Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Ride on Rampart Range Road

A nice sunny day today but a bit on the cool side in the morning, high 50s but it felt warmer as I rode south towards Sedalia, CO.

I went down Parker Rd, through the town of Parker, then using the Crowfoot Parkway to get me to Castle Rock. From Castle Rock, its a short hop to the small town of Sedalia where I picked up CO67 westwards.

Soon after Pine Nook where a small store is located, no gas, one reaches the northern end of the Rampart Range Rd and its junction with CO67. I turned onto the road to see how far I could get. Turns out, I could get pretty far. It's just a packed dirt road with a bit of loose pea-sized gravel, so not bad when riding Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer. I am not sure I would have continued on with Maria, my 2004 R1150RT which is a lot heavier and slightly taller than Brigitta.

Both sides of Rampart Range Road are heavily forested with pine trees. I rode along making perhaps 20mph, which for me is pretty good, while looking for sights to photograph.

Here's the first rock formation I found interesting enough to stop and pose Brigitta by:

A nicely balancing rock

I continued on Rampart Range Road, riding past many campsites by the side of the road but there were so many trees that the small glimpses I spotted of nearby rock formations and mountain views were not worth stopping for.

I spotted a sign for Devil's Head, and who could resist that name right? I rode on and soon arrived at the Devil's Head trail head parking area. Some pretty cool rock formations were in evidence as were many hikers. I saw several of the cages that had sped by me while riding, bastards. I didn't see one cager today that was not careening down the road, it made for some worrisome moments on the trail where blind curves were involved but it all proved OK.

Here's some of the views from Devil's Head and its nearby areas:

A hint of a mountain peak, teasing me onwards

At the Devil's Head Trail head

A distant mountain range, not sure which one it is, maybe Thunder Butte

My first view of Pikes Peak

I continued onwards on Rampart Range Rd, which was now traversing the Pike National Forest, each curve negotiated revealed a tantalizing glimpse of a further curve, perhaps to some scenic view. The road kept teasing me with these views and I found myself about 20 miles later at a junction between Rampart Range and I thought was Forest Road or FR 348.

26 miles back to Sedalia....hmmm

Oh look, only 10 miles to pavement!

So faced with turning back and riding about 20 miles back to CO67 or going 10 miles towards CO67, I figured I'd take the "short way". I was to regret this slightly.

FR348 turned out to be quite the GS-worthy dirt road. I encountered exposed rock outcroppings at the beginning and end of it. Between these lovely terrain patches, I encountered rolling dips, sloping banks, narrowing of the road at points, spots where loose gravel was accumulated 2-4 inches deep. Teenage boys on motorcycles and ATVs passed me every so often, giving me an upraised fist (sort of like the "black power" sign) as they passed. I guess that's either the greeting they give each other while dirt riding; or they were expressing surprise or dismay? at seeing me on this trail with a street motorcycle!

So, it was not too bad overall. There were points where I had to put my feet out to the sides when I hit deep gravel or sand and the wheels started sliding a bit. I managed to not drop the motorcycle though so its all good.

Finally, after a LONG ten miles at basically 10mph or slower, I finally got to the end of the FR348 and onto a parking lot filled with pickup trucks and trailers which carried ATVs.

You could see a beautiful view of Pikes Peak from this parking lot, which is off of Rainbow Falls Road.

Pikes Peak looked a lot closer than what it seems in this shot

A bit more dirt riding, albeit on much smoother dirt now, got me to CO67 as the sign back on Rampart Range Rd had promised me. There's a sign for Rainbow Trout at this entrance so it's easy to miss or assume its private property, which its not.

I turned west on CO67 and finally got out of first gear, which I'd been using for the last couple of hours I think. It felt good to gain speed and feel the cool wind hitting me again.

Views on CO67, note the recovering hillsides, denuded after the massive forest fires in recent years

A view of the South Platte River soon after I turned onto CR67 from South Platte River Rd

I twisted my way on CO67 towards the town of Deckers, the road was fine and traffic was sparse so it was quite enjoyable. I made it to Deckers where there was a large group of Harley-Davidsons gathered in front of the grocery store there.

I did not stop, instead turning north on South Platte River Road, passing through the small hamlets of Trumbull and Oxyoke and enjoying more twisting curves. I went onto Douglas County 67 where it junctions with South Platte River Road. I had dimly remembered it being only two miles of dirt road, doable dirt road, from past rides.

Turns out it was closer to 5 or more miles of dirt road, I was quite happy to finally see pavement when I reached the small outpost of Sprucewood I will admit! The road conditions were not bad, I just was tired of dirt riding. Update:17May09: Forgot to mention, if you like rock domes, this particular stretch of dirt road had several hidden under the many trees bordering both sides fo the road!

I wicked up the speed one more time once back on CR67, adding some more curves and twisting turns to my count for today. If you like curves and hairpins, this is another road to consider adding to your ride schedule. I went past the junction with Rampart Range Rd and continued on all the way to Sedalia.

The rest of the ride was basically retracing my route from this morning, I got home a little bit after 5:00 PM and got ready to take my loving wife to dinner. She surprised me by asking to take a ride around the block on the back of my motorcycle!

Not wanting to give her time to change her mind, I gave her my spare helmet, my Firstgear mesh riding jacket and had her put on some boots. We went off shortly after the gear was on. I have to tell you, it felt weird having a passenger in the back of me on the motorcycle!

I could feel the front portion of her helmet coming forward and touching my back. Still, we managed to survive going around the block. More practice and a better fitting helmet is quite in order if we're going to actually do rides together of course. Still, it's a start! She even asked me about taking my sons for a short ride as well. Will wonders never cease?!


chessie said...

Reading your explorations are inspiring....always.

Steve Williams said...

Riding along at 20mph looking for photographs is my idea of the perfect ride. I love finding places where I can putt along like that without a pack of snarling beasts behind me hurrying along to who knows what.

And it is nice to see a paved road after miles and miles of dirt and gravel.

Great post and pictures.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Charlie6 said...

Cheesie, thanks for continuing to read my meanderings....

Steve, I think your vespa would do fine here....getting to some of the roads might be a challenge due to the amount of "snarling beasts" but once off the highways....

Coming from you, the comment about my pictures is very much appreciated.