Friday, November 25, 2011

Ride to Red Cliff

The forecast was for mid-50s for the Denver Metro Area today, Black Friday 2011.  I fled into the mountains to avoid the ravening hordes that merchants hoped would assault their stores today.

Riding Yoshie, I crossed the Continental Divide using the I-70/Eisenhower Tunnel route around 10:30 AM and by 11:00 I was starting to warm up from "feeling the cold" as I cruised up and over the summit of Vail Pass.

My objective today was to get a nice shot or two of the bridge near the entrance to the town of Red Cliff which lies south of Minturn, CO on US24.  I was also going to test the rear tire's snow traction and the makeshift tire chains I'd cobbled together a week or so ago.  The town of Red Cliff, is the entry point for the Shrine Pass Road on which I hoped to ride to the overlook for the Mount Holy Cross mountain peak.

Eagle River Bridge near Red Cliff, CO

Along US24 on the overlook one can use to take the above picture of the bridge

 Here Yoshie poses on Water Street, which crosses under the bridge 
and leads one into the small town of Red Cliff

After the bridge pictures, I cruised through Red Cliffe and turned onto the Shrine Pass Road.  The roads through town were clear of snow but Shrine Road itself was covered with about 1-2 inches of packed snow immediately after the town limits.

Yoshie and I rode along just fine for almost 3 miles I think.  Then we encountered a small hill where the snow was no longer packed down.  Yoshie came to a stop and proceeded to dig the rear tire into the snow.  No traction.

I tried attaching three chain links onto the pusher tire, tensioning them with a rubber bungee cord.  This setup failed almost immediately I regret to report.  One of the hooks on the bungee failed and came off and one of the three sets of chain links failed in that a chain link came apart!

No reverse on Yoshie, so I pushed her down and towards the right.  After that, it was a matter of muscling the front wheel around so it pointed downhill.  No big deal and it helped "warm me up" in the bitter cold of the  snow-covered trail.

Once I got Yoshie pointed in the right direction, I attached a spare set of chain links with a nylon strap securing it to the wheel.  I used a length of rope as a tensioning device and with this setup rode all the way back to Red Cliff with no issues.  I'll have to "tweak the design" a bit I guess, or get a full-up knobby tire for the pusher on Yoshie.

I got back on US24, after removing the chain links from the pusher tire at Red Cliff, heading back towards Minturn.  I cruised through Minturn and headed for the entrance ramp to I-70 to head East towards Vail.

I'd heard some car honking while in town and as I stopped at the left turn lane to get on I-70, who of all people pulls up on my right in a blue SUV but fellow Uralistas John and Dana!  They'd spotted me riding through town and had given chase.  

We pulled over, and they invited me for lunch at the "Sticky Fingers" diner in Minturn.  Off we went and I enjoyed a nice lunch in the company of John, his lovely wife Cookie and Dana.  Heck, Dana even paid for my lunch!  : )

The "Mountain Man"
Pastrami on Rye with "Fire Colesaw", and yes, it had a kick to it.

Lunch over, I parted ways with them as they were retrieving John's trailer from their recent ride to Griffith Park near Los Angeles, CA where they'd attended a sidecar rally.

I headed towards Vail, watching the tops of the mountain peaks in the area covered with low-flying clouds.  Snow began falling as I neared the summit of Vail Pass, no big deal as it wasn't sticking on the pavement.

It was "brisk" at the summit.

Above and below are some of the mountain peaks visible from I-70 as
one descends from the summit of Vail Pass, heading East towards Copper Mountain.

Once past Copper Mountain and the town of Frisco, I got on US6 to get across the Continental Divide using that route instead of the I-70 slab and Eisenhower Tunnel.  The weather continued gray and cold but still was quite bearable with the gear I had on.

My first stop as I headed up towards the summit of Loveland Pass.
Turns out, I parked her on top of an ice field, thinly covered by a smattering of snow.
I ended up walking along Yoshie, helping move her along as her pusher tire slipped and slid along.

A nice view of the mountain peaks on the west side of Loveland Pass

You'll note I didn't stray too far from the pavement this time!
You can just see the summit parking area for the pass up ahead.

The requisite sign of the pass with Yoshie nearby.

The roads were pretty clear on US6, all the way down towards the I-70 super slab.  The rest of the almost 300 miles I covered today were pretty much without incident.  I was home a little after 5:00 PM as daylight faded over the Front Range Mountains.  A good day's riding, a bit cold at times I'll admit but filled with great scenery, a happy meet up with fellow Uralisti, and while the pusher is not great on snow, it does fine on the packed stuff.


RichardM said...

Beautiful pictures. I like the shot of the bridge. I take it that there is insufficient clearance for a regular tire chains but there are very few other options for ice. Maybe a smaller tire that would have sufficient clearance as chains still seem to be the way to go. Possibly even better than a knobby (unless it was studded).

SonjaM said...

I also like to avoid the crowds on the seasonal run on would-be deals. I cannot believe how many people fall for it. If you shop with a conscious mind you can get good deals all year round...
+1 for the bridge pictures. It looks a bit nippy at the top of the mountain but you got nice views along the way. Heck, I envy you for getting out there. We have another terrible day with rainfall and no view at all.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Great "early winter in mid-autumn" ride pictures. I'm not surprised you stalled in loose snow though. I'm more delighted not to read you went off the road someplace.
And isn't it cool to run into friends on the road someplace?!

I am amazed to read that anyone couldn't find anything better to do than to stay out of the malls on Friday, and Saturday.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Chris Luhman said...

love the bridge picture and the shot from vail. I have a summer version of the vail pic from my 2009 trip.

bluekat said...

Right off the bat, I love the bridge over a bridge scene. Great visual. I thought perhaps the lower one was for trains, but apparently not. Great image at the top of Loveland pass as well. It looks very stark and cold, but serene and peaceful too. How great to get the place all to yourself.

irondad said...

I don't know if you actually went over the bridge or only took photos.

Either way, isn't it interesting to look back from the top of a hill, or under a bridge, and think,

"I was just riding up there". ?

Charlie6 said...

RichardM, thanks and yes, there's clearance issues with the car tire and the drive chain on the tug. Finding a smaller width for 17" wheel is proving difficult. Got a dedicated snow tire inbound, we'll see how that works out.

SonjaM, it was a bit "brisk" on the top but not too bad. Parking on top of ice, not a good idea, but pushing the rig off the ice warmed me up. : )

Jack: It was "nip and tuck" there a couple of times on the narrow road to Shrine Pass, ditch on one side, creek on the other....

Chris, glad you liked the pic, the whole ride was for that angle and the pass attempt.

Bluekat, not sure the lower one was for trains as it heads right into town. I'll have to check it out in the summer when its not snow-covered.

Irondad, yep, rode over the bridge to get to the access road that led me beneath the isn't allowed to stop on the bridge (no safe area to park the rig) and traffic was heavy enough to preclude a brief pause.