Jump to content

Colorado Trip Wrap up


maximo
 Share

Recommended Posts

 

Here is my write up of the Colorado trip I just finished:

Day one

I took off from Chico with the intent of heading down through Death Valley and ending up in St. George, UT. There’s a beautiful slot canyon at Kanarraville that I’ve hiked a couple of times, so I wanted to do that as my reward for a long day in the saddle. I wasn’t on 395 for too long before I realized that the monsoon was hitting that area, so I pivoted and went over to Ely and spent the night. Good thing, that was the day that Death Valley flooded and washed out roads. As it was, I got hit by some intense rains on hwy 50, with lots of lightning. Very uncomfortable being the tallest thing on the desert floor while bolts struck nearby. At one point, in a particularly nasty cell near Austin, I got off my bike, moved to a lower spot near a gully, and crouched while the cell passed. Nothing that a soft bed and warm shower couldn’t fix at the end of the day.

Day 2

This was just a straight up slog between Ely and Provo, Utah. Mostly. At Nephi I took the Mt. Nebo Loop Trail between Nephi and Santaquin, and let me tell you, that was just the palate cleanser I needed. This road skirts behind the tallest of the Wasatch Mountain peaks, climbing from 4.5k to 9.5k in altitude, a long stretch of beautiful flowing corners up top, and a gradual descent. An excellent 40 miles, I highly recommend it

On the bike front, I knew I’d need tires by the time I got to Provo, so I had called and set an appointment for a tire change, and bought a set of PR6 - 3 weeks ahead of the date. I called and confirmed everything was good to go 2 days before leaving, but by the time I got there the tires were missing. 4 hours later, after a mad scramble, I rode off with a PR4 on the back and a Pilot Power 5 on the front. Not the ideal tires for my vacation ride (esp the more track oriented Power 5, since I wouldn’t be riding fast enough to fully warm them up to their grippiest), but at this point there weren’t many options.   

Day 3

I took the leisurely ride of Hwy 89 from Provo down to Salina, and launched into the Fishlake Wilderness. I took Gooseberry-Freemont Rd over the Mt. Terrell pass, which is almost 11k. Stunning scenery, gorgeous road, very, very cold up top. I descended on Hwy 25, through the lake, and the Pando Tree

From there I went down Hwy 12 from Torrey down to Escalante. I could have, and should have ridden this stretch over and over again. It’s an amazing variety! High alpine woods and lakes, down into desert rock, into a mind-blowing canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon for the sense of overwhelm it gives off. There’s also a section that rides along the spine of a canyon, with sheer dropoff on both sides, which is really exhilarating. Overall an A+ section of road. 

It was during this stretch that I noticed the bike was working harder and harder to start, and at one point I needed a bump start to get it going. It was very, very hot, and I was hoping it was just connections needing to be tightened. The battery was only 3 years old, so I crossed my fingers

I spent the night in Torrey.

Day 4

Got up and the bike fired right up, so I dealt with the battery issue by burying my head in the sand. I took off from Torrey and rode Hwy 24 through Capitol Reef, which was beautiful. It’s a tame section of road, with lazy sweepers in a criminally low speed limit area, with huge red canyon walls on both sides, and the Colorado River running parallel to the road. Very relaxing, beautiful ride

From there I booked it to Hanksville, gassed up, and set off on Hwy 95 for the very desolate Glen Canyon area. This is truly Wiley E Coyote territory, deep into no-mans’-land. Halfway between Hanksville and Natural Bridges you go through Glen Canyon and the road is sublime. Wonderful curves around breathtaking rock formations, and I would think the last LEO patrolling the area would have been in the Eisenhower administration. So this section was fun fun fun!! 

Heading up to Moab, I stopped at Natural Bridges, and it was a bit ho-hum, in light of what I had just ridden, and further up, after joining Hwy 191 after Blanding and Monticello, I followed a Butler Map recommendation to ride the Needles Overlook road.  It was honestly a complete waste of an hour. The road wasn’t that exciting, had very limited visibility, and the highest concentration of deer on the side of the road of anywhere else I’d ridden. It was a 25 mph white knuckle ride for an hour. I made it to Moab for the night

Day 5

My head in the sand about my battery was going to bite me in the butt. I planned the day, loaded the bike, thumbed the starter button, only to hear the dreaded waa waaa click click click click. Long story ensues with me bumming rides to from parts stores, sourcing a jump starter, starting the bike, riding to the only parts store in town with a compatible battery, summoning up generations of mechanical incompetence, frying the bike, waiting 4 hours for the tow truck, spending 3 hours at the bike shop, only to be told “we’ll get to it tomorrow”, etc. Absolute worst day of the vacation. 

Day 6 

About noon the shop called and said the bike was ready (it was the fuse to the ECU, story told in a different thread), so I hitched a ride to the shop, picked up the bike and headed out. I made my way to Grand Junction, CO, first on Hwy 128 out of Moab, which is a hidden gem.  It is much like Capitol Reef, but much more intimate with the Colorado River. Again with the speed limits being impossibly low, but the road was empty, and I saw no LEO, or evidence that LEO would even be out there. From there I jumped on the superslab to Grand Junction, then got onto CO 141. What a gem of a road! It’s like a combo of canyon riding, mesa riding, throw in a mountain pass, and have all follow the curvature of the river. Mile after blissful mile of a smorgasbord of corners

At Naturita I veered off onto CO 145, which started out slow, but after 30 minutes or so of farmland, the road drops down into a canyon and takes on a whole new character. Tight twisties take hold, with lots of traffic to deal with (ie, keeps you engaged as you jump car after car when the road gives you those 2 second glimpses), and before you know it, you’re up in Telluride. I gassed  up, and was shocked to see $3.99/gal! I mean, I left home and gas was still nearly $7/gal! I instinctively started looking for milk jugs to fill and take with me. 

CO 145 then goes over Lizzard Pass, which was the opening act on the next few days of bagging high alpine passes. I don’t want to sound redundant, because the passes shared many similarities, so I’ll describe here, then mention the others in the aspects they stand out in. The high mountain roads are surreal in their beauty. There are huge peaks that surround the road, which by themselves would be worth the price of admission, but they are also accompanied by lakes, meadows, stands of aspen, some with waterfalls, etc. It really is hard to take it all in. I often gasped in awe.

After Lizzard pass I began the slow descent down to Cortez, which was actually a very enjoyable cool down ride. I stopped there for the night. 

Day 7

I saddled up and rode from Cortez to Durango on CO 160, a rather ho-hum ride. At Durango I pointed the bike north and set off for the famed Million Dollar Highway, CO 550. Despite the hype, this road lives up to its reputation. There are sections that are impossibly engineered, including the one that reminds me of the Bolivian Death Road. Make time for this one, you’ll want to stop again and again. It’s that good

After a while, the road drops into Ouray, a place that is impossibly beautiful, but horrendously overrun with people. I had planned to lunch there, but I couldn’t escape fast enough. People and cars everywhere. 

This is where the day turned out sideways. My ultimate destination was Gunnison, and I’d been looking forward to riding Hwy 50, and CO 149 down and back, but construction on Hwy 50 meant that it was completely closed from 7am to 5pm, which a single window at noon to give traffic a one-time chance to get through. I selected to avoid the whole thing and keep going north to Delta so I could cut inland and then head south after the construction. This was a mistake. The road between Ouray and Delta, which goes through Montrose, is as boring and annoying as that uncle who won’t stop talking politics. It was nearly a two hour slog in 105 degrees, with many, many miles of stop and go traffic through towns. 

After an interminable time, I finally got to Delta and hit CO 92, which went inland about an hour, still high desert, before finally heading south into the mountains. I was thrilled to get out of the high desert, but honestly felt like 92 had been oversold. It was an ok ride, and if were somewhere in Kansas, it would be spectacular. But where it was, surrounded by other roads that are clearly better, it felt like a letdown, especially the price I had to pay to get there. Nonetheless, it offered cooler weather, roads that required attention, and a very nice lookout where I could make a pot of yerba mate. Eventually I dropped down to Hwy 50 and made my way to Gunnison. This stretch of 50 was probably nice, but I was annoyed that I got there at 5:15, right after they had reopened, so I got caught in a train of literally hundreds of cars, which naturally had the myopic driver at the front, who could not do more than 35MPH, and no one would pass him. I passed a few just to give me something to do, but I was so far back that I couldn’t have made it to the front. So I more or less stayed in line and counted down the miles to Gunnison, where I hunkered down to a delicious pizza and Fresca, delivered to my motel

Day 8

In Gunnison, I headed up to my first pass of the day very early. The Cottonwood Pass is 12K feet, one of the taller passes, and due to it being early in the morning, it was COLD!!  Getting there was also a bit tricky. North out of Gunnison on CO 730, soon thereafter turn right on CO 136, and soon thereafter, turn right on CO 742. Eventually 742 turns into 209, and then into 306, but these last two are invisible. The first two you have to make a choice

This pass may have been my favorite. The pavement was perfect, and the geography changed constantly. This was the first pass that was very heavy on switchbacks, so the practicer on hairpins came in handy later, at other, busier passes

On the other side of the Cottonwood Pass I came into Buena Vista, a cute little town, and then I quickly headed north on CO 24. This was a decently fast road, with a handful of very nice sections. But the traffic kept iit from being a “must ride”, at least in this area. 

From 24 I veered west on CO 82 to take on the Centennial Pass. This was another classic Rockies Pass. I liked the Cottonwood pass better, but certainly the Centennial is nothing to sneeze at. On the other side I descended into Aspen, which was the hugest disappointment in my entire ride. Not long after the pass, 82 turns into a slog, with way too many cars, lots and lots of stop and go. And while I’m sure the interior of town is lovely, the highway isn’t. I cursed myself for not simply turning around and doing the Centennial Pass again.

I had planned on getting to Basalt, then going up CO 105 over the Hagerman Pass, but I met with some bikers who had just come down from there and they told me to stay away, that the unpaved section was not compatible with my bike. I was bummed, but heeded the warning and kept going north on 82 instead.

Eventually I made it to Glenwood Springs and got on I70. I was pleasantly surprised at the stretch of 70, as it soon became an elevated highway, riding above the river, for maybe a half hour. One of the most fun rides I’ve done on a freeway. An hour or so later I rode into one of the nastiest thunderstorms I’ve ever ridden in. Mind you, I ride mostly in CA, so this is unusual territory for me

I quickly got off the fwy and found a walmart. As I got there the rain turned to hail, and the wind kicked up hard enough to blow over the bicycle display outside of Walmart. About 45 minutes later it had blown over, so I got back on and kept on 70 and exited at CO 24. I rode this south, over the Battle Mountain Pass, which was not as good as the previous passes of the day. Nonetheless, it was overall a good road for fast sweepers and nice scenery.  I ended up at Leadville for the night. 

Day 9

I decided to go visit a cousin that lives in Co Springs, so I went the quickest way from Leadville. I rode south on CO 24, backtracking some of yesterday’s ride, down past Buena Vista and turned at Johnson Village and followed 24 into Colorado Springs. By now I was out of the mountains and into the foothills area, which is gorgeous on its own right

As I pulled into the Colorado Springs area I had the thought of riding up Pike’s Peak. I didn’t realize reservations were needed, but after flashing my pearly whites to the very nice lady at the toll booth, she took my money and let me in with a ticket to ride

The first two thirds of this ride was actually boring. With a heavily enforced 35MPH speed limit, and a road that was ok, I was seriously considering turning around. Until something caught my attention way up on the face of the mountain. I spotted a bunch of exposed switchbacks way, way up there! 

With renewed vigor I pushed on, and am I glad I did. This was the revelation of my entire trip. Jaw dropping scenery and some technical switchbacks, with cliffs that if you fell off, you would literally roll for miles. Go there, and bring your A game. 

From there I headed into town and enjoyed the hospitality of my cousin and nieces and nephews

Day 10

This cousin was so excited that I had come over, that she called another cousin in Vernal Utah and told her about it. The Vernal Cousin called and made arrangements for me to come over.

I left Co Springs and got back on 24, but soon turned north on CO 77, Taryall Rd. This was a really, really fun road. The surface wasn’t the best, but it was small, remote, and high speed. For pure fun this road was hard to beat. From there I turned right on CO 285 through Kenosha Pass, then soon turned left on Guanella Pass Rd. Guanella Pass was fun, but was overrun with people. Both parking lots were filled, and cars parked on the side of the road for hundreds of yards. 

Once down off the pass, I got back on I70 and headed west to Silverthorne, where I turned north on CO 9. This road was a slow starter. It was ok for a while, nothing really exciting, but once I got up an hour or so I turned left onto CO 134 things got really fun! The Gore Pass isn’t the highest, but the road is so perfectly balanced that you forget that you’re climbing, and soon enough you hit a sign that you’re up nearly 10k again, and you just don’t want it to end! 

At the end of 134 I turned right on 131, and at Oak Creek I turned on CO 27, which was a tiny little back road that was surprisingly fun. This was the closest to a goat trail I saw the entire ride. It’s not a scenic area by now, but the road captures your full attention. 

27 eventually connected to US 40, and from there it was a 2 hour slog to Vernal. It wasn’t bad, just not exciting. 

I reconnected with my cousin and decided to hit up my parents next.

Day 11

Not much exciting from this moment on. I rode from Vernal to just north of SLC. The one really fun road I hit was in Wasatch Mountain State Park, just outside of Heber City/Midway. This was an unexpected alpine pass, with Colorado Style switchbacks that dropped me off into Park City. 

This was the last gasp of fun, as I then turned back to the slab and made time to my parents’, and a couple of days later, took I-80 from SLC back home to NorCal. 

Overall I put on nearly 6k miles on the trip, and left a huge grin on my face, as I now face heading back to work and rejoining my fellow desk slaves.

  • Thumbsup 5
  • Like 2

’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Supporting Member

Thank you for the ride report.  I'm going to read through it again and follow along on Google maps in a second browser window. 

Nothing ruins a phenomenal trip quicker than road construction/detours and summer traffic/tourists, well except maybe a mechanical issue.  Glad you had a great trip.

  • Thumbsup 1

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a few select pics from the trip:

 

PXL_20220805_001918700.jpg

PXL_20220810_171606285.jpg

PXL_20220810_215247058.jpg

PXL_20220811_182815477.jpg

PXL_20220811_193414877.jpg

PXL_20220816_224017035.jpg

PXL_20220804_203440008.jpg

PXL_20220804_211224728.jpg

  • Thumbsup 4
  • Thanks 1

’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PXL_20220805_173653126.jpg

PXL_20220806_171112093.jpg

PXL_20220806_211317800.jpg

PXL_20220806_211732390.jpg

PXL_20220806_234321150.jpg

PXL_20220807_171100114.jpg

PXL_20220807_172529065.jpg

PXL_20220807_191835449.jpg

PXL_20220809_180314342.jpg

PXL_20220809_224419392.jpg

PXL_20220809_224441902.jpg

PXL_20220810_174542845.jpg

  • Thumbsup 3
  • Thanks 1

’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PXL_20220810_174611160.jpg

PXL_20220810_182030526.jpg

PXL_20220810_184022874.jpg

PXL_20220810_184923416.jpg

PXL_20220810_222649353.jpg

PXL_20220811_164605326.jpg

PXL_20220811_164654564.jpg

PXL_20220811_182406564.jpg

PXL_20220811_182540994.jpg

PXL_20220811_183524241.jpg

PXL_20220811_184137781.jpg

PXL_20220811_215719021.jpg

  • Thumbsup 3
  • Thanks 1

’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last batch

PXL_20220812_162726748.jpg

PXL_20220812_192724526.jpg

PXL_20220813_170329948.jpg

PXL_20220813_181341100.jpg

PXL_20220813_205739207.jpg

PXL_20220813_212437238.jpg

PXL_20220814_140025722.jpg

  • Thumbsup 4
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Outstanding - thanks for sharing!

  • Thumbsup 1

Riding a fully-farkled 2019 MT-09 Tracer 900 GT from my bayside home in South East Queensland, Australia.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

After my trip to CO last week with my wife in her CR-V, I'm going to have to re-visit this thread to find inspiration for a two-wheeled trip out west! Thanks for sharing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Haven't ridden in Colorado much.  Been to Vernal a couple of times and to Moab once.  Thanks for the writeup, it will be good to refer to for future trips.  I've been contemplating Colorado or maybe Alaska as destinations next year - if I get permission for another trip LOL.  There was some grumbling about my trip this year bit it was dull and boring compared to yours.  All I did was avoid the the two brothers stabbing folks in Canada and on the last day rode thru Memphis TN while they were looking for a gunman going around killing folks!  

  • Thumbsup 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Supporting Member
On 8/20/2022 at 4:06 PM, maximo said:

From there I went down Hwy 12 from Torrey down to Escalante. I could have, and should have ridden this stretch over and over again. It’s an amazing variety! High alpine woods and lakes, down into desert rock, into a mind-blowing canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon for the sense of overwhelm it gives off. There’s also a section that rides along the spine of a canyon, with sheer dropoff on both sides, which is really exhilarating. Overall an A+ section of road. 

Awesome trip report!   A lot of the details you mentioned stir up memories of my trip through there literally decades ago…

Your passage about Utah Route 12 down through Escalante was the one that really stuck out for me:  I still vividly remember that ride, and just how breathtaking the road & scenery was… unlike anything I had ever experienced before.   Stopping to tour Bryce Canyon was icing on the proverbial cake.  

  • Thumbsup 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for taking the time to write your trip up, the pictures brought a lot of memories back too. I have done a lot of the territory you covered but not all of it. I'll take notes for my next time out there.

I thought it was pretty lame of the shop to have sold your tires out from under you before you got there...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×