Cold, Wet, Hungry, and Grinning Like an Idiot
Early morning sun stabbed through the trees. Hot engines woofed in anticipation. Visors clicked shut and throttle hands twitched. Adventure was calling. The 2020 Pikes Peak motorcycle hill climb was on.
I have seen no evidence that anyone has ascended Pikes Peak on a rented Triumph during the 2020 calendar year in less time than I.
“That doesn’t sound right,” you’re thinking. “Wasn’t this year’s hill climb postponed? Aren’t they not racing bikes anymore, anyway?”
Those are fair points. There were no Ducati Streetfighters or Indian test bikes that day. Instead, there was a Triumph Thruxton and Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. Rather than world-class road racers, there was yours truly and Brad Wass, a like-minded friend who flew in to meet me midway between Texas and Nevada. This isn’t a motorcycle review, and it’s certainly not an attempt to regale you with illusions of skill we think we have. We did partake in our share of adventure, though, and I’m here to tell you there’s plenty left for all of you.
The idea for this trip occurred to me one day at work, when (like so many of us) I found myself thinking more about places I’d like to explore than whichever meeting was happening that day. This time, Google Maps settled on the Colorado Rockies. Gears started to turn. Used motorcycle listings appeared on my screen. Numbers began crunching. I texted a friend I hadn’t seen in years, and we made up our minds.
Originally, the plan was to buy an adventure bike and ride it to Colorado Springs on as many dirt roads as possible. I created a map showing every fuel stop, sightseeing attraction, campsite, in-network urgent care, and shop that looked like they could fix an old BMW GS between my house and Pikes Peak.
Like I said, though, numbers had been crunched. Big adventure bikes, even old ones, are fairly expensive. Being on the road for that much time involves a lot of vacation days, meals, and places to sleep. The responsible adult in me had found a compelling reason not to go. Luckily, the impulsive child in me wasn’t deterred. Rather than buying bikes, we decided to rent them. We eliminated days of travel by flying into Denver. Sharing hotel rooms cut our lodging in half. I even cashed in airline miles I’d been saving for years, and got round-trip flights for $11.
Did your travel partner pull over to check the map? Do they need to use the restroom? Are their legs cramping up because they insisted on choosing a cafe racer for a road trip? The mystery is half the fun!
Our Colorado road trip began in Golden, and quickly led into the mountains on I-70 before turning south. A cool, rainy first day reminded me that I was no longer in Texas, and gave me a sneaking suspicion that packing lightweight jeans and perforated leather might not have been the best choice. Sweeping turns kept our spirits up until we reached Crested Butte, at which point actual spirits kept our spirits up. Every restaurant in town was packed for dinner, so we avoided the rain under a pizza shop umbrella, and happily filled up on appetizers.
The next morning, we cut through a magical stretch of road called Cottonwood Canyon, weaved through cows, and parked to stretch our legs at an old drive-in movie theater at the base of the mountains. Finally, on across a long, flat stretch of grassland before descending into Colorado Springs. If one were inclined to take rented bikes to “the ton,” this would be the place to do it. Hypothetically.
Thus we came to ride the famous Pikes Peak. A 25-mile-per-hour speed limit helped us settle in, relax, and enjoy the view. Sure, it wasn’t what the mountain is famous for. Not a knee was dragged, not a wheel was turned in anger. I did come away with pictures and plenty of stories, though.
I guess you could call us influencers. It wouldn’t be the first time. (Photo by Brad Wass)
So, is the mountain all it’s cracked up to be? Is it worth plane tickets, rental fees, and hotel rooms to drive that slow toll road? Yes, it is. Be like us and take your time getting there, too.
Are we great adventurers? No. I didn’t pack decent rain gear and spent about half the trip soaked to the bone. The other half was spent coveting Brad’s saddlebags. Cafe bikes are horribly uncomfortable. Our originally planned route was hilariously optimistic. Worst of all, bad timing turned our great brewery tour into a locked door tour.
There were plenty of reasons for us not to make this trip; there always are. We spent money. We took time away from work and families. Every mile on the road carries some level of risk. The reasons go on, and on. Settling into my seat for the flight home, though, only the reason we did take the trip mattered: because. We did it because we could, and someday that won’t be the case. I’m willing to bet there’s an adventure calling that you’ve been ignoring, too. I think you should answer.
Cold, wet, hungry, and grinning like an idiot. (Photo by Brad Wass)
Scott is a lover of motorized fun, whether on four wheels or two. A child of the 90’s, he has a particular soft spot for hatchbacks and believes all aging cars deserve a second chance at life. Scott works as a freelance marketer for Dingo Productions in Fort Worth, Texas. If he’s not behind a camera or a computer, he’s probably chasing down new coffee shops with his wife or throwing a frisbee for his dog.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.