Motorcycle Touring – Colorado Day 4

The storm from the evening below had blown through thankfully and we woke to brilliant blue skies and decided for an early breakfast to make the most of the day.  Were out on the motorbikes just after 7.30am and headed off to ride some of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway and over the Tennessee Pass which had stunning scenery and open, flowing motorcycling roads.

We arrived at a town called Leadville which is an odd name given that it is in fact an old silver mining town!?    We had coffee at the “Brass Ass Saloon” and ordered what turned out to be the biggest cinnamon bun we had ever seen!!  It only cost us $4 and ended up lasting over 3 coffee stops in total…… :-D    If you ever get that way we can highly recommend these – will keep any motorcyclist going for several hours!

could this be the largest cinnamon bun ??

could this be the largest cinnamon bun ??

On leaving Leadville we headed towards Buena Vista on highway 24 through massive plateaus with ranches scattered in amongst high mountains – one of the tallest ones we saw was Mount Princeton at 14,916 ft, we looked like two small dots riding along that stretch of road that’s for sure.  All was going well as we turned east towards Fairplay only to encounter a huge storm gathering ahead of us and we quickly decided that retreat was the best plan!

Would you ride into this?!

Would you ride into this?!

There are occasions when you are on any motorcycle tour that going back the way you came is the only option and so we retraced our way to Leadville although it was such a great riding road we didn’t mind and scenery always looks so different.  We came back to our hotel in Edwards on the I70 freeway as the rain clouds were gathering and the temperature had dropped.  It was a stunning section of motorway that’s for sure climbing to around 10,000 ft at one point  and offered great views of the Vail valley.

Not so many miles ridden on this particular day but it was packed with great roads, scenery and interesting people along the way – roll on the rest of the tour.

Motorcycle Touring – Colorado Day 3

As if drinking with bison on Day 1 was not enough, we encountered this sign when we sat out on the terrace at our hotel for breakfast….. El Rancho Colorado  kind of focuses the mind when you are about to set off on your motorbike!

We had a beautiful morning for riding, temps in the low 70’s and blue skies to accompany us as we rode to Empire which is home to The Original Hard Rock Cafe – fab coffee and cinnamon buns set us up nicely thank you.  Fully refreshed we rode over Berthoud Pass the opposite way to Day 2 and what a fantastic motorcycling road it is too.  We then took advantage of our pass for the Rocky Mountains National Park and had a great ride upto the high point of the trail ridge – pretty windy up there but worth it for the fantastic views as you can see from the photo below:-

2012-07-05 11.31.38   These blue skies stayed with us for our ride towards Granby and out of the park, but for the next hour or so we had a bad thunderstorm kicking off, fortunately always to our left – as any motorcyclist will appreciate thunder and lightning are never great for riding through!

We headed over Gore Pass which was a road tipped to us by Tom and Marnie who we had met at the foot of Mount Evans on Day 2 and it lived upto expectations – quiet stretch of road with flowing bends and hardly anyother traffic.  We joined route 134 and onto Edwards where we were staying for the next couple of nights.  Riding those last 60 miles was interesting as we had brilliant blue skies to our front and black storm clouds to our rear all the way.  Got our hotel and we just had time to shower and order our first drink in the bar when an enormous storm came rolling through with torrential rain.  When the other folk in the bar realised we were from the UK they cheered us for bringing the rain with us!!!! They had been desperate for wet weather as Colorado had been experiencing some terrible wildfires and this storm gave the residents from Edwards some hope.

As a footnote… – whilst we are always happy to oblige!!  we could not take the credit for the storm in Edwards and were rather hoping that it was the last one we would see over the next couple of weeks of motorcycle touring!!  ;-)

 

 

Motorcycle touring Colorado – Day 2

Following on from our previous post about our motorcycle tour of Colorado & Utah in July 2012 where we had dodged our first thunderstorm and drunk beer with a bison……!  We had a good nights’ rest and woke up to the 4th of July and joined many Americans enjoying their holiday by riding Mount Evans which is the highest paved road in North America at 14,260 ft and the stretch of road is 14 miles which present some awesome views as well as giving any motorcyclist a thrilling ride and with road signs like this one below you know you are going to have some fun on the road….

what more could a motorcyclist want?

what more could a motorcyclist want?

After a great ride to the top and back we stopped to buy a souvenir sticker and met Tom and Marnie in the car park.  They were local to the area and both ride motorcycles enjoying the roads as much as we were.  They very kindly gave us some tips on roads we should be checking out whilst on our tour and promptly gave us a map made by Butler Maps which are specifically for motorcyclists.  The maps are fully researched and grade the type of roads for you – well worth checking out if you are riding in America, we certainly put the map to good use and thank Tom and Marnie for the gift.

Before we left, the motorbike below pulled up into the car park……. we’ve heard of carrying a spare tyre before now, but an exhaust???  It had actually fallen off on his way to Mount Evans – guess he was one lucky Harley owner……:-D

Harley with Spares

We left Mount Evans and headed to the Peak to Peak scenic byway, it was a stunning road which followed a river for a large part of the way.  We passed through Casino city which is a purpose built gambling town in the middle of nowhere! Think Las Vegas but smaller (a lot smaller…. ;-)).  After a picnic near Estes Park we headed to the Rocky Mountain National park – $20 entrance fee but that was valid for a week and was worth spending as the views were stunning.

We returned via Berthoud pass which has large sweeping bends some of them with switchbacks – excellent for motorcycling thats for sure.  Rounded the day off with a mexican meal – ready to see what the next day would bring, and we’ll write about that next time.

 

 

 

Motorcycle Tour of Colorado & Utah

In July 2012, to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary we flew to America for 17 days of motorcycle touring around Colorado and Utah with a short excursion into Arizona for good measure.  We had the best of times on the tour riding fantastic motorcycling roads, seeing amazing scenery on each and every day and meeting wonderful people along the way.  We’d like to share our experiences with you in this blog and hope to “whet your appetite” for motorcycling not only in America but anywhere you choose to go……

Technically day 1 was the flight over there but this was the usual scenario i.e. check in at airport – board plane – eat, drink, watch films – leave plane – go to hotel, sleep and we kind of thought you would not be too interested in this bit :-D

So we’ll start this post with Day 1 being the day we picked up the motorbikes from EagleRider at Denver.  Beautiful hot sunny day greeted us and in no time we were at the rental place sorting out the paperwork and packing the panniers on the 2 BMW GS’ we were to be riding for the following couple of weeks.  Once packed it took us a little while to negotiate our way out of Denver – it seemed every stop light was on red for us and with temps rising to the high 30’s it was time to hit the open road!

We picked up the freeway first before heading off towards Lariot’s Loop which is around 20 miles of flowing road through a small canyon with enough twists and turns to bring a smile to any motorcyclists face:-D   We decided it was time for a coffee and headed towards the town of Evergreen arriving at a petrol station just in the nick of time as a thunderstorm erupted around us and within 5 minutes the forecourt was flooded – thankfully we were sheltering under the fuel station canopy…….not so lucky the Harley rider who came in a few minutes after us and he was soaked to the skin (still smiling though!!)

Dodging a storm in Evergreen

Dodging a storm in Evergreen

As we found over the following few days, the storms in Colorado disappear as quickly as they come and before you know it you are back riding on a dry open road feeling the warmth of the sunshine on your backs.  It then makes a cool beer at the end of the day all the more welcoming and on this our first day Jan got to drink her’s with an interesting companion…..(we don’t get too many bison in the UK!!!!!!)

Will let you know about day 2 and beyond in our next posting –

Beer with a Bison!

Beer with a Bison!

 

What makes you want to take your motorcycle test?

Yesterday one our followers on twitter – Livia Lucie from three29design.com passed her motorcycle test and is now very excitedly able to thoroughly enjoy motorcycling like the rest of us.  Many congrats to Livia and in particular for doing it at this time of year – the winter is never the best of times for motorbiking but then if she can pass her test at this time of year then the spring and summer months will be all the more fun!

Jan passed her test in March, 5 years ago now and learnt during the winter – never were so many thermals worn by one person :-D 

There were many starts to the lessons where severe frost was present, oddly though (for those who know Jan), there was no such thing as heated grips on the bikes she learned on!!!!  These days heated grips and handguards are a must…..!

With Livia passing her test it got us to wondering what made her decide to ride in the first place?  We all have various reasons and for Geraint it was “just something you did” as others in the family rode motorcycles.  There were two key reasons for Jan:-

  1. Geraint was taken ill in the depths of southern France on one tour and Jan had no idea how to even start the motorbike let alone ride it…….       The fact that we had to hand the keys over to a very friendly frenchman who kept it in his garage overnight whilst Geraint was checked out at the hospital added to Jan’s resolve to learn to ride.  (as a footnote – Geraint was ok in the end and we were able to carry on with the tour and as for the VFR – when we went to pick it up next morning the frenchman had washed and polished it for us).  :-))
  2. In 2007 we were touring in California two up and it was whilst riding from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway that Jan made her final decision to learn to ride.  Highway 1 along the pacific coastline is awesome and if you ever get the chance to ride your motorcycle along that particular stretch of tarmac….. do it!   That winter Jan took lessons and passed her test the following March.

We are sure you all have a variety of reasons for wanting to pass your motorcycle test – we’d love to hear from you – info@dragonmototours.co.uk

 

A UK winter ride-out

What a bonus for us this last weekend (5th & 6th Jan 2013), warm(ish!) temperatures and more importantly dry, when we woke upto blue skies on Saturday morning we had to ask the question: is this the UK and is it really only the first week of January??   Clearly time to get the motorbikes out of the garage and from under their winter covers and take them out for the weekend which is exactly what we did.

Our ride-out did have a purpose as we were meeting up with friends for an overnight stay in Mid Wales but this winter get together had originally been planned to be done in the car not on the motorcycles!  We headed off towards the Shropshire hills and Wenlock Edge which can be seen in the photo below and encountered very little traffic for most of the day which is always an added bonus.  We were very pleased though, to see many other motorcyclists out and about who had clearly had the same thought as others and thought it best to make the most of this unseasonal weather. :-D

Wenlock Edge 5th Jan 2013 2a

Our coffee stop for the morning was at The Old Wheelwrights Tearooms which is on the road to Clun and well worth a visit if you are ever riding that way.  We had a great welcome from Annie and we would like to say thank you for the warming cuppa and hot buttered tea cake!

We continued to make the most of the winter sunshine and rode some fantastic motorcycling roads around Shropshire and on towards our hotel which was in Llandrindod Wells and is where we will be staying for our weekend motorcycle tour in May 2013 (details can be found on our tours page).

When we got out to the bikes on Sunday morning it had rained a little overnight but the blue skies were coming through and we had a great ride home through the Welsh borders.  A great weekend of motorcycling and we didn’t mind having to spend an hour washing the muck of the bikes when we got home – it’s all part of the joy of riding two wheels after all.

Let us know if you managed to get out and about this weekend and we hope you had as much fun as we did.

More on motorcycling in the Pyrenees

Our last post about the Pyrenees prompted a reply from Jon who remembers a particular road on that motorcycle tour, the N260 south of Andorra.  Whilst Jon has that on his list of favourite riding roads, we know that there are hundreds (if not thousands!), of others which you may have.  If you’d like to share them please either comment on this post or e-mail us at info@dragonmototours.co.uk and we can share them with others via our facebook page.

On that particular trip, our motorcycle ride to Andorra was an interesting one given that the last few miles descending into the valley were in thick fog.  It was so bad we ended up following the red tail lights of a small white van for most of the way as it had soon become obvious that he was local and knew the twists and turns of each of the bends we encountered :o)  Next morning, however, we woke to brilliant blue skies and decided it was well worth riding back to the road to see what we missed…….. it turned out to be a fantastic motorcycling road with panoramic mountain views and a series of bends and curves any motorcyclist would love:-))  The slightly hairy bit was the thought that the previous evening we had ridden that virtually “blind”!

Another great memory of the day we rode to Andorra was our lunch stop.  There were 6 of us riding that day and it getting near time for a break but we’d seen no sign of a restaurant for several miles when we spotted a rather battered sign for a cafe a couple of miles ahead.  We rode upto it and it just looked like a typical french Tabac with a couple of stools and a coffee machine next to a very well stocked bar.  We asked if we could have 6 coffees and whether they could do us some baguettes – the lady behind the bar responded by asking if we would like to have a full lunch instead and led us in the direction of the back of the bar, over a tiny wooden bridge and into this beautiful restaurant located in the garden which turned out to be full of locals enjoying excellent french cuisine – we were in!!!  The food was excellent and came to the equivalent of around £8 for 3 courses including drinks – probably the best herb omelette and frites in France:-D

As we have said before, it’s days like those which make you very happy and when you are riding your motorbike at the same time its even better.