The Big Ride – Reconnecting with the old and embracing the new

My visit to British Columbia wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Vancouver Island where I lived for a decade before moving to Ottawa.   If you have been to the Island you will be familiar with with eagles that soar high above the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the fresh scent of the cedar trees that lingers in the air and the sound of the sea as it washes against the shoreline. Regardless of the season, Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit and my return home to the west coast this summer was no exception.

For me, being on the Island was about taking the time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues.  It was wonderful being back, enjoying walks on the beach, time spent at the Nanaimo Harbour and walking on the seawall, enjoying good food at some of my favourite restaurants and most of all sharing time with friends new and old.  The challenge of course was trying to fit it all.  My good friend Sue graciously allowed me to stay with her, using her place as my home-base during my visit.   Thank you Sue for your wonderful hospitality!

I also got in some great riding, including a day out on the road with Barry Switnicki.  Barry is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a senior trainer and mentor coach with Ericksons International, the college where I acquired my coach training.  Barry was one of my “distant” mentor coaches and although I had connected with him by telephone on a number of occasions I had not met him in person.  Barry lives in Nanaimo where he has a thriving coaching business, Pacific Change Mentors, and he enjoys motorcycling!  Barry suggested we connect for a motorcycle ride when I got to the Island, an offer I just couldn’t refuse – Barry, thank you for the awesome day out on the road!

The ride took us through Cathedral Grove – a majestic stand of old growth trees, located west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4.  If you’ve not visited Vancouver Island or taken the time to walk through Cathedral Grove, it’s a must do!

The forest is composed mostly of mature Douglas fir trees and ancient western red cedar. The trees are 300 to 400 years old, but some go as far back as 800 years. These older trees stand like giants with some reaching 250 feet high and trunks that measure over 30 feet in circumference. The grove of trees is one of the last stands of old growth on the Island and are survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago. The Park is protected from logging and has a wooden walkway through parts of the forest allowing visitors to experience its majesty!

Here are a few photos from my visit to the Island, along with with a short video of the ride.

The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
A working fish boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
A working fishing boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
An interesting bicycle rack
An interesting bicycle rack in Nanaimo

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Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Snagged!
Snagged!

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Trolls is a flooting restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips  on the Island!
Trolls is a floating restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips on the Island!
One of the heritage buidlings owntown Nanaimo, BC
One of the heritage buildings in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street

A few photos from the Ladysmith area

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Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC
Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC

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There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith

My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂

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Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Cooling off on a warm summers day
Cooling off on a warm summers day

When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.

The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 - It's known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store - yup you read that right goats!
The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 – It’s known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store – yup you read that right “goats!”
The notorious goats on the roof of Coombs Market
The infamous goats on the roof of Coombs Market
Inside the Combs Market where you can find a little of everything!
Inside the Coombs Market where you can find a little of everything!
The Combs Market has a little bit of everything!
The Coombs Market has a little bit of everything!
With Barry Switnicki at the Combs Market
With Barry Switnicki and the “lucky” Budda at the Coombs Market
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
I'm a tree hugger at heart
I’m a tree hugger at heart
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
I stopped in at Cathedral Grove which is located between Qualicum Beach  and Port Alberni on Highway 4.  The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 9 feet!
Cathedral Grove is located between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni on Highway 4. The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 30 feet!
Another perspective :)
Another perspective 🙂

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And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,

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A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn - the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn – the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!

And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.

Mahle House in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo - they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and is provide a quaint setting - a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.
Mahle House Restaurant in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo – they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and provides a quaint setting – a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.

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And when it's hot...there's another way to cool off!  Cruising with the top down works :)
And when it’s hot…there’s another way to cool off! Cruising with the top down with my friend Sue 🙂


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Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo - It's to die for!
Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish Market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo – It’s to die for!


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Some interesting local art
Some interesting local art

From here I was Victoria bound where I spent an incredible day enjoying the sights of this historic city prior to boarding the ferry for the State of Washington.  Stay tuned for my post that will include a few photos from the area.  Until then, enjoy the moment…there will never be another like it!

The Big Ride – When expectations are exceeded ten fold! (Duffey Lake Road, BC – Highway 99)

In the past two months I have had the opportunity to ride in some pretty amazing places. Building the Duffey Lake Road into my itinerary allowed me to do it yet again and this time in my own backyard.  While living in British Columbia I had taken this road in the early 1990’s but had forgotten how spectacular it was.  This is not a road for new motorcycle riders and I would not recommend it to just anyone but if you are an experienced rider and happen to live in the area or plan on being in the area, I would encourage you to check it out.  If you’re not a motorcyclist it would be a pretty darned good ride in a car as well.  This really is one amazing ride and I’d bet that when you’re done you’ll agree with me!

If you aren’t familiar with the road, Highway 99 connects central British Columbia with the southern part of the province and is made up of a number of sections including the “Sea to Sky Highway” which is the southern section from Horseshoe Bay (where the ferry to Nanaimo is located) to Pemberton.  The highway travels along the coast of Howe Sound to Squamish and on to Whistler. From there it goes to Pemberton where the Sea-to-Sky Highway ends and Duffey Lake Road begins. This section goes on for almost 100 winding kilometres in very steep mountains where it connects with Lillooet.  In my view it is the most breathtaking section! Not only is it very challenging with the speed limit dropping as low as 30 km per hour due to the tight curves, it twists through some of the most pristine countryside you will ever see.  The highway runs through the Duffey Lake Provincial Park, alongside numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. From there the road connects Lillooet with central British Columbia near Cache Creek just south of Clinton.

Here is a video of my what I experienced on the ride.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

In addition to the video, here are a few photos from my ride from Clinton, BC to Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry over to Nanaimo to spend a few days connecting with friends in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.

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One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels
One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.

Duffey Lake - This is just one of the many prestige lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the "Sea to Sky Highway"
Duffey Lake – This is just one of the many pristine lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the “Sea to Sky Highway”

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Loving it here!
Loving it here!


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Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffy Lake Highway - what a magnificent ride
Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffey Lake Highway – what a magnificent ride
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99

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There are s number of train tunnels along the Duffy Lake Road Highway 99
There are a number of train tunnels along the Duffey Lake Road on Highway 99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC
A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC

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Local native art
Local native art

The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC

Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler - this is definitely a young persons sport!
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler – this is definitely a young persons sport!

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In the Village at Whistler
In the Village at Whistler
Checking out the Village
Checking out the Village
Whistler Village
Whistler Village

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Near Squamish, BC
Near Squamish, BC
South of Whistler, BC
South of Whistler, BC

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To close this blog, here are a few photos taken while in Horseshoe Bay as I headed over to Vancouver Island to reconnect with friends.  I spent ten years on the Island before moving to Ottawa so in many respects it felt as if I was “homeward bound”.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound
Waiting to board the ferry Nanaimo bound
Waiting to board the ferry to Nanaimo
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I hung out in Horseshoe Bay Park while waiting for the next sailing to Vancouver Island. There is always lots to see and do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe one of these :)
My next ride perhaps…you gotta love an Audi!
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country – those are Quebec plates
A new friend
A new friend
An angel in the making...progress not perfection :)
An angel in the making…progress not perfection 🙂

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On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. Must say Big Blue was the nicest bike in the lineup :)
On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. I must say Big Blue was the prettiest bike in the lineup 🙂
Sweet
Sweet sweet…very sweet

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A beautiful day for sailing
A beautiful day for sailing

While on Vancouver Island I had the opportunity to do some great riding.  When I have the video ready for posting I’ll share it with you!  Until then, live life out load and laugh a lot!

 

The Big Ride – When Big is BIGGER than Big and goes over the top! (Beartooth Highway, Wy)

As my trip unfolds it seems to me that the sights are getting better and better.  While enroute to Yellowstone Park I took a day to ride Beartooth Highway which runs along the Wyoming and Montana border.   The first known crossing of the Beartooth mountains was in August 1872.  A General in the Civil War, along with 120 of this men followed the advice of an old hunter who recommended taking the route while returning from an inspection of Yellowstone Park.  In 1936 when the road opened, it essentially followed the General’s first route over the pass.

The road is very impressive with its series of steep zigzags and switchbacks that continue upwards to almost 11,000 feet and includes some of the most dramatic landscapes.  It was also very “cool” to see snow along the route at the higher elevations!  Christmas in June anyone? 🙂

Because of the high altitude, snowstorms can occur even in the middle of the summer.  The pass is known for exceptionally strong winds and severe thunderstorms.  I was chased around by a few threatening clouds during the ride but managed to hang on to my bike and avoided getting wet.

Here is a video of the days ride across the Beartooth mountains along with a number of photos taken while enjoying the ride.

Shoshone National Forest on route to Beartooth Highway
Shoshone National Forest enroute to Beartooth Highway – Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway)

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A pullout in the Shoshone Forest to soak up the spectacular vistas
A pullout in the Shoshone National  Forest to soak up the spectacular vistas
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Beartooth highway runs along the Wyoming and Montana boarders close to the north east entrance of Yellowstone Park
In the Shoshone Forest in Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway) near Cooke City
In the Shoshone Forest in Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway) near Cooke City

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Being one with nature - this was one aggressive monster sized chipmunk who loved Georgia Pecans
Being one with nature – this was one aggressive monster sized chipmunk who loved Georgia Pecans
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The summit of the Beartooth Highway
A series of switchbacks on the Beartooth Highway, Wyoming Route 212
A series of switchbacks on the Beartooth Highway, Wyoming Route 212

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The Go Pro on my helmet always creates  conversation with passersby
The Go Pro on my helmet always creates conversation with passersby – I’ve even been asked if I work for Google.  A second career perhaps :
The top of Beartooth Highway still had a snow quite a bit of snow
The top of Beartooth Highway still had quite a bit of snow
Snowball fight anyone? :)
Snowball fight anyone? 🙂
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Just a little snow left on the mountain…this looks like PEI after this past winter on the east coast

My next post will be with Yogi Bear in Yellowstone Park!

The Big Ride – Diversity is key…peak to peak with a corral or two! (Spearfish Canyon Sd and Big Horn National Forest, Wy)

I had mentioned in a previous blog that after leaving Rapid City, South Dakota, I rode through Spearfish Canyon.  It seems that route was just the beginning of more spectacular things to come.  Yay for me!

Before I tell you about all of the other great riding I’ve been doing, here is the video I promised of my ride through Spearfish Canyon on my way to Sheridan, Wyoming:

What followed ended up being pretty spectacular.  The ride from Sheridan to Cody took me through the Big Horn National Forest.  It sounds like it would be a bunch of trees but that wasn’t the case.  The road took me to the top of a couple of very spectacular mountain ranges including through an amazing canyon.  The vistas were breathtakingly beautiful.  So much so that I ran my GoPro camera dry before the end of the day and missed filming some of the most spectacular views.  What an amazing ride that was.  The magnificence of the incredibly awesome red canyon walls on this ride will stay with me forever.

Here’s are a few photos followed by a short clip of what can only be described as a spectacular ride:

My day started off by pulling up in front of a store that sold Kettle Corn.  What a great start to an incredible day!
My day started off by pulling up in front of a store that sold Kettle Corn. What a great start to an incredible day!
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One of my favorite snacks

Kettle Corn

From here it kept getting better and better!

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Overlooking Big Horn National Forest
Overlooking Big Horn National Forest
Entering the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming - Highway 14
Entering the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming – Highway 14

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Big Horn National Forest - Approaching the canyon on Highway 14
Big Horn National Forest – Approaching the canyon on Highway 14

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Big Horn National Forest
Big Horn National Forest
Big Horn National Forest - Amazing ride through the canyon
Big Horn National Forest – Amazing ride through the canyon

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Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming - Riding through the canyon
Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming – Riding through the canyon – it was breathtaking in all of its magnificence!

After a great day of riding I finished up the day by taking in a dinner show at the Cody Cattle Company followed by the local rodeo.  Yes you read that right.  It’s been a few years since I last attended anything like it, but I must say it sure was a lot of fun! Here are a few photos from my evening out on the town…or should I say in the corral.

Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company before heading to the rodeo!
Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company before heading to the rodeo!

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Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company with the local cowboys
Hanging out with the local cowboys in Cody Wyoming

Then I was off to the rodeo to watch a few cowboys and cowgirls strut their stuff.

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Here are few additional photos of things that caught my eye.

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Downtown Cody, Wyoming
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The famous Irma Hotel…where the evening gun fight is held and everyone is guaranteed a good time…yee haw!
Local art work
Local art work
Been there...done that :)
Been there…done that 🙂

From here I’m heading to Yellowstone Park to look for Yogi Bear! Stay tuned 🙂

The Big Ride – How do you spell WOW! (Lusk, Wy and Blackhills, South Dakota)

As I was leaving Colorado I felt somewhat melancholy after the awesome motorcycle riding I had experienced while visiting there.  My ride to South Dakota took me through a small part of Wyoming with an overnight stop in Lusk, which at first glace looked like a one horse town.  As it turned out, it was a cute horse.

I caught the cowboy...got the boot...and now I've got the horse!
I caught the cowboy…I bought the boots…and now I’ve got the horse!
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Gone country!

I  stayed at the Best Western in Lusk, Wyoming which had a very interesting western theme in their outdoor entertainment area.  Building on this theme, the hotel offered its guests a “chuck wagon” breakfast served by staff members dressed in western attire.  Not only was it a fun way to start the day, the omelette made to order was very tasty!

Fresh made to order omelettes being whipped up by the  hotel staff at the Best Western in Lusk
Fresh made to order omelettes being whipped up by the hotel staff at the Best Western in Lusk, Wyoming
Morning coffee in a
Morning coffee in a “cowboy cup”

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“Sit loosely in the saddle of life” – wise words indeed

When I made my way to South Dakota I was “wowed” by what I found.  The Black Hills offered some of the best motorcycling roads that I’ve come across and the roads through the parks, such as Custer State Park were out of this world! One of the roads in particular, Needles Eye, was engineered using “pigtail” turns.  When you see a sign like this you know you’re in for some mean twists!

Pigtail Corners

Here is video of my experience while riding the Needles Eye

In addition to some great riding, a visit to Mount Rushmore was equally as wowing in a different way!  What an incredible undertaking it must have been to carve such a masterpiece out of the face of the mountain.

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Bonnie and the boys - George, Teddy, Tommy and Ab
Bonnie and the Boys – George, Tommy, Teddy and Abe
The routes in South Dakota included a number of single lane bridges carved out of the mountainside
The routes in South Dakota included a number of single lane bridges carved out of the mountainside
The rock formations on the Needles Eye route were spectacular - unlike anything I've seen before
The rock formations on the Needles Eye route were spectacular – unlike anything I’ve seen before
The number of hairpin corners were so numerous I lost count after the first 20 or 30 minutes of riding!
The number of hairpin corners were so numerous I lost count after the first 20 or 30 minutes of riding!

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Just one of the many incredible scenes along the way
Just one of the many incredible scenes along the way

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Part of the herd of buffalo I came across just outside of Custer
Part of the herd of buffalo I came across just outside of Custer”s Park
I came across a herd of buffalo as well - This is mom with her young one
This is mom with her young one

While riding outside of Rapid City, I had the good fortune of meeting up with a couple of riders, Robbie and Al who were from the area.  While chatting, they mentioned that they were heading off to ride the “Canyon”.   You know that peaked my interest so on the way out, I added the Spearfish Canyon into my route.  Robbie, thank you for putting me on to this amazing route. Wow, what a great way to start the day!

Here are a few photos from the ride….video to follow.

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And a few additional photos taken along the way..

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It's all about balance!
It’s all about balance!
Don't give me that bull eh!
Don’t give me any bull eh!
My cowboy has gone bad!
My cowboy’s gone bad!

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The Big Ride – You know it’s good when… (Part 2 – Million Dollar Highway, Colorado)

As promised, here is the second video of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado.  It was part of my first days’ ride in Colorado.  As you can see in the video, the road has a few challenging turns with a few potential hazards with its steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and few guardrails.

Here’s the clip.  I hope you enjoy the ride!

And a few photos taken along the way:

One of the many waterfalls along the roadside
One of the many waterfalls along the roadside
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It amazes me how such beauty can grow from so little

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In the beginning
In the beginning!

The Big Ride – You know it’s good when… (Part 1)

One of the many challenging roads in Colorado is the Million Dollar Highway and forms part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

My first day in Colorado took me on this route from Durango, through Silverton and Ouray.  Much of the route, especially between Silverton and Ouray runs through a gorge which is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive.  It consists of steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails.  It also uses a number of hairpin curves to gain elevation. In most places the lanes are narrow with much of it cut into the sides of mountains. Although the route was challenging, it was not nearly as technical as some of the awesome roads that followed.  I have hours and hours of video so it will take a couple of days to put together a few clips to share with you.

Here is the first of the series that I will be sharing with you.  The video hardly does it justice but will give you an idea of he amazing experience I had while riding the “Million Dollar Highway”.

Here are a few photos to share with you as well.

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While on the road I also ran into some folks from Orange Texas who were also enjoying the ride.

Fellow Harley riders from Orange Texas enjoying the route and doing the
Fellow Harley riders from Orange Texas enjoying the route and doing the “long horn”
You know it's going to be good when....
You know it’s going to be good when….

Stay tuned for the next segment of The Million Dollar Highway…and some of the amazing Colorado Rocky Mountain Mama Roads that follow!