“Today is going to be so awesome…I’ve waited 4 years for this!”
That was the thought running through my mind on the morning of day 4. That was the day we decided to ride to the top of Pikes Peak (14,110 ft)!
My wife and I have lived up and down the Wyoming and Colorado front range since 2001. Down through the years, several times I have said to myself, “One day I’ll go up to Pikes Peak”.
When I had the BumbleBee I had a day picked out to ride up there, but I made a better decision that day instead. Now, finally, the day came when I was able to go to the top…and the weather absolutely couldn’t have been better!
After paying our fees ($12 each if I remember correctly), Shawn led the way up the mountain and our adventure began. Just a couple of miles in to the journey was a handy warning sign. Even though the crossing was clearly marked, sadly, we did not see Sasquatch.
We stopped at Crystal Creek Reservoir to enjoy the absolutely STUNNING view!
I took out my telephoto lens and found that I could barely see the Summit House from the same vantage point as above. Look very closely and you can see the Cog Railway car!
After that I poked around the gift shop and found a few neat things to bring home to my wife and kids.
After walking around a little more, I found Shawn talking with another motorcycle rider eating his lunch after just coming back down from the summit. We learned that Aaron had ridden from Kentucky to Colorado on his KLR (that deserves an iron butt award right there) and was enjoying all that our state has to offer!
Originally he had planned to head north to Estes Park, but we highly recommended he check out the Mt. Princeton and St. Elmo Ghost Town area that we had just ridden. We swapped stories and enjoyed the moment as fellow riders embracing our adventures. Then we exchanged contact information and said our goodbyes.
We mounted the bikes and started the climb towards the summit. I am not really sure what I expected the road to the top to be like, but it was beyond anything I thought it would be.
Gorgeous. Incredible. Amazing. Breathtaking. Mind-boggling. A little scary.
All of those describe the road and so much more. Even then, there were times that I was literally speechless over our headsets. I really couldn’t describe how I was feeling as we climbed higher and higher in to the thin air. As far as the eye could see, such a beautiful vista stretched out above, below, and all around us.
And then, before I knew it, we were there!
Before getting much of a chance to walk around, we met some other guys on motorcycles! This is Jurgen, a nice German fellow riding his MultiStrata from Toronto all throughout the west…over 12,000 miles in just a few weeks!
Then we talked with Craig again (we had met at the Reservoir) and got his picture! He was riding from Ohio out to Utah to see family.
Then it was time to take in the view. Believe me, at 14,110 feet….it really is breath taking!
It really did seem like we were significantly closer to the airliners way up there!
I saw this plaque and was reminded of what a beautiful song this is. It’s easy to see why Katharine Lee Bates was so inspired when she reached the summit in 1893. She wrote of the experience:
“…we stood at last on that Gate-of-heaven summit… and gazed in wordless rapture over the far expanse of mountain ranges and sea like sweep of plain. Then and there the opening lines of ‘America the Beautiful’ sprang into being… I wrote the entire song on my return that evening to Colorado Springs.”
I looked around some more and saw some interesting sights such as Garden of the Gods (lower left in picture)…
The Colorado Springs Airport / Peterson Air Force Base
And even the wind farm that surrounds our property, some 50+ miles from the summit (notice all the faint white towers at the top)!
The views really are remarkable in every direction
Much too soon, it was time to embrace the windy road below us and leave our mountain top experience…
We returned to our bikes to put our gear on. As I slipped on my helmet, I was startled to see something in the corner of my vision.
A stranger’s hand. On my handlebars.
As soon as I looked up I saw a pleasant, aged, face that beamed with a huge smile.
“You know, my first boyfriend had a motorcycle. He would take me for rides in the country and I loved it so much!”
I replied, “That is wonderful! I love riding a motorcycle. You experience so much that you do not get in a car.”
“That’s right!”, she said. “We would ride through the fields and you could smell the grass; you could hear the cows in the fields; you could smell the trees as we went through the forest. I remember so much of it. Oh, it was so wonderful!”
“Would you like to sit on my bike?”, I asked her.
She hesitated for a moment, and I think she truly thought about it. But then she smiled and said, “I better not.” And with that she walked away.
It amazed me that this lovely old lady still remembered the all encompassing experiences that she had so long ago on that motorcycle. The years hadn’t dimmed the joy of those rides – the sights, the sounds, and even the smells.
That short encounter reminded me yet again of the incredible experience it is to ride a motorcycle. We should all be so lucky to remember these moments…and continue to enjoy the journey no matter how young or old we are.