Sunday, January 27, 2008

Estes Park - Loveland Loop

Temperatures from high 30s to low 60s F°. Sunny and occasionally fierce wind gusts.

Today was to be a long ride day since the weather was so great and the roads were dry. I decided to head up US36 through Boulder and up to Estes Park to check out conditions at the Rocky Mountain Park and then head back towards Denver on CO34 through Loveland.

I left at 0935hrs after breakfast and used the route you see below. I arrived at the city limits of Estes Park just after 1100AM. CO36 is not a bad little motorcycling road once you clear the Denver/Boulder Metro areas. In fact, once it junctions with CO66, its got some nice curves to it as you make your way to Estes Park. I'd forgotten how enjoyable this road can be.

Everyone was out enjoying the nice weather, from the multiple squad cars on US36 giving out performance awards, to pelotons of cyclists really crowding the border of the road and making cagers slow down nervously. No performance awards for me though, cagers had the state trooper's full attention as I went by several speed traps.

The wind gusts in the Estes Park area were quite fierce and strong most of the time I was there. You had to pay attention when doing slow turns!

Once I got to the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, I decided to forego spending the $20 entrance fee after talking with the ranger manning the gate. He reported lots of icy spots on the roads off the main park road.

On the way back from the park entrance, I stopped near the Historic Stanley Hotel and took these pictures:

This is the view guests of the Stanley Hotel enjoy

Historic Stanley Hotel

After tanking up back in Estes Park, I headed out on CO34 or Big Thompson Avenue....named apparently after the Big Thompson river which carves its way through this also wonderfully twisty road with high canyon walls on both sides. This time of year, there's a thick layer of ice over the still flowing river.

On CO34 heading East, Big Thompson River frozen over

Pretty thick ice

Cool Rock Formations on CO34

Ice Fishermen on some frozen lake in Loveland

I twisted my way to the town of Loveland and cruised through the town to pick up the I-25 Super Slab. I headed South on the slab towards Denver making pretty good speed, it was along this stretch of highway that I saw most of the motorcycles I was to see today. Mostly Harleys from what I could tell, the fact there's a big dealer in this area probably contributed to the numbers of Hogs I saw.

I pretty much reversed the route I took outbound on the way back home. By the time I neared Denver, the weather was in the high 50s low 60s and I was starting to feel a bit warm with all the riding gear I had on. Not uncomfortably warm, mind you, and definitely not warm enough to stop and shed layers.

I got home after about 215 miles of riding and perhaps 5 hours in the saddle. I was a bit tired from battling the windy conditions most of the day but it was an enjoyable ride nonetheless.


That Other Guy said...

I rode some of those roads when I was out there in July. I used to live in the Big Thompson Canyon on Highway 34 back in the 70's, about 500 yards upriver from the Indian Village. The flood in '76 took it all away just about two months after I moved to LA.

You should try riding the Glen Haven loop the next time you're through that way. Really pretty area.

Beaker said...

The scenery in your part of the world is absolutely spectacular. I look forward to reading about more of your rides!!