Sunday, November 07, 2010

Changing weather at the Georgetown Loop Railroad Park

Oh the things I find myself doing to make Mr Jack Riepe happy.  He'd strongly requested a blog posting about the Georgetown Loop Rail Road, which I'd briefly mentioned in this post:  LINK

So today I left the Denver Metro area shortly before 10:00 AM under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50s with a steady wind.  I was near Georgetown about an hour later and parked Brigitta in the Georgetown Loop Railroad's Devil's Gate train station.  I had arrived just in time in seems, as the 10:30 train had been delayed by a boulder on the tracks.

One's first view of the train carrying passengers on the loop, 
a few minutes after it departs the station at Devil's Gate.

There's the train, chugging slowly across the elevated track that
makes it so famous a tourist attraction

I then saddled up and got on the westbound slab of I-70, heading mistakenly towards the Bakersville exit because I thought there was a view of a different portion of the elevated track used by the trains back in the day of gold and silver mines.

The winds really picked up in speed as I neared Bakersville and all I could see was a dark, solid gray cloud coming my way.  The winds were hitting Brigitta and I head on and making life "interesting", then it started to rain which quickly turned to snow.  I started having flashbacks to the time back in June of 2008 when right about the same spot on I-70, I went down due to ice.  Not good.

Frequently wiping the ice building up on my helmet visor, I made it to the Bakersville exit and crossed over I-70 on the overpass.  It was snowing quite steadily now though it was not sticking to the road so far.  I rode past a State Trooper in an unmarked unit and he did a double-take when he saw me, can't say I blame him for that.

Thought about using the frontage road to make my way back to Georgetown but I soon found it covered in a light layer of snow, again, not good.

Made my way slowly back to the eastbound slab of I-70 and basically rode the shoulder of the road at about 30 MPH while traffic passed me on the highway going much faster.  I guess they didn't have to worry about ice buildup or didn't know better.

Soon I'd lost enough elevation that it quit snowing and it was just raining.  The thermometer on Brigitta was reading 34°F though so things were still a bit too "interesting" for me.  I got off at the Georgetown exit and used frontage roads all the way to the US40/Empire exit. I stopped there to don my wet weather pants and for this shot of the "soup" I had left behind me:

That was some thick soupy weather back there!

I kept riding and soon found myself east of Idaho Springs and in bright sunshine!  I looked back towards the west and damn if I didn't see clear blue skies!  I was reminded of a saying here in Colorado:  "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes, it'll change".  Today, was one of those days that proved that saying.

So I said the heck with it and turned back towards Bakersville to try  and capture the shot I'd seen while riding by on the highway.  It was a bit brisk up there but the roads were drying up nicely as I motored towards Bakersville.  The strong winds were still in evidence though.

I went past the Bakersville exit, thinking the view of the Railroad Loop was west of the Bakersville exit.  I used exit 218 which exists apparently to provide a turnaround point for traffic on I-70 as there's nothing else there.  A little bit of snow under the overpass crossed and then I stopped for these mountain views before once again heading eastbound on I-70:

 Brigitta on the frontage road that is part of exit 218 along the I-70 slab
Here she's pointed east.

A view to the west on the frontage road accessible via exit 218

Turned out that it was not at the Bakersville exit on eastbound I-70 that one sees the Georgetown Loop Railroad's elevated track but at the scenic overlook just before Georgetown!  Disappointingly, it turned out to be a view of the track that I'd shot earlier this morning!  Oh well.

 The view of the elevated track from the scenic overlook west of Georgetown

From the overlook, you can see the train crossing the creek  which I-70 borders

I was a bit tired at this point from the tense riding conditions earlier so decided to bag it for the day.  I got on the eastbound I-70 slab and with just one stop in Bergen Park for gas, rode straight for home.  I covered around 250 miles or so today, in weather that covered all seasons: Sunny, Rainy, Windy, Snowy.  Only in Colorado!

Note to Jack: I'll keep working on getting some good shots of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, today they weren't using the old locomotive as you see.


SonjaM said...

Great timing with Brigitta in front of the passing train! I am so craving for a spare bike. Maybe you could send up Brigitta to entertain me while Nella is gone ;-)

Gary France said...

That sounds cold. In fact, too cold for most of us, but you are made of sterner stuff! I like the exit 218 picture with the snow covered mountain in the background against the blue sky. I didn’t actually ride the Georgetown loop train, but it looks as if it would have been fun, especially in the open cars.

motoroz said...

I have seen the train from a distance, but I want to ride it one of these days.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

What an epic ride... And just to make me happy! The pictures were nothing short of terrific and the kind of shots that are the envy of dedicated rail buffs. This ride was steeped in high adventure, and not only as a result of the altitude! I cannot imagine what I would do if I discovered the way back home covered in snow.

The snow-covered mountains in the background make a dramatic statement, and I have to conclude that this is one of your best-ever rides and ride reports.

Naturally, I have copied this comment into the "Examiner Link" so you can make a buck on it. I sincerely hope that everyone who reads this comment will do the same.

Fondest regards,
Jasck • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads