Highway 50 2017

Day 07

June 22

Since I'm doing Pikes Peak today, I want to get on the road as soon as daylight hits. I figure I'll get breakfast somewhere on down the line. At this early hour, I have the road all to myself which is just ducky quack quack for me.
Out here there are just wide empty spaces and you have to figure that the land has not changed much other than the highway they built across it.
It's a long lonesome highway once again ...
but soon the elevations bring some nice twisties my way.
I turn off Highway 50 onto Highway 115 which will take me to Colorado Springs. As soon as I get a little ways into the city, I get snapped back into reality when I see the remnants of a bad accident that has happened earlier.
Then in the middle of all that a couple of small deer come across the road as if they are on a Sunday stroll.
But soon I'm out of that mess and where I want to be - the Pikes Peak Highway.

Much to my surprise, Pikes Peak Is not a National Park so I get to pay right along with the other 'bikers' in front of me. I tell the ranger -

"Well, I'm from Tennessee so I guess I just learned something!"

He just laughs and waves me on through..

The road is certainly twisty enough and so far Frost is doing fine.
And the views are spectacular as I look back to the direction I came from.
But as the elevation increases I start wondering when I'm going to see the effects of the altitude on Frost. At about 8,000 feet she starts to sputter and miss. I drop her down into a lower gear and keep after it.
As it turns out today was the running of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and ...
fortunately for me they are just now coming back down.
Soon Frost begins to really struggle as the air gets thinner. I have to have a really gentle touch on the throttle so she doesn't stall.
Finally, I drop her into first gear and start waving other vehicles around me. I watch the GPS to see how much further I've got to go to the top.
But she and I continue to struggle upwards and I have hope that we may just make it after all.
Finally we are at the very top and for that I am thankful. I was concerned that I would have to turn around as I did one year in a car that refused to run at the higher altitudes. That was an experience I care not to repeat.
It's pretty cold and windy at 14,000+ feet, so I don't tarry long. Going down is easy as gravity is a helper now not a fighter and the road is pretty empty.
You get a whole different view coming down as you can easily look out instead of up. I am able to shoot video of the trip down.
It's good ride and soon I'm back out to the main highway.
On the turn off from Highway 50, I noted a good spot for gas and food that should work on my way back. Breakfast has been scarce and gas is getting that way so this will sort out just as I expected.
There's a Subway in the store so I avail myself after taking care of Frost's thirst first. Subway is another one of those eating places that is fairly predictable for both quality and price.
I position myself outside on the sidewalk in the shade even though it is pretty hot cause there is too much hustle and bustle inside the store. While I'm sitting there munching, human nature once again amazes me. There are all kinds of parking places available, but this person decides to park right in front of me up close, and then leave their engine running so that I will get the full benefit of all the heat from the vehicle. I guess they think that I am not warm enough so they can help me out or else they think they will warm my sandwich up. Or maybe they just aren't thinking at all - which is the more reasonable conclusion. They finally leave and I can enjoy the rest of meal in cooler comfort.
With my breakfast/lunch dispatched, I get back to the task at hand.
Soon it's off the 4 lane and back to the 2 lane which I like a lot better.
But I do notice that things might get a little wild out here as this one appears to have slipped its leash.
This is one of my favorite parts of Highway 50 as it runs along side a river.
The water is quite rough and rapids are plentiful in this section. Not the sort of place you want to see how well a motorcycle swims for sure.
In the distance are the mountains that I soon will be crossing so we will have another 'altitude' test for Frost.
Since I know what happened at Pikes Peak, I build up a pretty good head of steam just in case.
Soon I am on on the approach to Monarch Pass and Frost is cruising right along.
We both make it to the top without too much drama as we were really rolling coming up the hill. And Monarch Pass is about 3,000 feet lower than Pikes Peak with a lot straighter road and a lot higher speed limit.
There are beautiful views going down the other side and I enjoy them.
Soon I'm in downtown Gunnison and know it's about time for a fuel and defuel break.

I get Frost taken care of then grab some munchies and go outside to sit and enjoy them. A local lady rider - Linda - pulls up and takes a break also. As we talk about where we've been and where we're headed, she warns me -

"Down the road a ways there is some really nasty construction. You need to be careful going through there."

I thank her for that information as it's nice to have some idea as to what is just up ahead. We both have to get on the road, so we wish each other well and get after it.

As I make my way out of Gunnison and back on the open rode I see the Bay Of Chickens. It's a strange name but it's all part of the Curecanti National Recreation Area.
On past that I come to the construction that she warned me about. I've been through some nasty stuff up in my Alaska travels, but CDOT has managed to surpass those messes by several degrees.
But you learn to deal with it and let the bike wander a bit and it's fine. We're through it shortly and back to enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Soon Highway 50 takes me right through Montrose and by the place I stayed twice before on my journeys - the Country Lodge.
In downtown Montrose I am reminded as to why I am so nice and toasty as I sit.
But at least as I get back on the open road, there is some air flowing even though it may be a little warm.
The landscape is interesting as this is about as barren as you get, reminding me a lot of my trip through Death Valley.
It's been a long hot day, so I am very happy to see the sign for my abode tonight.
Once again the closest eatery is a Burger King, so it gets my business.
And once again I get a Whopper, fries and a chocolate shake to cool off from the heat of the day - or least that is the story I'm telling.
I get Frost all bedded down for the evening for a well deserved rest. There were times that I did not think we were going to make it all the way up Pikes Peak, but she did what needed to be done and for that we are thankful.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day as I leave the 'designated' Highway 50 for the 'original' Highway 50 and the mysterious town of Thistle. But for now I head for the less than mysterious town of Slumberland and find it rather quickly.