Couldn’t have planned the end of my trip better if I’d wanted to! It’s been a fabulous few days mountain biking in Breckenridge, taking free demo bikes down fabulous mountain trails, and working on my growing addiction to true mountain biking. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
After two fabulous full days of trail riding in Steamboat Springs we rode rolling hills through beautiful river valleys all morning. This was a fairly easy day of only 36 miles and only one mountain pass. Each day I feel stronger and maybe even a tad faster!
The route turned off onto a gorgeous stretch of single track around the northern shore of the Stagecoach Reservoir. From the end of that trail we could see the slopes of the failed Stagecoach Ski Area whose trails had been all cut but no lifts ever installed.
As the afternoon wore on we found ourselves steadily climbing towards Lynx Pass as a thunderstorm moved in on us from behind. Roger and John fell behind a bit as Leslie and I raced the storm. The rain caught us just as we began the steep 6 mile climb up to the pass, but by then we were hot and the cool rain felt good so we rode through it. The clouds parted and the sun came out just as we got to the campground at the top of the pass. Roger and John had decided to wait out the storm in a stand of pines, staying dryer than us but rolling into camp an hour later.
At night it dropped to around freezing as we were camped at over 9000 feet! The morning was frosty cold and began with a long descent on which we wore all of our warm clothes! It was only a 43 mile day, but we left fairly early mostly to warm ourselves up. Less than 5 miles in we came to a spot in the road which didn’t have a bridge and required either a long detour or a short portage…. The water was cold and nearly waist deep due to recent beaver activity but we weren’t deterred, it was only 30 feet across.
I unloaded my panniers from my bike, changed into my sandals and rolled my shorts as high as they went. It took two trips but all my belongings crossed beaver pond dry and unscathed. It was a bit harder for John and roger who have frame bags to carry their stuff with instead of panniers but they managed just fine. roger even made it across with bike and gear in one trip!
Several miles later we came to a road junction and had a choice. The main route climbed a large ridge on a rough Forrest service road, dropped way down to the Colorado River, climbed the ridge on the other side, and then dropped back down to Kremmling. The alternate route took a shorter, flatter, paved road directly there. Because we are all here because we love pain, we stuck with the main route!
It turned out to be an insane amount of climbing but had incredible vistas all day long and was so worth the extra effort. Sadly Leslie went down on the steep gravel downhill and hit some good road rash, but she is strong and healing well!
The gravel road dropping back down to Kremmling was very well packed and smooth allowing is to cruise for miles at 40 mph, super fun! In Kremmling we’d planned to just have lunch and go another 18 miles but we had a margarita with lunch and lost our motivation and decided to stay put for the night!
John has not done a lot of camping or long distance touring in the past and so we sometimes tease him. He has been stressed off and on about the feathers slowly leaving his down sleeping bag and jacket, and was worried it was loosing too many feathers and something must be wrong. So just for fun Leslie and I (and roger!) have been collected our little lost feathers each morning for six weeks and putting them in tiny ziplock bags. So, while John was in the shower we dumped our six weeks worth of collected feathers into johns tent just to watch his reaction!! Though he was perhaps not quite as entertained as the rest of us at this particular prank, he was quite impressed with our perseverance!
From Kremmling we rode 55 miles to the Heaton Bay campground on Dillon Reservoir. The ride including crossing the ten thousand foot Ute Pass, which was not too steep but wasn’t particularly pretty either.
Another prank on John – John loves telling stories of his fraternity days. So a few weeks ago he told us of this new “exciting” fraternity game called “Icing.” basically any brother can “serve” any other brother a single Smirnoff Ice at any time – preferably a very inopportune time. Examples given were having it delivered to work via ups, or handing it to them just as they are walking into class for a test! The rule is if you are “iced” you have to immediately get down on one knee and chug the entire bottle, unless you happen to be carrying a Smirnoff in which case you can “ice block” in which case both parties drink.
While frat games aren’t generally my style, there is something exciting about beating a guy like John at his own game, so I went into the liquor store before leaving town to buy a Smirnoff. They wouldn’t sell me just one so I bought a six pack and left five with the cashier – totally making her day. I carried it with me all the way to the summit of Ute Pass. I gave John a little speech about us being friends and all, and how great it’s been riding with him. I could see him getting more and more confused and nervous! Then I Roger (who was in on this from the beginning!) presented him with the Smirnoff. It took several minutes for John to overcome his laughter and surprise before he dropped to one knee and downed it like a champ! Good thing we were at 10 thousand feet and the rest of the day was downhill!
From the pass we dropped down into Silverthorn and found a campsite at the Heaton Bay Campground on Lake Dillon. This made for a fairly easy 55 mile day. Leslie’s road rash was a bit on the tender side though so she decided to continue the 16 miles on to Breckenridge and stay the night in a real bed. John, Roger and I set up our tents and were quickly invited to a neighbors RV for pizza and beer. We ended up having a fabulous 3 plus hour visit with an amazing couple in their early 80’s who have spent the bulk of their 40 year marriage touring the world on bikes, boats, and foot. We all shared stories of adventures, good times, and hard moments. It was a truly wonderful and inspiring evening. In the morning we just had a quick ride down the bike path to Breckenridge and my official bike tour ended! It was bittersweet arriving in town. I was glad we had a day to spend playing in town before Roger and John continued on. We met up with our Brit friends Kevin and Susan who we’ve been leap-frogging with for weeks. We all had a rest day together!
Once we arrived in Breckenridge we learned that it was their annual Bike Week Celebration. What amazing timing. Downtown was a huge market of vendors giving out samples and selling discounted gear. The Fiz ‘Ik company was giving away free biking socks to any Great Divide Riders, Cliff Bar had unlimited samples, and lots of bike shops and brands were doing free bike Demo’s. I quickly got myself on a $6,000 fully suspended Carbon Fiber mountain bike and once again fell in love. Susan, John and I bought lift tickets and headed up the big ski slopes.
So much has happened these last few days and I haven’t been good about keeping my journal, so you’ll just have to wait and hear stories once I get home! We had several great meals out, tried out lots of cool bikes, and just had a great last few days as a big group. Yesterday Susan, Kevin, John, and Roger loaded up their bikes and headed out. Leslie and I rode our unloaded bikes with them up the very gradual but impressive 11,500 foot Boreas Pass.
It didn’t really hit Leslie and I that the goodbye’s were real until they’d ridden off down the back side of Boreas Pass. We returned to Breck just as it started pouring so we drowned our sorrows at a local tavern and then headed up to our Warm Showers Host where we stayed last night. Today we are finally catching up on our blogs and have a reservation this afternoon for bike rentals and a 3 hour mountain biking lesson. Tomorrow at 5 AM Leslie gets a shuttle to the Denver Airport, and the following day Becky arrives from Vermont to pick me up for our road trip home.
What an amazing journey this has been , I can hardly believe it’s winding down, but I know there will be lots of mountain biking in my future!
I loved hearing about the trip and seeing the pictures. I especially liked the times when you realized you couldn’t be happier. I hope that is true for the rest of your life.