The morning dawned bright and clear in Leadville, Colorado. And freezing. It was sub-zero overnight and when I went out to the bike it was only 4C and there was frost on the bike cover. As I was loading the bike some other BMW riders emerged from the motel and we had quite a long chat about things. They had come over Independence Pass the day before and gave me some useful advice, such as warning me that on the Aspen side the road was essentially just one car wide in many places. The chap who was the natural leader, Karl, B, has a really interesting job: he makes rocket engines for people who fly to the edge of space as a hobby. Actually, !!! His company has an association with an Australian outfit and I am recording it here so I can research it later. Www.ausrocketry.com.au. Morris M in Leesville, you should meet this chap.
After mutual well wishes I went back into Leadville to take some photos. There are many old buildings, houses and churches which are very attractive. An aspect of the houses that seems unique to Leadville is the colorful and often quite intricate color schemes that are favoured. They also have a large mining museum and Hall of Fame, house in a magnificent old house, it looks like. Really huge. I was also impressed that the residents have in their backyard a panoramic view of the Rockies, with Mount Elbert as the most prominent feature. They are now snow-capped and just beautiful.
On with the main business of the day: riding over Independence Pass. One never tires of riding through the Rockies and its foothills. Be they green or arid, there is always something to please the eye or amaze the mind' often both simultaneously. Today was no different. I have been encouraged to take the iconic photo of the bike within the American landscape, which will be the cover of the intended photo album. The photo above may fit the bill. It is one of the most stunning views of the trip. The cars on the road were just about queued up to take photos.
The ride to the top of the pass is marked by a gradual ascent initially and then suddenly, up you go. There are several extra slow speed hairpins and few turnouts. The top has a short walk to a viewing point, where a Hollander Aernoud wearing shorts in the freezing weather, asked me to take a photo of him and his wife. We had a bit of a chat and he seemed very decent. He is obviously very tough. It was icy up there, literally!
I took the obligatory shot of the bike under the sign indicating the name of the pass, the elevation and the fact that it is the Continental Divide. A few other folk seemed quite impressed and took photos of the bike as well. One kind chap offered to take a shot if me with the bike and the iPhone was used for that. It has been posted on my Facebook.
Down the other side and yep, seriously narrow road. Many trees were fallen from the rocks that had been dislodged by the recent wet weather. I took it slowly as snow melt was on the road down to about 9,000 feet, but soon I was riding into Aspen.
This is a really pretty place, but here in a tiny town one finds designer clothing stores! The Hollywood crowd have clearly made this pretty town their own. Lunch there was really pleasant but a little pricey. Still, sitting under an umbrella in the autumn sun was very pleasant.
Pressing in, I eventually hit the road from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs, which I had traveled with Liz. I happened to look over my left shoulder ad I approached Carbondale and noticed snow-capped Mount Sopris stands like a remote guardian over the town. Very pretty. But as I rode into Glenwood Springs I felt a surge of nostalgia, remembering how not all that long ago Liz had been with me on that very road.
Getting to Grand Junction, my stopping place for the night, was either on I70 for a distance of about 68 miles, or on the byways for more than twice that. An easy decision. It is a very picturesque drive for an interstate, but today I had to battle cross winds gusting up to 50mph. To manage it better, I would tuck myself in behind a big truck.
Grand Junction is named for the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. On my brief look at downtown it is a really attractive place. I will take some photos tomorrow.
The big issue now is the weather. Thursday and Friday are lining up with snow storms and many roads will be closed, perhaps into next week. I will need to decide, perhaps as early as tomorrow, whether to turn north, or head west.