The cycling in Colorado is amazing! Choose your bike; road, gravel or mountain. There is something here for everyone.This week Glenn and I along with our friends Jeff and Darla and Bob and Brenda participated in the Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour. Over the course of the week, we cycled 434 miles with a total ascend of approximately 29,000 feet! We camped in local gymnasiums and community centers, except for the two nights at the end of day one and again on day six which both finished in Gunnison, were we parked the RVs in the KOA for the week. The weather was perfect, 40’s in the morning and 70’s in the afternoon. We left base camp between 7:00-7:30am each day and finished early afternoon. The hospitality and organization of this event was fantastic. The jerseys were cool too!
Day One: Crested Butte to Taylor Reservoir to Gunnison. 73 miles with 2,492′ of elevation gain. Great warm up for the climbing to come. From Crested Butte we descended to Jack’s Cabin Cut off and began a gradual climb to Taylor Reservoir. Jack’s Cabin Cut off gave us the opportunity to practice our gravel riding for a bit. After leaving the cut off we continued on CR742 to the reservoir, some quick selfies, a 180 back down CR742 with a descent all the way to Gunnison. The ride out to the reservoir had light traffic, ran along the river, and was beautiful.
Day Two: Gunnison to Buena Vista. 83 miles and 5,693′ of elevation gain. Ride the Rockies always has a rolling start which is nice as you see other riders all day long. We started out with our friends and rode with them until mile 35 and got split up on the climb up Monarch Pass. We met up in Buena Vista and enjoyed a excellent lunch at the House Rock Kitchen.
After lunch we helped Jeff and Darla set up their tent, so they could give the outdoor camping a try. I headed off to a massage and Glenn listened to a local band in the “tour village.” Glenn and I stopped off at the Eddyline Brewery for a pizza dinner on our way back to the indoor camping.
Day Three: Buena Vista to Snowmass Village. 73 miles and 5,779′ of elevation gain. Monarch Pass yesterday was quite the climb, but today we conquered Independence Pass. This pass actually only opened a week and a half prior to the tour due to the large snowfall and late snowfalls this year. The climb was amazing and over the course of the ride the snowbanks grew and then disappeared as we descended into Aspen. The decent from the top was breathtaking! We stopped in Aspen and had lunch at the Butcher Block and then rode onto Snowmass Village along a bicycle path.
In Snowmass we enjoyed the heated pool and hot tub while waiting for dinner and the band to play. We slept in the Recreation Center and prayed that the bears wouldn’t get us as we slept with the doors open.
Day Four: Snowmass Village to Carbondale. 33 miles and 1,211′ of elevation gain. Today was like a recovery day with just one short steep bump at miles 22-25, 8-10%. The hill dished out a nice punch, but again what goes up must came down! Carbondale Beer Works was the spot for lunch, the local farmers market, was happening and White House Pizza-gets our highest recommendation for dinner.
Tonight’s view from the Carbondale Middle School. Day 5: Carbondale to Hotchkiss. 65 miles and 3,958′ of elevation gain. We left Carbondale on the bike path following the river through Redstone, climbed over McClure Pass, and let the brakes go as we sailed down into Hotchkiss. Top speed today was 53 mph!
The small town of Hotchkiss welcomed the tour with various school groups selling food and desserts and local artists entertaining us with music. There is not much to see or do in Hotchkiss, but we enjoyed hanging at the park.
The scenery today was again amazing. Beautiful waterfalls, farmland, small towns, and of course majestic mountains. Day 6: Hotchkiss to Gunnison. 79 miles and 6,861’ of elevation gain. A long 30 mile steady grind to the ridge of Black Canyon. Well worth the views! The climb was followed with a flowing decent down to route 50 and then a steady push to Gunnison.We took advantage of every rest stop today. The tour did a great job providing water, scratch, fruit and snacks each day. Stopping at the rest stops let us regroup and break the ride into shorter segments. The stops were always strategically placed; bottom of a long climb, top of the mountain and at great photo opportunities.
Day 7: Gunnison to Mount Crested Butte. 31 miles and 2,086′ elevation gain. Slow and steady was the ride today. We were definitely tired and wanted to keep the “Tandem Trio” together. We started together and we’re determined to finish together!
It was a physically challenging week, but a fun week. We were blessed to have had perfect weather, great riding conditions and no mechanicals. The Ride the Rockies organizers did a fantastic job and the volunteers provided service with a smile. State Troopers rode the course with us on their motorcycles helping to ensure our safety. We are thankful for our health and for our friends who were willing to join in on our adventure!