Showing posts with label Ride Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ride Recommendations. Show all posts

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Italian Iron Heaven is here in Denver

Attention Ducatistis, Guzzitistis, MV Augusta and all riders of Italian Iron!

Jim Dillard's VintageMotos museum located in downtown Denver is, in my opinion, Heaven on earth for fans and cognoscenti alike of Italian motorcycles, scooters and vintage mopeds. Oh sure, he's got British motorcycles such as BSAs, AJS and a truly beautiful Velocette Valiant but it's Italian curves and rolling art that mostly grace his museum. Jim's motorcycles range from 1933-1990, from 68 marques and 13 countries, but Italian iron is definitely his main passion.

Alas, no Beemers for yours truly to drool over, but trust me in that the motorcycles on display at VintageMotos will make any diehard Beemer rider consider "straying" from the path of Teutonic motorcycling!

Unlike some of the other area museums, this one has more than a couple hundred motorcycles, scooters and mopeds on display. When I left, I was in a daze of information overload. Jim Dillard, personally guided me through his treasure trove and the wealth of information he directed at me was impressive.

The building housing the museum is unremarkable, the signage advertising the place is minimalist at best. However, step through the unassuming entrance and down the steps and this sight greets you:

750 Ducati, bellissima!

You step onto the floor of the building's basement and the sheer number of motorcycles and mopeds on display hits you like a buzzing swarm of moped riders in Florence's traffic.

I had met Jim Dillard back during Bob Ohman's Old Bike Ride #7: LINK when he showed up in a beautifully restored Laverda motorcycle. I found out then he had a museum and today I finally had time to ride and see it.

For instance, here's a row of MV Augusta motorcycles, I love the fairings on these motorcycles!

Lovely fairings on these MV Augustas

Jim's oldest motorcycle, a 1933 Puch
Wikipedia link to Puch Motorcycle History

Velocette's 200cc Valiant
Wikipedia list of Velocette Motorcycles

Italian DEMM 48cc Moped for Kids

Not all of Jim's collection of motorcycles have their information plaques yet but here's one, a German IMME motorcycle, that did:

1950 IMME R100, you could buy an option spare tire carrier

Two beautiful Laverdas and a Cagiva

A large portion of Jim Dillard's collection is small motorcycles/mopeds. I'd never given it much thought but as he explained, post-WWII, people in Europe needed transportation and small mopeds and motorcycles filled that need. For instance, take this adaptation of a 1933 38cc Mosquito engine by Garelli on a regular bicycle:

Check out the monocoque body construction on this German moped:

A bit more info on this moped here

The French built eight million of these Velo Solex 38cc mopeds which produced 200 mpg and a max speed of 20 mph.

I really liked the flowing lines on this 1956 Moto Rumi Formichino:

Then there was a motorcycle with a Boxer-like engine much like my beloved Beemers. Turns out to have been made by IFA in East Germany before the Iron Curtain came down:

An East German Boxer Engine....who knew?

There is a plethora of other marques in the collection, some names I'd seen such as BSA, Bianchi, Benelli, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Jawa, Moto Morini. However, some of the now defunct marques were an education for me: Capriolo (a kind of Deer), NSU, Ganna, Moto Gitan, Fuchs, Puch, Monet Goyon, F.B. Mondial, Moto Parilla, Guazzoni, Moto Comet, Berneg, ISO, Franchi and many, many others.

Some were surprises: Ferrari and Maserati? The best one though was:

Aermacchi Harley Davidson?!
Some information from wikipedia: LINK

I plan several more trips to Jim Dillard's Vintage Motos Museum. If you ride Italian Iron or just need to go to see this magnificent collection of motorcycles. Do it soon, you'll be hooked.

Jim Dillard, left, the happy owner of Vintage Motos and Jack Frost, the lucky guy who gets to help work on the motorcycles!

The entry fee is a paltry $7 and kids get in free. The museum's hours and location are at their website:

My GPS took me down a rather convoluted way. Here's what I recommend. Take I-25 to the 20th Street exit and head east into Denver. After Blake Street which runs one way south, turn north on Walnut Street and take it to 28th Street. The museum is on the corner of 28th and Walnut.

I did mention the museum's signage is a bit minimalist?

As I finish writing this, the newfound lust for Italian Iron that was generated by the sights at this museum is finally subsiding. For you Italian motorcycle riders out there, you're missing out if you don't go to this museum and see the motorcycles that came before yours!

Information links on the many marques at this museum, and much more: LINK

I'll see you there. Ciao!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some of my favorite Colorado Rides, Part III

Hi folks, here's some more of the roads I've ridden on in the Great State of Colorado, which I thought you might find enjoyable if you're ever here on a motorcycle. Next installment probably won't happen till sometime in July after I explore southwestern Colorado with my family.

Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway

Listed as a scenic byway by, it's eastern end is located near the town of Fort Collins, Colorado. It's western end is the small town of Walden. I must say, it's really one of the more lonely yet entrancing roads I've ridden on yet.

See the highlighted in light blue route above, courtesy of LINK

You get to traverse the Cache La Poudre canyon with its high rocky walls and a memorable tunnel carved out of the solid rock. There's of course a crossing of the Continental Divide at Cameron Pass and the scenery while you ride through the Roosevelt National Forest will stay with you for a long time. Just make sure you've a full tank, no much in the way of civilization between the two end points!

Looking at the Medicine Bow Mountain Range on CO14

Near Cameron Pass

My ride on this scenic byway, a long day, but quite the ride: LINK I see its been over a year since I've ridden this road, perhaps this summer or early fall. Weather is a factor at the higher elevations, consult the CDOT site below to ensure you can make it all the way through.

I tried in late March of 2008, had to turn back: LINK

The Collegiate Peaks

Colorado has a lot of mountains as you know, the highest among them are called the Fourteeners since they all reach a minimum elevation of 14,000 ft. The Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway allows you to ride within reasonably close view of seven of these fourteeners, within striking range of three passes: Monarch, Poncha and Independence Pass which all cross the Continental Divide. At the northern end of this byway, you can also see Mount Elbert which at 14,433 ft is the highest point in the state.

Courtesy LINK

The Collegiate Peak byway is 57 miles of beautiful scenery which challenge you to keep your eyes on the road while you ride past the snow-capped peaks to the west. Fastest way to get there is on US285 from Denver which will junction with US24 and place you near the southern end of the byway. Or you can take I-70 and work your way down from Aspen, through Independence Pass and then take in the Collegiate Peaks enroute to the south and the town of Salida.

My ride through the Collegiate Peaks Byway: LINK

One final note: if you end up riding this byway from North to South, be sure to enjoy the twists and turns of US50. From Salida its a short hop to Monarch Pass (yep, cross the divide again), then you can continue West or head back East on US50 and twist your way through this nice motorcycling road (though usually lots of cars as well) to the city of Pueblo and the I-25 superslab.

Guanella Pass

Established as a route through the continental divide between the mining towns of Georgetown and Grant, this scenic byway is a bit dodgy in terms of road conditions. My blog entry records lots of potholes at its "paved" beginning with the remainder being packed dirt with small loose gravel/rocks. Still, I managed to ride it on Maria, my 1150RT, so just take it nice and slow.

One of the rewardings views you see at the summit of Guanella Pass, I believe that's Square Top Mountain in the background.

Courtesy of LINK

Here's a link to my ride of the Guanella Pass: LINK If you ride this pass from the north end at Georgetown, you are then in a good position to get back on US285 at Grant and make your way down to the next favorite ride of mine, the South Platte River road area.

South Platte River

This is a very navigable dirt road for the most part, going slow will not only get your there safely if you're not riding a dual-sport motorcycle but will also allow you to gawk at the marvelous rock formations, canyon walls and rushing river scenes provided by the Platte River.

I usually get to it by riding out of Denver on US285 and turning south at Pine Junction on CO126. CO126 or Pine Valley Road is a finely paved four lane road with a few twists and turns couple with noticeable changes in elevations as it plunges down towards Buffalo Creek where it becomes South Deckers Road. Beware gravel accumulations on the twisting curves near Decker specially in the Spring.

From Deckers, you turn north on CR67 which is the S. Platte River road. It quickly becomes dirt where it splits off with CR67 heading NE towards Pine Nook which will, through its own twists and turns once you get back on pavement get you to Sedalia. However, to see the real platte river road, keep heading north on the dirt road.

You'll skirt the base of Long Scraggy Peak, enjoy rock-strewn canyon walls carved out over millenia by the South Platte River. Fly fishermen have been in evidence most times I've ridden this road.

Long Scraggy Peak

Boulders along and in the South Platte River

My usual resting spot along the river, the old South Platte Hotel

This area holds a special place in my rider's heart, it was the first area where I was introduced to mountain exploring by John Sanoke, my riding mentor. Thanks John!

Explore this area at your pace, find Foxton Road which will take you to what John Sanoke called Cathedral Spires:

My rides along the South Platte: LINK1 LINK2 LINK3 LINK4 LINK5 LINK6 LINK7

S. Platte River Road will eventually lead you to Foxton Road to the North where you can then meet up with US285 once again. Now, you can take US285 back into town or shortly after getting on the slab, you can get off at Pleasant Park Road and enjoy this scenery instead while headed east towards Denver:

Pleasant Park Road will eventually, after teaching you the meaning of 15mph limits on curves, get you to Deer Creek Canyon Road which you can then ride to shake out the rest of your need for twists before being back in the Denver Metro area.

CDOT's Road Conditions and Cameras: LINK This is a great site to see if a pass is open or not and what kind of road conditions exists at said passes.
's great listing of great riding roads: LINK

First installment of "Some of my Favorite Colorado Rides, Part I" LINK

Second installment of "Some of my Favorite Colorado Rides, Part II" LINK

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some of my favorite Colorado Rides, part II

Here's a few more of my favorite roads to motorcycle on here in the great state of Colorado.

Pikes Peak
America's Mountain, the inspiration for Katherine Lee Bates' poem "America the Beautiful", which became one of the more well known songs about this great country of ours.

The road is open year round but subject to closure due to snow/weather. It's best to call ahead, specially in the Winter/Early Spring months. It's 16 glorious miles with sometimes jaw dropping views, sharp dropoffs, about six miles of gravel/dirt road with the rest paved and on a good day some far ranging views of the Front Range and the mountains to the west. Don't let the report of gravel dissuade you, it's doable by even large bikes such as Goldwings and my 1150RT, Maria.

It's located near the city of Colorado Springs, watch for Us24 West from the I-25 Slab and you'll see signs for the Pikes Peak Road, you really can't miss it. If you get to Woodland Park, you missed it. While you're in the Colorado Springs area, make sure you check out the Garden of the Gods. Truly an amazing collection of giant rock formations.

Sunset at the Garden of the Gods


May on Pikes Peak

Here's my rides involving Pike's Peak: LINK1 LINK2 LINK3

Info site on Pikes Peak: LINK

Mount Evans
The highest paved road in the US I am told. You can get to the Mount Evans Road from CO103 from either Idaho Springs on I-70 or Bergen Park on CO74. CO 103, near Squaw Pass was where I discovered one should not downshift from second to first while going downhill on packed snow. I don't think I'll ever forget the sight of my R1150RT, Maria, on her right side, spinning down the hill on her right valve cover while I slid along a few feet behind her.

Why do I mention the above, check road conditions before you go when in the late Fall and Winter months! Parts of CO103 don't get as much sun so you could, like I did, encounter no snow on the way up from Idaho Springs and suddenly find yourself on snow.

Courtesy: Google

My first ride up Mount Evans, back when I still owned my first motorcycle, a Honda 750 Aero Shadow. LINK

My second ride on Mount Evans: LINK

Info site for Mount Evans: LINK

Independence Pass
The second highest paved road in North America with the summit at 12,095 ft, open from late May to the first snowfall in late autumn

You get to Independence Pass either by way of Leadville using CO91 from the I-70 Superslab and its junction with US24 Southbound till you get to CO82 which is also the road to Twin Lakes. Conversely, you can go through Colorado Springs heading west on US24 and come at CO82 from the South.
I first traversed this pass and its portion of the Continental Divide back in September of 2007. I was seeking shots of the aspen trees as they turned colors in the fall. It's quite the tourist activity, this seeking of the fall colors, so beware the cagers if you decide to cross this pass then.

You'll end up in Aspen, a world renowned ski resort, continuing on CO82 will eventually take you to Glenwood Springs and it's awesome canyon walls. You can catch the I-70 superslab back again here.

Riding Independence Pass: LINK Another day, another ride on Independence: LINK

Ken Bingenheimer's info page on Independence Pass: LINK

Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass, at an elevation of 11,990 ft is another place where one can cross the nation's continental divide with relative ease. It's an alternate route for hazmat/oversized cargo carriers who cannot use the Eisenhower Tunnel. The tunnel is what the I-70 superslab uses to cross the continental divide as do 99% of all cagers who cross the divide at this point. According to wikipedia, Loveland is the highest mountain pass in the world that regularly stays open during a snowy winter season.

The exit for Loveland Pass is just before the signs for the Eisenhower tunnel so keep an eye out as you near the tunnel. Again, beware the weather, its more than two miles up from sea level at this point and you can encounter ice even in June!
I did: LINK

Here's my rides involving Loveland Pass: LINK1 LINK2

The first installment of this series is here: LINK The category is "Ride Recommendations"

CDOT's Road Conditions and Cameras: LINK This is a great site to see if a pass is open or not and what kind of road conditions exists at said passes.
's great listing of great riding roads: LINK

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some of my favorite Colorado Rides, part I

Today, I was asked by a fellow rounder about what I would pick as some favorite rides in Colorado since he's planning on riding up in late July/early August.

His request was not the first I've received, so I figured that I'd put together a list of roads in this great state that I've ridden along with some commentary and a link perhaps for when I blogged about it.

I'll also, at the end of this posting, list some information sources I've used to help plan rides.

The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Located to the west of the Denver Metro Area, next to the town of Morrison. It's the home of a public amphitheater which hosts musical/cultural events while nestled amongst awesome rock formations. It's best to hit this park early morning during the weekends as it gets quite crowded with cagers later on. Beware the gravel parking lots, it's the loose stuff.

Here's my first ride to Red Rocks, over two years ago in fact: LINK

Another trip to Red Rocks, with a bit of snow on the ground though the roads were clear: LINK

Riding to Red Rocks in the Spring: LINK

Red Rocks, then and now: LINK

Bear Creek Canyon Road

This is a nice and twisty road leading out of Morrison. It leads you to such mountain towns as Idledale and Kittredge. It's a great way to get to Evergreen and Bergen Park which is the eastern gateway to Mount Evans, the highest paved road in the USA. Bear Creek Canyon is also known as CO74.

Deer Creek Canyon Road.

South of Morrison, off the Wadsworth Blvd exit on the C-470 Slab which functions as a beltway of sorts to Metro Denver, is Deer Creek Canyon Road . It was my first introduction to twisty roads by John, aka Sanoke, my riding mentor and the guy who got me hooked on riding the mountains and their dirt roads. Nicely twisting as well, you can use it to get to Fenders where it's claim to fame is a fire station. From here you can go north or south on Turkey Creek road both of which will get you to US285. US 285 is actually a nice highway for motorcycling as well, it's one of the quicker ways to head west out of Denver and get to some good riding roads.

Coal Creek Canyon Road

This road is also known as CO72. It is another wonderful road into the mountains to the northwest of the Denver Metro area. It's a much nicer way to get to CO119 which is known as the Peak to Peak Highway.

My ride on Coal Creek Canyon Road. To think of all the times I went on the Peak to Peak highway via the I-70 slab, oh well. LINK

US6 from Golden to Blackhawk

Do you like high rock-filled canyon walls, paved two lane road full of twists, bordering a sometimes raging but mostly smoothly flowing river? Throw in three tunnels cut into the hillsides and you've got the portion of US6 between the towns of Golden and Blackhawk. If you like gambling, Blackhawk and nearby Central City are for you. Me? I use them as gateway towns to the Peak to Peak highway and the Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park.

Heading East on US6

Rocky Mountain National Park

Ah yes, the Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the better known national parks located here in Colorado. I've been several times and while the scenery in the parts of the park that are accessible in winter is beautiful, it's even better when Trail Ridge Road to the western side of the park is open.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Here's a link to my trip to Rocky Mountain National Park where I finally succeeded in riding the length of Trail Ridge Road: LINK

Be sure to check road conditions before heading out to Trail Ridge road, its definitely closed in the winter and sometimes snow will block things at Milner Pass even in late Spring.

End of May on Trail Ridge Road

If you can ride through to the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, you're in a good position to then head South towards Grand Lake and Granby. From Granby you continue south on US40 through the ski resort town of Winter Park and soon you'll cross the Continental Divide again along Berthoud Pass. Not too far from this pass, you'll come upon I-70 again between Idaho Springs and Georgetown.

NPS information site for the Rocky Mountain National Park: LINK

The Peak to Peak Highway

A very popular ride that is very near the Denver Metro area. It's one of the designated scenic byways of Colorado and definitely a must ride road when you're in our fair state.

Courtesy LINK

I've ridden this road many times, one time twice in one day it was so great. Don't miss the picture op at Saint Malo's Church:

St Malo's Church

Plenty of mountain views along the way to Estes Park on the northern end of the Peak to Peak Highway:

Mount Meeker

My rides on the Peak to Peak Highway: LINK1 LINK2 LINK3

There's more rides to come. Here's some of the online sites I use to plan for, choose and plan my rides:

CDOT's Road Conditions and Cameras: LINK
This is a great site to see if a pass is open or not and what kind of road conditions exists at said passes.'s great listing of great riding roads: LINK