We rode off up Canyon Road to Nederlands under a heavily overcast sky that soon turned to drizzle.
We stopped in Nederlands briefly for fuel and ended up chatting with a group of motorcyclists on a Sunday ride.
Before continuing we put on our wet weather gear - to keep warm as much as dry. We turned onto the Peak to Peak Highway and headed north through light rain and broad vistas.
The road should have been motorcycle Heaven with its sweeping bends and good surface. Instead, we were trapped in a conga-line of cars that never exceeded the conservative speed limit, and religously slowed down to the recommended speed limits on every bend. ARRRRGH! If they ride motorcycles in Hell, this is what it will be like. The views were very pleasant however.
At the end of the highway we rode trhough Estes Park for a second time before heading up a beautiful road that wound along the side of a river and into a rocky, gorgeous canyon.
Again we were caught in a mobile traffic jam that slowed us to frustration. Once through this canyon, our route took us quite a few miles through fairly flat open country as we by-passed Ft Collins to the west.
Entering the Cache le Poudre Canyon took us through a narrow gap in the cliffs, barely wide enough for the river and the road to share.Further on it was not so narrow, but most beautiful all the same.
A number of miles up the canyon we stopped at a cafe/store for coffee and were told that there was snow falling on the road ahead of us in Cameron Pass, and that we should think twice about trying to cross it. The only alternatives were to go on immediately, stay in the Canyon overnight (and hope the weather cleared so we could continue tomorrow) or turn back to Fort Collins and take a very lengthy and time consuming detour north through Wyoming.
We decided to go on and have a look at the conditions. As we climbed towards the top of Cameron Pass at 10,276 ft the rain initially intensified.
We pressed on and were heartened that the rain stopped and there were patches of blue sky to be seen ahead.
As we climbed above the snow line we entered a winter wonderland. The road was wet but not covered in snow. Crossing the pass lifted our confidence briefly.
As we began our descent on the western side, the road was covered with slushy snow. Our bike's computer was flashing a warning that the temperature was below 36 F and that there could be ice on the road. (The temperature could have much lower but the LCD display screen is impossible to read in most lighting conditions...) It may have been cold and snowing, but it was another version of what it might be to ride in Hell.
Chris slowed right down and rode in the tyre tracks of vehicles that had preceded us. He was also very careful to keep the bike vertical and not test tyre lean angles. It was scary because we have never ridden in such conditions and were beginning to think we should have paid more credence to the local's warnings.
Having said that, the views and scenery were quite captivating and beautiful.
It was quite a relief to finally get below the snow line again. Our speed picked up and we made good time to our planned overnight destination of Walden. We found a motel, checked in and walked a short distance up the road to the River Rock Cafe for dinner.
We were tired and it was really cold, so we hopped into the sack quite early. Unfortunately the people in the room next door had a party going and the walls were uncomfortably thin, so we didn't get to sleep for some time.