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Riding Pike’s Peak on the cheap but can you handle the lack of oxygen at 14,110ft? | RideFAR
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Riding Pike’s Peak on the cheap but can you handle the lack of oxygen at 14,110ft?

Pike’s Peak is high up on the list of places to ride and when the opportunity arises, you ride it! A quick phone call to Colorado Motorcycle Adventures and I was setup with a Husqvarna 701 and my buddy had a BMW 1200GS. We called the day before so we were lucky to get the two bikes. They have a great selection of bikes so plan ahead and you can ride a KTM 1290 Adventure R.

Instead of taking the bus or a taxi to CMA, we opted to ride one of the many electric scooters available throughout the city. For $1 and 15 cents a minute you can propel yourself to where you need to be. More fun and if you have your motorcycle gear, wear it. Safety first. Picking up the motorcycles was a breeze, all the bikes we’re in great shape and very well maintained. I had my gear but they can rent you gear if needed. We started a bit late but it doesn’t take long to get out of the city.

To get there we took Highway 67. This was an absolute Gem. It has everything from big sweepers, tight technical corners and even some dirt (9 miles). My 701 was equipped with Kenda K784 Big Blocks which was good on everything. I was VERY impressed with it’s traction. At higher speeds in the sweepers, I felt planted at my spirited pace. In the rougher road it felt the same. When we did the 9 miles of dirt, it was dirt riding traction but lots of fun. The ability to go from fresh blacktop to dirt road with the smallest difference in traction feel was incredible. It had me asking myself, do these tires come in sizes to fit my ZX10R? Highway 67 took longer than anticipated to get through which was just fine. Most of it was self inflicted with a few wrong turns and photo ops.

Now onto the main event. Pike’s Peak! Upon arrival we waited in line at the gate to pay our $15 entry fee. The start of the road was immediately good but filled with slow traffic and shuttle vans. There are no opportunities to pass so you’ll have to be patient, pull over and wait for a gap, or do very illegal things. The choice is yours and this is the country of freedom. You will only get one dotted yellow line to pass slower vehicles. The first third of the ride was rather uninteresting and had me wondering how good is this road. At the halfway mark you begin to see the big cliffs, big views of being up 10,000ft in the air. Maybe it is the lack of oxygen but I was getting pretty excited. The road cleared up enough for us to enjoy our spirited pace.

The final third of the Pike’s Peak was everything you imagined and more. You are now riding on what feels like a different planet, maybe Mars. At these heights you are almost equal with the big clouds. The corners are incredibly tight and if you cannot navigate them, you either stall out or shoot off the side where you will never be found again. Enjoy the scenery but don’t enjoy it too much. Snow is still on the sides of the road and temperatures will be close to freezing, even in the summer. The cold won’t matter as sheer enjoyment and lack of oxygen will keep you mind off it. At the top, you will see the curvature of the earth and views you only see from an airplane. Plenty of photo ops to be had up here. Don’t stay too long as the thin air may affect your more than you think.

Coming back down is just as good as going up. If riding down mountains is challenging for you it will be a slow ride. Which you may have to do that as traffic can be heavy. You have the same choices of being patient, waiting for gaps, or exercising freedom. I used to hate riding down mountains but entering slower and accelerating through the rest of the corner gives you a lot more stability. You will get stopped for a brake check as they want to measure the temperature of your brake rotors. This mostly applies to cars so they may very well wave you through. On the way down the increased oxygen gives you a good happy buzz just like that first morning coffee. You still feel like your on the top the world. At the bottom of the Peak, our time was running out so we had to make a very direct ride back to Colorado Motorcycle Adventures.

We made it back just as the staff we’re locking the doors so this day ended perfectly. The Pike’s Peak day ride is not a big ride at 350kms return (with hwy 67 one way). It does take longer than you think. So be sure to start right at 9am. You’ll need the extra time. If you do plan to rent motorcycles be very careful on when the motorcycles are due back. If they are closed the following day, what could be a simple late charge can turn into two extra days of rentals, as they are closed on Sunday. The motorcycles to rent are around $200USD per day with another $20 to $30 of daily insurance. This is a very fair price on new, high end machines. What better way to test ride a motorcycle you want or to ride something completely different. If the price seems too steep for your budget, I can promise that the experience you’ll have will be worth your while. You will talk and think fondly of it for years.

I was down here for a conference for the new Can Am product line so this was last minute idea. I live in Vancouver so riding out to Pike’s Peak and back would be a 8-10 day return trip for me. That sort of trip adds up but even more difficult is the time off required. Consider flying into Colorado, renting a motorcycle, riding the ride, and flying back home. It could be done on a flight arriving on Friday and leaving late Saturday. This whole endeavor will cost you less than $1000USD. That is a very small price compared to what a big motorcycle trip can cost in money and time. So recruit your riding buddies or make them jealous. The Peak is closer than you think.

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