Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Ride to Gross Reservoir Road

Last weekend, as our group of Ural Sidecar Rigs careened up and down twisty mountain roads in sub-freezing temperatures, I had spotted some nice views of the dam which created Gross Reservoir to the west of the city of Boulder.

In fact there was one spot where the road was pointed towards the dam and created quite the scenic shot.  Trouble was, at the time, we were not only not stopping, but also having to swerve around this cager in his SUV, parked in the middle of the road probably taking a photograph!  You see that a lot on the more popular dirt roads, cagers to lazy to park to the side, blocking the hairpin turns, taking pictures.

So today, I decided to try and find that scenic spot again, but this time riding Brigitta, my 1987 BMW Airhead Beemer.  In my already fading memory, I'd not noticed any undue difficulties with Gross Dam Road and so figured it'd be a good ride.

I made my way, with elan, through the Denver Metro area using I-25 to get to the US6 highway, which led me in due course to Golden.  Once there, it was CO93 cruising northwards towards Baseline Road in Boulder.  The Colorado Highway Patrol was working a section of CO93, I saw at five of their patrol cruisers either having pulled some cager over, or hunting for the next one!

Once in Boulder, I turned west on Baseline Road, which turns into Flagstaff Rd and winds its steep way up Flagstaff Mountain.  The narrow mountain road was heavily sprinkled with loose gravel for traction in snow, and slowed me way down both on the way up and down.

The view from Lost Gulch Scenic Overlook
Flagstaff Mountain Road

Finally, the gravel stopped for a bit on the paved road once I left the top of the mountain and crossed the boundary of the Boulder Parks department.  A few miles later, I came to the junction with Gross Dam Road and turned onto this heavily graveled dirt road.

Remember I wrote that I didn't think much of the difficulties of riding this road?  Well, either I've severely lost my offroad motoring skills on two wheels or the fact that I was on three wheels the last time I was on this road led me to be unduly confident in the terrain conditions!  Personally, I think it's a combination of both.  The descent portions of the road were steep, on very loose gravel covered dirt road, slowing me even further as I felt the tires loose traction on the sandier spots.  The downward turning hairpin turns were more interesting on two wheels, I'll admit!

I was making slow progress, having passed views of the reservoir itself without finding a good safe spot to park when the engine coughed and died.  Hmmm, I thought, what's going on?  Can't be gas, I'd checked and it read 88 miles on the trip meter.  I pulled over to the side of the road and took a closer look at the tripmeter, and dammit, it was actually 188 miles!  I'd noticed of late that the "hundreds" counter was a bit "off".  Letting out a heavy sigh, I cut in the reserve lever and the engine fired up after a couple of attempts.

I had to turn around at this point, as I knew I had about 12 miles of gasoline left!  I retraced my route back towards Boulder, trying to use as little gas as possible, especially when pointed downhill.  I almost made it to the gas station south of the junction of Broadway and Baseline too!  The engine died again about a block from the darn station!  I could see it!  Sighing (and panting heavily after a bit), I walked Brigitta onto the sidewalk, across two pedestrian crossings and onto the gas station's parking lot and to the nearest pump.

 Brigitta's 550 pounds or so felt quite heavy and ackward, I must admit.

All fueled up again, I took Broadway south and out of Boulder.  I was now headed to the junction of CO93 and CO72, aka Coal Creek Road.  I was going to try and get to the Gross Dam Road's scenic viewpoint from the southern end.

I rode past the junction of Coal Creek Rd and Spruce Tree Rd, where Darrell and my sidecar rig had collided last weekend and soon was turning onto Crescent Park Drive which leads one to Gross Dam Road after a short interval.

Again, the loose gravel dirt road conditions slowed me way down, having street tires on my heavy street motorcycle reminded me how surefooted being on three wheels can be.  I was missing Valencia at this point, but she was home, waiting for her paint to dry on her repaired impact point on the rear of the sidecar.

I came to the railroad crossing I remembered from last weekend but this time stopped for this photo:

RR Crossing on Gross Dam Road

I kept motoring along from the crossing, slowly descending further along Gross Dam Road.  I started seeing a few patches of snow-covered dirt road, which I easily bypassed.  Two steep turns later though, the next curve was fully covered in packed snow and ice and that stopped me.

It was then I remembered that section of road, and how easily our rigs had blithely cruised over those slick traction conditions with no thought or pause.  Sighing again, I turned Brigitta around and headed back towards a spot on the other side of the railroad crossing where I'd spotted vistas of the Gross Dam in the distance.

It was a bit steep the spot I picked to pose Brigitta on, I would have to end up using the engine to push her off the center stand after the photos were taken.

 Long's Peak?

 Brigitta with Gross Dam in the background

 Long's Peak in the far distance

20X magnification shot of the Gross Dam

Pictures done, I retraced my way back to CO72 and turned Brigitta back towards the Denver Metro Area.  I would end up getting on C-470 and take the long way around the metro area, all the way back to I-25 which I would take north to exit at Arapahoe Road.  

 A cool looking rock formation 

Along CO 93, just south of the junction with CO72

I made it home around 3:15 PM without incident and only slightly chilled from having ridden in temperatures in the low 40s.

Hope you got a chance to ride today!

Previous Post: Cold and Twisty Riding with Fellow Uralisti


SonjaM said...

Didn't get a chance to ride but at least I got out for a hike, so all good in my books.

I can't believe you ran out of gas ;-) I have to admit while riding the Sportster with its peanut tank I am paranoid about fueling up any time I see a gas station.

Pretty pics as usual, but the first one is a real gem.

Spat said...

What a nice area and good RR to read. I can't believe you took that pretty Bemmer up there. I've done it on the GS and the deep gravel was a hand full on the hair pins and that was in warmer months.
Out of gas???...
nuff said.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM...thanks, that picture came out pretty good. Too bad no way to pose one's motorcycle with that mountain range in the background from that scenic overlook.

redlegsrides said...

Spat, yeah...not exactly the best decision I've had in a while....glad to hear though you had your hands full with a GS, perhaps I wasn't feeling the dread due to too much surefooted riding with the Ural.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom:)

You are the most dedicated rider I have ever come across. It is late, and I was reading this piece through the steam rising over a cup of coffee, when I realized you were on two-wheels.

So paragraphs like, "The third turn, a hairpin of negative camber, was liberally dusted with marbles to enhance the effect of the black ice, which extended to the lip, marking a 4,000 foot drop to certain death," are a bit more than mere understatement.

Other paragraphs that read, "So I parked the bike with the back wheel in the quicksand, not realizing the side stand was on a banana peel," are merely provided for factual background.

I wish some of this stuff happened to me.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads