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Sunday on Memorial Day weekend some of the Guys with Exit Tours Motorcycle Club did an Epic Ride to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado's San Luis Valley. A Pre-Ride of Day 1 of the 5 day HotSpringsADVTour this Autumn. We departed Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista and headed up Trout Creek pass to Dirt and Aspen Ridge. Took Aspen Ridge and its epic views of the Continental Divide south towards Salida, but then took a left and headed East in the dirt towards Cotopaxi and the Arkansas River. Gas at Lunch at the Store in Cotopaxi, then took 1A to Hwy 69. Hung a Left on 69 and then picked up Gulch road East towards the Royal Gorge. From there it was some excellent paved twistys and then multiple fun dirt switchbacks into Temple Canyon Park. From Temple Canyon Park your almost in Canon City, but if you take the correct route you can avoid the city and you end up on Oak Creek Grade. After an supreme climb up the Mountain , your then headed down into a canyon and neat rock formations on your way down to Silvercliff in the Wet Mountain Valley. Fuel and snacks in Silvercliff and then again down Hwy 69 to Medano Pass. Nobody rides or enters the Great Sand Dunes from this direction. No Rangers and no fees on this end of the National Monument. After passing bye where the Buffalo Roam, and a leisurely ride, Your then challenged by the switchbacks up to the top of 10,000 foot + Medano Pass. From the Top of Medano your headed down the Medano Canyon drainage into the back of the Great Sand Dunes. Multiple Creek crossings which where quite low for this time of the year. The Sand is quite soft on Medano Pass road and if you dont have a 21" inch front wheel, are not adept at staying on the Throttle and maintaining momentum, you will struggle. You May want to avoid to Medano Pass and take La Veta Pass around Mt. Blanca and come into the Dunes from the South. Word of warning. If you can ride and have a suitable bike with a knobby, by all means take the challenge of Medano Pass. Worth the views and a super fun ride. From The Sand Dunes we had made reservations at the Great Sand Dunes Lodge. Where views are spectacular and nights are quiet. But of course we had to visit the Great Sand Dunes Pool and their new Beer & Wine bar. Quite a few kids in the usually serene Pool. On Memorial Day weekend. So we avoided a dip in the pool. Sunday we had another Epic Ride that was not a Pre-ride, but fun nothing the less. Rode across the San Luis Valley and picked up a dirt road on the west side of the San Luis Valley and then up to Penitente Canyon, which is an Internationally recognized Rock Climbers Paradise. From Penitente Canyon there is a neat Pass west over the Mountains at 10,000+ feet thru the wilderness that takes you Hwy to 114. Old Cowtown Resort sits just a 1/2 mile from where Canero Canyon hits Hwy 114, and we had alerted the staff we where headed their way for Lunch and Drinks. The Good people at Old Cowtown Resort were quite accommodating, and after a a quick nap on the porch after an excellent meal, we headed East again. Old Cowtown Resort sits in a Valley and on a road that was the Hoagland Stagecoach stop used in the 1800s. Hence the Stage Road is the shortest route into Saguache and Fuel. From Saguache, the Little Known Ute Pass (1 of several Ute Passes) takes you up and over the mountain and drops you into the Bonanza Mining area. From Bonanza we took the Otto Mears Tollroad, (Which only had snow in a few small areas) up an over the Extreme West end of the Sangre de Cristo's and down into the the Silvercreek basin. Which then drops you out at the old mining town of Shirley and the East end of Marshall Pass. By the time we had gotten back to Buena Vista and Mountain Tech Motorsports after our last dirt Stint from Fisherman's Bridge on the Arkansas river to Trout Creek Pass we had covered over 500 miles. Captain Jack Bongiovanni, The Honda Africa Twin guy and Exit Tours MC Chief Instigator Michael Brown had an outstanding 2 days of riding and hauling butt in the dirt and on the pavement. Bongiovanni's '04 990 KTM may have had a few small issues, but the Africa Twin Never missed a beat. Other than his hard saddle bags almost causing him grief when the going got rocky. Brown's DR 650 was a weapon in the tight stuff and the soft dune road, and the DR's running out of gas once was the only issue for the weekend. See Fun Photos below and feel free to comment ?