When we started planning this trip I had originally intended on hanging onto the bike for an additional day so that I could do an Iron Butt 1,000 mile in 24 hours ride – that way I’d have a certified ride in the US as well as Australia. However in my route planning for the ride I discovered that Pikes Peak was only 100 miles south of Denver.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I raced rally cars in the late 1980’s and I have two favourite rally videos from that era
- Audi Quattro promo from the 1980’s when Audi introduced their first four wheel drive car to the world of rallying which was a game changer. I can’t find the YouTube version but here is an extract from it with Sir Walter Rohl in the Audi Quattro in 1985 – just to give you a taste of it; and
- Ari Vartanen’s run up Pikes Peak from the late 80’s when it was still dirt in a wild single seat turbo Purgoet 405. This was the first time I’d heard of Pikes Peak and I have watched that clip many many times. Since then the mountain has been sealed and they still have an annual race but this run run on dirt is amazing.
So the chance to take a run up Pikes Peak was too good to pass up and Deb was more than happy to sleep in, have a rest, and just hang out in Denver while I go for a ride up America’s mountain – Pikes Peak which has a summit of 14,115 feet (4,300 meters) which is nearly double the height of Australia’s highest peak at 2,228 meters or 7,310 feet.
I mentioned my post-tour plan to a few of our group and Erwing was also hanging onto his bike for a few days and was really keen to join me, so now I have company.
It turns out that getting there from our hotel was fairly straightforward. And as a bonus I found one thing that these big bikes do really well – sit at 80+ mph on the freeway … just effortless. It is also an easy way of killing a lot of miles quickly.
Once we were in the Pikes Peak park the climb started and with a 25mph speed limit, a f air bit of traffic, and double yellows 99% of the way up it was relatively slow getting up and down.
The day before we did the Rocky Mountains NP and the road climbed to over 12,000 feet and had impressive drop offs, off the side of the road if you got it wrong. That was only preparing you for Pikes Peak!
Australia’s most famous racetrack is in the small country town of Bathurst and is called Mount Panorama as it is set into a mountain. It is a public road for the majority of the year and is an amazing track to just drive around. One of the corners is called skyline as you crest the mountain and approach this corner all you can see is sky as the road disappears down and round to your right. I was reminded of this on Pikes Peak as so many of the corners are just like this but with no guard railings and huge drop-offs if you get it wrong. Just amazing!!
The odd couple
I am not someone who is afraid of heights but riding up on this bike I have to admit that I was hugging the centreline and being very conservative. Two things that kept going through my head – I can’t imagine racing up this mountain let along doing it on dirt, and I may need to re-evaluate my idea of doing the Rohtang pass in India.
At the top we spent time taking photos, looking in the gift shop (yes I bought a t-shirt and magnet), and spent quite a bit of time chatting to other motorcyclists from both the US and around the world about this ride, other roads, and motorcycles. This is one of the many many reason I love riding a motorcycle is that we all have this common bond (no matter what we ride, where we are from) and are generally always happy to chat. However after about 30 minutes the altitude was really starting to affect me so I had to just sit for a while and drink some water before we rode back down.
I’m not sure how the workers up here do it all day every day. I guess they are acclimatised to it.
Interesting to note that half way down everyone is stopped and their brake temperature is tested and if too high they are given a stop to ensure their brakes don’t fail.
Then it was time to head back down.
Pikes Peak was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad that I made the effort.
And then after a quick bite to eat we made our way back to Denver to drop off the bike to Eagle rider and just like that the riding component of our holiday was over. Overall we did 3,315 miles (5,300km).
We found out a week ago that Deb earned the trip next year based out of Rome. So last night at dinner I asked whether she would be interested in another motorcycle trip next year. Deb just leaned over and showed me her phone with an italiam motorcycle tour website displayed.
I guess the answer is yes.