One Day in Colorado on a Rented Road King

I had lots of grand plans for motorcycling during our big vacation to Colorado this year, from trailering my bike out there to renting a bike for 2 weeks. What it came down to, ultimately, was a one-day rental while we were in Steamboat Springs. I packed my Olympia Phantom suit and my helmet in the minivan, and counted the days until I could use them.

When I booked the bike before the trip, I asked if they could remove the quick-release windshield for me since I didn't want to ride behind a huge swath of lexan. They assured me it wouldn't be a problem. When I picked the bike up, however, I was told the "technicians" wanted the bike to go out as is, no removing of parts. Great.

I put my fleece in the saddlebag (brilliant design, btw), along with some water and snacks. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on my one day of riding eating lunch at a restaurant.

I picked the bike up as soon as Eagle Rider opened. It was a bit frustrating walking past the KTM SuperDuke to pick up my Harley.

Headed over Rabbit Ears Pass, which we had driven over in the minivan a few days earlier. Much more enjoyable on the bike. Sweepers for the most part.

I could see mountains, but the ride on this part of 40 and 14 was pretty flat

Looking through that big screen, very straight and flat for a long time.

The screen did make hauling easier though

Coming up to Cameron Pass on 14

At the top. Love the 'POS' plate.

Going through the Cache le Poudre area on 14 - very cool once I passed a long line of RV's (who, when I stopped to take this picture, passed me)

Stove Prairie Road between 14 and 34. THANK YOU everyone who suggested this little gem. Hardly a straight flat section, and zero traffic.

You can see how Stove Prairie Rd goes up, down, and around. I did mess up at the end, though, and ended up in Fort Collins instead of connecting with 34. Gassed up in Fort Collins, and got directions to 34. This was the first time in a long time I had no GPS, and no decent map.

I rode 34 through Big Thompson Canyon, and the rain started to fall. The Phantom kept me dry, and I stopped in Estes Park to wait out the rain for a while. I had hoped to minimize non-riding time, but the storm wasn't likely to last too long. I had eaten at Penelope's a couple times earlier in the vacation while camping in Rocky Mountain National Park with the family, and I couldn't pass up another opportunity.

Best Burgers in Estes Park, without a doubt. I'd mention Penelope's in the same breath as Five Guys, and that's saying something.

The obligatory food shot. Burger and Pibb. Got a nice counter seat by the window to keep an eye on my rented bike.

Finally, I can complete a trip I started 15 years ago. On my first trip ever out West, I took Trail Ridge Road only as far as the Alpine Visitor's Center before turning around. I've since been over the road dozens of times in cars, but never on a bike.

From my first visit here in '94

I've been to RMNP many times, but Fall River Pass has never been open when I'm there. Of course now that I'm here on a bike it is.


Tooling through RMNP


A portion of Trail Ridge Road I came up

Snow! Also a bit of rain coming down.

Going through Rock Cut

A large part of the road is above treeline and across tundra

Beauty shot


Another beauty shot. No matter what I think of how Harley's ride, I have to admit they can be beautiful.

Me and the bike, picture by a helpful stranger.

I had to take this shot to go with this shot from my '94 trip:

Now it was finally time to finish the road I had started many years ago. Didn't stop for any pictures on the way down, as it was raining on and off, and I was just enjoying the moment.

Big daddy elk

And then the rain really started to fall on the west side of the park. Since I knew this would be my last time here for a few years I just pulled over and sat for a while, trying to take it all in. As many times as I come to RMNP, it's never enough. The place touches me, and I just hate to leave it. I probably spent about 1/2 an hour walking around, watching the woods, just soaking it all in. Very sad to finally get back on the bike and ride out.

Heading west on 40 towards Hot Sulpher Springs. Wide-open country with some sweepers mixed in.

You just can't go wrong with any road around here

Call me juvenile, but I laugh every time I see these places.

Past Kremmling going west

Heading down into Steamboat Springs

My son snapped this pic of me the next morning on the way to return the bike. Nice shot Mike!

The route for the day, around 340 miles. Overall, a fantastic day of riding.

The Road King and I didn't get along too well, but the scenery made up for it. I hated the windscreen, mostly in the twisties because the transition between looking around the screen and looking through it was wacky (there's the fogline, no, now it's over there!). Most of the Harley's I've ridden had adequate (just) power, but this guy was a wheezer. No real acceleration to be found, and the exhaust was much too quiet.

The weight also took some of the fun away, because every time I wanted to stop for a picture I really had to evaluate the surface of where I would stop. I didn't want to come to a stop with that thing leaning over. I got in the habit of really concentrating on looking straight ahead when stopping, it felt like I was back on the MSF BRC course.

I guess you get used to the kickstand's behavior, but it caught me by surprise a couple of times. I would have the bike stopped, and start to dismount when it would roll an inch and cause me to lunge for what I thought would be a falling bike. I know it's a good design (locking so it can't roll off), but I wasn't used to it.