Friday, January 01, 2010

My first ride for 2010

Ah, a new year is upon us and all I can say is a pox on the old year and welcome to the new one!

I awoke at 6 AM and putted about the room prepping things on the motorcycle for today's riding back towards Denver. I left shortly before 8 AM since I wanted to have the sun fully in evidence to ward off the morning's chilly temperatures. After tanking up, I headed west on CO Highway 69 towards Westcliffe and further on, the town of Cañon City for a ride up it's Skyline Drive.

The rolling hills that comprise the valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range of mountains on the west and the Wet Mountains on the east obscured the view of the Spanish Peaks unfortunately. Still, there was plenty of mountain scenery to be had as you will see.

The Sangre de Cristo Range

The road leading to Westcliffe is nice and easy to ride on and still be able to admire the scenery provided by the east facing side of the Sangre de Cristo Range mountains. The town lies at the junction of CO Hwy 69 and 96 and also lies adjacent to the town of Silver Cliff. Westcliffe struck me as a quaint town which has chosen to retain its historical look.

The view enjoyed by the residents of Westcliffe

I transited from Westcliffe seamlessly into the more commercial looking town of Silver Cliff. I was leaving the Sangre de Cristo Range behind me as I headed east now on CO Hwy 96 towards the town of Wetmore.

Looking west back at the Sangre de Cristo Range

CO Hwy 96 transits through the Wet Mountains and is much more twisty than CO Hwy 69, so be aware. Specially as the road drops down from its highest elevation, because it tightly twists and turns with steep grades with little room for error. There was lots of sand on the road as well, so motorcyclists beware during the winter months.

Once I was clear of the Wet Mountains, I passed through Wetmore and found the junction with CO Hwy 115 at Florence, which takes you to Cañon City. The ride at this point was slow and meandered through Florence's suburbs which eventually became Cañon City's suburbs.

I soon came upon US 50 and headed west out of town to the entrance to Skyline Drive, a wonderfully narrow paved road riding along a high ridge line next to the town itself.

The views along Skyline Drive, I really like riding on this narrow road

Natasha does tend to take up more room than Brigitta though, had to be mindful of where my sidecar's wheel was at all times.

A view back where we came from, that's US 50 way down below in the valley

Here's Natasha on the way down Skyline Drive, just before the couple of hairpin turns that lead you back into town

Pictures of Skyline Drive done, I headed for a quick gas stop to shed a couple of insulation layers as the temperatures had soared to 50 degrees! There was a large gathering of Harley riders along with some other marques in the town itself. I figure it was a "First Day of the Year" type rally.

As I headed out of town on US 50, I turned onto CO 115 to go to Colorado Springs. I spied and managed to stop Natasha fast enough to grab a picture of "the world's largest rocking chair", as claimed by the now defunct business it's located at these days.

It's fortunate that I stopped too, I looked down at my odometer and noted the following milestone for Natasha....or is it kilometerstone?

I rode along CO 115, past the western boundary of Fort Carson and stopped only to capture this giant bug before I got to the outskirts of Colorado Springs.

It denotes the location of the Mays Museum dedicated to insects, collected by the owner over the years from all over I believe. There was a closed sign next to the "bug" so I am no sure if the museum was only closed for the winter or closed for good.

The rest of my riding was a few miles of the I-25 super slab to cross Colorado Springs until I got to the Interquest Parkway which eventually lead me to CO 83 aka as Parker Road. Natasha got me home by 2:30 PM and she performed great I am very happy to report. No mechanical issues in the whole 526 miles of riding done in the last two days. She's turning out to be pretty reliable eh?


cpa3485 said...

I would not mind If you could send a few of those 50 degree days this way. We are not supposed to get above freezing for 3-4 more days. Looks like you had a fantastic ride. We had friends over today and engaged in a large amount of football and food. But a ride, even a short one would have been real nice.

SonjaM said...

What a great way to start the new year! I am back in Calgary now, there's fresh snow on the ground and even more to come. Keep on riding, and writing about it. Cheers and Happy New Year, SonjaM

Chuck Pefley said...

Big chair for a big bug -:) Interesting roadside attractions down there in Colorado!

Sounds like you had a splendid ride and your weather looked perfect, though I suspect it was chilly.

Happy New Year!

Gary France said...

Skyline Drive looks to be a "must do" ride if in that part of Colorado. I am certainly going to add it to my tour. Great photos - thanks.

Gary France

Keith said...

I finally got in my first ride of 2010. It wasn't much. My ride is having cold weather issues. So, I handled the 15F weather fine, but alas my Lil Blue scooter, not so much. It starts fine, but alas, it doesn't want to keep going. Oh well, it was a start even if the progress was labored.


Charlie6 said...

cpa3485, the cold days have returned for a little while we're told....thanks for continuing to read this stuff.

sonja, thanks, I'll endeavour to do so...

chuck, I love stopping at "unusual" road attractions....the ride back to Denver was not cold at all, really. won't regret a trip down to ride Skyline's one of my favorites.

Keith, a ride is a ride, no matter how labored....hope you get your mechanicals fixed soon.

motoroz said...

Just found your blog. I love it. I live in Texas, but I love riding in Colorado! Great pics. Love the Bug.

My trip to Yellowstone this summer will of course allow me to ride in Colorado again.

Hope it is OK, I am linking to your blog from my blog -(

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

What an amazing ride on an amazing road! Is there a special history to this road? Was this the original highway, or was this put through as a kind of a park route or something. I found these to be among some of the most interesting pictures you have published yet.

And then we find the largest rocking chair and the largest bug in the same post. Between the roadway and the side sights, this would be a tough post to beat.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

motoroz, glad you found this blog and that you like it enough to link to it....I've done the same for yours...

Jack, I'll assume you mean Skyline to history, the only I know for sure it that it goes back for quite a ways in CO may want to look again at my first posting on it: skyline drive, then and now

I think it was just built as a tourist attraction....I guess having the Territorial Prison in the town was not enough of a tourist draw.... : )

BTW, saw your article in the Owner's News....good stuff!