In mid-August, it’s a crisp 42 degrees as we ride out of Estes Park. The heated grips and seats are on high. We had to wipe down our motorcycles to free them of the wet layer of morning dew, and my foggy windshield hasn’t quite cleared up yet. The sun is low and we’re riding east. I’m thinking about how epic this trip to Colorado has been. As I glance to the side of the road, a big deer leaps onto the shoulder. We stare each other down, one waiting on the other to react…
Denver to Cascade – 86 miles
Thanks to meticulous planning, our small riding group (Christa, our lucky website contest winners, Jim Williamson and Sue Lauer, and I), arrives at Denver International Airport within 45 minutes of one another. We had spoken on the phone beforehand to go over the details and chat a bit so it didn’t feel like meeting strangers. Actually, motorcyclists are never complete strangers—riding already lays the foundation for great conversation and friendship.
We take a shuttle to Lakewood, where G-Force Powersports has the three Victory motorcycles prepped and ready for our five-day adventure. Although both Jim and Sue ride motorcycles, they decided to ride two-up for this special occasion. I’ve been to lots of dealerships, but G-Force stands out for their exceptional customer service.
We pack our luggage into the cavernous side- and topcases of our 2013 Cross Country Tours and Vision, program our GPS route, and head west, then south. If we would have waited any longer, we probably would have melted in the heat.
It’s rush hour. A bustling Highway 285 takes us up the mountains before dipping south on 126 to 67. Highway 126 opens up before us with the first real view of what lies ahead–mountain peaks wherever we look. The road snakes its way along a valley following a small river. Other than the occasional gravel spots at side roads, conditions are perfect.
Dark clouds loom in the distance all afternoon. When we stop for gas in Woodland Park, it seems as if our luck will run out. Rocky Mountain Lodge in Cascade is only ten minutes away. It’s drizzling lightly, but it’s already 8 p.m. so we decide to get dinner before stopping for the night. The Wines of Colorado is the only close restaurant, and it’s a great choice. Delicious soups and a variety of main courses replenish our own fuel tanks.
Upon arriving at the Rocky Mountain Lodge, we learn the rules: “Breakfast is at 8:30,” and “Don’t leave food in the motorcycle compartments or the bears will find it!”