Saturday, September 23, 2006

Out to Limon, almost, and back

Weather: Blustery, cold and spitting light rain.

Set out a little after 10am, all bundled up, heat grips on max as it felt quite chilly as I prepped the motorcycle for today's ride. After looking at the map I had decided to go almost to the city of Limon which is East of Denver on I-70. I was taking CO 86 most of the way, picking it up at Elizabeth(39.361N /104.606W).

The ride was chilly as expected but the riding gear kept me warm enough. The wind however, after about 45 minutes from the start of the ride, started really gusting to the point I was riding a bit leaned into the wind most of the time as it blew with much force out of the North! That wind pretty much "blew" all the fun out of the ride for me. When I was riding in the sunlit areas, all was well in spite of the wind, but once I entered overcast sections of road then it chilled rapidly and the wind seemed stronger. Not sure if it really was stronger, just felt that way as the temperature dropped a bit.
Freese Rd, E of Elizabeth, CO. (39.294N/104.353W)

Worst direction to head into of course was Northwards and the times I did I could feel the wind coming at me from both front-right and left sides. Again, not much fun.

So I finally hit my goal where CO 86 ends at I-70 a few miles W of Limon(39.312N/103.823W). My initial map recon had shown some promising roads to head west on without having to use I-70 to get back home. Alas, it was not too be. I got on I-70 for a little bit (the headwinds were such that I could not get above 70mph with the throttle wide open!) and the next exit was Cedar Point where I picked up CR 134 which turned out to be a dirt road with muddy spots interspersed with cattle guards and not much else except windswept prairie and ranchland. Took CR134 to CR153 and headed North for a bit until I got to the very small town of Agate (39.462N/103.943W). I think I saw perhaps two people, one who was stopping at the small post office to get his mail.
Looking NW from Agate's main drag.
Looking SE from Agate's main drag.

I was quite tired of muddy dirt roads by now and my read of the map showed no paved roads for a while so I got back on I-70. It was only after I had gone down the road W a bit that I noticed I'd missed the old US40 PAVED road which paralled I-70 for quite a bit. Damn. I could have avoided a bit of the superslab and caught it at CR178 instead. Oh well.

The wind continued to try and push me around as I cruised up the I-70 superslab, the headwinds made it an effort to maintain 70mph at times but otherwise I made it to the Strasbourg exit (39.738N/104.326W) with no problems at around 1320hrs. I gassed up there at a Quick Stop (48.2mpg) and scarfed down a small pizza and a coffee to warm up a bit and peruse the map further.

Less than 30 minutes later I was back on the road, this time taking Westbound US36 which paralled I-70 out of Strasbourg for a bit. The road led me to Watkins (39.742N/104.603) about ten miles further west and from there I headed South (blissfully with the dang wind now at my back) on Watkins road until I got to Quincy Road and headed West again and once again got to feel the gusting winds still blowing at me from the North.

Got into Aurora soon enough and home soon thereafter. I was glad to get home and out of the wind. Gretl picked up quite a bit of mud from the "roads" I had taken returning home so I washed her down and put her away.

Quite a ride, much too windy in final judgement, should have stayed home....but it was quite the ride. At points, specially on the dirt roads, I had a very small taste of what the guys who made the journey around the world in the film "The Long Way Round" must have endured. Dirt roads, windswept vistas with not another soul around, rain in your face (or visor in my case) and only a vague idea of where one was.

This was my first trip where I experienced muddy dirt roads and while I negotiated them with no mishap, they're not the most fun thing to deal's tires get quite squirrely and I remembered repeating to myself to not touch the brakes, use engine braking and keep steady throttle to keep the motorcycle going straight when things got a bit slippery.

I think if I keep hitting these dirt roads as I explore Colorado, I must get a mudflap for the front fender. Quite a bit of mud/dirt/small rocks stuck to the bottom quarter of the radiator cover and underlying motorcycle frame. I can see where paint is starting to wear thin on the front of the motorcycle frame in fact, I must repaint that soon.
Must get a mudflap if I keep doing dirt roads! : )

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