Bike Tour 2012: Taking the high road in Colorado
Submitted by Rochelle Comeaux on Fri, 2012-10-05 09:41
Hoosier Pass, Colorado - the highest point on our route
Today we are taking our time getting on the road because we can happily say that it is all downhill from here. It took us 3 long days to ride into Summit County, Colorado from Rawlins, then 2 days of rest and play in "America's playground," and then one day of climbing to land us here in the tiny town of Guffey, Colorado. We continue to enjoy the time of year that we are traveling, as nature truly puts on a show in Autumn in Colorado. We have had a few cold nights, but so far we have had the right gear for the job and haven't had any real issues with weather.
Stealth camping just north of the Colorado border
Our trip out of Rawlins began with a 10-mile stretch along the very busy, very loud I-80, and then a stop through the town of Sinclair, the home base of the large refinery by the same name. We continued to face very high winds, but fortunately this time they were at our back, which could be how we managed an average speed for the day of over 14 mph. We also out-biked a storm right around the town of Riverside, Wyoming. We would feel a couple drops of rain, bike harder and faster, and then glance behind us at the dark, approaching clouds. It would have been thrilling if we weren't so concerned about getting caught in the middle of it. We ended the day with a respectable climb and a night of beautiful stealth camping along a quite stretch of road about 12 miles north of the Colorado border.
Thrilled to be entering the state of Colorado
The next day was spent mostly in the North Park of Colorado where we saw mountainsides of fall colors, lots of open space, and a climb over Willow Creek Pass at the Continental Divide. We stealth camped once again while still in our descent through the canyon, right alongside Willow Creek. Our newest ritual, in order to manage the cold weather, includes a quick set-up of the tent and weather-proofing of our bikes, then we climb into our sleeping bags with our Crazy Creek chairs, and that is where we stay for the evening as we cook and eat dinner, look over maps, and read. We have certainly gotten an efficient system down, from shared responsibilities to homes for items in the various pockets of our tent. It makes for many cozy evenings in our home away from home.
Colorado River near Hot Sulphur Springs and autumn in Summit County
In the morning we woke up excited to be arriving in the much-anticipated Summit County, Colorado. I used to live in the town of Frisco and Don had never been there, so I looked forward to showing him all of my favorite restaurants and hang-outs and also seeing some old friends. Even from about 30 miles away, Don was enamored by the beauty of the county. I, too, was reminded of just how special this area was, especially when compared to all of the many places that we had already biked through. We decided to spend two layover days in the county in order to fit in all that we wanted to see and do. By a lucky series of events, Don's friends from Michigan were able to meet us for our first layover day and we had fun exploring the area and eating some delicious food. The next day Don and I biked to Breckenridge, a little closer to our big climb, where we played tourists and contemplated whether we should ever leave. We ended up spending the night with a nice couple that we found through Warm Showers, the bike tourists' website.
Approaching the top of Hoosier Pass
Yesterday we had to motivate ourselves to get back on our bikes after a very relaxing two days off. Our morning began with the highest climb of our trip, over Hoosier Pass at an elevation of 11,539 feet. It was surprisingly manageable, and we celebrated our success at the top with lots of pictures. From there it was mostly downhill through the old mining towns of Alma and Fairplay. At the end of the day a very cold wind forced us to set up our tent and stealth camp a little sooner than planned. We were happy to be climbing into our little shelter right as some huge snowflakes began falling on our heads. We did stay warm enough throughout the night, and now we feel confident that we have made it through our coldest weather, since tonight we should be camping at an elevation that is at least 3,000 feet lower than where we have been. We are very sad to be leaving the mountains, but we know there is plenty of beauty and adventure waiting for us as we venture into the second half of our trip.