Friday, 17 September 2010

Yet More Great Roads, that Probably Few Have Ridden.

Day 84 saw me doing a 242 mile round trip ride to see both sides of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

I had read that the south rim had the best views, but I had heard from the receptionist at the Water Wheel Inn that the north side of the canyon had a great road, but the views were not as good of the canyon. I couldn’t decide which to go see, so I took the easy option and did both.

It was a cold crisp morning and on the way I stopped to look at a butte along the bank of the Gunnison River....













































The evening before, John and Diane had suggested something to me that I am more than happy to pass on, because not only were they right, but they had suggested a stunning road to me that a lot of people miss. The south rim of the Black Canyon is a National Park and as soon as you had gone through the entry gate you should turn right onto the “River Access Road”. It is right next to the gate, so many people miss it. Well, hold on for the ride of your life as you drop down 1834 feet in 2.7 miles. Wow, that is a gradient of 16%. I stopped to get just one photo on the way down.... this is part of the road I was riding down....




















If you ride this road, you just the most stunning views of the river and canyon – I think this is far better than the views from the main overlook positions on from the top of the canyon.

At the bottom, down at river level you are rewarded with some spectacular views....
























































Riding back up was going to be fun, so I just had to make a video.... hold tight.....



The views from the various overlooks into the canyon are spectacular and these pictures don’t really do them justice....





























































































This short video helps with understanding the scale of the Black Canyon....



After seeing the south rim of the canyon, I decided to loop around and ride along the north rim. It is a long way around, but worth it. I went via Montrose, Delta and Crawford. In Montrose, I saw old cars for sale....













































































I also saw some entertainment on offer, but alas it was mid-week....




















From Crawford, Highway 92 first goes south and then east along the northern edge of the Black Canyon. I can thoroughly recommend this road and I judge it one of the best I have ridden. Okay, it doesn’t have the thrill or the views of say the Beartooth Pass, but it sweeps along the side of a mountain, with great bends that you can take quite fast, with great views both into the canyon and upwards to the mountain.

I enjoyed riding this road so much I forgot to take many pictures, but I concentrated on a few showing the tress beginning to turn colour....




















This stand of what I think are birch trees made a great backdrop for the bend in the road....







































At one stage I decided to ignore my gps/sat nav and take to some quiet back roads. I went through some very rural areas where horses are more common than cars. Just about every time I saw somebody in a car or walking they waved at me. He ere I was, a stranger on a motorcycle in their community and I must have stuck out like a sore thumb, but all the same, they all greeted me with a smile and a cheerful wave. That felt really good. We just don’t do that sort of thing in the UK much and having now experienced it many times in the US, I wish we did. When I get home, I am going to wave more often at people!

When I found my way back onto highway 92, my gps / sat nav said to turn left in 36 miles, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the quiet road. I reached civilisation when 92 joins the main road at the Blue Mesa Dam and the road gets more busy as it head east back towards Gunnison.

As I arrived back at the same point I started from that morning, I was able to reflect on a great days riding.

I did wonder about something though that I cannot think of what the answer must be. I have seen many signs in Colorado that say “No Snowplowing 7pm to 5am”. These have been in places where there are no houses, so this cannot be a noise issue. I suspect it might simply be because it is dark and that means it is more dangerous? That would seem to make sense, but there is a flaw – it gets dark before 7pm and it remains dark until well after 5am, so what is the reason?

I am sure one of my Colorado readers will know!

5 comments:

rjhansen said...

Actually about 2 years ago the state stopped plowing most state highways at night due to budget cuts thanks to our lousy Governor.

Charlie6 said...

Gary, re the snowplow signs, I believe they're warning folks to not expect much help or any plowing support during those hours.

FWIW, that first pic is of a rock formation called the Dillon Pinnacles.

Great pics and videos, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a really nice spot to ride, but hard to find good spots to pose one's motorcycle by....

The river access road was definitely thrilling going down, there were times when Natasha's nose was pointed downward more than I liked!

dom

Redleg'sRides

Natasha and I ride the Black Canyon on the Gunnison

FLHX_Dave said...

Screw the scenery Gary! I want to go see Jello wrestling! Hell yeah!

Awesome as usual. The more I follow what you are doing the more motivated I am to make my own dream happen. You actually have given more targets to nail than I know what to do with.

After you are done I want to know how, who you talked to, and the inside scoop on how you planned this whole deal. Are you just wingin' it. I'm seriously envious and impressed with all this. I can only dream your reality right now...

Eve said...

Darn it Gary, I hit the comment button before I finished looking at the videos....
About the waving, I think the more out in the country you get, the more people wave. Up here on my mountain, I think nearly 50% of the people wave just driving down the road in cars! It's nice...Maybe it'll catch on back at home and you'll really start something nice....
now back to your videos and try to catch up!

Gary France said...

rj – I don’t think I would like to be a snowplow driver at night, that must be scary!

Charlie6 / Dom – Yep, that would make sense. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Your pictures and mine are similar! Going down had its moments that made your heart beat a little faster!

Dave – I did wonder if I should hang around until Saturday and take pictures, for my blog readers of course! Being able to live the dream is incredible and there is just so much to see in the US. No, not winging it – there was a lot of planning went into this and when I get to California I will tell you personally how I worked it all out.

Eve – I hope you enjoy the videos! I will certainly try to get more people to wave in the UK. Maybe they will think I am nuts....