Today was all about riding. I had ridden all of these roads on my trip here in 2009, but it rained horribly and was foggy. I didn’t get to enjoy them much then as many times I could only see 20 feet in front of the bike. A bit exciting on mountain roads. The sign above was posted just north of Durango on US-550 which is one of my favorite roads.
The weather cooperated nicely, and my heated coat kept me warm. It was a bit chilly so early in the morning especially at altitude.
What is there to say about twisty mountain roads in Colorado that hasn’t already been said? They were steep, tight, and narrow. No guard rails or shoulders in some sections, so no room for mistakes. The traffic was light, and most of them knew how to stay on their side of the double yellow. Several were confused; they were from Oklahoma. In a shorter version, motorcycling paradise.
I found the roads easier to ride on this trip than I remembered. The lack of rain and fog probably helped, but I felt much more confident as well. I guess experience helps; I’ve put about 40,000 miles on my SV since I bought it four years ago. I wasn’t thinking about riding, so much as just doing. Completely in the moment. It was nice. The one thing I am still working on is to hold focus deep in the corner. I have a tendency to inspect the oncoming traffic and sometimes (1%) pulls me a tad closer to them than I’d like. Look where you want to go! (and keep looking there). Instead I’m using my periphery to look at the cars while keeping my attention on the corner until I’m pointed there, and then I begin looking for the next one.
The section of US-550 between Silverton and Ouray is fantastic. It is the only stretch of road on this entire trip (10,000+ miles) that I intentionally rode more than once for pure pleasure. I enjoyed it; everything just clicked.
After Ouray I went east on US-50 to US-24.
I had forgotten how brown some parts of Colorado are. Even with the evergreens, there was brown underneath. It felt like Arizona with mountains. The long straight stretches in between the passes was also tiring. Maybe I put too many miles on today (almost 400 again) or that I was just distracted by the brown ground everywhere. Or maybe I miss the lush green of the Oregon coast. The mountain roads in CO are very fun. I need to come back more often.
My lunch spot was infested with lots of little birds. They didn’t like me stopping and kept dive bombing me. I moved. It was just too distracting to eat there with a couple dozen birds flying at your head. The wind was quite brisk, so they had a hard time getting to close without being blown away. If you squint, you can see their beaks poking out of their nests.
Monarch Pass at just over 11,000 feet is my new highest elevation. I hope to break that tomorrow – weather permitting. I crossed it in 2009, and this time was much easier. No snow on top either.
I tried to recreate a pic I made last time I was here.
I got a room in Manitou Springs. I visited it on my last trip, and said I would stay there the next time I came. I did.
At the other motel down the street, I found three bikes from Minnesota. Who’d have guessed? All these weeks and thousands of miles, and I see another MN bike in CO first.
After all the riding today, I decided to treat myself and not cook. I mean boiling water takes a lot of work! haha. The food at the restaurant was very tasty.
Lots more mountain pics in the full album below.
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