Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crazy German from Finland wants to ride Cinnamon (3850 m) and Engineer Pass (3900m) with a sidecar

Due to all that hassle with the lodging in the morning I started around 1130 - a very late start for this trip. The first kilometers towards Eureka were very easy. The road towards Animas Forks became more bumpy – maybe similar to Cumberland Pass yet still easy. I stopped shortly at Animas Forks to look around a little and then continued to climb the mountains.
Animas Fork - ghost mining operation/town

The first switchback was all fine and then came a moment where I was sure that was it! Defeat on the first section?

My bike stalled and I rolled back to let the ATV (or was it UTV?) come down first. OMG – that looked heavy. I started my engine, the ATV went by and I went for another try. Nope! The skid plate hit the rock. And another try with more power, slipping clutch and through I went – almost like closing my eyes and just thinking gas gas gas. I was truly amazed what the bike could do. A few meters later came the point where the road split to Engineer and Cinnamon Pass. I took a short break to have a deep breath. The clutch smelled heavily!

I was thinking OMG what have I started here? Will there come more places like this? If I come back Engineer Pass I will need to cross that bad spot again and it might be already dark by then. I pushed my worries and doubts aside and I assured myself that I was ready for whatever came now. The next meters did not look very inviting but at least not as bad as this bad spot (I forgot to create a POI at that time but in hindsight I think that those are the coordinates: N37.93131 W107.56716)

Uli took a picture of that spot a week later when he and Jim rode Cinnamon Pass with their KTMs. Thanks Uli.
There came many many difficult places but there was always a path and to my big relief nothing was as bad as this first bad spot. I was so glad that I had my ultra-short first gear. If I would have started from Lake City, rode Engineer Pass first, then Cinnamon Pass and not visit Animas Fork, I would have not hit that bad spot at all (maybe another time).
Took a break and a deep breath
Crossing point.
Zoom in to check the details of that climb...
... and tilt ...
... of that narrow and bumpy road
Here the stretch as a whole.
The climb was heavy on my engine and I needed one longer break to let it cool down a little before I reached the summit.
We made it: Cinnamon Pass (12,640 feet; 3,850 m)
After that it was just downhill with a few scary looking switchbacks but that was all there was – scary looking and ok to ride. The road was bumpy and I was standing most of the time to counter balance with my body all the twists and bumps. The road became easier and easier the more it descended. In the end it was again graded gravel and I could finally switch to fourth gear and higher.
Sharp and steep switchbacks
Stunning scenery
I arrived in Lake City and needed to fill fuel. Time for a coffee and time to think what to do next. According to my GPS it would take me 4.5h to ride via Engineer Pass back to Silverton plus there was the bad spot (The GPS's estimate for Cinnamon Pass was pretty accurate so I trusted this estimate as well). Then there was the long way via the south – some 300+km or via Montrose – I did not like any of those options.

I digged up my Colorado Atlas and then I found two promising looking gravel roads and the plan looked like this: Lake City via Alpine Road to HWY 50 and then via Cimarron Road and Owl Creek Pass to Ridgway and further to Silverton. It would take about as much time as Engineer Pass which meant I would arrive in Silverton when its dark but since there was the million dollar highway in the end it looked MUCH better compared to riding the mountain pass downhill.
North of Lake City ...
... hard to capture this beauty.
Then I turned to the Alpine Plateau road and capture some impressions from there.

Plenty of mailboxes = plenty of people must lived along that road. Would not have thought of that.
That was fun and I could go with great speed. Those roads were more the ones I liked. Next: Impressions from the Big Cimarron Road (#858)

My track about 240km
And so I went and I was around 1930 back in Silverton. What a day!

Here is a short video about this trip.

And here is the full length version of the Cinnamon Pass crossing (nothing else, still about 1h long)

If you still have problems to watch those videos please send me a message.

~ Wolfi

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cumberland (12,015 feet; 3,662 m), Cottonwood (12,126 feet; 3,696 m) and Marshall (10,842 feet; 3,305 m) pass by sidecar

I was really looking forward to do some kind of adventure riding with the sidecar. The weather was perfect, sunny and temperature was around 20C in the sun. First to filling station and there were a bunch of “tough-looking” Harley guys lining up. But hey, they spoke German and within minutes we had a short chat. They were on a week vacation across US on their rental Harleys. Safe travel guys and thanks a lot for your contribution.

From Gunnison I went first to Pitkin where the gravel road started and rode Cumberland Pass from south to north. There was plenty of loose gravel with smaller and bigger stones in combination with a few small wash-outs. I was really happy that Skippy was not here. She would have complaint already a lot about why we do this and so on – need to remember there is no “we” :D

The descent towards Tin Cup was not any different. In higher altitudes it was a bit smoother but not much. Typically I rode in first and second gear and very seldom in third. Obviously I was still faster then Kyle and Joel as I caught them as we climbed upwards ;)

At Taylor park reservoir I turned east towards Cottonwood Pass. There was asphalt for a few meters and then the ascent was again gravel. Cottonwood Pass was a piece of cake – very hard surface sand roads and no loose gravel at all. A few bumps here and there and that was it. It was the easiest, the busiest and at the same time the most dangerous to ride. Plenty of opposite traffic and the pick-up trucks with the caravan trailer were cutting corners once in a while.
I met Kyle and Joel again at the summit of Cumberland Pass. Safe travels guys.
Cumberland Pass north side ...
and more ...
really idyllic!
The descent of Cottonwood Pass was all good asphalt. Anybody can ride here even on a Harley with trailer :D
West side of Cottonwood Pass.

After a small break in Poncha Springs I continued south towards Marshall Pass (I rode this one east to west). A whole bunch of wild cyclist came opposite but lucky me those were the only ones on the pass. A few ATVs which came downhill made a full-break to pull over – otherwise I was pretty much alone there. The road was really smooth and had a hard surface with only a few bumpy spots or some with loose gravel. Some impressions ... I had occasionally difficulties to focus on the road :D

Photo taken by a friendly ATV rider - thanks :)
On the summit I met two other bikers with their R1200GSs on their tour along Great Divide. I finished my lunch and only a few kilometers later I caught up to them. The descending road was also in really good shape and I even rode in my sixth gear once in a while. The only naughty things were those dips (I guess for heavy rain). My suspension did not like those kind of things (experience from Mauritania). Well, I took it easy on those. Anyway I was breathing their neck so they let me ride first (thanks guys!) and I really enjoyed that road and had a good speed. I hope you two did not have to swallow too much dust.

Later on when I was on the highway back to Gunnison they caught up with me ;)

Obviously I arrived too early in the motel as Skippy was asking “What went wrong? Why are you already here?”. I had a great riding day and now looking forward to Cinnamon and Engineer Pass.

My track: 275km in about 5 hours moving time.
Height profile
I also made a short video of this fun ride. Enjoy!

And once more if you have trouble to watch the video in youtube, click here (

~ Wolfi

Colorado - Utah - Colorado roundtrip

It was a sunny morning with only a few clouds yet still a little bit chilly. We took it easy compiled another video and watched one more episode of Star Trek from Netflix during breakfast. This day would be a short and easy riding day. From Grand Junction via Delta, Crawford and along the Black Canyon to Gunnison. The cliffs of Black Canyon appeared to me harsh, unfriendly, rough and uninviting. They told me: we are dangerous, and yet the view was very beautiful.

Chipmunk bouncing over the street :)
The weatherman promised freezing nights for Gunnison and we stayed two nights in a motel. In this way Skippy could now finally continue her studies and I got to ride some more adventurous roads. After we came back from our morning walk with girls we found two of our fans standing at our bikes (Hi there Joel and Kyle!). Cool! It felt motivating to meet people who followed our adventure already for months and now meet us. Skippy made me some smoothie to go and then I went of towards Cumberland Pass...

Wolfi's post on Cumberland, Cottonwood and Marshall Pass comes soon!
Extremely wide roads for cars in Gunnison, but not much walkways for pedestrians!

Skippy was bored and fed-up. For her it was time to leave Colorado in order to make progress towards North and West. The ride from Gunnison via Montrose to Silverton certainly did not help and neither did the fact that it was Saturday night many motels were booked and the only remaining option was camping. According to Foreca (International weather service from Finland with an excellent User Interface) the night temperature would be around +10C. When we checked in, the lady at the reception told that it was -2C last night! Ohohohoh – Skippy wasn't too pleased!

The night got really cold and the meter showed -4C. We put on all our thick clothes and it still was not enough. When we woke up there was a layer of ice over the bikes. What now? The days were beautiful and as soon as I was in sunshine I was hot (T-shirt and shorts weather) – the difference was enormous!
Smoothie time!
All frozen!
Our coldest camping night so far!
Girls warming up in the morning sun.
I still wanted to do my adventure riding and thus we needed two nights in a row. On top of that I needed some time to finish the White Rim Trail video. I tried to find a motel for two nights but the cheapest was 125USD/night. Too much for us. I created an alternative plan. If we would stay at the camping place and get us a cabin from here, then we would manage with one more night, the moving would take only a few minutes and I could go riding. The cabin was not cheap 55USD plus 25USD for the dogs and plus tax! And that with shower and toilet in the common space. Well, it was the cheapest of all the feasible options and so we did that one.

And of I went to ride Cinnamon Pass.

Wolfi's post on Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass will come soon too!

That night it was only 0C! Almost warm :D Since the campground was a bit outside of Silverton there was only little light pollution and what a fantastic night sky it was!

Silverton, CO.
The next morning we slept in late – I had deserved it. I felt stiff all over like after a major workout in the gym. The riding menu of that day included the Mesa Verde National Park where we met Francois who was on his way to South America on his KTM 990. We stayed in Cortez in a motel and it was amazing how much warmer it was there in the evening!

...and the tourist says "ooh aah" :D

We celebrated our 500th day on the road with first some healthy smoothie, followed by some vegan burritos, indian food and ice cream :)

No hanging around for us. On the following day it was time to go to Moab via some small roads – quite ok but nothing spectacular. Since the day was hot (30+C) and the nights were supposed to be warm we decided to stay at the KOA Kampground. Lucky us we have poodles, because they have really discriminating rules about which dogs are allowed on the campground and which not! I remembered the way from Moab back to Uli, so no need for GPS programming.

Wilson Arch, Utah.

We had a cute bunny as our neighbor ;)

Before we rode back to Uli's house, we visited Arches National Park. Here are a few pictures:

The same rock zoomed in ;) (about in Aug2014, one rock collapsed nearby Hwy 128)

Some flowers in this stony region.
Along Colorado river at HWY 128.

Cisco ghost town, Utah.
Wow - decimal numbers in street numbering scheme ;)

Our track about 1150km

Height profile

These will be the last travelogues for a while. Skippy wanted to focus on her studies and besides that she hoped for more feedback which did not come. Enjoy!
Here is #35

and #36

And in case you still cannot watch our videos in Youtube,
click here for an alternative source for #35

and click here for an alternative source for #36.

~ Wolfi