Riding the Rockies
Sometimes adventure is meant to be easy and this is one of those rare amazing experiences that anyone with a sense of balance can enjoy. Having picked up my rented bicycle the day before, I was able to arrive at Mountain View Adventures at 9:00 am for my ride up to Vail Pass. This particular Sunday morning, I was the sole rider and my van driver pointed out the path I would ride along the way as we drove up Highway 70, which bisects Colorado from East to West, to the top of the Pass. The ride took about 20 minutes total and we pulled off the highway at one of the Highway Rest Stops. The driver unloaded my bike, made sure I didn’t have any questions, and told me to have a great trip.
The sign at the trailhead said that Copper Mountain was 8 miles, Frisco 13 miles, and Keystone 26 miles. What the heck, it’s mostly downhill – right? I didn’t opt for the round trip version of the excursion. That’s the one where the driver and the rider set a time to rendezvous and someone actually picks you up in Frisco and drives you back to Keystone. After all, this is billed as “Coasting” the Rockies. No major pedaling effort there, right? But fancying myself the athlete (albeit the aging one) what’s another 13 miles? I’ll go it on my own….. the entire 26 miles. I did make sure to understand where my fallback possible “rides” were. More on those fallbacks later.
The first 13 miles were truly glorious! I coasted down a very well maintained bike bath that runs between the east and west lanes of Highway 70 (the lanes are WELL divided and you really don’t notice the freeways at all.) Streams and eddies run along the pathway and along the entirety are wild flowers. Amazingly, there were a large number of hardy riders riding UP the pass. From the top, at 11,400 feet elevation, one can travel 20 miles down to the West and Vail or 13 miles down to the East and Frisco. Apparently it’s not unusual for people to ride from Frisco to Vail and back in one day (for a total elevation gain of 4,000 feet).