On the road again

I’m on vacation this week and part of next, and I’ve been looking forward to doing some bike packing all summer. Unfortunately I’m not in very good shape this year. I thought about doing the new Idaho route, but the thought of wolves in Idaho freaks me out. So I thought maybe I’d do the salida to Platoro section of the GDMBR. But after studying the maps I concluded that I was in no way in shape for that.

I decided to head down to Crested Butte. There are a few trails I know I want to do like the 401 but that doesn’t really satisfy my desire to actually GET somewhere on the bike. I decided to do a loop from CB to Paonia to Crawford to Gunnison and finally back to CB. It’s a lot of pavement, but there are some places I really want to see, like the north rim of the black canyon, and Kebler Pass. When I return to CB I’m going to ride Schofield Pass to Marble, which is also someplace I’ve always wanted to see and return on the 401 trail, which is supposed to be the finest single track in Colorado.

Soooo… today I rode over Kebler Pass to paonia. The weather has been terrible down here lately– I actually spent the first few days of my vacation sitting at home waiting for it to clear. Yesterday it poured all day in CB and was still coming down hard on Monarch Pass when I drove over it last night. But this morning, as promised, the sun came out. Still a lot of moisture over the divide:

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But the direction I was heading wad perfect:

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Woo hoo, here we go!

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Wild flowers up here are spectacular. Although the are good back home as well because it’s been such a wet summer. This it’s the road to lake Irwin, which I wanted to see, but it’s two miles off route – all uphill of course.

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The climb up the pass from CB is actually quite easy. On the other side, big views of what I presume is Mt.
Lamborn.

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After some step paved downhill, the road turns to dirt again and goes through thick Aspen forests. This must be spectacular in the fall.

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Near the bottom (and it’s a long way, with 3000 feet of drop) is Erickson Springs picnic area. It’s beautiful.

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There is a campground here too, but it was way too early to stop and besides, this valley has a history of problems with west Nile virus. So I am not camping until I get back to hwy 50.

When I got down to CO 133 I discovered that you can’t actually see Paonia reservoir, you can only see the dam. So I decided to climb the road up to the dam. This is looking towards McClure Pass (which is another 2500) feet of climbing!)

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Then I turned around to head to Paonia. I expected the ride to be all downhill but there was a lot of rolling. Still I made it to town, 50 miles total by about 2:30. I stopped at Ollie’s ice cream shop for a sundae and watched life go by on Paonia’s one block main street.

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Tomorrow : the Black Canyon!

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