Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Ride to Lookout Mountain via Loveland Pass

Temperatures ranged from low 20s to high 40s. Sunny but becoming overcast as the day went by.

Another great riding weather day here in Colorado, there's a 30% chance of snow forecasted for tomorrow and so I got my long ride in today.

The original goal had been to get pictures of CO119's Canyon Road and manipulate said shots with the photostich software to try and give you, gentle reader, some idea of the awesome riding road that it is. I borrowed my wife's Nikon D50 Digital SLR (much better camera than mine!) and left the house shortly after 0800hrs.

I used the C470-E470 Slabs to get to Morrison where I tanked up. I then went west on Bear Creek Canyon Road towards the towns of Kittredge and Idledale.

Bear Creek Canyon Road

I stayed on this road and got on CO74 in the town of Evergreen, following CO74 till it went past Bergen Park and it junctioned with the I-70 Superslab. I took the slab westward to see how far I could get and get a look at Loveland Pass. Roads were fine but things got chilly as I neared the Eisenhower Tunnel and the Continental Divide. I stopped short of the tunnel and plugged in my heated vest. Ahhhhh. Since I was stopped, I took this picture of the snowy mountains.

I-70 sideroad east of Eisenhower Tunnel

Once I neared the Eisenhower tunnel, the exit for Loveland Pass looked clear so I took it. In retrospect, probably not the best idea I've had in a while. The conditions were not bad, but they were marginal at best. There was blowing snow over wet-looking roads and though I was not traversing snow/ice, it could have been better. As it is, I had to go slow (still was at the speed limit in most cases) and I am sure I annoyed the line of cagers that formed behind me.

No real recourse/choice to go back though, once I was on the pass road, had to keep going. The snow conditions did not lend themselves to me stopping safely so I did not even get a chance to stop Maria and get off to take pictures! There was serious doubt in my mind that if I stopped on that snow-covered roadside, that I would not be able to get going again with my street tires!

So, I made my way up and down the pass with no incident. I ended up in the towns of Silverthorne and Dillon (ski resorts) and I was soon eastbound on the dry pavement provided by the I-70 superslab.

I made my way to where US6 junctions with I-70 and from there I quickly made my way to CO119's canyon roadway. I've mentioned this road before with its nice twisting turns and high rock walls, here's some pictures to hopefully give you an idea of the road itself.

CO119 Canyon Road

After I got to Golden, I headed down US6 and took the Lariat Loop trailup Lookout Mountain. The road up the mountains has plenty of switchbacks to get your attention and some awesome views of the town of Golden with its Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines.

The view of Golden from Lookout Mountain

After Lookout Mountain, I made my way via the I-25 Slab from US6 to the BMW of Denver Motorcycle Dealer who was hosting a garage sale. They were serving bratwurst and one of those ended up being my lunch. Yumm.

I perused the garage sale wares but found nothing for Maria. I got to the dealer shortly after 1300 and ended up BS'ing with several fellow riders, the ColoradoBeemers MC President: Bruce Sanders and his wife Miranda, and finally Gary who showed up on his Dakar F650. He'd apparently had possible battery issues while trail riding near Cheesman Reservoir and had come in to have his battery checked.

Just like Maria, you have to take off all the dang plastic off the F650 also to get at the wee little battery that it uses. I thought Maria's battery was small, the F650's is tiny! Gary was prepared though, he carried tools and made short work of the task. I left before he found out if it had been the battery though.

Gary's F650 Dakar

Some of the bikes that showed up for the Garage Sale

The skies had become overcast at around 1500 and it was a cloudy and cooling ride home. About 240 miles of riding today, perhaps 5 hours in the saddle total.

I know I kind of got carried away with all the panoramic shots, will have to not only get better at them (many did not turn out) but will have to restrain myself a bit in the future. Hope you enjoyed them.


Beaker said...

Fantastic pix mate - keep em coming!

Chuck said...

I used to live in Loveland, Berthoud, and in Big Thompson Canyon near Drake (moved away about a month before the flood in '76). I miss Colorado, so I enjoy any pics you post of the area. I especially like the panoramas, so I say keep posting them -- you have nothing to apologize for.

Allen Madding said...

Gorgeous landscape. Great pics! Thanks for sharing.

irondad said...

Looking at the scenery and roads, I'm almost jealous. Oh sure, we have awesome scenic roads in Oregon, too. It's true what they say, though, the roads are better on the other side of the mountains!

mccolo said...

I've really got to give you credit, I don't even consider riding the passes at this time of year. I pretty much stay down on the flat until the weather is warmer and you don't have to worry about ice and snow.

And your photos are very nice! I was wondering about the wide shots until I remembered your initial mention of the stitch function.

Good stuff. Thanks for the effort.

Charlie6 said...

thanks Mike, but like I said, being on loveland pass was not the best idea I've had in a while....I tend to learn things like that the hard way sometimes.