Grand Tetons and More

We’re starting off in Grand Junction today and going to run a loop south to check out some of the awesome roads and to check out a couple of the sights. I had intended on heading to Telluride because I thought from the map that it connected to the Million Dollar Highway but unfortunately I was mistaken and had to back track a little. It was an interesting side trip of course but we missed the reason I wanted to go that way. Ah well, maybe next time.

The first leg of the ride is down towards Gateway and Naturita. The loop continues down to Telluride, back up and around to Ridgeway, up to Montrose. Then to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, back to Montrose, and then to Grand Junction. The original intention was to continue on 50 after Black Canyon of the Gunnison on to 285 then back into Denver and home. But Jeanne had already been on 285 but not to Glenwood Springs or Mt. Evans. So we modified the route again to come back to Grand Junction then on home via I70.

At the hotel we discovered there were quite a few other bikes out near mine. A few from Kentucky and Alabama and a group of Harley riders. While the guys on the sport and adventure bikes (and one Harley in the group; see pic) were chatty and interested in what we were doing, the Harley group itself was pretty stand offish. The others were checking out the Hayabusa and commenting on how cool it was to turn a Hayabusa into a Sport-Touring bike with questions on how it handles especially with a passenger.

After all the discussion and breakfast, we were off. First off the run down to 141 and off to Gateway. The ride through the valleys to get around the Colorado Mesa (Uncompahgre National Forest) was quite fun. Lots of twists and turns and little traffic. There were quite a few opportunities for pics and since I’ve been playing with the Panorama mode, I got some interesting ones.

We cruised on through the morning to Gateway. There used to be a large motel with gas pumps and big parking areas. Lots of bikers. But it appears the site turned into a HOA type of community (retirement maybe) with gates and such. We kept on going since there wasn’t a place to get gas. Fortunately it wasn’t all that big of a deal. A bit farther along we stopped again, this time on the west side of the Colorado Mesa.

We stopped for a few minutes and I was explaining some of the road tricks when on a bike with a curvy road. Tar snakes are bad (the goo used to seal cracks in the asphalt, can be slippery especially when hot). Slow down when you can’t see ahead. In checking the picture above, the road curves up and you can’t see over the hill. But since there’s no yellow “recommended speed” sign, it’s likely either a straight or gentle curve that can be taken at speed. Also when coming out of a curve if you see dashed lines there’s a nice straight away after the curve and not further curves. So you can wick it up a tad on exit. Remember too that there may be cows, deer, or other wildlife waiting so don’t wind it up too fast.

Anyway we continued on riding. Eventually we got into some tighter turns again with little traffic.

As we approached Naturita, the road rose above the water until it was pretty far below. One problem was a group of Shelby Cobra’s out for a drive. At one point we came upon a pair with one in my lane! He scooted over but I gave him the finger as we went by. At Naturita we stopped for gas and a quick snack then continued on to Telluride. The road down was very busy, more than I expected based on the past couple of hours. There were more bicyclists and more of the Shelby Cobra folks. The pic of the valley where Telluride is located was very nice though.

If you look at the bigger picture, you can see the valley does look pretty cool. I expect they get snowed in pretty often though with only one way in or out. There also seemed to be a path of some sort up the back mountain that you can partly see in the pic.

But as we got closer to Telluride, traffic slowed down a bit. The Cobra guys were waving at folks in the street and generally going quite slow. Unfortunately with my coolant tank having a problem, the bike over heated and we stopped for a bit to walk around while the bike cooled down. While nice to walk around a little, there were a lot of people so we headed back to the bike. In checking the map, I saw we needed to head back to Placerville to get to 550. So off we went again. Getting out of Telluride was the same sort of experience. It’s like being in Boulder. Folks just step out and expect you to stop. So it was a slow ride out while I babied the Hayabusa. Finally we got out of town and some speed so the bike would cool down.

We got up to Placerville and headed north and east on 62. The ride to Ridgeway was pretty fun in general. Lots of sweeping turns coming down the mountain. In Ridgeway we stopped for gas and chatted with a couple of riders then on to 550 and north to Montrose. I have to say that there were quite a few cops on the road with people pulled over. But we made it to Montrose. We headed on until we found 50 and then off to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The ride up to the canyon was steep in places but still an interesting ride. The clouds were coming in and I expected we might be caught by the rain but we missed it.

After the visitor’s center we headed on to the end of the park just to check out that view. The others were mostly a hike to get to the viewpoint. Humorously they were all in yards so if you didn’t do a quick calc, you wouldn’t know it was a mile hike to get to the view 🙂 We stopped at a few of the closer viewpoints though.

From there we headed back to Montrose. We’d decided to not try to get to Denver tonight in part because it would put us there after dark and of course we’d miss the nicer day rides for Glenwood Springs and Mt. Evans. We hit the same motel (Quality Inn) we stayed at last night and got settled back in for the night. We did go to Applebee’s for dinner. Not too bad in general.

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