Saturday, March 29, 2008

Riding along the Cache Le Poudre River

Temperatures ranged from low 30s to high 60s. Sunny in the front range, overcast and snow flurries in the mountains.

I left the house at 0730 today, had a long way to go to get to CO14 over in Fort Collins and cruise the Cache Le Poudre Scenic Byway that is west of there. CO14 is a pretty twisty road once you clear the Fort Collins area, it parallels or rather follows the path of the Cache Le Poudre river and has some breathtaking canyon wall scenery to glimpse at while negotiating the sometimes tight turns.

The Larimer County Sheriff was keeping himself quite busy on this road, snagging speeding cagers right and left. I was staying just slightly above the limit in order to be able to find good spots to take pictures so I was not in danger of paying a performance award. I repeatedly pulled aside and let the cagers who were in a hurry get by me and sometimes, get snagged by the county sheriff! : )

Here's a tunnel carved through the rock along CO14, just shortly after the first set of twisting canyon turns.

A cool tunnel through the side of the mountain

I continued cruising through this great riding road, passing by small clusters of houses and little stores. The weather was perfect at this point, 50s and sunny and the roads were nice and dry.

Glorious Canyon Road, CO14

About 35 miles or so from Fort Collins, one comes upon Rustic, CO. Not much there except the Rustic Resorts complex, a series of camping cabins and the like. If you blink you'll miss it. After this spot, the road started climbing higher into the mountains and it got overcast pretty quickly.

I spotted a few snowflakes here and there from this point and made it a point to watch road conditions even more carefully. As the temperature dropped steadily to the low 40s, the roads became more and more wet looking. The snow which had been at the tops of the mountains around me had descended closer and closer to the road I was on. It was starting to look more and more like last weekend's Loveland Pass experience!

At mile marker 69, I gave up trying to make forward progress on westbound CO14 and turned around. The snow had reached the shoulders of CO14 and soon I would not have a spot to stop and turn around from; I has also started seeing snow/ice starting to stick to the pavement surface.

I took the above shot shortly after turning around at Mile Marker 69. As you can see, no more sunny skies, it was quite cold and gray. I would soon be in a small snow storm as I headed down the mountain road. I am glad I turned around when I did!

The above shot I stopped to take thinking it looked cool to be moving down a canyon road with fog kind of hiding the next ridges. It was not fog, it was an incoming snow storm! Soon after I took the shot, it kind of hailed snow on me for a bit and then it was steady snow falling on me for about 10 miles or snow. Not fun. The roads were warm enough that the snow just melted but it caused me to bypass "Sleeping Elephant Rock" which I'd passed on the way up. Here's a picture from someone else's blog that shows the elephant:

Sleeping Elephant Mountain

The weather did slacken enough though that I did get a picture of Profile Rock on the way back to Rustic:

Profile Rock

The next set of panoramic shots were done with either light snow or rain falling on me, you may see their effect on the lens if you look closely.

Once I hit mile marker 96, things were dry once again and I was in bright sunlight once more. It was here I discovered my motorcycle's horn was not working! I'd gone to press it to warn this imbecile cager that was pulling out without looking but no sound came. I dodged around him and he saw me finally and stopped.

I stopped to take a look at fuses, did not find anything. I decided to ride on and fix it when I got home. (turned out to be a loose wire, used some posi-tap connectors and fixed it later).

The county sheriff was still busily at work, handing out performance awards as I headed back towards Fort Collins. I messed up at Fort Collins and took US287 through the center of both Fort Collins and Loveland. I lost some time and spent some tense moments in pretty heavy traffic without the luxury of a working horn!

Oh well, once I got to CO34, I took it eastbound to the I-25 Superslab which I used to pick up some speed and make up some time. The temperatures had risen into the mid 60s by the time I hit the Denver metro area but I elected to keep going and not stop to take off layers. Made it home by 1430 or so, not too warm but definitely getting there. Got in a bit over 300 miles of riding today, about 6.5hrs of saddle time. I'd forgotten how long a drive it is to get to CO14! Great ride, in spite of the horn malfunction which I blamed on bad wiring job on my part.

Still trying to get the hang of shooting panoramic shots correctly. Hope you enjoyed my efforts for today.


Conchscooter said...

Great pics and you should stick some of the bridge pictures in the ADVrider site's bridge thread. Lots of motorcyclists would enjoy your stuff.
A trick I learned recently is to weave slightly when approaching vehicles that are poking out of side streets. They headlight "flashes" and catches their eye. Of course you like widgets so I expect you'll get one of those blinker headlight things....

Charlie6 said...

thanks, already got a modulating with anything else, it does not work for 100% of all cagers....but it does make a difference I believe.

oh, and it's farkles...not widgets! : )

Charlie6 said...

conchscooter, thanks for the tip re advriders...I put it in tunnels thread though. : )