Riding in the rain has been a part of our history since the first ride to Colorado in 2010. We comically named our “Motorcycle Club” the Wild Frogs after the movie Wild Hogs as a tongue and cheek tribute to always finding the worst possible weather to ride in on these trips, but in 2014 we had a spectacular trip back to Colorado where we experienced fantastic weather and a trip for the ages.
In May of 2014, I traded my 2006 Street Glide for a newly designed 2014 Street Glide so I was ready to head back to God’s country. We set off on July 1st with trailer in tow but this time with a new Wild Frog member. My buddy Bo decided to join us for this trip, so with four beautiful Harleys loaded up, we were on our way. Like in previous years, we made our destination Canon City, CO due to its ease of access to the front-range, and its great canyon riding. We arrived late, offloaded the bikes and spent the night at the local Comfort Inn as we had always done. Due to the decent run off from the mountains, the first morning we decided to do some white water rafting before hitting the road and it was a blast. The rapids were running at a much faster rate than our previous run, and the water was freezing cold. However, the boys at Royal Gorge Rafting, Dallas & Frenchy, took care of us providing a nice lunch and awesome pictures. They even invited us to a local outdoor party that evening, so after relaxing a bit, we headed off to mingle with the local fare and indulge in a few beers and burgers. It was a very nice experience with some good folks that I will always remember.
Highway 50 leaving out of Canon City is always a favorite run. Beautiful canyons and twisting turns that follow along the Arkansas River are breathtaking. We headed towards Salida, CO stopping at several times along the roadside just to take in the beauty. Our destination was Keystone, CO to meet some new friends that Bo would introduce to us. We didn’t know what to expect, but Bo went to high school with a gal named Jill who relocated to Colorado with her husband Todd several years ago. They had kept in touch through Facebook and Jill invited us to stay with them if we were ever in the area. After about 200 miles of riding and planned stops in Buena Vista and Twin Lakes, we rolled into Keystone, CO late that afternoon. Keystone is a fairly upscale and busy place, but very nice. Jill and Todd own a Condo just a few steps from the ski lift and spend most of their time enjoying life with their son Zabel “Z” who I believe was about six or seven years old at the time. They are a very active family and some of the best folks you’ll ever meet. Not knowing three of us at all, and not seeing Bo for many years, they took us in like we were family, made us dinner and let us crash at their pad. We had a lot of nice conversation, enjoyed sitting on the patio and taking in the weather, and even saw a moose right in front of their condo. He next morning, they took us for a brief walk down to the quaint little town center to look around in the specialty shops and take a few photos. We left the next morning very grateful to have met such nice people – friends. Hopefully we can return the favor at some point. After leaving Keystone, we decided to head north on highway 9 towards Steamboat Springs. We had never ridden this particular route, so we decided to make a loop north and then head back south on highway 131 to check out the scenery. It was okay, but that’s about it. When riding north of I-70, going towards Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park is the way to go if you want a better ride and more scenery. After making the loop, we ended up back on I-70 headed west looking for gas. Phillip was running on fumes by then and in a panic that we was going to have to ride bitch with someone if he didn’t find a gas station, and quickly. After safely refueling, we spent the 4th of July evening in Glenwood Springs, CO.
I was really looking forward to this particular day. Having had to convince the Frogs to venture westward into Utah was a bit of a contest, but I had been there a few times on business in years past and had always thought it was the most spectacular places I had ever seen. Simply amazing scenery that you can’t see anywhere on earth, and we were too close to just pass up the opportunity. Being it was July, the heat was a bit of a concern to all of us, but what the hell. It might be the only chance to explore such wonders on two wheels that any of us would have again.
July 5th, we left Glenwood Springs headed west on I-70 with our first destination being Grand Junction, CO. The ride through Glenwood Canyons on I-70 was worth the ride in itself. Amazing views of the western slopes of Colorado right off the interstate were fantastic. We stopped at Grand Junction Harley Davidson for a break and T-Shirts and continued west across the Utah state line. We took the exit for highway 128, a two lane road that follows the Colorado River all the way to Arches National Park and Moab, and the natural wonders I described to the Frogs seemed to be worth the adventure. Yes, it was hot. I think it peaked at about 103 degrees inside the National Park, but hell it’s that hot in Texas on most July days and we don’t have million year old arches carved out of the earth to look at. We rode through the park with amazement for a couple of hours stopping a few times to snap some photos and discuss the sweat running down our backs. I can’t speak for the other Frogs, but I say it was well worth it. Little did we know that all of the arches seen in famous photos required a significant hike into the canyons to see, so we passed on all that adventure and just took what we could see from the main trail head. It was hot enough as it was and none of us wanted to take the chance of having to be carried out by better prepared sightseers.
We headed back to Moab for lunch and A/C in a small café and then headed out with our destination being cooler weather. We left out on highway 191 south and picked up highway 46 east taking us back into Colorado. After about an hour, the temperature dropped and 46 turned into highway 90 for a relatively long and boring stretch of road inhabited by chipmunks. We passed the small communities of Naturita and Redvale and picked up highway 145 for a nice ride down into Telluride. Telluride is always a nice stop. For the most part it’s an upscale community similar to Aspen, and may celebrities have second homes in the area. We checked into our hotel and went out for a bite to eat at one of the local restaurant/bars on the main strip and made it an early night. After a nice patio breakfast with stunning views we headed out on highway 145 towards Delores with our destination being Durango, and then Silverton for the evening. This loop in the Southwest part of Colorado is arguably the best riding in the United States.
Now Durango is a pretty popular destination in Southern, CO and is the largest city in that area since it is a college town. There are nice restaurants and a variety of bars along the main strip. I usually don’t go out after dinner because I’m usually beat from the days ride, but overall it’s a nice place from what I’ve seen. We usually end up staying the night here since it’s quite a ride just to get this far south. Silverton is more my taste. As previously mentioned it’s a much smaller town and is uninhabited for the most part in the winter time because it’s practically impossible to get there due to the snow and icy conditions of the roads. But in the summertime, it’s awesome. There is a train that runs from Durango to Silverton also, but we prefer two wheelin it. This particular stay in Silverton was great. We rented a nice little room above one of the local shops that was run by a fella who I believe was related to Norman Bates. He was a bit strange, but none of us got stabbed in the shower which was nice. You don’t have many lodging options in Silverton, so we were happy just to get a room. After a little t-shirt shopping and a visit to the small Harley Davidson shop we ended up at a little restaurant called Handlebars for dinner and spirits. This place is pretty unique and has dead animals, rustic photos and moose and deer horns on every wall. Just what you’d expect in a town like this. It’s always a wonderful ride there and a destination we look forward to. The next day we headed north on 550 to Ouray and through Montrose with our site set on the Black Canyon of Gunnison. What a wonder this is. It never gets old viewing such rugged landscape and scenery, and the riding to get there is just amazing. To top it all off, the weather was fantastic with blue skies and temps in the 80’s. With a lot of well-made memories we headed back to Canon City late in the afternoon and decided to drive through the night back to Texas. What a trip.