Sunday, 5 September 2010

How To Get Wet On A Sunny Day.

Day 73 of my tour saw me riding north to the Rocky Mountain National Park, an area I was looking forward to immensely.

I didn’t have far to ride on this day and the weather had turned warm again after a chilly start. As I rode I wondered if I would listen to my music at all on this tour while I was riding. So far, I haven’t used it once and I was quite happy to keep it that way. On previous trips across Europe and riding over the Alps, I have had days when I listened to music all day while I rode, but for some reason, I don’t feel like doing that in the US.

As I rode I did see this ‘dozer on a pole. It’s not a sight you see every day, so I did an about turn to go back for a picture. The sign underneath says “Truck and Tractor Heaven” so I think I had stumbled on somebody’s lifetime passion. Oh well, each to their own!...





















Soon I reached the 11,000 mile point of my tour and I took the usual picture looking ahead at the ‘000 mile mark....





















However, just looking ahead doesn’t tell the full story, so I have added a sideways picture as well this time. This is Grand Lake, and grand it is too!....





















Another shot of the lake with the Rocky Mountains behind....



















As I didn’t have far to ride today, I thought I would check out the town of Grand Lake. I found a small but lively place that caters for the tourist industry. Small neat shops lined the main street, the lake was in full use by boaters and swimmers, plus there were a few reasonable looking places to eat. These are a few of the buildings on the main street through the town....





















This building caught my eye and I wondered what sort of a grand building warranted such a clever and no doubt pricey exterior....





















I walked to the front of the building and couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at. The building housed public restrooms! Well done to the town of Grand Lake, this was excellent!....





















I did see a couple of things in Grand Lake that amused me....

This is an unusual load to be carrying in the back of a pick-up....





















I guess there isn’t anything unusual about this sign.....



























.... until you see where it was located....





















This Ice Cream shop has a familiar look to it, but something isn’t quite right....





















Here is a short video panning around the lake edge.....




I headed out of Grand Lake thinking this would be a fun place to come to for a few days.

Just before I entered the Rocky Mountain National Park, I spotted this RV, complete with a garage for two bikes. It had just been purchased in Phoenix and the new owners were driving it back to its new home in Canada....





















Riding in the Rocky Mountain National Park was in three parts. 1. The ride on the western side of the park where I rode up the mountain range 2. The ride at high level at the highest points of the mountains and 3. The ride from the top, down a little to Estes park, on the east side.

Riding on the road was a mixture of straighter sections and then the twisty parts where the road climbs steeply. This part of the road mainly has trees on either side and there are places to stop and look at the views....to test the riders of any bikes, even those with pedals! Here are shots from a couple of the viewing points....









































This part of the road is great fun to ride with some tight hairpin bends (US = switchbacks).

Once above the tree line, the road straightens out a little and generally hugs the side of the mountains, rising or falling in long straight sections, with the occasional bend as the road turns with the topography. On one of these sections there was some road construction work happening and I accept this is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the roads we all ride and drive on. Plus of course, at these high elevations the work has to be done in the summer months before the snow starts to fall again. I have now grown accustomed to the way the roads are left between the different stages of work.

So, I found myself riding up the last part of the mountain on a road surface that was nothing more than bare earth. It was very well compacted with just a few loose spots, so riding it at a slow speed was no problem at all – I had to be very careful, but I am used to that now on such roads.

Riding the road soon became a big problem though when a water bowser (a large water tanker that sprays the road generally to reduce dust) came in the opposite direction as I was still riding up. I could see him spraying a long way away and even though his truck was spraying both sides of the road, surely he must have seen me and would turn off the water as he drove passed me coming in the opposite direction..... he got closer and closer, but no, he just kept spraying and as we passed each other I got as far to the right as possible but my lower half and my bike got soaked. What a jerk!

Even worse, the water now turned the top surface of the road into a slippery very fine mud which in the next few minutes, caked my bike and my legs. Lovely!

I had my video camera on at the time....here is a short piece of video showing the ride up on the twisty section, and the water truck spraying the road....



I think I might send a link to this post to the National Park Service so they can tell their road contractors to be more careful when motorbikes are on the road.

After getting to the top, the views of the mountain range are stunning. Of course I took some photos but the pictures do not do the scale and majesty of the peaks justice....

These mountain tops are huge....



















There is still some of last winter’s snow up here....



















On the very top, the land is called Tundra. This is where the winds are so strong, the snow gets blown away. The cold winds and a lack of moisture present a problem to any plant life. As a consequence, very slow growing plants that keep very low to the ground are the only species that can survive up here....



















In places, the mountain tops are very barren and almost take on a lunar type landscape....















































At one place I stopped there was a path you could walk. The walk to the top was steep and long and I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. The views from the top were worth it though....

































































On the walk back down I walked and chatted with a couple of guys, one of who told me he had an accident 6 weeks ago and had two broken ribs and one of his lungs had punctured and collapsed. He had a lot more grey hair than me as well, and it struck me that he must has been very fit to have been able to walk up that slope with his recent accident. I was impressed!

After visiting the top, it was time to continue on and ride back down the other side. Part way down, I stopped and looked at yet another view. Here you can easily see the road I was about to ride down and the way it hugs the side of the mountain. I stood there are considered just why and how these roads were constructed. Can you imagine even working out where such a road should go through areas often so thick with trees that you cannot even see very far? The road builders of the time did an incredible job and all of us that use those roads today owe them a big debt indeed.....







































At the top, I chatted with a couple from Kansas, Donald and Margaret. It is good that riding the Leading Ladies, with its portraits and big yellow license plate is a great conversation starter. They told me Donald is a Kansas boy and Margaret an Iowa girl who got married in 1990. Donald is a trumpet-playing house builder and Margaret has a family that she can trace back to England, Germany, France and Wales! It was a pleasure to spend time talking with them....





















The Rocky Mountain National Park was a great place to go see. Being so close to Denver, the people that live in that city have a terrific national wonder very close by.

Now, where can I wash my bike to get all that mud off....?

6 comments:

motoroz said...

RMNP is one of my favorite places to visit. Trail Ridge Road is awesome and your are right - the mountains tops are enormous and photos can not capture the beauty. Sorry about the guy spraying you, that is totally wrong.

SonjaM said...

Bummer! That dude was obviously reckless, or liked to p.off bikers on purpose. Hope you found a place to give the Leading Ladies and yourself a good wash. Although almost impossible to capture the grandeur of these mountains, you are doing it wonderfully. Thank you!

Charlie6 said...

Small world Gary, we saw many of the sights you saw in Grand Lake, to include that public restroom!

Eve said...

That video would have had to have been beeped out a million times if it was me under that helmet!!! The views were spectacular, I've never been on a mountain high enough to be barren. Maybe someday. I love that no rock climbing wall and the Dariy KING!! hahaha!

Jackie, the Wife xx said...

Hi MD:

Great commentary and pics, as usual...

Grand Lake and the surrounding mountains are very pretty. I know you like this sort of thing. xx

What a bit of Ingenuity for someone to build the public restroom in such an interesting way. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, or at least nothing like this building that was being used as a toilet… Job well done.

The Lamas are lovely, but then again… if it is an animal I would think it was lovely no matter what the breed. < Big Smile >

NOTE: Dairy King … too funny. It must have been a day to show equal opportunity.

Question: How does someone drive an RV that big..??.. I wouldn’t want to try driving it over some of those mountain roads..!!..

I was furious to hear about your encounter with the a@#hole in the water truck.!!!. I really hope you did follow through with sending a link to the National Park Services. They need to see just what their public employees get up to. Disgraceful !!!!!!!!

As always: Wishing you safe rides, fun days and a soft place to fall at night. xoxo

Thinking of you... :-)
Kz…………………

Gary France said...

Oz – I liked riding Trail Ridge Road, but having now done Mt Evans, that is my favourite road in Colorado. So far....

Sonja – He certainly succeeded in P’ing me off! Yes, I found somewhere to give them a wash, but getting the mud off the engine is proving to be difficult because it then got baked on with the heat!

Charlie6 – It truly is a small world.

Eve – I swore a lot later as I was trying to get the mud off the bike! This was the first time I had seen almost nothing growing due to being so high.

Jackie – Thanks! When I first saw it, I wondered what the interesting building was, then I saw it was a restroom. I was amazed. I wrote and complained to the National Park Service and I have heard back from them. I am going to send the link to the video clip to them so they can see what he did. I liked the Dairy King too!