This is the “real” Colorado:
July 1, 2016 – A long riding day, Part 1
Durango, CO – The rain was coming down steadily this morning as Hal and I packed up the bikes. After a quick breakfast from the deli at City Market (the last of it!), we headed out of town. The rain continued as we rode out of town on the sweeping turns of Hwy. 160. I had felt too hot while packing the bike to put a raincoat on when we left, and as the rain intensified, I wondered if I’d made a mistake. But, behind the big windscreen on the GS, I was barely getting wet, and the cool air felt great.
We rode to Pagosa Springs, fueled up there, sat in heavy traffic (as usual) waiting to get through the town’s one stoplight at the west end. It didn’t help that it was the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend. (P.S. Next year we are taking our road trip in early June!)
Just like last year, we rode toward South Fork over Wolf Creek Pass, but at South Fork, we kept going. At Del Norte, CO, we took Hwy. 112, then near Center, CO, we picked up the 285. I didn’t realize it, but highway 285 runs quite a distance. It starts south in Texas near the border with Mexico, goes all the way through New Mexico (we’ve ridden it many times), through a good portion of Colorado, and then disappears into the spaghetti mess of roads near Denver. We would be on the 285 for most of this riding day.
Once we went through Poncha Springs, the terrain grew more spectacular. We were near the mountains and they could clearly be seen. We were entering the “real” Colorado now, and I was excited for what lay ahead.
Hal and I rode through countless little towns, then stopped for coffee in Johnson Village. It was crowded. We could barely find a place to park our bikes; we found a little wedge near a sign that turned out to be designated motorcycle parking (the sign was really small). We didn’t need to fuel up at that point since we had already done so in Center, but we needed a coffee break. Hal got some coffee while I waited to use the restroom (the women’s line is always twice as long as the men’s!). Our bikes were almost blocked in by an idiot driving a Red Bull truck who was delivering product to the convenience stores on either side of 285. It was tricky getting out of the parking lot because of his antics, and the heavy holiday traffic, but we made it.
Farther up the road, we had planned to stop in Grant for gas, where we were supposed to pick up CR62, Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, but there was no gas in Grant. We wasted time going 11 miles up the road to Bailey, but we got fueled up, came back, and took CR62. When we first passed CR62, it looked scary to me, but I only had a moment to glance at it. It made me a little apprehensive. Luckily, it turned out to be the best part of the day when we returned to ride it.
Guanella Pass Scenic Byway:
Photo by Hal Korff
The scenic byway reminded me of the road near Silver City, NM that leads to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. CR62 was narrow with no center line, but the road surface was lovely, recently paved. It started out with a sedate climb, but then began to climb more steeply, with a couple of tight switchbacks.
Hal captures “my best side:”
We wound our way toward the clouds at Guanella Pass summit at 11,660 feet in elevation, then stopped at the top to take photos and enjoy the cold. Patchy snow surrounded us, and we were among the low clouds of an alpine environment! We gazed around us in awe, soaking up the beauty and scenery, then got back on the bikes and began the descent into the unique town of Georgetown, CO.
Next: More adventures as the day progresses