Colorado- Boulder to Salida

Aline graciously gave up a bit of anniversary time with Geoff while we spun out of Boulder.  Fun to catch-up and share some laughs as we headed up Left Hand Canyon.  

The next cover of Thrasher...

Geoff peeled off before the afternoon rain set in and I continued up into Nederland. Ned is a quirky old mining town that now serves as the main jumping off point west of Boulder to access the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park, James Peak Wilderness and Roosevelt National Forest. And, if you're lucky enough to be there in March, you can enjoy Frozen Dead Guy Days that celebrates an attempt by Norwegian immigrant Trygve Bauge to practice cryonics on his deceased grandfather.

Drying out a bit at the local food co-op, I bumped into Lexy and Jason who chatted me up and offered a place to stay for the night. Super solid peeps- generous, extremely mindful and great energy.  After a fantastic dinner of venison and pasta we settled in to break in their new chiminea with marshmallows and chat sustainable structures and thoughts on their upcoming trip on the Colorado Trail in preparation for thru-hiking the CDT.

Rolling out of Ned, it was a quick spin over to Rollinsville where the local machine shop was doubling down on The Who to get their morning going.  With Young Man Blues on repeat, I took a left and enjoyed an easy spinner up the canyon on Rollins Pass Road an old railroad grade crossing over the CD at 11,676 ft. and dropping down into Winter Park.  

Good time to drop the pressure and let the Colonel munch along for several miles of car-free rough stuff

Beautiful views of the good stuff up above Jenny Lake as the grade swept up above tree line

toward Needle's Eye Tunnel.  The narrow tunnel was closed in 1990 necessitating a short but steep hike-a-bike to get over the top. 

Pushing my luck, I made it over the tunnel thinking I'd drop down before the thunder and lightening caught up to me...  With a sketchy exposure ensured, I plastered myself against this rock and rode out a good hail pounding and lightening streaked sky.

Happy to see the return of bright sunny skies and the stark contrast between the two extremes.

The last stretch to the summit crossed a couple of well-preserved wooden trestles 

with epic views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the left  

before saddling over the CDT

and dropping down into Winter Park.  

The next days ride out of Winter Park was an easy spinner out along FR 139 through beautiful alpine meadows

and down along a nice stretch of water before connecting back up with the route just north of Ute Pass.

I hung out at the Pass to see if Lael would be leading the break in front of the boys on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

but was really more interested in checking out the Gore Range. Off of the Pass after the riders cleared out it was a quick spin into Silverthorne.

Colorado has served up a host of unexpected familiar faces. After a couple of texts, JP and I met up in Frisco for an awesome breakfast and great catch-up over multiple cups of coffee.

After a quick stop in Breckenridge, 

Boreas Pass served up another awesome mellow railroad grade climb.

Where I ran into John, Denny, and Gabor who were out riding the stretch from Steamboat to Salida to check out their set-ups prior to their tour next year.  At 11,482 ft. Boreas Pass used to be a major high altitude railroad connector to surrounding areas with some hearty folks living up there in the late 1800's to keep the line open during the winter.

Open during the winter, the Boreas Pass Hut is on the return list for sure.

Off the backside, I said goodbye to John, Denny and Gabor and dropped down into Hartsel for the evening.

Hartsel is definitely back in the heart of ranching land.  The "locals" table in the cafe gave a quiet nod as I fueled up before heading out into what felt like a   

reprise of the Basin with miles of grasslands in either direction.

Good spot to duck out of the wind for a bit.

A lone tree marking the top of a quick pass crossing over the water divide before dropping down 

the canyon into Salida.