Day 7 – Cripple Creek, here we come

Day 7 – Cortez, CO – Cripple Creek

Date: 06/08/2016 Wednesday
Starting Location: Cortez, CO
Ending Location: Cripple Creek, CO
Starting Odometer: 8441
Ending Odometer:
Mileage Today:  396.2 Miles
Mileage Total:  1985 miles
Today’s MPG:  45 mpg
Total Average MPG:  42 mpg

Gettin’ out a town

I knew that I was going to have a really long day ahead of me, so I went to bed early, and rose at about 4AM.  All of the restaurants in Cortez are closed until 6:30 AM, so I decided get up, get packed, and hit the road.  I left the parking lot at 5:45, with a temperature of about 58 degrees.

58 degrees seemed like a manageable temperature, so I didn’t bother inserting the liner for my riding jacket.  This would come back to haunt me, over and over again.

Headed to Durango for Breakfast

Durango is about a 55 mile ride from Cortez, and I knew it take me at least an hour to get there.  So, with a smile on my face, off I went towards Durango.

Between Cortez and Durango the road is windy, and it goes up over the mountains, and also drops down into the valley.  Almost as soon as I left Cortez, it started to get colder.  The temperature would drop into the 40s, and then dance it’s way back to 50 or 52.  At 52 degrees, it was tolerable, but less than 50 degrees it was pretty damn cold.  I turned on the heated grips, and told myself to man up, shut up, and get on with it.  (This phrase would play a big part in my day).

I eventually arrived in Durango as the temperature dropped to 40 degrees.  I was cold, and after being in Death Valley, with temperatures over 120 degrees this seemed surreal.  Nevertheless, it was time for breakfast.

Fast Food, Fast Food, and just a little more Fast Food

Part of the charm and experience of a trip like this is supposed to be stopping in little cafes and other out of the way places to enjoy local food and local hospitality.

Boy was I surprised when I rode through the whole town, and did not find any little breakfast restaurants.  I turned my bike around at the end of town, and headed back into “the city”.  Eventually I did find breakfast, and as a bonus, I found that local hospitality.

A little more about yesterday’s angel

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I met Samantha, and that she helped me out.  Behind the scenes yesterday I was trying to coax Samantha to send me a picture of her, so that I could post it in the blog.  I’m sure that Samantha was thinking, is this guy nuts; Should I realy send him a picture.

But, it seems that Samantha has a pretty good sense of humor, and she not only sent a picture or two, she sent some fun photos.

Thanks for being such a good sport Samantha.

The million dollar highway

When I built the plan for this trip, I had help from Paul Munch, and even more help from Ralph Renninghoff.  Ralph and Paul both suggested that if I was going to ride through Colorado, I had to drive the Million Dollar Highway.  So, I did.

Once again, a highway with a name like requires a little perspective.  Remember it was just 2 days ago that I rode on “The most beautiful highway in America”.  So, I’m having a lot of luck finding some pretty special motorcycle roads.  This road was no exception.

The road is beautiful, and full of sweeping turns, canyons, sheer drops, and plenty of really, really sharp turns.  About half way through the ride, I decided I needed to grab some video, to share it with all of you.  So, behold, the Million Dollar Highway.

Getting to Cripple Creek – What an adventure

If you remember yesterday’s post, I expected to ride to Cripple Creek by way of some dirt roads that should have resulted in a short cut.  But, as I was leaving Canon City, heading for Cripple Creek, it started to rain.  The rain started to come harder and harder, but I’m an adventurer damn it, and I needed to take this road, even if it was raining a little.

As it turned out, it started to rain so hard that I could not even see out of the visor and through my glasses.  So, I aborted the back-country route, and set out to take the highway.  I had estimated that the highway work-around should have been about 30 miles, but after I reset the GPS and selected Cripple Creek as the next destination, I was informed that it would take 90 minutes to get there.  I didn’t have much of a choice, so I set out for Cripple Creek.

But, let’s not forget that it’s raining.  And, let’s not forget that it’s starting to rain harder and harder.  So, even though I was now traveling on tar, I had to reduce my speed to about 15 mph because I could barely see the road.  My tinted glasses were covered in water, and between the dark tint, and the water, what little of the road I could see was just a blur.  I tried to deal with this for about 5 minutes, but I was growing more and more concerned that I was not driving safely, so I pulled over.

I removed my glasses, put them away, and set out again.  Now, my visibility was better, but the rain was hitting my face like poison darts, laced with sulfuric acid.  I was feeling very vulnerable, and with a 90 minute drive ahead of me, I was really concerned that I might not make it to Cripple Creek.

I took a deep breath, and repeated those words again.  Man up, shut up, and get on with it.  And so with the bit in my teeth, I continued on.  Slowly, and over time I started to see signs that Indicated I was at least headed to Cripple Creek (thank you GPS), and it seemed that the rain had started to subside.  But, with another 60 minutes of driving ahead of me, and dark clouds and rain visible in every direction, I was not at all sure how this was going to turn out.

I just kept driving, fingers crossed, and hoped that the rain would hold off.  Then, I made my final turn towards Cripple Creek, and read the sign that said 15 miles.  So, I had about 25 – 30 minutes to go, and it looked like I would make it.

Arriving in Cripple Creek

I finally read a sign that said Cripple Creek, 1 mile, and I turned on the Video Camera, to capture the arrival.

The hotel is called Cripple Creek Hospitality House.  In 1900, this structure was built as a hospital.  Over the years it’s been a hospital, nursing home, and now a hotel and RV park.  It’s a nice old hotel, with really comfortable beds, and quaint rooms.

What’s in store for tomorrow?

Tomorrow is a short day, roughly 130 miles.  I leave Cripple Creek and head to Pikes Peak, where I’ll have a little fun, and then I head to Denver to see an old friend.

So, how do I feel about the trip so far?

A trip like this can be a pretty exhausting experience.  I’m working hard to stop and smell the roses, but all of that rose smelling puts me off schedule, which causes me to have longer days.  So, I guess the best way to deal with this kind of situation is to take each day as it comes, and if I feel good, then I’ll stop for sightseeing.  if I’m tired, I’ll continue to my destination.  No stress, no drama, just a great big bowl full of America.

I’m fascinated how the Southwest has thousands of miles of highways, and not a single tree on the side of the road.  I’m impressed with the beauty of Colorado, and their maniacal focus on road quality.  I’m disappointed that Colorado seems to think that every city is a good city for a casino, and that in a town like Cripple Creek, there is no need for restaurants, except those that are inside of the hotels.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. Hi Cliff,

    Sounds like you had a trying day what with the weather.

    Looks like as you head east this week, the record highs we had here in CA the past week, are now moving east. Looked at the Weather Channel, and the map is all red from CO east into IL, MI etc.

    I showed my wife the Four Corners video, and she liked it. She then read more on the blog, and thought the pottery visit was neat.

    Be safe!

  2. Hi Cliff,

    Used the tracking system to see your progress today. Alex and I followed much of this route, going the other direction from East to West when returning from Austin, TX in Sept. ’14. Gorgeous highway, especially in the Fall with the cottonwoods turning yellow & shades of red.

    Noticed that you took Hwy 50 towards Colorado Springs, and before reaching there, stopped briefly in the town of Salida which is on the Arkansas River. Alex & I enjoyed a delicious beer during our stop there.

    Which makes me wonder, after more than 2000 miles, does your itinerary include any quiet, stationary days?

    1. Hey Larry,
      Funny you should mention it. I’m staying overnight in Denver with a friend tonight, and tomorrow I head to Boulder to spend three nights with another friend.
      I’m loving the road, but I do have to admit that I could use a few down days.

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