Monday, December 28, 2009

Uraling to Squaw Pass

A bright and sunny day today here in Colorado with temperatures in the low 30s forecasted. I started off today's ride after running an errand in the Denver Tech Center. I headed west on Orchard Rd until it junctions with Broadway. Broadway Blvd I took northwards until I got to it's intersection with US285.

This is the usual main road I take to cross Denver and get into the gateway town of Morrison. It's a good location for a starting point for mountain rides. I tanked up and headed west on CO74 and through the three mile stretch of this road known as Bear Creek Canyon:

On Soda Lakes Rd, east of Morrison

Bear Creek Canyon

CO74 winds it's way into the mountain towns of Idledale, Kittredge and Evergreen and was mostly clear in terms of snow cover. Still, there were numerous stretches of ice and snow covered lanes not conducive for two-wheeled riding today. Since I was on my Ural Sidecar Rig, Natasha, this was not that big a concern.

At Evergreen, I stayed on CO74 as it made its way north towards Bergen Park, shortly before the city of Bergen Park one can take Squaw Pass Road aka CO103 towards CO5 which is the road up to the top of Mount Evans. It's currently closed for the season but I figured there would be the usual nice scenery on CO103.

The road up towards Echo Lake and CO5 was pretty much snow-covered with packed snow and lots of sand. Traction was good though and I kept a steady 25 mph all the way to Echo Lake, pulling over when the sporadic cager caught up with me to let them pass. I was, unlike the cagers, in no hurry.

I finally found the actual summit sign for Squaw Pass this time, you have to turn onto CO Rd 470 to get to it.

This is the view of the far off mountains from the summit of Squaw Pass

Typical road conditions on CO103 today, not too bad for the sidecar rig

Natasha and the mountains

Nearing the Echo Mountain Ski Area

Panoramic shot of the distant mountain ranges visible from CO103

Echo Lake

Once you get past Echo Lake, you start descending down the mountain towards the town of Idaho Springs. Road conditions improved a little bit but still plenty of snow and ice to keep everyone driving slowly around the many sharp curves and steep grades.

This is the large rock formation at the entrance to the West Chicago Creek Road or CO Rd 114

I turned off of CO103 here and explored CO Rd 114 to see how far I could get into the surrounding area. The road was dirt and easily doable until I got to the first hairpin turn. Then it became snow-packed and shortly afterwards I spotted a sign that said: "No Winter Maintenance". I kept going, past the second hairpin turn and things got a bit rougher. I then hit a stretch of soft snow which despite efforts to keep moving, finally stopped my forward progress.

Since I was alone, that was my stopping point for this trail. I slowly backed down the slight slope to a point where I could turn around:

That shaded stretch of trail in the background is as far as I was willing to go today, I'll have to come back some other day when the road is clear or with a fellow Uralista to see what lies at the end of this road.

I got back to CO103 and made my way down to Idaho Springs without any incident. The road was much clearer but still sported some ice patches in the shady areas. This road is not the best for motorcycling in the winter, unless you've a sidecar rig of course!

I got on eastbound I-70 at Idaho Springs for a few miles of highway riding in medium to heavy traffic. I successfully did the death-merge maneuver to exit onto US6 from I-70 and used US40, a two lane road, to make my way to the town of Bergen Park. My rig does not like doing more than 55 mph on flat ground, and has real difficulty achieving even that on the steep grades in this part of I-70.

From Bergen Park it was a virtual retracing of my outbound route, through Evergreen, Kittredge, and Idledale. Traffic was minimal, and road conditions while not really even close to optimal for regular motorcycles, was fine for my sidecar rig. I got to Morrison and made my way to US285 and from there into Denver and eventually my home neighborhoods. Over 120 miles of riding I think and about 7 hours in the saddle. Not too bad.

I did end up running the main battery down to 7.8 volts with all this riding though. I'd started the day at 11.8 volts and while the engine was fine, my headlight and driving lights were quite dim as I got home. Still, Natasha did great again today.


cpa3485 said...

I am so jealous! Really enjoyed your pictures, particularly at the pass and the view of the mountains. Natasha seems to be a reliable and good driend to you as I know you are pretty far out in the boonies on some of your rides. Take care and happy new year!

Matthew said...

beautiful pics, man! i'm jealous of the scenery as we don't have anything like that down here in San Antonio...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I am amazed that the engine on the Ural continued to fire at 7.8 volts on the voltmeter -- especially as the headlights and running lights were all on. I realize we are talking about two different machines here, but my K75 wouldn't start using the button with the voltage anywhere under 11 volts, nor would a rider be advised to try it more than once. (The starter rely fries.)

And as a frequent reader of this blog, I would like to register a complaint. The photography is getting exceptionally tedious. The gentle reader can appreciate one or two breathtaking shots per story. Yet one after another — blog episode after blog episode — dulls the senses of the common man. Sometimes, it even gets him thinking along the lines of conspiracy.

Your photographs lead one to believe that you live next door to Santa's Village, or that Shang Gra La begins at the end of your driveway. Also, routinely including signposts that depict Alpine elevations (19,347 feet) are also discouraging to those of us who measure local mountains in dog years, so we can compete with interesting numbers of our own.

What I would like you to do is ride through questionable neighborhoods, gives rides to hookers in your sidecar, or host sidecar tailgate parties with scantilly-clad snow bunnies. I think photos like these would greatly enhance the seemier side of life in Colorado.

By the way, I was trying to determine which of the shots included in the this current episode were the best, and I realized tha all of the ones with distant mountains really appealed to me.

Happy New Year!

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

irondad said...

I have a love / hate relationship with your blog posts featuring the scenery.

I love the photos and the area. I hate it because I feel so inferior seeing such beautiful landscape captured by someone who actually knows how to make the most of the camera.

Right now there is thick fog outside. You literally brightened my day. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!

Diamond Dave said...

Are you sure Uralista is the correct name for a group of Ural followers?? Surely, given the Russian heritage of the rig, it should be Uralniks???
Uralista gives off a refined and effette aura, surely suited to the Ducatis and MV Augusta rather than the Ural's proletarian values?

redlegsrides said...

Cpa3485, thanks for the kind words...Natasha has been pretty good lately, happy new year to you as well.

Matthew, it's really beautiful stuff at times.....thanks for the look and Happy new year.

Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack......

to address your multiple points sir...

yep, pretty amazing it still fired the ignition module, but I'll take what I can get you know? The lights were really dim though. I know it would not have fired up the starter had the engine died but that's what the kickstarter is for.

your complaint has been duly noted and will be discussed, I assure you, at the next meeting of riders living in states with mountains, for eventual response. Like your blog, we endeavour to please our readers wishes whenever convenient to our schedules and moods. So, just so I have this right, you want more pictures right? : )

19,347 feet? I'd kill to have such tall mountains here...alas, all we have is a buttload of 14,000ft + mountains, we call them the fourteeners.....if you ever make it out this way, I'll show you as many of them as you wish.

As to riding in questionable neighborhoods and carousing with women of doubtful wife has access to my motorcycles and a large insurance policy on we really need to give her more motivation to introduce some sabotage that'll have me hurtling down some mountainside cliff when my brakes fail?

Happy New Year to you as well my Friend.

redlegsrides said...

Irondad, I am sure the pics you would take when surrounded by the scenery that we have here in the Glorious state of Colorado would come out just as nice and probably nicer as your camera gear is about 10 years newer than mine. Happy New Year.

redlegsrides said...


re the term Uralista...I think they've just copied/parodied the ducatisti bunch. Uralista being a single Ural rider, Uralisti being all of them....etc

They also use the term foilheads....apparently when the Urals were first imported into the US, the only folks who bought them were the kind who wore foil on their heads and feared government/ufo conspiracies....go figure.

Chris said...

Awesome photos as usual, makes me want to ride back to CO right now!
"Natasha and the mountains" is definately my favorite.