Phillip would miss the first two years but would soon join in on the long distance fun. This was an exciting ride, being the first really big and long distance ride. It was just three of us, David, James and me. We loaded up the bikes on a trailer and headed off early on a Sunday morning to Colorado Springs. Our destination was a friends house who was going to put us up for the night. It was about a 12 hour drive, and with the exception of a flat tire on the trailer, we made it in safely at about 9pm. After a short visit, we crashed in our buddies’ basement apartment for a restless night of sleep.
The morning came early. We dressed for the occasion, had a cup of coffee and we were off. First stop, Garden of the Gods State Park just outside of Colorado Springs. Wow! I had been to Colorado a dozen times before, but I had never really spent any time in this particular area, except on business. Beautiful peaks of rustic colored mountains, creative trails with scenic views from every angle, beautifully carved canyons, blue skies and loud pipes. What could be better? Our goal was to ride and see as much as possible on two wheels, so this first stop made us anxious to see more. From there we headed west on Highway 24 towards Twin Lakes taking in the scenic beauty from all angles. Onward through Independence Pass and eventually to Aspen. The night in Aspen was interesting. That summer was one of the hottest on record for Aspen. If you've ever stayed in a motel there, you know that they have no a/c in the rooms. I believe it got up to 95 degrees that day, and the evening was not that much cooler. So here we are in a two-hundred dollar per night room, sweeten' our nuts off. We decided to go out for dinner and to take in some night life, but all we could find were a couple of little bars that were full of rich preppies playing pool and spending daddy's money. It wasn't quite our style, so we wondered the streets a bit and headed on back to the room for some rest.
The next day, we headed back through the pass and took a ride north to Leadville, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and eventually ended up in Black Hawk, CO picking up another rider along the way. Jim is a friend of David's and lived in Leadville at the time. As it happened, he had a bike as well and decided to join us for the day. We made our rounds through the northern part of the state the next day before heading back South. The one thing about Colorado, especially riding through the mountains, is you never know when a rainstorm is going to blow in. You can usually see it coming, but many times when you think you're going to be able to dodge it, the mountain turns you right into it. This year wasn't bad at all. We had to suit up only a couple of times which made this particular week of riding exceptional. We made regular roadside stops to take in the river streams and rest our asses. James always carried a small cooler with a six-pack of beer, and I usually had a small bottle of whiskey to quench our thirst along the way. To be clear, by no means did we ride drunk. But we did take the edge off a bit and enhanced the riding experience by having a drink with nature. Where I live in Texas, you really can't just pull off the road at a river, pop open a cold one and chill out in 75 degree weather while fishing for spotted trout. It seemed everywhere you rode in the San Jaun National Forest you could just stop and hang out somewhere on the roadside. The rides through Telluride to Durango and back to Silverton and Ouray was arguably the best part of the trip. Still today when we ride Colorado I look forward to this part of the ride more than any other. We usually make it a point to stay in Silverton for the evening. Their is not much there, but it's just a cool little town made up of locally owned shops. You can find handmade jewelry made from the local minerals, handmade leather, knives, t-shirts, candy shops and a couple of pubs and restaraunts.The town is nestled in a small valley surrounded by mountains and is almost uninhabited during the winter. It has one paved road coming into town and then dirt roads heading the opposite direction about every block. They have a train that runs from Silverton to Durango daily which I'm sure is quite a scenic adventure. From there we headed east to Cannon City, CO. We made many stops along the way, but we were looking forward to the last day on the Royal Gorge. I had never been white water rafting before, so this was sure to be a blast. The water this time of year had subsided quite a bit. I believe it was only running at about 800-900 feet per minute. That's okay, but we were really
wanting it to be running at 2000-3000. We decided to ride into the Royal Gorge Park and check out some of the views. Pretty amazing. The bridge crosses the Arkansas River, and is America’s highest suspension bridge. Built in 1929, its 1,270 feet long and towers above the Arkansas River almost 1,000 feet. We took a rail to the bottom and back up again and finally walked across the bridge to the Skycoaster where James took a little flying trip out over the Gorge. No thanks. We walked back across and decided to ride our Harley's across on the way out. It was a little nerve racking, being as the bridge is not a typical bridge built today. It's made of regular old wooden slats that rattle as you drive across them making a lot of noise. I remember there was actually a hole in one of the boards that needed replaced. This bridge is not for the faint of heart, and is constantly under repair. Survivor of the 2013 Royal Gorge Fire: 100 boards replaced on the south side of the bridge. The next two years we returned to Colorado during the summer months. Their honestly might not be a better riding experience. I’m sure there are spots that might be as good, but the friendly people, cool weather and spectacular riding makes us want to return again and again. The one negative thing about riding Colorado is the unpredictable rain storms and temperature chances at higher altitudes. The 3rd year was especially bad, raining on us literally every day. This made us rethink maybe changing up the next trip and going elsewhere. So, we did.