Sunday, April 26, 2009

Riding the Stove Prairie Road to the Cache La Poudre Road

The weather today was much nicer than yesterday's weather. The forecasters said we'd get a high of 60F° and sunny. Heck it was 50F° when I left the house around 09:15 AM and it felt very nice. Today's ride was one I'd been wanting to do for quite a while now, ever since I read about it on Ken Bingenheimer's blog: Passes and Canyons: LINK

Courtesy: Passes and Canyons Blog

I took the I-225/I-25 slabs out of SE Denver metro and headed north to the junction with US 36. I took US36 to where it junctions with US287 which heads north through the towns of Broomfield, Lafayette, Longmont, Berthoud and finally Loveland.

US34 is also known as the Eisenhower Parkway at this point. It's a nice leisurely road taking one out of Loveland after a few minutes of riding. Of course, I missed the turnoff northwards to the Stove Prairie road since I was looking for CR56 but its really CR27, aka Buckhorn Road!

No problem though, I went on US34 through the Big Thompson Canyon and it's wonderfully twisting roads and high rocky canyon roads. I got all the way to Drake, checked my printout of the map above and turned around. Here's some photos I took of some of the spots along the Big Thompson Canyon road where I could safely pose Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer.

I soon arrived at CR27 where I'd spotted some nice looking rocky mesas while westbound on US34. Here's what the road looks like near where I turned off US34 to start going northwards on Stove Prairie Road/Buckhorn Road.

The view north shortly after turning off of US34 on CR27, though I dimly remember seeing a CR29 sign as well. Just look for the above mesa and you'll be fine.

The first half of the road was pretty benign in terms of curves and twisty turns, just really gentle curves and farmland for the most part. You're climbing gently the whole time and the occasional patches of loose gravel on the curves kept my speed down.

Now, having said that, the second half of the Stove Prairie Rd turns very twisty with lots of blind turns and rocky walls on one side with dropoffs on the other side. I got high enough in altitude to see small pockets of snow laying by the side of the road! The temperature did not get below 46 degrees though and the sun kept things warm enough.

It's a the small town of Masonville where one has a choice of going east on CR38E towards Horsetooth reservoir or west on CR27 towards CO14. I took a small break to get the following pictures:

A closeup of the coffin's wording

Brigitta, with what I imagined to be wild horses bolting from the gates of hell
(a bit of poetic license is requested here)

I headed west towards CO14 which I reached about 19 miles later, 19 very twisty miles I might add. Very enjoyable even at the slow pace I was going due to the gravel I found once in a while.

I paused when I got to CO14 to eat the lunch my loving wife had made for me and rest for about 15 minutes. It was not exactly warm but it was not that cold either. I enjoyed listening to the sound of water flowing back on the Cache La Poudre river and watching the lone fly fisherman trying his luck.

The junction of CR27 and CO14, my lunch site

After lunch, I geared up once again and headed east on CO14, I didn't realize I was very close to a tunnel I knew was on this road and was almost surprised when I came upon it within a few minutes. Here's a few shots of the tunnel with Brigitta, hope you like them:

I continued eastward on CO14, enjoying the twists and turns through the canyon carved out by the Cache La Poudre river. Cache La Poudre, by the way, is French for "Hiding place of the Powder". It's a designated Colorado Scenic Byway and a popular riding destination for motorcyclist and other sports lovers.

Wikipedia: It refers to an incident in the 1820s when French trappers, caught by a snowstorm, were forced to bury part of their gunpowder along the banks of the river. Full Article here: LINK

I was a bit worried about running out of gas at this point as I was not sure how close I was to Fort Collins from the above tunnel. Yep, I'd forgotten to bring along with Kolpin gas can dammit. My odometer told me I had perhaps 30 miles range left at this point. However, I had not had to go to reserve when I spotted my first gas station where CO14 meets with US287. So I continued onwards to Fort Collins, stopping just past the city limits at a Shell station when my odometer read 186 miles traveled. Imagine my surprise when I went to fill up and the tank only took a bit over 3.5 gallons! I estimate I was getting 55 miles to the gallon on this ride!

The rest of the ride was boring riding on US287, passing through the same towns that I cruised through on the way up. Sure, lots of traffic lights at times but there were also stretches of highway where one could build up some speed as well. Much better riding than what I believe was the congested slab known as I-25!

I arrived in the Denver Metro area and used US36 to I-270 to I-225 in that order in steadily building traffic. I got rained on briefly as the metro area was overcast and in the mid-40s. No big deal and things dried out by the time I took the Parker Road exit.

I was home by 4:00 PM or so, about six hours of saddle time and 260 miles racked up for the ride. The weather sure was better north of the metro area, but it still wasn't too bad overall. Hope you liked the pictures and that you got some riding in today as well!


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Great ride report and very interesting pictures. How tall is the tunnel and is the road frequented by trucks or campers? I especially liked the gate and the horses.

I got out yesterday for a very short 76-mile run. The heat hit 91ยบ and I once looked to see if the bike was on fire when I stopped for a light.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

bobskoot said...

You've got some lovely roads there, you're making us envious. Thank you for the pictures, great scenery. The closest we have been is Durango/Cortez when we visited Mesa Verde a few years ago.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

Hi Jack

it's 14' 6" tall.

glad you liked it, you'd like this road, very twisty.

Electra Glide In Blue said...

That second part of Stove Prairie with the rock walls is the Buckhorn Canyon. This road from Masonville to Hwy 14 was just washboard and very little gravel until a few years ago, now it's a nice ride! Great post.

Charlie6 said...

Bobskoot, Electraglide and Jack, thanks for your kind words.

I look forward, sort of, to the temperatures hitting the 90s....being a mile closer to the sun kind of makes a difference in its effect though!

Ken said...

You do such a good job of showing folks some good rides I'm pleased I was able to turn you on to something. As Electra Glide in Blue points out, it wasn't that long ago that much of this route was unpaved. Now that it is there's no reason to ever go through Fort Collins again, except by choice.