Quick trip: Austin to Denver - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quick trip: Austin to Denver

Here's a little ride report basically cut-n-pasted from another board I frequent. I made a dash up to Denver, then off into the dirt for a 2300+ loop in 5 days of riding on the V. Fun!

After about 48 hours notice, I got the green light to take this little trip, and blasted out of Austin on Friday morning a couple weeks ago. Getting out of town was a piece of cake - no traffic at all. Once I put my feet on the pegs in my driveway, I didn't put them down again until a quick gas stop in Cisco, Texas. It was cool, too, so I was using the outer layer on my pants and jacket. Those stayed on until Albany, Texas, about 11 am.

I stopped in the Kent County General Store in Jayton for lunch, and sat by an inquisitive 6-year-old named Sissy. By now, it was hot. 102° F to be exact. Started up Highway 70 - a road I really like, and zipped up past the east side of Caprock Canyon State Park, then over to Amarillo, and north right on out of Texas. The sun was getting low, and the winds that inevitably blow in north Texas kept pushing. So I pulled into Boise City, found a motel and a Mexican restaurant, then enjoyed a cold beer in my motel room before conking out.

Highway 70 north of Turkey, Texas


Oklahoma state line


I'd made good distance on Friday, so Saturday would be easy. Still, on those long, straight roads, it's kinda hard not to just whip along without stopping much.

I stopped roadside long enough to find a couple small dirt roads off of Highway 287 just for the **** of it. Mighta been private ranch roads, but no gate and I never left the road, so I think all is well with that. Then, I just kept blasting into Denver. Checked into the cheapest model Priceline could point me at, then got outa town and into Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge for a look at bison, geese, and gravel roads. Quite a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon after 922 miles on the road.

Colorado state line


Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge


Sunday was darn near bikeless. I moved residences to the hotel that my wife was staying at for a conference, then we just diddled around Denver.

(no photo)

Monday, the wife was in conference meeting all day, so I got back on the bike, headed to Pikes Peak and rode up the mountain in fits of snow flurries. A park ranger said the air temp at the peak was 34° F, and that makes sense as the snow didn't last too long on me, the bike, or the ground. The winds were whipping snow off the roadside snowdrifts, making visibility really poor. But, I was mostly dressed for the occasion, so after a quick warm-up in the Glen Cove visitors center, I pounded my way to the summit. Visibility up there was really bad, so I missed those stunning views of the valleys below. I met a couple riders from Chicago and we chatted a while, thawing out and eating a bit, before the dash back to the relative lowness of the surrounding roads. 14,110 feet at the top, 7600 at the bottom. On the way back to Denver, I could see really dark clouds ahead - and ended up riding right into them. First, gentle, cool rain. Then seriously hard, driving rain. Then light hail. Then torrents of small hailstones that caused me to pull off I-25 onto the shoulder for a bit. 5 or 10 minutes later it had dwindled to just a drizzle, and off I went.

Road up Pikes Peak


Snow accumulating on my bike while I hid inside and warmed up


The other guys silly enough to ride 1000 miles for a ride in the snow


But it sure was nice in on the lower stretches


Then, time to head back home on Tuesday. I'd just planned 175 miles or so from Denver to Caņon City, which was mostly easy, fast dirt roads. Platte River Road, then Rampart Range Rd. Then some very nice pavement. Then Phantom Canyon Road. All were stunning. Platte River Road paralleled Platte River (clever road namers, right?) and twisted through the river valley. Quick left onto Pine Creek Road which was seriously steep, then a small pavement stint on 67 before a decently long dirt run down Rampart Range. There were a bunch of folks camping along the roadside, and really fun looking single-track bike trails all around the northern section. Great fun. Only saw one or two cars on the road and one KLR. Then pavement on 67 through Cripple Creek, into Victor, then dirt again for Phantom Canyon, which included a couple small tunnels, several cool wood-over-steel bridges and about 1000 turns. That dumped me into Caņon City, where I snagged a quick sandwich, motel room, then struck out again to see the Royal Gorge. Quick stint there, road the bike across the amazingly tall bridge, then back to town right at dark to sleep sleep sleep.

Platte River Road


Rampart Range Road


Nice little view off Rampart Range Rd


Quirky little Cripple Creek


Phantom Canyon Road


Largest of the Phantom Creek Road bridges


One-lane wide hole in a rock


Stupendously tall bridge


Requisite photo of my bike at the mid-way point on Stupendously Tall Bridge


Holiday Model, Caņon City, Colorado


Day two of the return was all about miles. I needed to get back at a sensible hour on day three, so I needed to get into Texas today. So, throttle opened early, and stayed that way for a while. Mileage suffered, but it was fun! Got into New Mexico just after breakfast in Colorado City, cruised past Angle Fire and Mora and into Las Vegas. I gambled (ha ha) on a little cafe and pretty much came up craps - I was there nearly an hour for a BLT. Back on bike, point it east, open throttle. Highway 104 out of Las Vegas is impressively flat and straight. Until it isn't. There's one little section where you drop about 1000 feet in just a few turns. I passed to big groups of Harley at roadside stops on both sides of this little twisty bit. At both stops, there were trucks pulling huge, enclosed trailers. Do folks really trailer Harley's? Anyway, just after that, a section of 104 was apparently being re-chip-sealed, only they'd forgotten the "seal". I hit gravel over an inch deep, covering over what had seemed like perfectly acceptable highway surface, at about 50 or so mph, and my blood pressure shot as high as Pikes Peak. Not fun, so I turned around, detoured on I-40 (only slightly less not-fun) until I turned south for Clovis. And Texas on the other side of that. Into Levelland a little after dark for more Mexican food and a cheap motel.

Greenhorn Highway, 165 south of Caņon City


Highway 159, leaving Colorado


Lush grasses outside Mora, New Mexico
(no photo due to 20 photo limit)

104 sans turns
(no photo due to 20 photo limit)

Dinner stop in Levelland
(no photo due to 20 photo limit)

Nothing much to speak of after that. Got up before sun-up to get in gear and back to Austin. I did think it was funny to see the sun rising directly behind me as I left Levelland - the sun seldom rises from the north. Back into Levelland, then turn SOUTH on 385, and stay that way for a while. 137 in Brownfield, 87 in Lamesa, then 71 in Brady right into Austin.

A bunch more photos are over here, for those still paying attention. I think the route I ended up with was pretty much perfect for what I was looking for. And all with 48 hours leadtime. 2300 miles in total. 33 mpg was my most fun tank, 56 the laziest.

I did just about the whole dern ride without the GPS, sticking to turn-by-turn's I'd written up the night before:

(no photo due to 20 photo limit)

I really prefer this to relying on the GPS - it keeps me looking up, watching the road and intersections more and generally paying more attention. I had the route in my phone, mounted on the bike, but only used in when I was clearly not where I thought I should be.

(10000 character post limit??? First time I've run into that problem)

Cheers, Jeff
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 02:40 PM
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Nice! I love Caņon City, my dad and I are trying to head down there at some point.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 03:11 PM
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Outstanding! Looks like you had a great trip.

Can't wait to take a trip on the V. Unfortunately we don't have any scenery quite that nice around here.

"Negative Ghost Rider the pattern is full."
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2013, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for sharing
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-15-2013, 05:41 PM
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Yeah!
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 01:16 AM
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Great story and photos, but I can't t believe I read the words "Austin" and "no traffic" in the same sentence! It must all hide somewhere waiting for me to pass through town.

Arion

"Plan? Plan! There ain't no plan."
Pig Killer, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 06:26 AM
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Dude . . .. you the man!!!!! Very nicely done. Thanks for posting. These kinds of post/stories/photos inspire others. And to be an "inspiration" is a good thing. We are sooooo fortunate to live in a country where (as you pointed out) with about 48 hours notice, we're rolling out on 2300 mile adventure that takes us from desert to snow and back.

And a note to others, obviously "Jeff S" keeps his V "ready to roll."

A big "tip of the hat" to you, Jeff S!

I'll be strapping the wife to the chair in front of the computer and "requiring" her to view this post!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 07:26 AM
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Some good photos there, makes me want to ride up that way to get out of the Texas heat/humidity.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, all, for the kind words. It sure was fun, and I'm already thinking about the next one...

Cheers, Jeff
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2010 Versys
SW-Motech crash bars & bash plate
SW-Motech quick lock rear rack
Two seahorse 720 cases / panniers
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 11:14 AM
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Awesome ride report and some really great pictures. What an adventure!

Always trust your cape.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 12:31 PM
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Austin and no traffic,, he should have stared his post with once upon a time in a land far away..
still a great post and cool trip..
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