Friday, June 13, 2014

Mike's Visit, June 6-8

Slightly out of order here, but want to get this up so Mike can see it and share the videos.

Everyone say "hi Mike!"

Mike is a friend of mine from the Honda ST motorcycle forum. Great guy, met him a few years back at Moonshine. He lives in Massachusetts and got a kitchen pass for a two week trip before his first baby is due. Karla and I were excited to hear here was going to spend a few days in Denver and jumped at the opportunity to host him. He arrived Friday night and headed out Monday morning. The weather was not very cooperative that weekend, but we still got to show him some great stuff.

Saturday Karla was spending the day with her mom, as she was headed back to PA Sunday morning. Mike and I were on our own! A reasonable 8:15am start and we were off for Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a lunch date to keep with two other riders in Estes Park that afternoon. If the weather held I'd take him back to Denver via the Peak to Peak scenic byway. It did! Well, mostly. Here's where we went (it seems the new Google Maps will not embed correctly into Google's blogging service... Irritating. Click the link if you want to see it):

We rode past the Coors Brewery, through downtown Golden and up Clear Creek canyon. Up I-70 for a few minutes then hopped off on 40 for Berthoud Pass. That was our first picture stop. I failed to get pics of Mike with my camera, just with his. DOH. So you'll have to tolerate what I have...

I used to ride a black ST1100 like Mike's... Man it makes my 650R look tiny!

Everything that goes up must come down... Heading this way next:

Beautiful farmlands on the far side of Berthoud Pass, coming up on the park entrance we stopped at Lake Granby for another photo:

Rocky Mountain National Park next! Highest continuous paved road in the US, pretty neat for an east coaster. Max elevation: 12,183 feet. (Go full screen and 1080p if you'd like. If you're not into country, mute!)

Our stop at the Alpine Visitor Center, the bikes had some rather stunning companions in the parking lot. Elevation: 11,796 feet.

(Stupid exit sign...)

Why hello.

More pretty friends... Quite a few being wrenched (worked) on...

Monstrous snowbank... See the Suburban?? Got what I hope is a great picture of Mike in front of it, but again, only with his camera. *grumble

The entrance to Old Fall River Road is usually here. The original road that came up. A great, single lane dirt track with amazing views and great pull offs. Unfortunately it was pretty much destroyed in last year's floods, the forest service hasn't announced any plans of getting it usable again. :(

Visitor center... Snow up over the roof in the winter:

Mike and this marmot discussed the meaning of life

There were some elk way off in the distance, the first Mike had seen. He was very excited, I had my fingers crossed we'd see more closer up at lower elevations. I was going to take him back behind town into some areas where you almost always see them this time of year. Come on Colorado don't let me down!

Rode a little higher and stopped to get some better mountain shots:


Enjoyed lunch at my favorite Estes Park watering hole, the Wapiti. It had reopened last month from the flooding, the place is mostly below ground so it really got hammered. Mike tried Rocky Mountain Oysters, an elk burger and a local brew. They all went down well! Lively conversation enhanced by the addition of two other members of the motorcycle forum who live just down the canyon from Estes Park. Good times! No photos (fail).

Our favorite cinnamon roll place, the Glen Haven General Store, had just reopened the previous weekend after rebuilding from the flood. It was my first time down into Glen Haven since all the water came through. Wow, the damage was still significant and a lot of rebuilding still to be done. I dropped some cash in the volunteer firefighter's boot and we got our rolls. Actually Mike bought them, thanks Mike! Ran into a local friend Linda too.

We got to see a nice small bachelor group of elk up really close! Again, no pictures from me *face palm. I'm sure Mike got some good ones though.

The weather was holding.. Barely... We opted to try Peak to Peak. It was pretty much dry but completely socked in! Poor Mike didn't get to see the views of the mountains and incredible 14ers, but I did point the signs out. Ah well, the road is fun and there was little traffic.

Mike's ST1100. Check out the windscreen... A massive PA pothole broke it, I dig the repair.

I might be a total dork, but I find this huge steam shovel in Nederland to be fascinating. It's the only one left of it's kind, and the only surviving shovel that helped dig the Panama Canal! Oh and the dang thing still works, making it the largest steam shovel still in operation in the US. Impressive.

Mike found one more his size:

Yeah, it's big

Got Mike's heart rate up a bit heading back to the house, I know every curve quite well so we made good time. Everyone say weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! Dinner at the house and I cried for mercy (aka my bed) at about 10:30pm.

Karla joined us for our ride Sunday, aim this time was to head south of town instead of north. A quick ride down to Sedalia to meet up with two other members of the ST forum, Brad (handle Grabcon) and his wife Anita. They both ride ST1100s too, it was fun to be around so many of them. Karla's bike is behind Mike's....

The plan was to ride the back way down to Colorado Springs, through Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, picnic lunch then another back way home. Weather made us boogie back after an indoor lunch after Pikes Peak, but we had spectacular weather at 14,000 feet!

A little waiting time at the entrance to Garden of the Gods, seems they were finishing up a road bicycle race.

Karla loves her bike and her one piece suit was handy on this foggy, misty, cool day.

A stop in the park was needed, I needed to call Pikes Peak to make sure they weren't snowed in at altitude. We were a go! Go go go!!

Pikes Peak was jaw dropping. I've never seen clouds like we did. A unique experience for sure, atleast for me and I've been up there plenty of times! The bikes behaved themselves as did the other tourists (well behaved enough). Go full screen and 1080p to enjoy the ride up and back!

The clouds up top. Yeah wow. That's Mike and Brad.

Hey Mike, go out there on a rock so I can get a picture!


High altitude awesomeness. That's the cog railway in the background (completed in 1891 and the highest cog railway in the world).

Love these Swiss diesel - electric rail cars.

Photobomb.... Must be the altitude!

Back down at the entrance we checked the radar... Well that's not good! Storm cell after storm cell were lined up coming right across our path. I knew if we stuck to the planned twisty route we'd get hammered with heavy rain and hail. Atleast if we took the interstate it'd likely just be rain and we'd be home sooner! We opted for lunch at a nice italian pizzaria in Old Colorado City (just outside the Springs). Once we were done it was starting to rain and we got wet the whole way home. Oh well! I think we were quite lucky to get up Pikes Peak, and man those clouds were worth the effort!

Mike went out east of downtown Denver to meet up with a friend, narrowly missing a tornado! He did get to ride through a few inches of hail, exciting I'm sure. Wouldn't be a Colorado visit without it! Back to our place for a late dinner, he headed out Monday morning. Enjoyed his visit and we welcome him back anytime!