Ride West: Day 18. To Hot Sulphur Springs
As we left Westminster (Denver) at 8 am under a brilliant blue sky with the majestic Rockies looming before us, the good people of Colorado gave us an appropriate send-off as a half dozen colorful hot air balloons rose above the city to, I assume, wish us “Good Riding.”
The ten bikes that make up this year’s Twisted Riders Tour passed through Boulder, the holy site of my nativity, but we didn’t stop. The manger was probably gone anyway.
The ride up Boulder Canyon was good but it was Sunday morning and the road had more than enough cars on it to keep us at the speed limit. We headed for Estes Park and the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park where I once again broke out my senior pass and saved another $10.
The Park shows off the mountains to great advantage and all the Riders remarked repeatedly on the awesome beauty that literally met them at every turn. We stopped briefly at a visitors center, despite having its entrance road under construction and completely torn up.
On the way back to the main road Brian got caught up in some soft dirt on the shoulder and ended up in the ditch about three feet below the road surface. He kept his bike upright but the soft dirt wouldn’t allow for an easy return to the road. Four helping hands and a little Harley torque lifted the bike and it’s rider back to the road. No harm done, except to Brian’s pride. And it did give me something to write about.
We headed west through the park on US 34/ Trail Ridge Road, which goes over a pass at 13,200 feet, making it the highest paved through road in the United States. The road, built in the early 1930s to improve tourists’ visit to the Park, climbs 4,000 feet to its highest point. We stopped briefly at a visitor’s center near the top where the wind was blowing and the temperature was somewhere in the mid to upper 40s. Great views, though, because we were well above the tree line.
We went at a forced, leisurely pace down the mountains to the western side where we were still at 8500 feet when we stopped at the picturesque Grand Lake Lodge for a nicely done Sunday brunch. A short ride after lunch brought us to our hotel in Hot Sulphur Springs by 3 pm. Half an an hour later, seven of us were racing on the road at a much more aggressive pace up to and then down from Berthoud Pass (elevation 11,300 ft). I discovered pretty quickly that the 96 cubic inch Harley was not going to keep pace with the Hondas and BMWs but I didn’t lose too much ground. Today’s second ride definitely got the adrenaline flowing.
Tomorrow: Off to Basalt, south of where we are now.
“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”