Well, after taking a year off away from the Rocky Mountains, I opted to head out for a couple weeks with 2 bikes.
My agenda was to use the following 3 maps to wander around:
(To ride some rough High Country, pieces of the COBDR, and to go over a handful of tarmac passes)
My thoughts were to wander around Taylor Reservoir on the 525, then jump on a T7 (loaded to sleep in the forest anywhere, anytime) and do pieces of the COBDR, and hit as many Passes as possible while tarmac touring.
Taylor Park is nice, and camping is free, and although there are lots of nice folks enjoying the serenity of the area, there are random numb nuts whooping in up as if they are the only ones there for the purpose of loud partying. It is a very big area so it is a bit of the "luck of the draw" whether you get a quiet "neighborhood", or a loud one. I met some other riding buddies there, but they were targeting a different type of riding than I was prepared to do (not only beyond my skill set, but my 525 seemed like a monster bike compared to their 2 stroke, 350's with Rekluse and left hand rear brakes to navigate steep and rocky single tracks). Regardless, I had some great rides, but kept it to the intermediate routes while riding solo. It is super cool that the Mtn. Bike single track is also for motorcycles!!
I really enjoyed riding to American Flag mountain as I always wanted to do that!
From same location looking south:
One of the single track entry points:
And down one of the single tracks.... super cool colors too:
Traversing around in the high country was super cool (weather and brain
While in that area, I also rode 2-up over to Mirror Lake,
Then to Tincup, and over Cumberland pass:
Then to Pitkin for a burger. I tried to do the expert BDR route 2 up over to the Tunnel, but the VERY sharp rocks stuck up out of the ground everywhere and made it a challenge to avoid a pinch flat or being deflected towards the edge of the road with 100 foot drops just inches away. After a few miles, I turned around and opted to head south to Hiway 50 and circle over to Buena vista so I could take the Newly paved Cottonwood pass back to the Taylor area......
Buena Vista is nice as you can sit by the river and have a nice brew from the Eddyline brewery and watch kayakers surf.
I packaged the Moto gear in a big bag and enjoyed the day>
Then.... Oh my, No cars in front of me and sunset in the distance made for a Heaven of a ride over Cottonwood Pass - Very Big Smiles!!
Once back to Camp, I was glad that it was early in the trip and I had seen so much already (including already going over YellowJacket Pass, WolfCreek Pass, North Pass on the Fantastic Hiway 114, Cumberland Pass and the New Cottonwood Pass.) Next, a couple nights in Ouray and Durango (Beautiful area to ride the Alpine loop and Imogen Pass, but my San Diego buddies who were to meet me there had some challenges and were unable to make it, so I switched to the Solo wander on the T7).
I left the Montrose area embarrassed by my over-packed bike. I had only recently got the T7, and ordered extra parts from England, Poland and other countries as I farkled for the ride only a week before departure. I had not packed the bike at home, so I tossed a bunch of garage stuff into a bag to pack it for the first time while on the road (silly plan!) I also overpacked because I tried to merge my 525 riding gear with my T7 gear... without taking time to sort it! Oh well, after riding 2 up through the dirt already, I didn't think 50 lbs would be too much - (now home, I will do it differently next time )
I left Montrose around 6 pm and didn't want to ride at night. I prefer to find a place to pop tent up before dark. But as most of you know, with no agenda, you just have to take what you get!
It was dark and I found myself in Peonia, I slowly cruised into town and began to look for a safe spot to pirate camp..... I wasn't digging it as I was tired and hungry.
Then...... WOW, "Can you believe it!!!!????, I turned a corner and saw 200 motorcycles parked along the edges of a park and a football field! I slowly rode up and parked alongside of them and casually walked up to a couple super nice fellas and carefully asked how they were enjoying the event... (and what event it was? - haha). They laughed when I told them that I was just wandering around and found the event by accident. They told me to toss my tent out in the football field with hundreds of others and then walk over to the beer booth and the burger booth. Of course, all I could do was say "OK. thanks" I was glad I found the Peonia BMW festival by accident (Come on Zubb, you should have told me! ). Pics in the morning:
In the morning, I rode towards Aspen to see a friend, and I rode a FANTASTIC Hiway 133 from Peonia to Carbondale, over the McClure Pass. At the bottom of the Pass, there is a turnout to Marble and Crystal (The valley in the background):
I rode the Marble road to the Quarry to watch them cut some beautiful Marble blocks from the mountain. I had hoped to see the original quarry as I really enjoyed seeing the quarry in the 80's, but it had changed. I also tried to get to the Crystal mill and made it almost to the mill, but it was a lot of work up a loose and rocky rutted road with an overloaded T7 with original tires instead of knobbies. I opted to skip that goal, even though that road leads to Schofield Pass, which I have yet to do from the west (the significantly harder and more dangerous direction (yet to do, but on my 525!)). I rode into Aspen and then Snowmass, but was discouraged by how crowded it was, but all resort High country places seemed to be too busy this year in Colorado. The Aspen Water spouts are a common pic to take:
I checked in with a friend and headed back out the next morning to do the COBDR from Basalt to Wyoming. This starting point was the alternate route because of the Sylvan Fire, but frankly, it was a great route over the different, but same named, Cottonwood pass over to Gypsum..... worth taking when out that way!
From Gypsum, the terrain changed a bit, but still Fantastic being on the BDR:
Open terrain to the river:
And then through the trees
The route meandered until the crossing of the Hiway 134, just after the most photographed mini-water crossing, where the BDR was closed. It was at this moment, that I smiled with glee as I turned the T7 west on the 134, to go to the Hiway 131, knowing that the speeds I would travel would be FAR beyond the speeds that I would consider if I was on my 525. The weather was cool, and the rate fast, and it was Heaven! I rolled into Steamboat for a quick Burrito ("salt and lime" restaurant ? - Rancho Burrito, was fabulous!) A quick bite and back on the BDR. It rained sporadically with Big drops, but that simply kept it cooler and nice. I went by the Big Ranches, and then enjoyed the transitions to smaller roads as I headed North. I eventually passed the 3 forks ranch - Oh My, would like to check that place out! - and took the last leg of the BDR to Wyoming:
At the end, I met a couple fellas on Suzuki 650's who had a left a fella back in Gypsum with his triumph and a burned out clutch, so they were going to turn around and head back on the BDR, They were both sporting very bashed in skid plates and complained about ground clearance, but they looked like they were up to the adventure still!
Regardless, that wasn't my goal given that I was on a bike that seemed to enjoy tarmac at 80+ mph.
Side note about T7 after dirt riding and high speed riding on tarmac: I liked every after-market product I installed!! My biggest change would be to be better prepared in my packing so I didn't look like the "grapes of wrath" truck going down the hiway , but even with that funkyness, the bike rode super.
In the left Enduristan pannier was only a sleeping bag and mini pillow.
In the right pannier was a stove, pots, food, water purifier, bowl, cup.
In the bag immediately behind me, strategically set at a height that allowed me to rest my backpack/hydration pack on it to reduce any weight on my shoulders, was tools, tubes, air compressor, and some mini emergency accessories.
In the tail bag strapped on top of the left pannier, used like a tank bag (but I don't like tank bags), was toiletries, chargers, snacks, etc...
In the yellow bag on top of right pannier was rain gear for easy quick access, and an insulating jacket if it got below 50 degrees (only did once). In fact, purposefully, I did not wear my Klim Gortex jacket as I thought it would be too warm/hot, so I used a mesh jacket the entire time except for a few thundershowers when I wore the gortex shell over the mesh jacket for an hour or 2. It was the right choice!
In the big red Monster bag was my tent, sleeping pad, camp chair and misc clothes when camping.
Strapped on top of the big red bag was 2 gas tanks, and a Bike cover (I find that I feel like less folks see the bags and bike when covered in town and keeps Bozos from wanting to sit on the bike when along the sidewalk unattended). Also on top is an easy quick access cable lock that I use to thread through my helmet, one pant leg, and one arm sleeve of jacket when bike is unattended).
My newly installed windshield was truly incredible! The stock screen had the wind force full-on hit me on my upper lip. Frankly, it was horrible as I couldn't even partially open a face shield as the wind force would close it, and the Buffeting was so violent that no pair of glasses would even stay still on the bridge of my nose! But this new Puig (?) was about 6" taller. If you would have seen the massive bug splatters at the top of that screen, you would realized how much protection it gave, and over 95% of the thousand miles I rode was with the face shield up with only glasses on, and almost no bug hits. I did use the drop down sun shield often to cut glare and have a bit more protection, but that was also to have good wind flow and cool down as that Shoei GT was a road helmet and a bit warm for adventure riding. I am gonna shop for a new helmet soon. (By the way, this wind story and fairing info: I have the stock seat, am 6-1 and buy 34 inseam jeans - I liked the set-up I have for 3 mph or 95 mph).
Back to the ride......
I am a bit shocked that given how many COBDR stories I have read, nobody really talks about the return after a BDR. Sure, there are the long painful drones of riding the knobs back to the start point, but for the COBDR, if on a big adventure bike, I found a great option!
At the end of the BDR, in the late evening, I turned North-East on the Hiway 70 in Wyoming. For almost 45 minutes, I did not catch a car, nor pass a car, as I rode at a vey high rate of speed up and over another spectacular pass through absolutely fantastic winding curves towards Medicine Bow. It was a spectacular ride as I cruised into the Encampment/Riverside town. It was just about dark, so I considered a dive into the trees to pirate camp. But I saw a cozy clean RV park and thought about a campsite (Often the RV parks are not into tent campers, but at Lazy Acres, a super kind fella walked up to me and asked me if I needed help. I asked if he could be so kind as to allow me to use a small patch of grass and he smiled and said, "Of course" So for $12, I ws offered a nice soft grass patch and a picnic table. Showers too! Jack pot again what a lucky dude!
After I sent up the tent, I looked across the street to see a pub, Could it get any better.... think not - smiles. so a couple beers, and a rum on the rocks, and a mini pizza kept me from cooking my freeze-dried chicken pasta dinner!
In the morning I opted to go North on the Hiway 230 to the 130 so I could go through Medicine Bow proper. The roads were fantastic and the Snowy Range Pass was beautiful.
On the east side of the pass began the wide open prairies, and a wide open roll into Laramie, then a busy road down to Ft. Collins - Yucky. At Fort Collins, I was expecting a more quaint town, but is was super crowded and 98 degrees. So I quickly gassed up and took the 14 west along a beautiful river back up into the high country over the Cameron Pass. It was so nice, and I even took a 30 mile dirt short cut once up in the high country to cut out some tarmac riding (The Gould to Rand cut-over). It was nice to see some Moose in the high country:
Across the expanse ( and as you know, pics don't capture the wide open Free - feeling of open country where you can see what seems like hundreds of miles in every direction) it was nice to roll along with a open throttle through roads where I only saw a car every 20-30 minutes!
As I headed south on the Hiway 125 towards Granby, (Maybe over Willow Creek Pass), and then south on the Hiway 40 (Maybe over Berthoud Pass) the speeds were pretty high, especially as the 40 was a 2 lane each way pass, which makes passing everyone easy :). Hmmm, but the 40 goes a long way east, when I was hoping to go west to Leadville. Oh well, wind down to the Hiway 70 and turn west. Just as we all known that some roads are nice to avoid, as I turned west on the 70, the traffic headed east to Denver was 15 mph stop and go..... It was a Sunday eve, time to go home back in the city....so makes sense..... thank goodness I was going west! Hmmm, well, it was time I opened up the T7 and I was lucky to blend in with a group of safe a cordial vehicles traveling in the same direction I was going at a rate a bit less than 3 digits mph as we zipped up to Eisenhower tunnel, and through to the Leadville turnoff. All good, smooth and safe. On the road to Leadville, it was getting quite dark and I slowed the pace significantly as my brain began to think about being in a more remote area and the significant increase in possible roaming wildlife. And, it was beginning to rain and the temp was dropping quickly..... so as I pulled into Leadville, I opted for a cheap hotel. Good choice.
In the morning, I headed back towards Aspen. I thought about jumping on the BDR again as I enjoy Hagerman Pass as a way to get back to Basalt, but I also wanted to ride Independence Pass (Which I do consider to be about the best pass to ride (from the east to west especially) . As you enter Twin lakes, it is beautiful:
And the Yellow VW bus for a coffee shop is peaceful:
Part way up the pass, it is breathtaking when looking to the north-east, and the south-east, from a small turnout below the pass:
From here, up to the pass for a tourist pic, then a casual ride down to Aspen, and then I opted to re-ride the Carbondale to Peonia road that I so enjoyed a few days earlier. And then the HOT ride to Delta, and then Montrose, to find my truck and head back to San Diego.
In short, a great ride on 2 bikes while wandering Colorado (AND a small snippet of Wyoming :).
Safe travels to you all! Cheers, Mac.