Sunday, January 06, 2013

January on Pikes Peak

A pretty mild winter day forecasted today for Denver, with temperatures to be in the 50's!  Too warm I thought, and after a late decision, I left home shortly before 9:00AM and headed south towards Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak.

I took the usual route, down CO83, through the towns of Parker and Franktown.  This is a two lane road with medium traffic and much preferable when on my Ural, to the I-25 Super Slab which connects the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs.

A view of my destination, along CO83
somewhere south of the road to Greenland.

I motored along at an indicated 55 mph or so, slowly gaining altitude as I neared Colorado Springs, or "The Springs" as the locals call it.  Temperatures were in the mid-20s with very little wind so I was quite comfortable with the riding gear I had on; there would be no need for the heated vest today.

Soon I came to the end of CO83 within the confines of The Springs, and was soon merging onto the Interquest Parkway which took me to I-25.  A few minutes of sprinting on I-25 and I got off at the junction with US24 at the Cimarron Street exit.

Scenic Overlook of Pikes Peak, along the I-25 Slab

US24 gets you out of The Springs and soon you're twisting your way upwards past Manitou Springs and you arrive within a short time to the exit for the Pikes Peak Highway.  I am sad to report the covered wagon that used to be at this junction is no more.  The property it sat on is for sale and I guess the current owner moved it somewhere else.  This was the covered wagon that had "Pikes Peak or Bust" painted on its side.

I headed up towards the entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway, paid the $10 toll and was soon motoring my way up to an eventual altitude of over two miles above sea level!  The first 13 miles or so are quite tame in terms of scenery, quite twisty in some spots, quite steep in others but Valencia did it all with problems.

Once you pass the historic Glen Cove Inn and mile marker 13, then you're above the timberline and you start seeing scenic mountain views all around.  The road is paved all the way to the top now and you have to pay attention as retaining walls and barriers are few and far between.

Here's some photos I took on the way up towards the summit:

 A view of the Devil's Playground

 I love the look of being walled in by the distant peaks


 Another view of part of the Devil's Playground

A better view of the Devil's Playground.

I got to the top and in spite of a bit of rough idling on the part of Valencia, experienced no issues except for the winds which buffeted one.  Not too cold at the top, low 20s, high teens.

 The requisite picture of one's motorcycle at the summit.

 Views from the top

 20X magnification view of the distant peaks

 A view of the Cog Railway, taken from the furthest point of 
travel of the tracks.

I am the current custodian of C.C. Pancake, a mascot of sorts of
the yearroundriders.  Here's a photo of Chip at the top of Pikes Peak.

After a brief break inside the Summit Snack Bar and Gift Shop, it was time to head back down the mountain and take some pictures.  I hope you like them:

The view as one comes out of the Pikes Peak Summit Parking Lot

 The first of several hairpin turns




 I kept turning Valencia around, to pose her 



 Near the Bottomless Pit Area

 They say on a clear day, you can see for hundreds of miles


 The above should give you an idea of the hairpin turns one can
enjoy on the Pikes Peak Highway




The hairpin turn before the Rock Pile

Soon after the Rock Pile, I re-entered the timberline and it was then straight motoring past thick pine forest on both sides of the road.  There were some slick spots here and there in the shadowed areas of the road but nothing major.  Heck, I even saw 5 or 6 dual sport motorcycles heading to the summit while I was coming down the mountain.

I arrived back in The Springs at 2:45PM and tanked up before getting back on the I-25 slab for the sprint northwards to the North Gate Road exit.  Traffic had gotten heavier but still not too bad, and besides I was soon away from the slab and heading back to CO83.

The rest of the ride north on CO83 was without incident and in pretty warm conditions as temperatures were in the low 50's by now.  I got back to my home shortly after 4:00 PM with no issues and with a following wind I think as I was able to maintain an indicated 60 mph all the way.

Pretty mild winter so far here in the Great State of Colorado, I'm hoping more snow is in our future.  Hope you got some riding in today!

Previously: Five of Twelve for Thirteen

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Five of Twelve for Thirteen

A recent comment by fellow motoblogger SonjaM of Two-Wheelers Revisited had me review again the 2013 Calendar put out by the yearroundriders moto-forum.  This is a forum that I first joined back in 2006.

The calendar is composed of photos submitted by members, voted on by members, and created by a member.  Each month's candidates have to have been shot on that month, the year doesn't matter.

For 2013, I was honored by my fellow "rounders" in that five of the twelve months of 2013 would have pictures I'd submitted for the calendar.

You can see the whole calendar, heck, even order it I think, here: Zazzle

I'm not posting this to create sales, the calendar is really of interest only to "rounders" per se.  Just doing a slight bit of bragging.  :)

Here's the pictures I submitted which got selected:

Yoshie is Miss January

and, Miss February!

Miss May in Monument Valley

Miss September in the Colorado National Monument

and finally, Miss November near Eagle, CO

Previously: First Ride of 2013

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.