Piecewise Planning

So I’m getting divorced at the moment.  It’s kind of like having your dentist treat a hemorrhoid.  Or like having your proctologist fill a cavity.  From their respective ends, of course.  Either way, its loads of fun.

Due to child custody issues (I’ll leave it at that), I can’t get away for more than one week at a time this summer.  So doing 3 or 4 weeks on the GDMBR just isn’t going to happen. The reason I haven’t posted for so long is that I couldn’t bear to disappoint my loyal readers (both of them :-D).

But, as the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt! Since I live in Boulder, CO, I can drive west for 2.5 – 3 hours on any road that goes over the mountains and intersect the GDMBR somewhere.  So I’m going to do a series of shorter (3-6 day) trips on various sections of the Colorado portion of the trail.  This is kind of good, in a way, as it allows me to try different gear combinations at different times and see what works best for me.

There are two main sections of the Colorado route that I want to do.  The first one is the area around Steamboat Springs.  I had always planned to do a shakedown ride in the Steamboat area because there’s an alternate route from the Wyoming state line down to Steamboat Lake state park (so-called “Aspen Alley”) that makes a natural loop with the “official” route.

The “Aspen Alley” alternate to the GDMBR.

The “official” GDMBR route north of Steamboat Lake (courtesy of eatsleepridegreatdivide.com)

This is about a 75 mile round trip, perfect for a little 2-day jaunt.  You could turn it into 3 days by starting the ride from Steamboat Springs itself, but I think the the section between the town and the state park is the most heavily trafficked and least appealing part of the route, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do it in both directions.  Better to save an extra day for what follows.

Going south from Steamboat Springs, when you get to Gore Pass there is another 4WD road that heads back north to Rabbit Ears Pass.  Now from here you could take the easy way back to Steamboat on Highway 40 (it’s an insane downhill), but it turns out that if you continue north on 4WD roads you can actually hook up with a 13-mile section of the CDT that is open to bikes!  You can take this up to Routt County Rd 38, which goes back to Steamboat.  Here’s what this looks like:

Steamboat-Gore Pass loop using CDT

A 3-day loop from Steamboat Springs to Gore Pass on the GDMBR and back on a section of the CDT.

Point B is the Toponas Creek campground, which is just a bit off the GDMBR route.  Gore Pass is a bit to the east of the little pointy intersection at the SE corner of the route.  Point C is the Walton Creek campground on Highway 40.  From D to E is the CDT section.  E-F is the return to Steamboat on RCR 38. All in all, this looks like a sweet ride. I expect the CDT section to be challenging but do-able; most mountain bike sites rate it as an intermediate trail.

Combined with the Steamboat Lake loop, I can do five or six days of riding with a break in town in the middle.  Nice!

Another ride in the northern half of the state that I’d like to do is to ride from Steamboat all the way home to Boulder (or vice-versa). This would use the GDMBR down to a spot due west of Fraser; from there, a good county road cuts through to Fraser. Then, you can get from Winter Park back to Boulder via the locally-well-known Rollins Pass, which is closed to automobile traffic. Logistically, this is slightly more challenging, as I have to arrange for transportation between Steamboat and Boulder.  There is an airport shuttle that goes to Steamboat from Denver that I’m thinking about using, but I have to find out if they can take a Pugsley!

Continuing south, there is nothing appealing for awhile (at least not if you live in Colorado). The ride from Dillon to Breckenridge is on bike paths that I’ve done before; from Breckenridge to Como the route is over Boreas Pass Road, which is a rough, dusty road that is popular with automobiles (especially in the fall when the leaves are turning). From Como through South Park is suck city.

The route doesn’t get interesting to me again until Hartsel, however, logistically it’s easier to skip to Salida, which is about a 2:45 drive from home. From Salida, the route heads into the mountains over Marshall Pass and into some very remote areas of the state, finally cresting Indiana Pass, the highest point on the entire GDMBR, before heading down to Platoro. This is without a doubt one of the most brutally difficult and exposed sections of the Route, and I wouldn’t want to attempt it before mid-July. It’s 198 miles, I think I can do it in 4 days.

GDMBR from Salida to Platoro (courtesty of eatsleepridegreatdivide.com).

From Platoro, I’ll ride straight east through the mountains for about 30 miles, then ~20 miles of farmland before hitting Alamosa.

The great thing about Alamosa is that there’s a Greyhound Bus every day from the Best Western hotel that takes you to Salida in about 1.5 hours for $12.99 — and bikes ride free!  Suck that, airlines!

So, that is the current P.O.R. (plan of record). I’m planning to start doing these rides at the end of June. That means I’ve got about a month to get ready.  Yikes!

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