2016 Ride Across America

Day 7 - Salida, CO to Greeley, CO - 246 miles
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Somehow, Mid-August in Colorado wasn't being as warm and sunny as I expected.  I woke up to a partly cloudy and grey skies with the night's rain on the bike.  I walked over to The (Country) Bounty restaurant again for breakfast, then set my route for Greenley, CO for the evening.  I gassed up in town and then headed east on Hwy-50 and then turned north on State-291 which intersected with US-285.  US-285 then splits off just south of Buena Vista into two sets of both US285 and US-24.  One set continuing to head north on the west side of the San Isabel National Forest, and the other set going east and then north up the east side of the San Isabel National Forest where US-24 eventually ends up in Colorado Springs.  I chose the west side because it gets you to the southern part of the loop through the Rocky Mountains National Park, and drops you into Fort Collins north of Denver.

This would be a blue GPS day, and the route is shown in the first picture below.

I got about 30 miles north of Buena Vista and then the sky got dark, so I decided it best to put the rain gear back on.  Sigh.  

Leadville was only 3.5 miles down the road from this stop.  I didn't stop there, but it looked like it had history, and I'm pretty sure the name was significant to what it is known for.  Just outside Leadville I left US-24 and took State Hwy-91 for another 31 miles until it intersects I-70 just before the cities of Frisco and then Dillon.  After the first 11.5 miles on Hwy-91 you run into a big lefthand uphill sweeper in a mining area known as "Climax".  I'm not sure its name is appropriate, but the size of the molybdenum mining operation there certainly is.  Check out the link provided.  It once was the highest human settlement in the USA at 11,318 feet above sea level.  After another 4.5 miles you cross the end of Clinton Creek Lake, and I stopped to take a picture of it from a nice pullout.   

The jaunt east down I-70 only lasted for 11 miles, where I pulled off at Dillon and took Hwy-9 36 miles north to Kremmling.  Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, (13 miles south of Kremmling), there was a huge highway project underway. Dirt in both directions and it appeared they had just erected a couple of gigantic cement archways across this divided section (as I recall) to allow elk and other wildlife to safely get to the Green Mountain Reservoir. I think this stop took 30 minutes or more while earthmovers did their thing.

Kremmling was a lunch stop. I ate at the Rocky Mountain Bar & Grill on Central Avenue.  From Kremmling I took US-40 east for about 25 miles to the edge of a town named Granby where I gassed up.  Granby is about the last service before entering the Rocky Mountain Nation Park.  I turned north there on Hwy-34 and it started to rain pretty good.  It was miserable driving through Grand Lake and then the rain turned into a slight drizzle as I entered the park at the end of town.  At about 11 miles into the park you run into a hairpin that turns back south, and then the climb begins.  The pictures hown below are at the 7th hairpin up, a place called Fairview Curve Overlook, where sure enough, there was another highway project underway.  The delay was pretty short and allowed me to at least take a couple of pretty good pictures of my bike and the scenery sitting in the Rockies at 10,141 feet on a 14% grade with the Colorado River 1,000 feet below.

That was just the beginning.  So from here you climb through the forest until you are above treeline, and pretty much bumping into the clouds that day.  I stopped at a wide turnout just below treeline and took a couple of pictures.  Remember,... this is the middle of summer and it's 43 fricking degrees out.  I'm chilly, and I'm glad I still have my Gortex rain gear on.  It's windy as well.  I'm also at 11,393 feet.  I decided to take a short movie to show how bare it is, and to see that I'm still not at the top.

One more hairpin and I'm at the Gore Ridge Overlook, well above treeline at 12,044 feet. And now it's really windy.