Saturday, May 24, 2008

First Pikes Peak Ride of the Year and a visit to Sphinx Park

Temperatures ranging from low 30s to low 70s depending on where I was in relation to the top of Pikes Peak. Sunny, with some clouds.

About 230 miles of riding today found me on superslabs, city streets, narrow mountain roads and with conditions ranging from dry pavement to icy spots on hairpin turns. Ah, Colorado riding!

I'd originally departed the house thinking I'd take the slab down to Colorado Springs, catch US24 to Colo 67, Deckers, then US285 back towards Morrison and the Denver Metro Area. For the most part, I followed this plan, with a slight 32 mile round trip detour to go up Pikes Peak.

The park ranger told me only 15 of the 19 miles were open. I was expecting that since I could see that Pikes Peak was still quite snow covered at its upper third.

I donned my Sheltex liner under my Cycleport Jacket and rode sedately up the mountain road known as Pikes Peak Highway. The ride up was no problem, even the hard packed dirt road portions were quite manageable. As I approached the Glen Cove Inn past mile marker 12, I fully expected to find the way barred due to ice and snow. I was pleasantly surprised to see a sign saying the way was open. Onwards!

I'd been making my way up gingerly up, avoiding increasing numbers of icy patches on the road and specially where melting ice had reformed back to ice on the hairpin turns. There'd been a feeling of growing trepidation on my part and once I rounded the last hairpin past mile marker 16 I saw this:

At the above sight, I slowed to a stop and you can see where I prepared to turn around. At this point I was at around 13,000 feet in altitude, near The Devil's Playground. Getting all the way to the top would have to wait until another day.

I took the following shots on my way down the mountain.

I arrived back at Glen Cove and stopped to take a picture of these seriously heavy duty snow blowers that they use to keep the roads clear. Pretty impressive machines.

The rest of the way down the mountain was pretty uneventful, the speed limits working to keep one from being too spirited in enjoying the twists and turns, but still very enjoyable.

I considered the ride up a success even though I did not make it all the way to the top

I exited the Pikes Peak Park area and headed West on US24 towards Woodland Park. Here I turned North where US24 junctions with Colo 67 heading towards Deckers. Once you clear Woodland Park you begin to see the still pretty much denuded hillsides where massive fires wreaked havoc years ago. You see signs of recovery but its got a long way to go.

There's some nice winding turns and curves on the way to and past Deckers. I was enjoying the ride so much I did not even stop at Deckers for a break. I continued on, twisting my way past hillside ranches and climbing my way back to US285. This road is highly recommend for its twists and turns. Just watch for idiot cagers and you'll be fine.

Near Pine Grove I detoured to go and take the following pictures of the rock formations and rock domes near Sphinx Park. I rode all the way to the Buck Snort Saloon and turned around to pose Maria by the rock formations:

Massive Rock Dome to the right

There were climbers rappelling down these rocks

Note the old broken down shack at the top of the rocks

After returning to Colo 67 from Sphinx Park, I continued on till it junctioned with US285. I went East on US285 and rode all the way past Morrison until I got on the C-470 slab which one can take to round the West and South edges of the Denver Metro area. I got home by 1515hrs and an early dinner with the family. A good ending to the day after a good ride through the mountains near Denver.

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