Tuesday, 31 August 2010

First A Dilemma, then the Colorado National Monument....

It was a dilemma.

The road was wonderfully twisty. The sort of road you don’t ride very often. There was another bike pushing up behind me, tempting me to keep riding.

Or should I stop and take pictures of the wonderful mountains I was riding through.

This was the road....



















I cranked the throttle open a bit more. The bike behind me dropped back a bit. I leaned left, then right, hard on the brakes, then a hairpin, throttle wide open as I came out of the bend and rode hard. The bike behind me was still there. Close. I could almost see the smile on the riders face in my mirrors.

I really should stop. That view that just rushed by was spectacular. Too late!

But just look at this road! I kept going. The other bike and I were having great fun. Almost like playing tag.

I couldn’t stop now. I had to keep riding. We were both riding hard and it was fantastic!

I rode on, up the mountain, over the pass and down the other side.

We slowed down coming into Loma. The other bike pulled alongside as we rode. His face was beaming and he was giving me the thumbs up. He obviously enjoyed it as well. But wait – he had a pillion! He was obviously a good rider to do what we had just done, two-up!

I pulled over to get a coffee and to let my pulse slow down a little. The other bike pulled into the gas station as well. I had just ridden my first Colorado Pass! At speed. Almost no cars about. What great fun!

The other rider, Bill and his wife Jo Ann came over and said hello. They were from Omaha, Nebraska. Smiles all round....





















Standing there in the gas station, I realised I would have to go back and take pictures.... It was 34 miles in each direction, but it would be worth it. I said my farewells to Bill and Jo Ann and set out back along the road I had just ridden.... Here are the photos I took....

The long road back to the mountains....





















Getting nearer....





















The Leading Ladies among the foothills....





















Enlarge this photo by clicking on it to see the road going through Douglas Pass....



















I had just ridden down from up here.... wow.... see the yellow arrow,,,,



















If this is what Colorado was going to be like, then I might be here some time!

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I then went to the nearby Colorado National Monument. This was a late addition to my route, but I am really glad I added it. It is one of those places that is understated and I hadn’t heard of before I was nearly finishing my tour planning.

As I rode up to the park entry point, it seemed that I wasn’t going to be able to see the monument on this day, as a huge sign proclaimed the park to be closed today. But then the sign scrolled round and the next screen said... until 2pm. Well, considering it was now 1.50pm, I didn’t have long to wait. In fact, as I rode to the gate, the park magically re-opened early, just in time for my arrival.

I pulled over and fixed my GoPro camera to the bike to film the ride in the “Monument” as it is known locally. This is the result..... enjoy the video.....



So, the video will have given you a taster of the views. Here are the photos I took....

Note the road in the bottom of this canyon in the first photo. I had just ridden on that road on the ride up to the top.....



















The erosion carves such dramatic shapes and forms canyons that would be great to explore on foot if there was time.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Another fantastic place to visit and ride through....













































































































































































I was tired at the end of this day and I stayed at a motel with a great name – the “Rusty Cannon”, in Rifle. I rode some of the way on I-70. More about that road tomorrow!

13 comments:

Rosemary Crawford said...

Well,if you must ride on a freeway, there is none as beautiful as I-70. If you get a chance, stop at Glenwood Springs hot spring. It is a rejuvenating place - I-70 goes right over the pools so you can see what you missed if you don't stop. :)

Gary France said...

Rosemary - I had to smile. I am sitting in the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort as I type this! I went in the pools yesterday and really liked it. 104 F degrees of back pain easing!. I will be back in there this afternoon!

biker baby said...

I noticed you are going through Silverton and Ouray, if my memory serves me right...as you are heading north out of one of them...not sure witch...stop and look back...you can see the entire city from the road above.

Between South Fork and Pagosa Springs is Wolf Creek Pass. We rode that pass at 3am in the high 20's with ice forming on the road from the water running down the mountain side. The next morning when we went back to go hiking up the pass with Rich's dad, I was in awe. It is absolutely beautiful. His dad lived in Pagosa and later in Grand Junction.

In Colorado Springs there is a road named Bear Claw Rd that takes you pretty high...it's named Bear Claw for a reason.

You picked a great state to spend a couple weeks in.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

you don't have to tease us so much. I would love to sit in a hot tub after a days riding, which I did on our Oregon trip. You just need that Shiatsu person walking up and down your spine.

again, beautiful Colorado roads and mountains, a much better view than the parking lot outside of my office window.

safe travels
bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Charlie6 said...

Gary....oh, it gets better Gary, it gets better....

FLHX_Dave said...

Awesome! You are killing me here. Been out that way but I didn't do the Monument 23. Man, I really want to retake some of your routes here....maybe that will be my retirement plan. I think you have seen more of the U.S. than I have at this point!

motoroz said...

If you enjoyed Douglas Pass you will be overwhelmed when you ride over Milner Pass, when you ride up Mt. Evans, when you go over Monarch Pass and many more! Like Charlie6 said "oh, it gets better Gary,"

Canajun said...

Great pictures Gary. I'm green with envy. Thanks!

cpa3485 said...

Like Charlie6 says, There are lots of other sites to see. You may be amazed. No, you will be amazed.
I haven't been to that place myself, but now you make me want to go. Loved the video. Saw more bicycles descending rather than ascending.

Jim

SonjaM said...

If you've learned to like it now, you will love it later... Great vid, great memories. So much more, and so much even better to see... your road report made me smile today.

Eve said...

Wow you haven't even hit the Grand Canyon yet! The ride up with Bill and Jo Ann was just the BEST!! You did the right thing...thrilling for all three of you...and yes...just go back and do it again was the best!! WAY TO GO!!!! The "bigified" photos are brilliant! Thanks Gary! Ride Safe!!

Jackie, the Wife xx said...

Another brilliant Post presented by a terrific guy, my Hubby. xx :-)

The scenery is stupendous.!.! The pillar rocks are unbelievably beautiful. What a uniquely magnificent part of the USA.

With the exception of the sheer drop-offs, I would have loved to have been there with you. Unfortunately for me, just by watching the video I could feel my fear of heights kicking in giving me sensations of vertigo. Scary..!!..

The time and effort you always put into your Blog, surpasses by far, “the best of the best”… I am sooooooooooo very proud of you..!!.. xoxo

Ride safe, MD.

“J”, Kz…………

Gary France said...

biker baby – Thanks for the tip - I will look out for the view backwards at both Silverton and Ouray to see where you mean. Wow, riding a pass at 3am in those temperatures must have been a little scary! I will keep a look out for Bear Claw Road – I just looked for it on Google Maps, but I couldn’t find it..... Colorado has been great so far and i have only done a quarter of my route here so far.

bob – Someone walking on my spine? That sounds as if it could hurt and I have never tried it. Sorry about the parking lot view!

Charlie6 – I’m looking forward to it. I sent an e-mail to you last night about the possibility of meeting up. I am not sure if all my outgoing mails are getting through though, so after riding today I will look again....

Dave – Sorry about that! The Monument was stunning and the sort of place that as you get to see a new view you just saw wow to yourself. I certainly have seen a lot of your great country, that’s for sure....

Oz – I am riding Milner Pass late today and now I am really looking forward to it. Mt Evans in a few days time.... I might have to get my video cameras out for both....

Canajun – Sorry about the greenness!

Jim – If you get the chance to go to Colorado National Monument, then go – it is fantastic. I am certainly looking forward to the rest of Colorado.

Sonja – I am glad it made you smile today!

Eve – It took a long time to go back for my pictures, but I just didn’t want to stop riding!

The Wife – Thanks Hon! The Monument was tremendous. Sorry about your vertigo kicking in – some of the passes I have ridden in the last few days would have you with your eyes firmly shut on the back of the bike! Thanks for being so proud! Kz. G