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Old 08-20-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
jna OP
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Joined: May 2009
Location: Fruita Co
Oddometer: 65
Looking for Colorado gold 1000 miles 4 hours from home, Fall colors 2012 First RR

We have lived on the western slope for about 7 years now and decided last year to do a fall colors ride. My wife was a new rider but had already done a few high passes and some pretty rough jeep road so our route included as much dirt as possible to make the route more interesting. The plan was a 9 day ride starting from Fruita and hitting a few places we were familiar with and a few towns we had never seen. We would hit as many high passes as possible, and see lots of aspen trees before the snow started to limit our options. We would never be more than 4 hours from home. Our son would join us on day two in Taylor Park.


Day 1 Fruita to Paonia
Miles 83.
Rode for a few boring slab miles down hwy 50 to Delta, ride got interesting once we were a few miles east of Delta. We stayed at the Rocky Mountain Inn in Paonia, while it got decent reviews I would not recommend staying there ,unless you are okay with severe attitude when asking for anything out of the ordinary, such as a room with a mattress that does not have a permanent sag (even with no one on it), a light bulb to replace the burned out one in the overhead light fixture, a TV that actually has a picture that enables you to make out the colors of the teams on the game you are trying to watch etc….. I would not normally spend this much time on the motel but I feel it is warranted. The owner/manager even mentioned charging us a pet fee when her neighbors cat was in our room she knew we did not bring the cat and it just came in because the door was open, just another opportunity for attitude. The only positive about the place was the liquor store across the street.




Day 2 Paonia to Gunnison via Kebler Pass and Cumberland Pass
Miles 140
Left Paonia and headed for Crested Butte via Kebler Pass to meet up with my son at the Taylor Park Store. He was riding over Cottonwood Pass from Denver and we would travel together for the next 7 days. We ate a good meal at the Taylor Park restaurant which would be closing for the season the next day. Had a good scenic ride up Cumberland pass which we had ridden about 3 weeks before in the dark. We continued on to Pitkin and then made it to Gunnison just before dark. We pulled in to the motel lot to see at least 10 other bikes 5 of which were DR 650s from Ohio and Virginia. We ate another good meal at the Old Miner in Gunnison.



Kebler Pass road


Taylor Park Store


Cumberland Pass



Gunnison



Day 3 Gunnison to Lake City and Slumgullion Pass
Miles 92
AS we left Gunnison it was raining in town and snowing to the north but it was a short lived storm and soon the sun was shining as we rode down hwy 50 to the Lake City cut off on hwy 149. The ride started to get interesting after just a few miles with sweeping turns, rolling hills, and good fall colors. We rolled in to Lake City in the afternoon but it was too late to chance making it to Silverton via Engineer Pass. After securing our room for the night we rode up Slumgullion Pass to take more fall color pictures before it got dark. We got as much out of the day as we could and rolled back in to town just before dark. We had an awesome meal at the Packer Saloon. I would highly recommend this place and the Pizza.

[COLOR="Yellow"]Lake City




Slumgullion Pass







Creative packing with small saddle bags





Day 4 Lake City to Mancos via Engineer Pass to Silverton, Molas Pass and Coal Bank Pass to Durango
Miles 113
By far the hardest riding day so far, up Engineer Pass on fully loaded bikes, and then traffic from Silverton to Durango. The traffic in Durango is unlike anything we have to ride in living in Fruita, my wife is a new rider so it was a little tense for both of us until we got about 10 miles west of town on hwy 160. The headsets we had were very helpful trying to negotiate traffic and red lights. Once we finally got west of town the only problem we had was riding straight in to the setting sun. With visors on my son’s and my helmet we were able to deal with it, not so for my wife who was at times riding with one hand shading her eyes to be able to see.
I was concerned about deer traffic right before dark, but we made it to Mancos without incident. We would spend the next 2 nights at Enchanted Mesa Motel, the best motel we had for the whole trip. They had decent clean rooms, a large rec room with pool table, 3 commercial washer/dryers, and very nice owners that were also bikers.

Up to Engineer Pass


On top






Saw these guys at Animas Forks they saw us coming down the switchbacks and asked me what it was like up there. I told them it was like the moon. They had rode up from Silverton on those bikes





Mancos




More tomorrow

jna screwed with this post 08-23-2013 at 08:10 AM Reason: Title
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
Wdwrkr
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Beautiful pics thanks you for sharing. I'll look forward to tomorrow's installment
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:07 PM   #3
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"The owner/manager even mentioned charging us a pet fee when her neighbors cat was in our room she knew we did not bring the cat and it just came in because the door was open"

Jesus! What a shitty establishment, thanks for taking the hit and alerting us! Great looking trip so far. I was just down in that area in July. How'd you like the big 650 on the mountain passes? I've considered upgrading from my drz400 to that bike, but just need to test ride one first to get an idea of the weight.

Ride on.

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Old 08-21-2013, 07:17 AM   #4
jna OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThanatosF View Post
"The owner/manager even mentioned charging us a pet fee when her neighbors cat was in our room she knew we did not bring the cat and it just came in because the door was open"

Jesus! What a shitty establishment, thanks for taking the hit and alerting us! Great looking trip so far. I was just down in that area in July. How'd you like the big 650 on the mountain passes? I've considered upgrading from my drz400 to that bike, but just need to test ride one first to get an idea of the weight.

Ride on.


Yes the mgr/owner was nice enough on the phone when i made the reservation but was not so much after we arrived,our first clue was about 4 other guest waiting in the office when we checked in that all had issues.
The mgr lady seemed bitter.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:53 AM   #5
jna OP
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Day 5 Mancos to Mesa Verde

Miles 67

The day started off with the best breakfast of thetrip at a little coffee shop inside the Zuma Natural Food store. Plan for theday was to ride to Mesa Verde since we had only seen pictures of the area wewere looking forward to it. We rode to the visitor center and signed up for 2guided trips to see the cliff dwellings. The 2 tour guides could not have beenmore different. The first was a young lady who took every opportunity to insertall the positive government talking points she could in to the tour. Kind ofmade you start daydreaming listening to her. She even used the phrase “it takesa village” to which my son and I made eye contact and tried not to laugh. Thesecond tour guide was a older guy with an actual sense of humor that kept youattention because what he had to say was unscripted. And he was prone to givingoutrageous answers to questions from the tour group. After the tours we rode to the south end ofthe park and took photos.


Our choice for breakfast


Yes it is steeper than it looks





The Tour


The Riders


Saw this bike at one of the parking areas never saw the rider


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Old 08-21-2013, 04:18 PM   #6
jna OP
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Day 6 Mancos to Ouray via Lizard Head Pass

Miles 125

We started out with a repeat of breakfast from the daybefore then I decided we should fix my son’s left turn signal which had beenintermittent for the last 200 miles. We used the car wash area to remove theseat and get to the wiring. Once I removed the light the problem was discoveredwith a broken solder joint on the light socket. I walked to the Cox Conoco AutoRepair and borrowed a soldering iron from the manager a few minutes later wewere putting it all back together and heading out of town on hwy 184 toDelores. We stopped for gas and ran into two of the people with the big DRgroup we saw in Gunnison. We made good time from Delores to Ridgway with onlyone pit stop and a few construction delays. Unable to get a decent room for agood price in Ridgway we headed down to Ouray to stay at the Timber Ridge Lodgewhich we had stayed before. Dinner at the Ouray Brewery, coffee at Mousers thenwe were done for the night.


Repairs




Construction traffic between Delores and Rico



Just north of Lizzard Head Pass



The Go Pro rode here for the entire trip and then fell off when the mount broke less than 1000 miles later. That is broken mount #3
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Old 08-21-2013, 04:23 PM   #7
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More construction traffic just north of Telluride



Some people wait better than others





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Old 08-21-2013, 04:25 PM   #8
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Colors

What were your travel dates last year---thinking about getting up that way this year and it looks like you got the time about right for the colors.
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Old 08-21-2013, 04:40 PM   #9
jna OP
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Ouray





Day 7 Ouray to Buena Vista via Owl Creek Pass and Cottonwood Pass
Miles 165
After leaving Ouray we headed north to Ridgway then east on dirt roads to Owl Creek Pass and Silver Jack Lake. The fall colors here were probably as good as we have ever seen and you could picture John Wayne riding through the valley. We came out on hwy 50 near Cimarron and headed back to Gunnison where would say goodbye to my son as he was heading back to Denver. Heading north we sat in construction one last time between Almont and Taylor Park.








Took a picture of this trail for future reference




because we like to ride stuff like this








Sometimes end up like this


Near Silverjack Lake












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Old 08-21-2013, 04:54 PM   #10
jna OP
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Construction between Almont and Taylor Park



These two Blue Jays had this construction racket down and were working the waiting cars for handouts



As is often the case we wasted just enough time throughout the day to ensure our ride over Cottonwood Pass would be done as darkness was falling. There were enough deer on the east side of the pass that I rode in front so we could both benefit from my bright after market head lights
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:04 PM   #11
jna OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKASY View Post
What were your travel dates last year---thinking about getting up that way this year and it looks like you got the time about right for the colors.
9/15 through 9/23. We were just trying to get the high passes in color before the leaves dropped. Worked out about right they were still green at the lower altitudes. We only had rain for one about an hour one day, so we hit the window just right. That window is a moving target out here. I will post the Aspen and Marble pictures tomorrow.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:12 PM   #12
jna OP
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How'd you like the big 650 on the mountain passes? I've considered upgrading from my drz400 to that bike, but just need to test ride one first to get an idea of the weight.

Ride on.

[/QUOTE]

The 650 is ok on the big passes always has enough power. The suspension has been upgraded by Cogent, the gearing has been changed to make rock gardens easier, and it will still pull highway speeds. I ride the bike in sand and on single track it is still a handful especially when you have to pick it up but is still much lighter than the other 650 dual sports out there. When I ride my CRF it is like cheating.
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:35 AM   #13
Oldone
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Awesome!

That's some great country that must've been cool to ride through. Thanks for all of the great photos and RR.

Gary
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Old 08-22-2013, 11:10 AM   #14
jna OP
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Day 8 Buena Vista to Marble via Independence Pass

Miles 125

The plan for the day was to ride from Buena Vista to Aspen via Independence Pass, and spend the last night of our trip in Marble. I secured a room in Marble before we left town as the rooms were getting scarce due to the crowds seeking peak fall colors for the weekend. We had breakfast and coffee at Bongo Billy’s and then headed north to Aspen. Traffic was heavy and unpredictable due to the many sudden photo ops but we made the pass and Aspen without incident.


Buena Vista hotel arrangements made as soon as we got cell signal coming down Cottonwood Pass we got the last room available.


This place in BV is called by another name now



On the way up to Independance Pass





Just outside of Aspen





Our room for the night in Marble was at the Inn at Raspberry Ridge. Nice place good price, recently purchased and being upgraded by two retired ladies from the Denver area. Had very good barbeque at Slow Grooving BBQ in Marble, there are not that many places that have good barbeque on the western slope but this place does a good job.



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Old 08-22-2013, 11:31 AM   #15
jna OP
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Day 9 Marble to Crystal then home to Fruita viaMcClure Pass

Miles 145
Next morning we were up early to make the run to Crystal and get some more fall colors and pictures of the famous Mill. The jeep road up was just rough enough to keep you on your toes and the weather was good.

. There was quite a bit of activity due to tourists and the few people that actually have homes in Crystal clearing out for the coming winter weather.




Crystal Mill





Hate to leave



Time to head home.


After that picture it was load up and head back to Fruita via McClure Pass to Paonia then back up Hwy 50 in a 30 mph crosswind to Fuita completing a 1000 plus mile loop that resembled a figure 8. When we got home the total mileage with all the side trips was just over 1100 miles.
Sorry about the font size change and picture quality it is my frist ride report and I am figuring things out as I go
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