Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Silverthorne - Walden Ride

I departed Silverthorne close to 10 am, guided my family out to the highway and then I turned north on CO9.

I soon came upon the sign for Ute Pass a few miles north of Silverthorne, I had bypassed it yesterday but had kept it in mind for today and I am glad I did. It's paved all the way to the summit and it is nicely curving all the way up. It does not take long before you see some awesome views of the Gore Range mountains to the west.

Going up Ute Pass Road

You can continue past Ute Pass but the road kind of ends at a large rock milling complex called Henderson Mill. Its located near a small reservoir. I turned around and got this picture of the information sign at Ute Pass.

The Gore Range

The way down from Ute Pass was just as much fun as the way up, highly recommend this road if you´re ever in the vicinity of Silverthorne!

Once I got back on CO9 I continued north towards Kremmling as I'd done yesterday. Today however I continued going north once I was on US40, heading for Steamboat Springs. The road to Steamboat Springs is nice and smooth with the occasional curve thrown in for your amusement. Along the way, you also transit a couple of mountain passes:

I arrived there shortly after Noon and again was unimpressed as on previous rides with the look of the town in summer. It is a much prettier town in the winter.

I cruised through town and found the road for Hahn's Peak Park which is north of Steamboat Springs. By the way, it's a really curvy but not technical road all the way to Hahn's Peak. Very enjoyable.

I think I got to the vicinity of Hahn's Peak shortly before 1PM. I stopped briefly at the park's visitor center for a bathroom break and a snack.

A quick look at the map indicated I was now less than 30 miles from the Wyoming border so I figured what the hell, might as well go see what's there.

There was a sign that said it was 23 miles to the Hog Park Recreation area in Wyoming so I figured, no sweat. The road was hard packed dirt with a bit of gravel and I was able to maintain pretty good speeds. I must have averaged 25-35mph with bursts to 45mph on occasion. That's pretty good speeds for me.

The terrain along National Forest 550, on which I was now riding, is heavily wooded with pine trees and lots of felled lumber. They're having a lot of troubles with some kind of beetle infestation I believe and you can see a lot of dead looking pine trees amongst the healthy ones.

It was a long 23 miles and I was looking forward to the Wyoming border where I believed it would turn to pavement.

Well, that was not to be. I made it up the Hog Park Recreation Area, part of the Medicine Bow National Forest but the roads remain packed dirt and gravel!

No problem I said to myself, it's only 41 miles to Cowdrey, CO or 21 miles to Grand Encampment, WY from where I stopped to read the map. I was getting close to going on reserve in my fuel tank but I had my extra fuel tank with me so no issues there. Surely it would turn to pavement soon enough and I would be able to make up some time. It was around 3pm around this point.

Again, this was not to be. I soon ran into a sign saying that the road to Cowdrey was closed, no reason given. I had to turn back now 26 miles back towards Grand Encampment! Damn.

The road remained nicely hard packed dirt and gravel and it hugged mountainsides as I made my way northwards. Not much in terms of scenery for quite a while but it did have some nice views once in a while:

Finally, after perhaps 60 miles of dirt trail riding, by the end of which I was riding pretty fast and comfortable by the way, nothing like practice! The only place I had slight issues was on the curves where I used engine braking mainly to slow me down as counter-steering was not working for me on the curves.

I had one interesting¨ moment when I came around this one curve and there were four cows on the right half of the road in front of me! I kept to my training though, I held down the rear brake and though the rear tire fishtailed a bit, I did not let up on it to avoid a lowside fall. The motorcycle finally steadied out and I slowed further and eased my way slowly past the cows. I noticed the lead cow, the biggest one, kept giving me the eye as I went past.

That excitement behind me, Brigitta then decided to let me know we were on reserve tank. That meant I had 20 miles to find gas. I finally got to pavement on WY230 near the town of Riverside. I got gas there with perhaps 10 miles of fuel left, but I wasn't worried since I had the spare fuel tank with me this trip. Still, it was nice to top off the tank even if the only fuel available was 85 octane.

After checking in with my loving wife, I turned East on WY 230 and headed again back towards Cowdrey which was about 26 miles away. It was nicely paved highway now though so I effortlessly cruising at around 80 mph.

The scenery here in the southern border area of Wyoming is rolling plains with small hills studded with rocky outcroppings, nothing remarkable. I soon got to the border with Colorado and I left Wyoming behind:

I was soon seeing more varied and mountainous terrain as I got closer to Cowdrey.

I was now riding on CO125 and reached and cruised through the settlement of Cowdrey in no time at all. Walden was less than 20 miles from Cowdrey and I planned to make that my overnight stay location.

Once in Walden, the Moose Watching Capital of Colorado according to a sign in town, I cruised the small town's main street looking for a place to stay. I settled on this unremarkable motel called the Chedsey Motel. It was less than $55 for the night so the price was right. It even had Wi-Fi and satellite TV.

After I booked the room, I rode over to the nearby Moose Creek Cafe and had steak for dinner. Yummy. I had not eaten all day so that chunk of meat went down well.

After dinner, I rode about town seeing what I could see. I was really hoping to see some wandering moose on the streets of town as the motel clerk had warned me about. No moose turned out to be in evidence.

I rode out of town looking for a good spot to pose Brigitta with the oncoming sunset.

After the sun set, I headed back into town with still no moose in evidence. I pulled into the motel parking lot and after a brief panic in not finding my system case keys, finally found them and unmounted my cases from Brigitta and carried them into the room.

One more check-in with my family and I readied Brigitta for an overnight stay and typed up this report. Pretty good day of riding, I estimate a bit over 300 miles of riding with over 60 of that on packed dirt forest trails. Perhaps 7 hours of saddle time.

I got more comfortable I noticed riding on forest roads, Brigitta is such an awesome motorcycle, she lets me go pretty much where I want.

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