Saturday, May 14, 2011

Riding through clouds to Loveland Pass

A pretty overcast and cool day today here in Colorado, perfect weather to introduce Vikki the V-Strom and her new sidecar to the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass.

I left the house at 10:00 AM and slabbed it all the way to the town of Morrison via the E470/C470 highways, maintaining 70mph without seemingly any strain on Vikki.  Those 1000cc sure come in handy for high speed runs with a sidecar attached!

From Morrison, I transited through the small towns of Kittredge, Idledale and Evergreen, picking up CO 74 north out of Evergreen and soon turning west onto Squaw Pass Road which is AKA CO 103, the road which leads you to CO5 or the Mount Evans Road.

The road up to the top of the mountain is closed until Memorial Day I think but the ride up CO103 would prove enjoyable as other times and a bit "cloudy".

The cloud ceiling today was pretty low, perhaps 8000-9000 feet or so.  Well below the elevations one achieves while riding on CO103 towards Echo Lake I believe.  First there was just a hint of fog and mist and then as I reached cloud level it was like riding in a thick pea soup of freezing gray fog.  It was too cold for fog, I was in fact riding inside a cloud which was traversing the mountains on the way east towards Denver.

 Riding inside the clouds

 At the parking lot for the Echo Lodge

Freezing fog, you gotta love it

There was the ever present fog/cloud covering Echo Lake so no pictures of it or Mount Evans today.  I cruised downwards towards Idaho Springs, the temperature slowly rising from freezing once I descended towards I-70 and the town itself.

I tanked up here and after checking in with my loving wife, proceeded west on the I-70 slab towards Loveland Pass.  Traffic was pretty light, and the sun was trying to break out through the thick clouds that were moving swiftly eastwards.

Here's a video of Vikki and I riding up towards the summit of Loveland Pass from the eastern end:

There's two more videos of the riding I did on Loveland Pass Road at the end of this posting
Follow this LINK to see the above video on youtube

 Vikki at the summit of Loveland Pass

 The view westward from the overlook facing the Arapahoe Basic (A-Basin) Ski Resort

 The view of the mountains from my usual turnaround spot on US6

A look at the eastern entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel where it 
goes through the Continental Divide

After Loveland Pass, I headed homewards but made a stop at Silver Plume where the Georgetown Loop Railroad is based.  The motorcycling gods were smiling upon me today, not only had I good roads and fair weather for the entire ride, I got to the train station in time to shoot these pictures and videos of the incoming train as it returned from it's loop ride:

This one's for you Mr Riepe!

 The Georgetown Loop Locomotive, at the Silver Plume Train Station
LINK to video on youtube

 Refilling the boiler on the locomotive

I liked this "classic look" shot
Note: There's one more video of the train departing the station with new passengers
at the end of this posting.

I left Silver Plume after watching the locomotive take its new cargo of passengers on their day trip.  Even though it was cloudy and a bit cold, they seemed in high spirits and enjoying the ride.

I slab it, mostly, to Georgetown where I chose to get off the eastbound I-70 slab and took frontage roads eastwards towards Idaho Springs.  I stopped at a small bridge near Georgetown Lake and got this shot of the cloud-crowned mountain to the east of Georgetown:

Georgetown Lake

The rest of the ride was just boring slab riding, it rained quite a bit as I neared the Denver Metro area but I had my rain gear on so it was no big deal.  Vikki and the sidecar did great throughout.  Quite a change being able to easily maintain 70-75 mph for long rides with no mechanical issues ensuing.

The only issue I had was the wiring for the tail light on the sidecar coming loose, and that was an easy fix.

Quite happy with my new sidecar rig, good shakedown run in the mountains, interesting weather and scenery, what more could one ask for?

LINK to video on youtube

LINK to video on youtube

LINK to video on youtube


GF said...

Beautiful pictures, happy she feels good, I'm sure the almost 100 horses feel good going up the mountains :-)
Loved the train videos and pictures, can't believe there's still so much snow around.

Mike said...

Great photos and videos and nice trip. Thank you!

SonjaM said...

Amazing ride, Dom. Great videos. Thanks for taking me along. The high snow walls and the freezing fog kinda scared me a bit though, I hope it was not too dangerous, but yet again three wheels are probably safer than too. I am glad that you seem to be satisfied with Vikki's performance.
The picture with the bike in front and the locomotive and tank in the back is a true money shot.

redlegsrides said...

George F, thanks for the kind words and yes...the 98 horses really pull strongly on the more struggling or having to gear down to third to achieve 45 mph. I hear there's even more snow on Trail Ridge Rd in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Mike, thanks, and you're welcome.

SonjaM, with three wheels, I'll go to places that I fear to thread on two....I will admit there were times in the fog where I could not see more than perhaps 30 ft in front of bet I slowed WAY visor keep fogging and freezing up too. Interesting.

Thanks for your comments and kind words.

RichardM said...

Glad to hear that the new rig is working out so well. Sounds promissing. My favorite picture is also the engine with the bike in front but the classic shot is also very good. I like the composition.


Unknown said...


I loved all those locomotive shots esp with Vikki in them. I also liked the steam in the video, it adds an air of nostalgia.

Isn't it amazing how effortless the engine is. Is there a disk brake on the sidecar, otherwise you would skew left on sudden stops ?

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Richard, yep once I got the alignment done correctly, it was all downhill from there. thanks for visiting and commenting.

Bobskoot, no disc brake on the sidecar wheel though it's an option. I'd heard from another v-strom hack owner that the sidecar is so light you just end up dragging the "locked" wheel when coming to a stop. Yes, there's a bit of a skew to the left as the inertia from the sidecar wants it to keep going but you learn to automatically deal with it.

Unknown said...

Nice photo on Loveland pass. I can smile along with you now. My new Concours produces 155 HP v my old Honda and Beemer which produced 38/48 hp respectively. It's like a rocket ship. A bit intimidating, but holy crap, it's an easy ride on the big roads. Must be worlds different from your Ural

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Steve Williams said...

Dom: Looks like the poor Ural will be retired to the Ural Museum of Antique Machinery. The new rig sounds like a winner. Checking a map to get a feeling for how widely you were ranging was an eye opener. You are really eating up the miles with Vikki.

Beautiful weather, at least for me, for making pictures. And the videos were great. Almost strong enough to have me thinking about a sidecar. Notice I said almost.

On another note, don't be giving Jack treats. You have to know the missives in and around all the parks there concerning the feeding of bears. You keep it up and he'll be calling you every time you neglect to shoot a picture of a train, railroad track, topless woman, or Teutonic Warrior.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks
Follow me on Twitter

Oz said...

That is so awesome. I love seeing places/roads with snow that I have only visited in the summer. Great videos. Thanks for sharing.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Forgive me for taking so long to respond to this, but I am dealing with an allergy thing and I have been off my oats for the past few days.

I am delighted to learn that your new hack rig has the strength of a Clydesdale and the nimble grace of a gazelle. How much fun it must have been for you to hit the road on a hack rig that didn't blow an alternator, bust an axle, short out, leak oil, or fry a bearing! How cool it must have been to turn the throttle and feel real power translate distance into speed!

And your new rig looks great too! Best of all, it is still made by a member of the Axis.

While your ride videos were most intriguing, there is nothing like shots of a stream train writing new history in the mountain passes! I loved the rail road videos, and watched them with the sound cranked through the roof.

I am surprised that there are no heated coaches on this run. It must be freezing in those open Gondola cars... Then again, there is no better way to take in the scenery, and history, on a nice summer day. Stiffie and I took her grandson on an open-air car last week, moving through Amish country. It was sensational. I recommend it to everyone.

I cannot understand why you have not done a piece of riding to this place, and then riding the train!

Fantastic blog today! Thanks.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...

Brady, the more than doubling of available horses is indeed heady stuff, I find myself racing ahead of traffic clusters....hooligan behavior is within my grasp but I must control the impulse.

Steve (Scooter in the Sticks), the timing was so good on me being at the station when I heard the incoming train's had to be done.

Almost getting a sidecar, that's better than never getting a sidecar, I have hopes for you....remember your riding experience on Natasha, think light years difference with the V-Strom.

Motoroz, you're quite welcome, the mountains look a bit plain to me in the summer, but it beats flat plains most of the time!

Jack, glad you liked the train videos, the folks in the open car kept pointing at me as I shot the footage. They were probably wondering what the heck I was doing out there on a rig! It was in the 40's so not bad temperature-wise. Had it been a windy day, I am sure all of them would have retreated into the enclosed cars.

And yes, having a reliable tug does take a load off one's mind....but we'll see come the winter again, how she does in the deep stuff.

But first...Montana.

Anonymous said...

Excellent travelogue, Redleg! You should do a time-compressed vid of the ride from Idaho Springs to the summit of Mt Evans