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Colorado Pics! 9/16/12


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#21 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:30 PM

The above tunnel pic would prove to be the last of the pictures from Gold Camp Road.

Eventually, Gold Camp Road turned into Old Stage Road. Old Stage Road was just that: A road made upon an old stage coach road. It was very steep, with lots of switchbacks and loose gravel.

By itself, it would have been a BALL to ride. However, as we neared Colorado Springs, it begin to have INSANE traffic levels. I'm talking vehicles (sometimes groups of them) coming at you every 5 to 15 seconds flying around the blind tight curves. UNFUN. As motorcyclists, we are very vulnerable to oncoming traffic (or any caged traffic). I was uptight BIGTIME worrying about Sharon behind me. (Even on easy stuff, I'm always glancing in the mirrors every few seconds to make sure I see that headlight following me.)

I had just gone through an S curve, and was on the inside lane of the right turn when a huge black Dodge Ram pickup blasted by me going way too fast for the conditions. I had a sick feeling for I knew that Sharon would be on the outside of the first S curve.

I glanced in my mirror to see the Dodge disappear around the curve. I waited for Sharon's headlight... she should be visible by now. Nothing. I slowed some more.... still nothing. I stopped. STILL nothing.

My stomach knotted up.

Immediately I spun gravel and pivoted a U-turn. Back uproad I went.

As I rounded the curve, the sight before me really got to me:

There in the ditch was Sharon's bike... nearly upside down. The Dodge pickup was stopped. Two young men were lifting Sharon onto the tail gate, one lifting her under the armpits the other lifting her by her legs. She looked limp.

"My God they've hit her!" Was my first thought. I immediately began to wonder how severe the injuries were... or worse. It was one of the most horrible feelings I have ever had to experience.

I slid to a stop to hear Sharon talking... so at least I knew she was alive. She was shaken. Really shaken... (scared, too) but nothing broken. Once I was able to quickly piece together the events, the Dodge had nothing to do with it. They had seen it unfold and stopped to render any aid that might be needed, including getting the bike off her and carrying her to the tailgate.

Sharon explained that she came into the curve a bit too hot... got into the marbles... and the front end tried to wash out. After a couple of swap outs, she caught it... had it straightened and slowing... but was running out of road. Momentum carried here slowly into the shallow ditch... however now under control again, she decided to ride it up out of the ditch and continue her way. That was the fateful decision. The deepening ditch won, washing her front tire out from under her, and she took a low-speed spill off the high side. Unfun. No broken bones, not even any real scrapes (aided by her protective gear)... but she was going to be SORE. That much I knew.

Breathing a HUGE sigh of relief that my Honey Buns was going to be okay... now it was time to give her some time to get the jitters out (me too!) and then, climb on the scoots and get out of this potential Killing Field known as Old Stage Road and hit the shower at our room for the night.

This we did.

However, this little incident would change our plans that we had made.

To Be Continued.

#22 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:50 PM

Frankly, I just wasn't "okay" with her riding so soon after a scary spill. (More for my sake than hers?) I knew she was already sore... and suspected that she could be even more sore the next day. Further, we had to do that Old Stage Road and it's fool traffic AGAIN tomorrow. (We were to reverse our route back to Victor, then take Shelf-Red Canyon back down to Canyon City.)

No, I was NOT okay with this at all. Plus, I felt Sharon needed a day OFF the bike so as not to push anything physically and see where we were at in regards to her soreness level.

Therefore, I made the decision to hot-foot it back to Canyon City via hiway 115, load my bike up on the trailer, and return to Colorado Springs to load hers up. We would then drive over to our next destination point: Pitkin, CO.

This I did.

The next morning, she was feeling better... still sore... but not as bad as last night. This was encouraging.

I was ready to scuttle the idea of riding the bikes anymore on this vacation, but she wouldn't hear of it and said she'd be fine and we should continue with our plans. Hmmm... I'll mull that one over.

In the meantime, it was off and away to our next destination: Pitkin. Along the way, we intended to do the Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge is indeed royal! We road the Skyway tram, descended to the bottom via the incline cable cars, and even walked out onto the bridge. The Royal Gorge is too much for words!!!

Here's a pic from the Skyway Tram. BTW, that tiny railroad at the bottom is a standard gauge railroad!



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#23 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:51 PM

And here's a pic looking UP at the incline we had just ridden down through that crevice. This thing has a 100% grade! That is, for every 100' it travels, it has descended 100'!

Amazing.

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#24 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:52 PM

And here's a pic of Honey Buns on the bridge. She's still smiling and gettin' around pretty good!

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#25 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:02 PM

As we traveled west on US 50, the road follows the Arkansas River through the canyon for miles and miles. It was a great portion of road to be traveling.

Soon, lunchtime rolled around. We stopped at about the only town out in the canyon: Cotopaxie, CO.

Here we were, out in the middle of a canyon... and what do we see? Two small bore motorcycles fully loaded with tents n' stuff: Adventure Riders. ("Adventure Riders" ride motorcycles that are capable of doing dirt, and pack along the things they need along the way. Typically, an Adventure Rider avoids as much pavement as possible.)

I had to find out who was doing some Adventure Riding.

Turned out it was this young couple (pic below). They had ridden those things all the way from Georgia... and were on their way to Oregon!! They had already been riding for nearly a month.... and was only about half way to their destination!

They were very interesting to talk to.

This is one of the neat things about being a biker, be it on road, off road, or whatever road... just being a biker opens you up to all sorts of neat encounters that only bikers experience! I've done this for 43 years, now... and I could fill a book with some of the neatest things I've experienced being a biker/motorcyclist. I can't imagine life without motorcycles... but I guess if I live long enough, one of these days it will be time to hang up the helmet. But until then... RIDE ON!

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#26 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:04 PM

The general store was very typical for and old general store, and has some great food. Took a quick pic of the inside as we wait for our vittals...

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#27 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:07 PM

Leaving Cotopaxie, the next towns of significance were Salida and Poncha Springs. We would be returning to Poncha Springs the next day aboard our motorcycles... but our route only had about 4 miles of pavement... the rest of the 60+ miles would be mountain passes.

As we climbed Monarch Pass, we begin to really see some gorgeous fall foliage. Though a cloud zapped the sun at the last second, this at least gives you and idea of what was unfolding before us as we headed toward Pitkin...

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:09 PM

Eventually, we ended up at one of our favorite Colorado towns: Pitkin!

Here we are in front of what will be our home for the next three days: Our own cabin. Inside is no TV, no internet, and no cell phone service. WE LOVED IT!!!! biggrin.gif

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#29 laming

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:15 PM

Does the name Pitkin sound familiar?

IF you know much about the Denver South Park & Pacific narrow gauge railroad, you KNOW what Pitkin was: The helper station at the foot of the eastbound grade to Alpine Tunnel.

Fortunately, many DSP&P artifacts remain in the area. This is one of the main reasons that Pitkin is one of my favorites... that and the gorgeous setting! (See pic below.)

Speaking of the DSP&P... here's the nicely restored depot (below), still sitting in the original location. See that dirt road heading up into the mountains? That's the roadbed! We'll be on that all the way to Alpine Tunnel before we leave Pitkin!

We were soooo PUMPED to be back at Pitkin.

BUT... there was a dampener to our spirits of the dampening variety: Rain was forecast for the next two days: 40% tomorrow (our Marshall Pass day) and 70% the next (our Cumberland Pass day).

Wonder how this will unfold???

To Be Continued.

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#30 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:02 PM

Kevin:

Very likely there are bike rentals in the region. The key words you want to use for finding the right type of bike would be "dual sport" and "adventure bike".

All:

Time to post another installment!


We had arrived in Pitkin Monday afternoon. According to the folks at the Pitkin general store, the weather news was not good. Tuesday (our planned Marshall Pass day) was calling for a 40% chance of rain.

However, the worst forecast was for Wednesday (our planned Cumberland Pass day): 70% and high at Pitkin in the 40's. This would mean the passes would be in the low 30's or lower.

Cold, we can do (we've done it many times). Wet, I can do. (I've done it many times... Sharon, not so many.) Cold AND wet: Not fun at ALL. The upside to this was that all day Monday at Pitkin had been mostly sunny and not a drop of precipitation. This on a 30% chance of showers.

Decision? Let's see what it's doing in the morning and decide from there!

Tuesday morning was dawning nicely... very few clouds in the sky. However, the temps were in the LOW 30's, with heavy frost all over the bikes... far different than at the lower elevation towns of Canyon City and Colorado Springs!


Here's a early morning view toward Alpine Tunnel from the back porch of our cabin...

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#31 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:09 PM

See those white looking porches above and below? That's heavy FROST. So thick it was slick, like walking on ice. (See the view below seen looking toward the Tomichi Valley.)

BUT...

The sky looked promising!

We decided to go for it. Marshall Pass, here we come!

Tuesday was to be one of our biggest rides. We would be leaving Pitkin and traveling over Wauntia Pass to near Waunita Hot Springs, then over Black Sage Pass to Sargents... then pick up Marshall Pass Road and run it to Poncha Springs. At Poncha Springs we would fuel and eat, then return via the same route. When the day would be finished, there would be about 130 miles of riding, with only about 8 total miles of pavement.

This decided it was time to wipe the frost off the bike seats, suit up, pack the stuff into my dual sport "fanny pack" (a large waist bag used to carry tools, and etc)... and get to it!

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#32 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:14 PM

Waunita Pass was the bomb! There were aspens all along the route... already turning flaming bright colors. The pics will NEVER do justice to the actual beauty of the experience... but the pics are the best I can do in order to share it with you!

Here's Honey Buns on Waunita Pass during one of our "awe moments" stops...

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#33 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:17 PM

One of the most amazing things about Colorado is how quickly the terrain changes. One minute you're riding amid aspens and spruce trees... then you round a curve... and boom: You're in black sage country!!

This is EXACTLY what happened descending the southern slope of Waunita Pass... we rounded a curve and suddenly the trees were behind us, and desolation lay before us! Welcome to black sage country!

Plus, after twisting and turning and riding tight switchbacks... all of a sudden you're on endless straights that seem to go on into infinity! Here's pictorial proof!

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#34 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:30 PM

After a few miles we passed by Waunita Hot Springs (and old hot spring spa was/is there)... and turned onto Black Sage Pass Road.

Oddly, I find that I also enjoy riding desolate looking country... it has a very unique "feel" to it.

For example, your sense of isolation is more pronounced. (Again, oddly, I enjoy such feelings when riding a motorcycle. In 43 years of riding, I have yet to have any experiences that were too "backwoods" or too "isolated" for me.)

In fact, I remember being on a solo trip on a way, way backroad aboard my Harley "Deuce" that I owned at the time. I was heading across the New Mexico high plains. There was ZERO human habitation as far as the eye could see from horizon to horizon (and hadn't been for many miles). Neither were there ANY vehicles (to be met or otherwise). There, out in the middle of nowhere (literally), I pulled off to the side of the road, killed the bike, removed my helmet and just sat there savoring the experience.

Eventually, way out on the horizon a vehicle was coming my way. When it got near enough to identify, it was another solo Harley rider. He slowed to a near stop and ask if all was alright. I replied that yup, it was MORE than alright and I was simply grooving to the experience. He smiled a huge understanding smile... and nodded in complete agreement. With that he throttled up and motored off.

Yup, I dig isolation!

Wait... I found a pic that I took during that above "isolation" moment. Here it is below. There was just as much nothingness behind the bike as there is in front of the bike! Awesome stuff.

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#35 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:36 PM

However, I digress... back to the story at hand! Below is a pic looking back toward Waunita Hot Springs.

By the way... do you notice something grey in the last few pics??

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#36 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:42 PM

Yup... you noticed: Clouds are moving in.

We had a bunch of miles ahead of us... so it was off for Sargents. The town of Sargents used to be a Denver & Rio Grande helper town. Engines and crews were kept here to help freights over the 4% grades of Marshall Pass. Marshall Pass was a LOOOONG pass. From Sargents over the summit and on over to the bottom of the grade on the west slope near Poncha Springs, it was over 30 miles with VERY LITTLE along the way. That was a lot of lonesome railroadin' right there!

We made a quick stop at the Sargents General Store... and it was off for Marshall Pass. Soon, we were climbing among the aspens and spruce again. We didn't take as many pictures along the way... for given the way the clouds were acting... we both had a sense of "urgency" about us!

Somewhere on the east slope...

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#37 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:45 PM

It really was a beautiful pass. We so wish we'd had bright sunlight and the typical Colorado azure blue sky to accompany us... but well... "you pays yer money an' you takes yer chances"!!

Here's a couple of poorly lit pics (one is a bit soft focused, even) that at least give you an idea of what beautiful country this is...

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#38 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:47 PM

We reached the summit, and stopped momentarily for a quick pic or two. The elevation at this point was 10,847 feet. That's gettin' on up there and was our highest pass on bikes to date!

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#39 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:49 PM

Just past the summit, there was a rest stop that we took advantage of. Nearby, there was an old railroad artifact that I have yet to identify...

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#40 laming

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:50 PM

From the same rest stop, looking back upgrade at the summit cut...

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