Saturday, July 31, 2010

Uraling to the top of Pikes Peak - finally

Natasha, my Ural Sportsman sidecar rig and I, had attempted three times to ride to the top of Pikes Peak together.  The first time was back in November of last year, and we ended up being stopped a bit after mile marker 16 of the 19 miles to the top! 

The second time I tried, the sign at the toll station said that the road was only open to mile marker 13, I didn't even ride up.

Today was the third attempt, and as they say, third time's a charm.  Or course, being the middle of summer helps too in terms of no snow blocking the road to the top!

I left home around 7:50 AM and it was at 9:42 AM that I got through the toll booth and did a check-in with my loving wife before heading up the 19 miles to the top of the mountain.  Traffic was light on the Pikes Peak Highway and road conditions were good, even on the dirt portions of the road since it had apparently rained pretty hard the night before, so no dust.  Plenty of gravel and sand washed down from the sides of the mountain though, but being on three wheel, no big deal for Natasha.

Crystal Lake Reservoir, that's Pikes Peak in the background

As you can see from the first picture above, the top of Pikes Peak was shrouded in clouds today.  I took it as a good omen since it's kind of barren up there above the timberline when there's no snow, the clouds would add a foggy effect to the shots.

I hit the "cloud line" shortly after I crossed above the timberline.  
This was the view just before the 12000 foot marker.

Being inside the clouds, you couldn't see the valley below or the surrounding terrain

One of my favorite spots to photograph, the Boulder Pile, as I call it.

Looking down from the Boulder Pile

Leaving the clouds below me, at the first hairpin turn

An attempt at an artsy shot

Next to the Bottomless Pit, the clouds crash into the mountainside and roll up like volcanic gases

A closer view of Natasha with the clouds boiling up from below hiding the rocks behind her

That straight line you see is the Cog Railroad line from Manitou Springs up to the top of Pikes Peak
It had always been snow-covered before so I'd not seen it.

There were a lot of cars and tourists up on the top of the mountain, not sure what they were taking pictures of besides themselves as the clouds were thick on top.  I managed to squeeze Natasha in between two cars for this shot of the summit sign:

Natasha at the peak, finally.

There really was not much to see up on top, what with the clouds and all so I started heading down the mountain.  I must say, the cars seemed more aggressive on the way down and I found myself pulling over a lot to let them get by.  Or, perhaps they had no idea how to put their car in lower gear and were burning up their brakes!

I stopped at this spot being graded for hikers and parking, that had a view of the Crystal Lake Reservoir.

Nearing the Boulder Pile, I always stop for this shot.

Here's a pano shot of Natasha as she nears the Bottomless Pit area

As I stood next to Natasha in the spot above, waiting for a line of cages to clear the shot, one of them paused and took a picture of me of all things!  I waved, they smiled and yelled "Nice Bike!"

A pano shot of the hairpin before the Boulder Pile

Pikes Peak, check!

On the way home, instead of retracing my route on CO83 to Parker, I swung east of Colorado Springs on US24 and took the road north to the small town of Elbert.  I wanted to get a look at the green prairies and lush wooded areas of the eastern portion of the Front Range.

The ride home was without incident and in very light traffic.  Got home a little bit before 4PM, perhaps 200 miles of riding in about 7 and 1/2 hrs of saddle time, a good ride.


cpa3485 said...

Glad you made it to the top this time. In spite of the clouds, I thought those were excellent pictures. I have never been to the top myself. Was wondering if you ever have any carburetor issues when you go from 5,000 ft to 14,000 ft.
Premeditated Scootin'

SonjaM said...

The clouds add to the atmosphere of your pictures. Looks like a great ride.

motoroz said...

Awesome. Glad you made it up. I have hiked up, but never ridden up.

Chris Luhman said...

congrats on making it to the top. I regret not making time for the ride up when I was there last year. I spent too much time in Manitou Springs/Garden of the Gods. I have visited the top via the train. Very nice views when not cloudy.

Charlie6 said...

cpa3485-carburetor issues? idling became something to be maintained manually, couldn't release throttle and let bike sit...other than that, no issues.

Sonja, I quite agree, sure being able to see Kansas from up there is one thing but clouds add "ambience". Just kidding re Kansas....

Motoroz, hiking? way too much work! : )

Chris, next time you're in the area.....let me know, and bring the Ural!

Chris Luhman said...

Sounds like a plan. I don't think I'll get to CO this year because of the Great River Ride.