Joined: May 2013
Location: North Georgia
When was the last time a 100cc bike made it over Cinnamon Pass? 12, 640 feet.
Salida to Silverton, CO
Today would be the biggest challenge yet for the Toad. The route would take us over both Hancock Pass at 11,600 feet and Cinnamon Pass at 12,640 feet. I had dropped the main jet to compensate for the altitude, and as I left Salida this morning the little Hodaka was running cleanly. The view of the Collegiate Peaks just outside Salida to the north was breathtaking, but I wondered if the Toad would have enough steam to take me over the Continental Divide. The route took me to the south of Mt. Princeton past the resort of Princeton Hot Springs towards St. Elmo. Although steep in places, the little Hodaka chugged along and finally the road turned from pavement to dirt. The road itself is a designated ATV route, and this being Sunday, the four-wheel crowd was out in full force. I passed several old abandoned mines on the way up, as well as the ghost town of Iron City. Iron City does not seem too much like a ghost town on the weekend, as the street through town was crowded with tourists. After Iron City, only the occasional four-wheel drive vehicle could be seen. People come up to this area to fish, hike the Continental Divide Trail and visit the remnants of the old narrow-gauge railway. The entrance to Hancock pass is just beyond the parking area for the railway. Immediately, the road gets very steep and seems to be paved with boulders the size of bowling balls. I jumped up on the pegs and did my best impression of a trials rider as I picked my way through the rocks in first and second gears. The little Hodie rolled right along, but I admit that I had to abuse the clutch and scream the engine to make it through some steep switchback turns. I was getting close to the top when I saw it, a huge sheet of ice and snow coving the surface of the trail for hundreds of yards. I could see about a quarter of a mile up the trail, and it looked like the ice and snow covered most of it for the remainder of the pass. Hancock Pass had yet to open for the season, and the Toad would not be the first vehicle through it this year. I was stopped dead in my tracks just a few hundred feet in elevation before the summit. I cursed myself for being such an idiot. Everyone knows that one should always check with agencies or the locals on the status of a pass before attempting to cross any pass in the Rockies. Now I was going to have to give up the precious altitude that was hard-earned by the Toad as I backtracked toward Salida, Highway 50 and Monarch Pass. There is really no such thing as an easy re-route in the Rockies. This detour was going to cost me at least 80 miles today. To make matters worse, a thunderstorm brewed overhead and I began to get pelted with rain, a penance to be paid for my mistake.
It is not much fun going over Monarch Pass on a 100cc bike with all of the traffic on Highway 50. In places I could only manage 20 mph and had to hug the shoulder of the road to keep from being mown down. The Hodaka made it without becoming a hood ornament on an SUV however, but it did not seem fair that the Toad had to do twice the work necessary to make it over the Continental Divide.
Just after Sargents, the trail turns to the southwest on the way to Lake City. This is mostly a mild climb on manicured dirt roads until you get into the hills around Cebolla Creek, where the trails get steeper. I passed through two more thunderstorms, both of which clobbered me with pea-sized hail stones. Riding along in the rain and hail, I eventually intercepted Highway 149, which dropped me down into Lake City for some fuel. Lake City is a scenic little town which boasts a beautiful lake, San Cristobal, which you ride by on your way to Cinnamon Pass. It was late Sunday afternoon and most everything in town was closed save for the general store and the pay-at-the-pump filling station. After topping off with gas, I headed out of town toward Cinnamon Pass. As I did so, it finally stopped raining, a good sign! I had ridden this portion of the Alpine Loop several times before. On my big KTM, the pass did not seem like a big deal. On a 100cc Hodaka, it is, shall we say, a bit challenging! Like Hancock Pass earlier, I had to scream the engine and feather the clutch to keep my momentum up on the tight switchbacks. The little bike forces you to pick the smoothest lines through the rocks so you can continue your progress. The Hodie was about to run out of breath as we crested the summit, but we made it! I could not help but wonder, when was the last time a Hodaka had made it over Cinnamon Pass? On the way down, I passed the old mining ghost town of Animas Forks before dropping down into the town of Silverton for the night. Silverton, as its name implies, is an old silver mining town that subsists on tourism today. It has several good restaurants and bars, hotels and places to camp. It is a great place for a TAT rider to spend the night.
246 miles traveled today (including the backtracking). 6.3 gallons of gas and 28 ounces of injector oil.
They don't call them the Rocky Mountains for nothing. The road up Hancock Pass.
ABee screwed with this post 06-20-2013 at 11:52 PM