Ever since I started travelling to the USA more often I realised that visiting my dream location would become a more tangible reality. Pikes Peak has been on my to do list since I was about 9 years old after the release of Gran Turismo 2 in 1999. Back then it was all about the Escudo Pikes Peak machine by Tajima, which introduced me to the event and my intrigue grew from there.
Although my interests have changed over the years, my want to visit this place hasn’t, so I decided to spend a weekend in Colorado Springs on a motorcycle exploring Pikes Peak and its surroundings.
I would have 2 days and 2 nights, starting in Denver, to experience Pikes Peak and its surroundings. With very little knowledge of the area itself I planned out a basic route. Although Pikes Peak is the obvious highlight of the trip, there are many beautiful attractions to see around Colorado Springs area and many unpaved trails to experience.
Travelling to Biarritz last year gave me a first taste of a long distance journey alone, but that was mostly highway in countries I am fairly familiar with. My trip to Pikes Peak would be my first real experience of riding a motorcycle in the US and also tackling off-road trails.
I brought everything that I thought may come in handy and which I had available.
In order starting from top left:
Wallet, sunglasses, phone charging cable, watch, noise cancelling headphones, camera bag, 200mm lens, fisheye lens extension, 2 GoPro Heros, GoPro accessories bag, Sony alpha camera, phone, passport and permit, power-bank, Alpinestar summer gloves, Spidi sport gloves, Arai helmet, motorcycle phone mounting kit, medicaments pouch, Icon 1000 jacket, Macbook, Alpinestar boots, Victorinox rucksack, wash-bag, plug adaptor and Mac charging cable.
On top of this I had a basic duffle-bag with some extra clothes, socks and pants.
At first it seemed like quite a daunting quantity of things to carry but after it was all packed into the rucksack and duffel-bag suitcase it appeared a bit more manageable.
Most of my gear is suited for street riding so it was going to be a bit of learning experience understanding how these perform off-road. I rented off-road trousers as I didn’t have anything other than leather at home.
’17 Honda Africa Twin 1000
I have a soft spot for Dakar inspired bikes and I wanted something that could accommodate my stature while at the same time being not too big and bulky; the Africa Twin is the perfect choice.
It’s a wonderfully easy bike to ride and has just enough power to have fun with. The stability of the bike is impressive yet it is very agile at the same time.
The bike was equipped with 50/50 semi off-road tires which did the job off-road and yet they provided a surprisingly large amount of grip on tarmac. I was thoroughly impressed by them, but I forgot to check what brand they were!
The bike was fitted with Aluminium side panniers, a GPS unit, some tubular crash protection and a sump guard; other than that it was completely stock.
Day 1 Route:
– Denver to Pikes Peak along CO-67.
– Pikes Peak summit.
– Garden of the Gods.
– Rampart Range Drive to Woodland Park.
– Woodland Park to Old Colorado City.
DAY 1 – FRIDAY, MORNING:
After picking up the bike in Denver, I headed out towards the Rocky mountains to begin my journey exploring some of Colorados fine roads. My plan was to head towards Pikes Peak immediately so that I could climb the mountain at its least busiest in the morning.
I hit Road 126 then Colorado-67 heading south and was treated to a scenic ride through Deckers and Woodland Park until the base of Pikes Peak.
I stopped at the toll for Pikes Peak and then began my climb of one of the most famous mountains and roads in the world. At the base it was rather hot, over 90F (32C), but I was warned that the weather at the top is usually very different.
As I made with ascent the Africa Twin began suffering from misfires and a lack of fuel; at first I wondered if it could be the altitude but I quickly dismissed that as I hadn’t yet made a significant climb, and in the end I think there was just an issue with a sensor somewhere in the bike that wasn’t throwing a code. Once I got to the top and restarted the bike, the issue resolved itself. I didn’t want to turn off the engine on the way up as I feared there could be a chance it may not start again and I wouldn’t have made it to the top of Pikes Peak.
The speed limit of 20 mph is of course not fun, but at the same time it is a tourist spot and it is worth just enjoying the views and the scenery around. You also need to watch out for wildlife on the way up.
Although the weather wasn’t perfect, once at the top, there were some amazing views. I can honestly say I’ve never been quite so high in altitude in my life, let alone on a motorcycle! The fact that you can access the peak of a mountain on a nice accessible road is quite incredible, and true to the American lifestyle.
After reaching the summit I headed back down and explored some of the small trails and reservoirs along the way. This gave me a first quick taste of some dirt before visiting Garden of the Gods and stopping for lunch.
DAY 1 – FRIDAY, AFTERNOON:
I visited Garden of the Gods by the entrance of the Rampart Range Drive and admired some of the amazing rock formations.
I quickly found the start of the Rampart Range Drive trail and at the time I didn’t quite know what it was, but I was curious and started riding down it. After a while I realised that I was on the trail I planned to explore during my 2 day trip but it was getting late in the day and I had no idea quite how long it would take to get through.
The trail climbs up to the top of the hills while heading North and there were some beautiful views to behold. Although you felt completely secluded in the wilderness at times, I would occasionally come across other people doing the same thing.
I rode into the evening for a few hours and slowly learned how to behave myself on gravel with a big bike like the Africa Twin. The 50/50 tires offered a reasonable amount of grip, but I have no previous experience or points of reference to compare.
After a few hours, as the light started to diminish, I decided to turn off and head down to Woodland Park and then make my way back to Old Colorado City. I stayed overnight I a wonderful B&B right in the heart of this lovely old town.
Day 2 will follow, but in the meantime enjoy the rest of my photos from Day 1…