I've done the ride several times before and was on the fence about doing it again. However, some friends of mine did some "strong" arm twisting and I decided that it would be fun and agreed to go.
Unfortunately, the five peaks are usually close--like my next door neighbor, so riding is involved. I am not complaining about riding--rather, the time of the morning to get up and out the door. I think my time up was 4:00 am and I was out the door by 4:45 with my Nelson Rigg RiggPak Touring Bag securely fastened on my sissy bar and set off to meet my friends Cindy and Jamie. It was a little chilly, but my jacket and helmet kept me pretty toasty.
Fortunately, the Ladies of Harley (LOH) had coffee and muffins available. I registered, drew my poker card and then chatted with a few hundred of my other friends. We mixed and mingled and I was once again reminded of the fellowship of the biker community.
We picked up a few others who asked if they could ride in so we ended up with six riders. One had never done group riding and another that had never done riding up in the mountains. We explained the mechanics of group riding as well as safe mountain riding and lastly stressed that their ride was theirs and not to attempt to ride beyond their capability. If they got separated, then they need not hurry, the lead would slow and wait.
Pulling out, the first mountain pass was Juniper Pass. Located southwest of Idaho Springs, Juniper Pass has an elevation of 11,043 feet. The ride up to Juniper Pass was lovely--we decided to stay off most of the interstate and just meander "that-a-way".
One of the advantages of living in Colorado is the beautiful mountain scenery and roads to ride. Unfortunately, we have to share those roads--not only with cars, motor homes, trucks but also with bicycles. Being summer time means that the many bicycle races are taking place as well. As I pass them, I say a small prayer of thanks that cruising up the mountain roads means I only have to twist the throttle.
Once at the top, we visited with other groups and chatted about the traffic. We also had a discussion about our group dynamic--how we could make the riding experience better for the less experienced. The leader also apologized for her need for speed--and we all quickly said that if she had it--then use it and we would catch up at the top/bottom!!!
From Juniper Pass, the next stop was Berthoud Pass. At 11,350 feet, Berthoud is a memorable ride. From Empire, the route goes up to Winter Park. It's a great ride, but can be a little scary for those that are unaccustomed to riding in the mountains. This is one road that does not have guardrails and the switchbacks are tight. Fortunately, there were to bicyclists...as a matter of fact, we saw only a few bicycles from this point to the end.
Once at the summit, it was back down the same way. I so love the twisty roads headed down the pass! From Berthoud, we headed to Loveland Pass. At 11,990 feet, Loveland Pass was the highest so far. As a matter of fact, looking back, the passes were getting progressively higher. Hmmm.... Instead of a group pic, here is a snapshot of my friend Steve who was riding in another group!
From Loveland Pass, it was off to Hoosier Pass. This pass was 11,539 feet...a little "smaller" than Loveland. It was still a fun ride...any opportunity to ride the Rocky Mountains puts a smile on my face!! Denise and Christina posed for the photo opp!
Fortunately, I was wrong. We had about 10 minutes of light rain and nothing major (unlike the Ren Fest a few weeks ago). We get to the summit and it's great to see all my fellow riders in the parking lot! Monarch pass is at 11,312 feet. The only photo I have has the photographer leaving his mark behind as you can see his finger in the image!
With the photos taken, we headed back down the mountain to Salida, CO. Salida was the end stop for the run and we pulled in around 4:00 pm. Not bad for a day's ride, I think!
My friends did wonderful--especially the newbies! I think they will be excited for next year's ride!
If you happen to be in Colorado in the middle of July, you certainly should take a look at doing this ride. I'm glad I did!
Until next time,
Keep the Shiny Side Up!
~The Rainbow Wahine