Day 1 - To Steamboat Springs.
The first day of my 2015 Colorado mountain tour took me up Poudre Canyon, through Walden (nice- there was no wind through North Park), over Rabbit Ears Pass and into Steamboat Springs for dinner, a stroll through town and one night at the friendly Nordic Lodge. Tomorrow, a long ride (5.5 hr) to Crested Butte.
Day 2 - To Crested Butte
Left Steamboat Springs in sunshine, but quickly encountered clouds, rain and lightning on my way south. I encountered construction delays south of Kremling and again later on, but the twisty roads and beautiful scenery made it all worth it. Nearly killed by a truck passing between me and oncoming traffic in a "no passing" zone, but the adrenaline stopped pumping after 50 miles or so. Beautiful ride through Middle Park, cold and rainy over Monarch Pass, and cold and rainy (50 degrees) arriving in Crested Butte. Had a nice dinner at Ryce Asian Bistro owned by a nice Chinese lady (Gigi) from the countryside near Guanzhou. Turned in early to rest my back.
Day 3 - Crested Butte Backroads
Up early, breakfast at Cristiana B&B, then a 9am start for Taylor Canyon and Cottonwood Pass.
I took a dirt side road which (bye and bye), connected to the paved Taylor River Rd following the beautiful Taylor River for 15 miles to Taylor Reservoir. The road then changed back to washboard, potholed dirt, but the higher I climbed, the more impressive the scenery became.
20 rough miles later I climbed to Cottonwood Pass (elevation 12,126), on the Continental Divide providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
A wonderful day of riding!
Day 4 - Scary Trail Riding
Most beautiful and most difficult ride of my motorcycling career!
I started from Crested Butte, riding past Gothic (an 1800's silver mining, then ghost town, now Rocky Mountain Biological Research Lab).
Then the road on this 35 mile loop route (circling Mt Baldy and Gothic Mountain) began to get rough! Steep drops, rocky holes, 3 stream crossings and steep inclines covered with loose rock, were a bit challenging on my big, heavy bike (most other motorcycles I passed were dirt bikes half my size). I took it slow, learned a lot and wore myself completely out!
After Gothic, I passed Emerald Lake (big road washout, filled with large rocks which was very challenging to navigate), then came to Paradise Basin, and Paradise Divide (11,250 ft) with incredible views of the surrounding mountains - even distant views of the Maroon Bells!
After Paradise Divide, you drop down via a series of rocky hairpin switchbacks to the Slate River Road, which although still potholed dirt, seemed like a superhighway by comparison.
I learned to keep RPMs high, keep momentum at all costs, pick my route carefully and to let the bike do the work. Nonetheless, it was nap time when I returned to my B&B!
Day 5 - On to Glenwood
Riding from Crested Butte to Glenwood Springs via Kebler Pass (CR 12, dirt, but very well maintained road). Compared to the last couple days, this dirt road (closed in winter) felt like being on the freeway. Smooth, not many potholes or loose gravel and lots of pretty views.
Got to my hotel in Glenwood Springs, had a nice supper at Polanka (an inexpensive, traditional Polish restaurant serving pierogi, stuffed cabbage rolls and borscht), walked all over Glenwood to see the town and enjoyed the warm summer night.