that leads to the pass links Georgetown/I-70 on the North end to Grant/US285 on the south end. I tanked up at Georgetown and headed on down towards the pass.

There's a sign near the town that says the road is damaged and proceed at your own risk. I gotta tell ya, they weren't kidding. Potholes were plenty and I was going slow, weaving my way through the many many potholes, sand/gravel accumulations, cagers who were dodging potholes as well and trying to see some of the scenery! Keep alert on this road, I hit a couple of the smaller potholes and they bottomed out the shocks on Maria.

Once you get past Clear Lake, the road becomes a bit smoother, just dirt with some gravel. There are patches of washboard road which are quite rough on poor Maria. I found going a bit faster on the washboard sections tended to smooth out the ride. There were several small mountain lakes as I continued climbing towards the pass. The road has several hairpin turns and is heavily forested by pine trees on both sides.

Finally, I got to the summit of Guanella Pass. The forest service provides a Summit Overlook parking lot up there where I took these pictures. The temp was 47 degrees at the top, nice and cold with winds picking up.




The Requisite pic of motorcycle and Sign

A short while after I started descending the pass heading towards Grant, the dirt/gravel road became a beautifully paved road with smooth winding/twisting turns leading one downwards. It was great. But alas, it did not last long and pretty soon after a few miles I was on a packed dirt/gravel road full of dust and cagers heading up. The dust got on everything of course and washboard road conditions lasted for several miles. Not that much fun.

However, it was all worth it when I came across a short stretch of road bordered on both sides by Aspen Trees which were turning colors. I stopped here not only to take pictures but rest my hands from griping the handlebars tight on the dirt road!






A short while later, I was at US285 and Grant which is not a very big town. I think it consisted of four buildings! I turned to head North on US285 back towards Denver. I did not stay on this highway very long, I turned off at Foxton Road which is a very twisty road that leads you into the mountains south of US285. I enjoyed this road very much today.

Foxton Road intersects with South Platte River Road. I decided to take the river road since I'd never ridden it from this end, I have always ended up at this intersection when coming from Deckers, now I was heading towards Deckers. Here's some of the rock formations I saw along the river.



I took a short water break at the ruins of the South Platte Hotel and then rode to where the road becomes paved once more as it nears Deckers. I elected to turn onto County Road 67 and head towards Sedalia. I had remembered this dirt/gravel road as pretty "gnarly" when I first took it down back when I used to ride the Honda 750 Shadow Aero. Well, either my memory of it was tainted by my being a noobie to motorcycling or I've gotten more confident on dirt/gravel because it turned out to be not so bad.

I only had one slip which I handled correctly as I made my way up the 15% grades. It was only maybe two miles and then it was roughly paved roads which were just fine for riding. Lots of gravel though so one could not pick up the speed too much until you get to a road junction where a grocery store is located. The road is nicely paved and you twist and turn your way down this county road and end up in Sedalia.

From Sedalia, where I had to stop for a train, I headed south on US85 towards Castle Rock. Once there, it was the usual backroads towards Parker and from there home via Inspiration Drive.

1 comment:

angelseleven said...

Hi Maria & Redleg!

Sorry, Guanella is a north - south pass on the eastern slope, and the Divide was to your west, over Square Top. Never the less, it must have been a great ride.

Now, the Elephant Ride takes place every February, on a weekend near Valentine's Day. Check it out on ADVriver.com. Think it was originally a BMW affair. Lots of bikes step up to the challenge these days.

If all goes well, there will be chow and libations at at Duck Lake.

And give those county commissioners the what-for for the washboards.

julie
angelseleven@earthlink.net