Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Windblown Ride to Manitou Springs

The day was forecast to be overcast with a slight chance of rain and a high of only in the mid-50s. All proved to be true, what they did not mention or I missed was the really strong winds from the South! Ay Caramba!.

After an abortive attempt at heading towards Colorado Springs in the mid-morning (got rain/wind and sub40s temperatures which drove me back home), I did manage to make it down there by 2:00 PM after lunch. The ride down CO83, after I passed through Parker and Franktown, was straight into some pretty strong winds. It was not too bad as long as I was pointed South, then the wind gusts would hit me almost head on.

There was one seemingly endless stretch of CO83 where I turned East for a bit, then the wind would hit me broadside and I started having to lean hard to the right in order to keep a barely straight line and stay in my lane! I was sure glad when the road turned southwards once more time....scary stuff.

I stopped by Colorado Motorsports to pick up a farkle for Maria, it will be the subject of a future posting. After, I programmed my GPS to take me to Cutler Hall, the original building of the Colorado College, founded in part by General Palmer back in 1874.

Here's Cutler Hall, which was first named Palmer Hall by the way:

A whole campus worth of buildings, some quite ornate, others boringly modern surround Cutler Hall now as the college has grown. As you can see, a few trees have grown around it as well.

I left Colorado College and Colorado Springs behind me as I sought the sun which was illuminating the next valley over to the west, the location of Manitou Springs. Manitou is a UTE indian name for Spirit. There's more here in the city's historical website: LINK

A little research off the DPL website had produced some old historical photographs of renowned buildings which made up Manitou Springs back in the old days. The first example was Barker's House, a hotel back in the day and it apparently continues to provide lodging for the town's visitors who continue to come to Manitou Springs to partake of its spring waters.

Nearby is the Wheeler Clock, a distinctive sculpture which also included a clock for the use of the passersby:
Next stop was the Cliff House Hotel, another of the landmarks for which Manitou Springs was known for:

I continued West on Manitou Avenue where most of the above sights were located, ended up at the entrance to the "Cave of the Winds" tourist attraction. You get to the parking lot via a series of tight hairpin turns with few safe spots for posing one's motorcycle. However, some slow riding enabled me to get these shots:

Williams Canyon, with the "Cave of the Winds" building on the left, under overcast skies

Williams Canyon during a moment of sunlight

I got back into Manitou Springs and headed towards the Cog Railroad Depot, on the way there I saw this huge sign pointing the way to Miramont Castle Museum. It's quite an impressive structure, a mix of architectural styles apparently cobbled together from the original builder's memories of his world travels for the church: Jean Baptiste Francolon. More info here: LINK

Soon afterwards, I finally got to the Cog Railroad Depot, where tourist from back in the old days and today still, ride the Cog Rail all the way to the top of Pikes Peak.

Such a small little engine
By now it was 5:00PM and high time for me to start heading home. I took the I-25 super slab and under finally consistently sunny skies, I raced on home in medium traffic. I caught to and passed a fellow rider on what looked like to be a R100GS Airhead. I caught sight of him behind me, off and on, until I turned East onto E-470.

That was a mistake! Up till then, the strong winds which I'd fought all the way down to Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs had been at my back and no real issue. As soon as I started heading eastbound, I was again broadsided by very strong wind gusts! I made it past the first toll gateway and soon after exited on the Chambers Road exit, the winds were just too damn strong for me after so many hours of riding today.

The rest of the ride home was on city surface roads, where the occasional wind gust could be felt but I did not think I was going to get blown into the next lane. Got home with no real issue except some tiredness from riding and fighting the winds; along with sore wrists from manhandling Maria's sometimes behemoth-like weight when positioning her for photographs in Manitou Springs. I swear, the whole town had more inclined roads than flat roads!


irondad said...

I feel for you. Fighting the wind is no fun. Sometimes it even causes a little extra concern! ( ok, I just didn't want to say "scary" )

Enjoyed the photos. I think it's amazing that, as black and white photo technology morphed to color, the buildings and scenery did the same. You captured that process quite nicely.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I saved this rie report until I could take the time to read it properly and to study the pictures. This is what a ride report should look like. It had all the essential elements of an epic.

1) Genuine motocycle riding under challenging conditions. That get's ten points.
2) Great pictures of architecturally significant buildinds (comparing historical archives with your own shots). That gets another 50 points.
3) Trains!!!!! Old steamers in the cog railway count for another 200 points.
4) A great shot of your bike on the lip of a certain death canyon. 50 points more.

I am naming ths piece as my model blog for the month. Look for it in my "dispatches from the front" section tomorrow. If I were you, I'd think about flipping this piece for the MOA.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...

Irondad, thanks for your comments....perhaps scary is not in your vocabulary, those winds added it to mine. : )

redlegsrides said...


thanks for your comments, glad you liked the posting and thought enough of it to add to your "dispatches from the front" list of articles.