After a relaxing and enjoyable six days in Steamboat, staying in the Rabbit Ears Motel, I set off south through some lovely farmland, before the road turned to dirt yet again and rose up into the uplands towards Lynx Pass, some 50 miles from the town. I was riding alone again, Eric had ridden on a few days earlier.
I arrived at Stagecoach State Park to find that the dam on the reservoir was being rebuilt, necessitating an 8 mile detour all the way around the lake. The lake is heavily used for recreation, with numerous camping sites and picnic areas. On such a lovely day it seems strange to see them all empty, but this is the quiet season in this area – most camping sites have long closed.
From there the climbing up to Lynx Pass commenced in earnest. The rest in Steamboat must have done me some good as I found it relatively easy. It helps when the weather is so lovely.
It feels more like winter up past 8,000 foot, as the Aspens have lost all their leaves.
I got to the Lynx Pass camping site just past the high point to find an unpleasant surprise. It was closed due to forestry works – they were actually cutting trees within the campground. But it was 5pm, and not enough light to be sure to get to the next campground (at least 15 miles away) before dark, so I camped there anyway. It is a lovely campground, very peaceful, but after setting up my tent I found that the water pump was broken – so I didn’t have enough water for cooking.
The morning was cold and frosty but very beautiful. I set off on a gentle downhill on a roundabout route to Kremmling.
I came to a ford which the maps said might only be impassible in the Spring. But it sure looked deep to me.
A quick walk around revealed why it was so deep. A beaver had built a dam just below the road!
The scrub was too dense to bring my bike downriver, so I had to go upriver to find a suitable ford. Inevitably, I ended up with very cold and wet feet.
So I set off with the sun on my face and ice in my boots towards Gore Pass.
The ‘official’ route included what was promised to be a very beautiful downhill and climb into a Canyon on the Colorado River. But on something of a whim, encouraged by my lack of a cooked dinner the night before, or breakfast (basically, I was surviving on nuts and Clif Bars), I decided to hop on the road to take the much easier road over Gore Pass and the highway across to Kremmling. After just 2 miles of steep climbing, it was essentially 20 miles or so of descending on smooth highway.
I made it to Kremmling and instantly regretted taking the fast route. Its not exactly the most interesting place to spend the last few hours of daylight on a lovely day. Not horrible, but nothing much of interest either. I stayed in what proved to be a very overpriced Inn, and planned the next days ride.
The ‘official’ Divide route goes on higher roads over Ute Pass, before dropping down to the main road again into Silverthorne. I was anxious to get some distance and that seemed too much of a detour when the main road was just 39 miles or so, and is part of another well known cycle route, the Transamerica Trail. I set off, and for the second day in a row, regretted taking the ‘easy’ option. The road is narrow and busy, and not a pleasant cycle.
But some of the scenery was very beautiful, and again, I was blessed with a lovely day.
And there were some interesting businesses along the way – how did they persuade the authorities to let them put this sign up?
Anyway, I soon got to Silverthorne. I had intended to stay there, but as I got there so quick I decided to press on to the higher ski resort town of Breckenridge, 16 miles (and about 1000 foot) further on.
I was glad I did – Silverthorne seemed a little uninteresting, but it was a beautiful ride up to Breckenridge. There was a near continuous cycle path – a beautifully designed one – almost the entire distance, a really great ride and I met lots of riders on the way. The path started on the Dillon Reservoir (which provides most of the water for Denver), and continued up through Frisco, and into the very well preserved town centre of Breckenbridge.
Breckenridge is notoriously expensive, but it is off season and I found a very nice and reasonable place, the Fireside Inn, a B&B and hostel, run by an English couple. I was tempted to stay a day or two, but the forecast was for bad weather to arrive in three days time, so I was under pressure to keep going if I was to make Salida.