Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Uraling to Berthoud Pass, Winter Park, and Loveland Pass

Long day of riding on Monday, but I think it was well worth it.  I wanted to go to Winter Park, CO and locate the western end of the Moffat Tunnel.  I'd previously found the eastern portal back on January 13 while riding around Rollinsville, CO.

The weather had been so warm on Saturday that I was sure that Berthoud Pass, which US40 uses to allow one to get to Winter Park from Denver would be clear and open for traffic.  I left the house sometime before 9:30 AM and made my usual way across the Denver metro area using US285 to Kipling Avenue to Morrison Rd.  From Morrison, it was CO93 north to where it intersects with US40, just north of where it intersects with the I-70 Super Slab.

Using US40, I was soon at the Buffalo Overlook near Genesee Park.  I customarily stop my motorcycle at this point since this is where one catches the first sight of the distant snow covered mountains:

Buffalo Overlook

A brief sprint from Buffalo Overlook on I-70 and I took the Evergreen Parkway exit and got back onto the more sedate two lane road which is US40.  Using this road, I made my way to where it ends and then got back on the I-70 Slab for a few miles, past Idaho Springs and finally getting to the junction with US40.  Exiting here takes you northward towards Berthoud Falls, Berthoud Pass and eventually as you make your way down from the pass, into the ski resort town of Winter Park.

The clouds were very low this morning, obscuring some of the higher peaks that provide breathtaking scenery while one drives up the paved road towards Berthoud Pass.  The road was wet but not icy, and there was a thin layer of packed snow in the middle between the opposing lanes of traffic.

A panoramic view of the mountains, just past hairpin turn #5 heading towards Berthoud Pass from the small settlement of Berthoud Falls.  Berthoud Falls is also near where one takes the trail to get to Jones' Pass.

Finally got to Berthoud Pass, the roads had not been bad at all but there had been plenty of fast driving cagers to keep one on his toes!

I left Berthoud Pass and continued northwards towards Winter Park.  More hairpin turns were in store for everyone and I kept the pace at or below the posted speed limit.  Lots of road spray and such but I was glad for it since wet is better than icy.

Soon enough, I was at the outskirts of Winter Park and after a couple of wrong turns, found the way to the western portal of the Moffat Tunnel.  You have to turn off of US40 onto Winter Park's Old Town, traverse it, then find Winter Park Rd on the far end of town.  Then look for a train trestle, cross under it, follow it past the Sonderson Ski Lift area.  You'll see the tunnel's portal at this point. 

Darn near got stuck when I chose the wrong path to get closer to the tunnel!  I managed to drag Natasha's front end back around and finally got her settled on packed snow vs the loose stuff which had high-centered her when I tried to do a u-turn.

West Portal of the Moffat Tunnel

Exiting the tunnel's immediate area, I made my way back through Old Town Winter Park, back onto US40.  Heading south in the worsening road spray, I kept my eye open for more photo opportunities since the sun had finally broken out from the low hanging clouds of earlier in the morning.

Things look much better with some sunlight shining, don't they?  Again, this is the scenic overlook that is just past hairpin turn #5 when one is heading towards Berthoud Pass from the settlement of Berthoud Falls.

As I approached Berthoud Falls, after negotiating Berthoud Pass one more time, I spotted the turnoff for Jones Pass and took it.  The paved road deadends at a mining complex but there's a snow-covered trail with a sign pointing towards Jones Pass to the right.  I followed the trail and was soon at a small parking lot where there were people getting ready to go hiking and snowmobiling.

You should have seen the looks they gave me as I went past to the trail leading to Jones Pass.  Alas, it was not to be, my pusher tire starting fishtailing almost immediately and I decided Jones Pass would have to wait for another day.  I was too tired and pressed for time to try and switch out my pusher tire for the knobby spare tire.

So I headed back towards US40 and Berthoud Falls.  A sign caught my attention as I neared the US40 turnoff.  I thought it read URAL, which as you can imagine, would catch any Ural rider's eye.  It turned out instead to be URAD.

I took the opportunity to use clean snow to wipe down the road spray covered headlight, signal lights, helmet visor and windshield on Natasha.  It would be for naught, as they became dirty soon afterwards.

As I approached US40's junction with the I-70 Slab, I made the decision to work in Loveland Pass which was perhaps another 20 minutes westward on I-70.

Natasha  labored for the next 30 minutes to climb the grade towards Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel which most people use to cross the Continental Divide.  Natasha could not maintain more than 45 mph though sometimes the terrain allowed spurts to 50 mph!  I was definitely one of the slower vehicles making my way up to the pass.  I am happy to report though, that I was not the slowest!  That honor belongs to the laden semi-trailers who were barely making 30 mph up the 6% grade to the divide!

Finally, we got to the junction with US6 which takes one to Loveland Pass.  Trucks with hazardous materials are required to take Loveland Pass instead of driving with their cargo through the Eisenhower Tunnel.  It's pretty steep climbing on US6 up to Loveland Pass but the road was "mostly" clear of snow and ice.  Traffic was light luckily and except for one idiot passing on a double-yellow, there were no "exciting" moments to speak of.

There was however, some pretty breathtaking scenery to behold:

On the way up to Loveland Pass on US6

 Looking forward towards Loveland Pass

 You can see back in the distance, part of the US6 roadway that allows one to climb to the pass

Natasha at Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide

As you can see in the four picture sequence above, there was lots of snow on the mountains one can see while riding on the way to Loveland Pass on US6.  You'll note also all the gray crap that road spray had deposited on poor Natasha.

After enjoying the view from Loveland Pass, I realized it was time to get going for home if I was to beat the evening rush.  I made my way back down US6 towards the I-70 Slab.  Traffic was slow and heavy due to the large number of cagers making their way back to Denver after a day at the ski slopes.  This was OK by me and Natasha as the slow traffic was well within our comfort levels in terms of speed.

I tanked up Natasha at the town of Georgetown and checked in with my loving wife.  The rest of the ride was a reverse of the route I'd taken up into the mountains.  Traffic remained pretty heavy of I-70 so I was glad to quit it by using US40 until I was back in the Denver metro area.  I was home just shy of 4:30 PM.  So not quite 8 hours in the saddle and 328 Kms ridden (almost 197 miles).  A good day of riding!


Arizona Harley Dude said...

What a ride! I notice the pictures are crisper on the blog as compared to the link. Not a problem though, I just looked at them twice.

Chris Luhman said...

I like your pics of the snow covered mountains. Reminds me of some of the scenes I saw earlier in 2009 on my CO trip.

Which knobby tire did you mount on your spare? I've been thinking of buying another spare and mounting both up with knobbies: one for the pusher and one for the cart. Then I can switch them at the trail and leave the duros for the street.

ps: road spray really sucks...

Charlie6 said...

AZ Harley Dude, thanks for the info, not sure why its different on examiner...same source for the pics. Oh well.

Chris, my knobby is the oem uralshina tire, not used so far. I read they wear really fast but are good on snow, we'll see. I've also read that knobbies on the hack are overkill but what do I know.

Chris Luhman said...

I've also read the knobbies on the hack are overkill, but it seems like if 2WD was engaged it would be very helpful in the loose. I can't spend anymore money on bikes for a bit, so we'll have to wait and see. I still need new handlebars for my WR. ;)

cpa3485 said...

I have been to those places you describe although it was summertime and in a car. I commend you for tackling that ride in the middle of winter! Great pictures! Brings back lots of memories. At one of the passes we encountered a lot of bicycles. They struggled mightily going up, but the ride down would have been amazing.

Richard Machida said...

Nice pictures on the way up to Loveland Pass. I really like the sky color. Do you tweak the exposure any to compensate for the snow?

Charlie6 said...

Chris, I know what you mean about not being able to spend more on the bikes....

cpa3485, being on three wheels, its not that might a challenge....those guys on bicycles are working way too hard in my opinion. : ) Thanks for the visit and comments.

richard, I've been known to tweak photos when the sun was just too bright or my camera sensors were fooled....but the pics in this post are not retouched. I got lucky I guess. Thanks for your comments.

bobskoot said...


I love those snow pictures with Natasha and they do look better here.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...


thanks. do you mean the smaller versions look better on the blog than on I just went and looked at both and they look the same to me, both in the small and larger versions....which makes sense since it's the same code to both.....


motoroz said...

Wow. I love seeing those places in the winter. I have been to several during the summer. I still need to ride Loveland Pass.

Great pics. Yes, they are better on this blog than the other site.

Charlie6 said...


thanks for your nice comment. I am thinking perhaps the white background on the examiner site does something to y'all's perception of the colors of each picture vs the black background of this blog?

you see, both postings point to same source pictures!

if you open/expand the same picture on both sites, save them to your local hard drive and then view them side by side, you'll see they are tthe same picture. Heck, your pc will tell you that already have a file with the same name when you try to save the second one.

I can't see a difference, and am using firefox, are u also?

bobskoot said...


I figured it out. I was up all night comparing the photos back and forth and I have come to a conclusion . . .

It's the way they are displayed. On your Blog you have a black background which makes the "white" photos just POP out.

The dull, lustless, green/aquamarine colored background of the Examiner photos just sort of muddle their way and look FLAT with lack of contrast to make them stand out

Perhaps you should add a black "FRAME" around the photos

Consultation Fee: TBD

You're welcome

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

Bobskoot, too late, but great minds think alike in this case! : )

bobskoot said...


What do you mean TOO LATE !

My mind is going Ural speed, and I am typing as fast as IVAN will let me

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Charlie6 said...

bobskoot, yep too late :)

I'd come to same conclusion last night in my response to motoroz....

SonjaM said...

Great ride! Great pics! Nice contrast with the blue sky. I'm loving it.