My apologies for the long delay in the write-ups… it’s been a great, busy holiday season, so without ado, here goes the next part of the trip

As morning broke on Colorado, I stepped outside of the motel to find a light drizzle coming down, put my rain gear on and headed off. Stopped to refuel, and headed East on I-70 for a short while to get off on US-6, which made a loop heading southwest, and down towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
I noticed the weather just got worse with more dense clouds, and colder and colder temperatures, finally checking the GPS to see what my altitude was, and I found I’d already crested 10,000 feet elevation, before 7AM. No wonder I was so cold.

The road led me back down in elevation, through several charming little towns going about their mid-week business, all quiet and charming. I followed several highways down along Colorado State Route 50, which turned into US-50, chasing a duelly truck for miles, figuring he was a local, and since he was going a TAD bit faster than me, he’d sweep up any possible cops up ahead, waiting in the drizzling morning. Eventually I branched off towards Gunnison National Park, where the hillsides sheltered somewhat from the low-lying clouds.

Turning off US-50 onto SR-92, my fuel light came back on, and I checked for the nearest gas station, which said 37 miles away, so I put it in, figuring I could make it no problem. Once routed, it was 46 miles away going through the windy road that went across the mountain. I dropped a gear or two, and putted through the damp windy road at 3500 RPM in order to milk more mileage out of the tank. I didn’t stop for pictures here as the mountain was blanketed with thick clouds, so my visibility was limited, though I was able to see a whole group of young deer grazing just off the side of the road – thankfully they didn’t move when I went by.
Finally making it to the next town, and gas, (I’d been sweating bullets for the past hour wondering if I’d be able to make it to the gas station) I ended up putting 4.42 gallons in my tank. The manual states the bike holds 4.3. Pretty sure I made it there on fumes, and not wanting to risk running out again, I decided to fill up the 1 gal can of gas I had strapped to the bike in case I came that close to running out again.

The road next took me along SR-133, which lazily followed a river, and where most of the locals were out for their weekend ride. This was the first time since I’d left home that I’d even seen sportbikes, and almost all of them were riding without helmets. Just can’t get over the fact people let all the road debris hit their face.

SR-133 branched at SR-82, towards Independence Pass. The road led me through Aspen, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The town greets you with an airport filled with private jets, no less than three local cops parked on the road enforcing the town’s 25mph speed limit and “no cruising” law. Downtown Aspen was even worse; clogged with spotless Land Rovers and Mercedez G-Wagons, I figured they were the locals who had driven their “utility vehicles” out of the garage to go preen downtown. You couldn’t even smell the mountain air anymore over the cologne and perfume of the douches walking along the streets. It was like the pretentiousness of the west side of Los Angeles, all over again. I hated it.

Passing through the three blocks of downtown Aspen cemented my conclusion to never bother snowboarding in Colorado. Utah has plenty of places with epic snow to go to.

As I pulled out of town, the road wound through a few more houses, before finally going right into a little forest, before the tarmac ended altogether, and the road was packed gravel. I figured it had to be easier for the CO DOT to maintain a gravel road than deal with the thaw and freeze of winter at these elevations.

I kept getting right on the tail of the GS1200 who I found along this road, and he’d wave me by, since he was going a staggering 20mph, but since we were both stopping to take pictures, we ended up leapfrogging each over about a dozen times. I found it pretty amazing to be riding through a forest of these aspen trees. I’d only seen them in Ansel Adams photographs, but never in person. Just beautiful.

The road eventually climbed from about 9000′ around Aspen, to about 12,000′ as it headed towards Independence Pass. I stopped to take a picture of the valley I had just come through, with a small river snaking through it.

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Peaking at Independence Pass, I stopped to take a picture at the mandatory sign, and had an elderly couple ask me to take their picture with the sign. They were wearing thin polos and khaki shorts, both shivering uncontrollably. I think I saw them sprint like gazelles back to their RV as soon as I handed the camera back. I hopped back on the bike and began descending in elevation, down towards I-70 below.

The road finally branched off at US-24, then SR-9 heading up towards the interstate, as the road followed yet another river, through several coal mines, loading rail cars right along the highway, and finally these giant sentinels, welcoming and saying goodbye from the mountain pass.

Finally reaching I-70, I jumped on it for about 30-40 miles heading East, as my destination now was Idaho Springs, CO, and towards Mount Evans. I stopped for a picture at the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is supposed to be the highest elevation vehicle tunnel in the world.

It was a good 20 degrees warmer inside the tunnel than it was outside. I enjoyed the temporary warmth, and was happy to see the sun was breaking through the clouds onto the interstate on the other side of the tunnel.
It was here I hit a traffic jam, with all the lanes stopped. I was about to say “screw it” and just lane split like back in CA, but decided not to, and not 2 seconds later, I see a Sheriff’s car 2 vehicles in front of me. Come to think of it, what could he have really done to try and follow me? Oh well, better safe than sorry.

10 miles later, I exited to Idaho Springs, which looked like a charming little town, complete with brewery and little boutique shops. Too bad I didn’t have time to stop and look around. I headed up the road to Echo Lake, and jumped onto SR-5 towards the summit of Mount Evans. The whiteboard at the entrance to the road mentioned it was 36F at the top of the road. I put on my rain coat just for an extra layer to have on.

14 miles later, and several great views later, I crested to the top of the road, at 14,168 feet, passing alpine lakes and meadows along the way. It was indeed, quite cold and quite windy up at the top of Mt Evans. You could even see Denver, 60 miles away off in the distance. I laughed as I took pictures off the side of the road while moving up SR-5, since Kenny had joked in California how I was doing it “off the side of a cliff” when really it was just a lazy slope. This hillside was more applicable to his exaggerations.

The view from the highest road in North America

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Heading off once more, the bike hesitated to start for a moment, but a small blip of the throttle gave the mixture enough oomph to fire the engine up in the thinner air. I’d hate to think how poorly a carburated bike would perform at that altitude.

I descended SR-5 again, back through Idaho Springs, and a short jump West on I-70 again to US-40, which on the map, had an awesome section of switchbacks, which I wanted to take a picture of, but found they were actually too big to take a picture of from the top. I did find this aerial picture of the road to illustrate what it was like:

I had several cars attempt to “keep up” with me, since I was going maybe 5-10mph faster than everyone else (the uphill section was 2-lane, downhill was one lane) but I kept losing them since they couldn’t maneuver around traffic as easily as I could. There’s nothing at all redeeming about cars, is there?

Cresting at 11,000 feet, the road started to come back down, and led through a few towns, one which was having a War Veteran’s rally, and the main drag was choked full of Harleys and slow moving everything. Luckily I saw on the GPS there was a road behind the main drag where I could bypass everything, and it got me through that town quick and without issue. I suddenly wondered if there would be rooms available where I wanted to stay, but as the road listed it 20 miles away I figured I’d be OK since most rally types wouldn’t ride as far as 20 miles to go barhopping.

Finally reaching Granby, CO, I pulled into what looked like a decent motel, asked the clerk the rate, and got a room. As I was turning to leave the office I asked him “you guys have wifi, right?”
He chuckled. “Hell, we ‘aint even got telephones.”

So I unpacked my stuff, went to dinner where I shivered all through it, and when I came back, 2 harley guys were lounging outside their room.

“Bike’s kinda dirty, isn’t it?” they said gesturing to the RSV.
“Yeah, three 500 plus mile days of rain, off and on. I notice your bikes didn’t get dirty coming all the way from that trailer over there.” I said gesturing to the enclosed trailer 20 feet away with “Chopper This” and “Custom That” on the side.

They both looked into their beers for a witty reply, but found none.

Went inside, where I finally warmed up with a nice hot shower, checked over the next day’s route, and went to bed.