Even in the middle of a pandemic, we found time to travel this summer. The beauty of motorcycles is you can avoid people. Most all of them if you really wanted to. Clint’s ideal vacation. 🙂
This Colorado trip was likely the coldest and soggiest of all summer CO experiences. Sprinkle in a dose of riding anxiety that manifested itself in the form of an air bubble causing loss of back brakes down Guanella Pass, and a bought of heat exhaustion in KS that sent me from Level 1 Chill to Level 10 Drama… we had ourselves a real good time!
Joining me on this trip was Clint, Tyree and her brother/our friend Clint. Cole was unable to coordinate time off work, so on Tuesday the 14th the two Clint’s took off early for Ogallala, NE (cuz #teamnopeople).
And as for Tyree and I…
We rolled into Ogallala just shy of midnight and short a few storms where an ice cold beer and warm hotel room awaited us.
Wednesday’s route had us through Ogallala > Fort Collins for lunch at Crooked Stave Taproom > Estes Park for a few drinks > Winter Park. Colorado only had county mask mandates but was by far the strictest state I’d traveled to compared to SD & WY the month prior. Shoot, even Nebraska didn’t have a mask mandate yet. Rolling into Colorado gave us a new perspective of the COVID pandemic.
It was about 15 miles out of Black Hawk when a foreign feeling of unease crept over my body. Something didn’t feel right with my bike, but I couldn’t pinpoint it as there were no prominent red flags. I could just feel something off while rolling through the mountains and into curves, so I tailed back while the other three motored on ahead of me.
We fueled up in Black Hawk and hit the road. It was time to finish the days travels into Winter Park where our AirBnB awaited.
Thursday morning we hit up breakfast at the base of Winter Park, blatantly photobombed a few teenage girls taking selfies (somewhere out there is a photo of some adorable teens and T and I in our leathers posing all cute and shiz) before heading out to Keystone > Frisco.
Tyree had put together a list of bars reported to be some of the “best” in Colorado and based our riding adventures around hitting those. She’s genius.
Enter: COVID-19 pandemic.
Keystone was closed. A local recommended a place in Frisco. Also closed.
So, you may ask why didn’t we check bar closing before rolling? Because it’s Colorado.
As long as you’re riding, all is good baby! Those views!
From Frisco we headed out towards Leadville to visit The Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon where we were met with rain and hail. Also found out real quick how crappy my windshield was. Oncoming headlights turned my windshield into a disco ball strobe light. Solution: hop my ass up on the back of my seat to look over windshield. Practical!
A few beverages and a chance to warm up before getting back out in the rain, we made our way to Highline Cafe & Saloon, literally in the middle of no-where Colorado. Wind, rain and some spooky storm clouds had me questioning our survival rate, but we left all that behind in our rearview mirror. Those ice cold Busch Lights and sliver of sunlight at Highline were welcomed with open arms.
What you see in the photo above is all that is in Harstel, CO. A bar & grill (former Mercantile) a banned Hot Springs and deserted train station, and a mini-general store. The locals were welcoming, the beer cold, the bar warm. Perf.
From Harstel we started our journey back “home” by heading towards Georgetown through Guanella Pass.
Guanella is full of beauty and fun with the picturesque tree and mountainous landscape and occasional hairpin turns. It’s a great byway to explore and I highly encourage riding it at least a few times. Make it a priority.
Mother Nature spent this time reminding us that Colorado is unpredictable and with 40 degree temperature readings, a bit of sleet mixed with the rain at the top, we had ourselves an adventure on the descent to Georgetown.
And the unnatural riding anxiety I was feeling manifested itself into loss of back brakes to make the adventure even more exciting! You slow your roll when your pedal goes all the way to the floorboard with no reaction. Good stuff. It was in this moment I wish we had a way to communicate with each other because as they rolled on effortlessly down the mountain, I just held up traffic and enjoyed a nice and controlled cruise down and around the turns. The trio eventually figured out I was MIA so waited for me on a few turns, but I am sure they were thinking what a giant pansy ass I was being.
Once in Georgetown I told the crew why I was trailing so far behind, but by that point my back brakes were working again. Clint just figured I was riding my back brake and it got too hot, but I swore I wasn’t any more than anyone else. Clutch in, downshift is my first method to deaccelerate when approaching continual turns and hairpins, but I promised I’d pay attention to my riding style out of Georgetown. With that, a few beers were earned at Guanella Pass Brewery to shake off that unplanned adventure.
Beers down the hatch and the sun slipping behind the mountains, we bid Georgetown farewell and finished our journey back to Winter Park for dinner at Deno’s Mountain Bistro.
The journey home I watched my braking patterns compared to the rest of the crew and confirmed my theory that I was in fact using my brake just as much or less then the majority, and in that ride home found my back brakes to quit working again. Verdict after further inspection? Air bubble in the brake line. The mechanically inclined husband fixed that issue promptly.
Thursday… you were memorable!
Friday morning was a slow start as Tyree and I were still working remotely while on vacation with the goal of squeezing in around 4 hours each day. This pet rock made me feel like I was right at home.
The boys stayed back to fish all day, so Tyree and I took off on our own adventure with our first stop at Buffalo Rose in Golden.
We had the sweetest waitress, the vibe of the restaurant was right up our alley, and the unique cocktails were delicious. With a pitstop at Avalanche Harley-Davidson to look for a part, we hit the road again towards Evergreen, CO where we’d enjoy a few beverages and our go-to vacation snack of Cinnamon Bears on the upper deck of the Bait Shack Tavern.
Tyree had a case of the dizzies brought on by the altitude so she got herself one of those oxygen cans and on we went. Due to the timing of the day we hit some pretty significant traffic getting out of Evergreen and wouldn’t you know it… storm clouds started rolling in. We found ourselves one of the last gas stations before getting back into the mountains and made sure to document our first and last photo wearing a tank top for proof that we actually did get out of full leathers in the dead of July.
Colorado, man. She’s trippy.
Back towards Georgetown we voted on another go at Guanella Pass Byway. We climbed in altitude while the temps and rain came back down.
Even though the ground made for a bit more caution on the way down, I far more enjoyed the descent knowing I had full use of all my brakes should I need. 😉
Georgetown for fuel and we were off back towards WinterPark to meet the boys for dinner and a few nightcaps at The Pub.
Let me tell ya… Highway 40 towards Winter Park is seriously breathtaking. Four lane, but with curves and hairpins tucked in like you’d find normally off the beaten path. 10/10 recommend.
Saturday we checked out of our perfect little AirBnB and pointed our headlights southeast towards Guanella Pass to Pine.
Nestled off the beaten path and 7,050 feet up in the foothills of Denver, Buck Snort Saloon is a perfect hidden gem I’d highly recommend journeying to. As their website says, they provide real mountain charm, and I couldn’t agree more.
After a cold brew, we made our way further southeast to roll through the Garden of the Gods and into Manitou Springs where the crowds were thick and traffic annoying, so we high-tailed it East to Rocky Mountain Brewery where we thoroughly enjoyed a craft beer and some B’z BBQ. This is another beer joint I’d definitely recommend adding to your list of places to hit up when in CO.
A bit of a clutch issue with Sejkora’s bike and a quick bypass to an auto shop, we got him all fixed up and hit the blazing 97+ degree pavement east towards Kansas.
It was on this 212 mile stretch where I got overheated + dehydrated causing a moment where I wasn’t convinced I wasn’t going to black out. Some much needed Gatorade, water, anti-nausea meds and an hour break did the trick. While that moment was a bit dramatic and prob a tiddddd biiiittttt annoying for my riding partners … it was also a bit scary to experience.
We’ll just chalk this trip up to a series of weird events for this girl. Again…
Colby, KS after night fall and one open diner later, we bid each other farewell as we’d split ways in the morning while Tyree went with her brother to Burchard, and Clint and I North and East to Omaha.
Colorado 2020. You were memorable.
Let’s do it again!
BIG thanks to Tyree for planning out all the routes. She’s a rock star.
Side note: one of the photos I took from this trip landed the cover of Thunder Roads magazine. Thanks, Vernon! Much appreciated.