Day 1 and Day 2 - Travel Across Iowa and Nebraska
Day one of our second trip to Colorado. I-88 was under a lot of construction so we held onto Route 30 through most of Illinois. We then jumped onto I-80 and stayed on that to Nebraska. The temperature was hot, in the upper 80's. Around 488 miles on day one.
Day two was another long haul on the highway. Lunch was at a truck stop, always a good choice in my book.
Day 3 - Mt. Evans
Day three was our first really interesting part of the trip. Finally in Colorado, our overall riding today was a lot shorter. We hit up Mt. Evans, a peak at 14,270. The ride up was slow, but spectacular. You definitely felt yourself get short of breath, As we hit up the mountains you had the large temperature swings that you would expect. 54 degrees up on the peak and around 90 degrees town in the valley. This was the first taste of what was to come for the trip and Mt. Evans had one of the best views.
Day 4 - Guanella Pass
Coming back to Guanella Pass. If you recall from my previous trip, we rode through this pass in the middle of the rain when it was freezing cold last time. The weather was substantially better this time around and we really had an opportunity to enjoy the pass. The scenery was gorgeous.
Lunch was at a great roadside pizza joint down in Georgetown. Dinner was at "The Goat", a fun restaurant that had some great cocktails. I had a weird meet-up with a drunk guy in the parking lot of a hardware store after dinner when I had to run and get some small screwdrivers. Hey went on and on about a general from Cheyanne whole loved to ride BMW motorcycles. It got to the point where he kept talked to me and I just started to get on my bike, start it up and then roll away.
Day 5 - Black Canyon National Park
Day five was our first National Park. The weather was really good, but cold in the morning. We picked up some bagel sandwiches to picnic at the park, which ended up to be a great choice. When entering the park we descended down into the valley for lunch and the road was in very poor shape. Probably the roughest ride I have been on and we were only traveling about 5 mph. The second half of the day was on the rim of the valley, viewing several of the scenic outlooks. One required our group to walk 600 meters and lets just say some of the "old timers" found it to be a bit of a struggle.
That evening we ended up in the town of Ouray, which was a gorgeous mountain town. I want to revisit this place again and perhaps see some of the off-road sites it offers. It was a quaint, mining town converted to a tourist town set right in the mountains. A really great place.
Day 6 - Million Dollar Highway and Four Corners
Day six had us riding on the Million Dollar Highway. There was quite a bit of construction early on coming out of Ouray, but it did end up to be one of the best riding experiences on the whole trip. Really great views.
We then continued to our furthest point southwest to visit Four Corners. The scenery change was dramatic from the forested mountains to the desert. It was still just as pretty though. Four Corners itself was a tourist trap, but the monument was a bit unique.
That evening we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant which really hit the spot. Great food and a fun time.
Day 7 - Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park was gorgeous. Not a huge park, by some standards, but it is one of the most unique historical sites I have ever seen. I would love to come back her to do some hiking and to get up close with the ruins. I have never seen anything like these before. After the park we rode our way back through Durango towards Salinda. We caught our first bit of rain going through Wolf Pass. I recall that Brett chose not to put any rain gear on and I found myself laughing out lout to myself in my helmet as I could feel the heavy, stinging rain hitting my helmet.
After the long day of riding we decided to order some pizzas and call it a night.
Day 8 - Pike's Peak
Pikes Peak is one of those rides that I hear everyone has to do, but it was probably the most disappointing experience of the trip. The ride up was incredibly slow and it was full of traffic. I would almost say that our morning ride through the flatlands in southern Colorado were a more enjoyable visual experience.
The view on the top of the peak was impressive, but rain was moving in quickly while we were up there. Conditions went form clear to completely engulfed in a matter of minutes.
Lunch was at a great diner. The rest of the day was a long haul out of Colorado.
Day 9 and 10 - Rain in Nebraska and Iowa
The last couple of days were back on the highway through Nebraska and Iowa. We made it to Council Bluffs, Iowa on our first run from Colorado. A lot of rain in the afternoon. Everyone's gear was soaked through. Dinner was a quick run across the street to the truck stop. Pasta was surprisingly good and it was actually really quiet in the truck stop too.
Our last day on the road was a brutal slog. The weather was abysmal and the conditions were very windy and rainy. It rained hard the entire time and everything was wet. Thankfully we were headed home at this point, so as soon as we rolled in (late) I'm sure everyone collapsed, and took a hot shower.
Overall a great trip. I was impressed at how well we moved and kept our pace, considering we were such a large group of riders. I had a great time.