I left the house, early this morning, and stopped at Kaladi Brothers, as usual. Not as usual, I was on my way to Colorado Springs on the Scrambler. I planned on riding south out of town on 85 (Santa Fe), to Sedalia. From there, I would turn west on 105, and ride to the South Platte River, then turn south to go through Deckers to Woodland Park. Then, down the hill to Manitou Springs.
I wasn't sure what I would do, from there. I had hoped to meet up with John Ryland and some other guys, from Classified Moto
, and we had made vague plans to meet up for a burger. But, the details never jelled. So, I was flying by the seat of my pants, but I knew I would enjoy the ride regardless of whether I got together with those guys, or not.
One of the fun things about the ride from Sedalia to the South Platte is the few miles of dirt road, which includes one 15% grade. That gets a little sketchy on the way down.
Just before heading down that 15% grade, I pulled off the road and climbed to the top of a bank on the side of the road, about 20 feet up. There was a nice view from there, but I mainly just wanted to try going up and down the steep slope.
I eventually made my way to the paved road along the river, and turned south toward Deckers and Woodland Park. The road along the river is winding, and scenic. The speed limit is sort of low, but I rolled along at a good, fun speed, enjoying the fact that there was very little traffic.
I passed through Deckers, and continued south. Eventually, I caught sight of Pike's Peak.
The Pike's Peak Hillclimb is tomorrow. I had a vague plan to, maybe, ride up and see if I could spot a few race bikes or cars. But, I wasn't even sure if the toll road was open.
I stopped at a little diner, close to the toll road, to get a milkshake, and this Ducati was in the parking lot. Its owner had ridden it from Wisconsin (I believe that's what he told me), to be a pit crew member for a racer friend. I liked the BMW bags, mounted on custom-machined frame adapters.
I decided to check and see if the toll road was open...
It was, though the traffic through the gate was a bit slow. I took this picture just past the sign announcing that the gate is 0.3 miles ahead. It took about 20 minutes to make that distance.
Once I was through the gate, it was smooth sailing. I made it almost 3 miles before I overtook slower traffic. I passed the first of about 10 cars I would end up going around before I got to the summit.
Interestingly, I had heard that the road had been almost totally paved. The last time I went up it, 15 years ago, the pavement ended a few miles past the toll gate. So, knowing that it had been partly paved, I was confused when the road turned to dirt at the same spot I remembered.
A couple of mile farther on, the new pavement began, and it went all the way to the top. I wonder if they started at the top, and paved down. Whatever they did, the plan seems to be to have the road completely paved by the end of the summer.
The new pavement made it easy to speed up the mountain, passing slower traffic as I went. At one point, I hooked up with a couple of Ducati riders, and we had a little 3-bike joust up the hill. I can tell you that, on some sections of that road, riding along at 50 or 55 mph is quite a thrill. Even though I was keeping my eyes on the road, I couldn't help but notice the 300-ft drop to my right, two feet past the edge of the pavement.
Eventually, I made it to the top, and parked. Like usual, the Scrambler attracted a group of guys who quizzed me about it. One of those guys was going to be racing a KTM SuperDuke, tomorrow.
He was riding this KTM, today. His buddy was on the Ducati. There were quite a few bikes, up top...
Ducati GT set up for the long haul...
Harley V-Rod (switchbacks must be fun on a drag-style bike)...
some aging hipster on a Scrambler...
this Ducati, which I calculate to be bad to the power of ass...
a few more Ducatis (A club, I think. They took a group picture of the riders)...
lots'o bags on this Motard...
There were a bunch of Diavels up there...
The pace car for the race made an appearance...
As I walked back to my bike, this guy came up and said, "Nice paint job!"
I was just about to point out the fact that it's just the factory gloss black, when he pointed at my helmet.
"I have the first helmet Roland decorated. It was an old Italian lid, and he marked it up with a Sharpie. The Bell guys saw it, and asked him to do a design for them," he continued.
Then, he introduced himself. It was Mark Cernicky, the rider of the hammarhead Jackpine, in the video I posted yesterday!
"Is the video any good?" he asked. "I never got to see it before I had to leave town."
We chatted for a bit, and I wished him luck, tomorrow. He will be racing a Ducati Multistrada in the 1200cc class.
After Cernicky walked away, I took one last look around:
I headed down the road, coincidentally riding behind Cernicky and another rider. I managed to keep them in sight for almost a mile, then they faded into the distance. I actually met him as he was coming back up, and Cernicky gave me a big wave. Nice guy.
After I got back to town, I filled the tank on the Scrambler (52.2 mpg). I then filled my tank with chicken salad on marble rye at a deli in Woodland Park. Then, it was back to Denver.
All told, I put in about 250 miles, and had a great time. Then, when I got home, I built the bicycle for Carol's niece. It was a long day, but a good one.