Karla and John are up in Bozeman, MT at a work conference and they took two days up the scenic way on their bikes. I was very jealous! So, time to make a ride of my own to quell the feeling.
Having explored most of the pavement in the state that is within a days ride, I'm starting to flip through my 4x4 books and read up on the more friendly dirt roads in the area. Crooked Creek Pass from Eagle to almost Aspen caught my eye, so I hopped on Google for more information. Being I would be by myself, I didn't want to get myself in a situation I couldn't get out of solo. Loads of photos and even some youtube of the trail confirmed the Ninja and I would be just fine, and we were in for some spectacular scenery!
Up early to try and beat the afternoon thunderstorms. Here's the map:
Hit the road around 7:30am after chatting with Karla on the phone for a bit. Man, I had forgotten how beautiful I-70 is in the morning. The sun streaks through over the tops of the peaks, rarely hitting the pavement. I was thankful for my rain pants, heavier gloves and heated vest as I hit 45 degrees coming over Vail Pass.
Must say, every time I go through Eagle I wonder, why don't we live here? It's not very big, with great access to the mountains and a small town country feel to the place. It's not fancy, but not gross either. This weekend looked like they had a rodeo going on, there were a bunch of 20 something year old guys in the gas station with spurs on. All very authentic you know, lol.
After shedding my layers and having an apple at an Eagle gas station, I headed for the dirt. What a great spot of pavement making my way there, winding through small horse farms with impeccably kept houses. Yep, nice place.
Here we go! I knew immediately this was going to be good. Surface varied throughout the ride, I rarely hit third gear but it was all manageable and well worth the effort. Some traffic, but everyone was friendly and waved. Actually saw more dirt bicycles than 4x4s. Even followed a pair of ATVs for a while. Temperature stayed between 68 to 73 degrees, my favorite range. I'll let the pictures do the talking for a while.
Sylvan Lake was incredible! What a great little gem. Lots of offshoots with great camping spots.
Huge aspen groves back in here.
I hope you don't tire of pictures of aspens, cause I sure don't! Can you imagine what this place looks like in the fall? I intend on finding out.
Uninhabited historic cabin and barn
I didn't stop for a photo at the summit of Crooked Creek Pass, there were a bunch of folks there already. They were the first people who didn't waive back, so I opted to keep going...
I have no idea what is behind this gate, but I'm sure it's my dream home.
Back on pavement, came upon Ruedi Reservoir
On the other side of the dam, found this. Lunch time along the river!
Went through Aspen then to Independence Pass. One of my favorite paved passes in the state! Along quite a few bits it's a one lane road....
It was Sunday, so the summit was packed. I have plenty of pictures from there, so kept on going. Weeeeeeeeeeee (I need a pinwheel).
There's a good picture everywhere you look
At the bottom I found a new BBQ food trailer. Mmmmm BBQ. I wasn't ready to head home yet, so figured it was time to refuel. Yep, good rationalization for pulled pork. Really nice young ladies serving as well, two sisters probably 12 and 16 years old. Chatted a bit with two BMW riders from Charleston, SC. That had brand new sport tourers and brand new BMW motard gear on. They easily had more sunk into just their outfits than I had spent on my bike! Big smiles though!
Again, not ready to go home yet, so I headed over to Leadville and took a look at Mosquito Pass. Should have taken a picture of the pass, but I was too enthralled. It's too difficult to do with my Ninja, so eyes only. Here's a shot looking over Leadville, well worth the hour and a half detour.
Well, guess it was time to head home. I knew I-70 would be a madhouse, so I headed back the way I came and picked up 285. Some traffic there, but not bad. Last stop in South Park for fuel, 285 is a fast road (70mph + or you get run over) and lots of wind so your bike just gulps fuel. Hung out for a bit waiting for a storm ahead of me to stay ahead of me, and headed home! Didn't get a drop of water from the sky, but lots of wet pavement.
What a fabulous day, one for the record books.
Full slideshow, 61 photos.