Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Ride to Red Rocks and checking out conditions in Deer Creek Canyon

Temps from mid to upper 30s F°, sunny and breezy.

A slightly brisk but great day for a Winter ride here in Colorado. The recent snow is gone from the major roads and as I'll describe later, avoidable in the lesser traveled roads in the foothills of the Front Range.

The first task of the morning was to change the oil, at 48,098 miles, it had been over 6000 miles since the last oil change.

I put everything back together and then my first stop was the Red Rocks Amphitheater that the City of Denver uses for multiple venues/shows throughout the year. It's located on the West side of the metro area, near the town of Morrison. I used the C470 slab to quickly get there, it was brisk at 1030 hrs when I left home so the heated vest was on as well as the heated grips!

From Morrison, I entered the Red Rocks Amphitheater area through its East Entrance. You wind your way up a small hill and are presented with this view of the facilities as you approach the venue and it's buildings:

Looking West at the Amphitheather nestled in the massive rocks

Here's a shot of a snow-dappled rock formation that was located South of Maria in the above picture. There really was not much snow remaining on the rocks, just in the parking lots.

Kind of looks like frosting, doesn't it?

As I wandered about looking for suitable backgrounds for pictures, I spotted this elevated walkway which apparently takes one up the rock it clings to for closer views. I chose not to walk up but instead got this shot of the structure itself which I thought interesting in terms of angles:

Elevated Walkway

The final shot of the area was of a large rock formation called ShipRock, apparently it looks like a ship from a different angle. I chose a different view of it though for this picture:

Ship Rock

I left the amphitheater area soon after I took the above shot. I exited South onto Bear Creek Road which I winded my way up through Idledale and Kittredge where I took the turnoff South towards Parmalee Gulch. The mountain roads were pretty clear but sandy/gravelly from the recent snow control efforts. I spotted, slowed and rode within five feet of a small deer as I headed South from Kittredge. It did not seem to afraid of me, it'll probably not last long if it does not watch out for cars!

I got through to the small town of Indian Hills with no incidents. It dumps you eventually on US285 which I took into Denver. As I cruised southwards on C470 once again, I decided to check out the road conditions on my favorite winding road: Deer Creek Canyon. So I exited off of Wadsworth Blvd and started making my way through after a brief stuff for a lunch of trail mix. I watched the prairie dog colony off the side of the road where I'd stopped to rest, the lone guard never did raise more than his head out of his hole, watching me eat.

I made it all the way to Fenders on Deer Creek Canyon road. The road conditions were better than the last time I'd tried it but only marginally where the sun was blocked from shining on the pavement. There I had to negotiate the ice pack by staying in the clear ruts left by cars. Needless to say, I slowed way down and there was no "spirited" negotiation of the winding curves. So, besides the icy patches in the shadowed areas, the road was pretty clear though again sandy. Caution is recommended during this time of year when negotiating Colorado's mountain roads.

I soon ended up on South Turkey Creek Road which I took back to US285 again. I'd had enough of iffy roads by now so I stayed on US285 and headed again back to the Denver area. Took C470 to E470 and home, managed to stay warm most of the day thanks to the vest and the heated grips. About 126 miles of riding, perhaps close to 4 hours of saddle time. Good ride.

Sorry, no pictures of conditions on Deer Creek Canyon Road, the sides of the roads were mostly solid ice or snow, no safe places to stop really.

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