Sunday, June 10, 2007

June on Mount Evans, Colorado

Temps in the high 70s to mid 80s, sunny and mild.

Gorgeous riding day today. I got a late start and did not leave the house till around 0945hrs with a destination of Mount Evans, the highest paved road in the USA. I'd been up this great road when I owned the Honda 750 Shadow Aero, my first motorcycle. Now it was Maria's turn to make the trip.

Due to the late start and few choices really, I slabbed it via E-470, to Northbound I-25 cutting through Denver and getting on Westbound I-70 and into the mountains. I was soon in Idaho Springs after some brisk riding up the mountains. Traffic was moderate and I had no problems with the cagers.

I got off the exit that has the Mount Evans CO 103 sign at Idaho Springs and tanked up at the Shell gas station at the end of the exit. It's roughly 72 miles from the house to this gas station, just FYI.

I headed on up CO 103, which winds its way up to Echo Lake and the Hotel there. The entrance into the "fee area" of Mt Evans is just past the hotel. Here I found that motorcycles only have to pay $3 to ride up, park and take pictures. If you state that you're just going to ride up and down with no parking, no fee is required!

The road is fine all the way to the parking lot at the top. There's some serious bumps on the road around mile marker 9, near the Summit Lake parking lot. Beware and slow way down. They really mean it when the sign says 10mph. The worst part of the ride was being stuck cagers who were creeping along taking in the sights and not caring if they blocked the road doing it, instead of pulling off to the side where possible. Inconsiderate bastards.

So I get to the top, parking lot is full, I circle it and end up heading back down.
Here's a few shots of the area at the top of the mountain.

Note the observatory next to the parking lot/visitor center

Note the tourists climbing to the very top of Mt. Evans from the parking lot

The view from the first hairpin turn on the way down from the top

I took a lot of pics on the way down, stopping usually at the apex of the hairpin turns where there was space to safely stop. Lots of snow still in evidence as you can see in the pictures, some of the snow banks were pretty high too but I did not find a good safe spot to park Maria and take her picture as I did at Pikes Peak. Oh well.

Near the summit of Mt Evans, is Summit Lake. Go figure! There's a small parking lot and park here but like before I stopped on the side of the road to take pictures.

Summit Lake

One last picture of the top of the mountain

I got down to the bottom of the mountain, into the Echo Lake Resort area with no incident, watching as increasing numbers of cars/bikes/motorcycles continued to head upwards. It was apparently going to get pretty crowded up there in the small parking lot at the top! Can't says I blame them, the day was perfect for a mountain ride.

I headed down towards Bergen Park on CO103, down the winding road, past Squaw Pass where I fell with Maria in the snow when I foolishly thought I could negotiate the road in spite of the thin snow cover. Dry roads, much better! Thoroughly enjoyed the twistys all the way to Bergen Park and from there got on I-70 after doffing my jacket liner at the park and ride.

The rest of the trip is pretty boring all the way home. Took I-70 across the northern portion of the Denver Metro area, to E-470 which I took southbound and exited at Smoky Hill Road exit and from there home by 1500hrs. Great ride today, another fourteener under Maria's belt, and she did beautifully as usual.

Only fly in the ointment is I've yet to find the earphones comfortable for hours on end. The only ones that work in spite of engine noise use the etymotic plugs but they've a plastic housing for the electronics which my helmet apparently presses into my ears. I am hoping the amplirider amplifier I bought from will boost the sound enough for the more comfortable pair of earphones I have to be usable at highway speeds. A review of that amp will be forthcoming.

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