June 29, 2007
This morning my fuel pump began to whine - a new sound, grrrrr. But my new Ohlins were on
Grabbed a quick breakfast at Johnny's Diner and swung by the BMW dealer before heading out of Denver.
The weather was absolutely beautiful. I took Hwy 6 out through Golden Gate Canyon (?) heading towards Estes Park. It felt great to get into the mountains and the canyons were beautiful and fun - The Pig was handling so much better with the new shocks. There was a fair amount of traffic and I stopped occasionally to let the buses get out of my view.
At a highway intersection, I pulled off to check my map to make sure I was still on the Peak to Peak route and there was a rider on a Suzuki Bandit with Vermont plates checking his map as well. He told me a rider had just left the direction I was going and I eventually caught up to him in Gilpin - a little town loaded with casinos - and tracked behind his V-Strom for a while.
Had to stop at the first glimpse of the snow capped peaks and get a shot.
The road was good with a fair amount of traffic. In Nederland I stopped to top off the tank and chatted with a rider who was going around the U.S.
Took a butt break and watched the bikes pull in.
When I finished gassing up, a local resident came over to admire the bike. We chatted a bit and he said "There's a guy just like you who has one of these funky bikes and rides by himself up to Montana and other places. His name is Udo and he has a car repair shop up the road. He always has old bikes he's redoing. You should go meet him and look at his bikes." Sounded good to me so I found the shop "Peak to Peak Imports" and pulled up. In front was a 1200 GS and a few dirt bikes here and there. I liked it already
. I met Udo and got the tour - his name seemed familiar and sure enough he's on ADVRider. I met the crew and we talked bikes of course. Really enjoyed the visit!
Udo, you're a great guy and welcome at my house any time bud!
The Motley Crew
I continued on to Estes Park, and cruised through the heaving masses of sweaty tourists wandering about before heading toward the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance. I needed coffee and a stretch so I grabbed a BBQ sandwich at TapHouse. It was excellent and a good place to eat away from the tourist herds. I've been lucky and found great food on this trip.
Across the street there was an old XR for sale: Somebody NEEDS this!!!
Park entry was $10 for the bike and I asked about Falling River road but was told it wasn't open until July 1 - GRRRRRR - missed it by 2 days. Mike at Udo's suggested it as a good dirt road alternative to the top of RMNP.
Riding the park was stunning of course. Breathtaking views around each turn and of course the best pics were in areas with no way to pull over. Traffic was ok but the usual caravan of minivans and SUV's. Near the top I saw some elk, and once over the west side the elk were prevalent.
A few pics:
From the park I hit Granby and from there I caught 125 north to Walden. The westerly winds were strong and steady. The landscape outside RMNP was more arid and the mountains different of course.
Hwy 125 is a great ride - it is a nice 2 lane blacktop that goes through the Arapaho Forest and there was almost NO traffic. I rode almost to Walden and only saw 5 or 6 cars. It was a great road and the perfect contrast to RMNP. No cars after being in caravans of vehicles. Beautiful stretches and scenery that were different. After crossing the divide, you drop down into desert valleys with huge vistas and not a soul around.
To me this was almost the best part of the day. It was like having the world to yourself after leaving Touristastan.
Gassed up in Walden, CO - "Moose Viewing Capitol" - and looks like a cool place to spend the night but I continued on. Not a moose was in sight. The sun was getting low, the light was beautiful and the empty landscape was addicting.
Busted the Wyoming line to Riverside and Encampment, which were interesting little towns and I looped through before going on to Saratoga. I hit Saratoga at sundown and got the last room in a motel.
I have to say that today ranks as one of the best of my life. The weather was fantastic, I met great folks, and the scenery was astounding. The contrasts of landscape and solitude were perfect. The bike ran like a top (granted, a big, heavy top). What a great day.
It was getting too late to do any side roads and the Centennial / 130 route but I will do that tomorrow morning, then head north. Maybe to Alaska
My route was Hwy 6 to 119 to Estes, RMNP to Granby, 125 to Walden then into Wyoming on 230 to Saratoga.