Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Uraling home by way of Monarch Pass and Skyline Drive

This past Sunday, I woke up before dawn and rode out of the motel in Salida, CO as the first rays of the dawning sun were starting to color the skies to the east in a deep blood red color.  The day before, I had ridden down from the Denver Metro Area to Salida and explored the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.

It was a bit cold though this Sunday morning, and it somehow affected my camera's auto-focus mechanism somehow, so a lot of the pictures I took came out blurry!  Major bummer.  Or maybe it was so cold that my numb hands were shaking too much? : )

I salvaged what I could of the pictures I took, used Google Photos to "push" the sharpness and clarity so please excuse the sub-optimal quality of the pictures that were originally only marginally usable.

I first headed north on US285 towards the Collegiate Peaks, seeking a good spot for when the sun finally broke past the mountains to the east and lit up the peaks with that special golden light one gets after sunrise and just before sunset.  The temperatures dropped from the high 20's in town to high single digits when I arrived near the Collegiate Peaks!  Once the sun came out fully, it felt warmer to me, but before it did, things were a bit "brisk".

I tried several spots closer to the mountains, tried for several panorama shots, but alas, the focus issue rendered them useless.  This was the best of the bunch and it was highly "tweaked":

Pano of part of the Collegiate Peaks

Collegiate Peaks shortly after sunrise

I then retraced my way back to Salida where I then had breakfast at the McDonald's in town.  After eating, I decided why not take a small 40 mile detour (since I was so close) and ride over to the top of Monarch Pass.  Unfortunately, there were many skier/cagers in a seemingly desperate rush to get past me as I motored up to the summit.  I must have pulled over at least four times as I didn't like them riding my ass.  I hope they found themselves in slow and unmoving skilift lines the rest of the day!

I made it to the summit with no further issues, the parking lot was almost empty and there was a lot of snow piled up around the visitor center!  The summit sign itself was nearly buried in piled up snow so no picture of that but I did take a picture of the gondola building.

 Monarch Pass Summit Parking Lot

 Near the summit of Monarch Pass

 Mountain view as one descends towards Salida from Monarch Pass

I rode down from Monarch Pass with no issues, and soon transited Salida once again as I took eastbound US50 for the almost 60 miles to Cañon City.  There were a lot of twists and turns on those miles between Salida and Cañon City; since the road follows the course of the Arkansas River!  Sadly, none of the very few shots I took along this part of US50 came out in focus.

I arrived at the entrance to Skyline Drive which lies along US50 to the west of the city itself.  The gate was open this time so I spent a little time shedding layers (it was almost 60 degrees by now!) and arranging the camera tripod onto my spare wheel on the sidecar.

 Skyline Drive

I like the new angle provided by the tripod on the rig's spare tire.
Perhaps I'll try it a bit higher up next time around?

As I was leaving town, I spotted the train cars belonging to the Royal Gorge Train lined up.  I rushed over but it was apparently just parked there, the train.  The rides don't begin till March 9, the sign at the train station announced.

The Royal Gorge Train, at the station in Salida, CO
(this one is for you Jack....)

I left town after tanking up and from there it was pretty much slab riding along US50 to CO115 which took me past Fort Carson and into Colorado Springs.  From there it was the I-25 super slab through Colorado Springs and onto the Interquest Parkway which leads one to CO83 or Parker Road.

The winds had really picked up again, blowing in from the west.  I could feel the whole rig being pushed to the right at times and was glad I wasn't on two wheels today!  The day was so warm though that the HD guys were out riding about, you know we're having a mild winter when you see so many Harleys out.

Got home shortly after 3:30PM, very tired and knees aching.  Valencia and I covered 818 Kilometers or just over 490 miles in the last two days, with no mechanical issues and much beautiful scenery!  I hope you were able to get a ride in the last couple of days.

Previous post: Uraling to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains


Unknown said...


Valencia is always so photogenic amongst the snow and mountains. Nice that you got a weekend full of riding in.

I wonder if your camera picked up some humidity, then froze in the mechanism when you went out in the morning. Either that or the lubricant was sluggish in the lens sliding mechanism in cold temps as it was okay later when it warmed up

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

I enjoy the videos you post from that road. Just curious, is it a one way road or is there just no traffic?

I think the photos look great. Whatever tweaking you did came out well.

Anonymous said...

42 Nice....enjoyed the video and your pics are always great.

redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot, thanks! I'm going to have to figure out a way to keep the camera warmer I guess.

RichardM, thanks to you as well. The road is one way two vehicles will fit side by side. Traffic was light.

Anonymous, thanks for your words....though not sure what 42 Nice means. :)

SonjaM said...

What a great video, again I love the themed music you picked to match the scenery. I like that the angle showed a bit of yourself in action, and would not put it up higher.
I wish I could just once ride that rode with you in the hack...
This time the Valencia w/train picture is my absolute favorite. First I love those big trains, second it has also orange in the wagons just right to match your bike's color. Thanks so much, Dom. It was a great ride!

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM, I hadn't made the connection with the trim colors on the train cars! Good eye.

Anytime you find yourself in Colorado....we'll go to skyline drive. Bring hubby so he can experience it as well!

Anonymous said...

Great commentary. I love the pics & video coverage you provide. Very beautiful state you live in. Keep it coming!

Motorcycle luggage said...

That was day well spent. I always love the videos that accompany your post.