Saturday, May 12, 2007

A ride to the Continental Divide (Loveland Pass) and Winterpark

Temps ranging from low 50s in the mountains to low 80s in the front range. Sunny at first, overcast in the mountains, finishing off with a sunny afternoon with encroaching storm clouds.

Pretty good day for a ride overall. I headed towards the mountains after tanking up shortly after 0915hrs. Took the I-70 slab into the mountains, past Idaho Springs about 29 miles until I got close to the Eisenhower tunnel. I veered off towards US6 or Loveland Pass which is the road that goes over the mountain that the Eisenhower Tunnel traverses. It's used by hazmat trucks since they're not allowed through the tunnel.

Here's three shots of Maria as she sits prettily, West of the continental divide.

Looking back towards the East and the Divide

Looking more towards the North

Looking towards the West

I then headed back East towards the Divide and posed Maria next to the "tourist marker" where the US Forest Service had marked the Continental Divide.

The orange sign is plastered with stickers from previous visitors

A bit more than two miles up!

I then headed back down US6, back towards where I-70 and US40 meet. I took US40 towards Winterpark which was the main destination of the day. US40 is quite twisty in some places, when you see the sign that says 15mph turn, they really mean it. There's several hairpin turns on this road until shortly before Winterpark. I stopped once to put the liner into my riding jacket as I was getting chilled, which was good timing on my part. I got rained on as I entered the Winterpark city limits and it was a good excuse to stop and get lunch as it was around 1220 or so. The McDonald's was full of yelling kids and customers so I left them to their noise and instead ate lunch at a Subways Sub Shop across the way.

After lunch I wandered up US40 some more, all the way to Granby where I spotted the sign for US34 leading to Estes Park! The rational side of me hesitated but eventually I decided to ride up US34 and see how far I could get towards Estes. Well, shortly after seeing a sign that declared Estes to be 62 miles away, I saw another sign saying Trail Ride Road was closed for the season.

So I turned around back for Granby. As soon as I started heading back, it was like the weather gods turned a light switch for the sun came out nice and warm, the roads dried out from the brief rain and it was a warm cozy ride back towards Winterpark. I tanked up in Granby and rode on US40, enjoying the twistys again and enjoying Maria's pulling power as she powered out of the hairpin turns and up the mountain side roads.

Once back on I-70, traffic had built up somewhat but was still not bad. I headed towards Denver and elected to stay on I-70 instead of the usual turning off towards E-470 and the southern route back towards the house. I did try and use I-25 South to get home but the stop and go traffic I encountered soon after turning off I-70 caused me to turn around at the 20th Street exit. This gave an opportunity to ditch the jacket liner and vent the riding pants as I was feeling quite warm in the low 80s temperatures that were now in effect.

As I rode East once again on I-70, I could see some pretty ugly storm clouds both to the South and North of me. The winds were going westward based on the direction flags were flying so the storms were basically paralleling me as I rode on the slab. Wheew!

I stopped near home to take a picture of the southern rainstorm:

I am glad I didn't get caught in this storm!

A total of about 321 miles today, perhaps 6.5 to 7 hours of saddletime. Having the seat in the medium position helped somewhat with the knees but introduced some butt pain I'd not had before. At least, I did not recall it before. Still, a pretty good ride, only got rained on a tiny bit while in the mountains and roads remained very manageable in spite of being wet.

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