Manitou Springs, CO to Laramie, WY
I slept well and was up early. After the adequate free continental breakfast I was heading west on highway 24, then north on local route 67 through pine trees and hills to the junction with highway 285. It took me over Boreas Pass at 11,482 feet with some technical but fun switchbacks on the northern side.
I stopped and gassed up in Fairplay before turning north again on local highway 9. Wow, what a route! Hoozier Pass was amazing … 11,541 feet and fast, too. I then rode through the famous and opulent ski town of Breckenridge. The downtown main street looks like something from a Hollywood set, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few movies were actually shot there.
At Dillon, where 9 meets I-70, I pulled into town and took a break at a Starbucks. Back on the freeway, it soon climbed to a tunnel at a pass at 11,158 feet. What a trip! A bit later I turned off of the freeway and caught highway 40 northbound for yet another section of fantastic Colorado scenery, including Berthoud Pass at 11,315 feet. So far the V-Strom had been tackling the high elevation passes, and even the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak, without complaint. There is less power, obviously, but I only noticed it when attempting to pass.
I gassed up in the cowboy community of Granby before taking rural route 125 north. A sign said moose was in the area but I never saw any. I did see a three point bull elk about 50 yards off the road as he ran up into an aspen grove. I bet the area is beautiful in the fall.
By the time route 125 hit the town of Rand, I was out of the mountains and timber and onto the windy prairie. On the way I could see the smoke plume from a massive wildfire just west of Fort Collins. The plume looked similar to the one created when Mt. St. Helens erupted, which I witnessed firsthand as a kid.
I then crossed into Wyoming, my first visit to the most sparsely populated state in the lower 48. The temperature warmed a bit but it wasn’t oppressively hot like it had been in Utah and Arizona. I found my motel in Laramie after filling up my fuel tank. The town of Laramie has the charm of dry toast and a glass of lukewarm tap water, but not as wet. There were no food options within walking distance so I ordered a Pizza Hut delivered to my room. Thunderstorms were predicted for the area, and some were intense, but they dodged Laramie leaving the dust on my bike intact.