Author Topic: 3500 Miles (Grand Rapids to Aspen and Back)  (Read 1223 times)

Offline ryan.wright

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3500 Miles (Grand Rapids to Aspen and Back)
« on: July 10, 2012, 02:19:29 pm »
Just returned home from an incredible trip from Grand Rapids (home) to Colorado Springs during the wildfires and then on up into the Rockies for several days including places like Aspen, Breckenridge, and even some beer breweries along the way.  Just wanted to pass along some "MUST STOP" places for those in the area this summer.

If you're in Colorado, you should drive through Manitou Springs near Pike's Peak.  The highway into Manitou is marked with "burn scars" as they're called all along the north side.  It's pretty incredible stuff and humbling.  While you're there, stop in some of the local shops and ask residents about wildfire stories.  Almost 400 homes were destroyed, but more importantly you'll hear stories of the courageous firefighters standing between houses and the wildfires unrelentingly.  One resident told me about how when he returned home, he saw the blackened remains coming all the way up into his backyard, and then he noticed the footprints of firefighter boots on his back deck where they stood facing the flames and holding them back.  The fires were spreading at a rate of three football fields a minute on the worst day.

If you're in Colorado, you have to drive into Aspen and spend at least a few hours there.  Aspen is a very neat town with tons of character and plenty of dives for great food.  Plenty of bikers are there and they love to share stories (as I found out).

You will also want to swing by Boulder, Colorado just north of Denver.  In this college town there are several breweries with free tours.  Two of them are well worth mentioning.  Boulder Beer offers free tours that each end with a free sampling of every beer they brew.  These include your simple lagers but also include some more complex and flavorful beers like IPA's, Stouts, Porters, Saisons, etc.  But the brewery that took the cake was Avery Brewing.  The tour was educational, but the beer was phenomenal.  They specialize in radically complex beers such as barrel aged brews and belgian strong ales.  Many of their beers cross the 10% ABV threshold and some venture into the upper teens.  The two beers that were most notable included a strong ale that had been aged for three years in a porter wine cask and a sour beer that had been aged also three years in a cabernet cask.  This made for a fantastic day!  But if you plan on visiting the breweries, plan on waiting a few hours before hopping back on the bikes in a college town.  Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I ended up looking like road pizza because of a young driver last summer who pulled out in front of me.

If you venture into the Rockies, make sure to swing by a few notable land features.  These include the beauty of Twin Lakes, the majestic Blue Mesa Lake (fantastic for fishing btw, trout and salmon), and especially the breath taking views at Independence Pass.  You will also want to venture down the world renowned "Million Dollar Highway" named after the views beheld from the seat on a motorcycle.

Some advice: After a 3500 mile trip, I noted that next time I will want to get rid of the cramp buster and instead go with a throttle lock cruise control.  A cramp buster can only do so much.  Also, you might consider adding some highway bars of some kind as my knees wanted blood to flow past them and down into my legs after some time.  I have a wrap-around backrest/trunk assembly for the wife, and because of it she was able to travel very comfortably with me.  It's a must-have as far as I'm concerned for passengers who want to really enjoy their time.  Also, take either a GoPro or a handheld HD recorder of some kind.  We got some excellent footage of some peg-scraping turns in the mountains.  Also, if you're riding in the Rockies expect inclement weather!  This includes hail and thunderstorms.  We were well prepared, and it made the experience that much better.

Get out there and enjoy some sweet roads this summer, gentlemen!  Also, if you have a cruise control to recommend or highway bars to recommend, please do so!

Offline CRocker

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Re: 3500 Miles (Grand Rapids to Aspen and Back)
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 12:06:36 am »
Sounds like you had a really nice ride!

Thanks!
'02 C-10