A girl, a bike, and an open road

Last summer I rode The Morrigan from Seattle to Boulder, CO, where I spent 5 weeks living, working, and riding the Front Range; its good that Seattle and I have a polyamorous relationship! Colorado is a seriously beautiful place, and I feel fortunate every time I get to visit. Only being in town a couple days to visit friends while I wait on a new set of tires, I decided to make the time to grab a Colorado stamp for the IBA Nat’l Park Tour, and rode up to Estes Park, the gateway town for the Rocky Mountain National Park. The weather was perfect, 75F, mostly cloudy, minimal traffic on a weekday afternoon. Finally off the slab, I’m on roads and streets familiar enough that I don’t need GPS, trading a chatty AI for podcasts and playlists.

Estes Park was crowded as usual, two-thirds of the license plates from out-of-state or rental cars. Few of the ridiculously oversized RVs here, but lots of over-packed station wagons, SUVs, and #vanlife people. The visitors center was crowded, so I grabbed my stamp and dodged slack-jawed tourists in the parking lot. I briefly considered riding the Trail Ridge Road, but the “mostly cloudy” had turned to “slightly threatening overcast” so I turned back towards Boulder, taking CO-7 to Allenspark and Nederland, a gorgeous, twisty road that climbs up to 9800 feet, through the eastern edge of the Rockies. Foliage is turning now, the aspen golden and quivering, larch mixed in with pine, exploding as brilliant yellow flares from the forest floor. After the emptiness of the plains, it feels as if all the trees are huddling together here, perched above the prairie like a child on the edge of a tub, just dabbing the occasional toe into the too-hot water.

Saint Malo's Chapel on the Rock

I have the road mostly to myself, so I indulge in some fast riding, conditions being perfect for pushing the turns. I stopped at one turnoff to have a snack and take some pics, and enjoyed the wonderful smells of fall, the pitch of pine, small hint of woodsmoke from some cabin in the valley below. I took some glamour shots of The Morrigan, and when I looked up from checking the outcome on my phone’s screen, saw that 3 deer, a buck and 2 does, were placidly watching ME and my antics.

Nederland never changes, and the road down through Boulder Canyon is fast, twisty, and gorgeous as always. It is rutted and pitted in places, but fun all the same. I pulled into downtown Boulder, intending to stop in on a friend, but parking, construction, and lots of foot traffic persuaded me to try again another day.

Can winter be far away?

The next day, I rode in to Denver and worked from a Starbucks until Let It Ride opened. They’re a great local shop, and they set set me up with a pair of Shinko 705s to replace the worn rubber on The Morrigan. The rear I had replaced just before leaving Seattle on this trip across the USA, but the front had been with me since the beginning of my Alaska trip, and still had plenty of tread, but was starting to cup and square a bit from all the highway miles. Better safe than sorry! I got a GREAT price on the tires, and they even rolled them to the shop next door, Peak Performance, who made time in their schedule to help out a traveler and get the tires swapped in less than 30 minutes, and didn’t charge me a premium for the rush job.. 2 great businesses that made me feel welcome, took care of me, and should get your business if you are in the area.

Had a couple great conversations while I was waiting. I intended to walk over to a local diner and get breakfast while I waited for the tire change, but who happened to be in the shop but Pat Jaques of, who I’d met at Flock to the Rock earlier in the year. She remembered me, and we chatted for a bit, reminding me of what a small community it is of female riders.

As I was leaving the store and about to head to the diner, an older gentleman on a Tiger 800 whistled in, so of COURSE I had to chat with him about just how much he loves the Tiger. I’m seriously considering getting one, so I asked him a million questions about mods and service and the like, and he was happy to answer all of them, naturally! After a while, the tech from Peak Performance pulled up on The Morrigan, the tires fresh and unblemished, and I was ready to go! Thanks again, guys!

Iron Butt National Park Tour Challenge: 51/50 stamps, 25/25 states

Miles: 117

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