November 6th, 2004
The ride was proposed by Steve in the Sport-Touring.net, Region 3 forums. I spotted it by accident only because I was watching the Iron Butt section. It was to occur on Saturday which was only a couple of days away. It was a ride in to the mountains which I had been wanting to do for a couple of weeks. Since it all tied together, I decided to see if I could make the ride.
The night before I mounted the tail bag and saddle bags. Since we're heading up in to the mountains, I expected it to be a bit chilly. But it gets warm here too so I wanted the extra space to shed gear if necessary. I checked the first aid kit, the tire kit, I located the electrical kit and replaced the 15 amp fuses. I packed the wet weather gear, the electric gloves and thermostat and a scarf. A check of the tires and a quick cleaning of the face shield and I'm ready to head out in the morning.
The ride started at the Morrison Conoco. Hopefully there was only one or I'd be able to spot other bikes or it'd be amusing to say the least. I started out at 9:15 expecting it to take about 30 minutes to get to the meet. I arrived at about 9:45 to find 8 or so bikes already at the station and other arrived while we waited. Gas, bathroom break, a quick drink and introductions while we waited.
At a few minutes past 10, we saddled up and got ready to go. Since we're heading up in to the mountains, I got my electrics plugged in and verified they were working. I left them off since it was still reasonably warm. I stayed in second place the entire ride. I wasn't sure what the ride would entail. The HSTA rides I've been on (only a couple) were pretty agressive. Steve kept the pace pretty reasonable. There was quite a bit of traffic so double-yellow line passing wasn't advised any way.
We headed up 93 to Golden. Mostly a two lane road with a few lights which caught the group from #3 back just at Rt 70 so we paused a moment until they made it through.
We made a left on Rt 6 and headed up Clear Creek Canyon. Most of the way we were cruising behind a few cars. This gave me a chance to enjoy the bit of snow on the canyon sides and the rushing water. The tunnels were very cool and I downshifted in order to get some resonance. After tunnel 3, it started getting chilly. After tunnel 5 it looked like we could have passed however there was a cop sitting on the side of the road watching the tunnel. Good thing we didn't pass earlier. I'm not sure I wouldn't have had I been in the lead. Lessons to be learned.
We finally were able to pass and made the most of the tiny bit of freedom to carve some curves, even if there were only a few. One of the reasons I want to do more riding is to get more proficient with the sportbike. I'm getting the hang of making corners without wobbling the front end but I need more practice.
At the 119 light we made the left towards Idaho Springs. The light only let the car and two of the bikes through. We cruised up Rt 6 until it merged with 70 and then boogied up to the Mt. Evans exit. Steve moved to the right lane before the exit and slowed so that everyone was able to catch up. We made the exit and headed up 103.
There were two patches of ice on the left side of the road on the way up, then a longer patch and finally a patch that went across the road. Steve pulled off and we all followed. We had a roadside discussion and voted that, because of the patches we passed and that we'd have to come back down an unknown number of additional patches, we'd turn around at this point and head back down. Personally I think I could have continued without that much trouble so if I had the chance, I figured I'd come back and give it a try on my own.
We turned around and headed back to 70. Steve seemed to wave me by after the first bad patch of ice so I went ahead. I remembered where the patches were so slowed down for them and moved on down the road otherwise. Lots of fun there. I pulled off at a likely looking place to wait for everyone but saw Paris and Michelle on the V-Strom ahead in the commuter lot so I rolled down next to them. A few minutes later the rest of the group arrived. Steve said we were going to stop for lunch in Kittredge just past Evergreen.
Steve led off and we hit 70 east. We got off at the Evergreen exit which was a frontage road that crossed over 70. We headed off down Rt 63. This was the first 20mph turn and I wasn't prepared so I wobbled around it, got sort of prepared for the next one and was prepared for the following ones. I felt much smoother after being prepared. We made a right on to 74 and headed south. I recognized the Rt 103 turn and realized where I was. There was a bit more traffic. There was a partial sheet of ice on the lake at Evergreen. We made the left, avoided the bicyclists and headed to Kettredge.
A few minutes later we were at the BBQ place (Dave's Hickory BBQ). We got a table outside and several of us hit the bathroom. It was pretty funny. The waitress wouldn't recommend any of the BBQ since she doesn't eat smoked food. The Jalapeno burger I ordered was ok.
We chatted at our end of the table about various things. It's always good to chat about bike stuff and rides. Lots of interesting information was exchanged.
At the end, we all tried to figure out where to head off to. Since we seemed to be breaking up and heading our separate ways, I decided I was close enough to give Rt 103 a try again. The rest decided on places they wanted to be too and we bailed.
I headed back up 74 until I got to 103 and made the left. Nothing in the way of traffic while heading up and over Squaw Pass. There were a few icy spots but the things that caused the most trouble was the gravel and sand. Don't get me wrong. There were spots where there was only a tire width of clear asphalt but it was clear. At one place I was gawking at the snow covered mountains and the 4" or so of snow on the shoulders when the rear tire did a little dance. I got a bit of a rush but it didn't really cause any problem. Mainly the bike just letting me know who's boss.
When I got to the park road, there were less patches of ice but the road looked damper. I suspect that had it been colder, that'd be quite the problem for bikes. I got down to Echo Lake and the entrance of Mt. Evans and pulled in. The restaurant was closed as was Mt. Evans road. I snapped a few pictures and headed back out on to 103. As I passed Echo Lake, I could see someone walking around on the ice. I briefly considered stopping but there were half a dozen cars parked there so I didn't worry about it.
Coming down the other side of Echo Lake increased the amount of ice on the road. There were two or three spots where you could only coast through the ice. Fortunately there was quite a bit of sand and gravel embedded so I didn't feel any slickness or movement of the bike other than straight ahead. Still though, it wasn't that bad to me.
There was one 20mph switchback on the way down the other side that had a spectacular view of the way I came and the road below. With the surrounding mountains I just had to stop and get a picture or two. The rest of the way down was pretty clear. I came around one corner and saw the blue car on the side of the road and the stretch of ice we passed on the way up and realized the rest of the way up to Mt. Evans was pretty clear. I think we could have made it although one of the ice stretches might have been difficult going up since it's harder to coast while going uphill.
I got to the end of 103, gassed up, removed the extra gear and headed home. Rt 70 was backed up from the last Idaho Springs exit until just before Rt 6. At Rt 6, I peeled off to the left and headed back down Clear Creek Canyon. In front of me there was a small car with a fart box and in front of him, a camper. The camper looked to be trying to make some speed since he was weaving from side to side and going pretty fast. There was enough traffic that it was difficult to effect a safe pass. Finally I was able and jumped at the chance to be in front of him. Once I passed, he seemed to slow down (or I really speeded up).
At the intersection for Rt 93, I made the left and headed toward Boulder. Traffic was still pretty heavy with plenty of bikes out on the road. I was glad I'd shed my gear since it was warming up. At one point, I passed a couple on a Harley and unfortunately got behind a semi dropping clods of dirt and the occasional small rock. I wasn't able to get by him because of all the traffic until we turned on 128. I blew by him and enjoyed the rest of the ride home.
All in all, with the beautiful clear weather, the gorgeous views of the snow covered mountains and the great company, I had a great time. I'm looking forward to the next ride, hopefully soon.