Today, the weather promised to be warmer and sunnier than last weekend so I rode out around 08:45 am today to take another shot at riding the Trail Ridge Road. This time however, I'd do it in reverse, starting from the western end of the park and heading east on the Trail Ridge road.
Again I took the superslabs out of town, this town using the I-25 slab to the I-70 slab westbound. I did however take the US40 exit before reaching C470 and used that to ride a sedate pace parallel to the frantic traffic on westbound I-70. All things come to an end however, and I soon was forced to get on the I-70 slab to proceed towards Empire where US40 leads northwards.
I chatted briefly with a German tourist couple who commented favorably on my choice of motorcycle here as I took the above picture.Once I was enroute once again, I enjoyed pretty dry roads, high walls of snow on the upper side of the road and deep drop-offs on the lower side. Once past the Alpine Visitors Center while lies shortly to the east of Milner Pass, I stopped at an overlook for these pictures:
The pano shots above came out much better in terms of consistent exposure than yesterday's shots, not sure what I did different. Oh well.
I continued on Trail Ridge Road, heading ever eastwards towards Estes Park. As I approached the eastern end of the RMNP it started raining pretty steadily. I didn't think much of it as the temperatures were still in the high 30s by this time. Just when I passed the two mile high elevation sign, I spotted icy hale which still covered the pavement! Apparently the storm had outpaced me and dumped a bunch of pea-sized hale onto the road. I should have known something was wrong when the cars going westwards had what looked like clumps of snow on their hoods!
Since the temperature was still in the high 30s though, it was no problem. All I had to do was make sure to ride in the channels cleared by the cars ahead of me. Everyone was taking it easy and going slowly. The slow speeds however caused my helmet visor to start fogging up a bit and this interfered with visibility but still it was not too bad. Mother Nature even threw in a little bit of hail/snow at me during this stretch of road but still, it wasn't too bad.
I got to "enjoy" the slow traveling in slushy snow bordered channels all the way to the eastern edge of the park. The rain continued to fall steadily though and by this time my visor was wet on the inside and outside. I stopped at a gas station in Estes Park to tank up, put on my waterproof pant liners and dry things up inside my helmet.
Once fully suited up for rain, the rain of course slackened. It didn't stop, just enough to get your attention. I took US36 away from Estes Park and stayed on it with the rain occasionally hitting me as I made my way down to the front range. Still, it was mostly dry roads from the town of Lyons onwards. I'll confess I smirked at the large herds of cruisers clustered around the bars in Lyons. The weather down there was actually nice and warm, with no rain.
I reached Boulder on US36 and while the rain did finally stop and the sun come out, I had to slog my way through the many red light intersections. Woe be unto you if you choose to run a yellow light, the town of Boulder reaps much revenue from camera devices at their intersections.
Once "free" of Boulder, US36 becomes a superslab heading into the Denver Metro area and I took advantage of the dry roads and sunny conditions to pick up the speed. Soon I was at the junction with the I-25 slab which I took southwards to I-225 and thence to the Parker Road exit and my home neighborhoods. I got home just at 4:00 pm, and shed all the warm layers I'd had on since Estes Park. The temperatures in the city had soared to 82°F so I was bordering on "too warm".
I covered 285 miles today, perhaps six hours of saddle time total. Trail Ridge Road is now marked as "done" for this year.
EOM Mileage Readings:
Brigitta: 73,326, Maria: 67450. 2360 miles ridden in May.