Tuesday, January 01, 2013

First Ride of 2013

Ah yes, the first ride of a new year, a search for snowy scenery and a new personal low for me in terms of temperatures ridden in.  Bonus!

I left the house shortly before 7:00AM as the dawn broke gently onto Colorado, ushering the new year.  A dawn that presaged all kinds of potentials for the day and hopefully an omen for the rest of the year.

It was quite nice, almost magical, motoring on the nearly empty city streets as I crossed through the Denver Metro Area.  Sure, the temperature was in the low teens but I didn't care, for I had my heated vest on and my heated grips were cranked up as well.

The view of distant Mount Evans and its surrounding peaks had a faint pinkish hue as the sun made its slow way up on the east.  The foothills were painted in an pale white light that made them appear as if made of red rocks coated with crystals, quite nice actually.

I made it to the foothill town of Morrison, in less than an hour, that's the fastest time I've ever made while using US285 to cross town!  I slowly motored through town, the shops still shuttered and even the diner appeared closed in the early morning hour.  Turning north on CO93 I rode under overcast skies that shrouded the sun's light as it rose to my right, blocked at times by the bulky mass of the foothills.

Near the junction with I-70, I turned onto US40, intending to forego the hectic rush of the cagers on the I-70  Slab and meander instead into the mountains.  The fact that my Ural has slight issues maintaining an indicated 50 MPH while laboring up inclines had only a slight influence on that decision of course.

US40 takes you past the Mother Cabrini Shrine, the road to Lookout Mountain and the Buffalo Bill Museum located on top of said mountain.  With only two sprints on I-70, it was US40 frontage roads all the way to Idaho Springs.

More frontage roads got me to Georgetown and from there it was a 50 MPH "spring" on the I-70 slab till I got to the junction with US6, a.k.a. Loveland Pass Road.  It was getting pretty cold at this point, so I stopped to check in with my loving wife and also don my helmet's breath mask as frost was forming on the visor.

I mentioned a personal low for me, it would be an indicated negative 8.6°F on my onboard thermometer.  It sure felt like it too.  I was really happy I'd thought to wear the heated vest for this ride!  Road conditions on Loveland Pass were not too bad, packed ice and snow covered the road, except where cars had cleared lanes through the stuff.  The winds were not blowing too hard and traffic was light with the occasional idiot going too fast for conditions as they rushed towards the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort.

 I arrived shortly after 9:00 AM, figure about two hours riding time from home
to the eastern end of the Loveland Pass Road.  Things were still overcast, dimming
the sun's light as you can see.

 Valencia at the first hairpin turn parking spot, you can
walk over to the edge and take a good look at I-70 down below

 You can see the entrance to the eastern side of the 
Eisenhower Tunnel, which crosses under the mountains of the 
Continental Divide.

 Still parked at the first hairpin turn, skies are beginning to clear

 A little further along, still climbing towards the summit of the pass

 It was pretty cold at the top, and still I got UDF'ed by the guy
on the left in the picture.

 Parked at the hairpin turn before one really starts descending down
towards the A-Basin Ski Resort.  I didn't go to far off the road, 
I had already had to engage the 2WD twice before to get free of the snow
where I had previously parked.

 Climbing back towards the summit of the pass, on the western half
of the Continental Divide

 Another view of the gorgeous mountains that form a backdrop
for the A-Basin Ski Resort.

 Sun's out finally!  Looking east towards the pass summit.

 The sun's angle, even when not obscured by clouds, could
not illuminate the mountains much.

 Now on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, you can see how the
sun brightly painted the snow-covered peaks.

 A last picture of the pass summit area

 Back at the first hairpin, parked on the lower side, with
a nice view of the mountains beyond.

Leaving US6 and getting  back on I-70 eastbound, it was easy and gradually warming up motoring back down from the Continental Divide.  Heck, after the negative temperatures on the summit, hitting the low teens on the positive side while driving east felt almost warm!

Temperatures had soared into the low 20s by the time I arrived back in Genesee and I saw an interesting view of the Rocky Mountains as I took the exit there and crossed over I-70 towards Buffalo Overlook.  Posing Valencia, I saw that the buffalo herd kept in the area had come out to feast on the hay that someone had laid out for them.

 A closeup view of the snow-enshrouded peaks of the distant mountains

I really like this view point from Buffalo Overlook.  I stop here
almost every time I head into the mountains along I-70.

Temperatures continued to soar as I descended down from the mountains, and they hit the high 20s by the time I was in the city.  The city was brightly lit in a Sunny Colorado kind of light, traffic was still not too heavy as most folks have the day off and it was easy riding all the way home.

Roughly 300 KMs covered today, I'd say that's a fair start for the riding year.  Here's hoping you were able to get out for some riding!

PS: Somewhat of a New Year's resolution, giving up on publishing on examiner.com for now....too many ads, publishing tool is a joke....thanks to all who visited that site regardless.


SonjaM said...

Amazing. You should really consider gathering your best pics and make a calendar ;-)

RichardM said...

Beautiful photos of your first ride of the year. I'm still looking forward to that as I don't think circles in our driveway count..

B Stoat said...

Beautiful pictures really lift the spirits is a grey, rain soaked british winter . Thank you

Oz said...

Wow! What an awesome ride. Great photos.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, on the topic of calendars, the yearroundriders put out a calendar composed of photos of submitted by members. For the 2013 version, I won four of the slots. :)

redlegsrides said...

Ah Richard, soon you'll be posting pics of your sidecar rig rides, in the great state of Alaska, in Winter....my reports will pale in comparison.

redlegsrides said...

Hello B Stoat, you're most welcome....thanks for your comments.

redlegsrides said...

Thomas, thanks for your kind words.

redlegsrides said...

I stand corrected, I won five of the slots

Unknown said...


You pictures are "top notch" and I am glad you managed to grab FIVE slots.

No riding for us up here. The fog turns into instant ice when it contacts the ground. Our parking lot was a sheet of ice this morning.

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

Motorcycle Exhausts said...

What a great start to the new year. I am so envious, though I can't bring myself to ride in winter. Beautiful photos with beautiful backgrounds. Happy new year.

redlegsrides said...

Riding on ice is definitely "interesting" shall we say....someday I will find a way to ride on a frozen pond/lake.....thanks Bob for your kind words.

redlegsrides said...

Motorcycle Exhausts, thanks for your comments, Happy New Year to you as well....come back and visit.