It all started with the day before.
In Georgetown, we made the decision to call the weather channel's bluff and attempt Loveland Pass, an 11,990 foot ascent. Georgetown is at 8,500 feet so we had quite a climb in front of us. Four miles uphill later, we thought better of our decision while watching the dark clouds roll in. We lowered our heads and rolled back into Georgetown, retreating to the cheapest lodging in town.
We woke up early in a comfy bed, grabbed the healthiest choices at the continental breakfast, and headed out on the crisp morning to conquer the pass. The morning was beautiful, the roads were quiet, and we soon found ourselves on a bike path riding through the Colorado forest.
The only sound we heard was the sound of sirens off in the distance. We soon found out why.
We came out of the path and were greeted by the smell of oil and a hazardous waste truck flying by. Eric, another cyclist hoping to climb Loveland Pass, stopped as he passed us. He told us they wouldn't let us through, that there was a flipped Tanker on the road spilling oil into the nearby river.
Adam and I, with our panniers and gear, thought they would see that we were on more than just a leisurely ride and let us through, but after Adam was told, "No... due to the explosion hazard," by the officer with a cigarette in his hand, we were stuck. Our options were to wait until 3:00 when the area would be cleared, or take the highway through the tunnel, which was not only illegal, but dangerous.
As we rode away, we saw Eric! Eric had a plan. The tanker flipped on a U-shaped turn so there was only a small hike through the woods between one side of the road and the other. Eric had scoped it out and found a possible route to take our bikes down, over the oil-infested river, and back up to the other side of the road. It was steep. It was thoroughly wooded. It was an adventure!
So with Eric's help, we managed to push, pull, carry, and scramble our bikes all the way to the other side. Take that law enforcement officers!... Not really, they were just doing their job.
Safe on the other side of the tanker, we began the last of the climb and enjoyed a car-free road for the rest of the morning. Up the hill, then ddddoooooowwwwwwwnnnnnn the hill.
Much to our surprise, when we got to the bottom, we turned onto Swan Mountain Road to see people lined up on both sides of the road with beach chairs, coolers, noise makers. We thought, how great to have such a welcoming to Keystone, CO. That was until we saw all of the chalk writing on the street!
"We love Basso!"
Since there was no Adam or Christy in the chalk, instead of riding through, we stopped along the road, took out our lunch, and waited for the Pro Cycling Challenge to ride by. We didn't have to wait long.
After the excitement, we started the same climb the riders were attempting. No cars, but there were hoards of people. And this time they really did cheer for us along the way. We were spotted by one of our FB followers, Linda, who took a pic, and Adam was even given a push up the last of the hill.
|Photo courtesy of Linda Guerette|
Down again to the bike path that lead us through the town of Frisco where another cyclist invited us to a warm shower and cold beer. It hurt when we had to say no, but we needed more than 40 miles that day, especially since we had been such slackers lately.
We did manage to find a good replacement for a cold beer... fresh raspberries growing right on the trail! Bastian rode with us for a bit then shared the secret of the raspberries with us. This may have been even better than a beer.
On we went through Frisco, following the bike path all the way through Copper Village where we made the decision to climb yet another mountain. Vail pass was 10,660 feet up the bike path and with lightening in the distance, our tired legs managed to push up to the top!
As we started to descend, Adam couldn't help himself but to get off his bike and hike up the side of a mountain to an Aspen Grove to take pictures in the fading light.... as if he wasn't tired enough.
Just a bit further down the road we found Gore Campground, and after over 6,000 feet of elevation gain and 59 car-free miles, we were lulled to sleep by the river.