Saturday, April 12, 2014

Uraling with RichardM to Skyline Drive and the Royal Gorge Bridge

Beautiful day today in the great pot-smoking state of Colorado, sunny skies, mild winds and warm temperatures in the forecast had RichardM, myself and Scarlett heading south on  CO83 towards Cañon City's Skyline Drive.

We left Casa Chang, where RichardM is my guest this weekend, at 8:05 AM and were at the entrance to Skyline Drive by 10:30 AM, not bad for moving at URAL speed!   RichardM was riding monkey today and he'll I am sure be posting some of the pics he shot while we rode south towards Colorado Springs.

We were the only motorized vehicle on Skyline Drive this morning, which was great for picture taking.  The day had gotten so warm by then that we both shed all our warming layers.  High seventies today, expected snow tomorrow, gotta love living in Colorado!

After one run through Skyline Drive, RichardM asked if we could ride over to the Royal Gorge.  I told him it had suffered a lot of burn damage last year in one of the larger fires in recent Colorado history but we could see.

Turns out, they've been working hard to re-open the site, with an expected full opening by August of this year.  In the meantime, they're running bus tours for $10 a head, which gets you access to both sides of the bridge along with a slow and bumpy ride across the bridge itself.

Of the 52 buildings previously existing at the Royal Gorge Bridge, 48 of them were burned to the ground.  Not much in terms of trees remains, lots of bare ground and rocks.  The bridge structure itself wasn't damaged enough to require rebuilding it fortunately.  Some of the wood planks got singed but they were certified as good by state inspectors apparently.

The tour guide/bus driver pointed out where buildings had been, remarked that while it had only taken seven months and I think $350,000 back in 1929 to build the bridge; it was estimated it would take (due to progress ) more than seven months to get building permits and over $20 million to create the bridge today.

 A view of the bridge and the gorge created by the Arkansas River
from the south side of the gorge.

 This train survived the fires apparently, it used to be located by the main 
parking lot of the bridge complex.

We left the Royal Gorge area and motored into Cañon City for a late lunch at Ed's Diner which RichardM picked out as we rolled along on US50.  Nice lunch and conversation, by 2:00 PM we were done and we geared up to head back home.

But not before a short stop at the small town of Penrose, near the junction of US50 and CO115.  I wanted RichardM to see what is claimed to be the world's largest rocking chair.

The ride home was under darkening overcast skies as the expected winter storm nears.  I guess lunch had a soporific effect on RichardM as I noted him taking short naps in the sidecar as we motored northwards.

Home by 4:35 PM, again not bad by URAL speed.  Scarlett did great today, even going past 60 MPH on the way home as we had the wind at our backs.  Her engine continues to slowly develop more power as the miles accrue, though I am wondering how long it'll take before I can get her to the stated max speed of 70 MPH.

70 MPH you say, that's not so fast.....before you scoff, try that speed on a sidecar rig.  Besides, its not about the speed, it's about not letting rain/mud/snow/deep gravel/ice stop you from riding, isn't it?  :)

A good day of riding with RichardM, I hope he enjoyed being the monkey.


SonjaM said...

What a vista. The Skyline Drive gets never old although I would be a bit intimidated if I were to drive or ride it. Same goes for the Royal Gorge Bridge. Richard was very lucky to get such cooperating weather (and host), I am sure.

Trobairitz said...

It sounds like a wonderful day out. Stunning views, good company and lunch too.

You are so good at being the tour guide. Soon you'll have moto-blogger tours set up.

Richard M said...

Aren't you glad that I didn't take you up on your offer to ride Brigitta? Napping while on the interstate would never turn out good. Thank you for the hospitality and the tour. So many beautiful places in CO.

GlennandSun said...

As usual, great photos and narrative, Dom! Your photos reminds me why I loved Colorado so much in the '70's and '80's.....breathtaking.

How about a trip up Gold Camp Road to Cripple creek some thing this spring? Consider setting up the GoPro if you do?

I was very sorry to hear of the loss of buildings around the gorge.....incredible place. Thanks for sharing. GlennandSun

bob skoot said...


I can't help but stare at that narrow road (Skyline) and think to myself that riding on 3 wheels is less dangerous. I've seen photos of Royal Gorge before and I've bookmarked it in my mind for "next time"

You are not a good host, you are a GREAT HOST, the BEST . . .

A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

bluekat said...

That is my kind of bridge! I totally have to see that someday.

I saw Richard's vid on Skyline. I've seen one of yours in the past iirc, Also my kind of road. Can you tell I like being up high?

Great photos from the day. it was nice to see you and Martha on Richard's post, and nice to see Richard here. :)

Gary France said...

Ah, Skyline Drive, one of my top ten favourite roads in the USA. I am certainly glad you took Richard to see it. Did you know the stone arch at the beginning is made from rock from each of the fifty states? I arrived to visit Royal Gorge just after the fire last year, so never got to see the place. For 48 out of 52 buildings to have been burned means that was one heck of a fire. Great post Dom.

Charlie6 said...

SonjaM: I think you and Roland would do just fine on this road, its quite navigable....

Trobairitz: thanks, glad you liked the to running a moto-blogger tour service, it'd be fun but there's no money in it. :)

RichardM: You're always welcome with us, next time you must take Brigitta out for a ride.

GlennandSun: thanks, Colorado sure makes taking pictures easy, I'll see what I can do re videos. In the meantime, here's photos of my ride on Phantom Canyon, and here's pics of Natasha on the shelf road and here is video of a sidecar ride on the Shelf Road when I was on Yoshie, the V-Strom sidecard rig; and then there's this group of sidecars uraling on the phantom canyon road.

Bobskoot, like SonjaM, you'd do fine on this road, I'll show it to you next time you're in state.

Bluekat, glad you liked the post and RichardM is such an easy guest to host.....

Gary, thanks for the comments...and no, I didn't know about the rocks making up the stone gate....good info, thanks.