Enjoying God's creation (people and places) ........ and fulfilling our desire to conquer and explore.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2010 Big Dog Ride

The 2010 Big Dog Ride was yet another, epic event with fantastic scenery, great riding and the comraderie of an elite collection of gentlemen. For me, the 2010 ride (my second year) was another opportunity to get to know more of the invitees and truly enjoy their company.

This year, the host hotel was based out of Ridgway, CO, about 10 miles north of Ouray. This was a great location, as it allowed us easy access to all the San Juan's had to offer. For two days we bounced between Ouray, Lake City and Telluride. We tackled the challenges of Engineer Pass, Imogene Pass, Black Bear Pass, Cinnamon Pass, etc. At times the riding was easy, allowing everyone to "take in" the scenery and "soak up" the high mountain air and solitude. At other times, the riding was so technical and tough, every micro-second was spent concentrating on your line, as to avoid an "over the cliff", career-ending performance. (Notice in a couple of pics....spotters were in place to avoid such an accident!)

Enjoy the pics!

The Big Dog is an invitation ride that celebrated its 21st birthday this year. Still attending are several men that rode in the early days of the ride. Approximately 45 attended this year.
Riding out of Ouray on our first morning, we decided to tour "the hills" between Ouray and Lake City for our "warm-up day".
A pic of my Houston buddy, Chappy, on his BMW R100GS. Chappy rode well on a heavy, but very capable bike!
Everyone enjoying a rest after a strenous climb to the top.
Navigating some dirt twisties.
Summiting the top of Engineer Pass.
Heading back to Ridgway on day #1, we exited our dirt ride with an exciting dive down Mineral Gulch to Ouray.
Back at camp, our friends from Happy Trails cooked up some amazing Chicken in Dutch Ovens.
Early the next morning we found Hot Air Balloons taking off in the field next to our hotel.
Saturday would be the ride I had been anticipating for 6 months. The day would be a collect of "first's" for me. After leaving Ouray, we rode up the canyon toward Governor Basin.
Topping out at 13,114, we arrived at Imogene Pass. To date, this is the highest "dirt" pass I have attained. The views and scenery were truly, "top of the world".
At one point in the ride, three of us got separated from the larger group (the "A" Ride). We were tasked with a lot of fast, hard riding to catch up. (I suppose I could admit that our laziness in a coffee shop, mid-morning, put us behind and we had to ride hard and fast to catch up.
Some of the guys following me off of Imogene.
Another high mountain view.
Ophir Pass was one of the easiest, but I was able to check it off my list of accomplishment.
Sheep at 12,000 feet???? Yep, domestic sheep with sheep dogs and a single sheep herder was quiet the sight.
For the last five years, topping out on Black Bear Pass has been a dream of mine. I was a little intimidated to attempt on my heavier bike, but with the NX650..... I dove in. It was a tough ride, but certainly doable and a wonderful experience.

Descending off of Black Bear Pass to the west, we encountered the scariest spot on the trail. A very steep road of loose shale seems to fall off the mountain. In this picture, you can see riders off their bikes positioned as spotters on the edge of the cliff, next to Bridal Veil Falls. Down in the bottom of the canyon, you can see the town of Telluride. (Please click on this picture to enlarge to get the full view.)
Our spotters walking down from the loose shale switch-back.
Below the shale slope, we encounter the first of a dozen, very steep and sharp switch-backs.... headed to the bottom of the canyon. You can see that Bob is well clad in the proper, protective gear for this type of riding. We tend to fall down some times!
A better look, down at the "steps" and all the switchbacks.
Finally, we arrive in Telluride. After a late, 2pm lunch, we heaed back to Ridgway. That night, everyone feasted on T-Bone Steaks.... but I had to pack up and drive home early. It was a wonderful experience and the Big Dog will definitely be an annual event for me!!!

Video: Mineral Gulch

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