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July 2, 2009 / jslipschultz

Colorado 2009

Flying solo this trip–although I hear Don’s voice prodding me along the Colorado climbs.  The family and I visited family in Fairplay CO in a RUSTIC cabin.  You can find it on Mapquest near Park Road 18 (gravel) and Levick Road(two ruts in the grass) south of Fairplay.  Solar power.  Water from a spring up the mountain.  A true get away.

Up the road on 18, you can see Horseshoe Mountain:

Horseshoe 

So I brought the road bike and explored the area.

Day 1: North on Route 9 towards Breckenridge.  No time the acclimate to the 9,500 foot altitude.  Jumped on the bike early in the morning (42 degrees) and headed towards Alma.  Keep rolling past Alma and saw a sign:  Hoosier Pass, 4 miles ahead.  Turns out it’s the Continental Divide at 11,500 or so feet up.  Phew.  Coming back was obviously a highight.  Lost track of the speed after 36 mph.

 Hoosier Pass

Day 2: North past Como.  Took 285 north to see what I could find.  I found rollers.  And beyond Como, I found Red Hill Pass.  Not too bad climbing up the south side, but of course, I had to come back the same way and climb it on the north side.  Yikes.  Maybe hard to see in the picture, but it’s a long, long incline (I don’t know, maybe 8% grade).  And rollers on the way back.

 Red Hill Pass

Day 3: Just a quick out and back.  The water line to the spring up the mountain broke the night before and there’s work to be done splicing together pipe where the split is (and water pressure in the cabin is shot).  Took 285 south towards Buena Vista.  Turns out mostly downhill to the turnaround point and uphill back.  Hit a little of Route 9 south, too (had a little time to spare before my assistance was required).  Beautiful views everywhere.

 South of Fairplay on 285

Day 4:  A rest day.  Sort of.  Drove from Fairplay to Grand Junction (via Vail–nice place to stop for a hike at 10,350 to 10,981 ft.).

Day 5: Jennifer’s second-cousin’s husband Dick took me to Colorado National Monument (www.nps.gov/colm). It’s very close to their house.  The North Entrance is four miles from their house.  It is an incredible national park with many canyons and the major road going through it runs along the rim.

On this day, Dick rode with me, so we drove in the park from the South End (4930 ft elev.) and avoided the very steep climb and started at Cold Shivers Point (6198 ft).  There was some climbing to the highest point in the park (6640 ft).  Going down to the North End (4690 ft) was fun.  The views were incredible included in Day 6.

Day 6: Jen’s second-cousin Margo was convinced based on the previous day’s experience that I could ride from their house to the South Entrance through the park to the North End and back to their house with no problem (including the steep climb we drove over the day before).  So naturally, that’s what I decided to do.  The climb was a bit of a bear with lots of switchbacks and one tunnel.  Once at the highest point, the small dips and hills along Rim Rock Drive seemed like bumps on the rode.  Here’s a picture from near the top of the climb.

 

CNM South Climb
 
The ride included a lot of photo opportunities so I did end up stopping a bit here and there to take pictures like these:
CNM 1 CNM 2
CNM 3 CNM 4

The total ride took a litte under two hours riding time.  I left at around 7:00 and didn’t see too many riders. The web site for the park says the aggregate climb for 33 mile loop (including the roads outside the park) is 2,300 feet.

Day 7:  As a finale to the rides, I thought it would be interesting to do the previous day’s ride backwards.  The climb is the same obviously, but it is more gradual (and much longer) going in reverse.  I passed one strong looker rider and didn’t see anyone else going that direction (I left the house at 6:30 and it’s Independence Day).  It was tougher in some respects, but my speed climbing was a few mph faster.  Going down the steep North End was technically challenging–I tried to brake as little as possible, but you know how that goes…

Upon my return, the entire group was set to go for a five mile hike into the park to the Indepence Rock.  No rest for the weary.  Hard to appreciate from this picture, but here it is:

 Independence Rock

All in all, a great trip to a great state.  The rides ranged from long climbs to rollers, low temps (40’s) to high (80’s), mountains to valleys.  Gotta love Colorado.  On our travels, we even spotted a special street sign for bikers pass through a tight road with a climb.  You could press a button on the pole to let drivers know how long you’ll be between the two signs:

 Bikers on Road

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