Full Moon Rides - Part One & Two


by Gordy Hirsch

Dear Mom,

I have a confession to make. I know you tend to worry about some of the wild and crazy bike rides I tend to go on from time to time. So, per usual, I just went ahead and did the rides and here I am, without a scratch or lost limb or broken bone or gouged or anything at all really to tell you about them.


Photo: @adamsviscom

Do you remember those silver bikes I have from that one company? Well, they asked me to put together a ride for their Adventure Team’s Colorado segment. I put together three. Three challenging rides up roads that, in one case, topped out over 14,000 feet. Yes, I know, it’s cold up there no matter what time of year and yes, of course, I brought a jacket. None of these rides were particularly long, but they were definitely challenging. Oh and I rode them in the dark. Under a full moon.

If you’re not freaked out about that last bit, then I’ll happily tell you about them.

FULL MOON RIDE 1: 6.20.19 / Old Fall River Road

You’ve probably seen me post pictures of this road before, but it’s a classic and is only open in the summer months. It’s located in Rocky Mountain National Park and is a one-lane one-way dirt road that is the highest “continuous” paved road in the nation. Thankfully, my good buddy, Rich Rodgers (@rich.rodgers) tagged along.


Photo: @gordonseriously

We started the ride from the first lot just past the turn to Old Fall River Road. The weather was shit all day in the Front Range, but was supposed to clear by 10pm. So we chanced it (which I’m sure you love hearing). We arrived at the lot around 9:30pm and sure enough the clouds parted and the moon was bright as ever.


Photo: @gordonseriously

Since we were in a National Park and knowing there were going to be zero interactions with cars and riding above the tree line where the moon would easily light the way, the first nine miles or so were pretty much in the woods and sure, I’ll admit, scary as hell. We used our lights for a good chunk of it which revealed plenty of fresh animal pee or tracks and while we were most likely being tracked by a pack of sabre tooth tigers, I rang my bike bell every ten minutes just to say what’s up to everyone.

Without a doubt this ride is one of my top five favorites as it’s a great climb with killer earned views and just gets better and better the higher up you get. The top of Old Fall River reaches 12,175 feet. And as insane as you may think I am, we passed three mountain bikers doing the same thing when we got to the summit.


Photo: @gordonseriously


Photo: @gordonseriously

After stopping to put some warmer clothes on at the ranger station, we reached the paved part on Trail Ridge Road. This road blows during the day due to the cars, but at night it’s unreal. Having it entirely to yourself, above tree line, under a full moon was incredible (even if it was 1:30am). We could see mountains for miles. Plus a ton of elk and deer.


Photo: @gordonseriously

The descent was peaceful and there was rarely a need for brakes. We made it back to the car around 2:30am and enjoyed a cold beer. The night couldn’t have worked out better and the morning light after was worth the few hours of rest.

FULL MOON RIDE 2: 7.21.16 / Mount Evans

I know you’re not fond of hiking, but it’s kinda popular in our state. A lot of people have this obsession of seeing how many 14,000 foot peaks they can climb. There are 58 of them in Colorado. Two of them have paved roads going to the top. Pikes Peak and Mount Evans.

We just completed the highest “continuous” paved road in the nation with Old Fall River Road. Mount Evans happens to be the highest paved road in North America. The road dead ends at 14,104 feet. And yes, I brought a jacket on this one too. Especially, because it was raining when we started.

Now you may be wondering why we are riding two days after the July full moon. Well, that’s due to thunderstorms. I may have chanced some things in doing these rides at night, but I’m not stupid. The weather was total crap this week.


Photo: @adamsviscom

Our plan was to ride up as far as we could stomach and then turn around if we were drenched and frozen. The last time I rode Mount Evans it was 80 degrees and bluebird, but a quick storm rolled in and snowed on us in July. So the expectations were extremely low. And having a group consisting of Rich Rodgers, Mike Lee (@mikeandbikes), Jeff Stroot (@jefftherobot), Stephen Fitzgerald (@velosteef), Brandon Mutari (@bmutari), myself and photographer Sam Adams (@adamsviscom), I had a handful of lives to be responsible for.


Photo: @adamsviscom

We started this ride from the main entrance at the Echo Lake campground. 14 miles from the top and near 3,500 feet of wet, uphill, rugged pavement. After the first ride, the total time of the ride (along with stopping for images) and amount of battery power in our lights, we didn’t want to push it and ride from Idaho Springs. Plus the later the start the more you’re able to let the moonlight shine on the road versus be hidden behind the mountains.

After a couple miles of laughing about the fact that we were starting to climb a 14er at 10:30pm, we noticed that the rain had stopped. Game on! 12 miles of empty road with nothing but the cloudy skies and lights of the Front Range glowing in the distance. We all turned our lights off and forged ahead. The only car we knew we’d see was Sam’s. Then of course, just past the lake, three, loud motorcycles revved by.


Photo: @gordonseriously


Photo: @adamsviscom

Once we climbed past the lake, the moon finally showed itself. Perfect timing too as we were tired and exhausted and it really was a fitting “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of moment.


Photo: @adamsviscom


Photo: @adamsviscom

Just like every other time I’ve ridden this mountain, it was an intense headwind to tailwind combo for the last mile of switchbacks. We summited a little after 1am. We wanted to take a group picture, but it was cold as hell and we wanted to descend before our body temperatures cooled down too much.


Photo: @bmutari


Photo: @bmutari

The descent is kind of rough. The road is beat up and has lots of cracks and several chunky pot holes. Since we didn’t use our lights much we could run them pretty bright to find all these imperfections on the pavement. Not the case. My light was nearly dead after five minutes and was forced to chance it on the lowest setting with one bar of battery left.


Photo: @adamsviscom

As sketchy as the road and light combo may have been, we all made it back down safely. Again, not to worry mom. Two for two on no injuries or mechanicals. A mechanical, in this circumstance, is when someone tries to be “cool” and take their skinny-tired bike on a mountain bike road and gets a flat tire.