Sunday, December 05, 2010

Jones Pass, snowy and unconquered still by some Uralisti

Temperatures in the high 20s greeted us as I and two other Uralisti: Jay and Deana met yesterday near the town of Morrison, Colorado. It was just our two rigs with the mission to see how far we'd get on Jones Pass, the trailhead of which is located near the small settlement of Berthoud Falls.

The trip started with a bad omen however, I'd managed to lose my trusty old digital camera enroute to Morrison! I'd stashed it inside my weatherproof liner to try and preserve the batteries from the cold you see, and what with the body movements one has to use to safely ride a sidecar rig, it slipped out from under my jacket and fell to the pavement unnoticed. Dammit. Oh sure, it was over eleven years old and due to be replaced soon but still, a bad omen I thought.

Bought near the birth of my #2 Son, guess 
I got my money's worth out of it

No time to retrace my route, we headed out on schedule, our two rigs drawing appreciative looks from onlookers and drivers on the road. We headed north out of Morrison and were soon at the junction with US40, just north of where CO93 junctions with the I-70 super slab.

I prefer using US40 as its two lanes and the traffic speeds are quite suited to our beloved Ural rigs and their "vintage" design and capabilities. I led the way as I knew the turns to take to keep the need to use the I-70 slab to a minimum. Less than an hour later, we were passing through Empire, CO and making good speed towards Berthoud Falls.

Getting ready to descend down Floyd Hill on US40
That's the I-70 Super Slab in the background

 Just west of Empire, CO on US40

On US40 approaching the turnoff for Jones Pass

The nearby mountain peaks were shrouded in low lying clouds, and one could glimpse small amounts of snow covering their forested tops. We turned off towards the road to Jones Pass and soon enough we neared the trailhead. The road became snow covered but this didn't bother our rigs!

Heading towards Jones Pass Trail Head 

We stopped for a bit at the trailhead's parking lot, waiting for a gap in the flow of cross country skiers who were heading out of the parking lot onto the snow-covered trail that led to Jones Pass.

Hardy Uralisti Deana and Jay

Yesterday, I'd swapped my spare tire (the one with the big knobbies) for Natasha's pusher tire and it was with high confidence and hope that I started out of the parking lot. The title of this posting mentions "unconquered" didn't it. I didn't even make it 20 feet into the trail when I lost all forward momentum and Natasha's pusher tire started to dig its way down into the really soft snow.

Skiers came by, advised me that it only got worse from there. After a quick discussion with Jay and Deana, we decided to retreat, leave the pass for another day and less snow. At least, that was the plan. Jay and Deana backed their rig with no issues. Natasha and I, on the other hand, had more issues as I was a bit further in that Jay's rig.

Reverse gear only got me a few feet back towards the parking lot. Then we got stuck again. Deana came up and together we pushed and pulled Natasha around so she was pointed towards the parking lot. Still, she remained stuck with lots of snow built up under her frame. Jay had joined us at this point and between the three of us we dragged Natasha onto firmer snow. Finally, I was able to get her going and away from the eyes of onlookers and snowmobile riders.

We decided to explore a road that lead towards the Urad Mine complex nearby. It turned out to be quite the nicely snow-covered road which led us part what appeared to be collecting ponds for the nearby mine, with really nice mountain side views as a bonus. Soon though, the road ended at a gate and we turned around.

A brief patch of clear dirt road as we headed towards the Urad Mine Complex

This will give you an idea of the snow-packed roads into and out of the mining complex

Heading back the way we'd come, we retraced our route back to Idaho Springs. I then led the way up out of Idaho Springs along the Virginia Canyon Road which is also known as the "Oh My God" road to the gambling town of Central City.

Jay and Deana had never ridden the "Oh My God" road and while it was pretty washboarded in spots, it still was a nice road to ride. We stopped at several vantage points to gaze at the distant mountain ranges and watch how the fog seemed to linger among the lower hills and valleys.

Even shooting into the sun, Deana got this shot of me ascending the "Oh My God" road

 A view of distant peaks from the "Oh My God" road

 Remnants of the mining structures that dot the landscapes of Colorado

Urals on the "Oh My God" Road

To give you an idea of what can happen if you ride this rode and are unwary or careless:

A lot of the pine trees along the "Oh My God" road had a light coating of snow on their needles, quite eye-catching actually.  Here's an example near where we parked the Urals above:

 From a distance, it almost looks like dogwood in bloom

We crested the mountain, passing by Russell Gulch and were soon riding about the small gambling towns of Central City and Blackhawk, looking for a gas station in order to "use the facilities".

Central City

There were no gas stations to be had though and we instead left the gambling casinos behind and cruised south on CO119 to the Bushwacker's Gas Station.  It was here that I parted company with Jay and Deana as their plans had them ending up in the city of Boulder and mine were to head home due to some work matters which had come up.

Deana and Jay

I headed on down CO119 until it junctions with US6 which takes your through some gorgeous rocky canyon walls and tunnels, I must return there soon to take pictures. I took US40 and retraced my outbound route by myself, having the route basically to myself and steadily warming temperatures as I neared the Denver Metro area.

Traffic steadily built up as I got deeper into the city and soon I was back in my home neighborhoods. I covered perhaps 140 miles or so today, had some fun on snow, had some struggles on snow, rode lots of nicely dry but at times sandy pavement, bounced along dirt roads bordering deep precipices and Natasha did great throughout. What more could one ask? I mean, besides not losing one's camera of course.

My deep gratitude to Deana and Jay for the photos they shot throughout the day, I felt like I had my own camera support crew following me around!LINK


Chris said...

I'm sorry you lost your camera. I'm always afraid of that when I put mine in my pocket.

Looks like you had a great day of riding. You just had one K335 on the pusher right?

Nice pics Deanna & Jay!

redlegsrides said...

Chris, I had the more knobby spare tire from Ural as the pusher tire...the kenda335 remains unmounted.

GF said...

I continue to be amazed by the scenery in Colorado :-) We are starting to talk of moving to Arizona or Colorado with my family.
Beautiful pictures and roads, they are perfect for my new Yamaha Tenere.

Unknown said...

Oof, that sexy Ural... I have a burning need to try one of these out. Keep on that thing all winter!

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

SonjaM said...

I am with you on the 'Oh my God'. Again in awe. I wonder how the snowy road would feel on two instead of three wheels... Please return soon and share some more photos.