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Riding To Rist Canyon 400 Miles




Two New Videos

I had a Monday free to ride but it was overcast and drizzling rain all over - I spent the day looking into buying a used car. I hate buying cars its stressful and I don't like dealing with salesmen. So when I heard Tuesday was going to be more of the same I vowed to ride no matter what - but where? I thought Rocky Mountain National Park - sure why not, every time I try to go there it rains like hell. Thats what rain gear is for. I woke up at 5am and fooled around a bit on the computer fixing vfrd stuff and then the sun came up with what looked like a slight over cast but the sun was peaking through so I took off for Breckenridge. I intend to ride Hoosier Pass, Loveland Pass, Berthod Pass, and head into Granby to ride RMNP.

Bright and early I took off up Ute Pass hwy 24 all the way to Wilkerson Pass, by 8:30 I was at the top. The sun was shining and it was cool, even warm in places with no sign of rain.


Balloons Over Buffalo Peaks


Collegiate Peaks Of The Continental Divide


Wilkerson Pass Balloons in the Hartsel Valley


The Road To Fairplay Mt Democrat looms over all

I was soon riding through Alma riding behind a number of slow rv's at the posted 25mph speed limit. Alma notoriously has a town marshal that hands out tickets like candy for speeding in thie little town, they come off the pass and he hits them with radar as soon as they hit the city limits. This place likes to call itself the highest town in Colorado, at 10,333' I believe it. Alma is the gateway to Hoosier pass the Continental divide that takes you to Breckenridge from the south side of the divide. Its a nice view at the top and there are some challenging turns on the other side. It is usually raining or cold, or there is gravel in all the turns. The gravel was there but it was nice and warm.


Alma Below from Hoosier Pass


Hoosier Pass


Quandary Peak


Hoosier Pass


Red Peak and Red Mountain

I stopped in Silverthorn and put my camera together to ride up Loveland pass to shoot some video, it was a nice ride to the top but I was alarmed by how many Big rigs were on the pass, it was jammed up with them. They where all over the place going up the pass from the other side of I-70. I can only speculate that they drive up Loveland pass to avoid delays on the Eisenhower Tunnel? I was thinking if I rode a bit too fast and drifted into the other lane I would get plastered!


Loveland Pass

A hiker stopped and offered to take my picture. He was pretty cool and I so hung out and talked a bit, there were a lot of people up there hiking the paths. I was thinking you could probably get one good line of skiing at A-Basin if you mapped it out, there was still some snow in the shady side. Then I rode down the nothern side, and headed down I-70 to Empire, where I intended to turn off at Empire, intended to but I missed the turn cause of another big rig obscured my view of the road sign. I thought about turning around but the other side had a long traffic jam bakced up for at least a mile and down to one lane, forget that! So I decided to head over to the Central City Parkway and onto the Peak to Peak Highway. I enjoyed the road to Central City a good deal taking it at a fast pace but then comming into Central City I got caught behind a dump truck, and rode down behind some big RV, the guy pulled off to let us all go by but only after we had already come to the bottom at Blackhawk.

I headed north on the Peak to Peak and was enjoying the switchbacks near Rollins when I got stopped by the sheriff for speeding - he wasn't letting me off, warning me to stand off the bike keep my hands out of my pockets and not walk around? I guess he was a bit jittery, I can blame him but he could have figured that I did not give him any trouble and I pulled over before he had to go catch me. I did get a ticket 40 in a 35, he cut me a break cause I was going faster than that. I just took it with dignity and did not give him any reason to go hard on me, but I did not give him a strait answer when he asked me why I was going so fast, dodging that one like a politician!! He asked me for my social security number which I thought was uncalled for - what do the police need with that?? Some kind of Homeland Security abuse? Then he asked where I worked, the address and phone number? Why - What for to harrass me at work?? I am going to write a letter to my congressman about this and to the Govenor, I was appalled but I did not make a scene I just complied, you wait this won't go away it only gonna get worse, what do they need with all that information??

That took 20 minutes out of my day and some woman I passed "legally" on a dotted line stopped honked her horn and wagged her finger at me?? Whatever lady!! Some people think if you pass them your automatically a maniac! I like how Danica Patrick put it - "GET OUT OF THE WAY" now there is one woman I wouldn't mind letting drive she would probably scare the crap out of me! The cop said "what was she honking for - you probably passed her on a double yellow"? What? Now I am guilty by default for passing on a double yellow without so much as a witness? A car honking on the way by doesnt qualify sorry!! I again did not answer that question either, this cop was starting to test my resolve a bit too much, what was next a DNA sample??

So after that nonsense I was looking for ways to get off the Peak to Peak and its "police" presence, so I decided to head down the Saint Vrain Canyon into Lyons. I wasnt going to let that crap get to me. I think I handled it with poise and did not let him rattle me, I complied with his requests when he asked and asked and asked again for things that where none of his buinsess.

I was soon riding behind a couple of riders on sport bikes a slow guy and a fast guy. Slow guy waved me by after about 30 seconds and Fast guy took off and I followed, it was getting fun at this point and my jitters after getting my ticket was put away post haste. Fast guy was a pretty good rider, so I followed him, I took a corner hot and scrapped my right boot/foot peg in the turn. This sort of freaked me a bit and I bobbled for a moment but gathered it up and put my feet up higher on the pegs for more clearance and then I put my head down and soon I was right behind Fast guy again. You can see the video shake a bit where I scrapped my boot. The Fast guy - he was hanging off and I could tell he was enjoying it, soon we where stuck behind a Harley Davidson and a Car which slowed things down - so he waved me by to wait for his friend. I waited a bit for a place to go around the Harley and the Car safe, but the Harley passed the car right when I was going to so I had to wait longer. I passed the car and then the Harley waved me by too. I looked in the Mirror and there was fast guy was also around them too. So I resumed the pace but fast guy was not able to hang - or he decided to wait for slow guy I don't know but I was alone after a few more turns. I pulled off in Lyons at some Bar micro brewery Blues club for lunch. I was off the bike and taking off my gear with the two guys rode by waving with thumbs up, I waved back, that was a lot of fun. I decided RMNP was going to be too slow after that rush so I decided to ride up Rist Canyon in Fort Collins, never been there before. It took about an Hour to get there riding along a series of lakes in the foothills.


Horsetooth Reservoir Above Fort Collins


vfr on the lake

Rist Canyon starts at a nice little village called Bellview a nice place - I should have stopped for a picture but I didn't, Rist Canyon was cool, it was getting swept by the DOT. The grass was overgrown and there where a lot of cars in the way. I took my time and passed them one at a time, and headed to the top of the hill, where I saw some bicyclist hoofing it up a steep pass. One guy was stopped at the top waiting for his buddies and I talked with him for a bit, he was too exhausted to say anything more than one word at a time.


The view from the top of Rist Canyon


:media: Saint Vrain Canyon Video - riding down the canyon with a couple of local guys, riding as fast and they wanted to go, music by the Smashing Pumpkins

:media: Loveland Pass Video - High resolution video more Smashing Pumpkins

You Tube Versions

Google Map Link of the route - the map is too large to embed - attached is the gps data


Recommended Comments

Guest kentd98


Hi HS,

First off, its Horsetooth Resevoir, not Horseshoe! ;)

Second, great ride report. Rist Canyon is great on my bicycle, not as much fun on the motorcycle imo. I prefer the Big Thompson Canyon or Poudre Canyon. Less gravel and less super tight corners compared to Rist.

Glad you made it all the way up north.


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Guest WheeeFR


Great shots!! The shot of Rist Canyon is the westernmost highest point of the canyon. You are actually looking down Ford Hill into Stove Prairie. I had a place up Rist on Fire Route 10, about 2 miles east of this picture's location..... just before you hit the steeper twisties. Legend has it that they named it Ford Hill because the only car in the twenties that could make it up the hill from the west was a Model T...running in reverse. Reason being is that most cars were gravity fed and it was so steep that the engine would starve going forward. I love legends that seem plausible...Fun Stuff!! Anyhow, you should see that little valley in Winter. It's spectacular. I now live down on the flat, but still head up for Christmas trees and for any reason anyone can give me....anytime.

Rist is a lot tighter than the Poudre or Big Thompson. slower, but fun.

When you get to the bottom of Ford Hill, you turn right at the schoolhouse (been there for about 105 years and still is in operation) and theres a great route to Poudre Canyon on a brand new asphalt road. Good ride! If you haven't figured it out, I really love the area. I like to take my MZ Mastiff(Dual-sported) up there, too. Lots of trails and dirt to play in.


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  • Forum CEO

Boy the fort collins folk are comming out of the woodwork for this one, I would love to ride up there more and explore some of the other roads. It just an all day affair to get there from Colorado Springs, perhaps a two day camping trip some day!

I also expanded on my ticket in my blog, more of the details I found disturbing about the way it was conducted.

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Great ride report and pix, HS! (Will have to check out the vids later.) Thanks for sharing these with us.

The only bad thing about your reports is how jealous is makes me! :( Wish I lived in an area as scenic as you, and/or as twisty as the NC/TN roads we saw during TMac.

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  • Forum CEO

After riding Tmac, the Ozarks the only real advantage of those places over Colorado is the number of warm days to ride, the roads are twisty for sure but there are twisty roads like that all along the Colorado front range on par or superiour to those in Appaliacia, its just that there is a 4 month window to ride and the danger of sand and gravel from the high altitude road prep.

What we have is 42 14,000 foot peaks - no where else has that many high peaks in the US and all the foothills surrounding them.

I guess though once you have ridden somthing enough times you want to find somthing new so I was awstrucke by NC, TN, AR the first few times I rode there, but now I think CO has some of the best the country has to offer. Certainly the scenery is somthing to behold.

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  • Member Contributer

"That took 20 minutes out of my day and some woman I passed "legally" on a dotted line stopped honked her horn and wagged her finger at me?? "

Dang Slammer...everyone is out to get ya!.. :biggrin:

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  • Member Contributer

Nice report HS. Rist canyon is a fun little ride. Haven't ridden it this year yet, but will do soon. Makes a nice loop with Stove Prairie and the Poudre (which I know you've ridden before). If you make it up again this summer give me a shout. Love to catch up with you soon. Sucks about the ticket. These guys see a "sport" bike and they get a frickin' hard on!

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Great report again Miguel, I love the Saint Vrain video, came out awesome, road looks great, and just the right tune for it. A++ and two big thumbs up to you sir!!

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Guest sfarson


Nice report HS. Rode over Conifer Mountain this past week -- first time since our 10ft visibility transit in the fog. :ohmy: Send a message to connect on a Sunday thing. Bill... you too.

Had a Steamboat group ride last Saturday; today it was Guffey.

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Guest bshwcr


Nice report and vids. I love that St. Vrain with little or no traffic. I rode up in early April with no sand or gravel, what a blast.

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