A fairly odd set of circumstances ended me up in Colorado Springs with a Victory Cross Roads and a little time to kill. Kill is perhaps a good term for it, or ironic, I’m never quite sure. I was on an assignment to report on advanced motorcycle training for Army Special Forces troops. Since more of our elite commandos had fallen to the perils of two-wheeled transportation (and likely four-wheeled idiots on cell phones) than enemy fire since 9/11, the Army set out to do something about it.
Puget Sound Safety was contracted to teach a series of mentoring classes to Special Forces troopers so they could pass along their knowledge to other troops, the way the military conducts most of it’s training. Since Victory supplies the instructor bikes, and they had a spare, they invited me along to take part, and to do a little exploring in what’s arguably the best motorcycle state. If you want to read more about the class, pick up the February 2012 issue of our sister publication Motorcycle Cruiser.
Helen Hunt Falls
The Collegiate Peaks
“Hurry Up and Wait” is a term coined by the military, and it’s no joke, so there was plenty of time not teaching the fine art of motorcycling to get out and live a little. Colorado Springs is nestled right up against the Front Range of the Rockies, and as such, there is no lack of twisting roads and breathtaking scenery. Some of it is basically right in town. Helen Hunt Falls (named after the writer, not the actress) in Cheyenne Canyon Park and Garden of the Gods are both nice rides and sights, but also basically just outside the city itself.
US 50 by the Arkansas.
Discounting the ski resort towns up in the rockies, there’s few better jumping off spots than The Springs. Most day trips will either start with a run up US 24 to the West or perhaps south toward Cañon City and the mountains beyond. You could also go east is flat farmland is your thing, or north if you like big cities (Denver).
Luckily for me, the instructors from Puget Sound were still eager to explore the area after spending all day talking motorcycles in the classroom, and all afternoon teaching motorcycles on the range or out on the road. Our first trek was out to local riding spot Cripple Creek. An old mining town near the tree line, the Creek is where the locals who like the twisties go to give their bikes a workout. Besides the mining town itself, there are a slew of secondary roads in the area that wind through the gorgeous forested mountains. While all the signs to Cripple Creek point to the main State Road (SR) 67, County Road (CR) 1 is far more entertaining. We strung CR-1 into CR-11, then on to SR-9, as mountainous blind twists turned to rolling hills (and more than a few cops).
To make a loop of it, we took US-50 into Cañon City. It would have been a quick hour ride back to the Springs, but with the long supper days, we decided to be tourists. Our first stop, a couple miles off of Interstate 50, was Royal Gorge. The Gorge is a full-on family friendly tourist trap, complete with admission fees, an aerial tram, and a zoo full of bison and bighorn sheep. For us, the main attraction is the gigantic suspension bridge that you’re allowed to ride across.
Most of Colorado is not for the acrophobic, but the Royal Gorge Bridge merits special mention. With nothing but heaving, swaying wood slats between you and a near 1000 foot drop into the Arkansas River, it’s not a ride many will take on two wheels. Back on 50, we made a point of taking a detour to ride Cañon City’s famous Skyline Drive.
Just before Cañon, the PSS boys pointed out a couple buildings in a parking lot with an arch at the back of it that lead to what looked like a paved goat path up a hill. This is Skyline Drive. Maybe it’s the time of year, or my jaded LA eyes, but a run up a narrow ridge that overlooks a small city, in the evening with lights just coming on, was nice, but nothing to write about… oh wait, maybe it was. The one-way road was a fun little diversion, but no reason to visit Cañon City.