Carbondale - Aspen via Rio Grande Trail - Colorado Colors Tour 2021 - CycleBlaze

August 30, 2021

Carbondale - Aspen via Rio Grande Trail

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Colorado’s answer to the tunnel of trees.
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Marcela I.Hah! I appreciate this photo and caption.
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The three pass riders make a toast to their anticipated hard work tomorrow.
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I had heard 8 AM breakfast and 9 AM departure. I was down at breakfast at 7:58.  None of the crew was in sight. There weren’t any breakfast sandwiches either. I asked the attendant. No, all out, sorry. I made do with oatmeal and peanut butter for protein. Would that carry me 30 uphill miles? My stomach didn’t think so. I added a banana, a yogurt, and a milk. Hmm. Still wishing for protein. 

I was also wondering was was up with the group. I felt a bit odd, since I invited myself to join Alison’s tour. I didn’t quite know my place in things, so waited to hear from Alison. Of course, all was well. She had her own special cereal from home to eat. Bill and Ingrid had been to breakfast early and actually gotten sandwiches. Not that they are something any of us eat at home, but fuel is fuel when on the road. 

Depart time is now 9:30. We have a short distance to ride and have not asked for an early check in. 

I went back to the breakfast room for more peanut butter and they now had sandwiches! I saw a grocery bag, I think someone made a City Market run. Instead of PB with a banana, I ate the insides out of a sandwich. I try my best to avoid wheat. This one was an easy choice. 

I asked for a rag to clean my bike and received a towel. I debated the weight of it and Jacinto’s forgotten shirt. Hopefully I won’t be slowed too much. 

I was happy the bike tires had air this morning. Interstate riding has far too many retread tires for me. Tom aptly calls them alligators. 

I was outside at the appointed hour. Oren has taught me well. That and driving school bus. How many jobs are scheduled by the minute? After 23 years, I had being on time trained into me. Side note, Jacinto is on time to work, but nowhere else. You would think that would spill over into personal life. 

We took a left out of the parking lot and curved around to 8th Street to join the bike path. Then it was 30 miles of bicycle bliss to Aspen!

The California gang all had on multiple layers that the were soon shedding. Ingrid and I rode together briefly, the I had a spell with Bill. I tried to ask leading questions so they did all of the talking and I could pant. I’m sure the reason was the towel and shirt. It has nothing to do with my lack of hill climbing this season! Michigan and Wisconsin were delightful, but climbing was not a consideration on that trip. 

We stopped at a potty at mile ten that needed servicing. As Jacinto is fond of saying, I’ve seen worse! 

Bill admitted that the altitude was getting to him a little, carrying on a conversation was making him breath harder. We all agreed. After the banana break, we all seemed to spread out to enjoy the view and pant at will. 

I saw Bill once more at the bridge and didn’t see anyone else until town. 

I haven’t cycled this direction since COVID. It was entertaining to look around and see what I remembered and how things had changed. The miles ticked by pleasantly. 

I had mentioned at our stop that traffic on the path seemed light. I no more than said that than traffic picked up going both directions. I thought about half of the bicycles were e bikes. I will have to ask at dinner and ask the group consensus. 

I had mentioned how we used to stop at Woody’s Tavern for nachos to finish the ride. Now the bike path goes above Woody’s. You have to plan ahead to stop there and get off the path. I wonder how much their business has gone down now that cyclists aren’t streaming past their door? The upside for cyclists is that the climb is now much more gradual. Before, if you were cycling on to Aspen, you had to climb the honking hill up McClarin Flats road. Eating and then riding that steep of a climb was not a good combination, but we did it a number of times. The path is a good thing. 

I noticed a tailwind going across the long flat section before the waterfall. No one else thought there was a tailwind. Just that it was hot. 

I was following a couple on e bikes through here. The man was having some sort of trouble. He kept getting off the bike and looking at it. The woman was riding right in the center of the path anyway, then she would stop right there. Once she stopped and I went around right as a rider was coming my way. Luckily he navigated to the dirt and we all made it. I think she was oblivious. Or deaf. Or stubborn. I kept ringing my bell to pass her, and she didn’t scoot over at all. Finally I got around them and enjoyed a blissful few miles. 

I stopped at Cemetery Lane. This is a honking climb that takes cyclists up on the west side of town. Depending on lodging, I sometimes take this road. Today, we stayed on the path all the way to Puppy Smith Lane. I’ll be darned if that couple didn’t pass me my the grocery store. One more time, just for fun!

I have to note that all of the women I saw walking or on bikes were very thin. A size six would be extra large here. Thigh gaps are required. I’m not sure how I snuck into town. Probably there’s an automobile check point and I squeaked in because I’m on a bike. I did see two normal (to me) size women for walking and I wanted to say thank you to them - just for existing! I passed a quite large woman on an e bike right at the top of a short climb. She was stopped and facing me, which would have been downhill for her. I hadn’t quite chosen the correct gear and was going slowly at the very top, but I made it. The lady didn’t look too happy and I couldn’t think of what to say that would be upbeat, yet not potentially viewed as demeaning, so I only smiled as I passed. The woman snarled, “Good for you.” As I passed. OK, then. 

I saw the post office and Clark’s Market. The plan was to get something at the deli for lunch. They’ve remodeled since I was here last. Now there is a pasta bar. I ended up with broccoli salad, which isn’t quite what I was hoping for. The last time we were in Aspen we had ridden over the pass and I selected almost $30. Of snacks to hold me to dinner! I remember having several side dishes and a nice piece of salmon. That didn’t happen this time. 

I had just finished my salad when the crew pulled up. Alison found some sushi items at Clark’s. Bill and Ingrid ended up at the Thai place next door. They had shaded outdoor seating. Alison and I joined them. I ended up ordering pad thai, Ingrid’s looked appetizing. I have some for leftovers. Jacinto would be proud of me. 

We whiled away some time until 3 PM and then rode the 5-6 blocks to the Tyrolean Lodge. I checked in first. Alison was going to ask about canceling their rest day here. They wanted to get over the pass before the rain hit. Hurricane Ida is flinging rain all this way!

I don’t know what the plan is for dinner. We shall see. 

Tomorrow they all head over the pass and I am going to cruise downhill back home. My plan is to leave very early to beat the afternoon headwinds. I’m going to have a minimal breakfast and then eat a burrito bowl at Carbondale. 

After our late lunch, no one but me was interested in dinner. I ate my lunch leftovers. Perhaps if I’d eaten the entire lunch at the time, I wouldn’t have been interested in dinner either!

At 7:30, we walked down to the BBQ restaurant. Outdoor dining was a major attraction and I was afraid we were out of luck, but there was seating around back. 

I went for the smallest thing I could find, plus a glass of milk to go (for breakfast). We enjoyed one last meal together. Then it was time to settle the bill. I was surprised to see I was charged $6. For a 32 oz milk as opposed to the 12 oz size I expected. The to go cup was half full, so perhaps slightly more than 12 oz, but nowhere near 32 oz. After going around with the waitress about it, I felt pretty silly, but just because she gave me a 32 oz cup, it was nowhere near full, perhaps half full. Ugh. 

We said our goodbyes at the lodge. I would be off early. It was a pleasure to finally meet Alison (plus Bill and Ingrid!). I told Alison to send me a victory photo of Independence Pass. 

Side note - Alison says she climbs at a rate of 1,000 feet per hour. I can tell you I climb about 3-3.5 mph, but I’ve never tried to quantify that in feet. I will have to start paying attention. 

Ive squeezed my bike tires one more time tonight. Interstate riding makes me concerned about running over retread wires or other flat causing objects. So far, so good. 

Tomorrow I’m going to evaluate conditions as I approach Glenwood. I’m not too excited about another interstate ride. Going west bound the curves are on the inside, with a smaller shoulder. That gives drivers a much shorter sight distance. That, combined with a headwind might make me decide to call for a ride from Glenwood. We shall see.  

Alison’s mascot, Moosie. He was discovered in a Glacier, MT gift shop in 2002 and has been her faithful companion since. Note that he has his own Road ID. He is an important companion!
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Bill and Ingrid at our first break spot today.
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Alison was happy with the River vistas.
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Moosie and the bear sign!
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One of Alison’s River photos.
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I like this artistic bridge over Highway 82 near Basalt.
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Weeping wall near Aspen on the two mile dirt segment of the path.
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The colors have not started turning yet.
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My spacious room at the Tyrolean Lodge.
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Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 79 miles (127 km)

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