This addition of "Tyson and Hobbes" will be an entertaining one.It will also include some lessons that I learned. Really, they are lessons that I learned in the past but chose to ignore. Enough foreshadowing...
I have been working a ton. To be exact, this was my third day off in July and I've AVERAGED 11 hours per shift. So what do I want to do with my day off? RIDE!
My ride started just like any other to get out of Denver. It sure makes me appreciate my home in Boise because I can be on the dirt in 15 minutes there.
Today I am headed for the 4wd drive roads around Cedar Mountain to the Northwest of Woodland Park. I began heading for the hills on 285 and left the city and smog behind. I turned South on 97 and followed Kennedy Gulch. Nothing to special to report. Just a nice leisurely drive on the pavement.
When I got to Westcreek on 67, I turned off the highway and ventured onto the dirt. I came to the first major intersection an pulled over as it was time to plan the route. I can only plan about three turns ahead before I forget what the plan was. This was actually a few more than that from Denver, so I did well today!
From here the plan was to take CR 68 to FR 360. 360 is labeled 4WD in the Benchmark and is what I always look for to get off the beaten path. I saw the sign for "4WD High Clearance Required" and knew it was the turn off. The road was fantastic and I was in a great mood enjoying my freedom for a day from my indentured servitude.
I've been doing a fair amount of dirt on the Tiger and have been wanting to hit some more challenging terrain. I finally got my wish. There were a few sections like this and the Tiger just claws right up it.
I am at the South end of the Hayman fire burn area. It'll come back some day. It has been a good number of years and the process is slow at high altitude.
The wildflowers were out in full force!
Now it was time to make another decision. I pulled out my map again and looked at what the next turn could be. I see that 221 drops down into the canyon and crosses the South Platte River. It then climbs the other side as 540 and meets up with 211. From there I can jump back on the pavement and head 'er home. I pass through the OPEN gate and take off down 221.
The scenery is spectacular!! I can't hardly ride for a minute with out wanting to stop and take photos. One of the nice things about riding by myself is, I can do just that. Plus it is the first day with my new camera. It reminds me a lot of the road into Artillery Dome in Idaho. It follows a knife edge ridge and is definitely a challenging ride.
There are a number of these ascents and descents on the road. The dirt is interesting. It is broken down granite with no soil to hold it together. Like a bunch a ball bearings. The ass of the bike is all over the place when I get on the gas. Plus, with all the rain we've had, there are plenty of runoff ruts to negotiate.
Ok, the trail is getting pretty tough at this point for a 500lb bike with 93 hp and street tires. Yes, I still have the Death Wings on. The TKCs are sitting in the garage not mounted. Who wants to change two tires after 14 12-hour days in a row? Hmmmm...more foreshadowing perhaps?
Now we're starting to lose some altitude and head to the valley floor.
I'm riding down some of these steep descents thinking, "Man, I'm glad I'm going DOWN this instead of UP cause I don't know if I can get UP this!" Then I come to a 4WD obstacle. It's an off camber chunk of granite. There's no major drop off, just a goofy angled slope. "OK. No problem." And it wasn't.
I continued on my way towards the valley floor for all of 400 yards and..."THE ROAD IS CLOSED?! YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! THE GODDAMN ROAD IS CLOSED!!!" We aren't talking about a friendly sign or plastic road barrier. We're talking metal posts and iron rope with no way around. And even if I could get around, I'm in a burn area where nobody would be traveling down the road to clear the fallen tees! In my brief moment of panic, I neglected to take a picture.
I immediately turn around and head back up the mountain toward the obstacle. My mind is racing. I get back to it and this is what it looks like from where I stand.
I got off and had a walk around. Only one way up. Period. No easy way or bypass. I'm not gonna lie. I set up the camera and took a video. My first attempt was complete amateur hour. I couldn't get traction in the gravel and gained no speed. I should have aborted and taken a bigger run. I will humor you with a still shot of me coming off the bike about halfway through the fall.
Right mirror destroyed. I picked the bike up and turned around. I grabbed the camera cause I was done taking pictures at this point. I had a job to do! This time I got a running start. There wasn't a smooth transition onto the rock and it threw me for a loop. I lost my momentum and had to grab the brake. I kept it upright this time and rolled back off the rock but dropped it at the bottom.
At this point I have another moment of panic set in. "What if I can't get up this? I'm by myself!"
I quickly quashed that thought. I have way too much experience in uncomfortable situations in the great outdoors to panic this early. I got the bike back to the starting line and shut it off. I walked up and kicked the loose gravel into the hole to make a smooth run on. Third times the charm!!
EDIT: I've had some issues posting a video. Click the squished picture of the bike directly below.