It's hot, here in Denver (and lots of other places across the nation), and has been for quite a while. But, one good thing about Denver is that you can escape the heat, for a while, simply by heading west.
Friday morning, I got up, with a tentative plan to head up into the high country in order to get away from the forecast 100 degree temps, and I turned on the television, to check the weather forecast. Sometimes, mid-day thunder storms make high elevation motorcycling bit iffy. That was when I learned of the shooting spree at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie.
Getting out of town never seemed like a better idea.
So, I jumped on the Scrambler and headed out of town on Highway 285. I rode up Turkey Creek Canyon, and then turned onto Parmalee Gulch Road, to get to bear Creek Canyon. Parmalee is a very twisty road, lots of fun on a motorbike, but I kept the speed down a bit from my normal pace. The news of the day was a bit distracting, and I didn't want to let a lack of concentration get me into trouble.
At bear Creek Canyon, I turned uphill, went through Evergreen and turned onto the road to go over Squaw Pass. As I climbed up the twisty pass road, the temperature dropped pretty noticeably. I stopped at Echo Lake and pulled on my arm warmers. I was wearing my mesh, summertime riding jacket, and I was actually a bit chilly.
I headed down Devil's Canyon, to Idaho Springs. The road was smooth, curvy and a blast to ride. For the first time on the ride, I was able to concentrate on the bike and forget (just for a moment) the horrible events of the night before.
At the base of the steep downhill, where the road flattens out on the approach to Idaho Springs, I passed a Honda Goldwing parked on the shoulder of the road, facing the opposite way. Something didn't look good about the situation, so I turned around and went back to check on the rider. I pulled up to the pretty wide pullout, where most riders would have parked, and saw a lady in her early 60s sitting on a log in the shade. I pulled over to her, and cut the motor.
When I asked if everything was okay, the lady told me that the front tire was flat on the big Honda, and her husband didn't want to pull it off of the pavement. Hence, why it was parked right on the edge of the road.
Her husband had hitched a ride into town, to try get help. When I asked her if she wanted a ride into town, she told me that she had no idea where in Idaho Springs her husband would be, and that she was happy waiting where she was.
I wished her well, and continued on my way.
In town, I filled up with gas, and grabbed some food at the gas station convenience store. I threw the food into my saddlebag, and headed up I-70 toward Loveland Pass. As I approached the Johnson/Eisenhower Tunnels, I turned off of the Interstate onto US-6 and headed up to the summit od Loveland Pass, at the Continental Divide.
In the 20 years that I have lived here, in Colorado, I had never ridden to the top of the pass on a motorbike. I had driven over it in cars, quite a few times, but I had always taken the tunnel when headed west on the bike, for some reason.
I climbed up from the ski area at about 45 or 50 mph. The 30 mph speed limit makes good sense for cars and trucks, but the road is wide and smooth, and the speed I was going was fast enough to not be boring, while slow enough to feel relaxed. Of course, the hairpin curves required slowing down, but accelerating through them is what makes riding a motorcycle so much fun.
At the summit, I pulled into a parking area, retrieved my food from the bag, and realized that I had neglected to bring a cap with me. The sun was beating down on my bald head, so I took out my bandanna and fashioned an Axel Rose out of it, and climbed up the wood and earth steps on the north side of the highway.
I sat down on the ridge, looking over the mountains and the line of ants which was I-70, far below, and ate my hotdogs and chips. The temperature was around 60 or 65 degrees, with a slight breeze, and the sun was warm enough that I took my jacket off and sat in a t-shirt and arm-warmers as I ate.
I spent about an hour sitting there, just soaking in the scenery and enjoying the coolness. I watched tourists taking pictures of each other at the Continental Divide sign, as young couples walked arm in arm along the hiking trail below me. A teen-aged couple got out of sight of moms and dads and stole a kiss, as I drank my strawberry sports drink.
Eventually, I got back on the motorbike and headed down the Pacific side of the mountain. At Dillon, I stopped at Starbucks for an iced vanilla latte (and a bathroom break), then I headed back the way I had come. I rode over the Divide without stopping, then back down to I-70, which I followed all the way back to Denver.
After stopping by Performance Motorcycle Parts to get some things for the Scrambler, I went home and worked on the bike for a while. I have a PayPal claim in against PivotPegz USA, since I not only haven't gotten my replacement pegs, for which I paid them $179.00, but they won't answer emails asking if the pegs have been shipped. So, I bought some pegs for a Honda XR-650, after patiently explaining to a young sales clerk that I did know the pegs weren't for my bike, and modified them to fit.
Sitting in my driveway, sweating in the low-90 degree temps that the cloud cover had dropped us to, I ground and filed the mounting points and the Honda pegs into a fit, and got my front peg situation remedied.
Later in the evening, as the sun went down, I sat in the front yard with some friends and had a few drinks. We were all discussing the days events, and I was happy that I had managed to get out on my ride. It didn't make the news of the theater shooting any less horrifying, but it certainly helped me process it without being crushed by the weight of it.
Sometimes, riding a bike, whether a motorbike or a push-bike, is excellent therapy for me.