Showing posts with label DAU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DAU. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Uraling on Mammoth Gulch Road, after first trying Rollins Pass Road

Today four of five rigs of the Denver Area Uralisti (DAU) met at John's house for a quick breakfast  and coffee and then ride forth to try and see how far we could go up Rollins Pass Road before being either stopped by the collapsed tunnel near the top or snow which was rumored still blocking the road in the shady areas.

"Rollins Pass was the primary travel route west from Denver until an easier road over Berthoud Pass was constructed".  There's lots more information here: LINK along with pictures of scenic spots along the road.  Rollins Pass Road has held a long standing fascination for me as I'd spied its rocky terrain or snow covered road twice in my motorcycle travels.  Both times I was stopped by either the deep snow when on the Ural and by myself or by the long deep ruts in evidence from the entrance near the East portal of the Moffat Railway Tunnel.


Today though, the weather was warm, the sun was out and we were four Ural sidecar rigs strong, energized by Cookie's cooking and John's coffee.  An attempt would be made!  We headed out of the Denver Metro area using US6 out of Golden, twisting and turning our way past its massive rocky canyon walls and a raging creek swollen with the springtime melt of snow.  I can't believe there were folks out there in there kayaks, getting ready to get into that boiling fast water!

We continued riding on CO119 until we were in the vicinity of its junction with Golden Gate Canyon Road.  Just before though, John who was in the lead sidecar rig, spotted a Harley Davidson rider working on his motorcycle on the side of CO119.  John signals and pulls over so of course we all did.  I wonder what ran through that rider's mind the first couple of seconds of spotting four Ural rigs coming to a stop on the side of the road near him?  : )

The Harley guy turned out to be a local resident and was just working on an electrical issue and told John he was good to go.  So we all rode on a bit further to a nearby housing area where we stopped at a new fellow Uralisti house who lives in the mountains south of Rollinsville.  His sidecar rig was sidelined due to power issues so he joined us instead on his Yamaha XT Dual Sport motorcycle.  Natasha's ignition module got a little overheated once we arrived at Dan's house but a few sprays of water on it got her going again.  I would from that point on develop the habit of hosing the ignition module down every time we stopped!  (Did I mention it was a warm day?)

Now five vehicles strong, we headed off  on CO119 towards Rollinsville where we turned west onto Tolland Road and headed for Rollins Pass Road.  Tolland Road is packed dirt but pretty smooth, you follow the railroad line which goes into the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel.

 Riding along Tolland Road, check out the swift waters of the spring snow melt
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

 Nearing the old rail station of Tolland
 photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

Less than a mile before the tunnel, you turn a sharp right onto Rollins Pass Rd and it's all steep inclines from there.

 At the beginning of Rollings Pass Road
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

I'd thought I'd seen rough and rocky road conditions on my brief stint on the Alpine Loop Road in Southwestern Colorado, boy was I wrong!  The Alpine Loop was a walk in the park compared to damn near all of the first four kilometers or so of Rollins Pass Road!  Rocks of all sizes and shapes, large sunken sections of roads and ruts and sand.  Oh and did I mention the plethora of rocks?  We were all bouncing quite well along the road as our rigs slowly made their way up the rocky trail that is Rollins Pass Road.

A view of the Tolland Valley
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

This shot should give you an idea of the rocky road conditions
  photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

Going up Rollins Pass Road
video courtesy of Deana and Jay 
 
I tried standing on the pegs during the rougher portions but when the rougher portions didn't seem to run out, my knees gave up and I bounced along on the seat.  About maybe 5 Km into the trail, we all stopped at a bend in the road after being filmed riding by John.  We waited a couple of minutes and noticed Jay and Deana were no longer bringing up the rear.   Hmmmm.  I had been ahead of them so I felt a bit guilty at not having noticed their being gone so I turned Natasha around and rode perhaps 1 Km back downhill until I spotted them.

Jay and Deana's rig had lost all forward power, even though the engine ran and idled well but the rig would not go forward up the incline it was on!  I thought it was the air filter and advised Jay to check it out.  By the time he'd verified the filter seemed OK, I had been joined by Dan on his Yamaha motorcycle and soon afterward the rest of the Uralisti.

Here we are, trying to diagnose Jay's rig's engine before the rest of the Uralisti showed up
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

Natasha rests under the shade of a tree while we resolve Jay's Rig's issue
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

John walked up and after hearing of our actions so far, said the symptoms smacked of a "smoked clutch disk".  Apparently Jay had been working the clutch a lot on the way up and it had overheated and no longer disengaged to allow the drive train to work.  No worries, we all parked our rigs and chatted for a bit while we waited for the clutch disk to cool off so it would work again.

Down but not out, Deana and Jay wave at passing dualsport riders
photo courtesy Cookie and John

After some discussion, we decided to not overstress Jay's rig's clutch much more and try for Rollins Pass another day.  We would instead go up nearby Mammoth Gulch Road that Dan knew about and had ridden before.  We got ourselves turned around and slowly made our way back down towards Tolland Road.

 Craig and Julie riding down Rollins Pass Road
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

Truly some beautiful sights of the mountains beyond and the valley below

Look closely, you can see a train making its way towards the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel

Four rigs and one motorcycle went up, same number came back.
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

 Yours truly on Tolland Road
 photo courtesy Cookie and John

We rode east on Tolland Road and found the Mammoth Gulch Road turnoff soon enough. Compared to Rollins Pass Road, Mammoth Gulch Road was a piece of cake!  Still steep mind you, still had its fair share of rocks and depressions and such but after Rollins Pass Road, it seemed easier.

Dan was leading the way on his Yamaha XT and we rattled along behind him.  The road actually got a bit smoother a couple of kilometers in and it was pretty easy going for the most part.  We were soon at the snowline and the melting snow provided some relief in holding down the dust from the trail.

We came to a turnout where we could fit all the rigs with a great view of nearby James Peak, it's not quite high enough to be one of the Fourteeners of Colorado but it was pretty impressive looking.

Taking a break with a view of James Peak

 Our heroic couple strike a pose
photo courtesy of Cooke and John
Jay points the way forward (heroically of course)

After we'd rested for a bit at the turnout above, we continued on, making our way the now gentle incline to the topmost portion of Mammoth Gulch Road where we stopped for another break and pictures.

Near the summit of Mammoth Gulch Road

Shortly after the above picture, we came upon one more low point in the road where snow melting had created about a four foot wide creek across the road.  The words "River Crossing" popped into my head and once Jay and Deana were through the creek, it was my turn.  I admit I gunned it a bit as I rode down the road and hit the water.  Big splash but the water felt good on me.  Did it mention it was a warm day?

Listen closely near the end of the clip as I ride by Jay and Deana, you can hear me laughing maniacally
video courtesy of Deana and Jay

After a few minutes break while Jay's rig's clutch once again cooled off a bit, we went over came the last incline and then began our descent down a pretty smooth portion of Mammoth Gulch Road, eventually turning right onto Apex Valley Road which led us down, eventually, back onto CO 119, just north of the city limits of Blackhawk, CO.

 Look how smooth Apex Valley Road is!
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay 

photo courtesy of Deana and Jay  

We briefly stopped to chat with two fellows who were working on stuff at a collection of trailers on Apex Valley Rd.  Note the above motorcycle's rear tire, they were apparently snow riding enthusiasts as there were several snowmobiles parked around the area.  I even saw some kind of military truck with snow chains on it.

 Uralisti on the march
Photo courtesy Cookie and John

Deana and Jay with yours truly behind them

Striking a "heroic" pose near the end of the ride
photo courtesy of Deana and Jay

Saying our goodbyes

Dan said his goodbyes at this point as he was headed back up to his house in the mountains.  Jay and Deana headed up the road for a late lunch and the rest of us headed on back towards our respective homes in the Denver Metro area.  Natasha and I covered about 235 Km today with very little issue, she did great offroad on what was the toughest road I'd been on with her.

As I approached Golden on CO119 on the way home, I saw out of the corner of my eye what looked like a small bird coming at me from the right.  Before I could reach, whatever it was had hit my right mirror and then the left side of my helmet's visor was covered in yellow sticky goo.  It must have been some huge bug based on the remains on my helmet!  Wiping at it only served to get yellow goo on my left glove and really smeared vision.  Luckily, I had my water bottle sprayer handy, and sprayed my visor while at a traffic light....good enough to get me home.

Another great and fun ride with the Denver Area Uralisti, all we got to do now is get Dan's Ural working again and then it'll be six rigs out looking for "interesting" trails to blaze.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Riding with the Uralisti to Mount Evans' Summit

Memorial Day this year turned out to be a beautiful riding day for us here in Colorado.  Five Ural rigs and 7 Uralisti met at the Red Rocks Grille in Morrison, CO there to begin our ride to the summit of Mount Evans since it's opening for the 2010 season on May 28th.

 The Uralisti gather for breakfast at the Red Rocks Grille

After coffee and breakfast, most Uralisti don't like to ride on empty stomachs, we set off with John in the lead and Dana riding sweep.  Urals are still enough of a rare occurrence apparently that the sight of five of us exiting Morrison drew all eyes.  We entered Bear Creek Canyon and twisted and turned our convoy of sidecar rigs, moving in tight formation and I would like to think with a bit of Russian style!

Uraling through Bear Creek Canyon
photo courtesy Cookie and John

We made our way past the small settlements of Idledale, Kittredge and Evergreen.  We then turned off of CO74 just past the center of Evergreen and onto Bear Creek Rd; this time I was in the lead as I'd recently been to Witter Gulch and knew the way up to Squaw Pass Road.

Riding up Witter Gulch Road
photo courtesy Cookie and John

We cruised up Witter Gulch Road, this time seeing no deer fortunately.  Soon enough, we were gathered at the trailhead on Squaw Pass Rd where John once again led off towards Echo Lake and the Ranger Toll booth for CO5 or Mount Evans Road.

We sent Jay on his Patrol onwards first so he could situate himself to shoot a video of the rest of us once we'd all paid the $3 a person toll for motorcyclists.


video courtesy of Jay

As we rode up Mount Evans Road, the nation's highest paved roadway at 14,130 ft, I kept monitoring my odometer as I'd been getting close to the 20,000 Km mark all week.  Soon the zeros lined up with a 2 on the far left but there was no safe spot to stop!  It wasn't till one more kilometer had gone by that I found a spot to park Natasha.  I waved the group onwards and got this picture:

Natasha makes it past the 20,000 Km mark

 yours truly ascending the Mt Evans Road
photo courtesy Cookie and John

 a shot of Jay as he negotiates another hairpin turn up Mt Evans Road
 photo courtesy Cookie and John

 Jay encounters one of the residents of Mount Evans
 photo courtesy Cookie and John

 Craig and Julie riding on top of the world
 photo courtesy Cookie and John

Continuing on, I motored up the road trying to catch up to the rest of the Uralisti.  They were moving fast though and I didn't catch up to them until I arrived at the parking lot at the summit of Mt Evans.  We lucked out and got our rigs parked without much hassle or waiting.  The weather was a brisk 29°F and the sun shone brightly upon us as we stood at 14,130 feet for the following pictures:

Here's Craig and Julie at the summit of Mt Evans, that's Natasha in the middle and Jay's Patrol

Left to Right, Cookie, John (spat) and Dana (dirtydr)

A glimpse of the road we took on the way up

Survey marker for Mt Evans

It took three shots before we got everyone to look in the same direction!

Shortly after the shot above, which some nice lady took using my camera, we all separated into three groups.  Two rigs and riders, John, Cookie and Dana were going to Idaho Springs since it was closer to where Dana lives in Vale.  Craig and Julie opted for a run back to Evergreen for a late lunch.  Jay and I ended up riding down the mountain together, leapfrogging each other and shooting pics as they other rode by.

The very top of Mt Evans is visible here, funny thing, none of us elected to hike up the last 1/4 mile of trail to be on the very top of Mt Evans!
photo courtesy Cookie and John
Natasha, near the summit of Mt Evans, as we started heading back down

Some of the breathtaking views one has from atop Mt Evans

Jay, his Patrol and Natasha

 Natasha and I
photo courtesy of Jay

Jay cruises calmly past a large wall of snow

Natasha and I making our way down the mountain
photo courtesy of Jay

here's Jay riding away from Summit Lake's high rocky walls

One last look at the road which takes one to the top, at this point, you're still five miles from the top!

a parting view of Summit Lake

My turn to ride past Jay with Summit Lake in the background
photo courtesy of Jay

As you can see, there were plenty other motorcycles making the climb to the top today

Our last view of the peaks before we re-entered the treeline near the base of the mountain

Jay of the West

Natasha of the West

Yep, on such a clear day, you can almost see forever

photo courtesy of Jay


 Cookie and Dan enroute to Idaho Spring
photo courtesy of Cookie and John

The rest of the ride after the above shot was twisting and turning our way back to Witter Gulch Road, careening down the steep dirt road and emerging onto Bear Creek Road, again without any deer sightings!

Once past the town of Evergreen, we kept a brisk pace on CO74, slowing down only when going through the towns; otherwise maintaining a good clip as both of us "hung off" our respective rigs and negotiated the curves of Bear Creek Canyon without incident.

We turned towards US285 west of Morrison and stopped by the spot below to doff the remaining cold weather gear and say our goodbyes.

Taking a quick break after twisty canyon riding, near The Fort restaurant

The plan is for a ride to Rollins Pass this coming Sunday, the 6th of June, and see how far we get with our rigs....should be quite the ride.