Day Eight - Ouray CO to Cripple Creek CO
Miles: 254
Elapsed Time: 10:30

Sometimes breakfast is a challenge in Ouray and the places come and go on a regular basis. For the dirt trip earlier in the year we ate at the campground every morning so we didn’t know for sure what would be open at 7:00. We had kind of given up as we walked into the Backstreet Bistro and thinking we would just get a coffee and scanner something but we didn’t realize the seating area was in the back and quite spacious. We all had some unique dishes with different ingredients and not just your regular bacon and eggs. Probably the best breakfast of the trip for me. The Bistro has since moved around the corner and is now located on 7th street.

We started up US550 and probably the best riding day began at least if weather is factored in. We began the day knowing Jim’s rear tire was in pretty bad shape. We had noticed it wearing pretty quickly and today he would likely need to take action. Before we got underway we rode south to a scenic area overlooking Bear Falls on the Million Dollar Highway that we bypassed the night before due to all of the traffic. In the morning the traffic hadn’t started in full so the ride to the overlook was nice. After we were done with pictures we rode up to Montrose and turned east on
US50. We considered visiting the South rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison but we thought we covered well enough from the North and decided to continue on. US50 is a great road with good riding conditions and plenty of twists and turns. We stopped for gas in Gunnison but we didn’t waste any time, we were quickly back riding and getting ready to assault Monarch Pass. As we started up the pass I noticed Sebastian coming on so I knew we were going to go full throttle up to the top. Jim had continued on as soon as he gassed up so he wouldn’t have to put any more strain on the tire as was necessary by riding hard. The run up the pass was great, both of our bikes were limiting what we could do. I was full out the entire way and Sebastian related to me at the top that he was as well. I’m sure the 103 Harley has more horsepower, but I think the BMW has as much torque and handles better. The result was he couldn’t catch me and I couldn’t pull away from him. It was a nice situation that both of us were limited by what we were riding. It is the one complaint I have about the RT and that is, it is a little underpowered for my taste. Anyway at the top we found Jim talking with some other bikers and they had him convinced he shouldn’t ride another mile. Steve and I both told we have ridden on tires far worse than what he had. Not a good position to take but we both felt he could get somewhere other than on top of Monarch Pass. We ended going back down and we tried to find a place in Salida but once we stopped there was nothing. Jim had called the BMW store in Denver and was told they could change the tire in an hour or so but they could do it if he got there in time. So, he bid farewell and said he would see us tonight in Cripple Creek. We went to Amica’s for lunch; a nice restaurant and brewpub. The pizza and beers were very good, but stay away from the Chile Beer. On the East side of Salida is where I really had my fun for the day, what a great road as it follows the Arkansas River over to the Royal Gorge area. It’s there that we all re-connected before going into Canon City. I had us routed on Skyline Drive on the outskirts of Canon City. I saw some youtube videos of this and thought it looked pretty good. It didn’t disappoint as everyone really liked the unique perspective. After Skyline Drive we drove up Shelf Road. I had strongly consider Phantom Canyon but it is longer on dirt, I knew it would be the end of the day when we might be tired, and Steve and I had not been on Shelf Road so this was the choice. Phantom Canyon is probably a little more scenic but the Shelf Road was pretty good and not too difficult for street bikes. There was a sign saying four wheel drive and high clearance was recommended but we were in too deep to turn around and I was fairly certain it was passible for street bikes. We did have a little challenge in that we came to an older woman in a newer Ford Escape broken down with an overheated engine. We looked at it and tried a few things but couldn’t crack the issue and had to leave her. I called the Sheriff when I arrived to the hotel and had them make a run down the road to help her. Once we got to Cripple Creek we checked in and parked our bikes. Cripple Creek is a bastion for tour buses carrying older people to gamble. Gambling is legal in parts of Colorado and in Cripple Creek is the primary industry by far. Because is caters to an older crowd and there are not that many good eating establishments and the only craft brewery in town was closed and out of business. Nevertheless we walked around town after having re-united with Jim, and had a few beers while Steve and Jim threw some bones and we played some Blackjack. Jim’s worn out tire got him to Denver where the dealer was waiting and they changed tires. Jim wasn’t behind us by all that much and was still grinning ear to ear when he arrived having cheated the tire gods. We ended up eating at Maggie’s before calling it a night.