Saturday, November 15, 2008

Discovering a new twisty road

Temperatures ranging from mid-30s to low 50s, sunny.

A late start today, didn't leave home till well after 0900hrs. I took US285 through Denver and transited off it near Morrison onto Bear Creek Canyon road and it's nice twisty curves through the usual towns of Idledale, Kittredge and Evergreen.

It was at Evergreen that I diverged from staying on CO74. I instead went onto CO73 at Evergreen and moved along this nice little two lane highway south, past its junction with North Turkey Creek Rd and ending up where it goes under US285 at the town of Conifer.

Again, I avoided the usual routes and saw/followed the signs for a road I'd not taken before: Pleasant Park Road. A very nice two lane road I must say but its many shady areas kept reminding me that it would not be smart to cruise too fast through them as the danger of ice was present. Not much but I did spot it occasionally enough to slow me way down.

Once you pass Critchell, the road becomes High Grade Road, skirting the steep southern side of Sampson Mountain with wonderfully tight twisting curves that would have been exhilirating but for the constant presence of loose gravel which kept me going slowly. The two lane road is narrow and lacked safe spots for me to park Maria so sorry, no pictures this time.

This road curves and descends rapidly towards the Phillipsburg where it junctions with South Deer Creek Canyon road. This road I know well and I took it East towards Chatfield Reservoir. I proceeded at a cautious pace again as the shaded areas where a bit iffy in terms of traction, promising but not delivering ice but delivering on gravel down the center of the lane forcing me to take the curves with caution.

I will have to go back to High Grade Road sometime this coming late spring/early summer, it promises to be quite the fun road to take at speed once the gravel and chance of ice disappear!

Rest of the way home was the usual combination of back roads and super slabs, unremarkable at best. I got home in time for a late lunch courtesy of my loving wife. Tomorrow its supposed to be even warmer here in the Rockies, might even make it into the 60s, damn near a heat wave this time of year!

Turns out High Grade Road is a popular motorcycle route for the fitness fanatic masochists once sees bicycling their way up the steep grades in the foothills/mountains west of the Denver Metro area.

Here's a blurb from a local rag: Westword:

Begin at Chatfield State Park on South Wadsworth Boulevard. Head west into the foothills on Deer Creek Canyon Road. Turn left at Phillipsburg (which consists of an abandoned gas station). The road starts out easy enough, but soon turns into a series of killer switchbacks, climbing up what will seem to you like a sheer cliff. When you reach the top of this, you're not even close to done. Stay straight as the road turns into Pleasant Park Road. This climbs steadily (and, apparently, forever) into Conifer.


I think I'll stick to doing such roads on my motorcycle.

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