Todd’s Ride the Rockies Journal: Part 4
Posted: June 13, 2012
So far I have endeavored to make these postings something other than a travelogue, not that there’s anything wrong with a travelogue I just did not want to take the tack of merely saying, in order, what has happened over the course of the trip. I wouldn’t like to write it, and I’m sure you wouldn’t like to read. However, we’ve had 2 big days in a row on the trip and I’m now readily to recount a few triumphs and register a few complaints. I hope mu curmudgeonly side doesn’t come out to much, although I suppose if it did I could blame it on this
I’ve just pulled into Granby Colorado after a 95-mile day that started in Leadville. Happily we lost a few thousand feet of elevation, but that doesn’t mean it was easy, I’ll get to that in a moment. Today’s ride follows what I think will prove to be the most grueling of the tour, an 83 mile affair with an elevation gain of nearly 6,000 feet to the top of Independence Pass.
We started out is sunny Carbondale and had an absolutely beautiful ride up the Roaring Fork Valley, through Aspen and then, up that damned pass. I have to say that my two riding companions Katie and Josh were great help in adding Levity to what could have been a purely draining climb. I also have to say that even before our climb we encountered what was the first portion of the route that was horrible. I’ll preface this by saying that the RTR staff is and has done and amazing job on the ride and the logistics to organizing a ride like this must be staggering. I can understand when we are routed through some bad spots there may be no better option; but bad spots are bad spots and I’m still going to tell you about them. For about two miles before we started the steep climbs we were directed onto a “dirt path” but in reality it was much more like sand. This of course would be fine for a mountain bike or any bike with fat tires, but for a ride that consists of 2,500 people, 2,450 of whom are on skinny tires, this was a really tough surface to ride on. We were sinking inches into the loose soil, back tires were spinning out; I’m surprised there weren’t more crashes. I’m no pavement snob either, we rode on an unpaved road later in the day for much longer than 2 miles and it was just fine. Also, the RTR staff did a great job at alerting riders of the surface change and had help posted everywhere just in case anything went wrong, I can’t fault them, I’m just saying it sucked.
As for the pass, it was tough, it was draining, it was really rewarding. Getting yourself up to 12,100 feet on the “Top of the Rockies” trail was a reward that felt all the sweeter since the hill was a big one to conquer. Surprisingly, I’m developing a taste for climbing, yeah it hurts a little bit, but only a little and when you’re done it is an amazing feeling. Not only that, but after you summit there’s always a big downhill ride and there’s not much out there that’s more fun than screaming down the hill on your bike at 50mph. The toughest part of the day wasn’t the summit of Independence; surprisingly, it was the last 7 miles to Leadville. It was uphill and into a stiff wind, by the time I reached the old mining town I only had sleep on my mind. So if you’ll excuse a brief aside, I’d like to address Leadville directly:
I’m sorry Leadville. I like you; you’re a great little town. I wish I had wanted to see more of you, but I wasn’t in a place where I could appreciate you for all the things you have going for yourself. I know I left pretty suddenly in to morning, without saying much of a goodbye, but I really had to go. I hope we can still see each other from time to time, no hard feelings? Oh, I will be pretty busy with work coming up, so I might not be able to comeback for a while, you understand right?
Thanks, I feel better now. The ride to Granby today was easier, because the climbs weren’t as steep or as long and we were able to loose some elevation in total, which is nice for a 95 mile ride. Let me stress that easier is just a relative term, we did have two significant passes to clear: Freemont at 11,000 ft or so and Ute Pass which clocks in at 9,600 ft. After clearing Ute pass, which offered panoramic vistas in all directions, we started heading down the hill towards Granby. The only complaint today again involved a stretch of unpaved road, this time about 13 miles. Since I’ve already allocated too much of this post to complaining about how, when I’m in the remote Colorado Rockies I can’t always have pristine asphalt surfaces, I’ll just say that it wasn’t great and leave it at that.
Two long and rewarding days down, I’m really looking forward to riding through Rocky Mountain National Park and over Trail Ridge Road on Thursday, it’s a route I’ve done many times by car and it’ll be a privilege to ride it by bike. For now I’m kicking back with a Pedal Push Pale Ale and really enjoying friendly little town of Granby, the cute little town nestled in the heart of the continental divide. (Sorry Leadville)
Todd Ewing is the Odell Brewing Company representative in Minnesota. He is starting to be really optimistic that he’ll be able to finish Ride the Rockies strong, quite frankly he is bordering on cocky and needs to be taken down a peg. Tweet at him: @OdellMN