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


  1. Having still problems to watch the Videos whereas Vimeo works perfectly. Is it much work for you to add the link to Vimeo?

    1. Posting the same video in vimeo is not that easy but manageble. I need to export it in a smaller format since there is a space limitation in vimeo. Typically I get two videos per week done in vimeo. My quota for this week is already full, so I need to wait for next week until I can upload those videos which are not yet in vimeo. I will do that it just takes time...

  2. That is very kind - but not necessary if it is only for me. I also enjoy your photos.

  3. Replies
    1. Nope. We moved already on and will be in Portland, OR soon.