Frisco- Vail - Colorado Colors Tour 2021 - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2021

Frisco- Vail

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Rod & Judy martinI like "tailwind" too, although Judy and I seem to forget to fuel on any ride, short or long!
Enjoying your fall trip and BTW, colonoscopy results are good.
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4 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezTo Rod & Judy martinForget to fuel? How does that happen?

This trip we have been eating three full meals a day. I have been carrying snacks the entire trip that are getting a little road weary. I can tell that my usual oatmeal doesn't provide as many riding miles as eggs and meat.

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3 weeks ago
This is as close as a cyclist can get to a pass sign on Vail Pass.
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It was 30 degrees when I woke up this morning. We wore our coats to walk to breakfast at the Little Diner. We were the only people walking through the Lion Head shopping area. Today we successfully walked directly to the diner. We took our time eating, the longer we delayed, the warmer it would get. I took half of my Denver omelet and hash browns to go. Look at me stock pile my leftovers! By the time we left the diner, most of the tables were full.

We agreed on a 10 AM departure. I pulled my bicycle out of the van and squeezed the tires. I added air to the front. She's good to roll. I parked her in front of the lodge. They are working on the lodge exterior, painting. Right in front of the front door was a worker standing on the ground with an extension handle with a scraper on the end. I can't imagine with that much distance from his hand to the scraper that he is getting off any but the flakiest of peeling paint. I opinion that he needs a ladder or scaffolding to get right up there and do the job correctly. 

My room  was directly across from the ice machine. I consider that an excellent location. I did debate the need for ice at this temperature, but I filled them to the brim.  My Ironwoman friend, Jan, says the only fuel/electrolytes that she uses are https://www.tailwindnutrition.... If it's good enough for an Ironwoman, I should give it a try. They are very honest in their advertising - their product has sugar, lots of sugar. Your body likes sugar for fuel. I mixed one Tailwind bottle this morning. 200 calories per bottle. It's all you need for an Ironman. Surely, it will get me to the top of Vail Pass? That's my first pass this year. I have not been training for climbing at all. That could come back to bite me.

We were out the door right on time. I wore light weight tights, a long sleeve shirt with a vest over the top, and a pair of Earbag ear warmers. The sunshine felt warmer than the actual temperature.

Jim had routed down the bike path. Jacinto assured me that the path was very confusing and I would be frustrated. How well he knows me! Jacinto said to get on Highway 6 and follow it to the end, where we are dumped onto the bike path. I like those directions. Especially since Highway 6 is directly in front of our lodge. Jim said he could go either way, so I was in the lead.

Traffic was very light to non existent at 10 AM. Perhaps it would have been busier at 8? Jim suspected that it was because we had passed town and were on a dead end road. Whatever the reason, it worked for me. We could occasionally see the paved bike path below us. It looked appealing. We stayed on Highway 6. 

I told Jim multiple times that I had zero expectations about riding together today. I'm a slow climber and everyone needs to climb at their own pace. Jim fell behind, stopping to take off a layer. We were hardly down the road and I needed to use the bathroom already. I had taken Alison's hydration encouragement to heart! I found a nice rock to hide behind. I no more than assumed the position than here came Jim. He asked dryly as he passed if I felt relieved now. He's such a funny man!

We had six miles to the end of the highway. Then we had a gate. Jim waited for me there. I had misestimated the steepness of the climb and couldn't get my bike to shift into the granny. I had to stop and shift it by hand. A man chatted with Jim while he waited. The man said this section of the path by the gate had the steepest grade of the entire climb. Jim and I were happy to hear that news. Off we went. But, not too far. There was a dead pine tree across the road. That was a photo opportunity. 

The miles were passing in a pleasing fashion. I had taken off my vest. This was ideal climbing weather for me. Crisp, cool, and sunny. 

We came to an intersection. Jim went straight. We needed to go right. I called Jim back. He said he really, really didn't want to go down that hill. Down we went, down, down. Including a couple of hairpin turns. Those are difficult with my long bike. What goes down, must go back up. I shifted into the granny in time. Ugh. This was tough. Really tough. My thighs were complaining. I could tell I haven't been doing enough climbing this year. I debated walking, but wasn't sure I could get my foot down before I fell over. I was just on the verge of having to stop anyway, when finally the path leveled off. I had been panting heavily, I'm not sure if it was the exertion, or the altitude. Whatever the reason - that was more fun than I wanted. I was doubting my abilities for the remainder of the trip. 

My pass climbing approach standby has been to stop every mile for a quick break. I suddenly remember that I had some Hammer Nutrition products to help me out. I took a couple of Anti Fatigue tablets on my first break, and followed them with a Perpetuem tablet the next stop. 

I was ever so thankful that the steep piece under the highway was the only thigh bursting  piece. Jim and I agreed the man by the gate was incorrect. This was steeper. I was still feeling the effects of the effort and struggling. This section of the path was directly adjacent to the highway. I didn't want to stop there and have all of the people driving by in their cars comment that recumbent bikes can't climb. I waited until the path took a turn from the road. THEN I stopped for a couple more Anti Fatigue tablets and to pant. 

Jim's method of attack is to stop every 500 feet, wherever that may be. It is not near as often as every mile. We received a message from Genny that she was parked at the top of the pass and would wait for us until 1 PM. That was the fire Jim needed to get down the road. He did wait for me at the 500 feet marks, but would fade into the distance in front of me in-between. 

The last three miles were middle chain ring with the slightest of grades. I was thankful to have survived the climb and want to say I even enjoyed it. There was one relatively short section of misery. The rest was full of good views. Few cyclists passed us until the flat section. Then we had a large group of cyclists on E bikes who had been dropped off at the top to ride down. They all had handlebar bags saying Vail Pass. Besides those cyclists, we saw perhaps fewer than 10 cyclists on the climb. 

I had a couple on bikes stop me and ask where the top was. Cyclists don't get a pass sign. You can see the interstate goes some higher than the bike path. They get a sign. The best we can do for a sign is the cycling information at the top. That couple turned back around. Soon I was stopped by a couple walking, asking how did I know where the path was. My answer must not have satisfied, because they asked the question more than once. I told them on this particular path, there was only one way, as long as you stay on the pavement, you are on the path. Besides today's easy routing, I use the ridewithgps app to give me cues on where to go. That answer didn't seem satisfactory. We still had a nice chat. The couple is staying in Frisco also. I saw them again, walking, near Frisco, on the bike path.

By the time I did all of that talking, I was sure Jim and Genny would think I had a flat tire. They were waiting down in the very busy parking lot. The path crosses right where the semi trailer parking is. There were a number of cyclists milling around. Some people were unloading their bikes to ride. I don't think I'd like to start with a downhill this time of year, it would be far too chilly. 

I ate a bar, and donned my vest. Jim added his fleece under his wind jacket. I looked at the restroom, up a long flight of stairs. I had just cycled up the pass, I was too lazy to climb stairs to the bathroom. I would wait until the next potty. Oh, speaking of potties, after I took that break behind the rock, there was a potty not a half mile away. But, how do I know? There were potties spaced frequently all the way up the climb.  I anticipated there would be an equal number of potties on the opposite side. That is not correct.

We took a couple of photos at the top. there were 12 downhill miles to town. I was happy with the routing today. It was 28 total miles, with 2,700 feet of climbing. Short in miles, long in work. I think it was perfect. We had some steep switchbacks at the top of the descent that were tricky on my bike. We saw a few riders coming up (these were all pedal powered - pretty easy to tell by their slow pace and determine facial expressions). I was wishing for less traffic so I could use both lanes of the road to maneuver on the corners. 

Several miles before, on the top, and also several miles on the downside, there weren't any aspen trees. It was all evergreens. As we descended, the aspens appeared again. In this area, there was hardly any green aspen, almost all had colors. 

We were soon to Copper Mountain. I had lost Jim on the descent, but followed a couple into town. They seemed to know where they were going, and I followed them onto the street. Bertha (my name for ridewithgps) beeped at me to let me know I was going the wrong way. I didn't turn around, presuming that as long as I kept going downhill, I was going in the correct direction. The couple soon stopped, lost. I kept going and saw Jim right in front of me. He had taken the long way around through town. The better to spend your money, Jim! 

We were together again to cross Highway 24 to Leadville. I thought of Alison and friends, coming down the pass in the driving rain, freezing. We had all sunshine today! The saying goes that you should be off the top of the pass by noon or 1 PM to miss the afternoon thunderstorms. I had originally said I wanted to leave by 8 AM to be off the top at noon. Jim pointed out that the forecast said 0% chance of rain. That, plus the temperature convinced me to delay our start. We were on the top at 1 PM, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Genny asked how early did I want to start our ride to Fairplay over Hooiser Pass, she didn't want to freeze. Me either! We are going to check the forecast for rain and wind (I'm suspecting a southern headwind in this area). 

I'm ahead of myself - Jim and I cycled through a delightful alley of young aspen trees. We saw only one bathroom this entire side of the pass. I went on by, the downhill was going so quickly, I didn't feel a need to stop. Jim got ahead of me again. I saw a directional sign that said '1 mile to downtown Frisco'. That's me, our lodge is downtown. I looked to the right and didn't see Jim at all. I went left.  Bertha immediately let me know I was wrong. But, I was on Main Street and that's where I wanted to be. I kept going. Frisco is a happening tourist town. There were cars and people everywhere. I was quickly to our lodge. Jim was waiting outside. We have rooms 100 and 101. Today they got the best room with a huge bathroom and jacuzzi. I have an itsy, bittsy bathroom. I think I'd have to stand in the tub to shut the door. I do have a large walk in closet that would be just bicycle size, if necessary. Since I"m the only one in the room, it's good. They are also painting the outside of the Hotel Frisco. There is pounding directly outside my window. I'm sure they will be done soon. If I had wanted an afternoon nap, I would have been out of luck.

The Hotel Frisco is right downtown. The inside looks freshly painted and is well cared for. There are several signs saying established in 1936. It was a good value for the area. Previously I have stayed at the Snowshoe Lodge, on the end of town. It's an L shaped motel with doors that open to the outside. They weren't taking reservations at all in March, so we went with the Hotel Frisco. Probably next trip though, I will price check between the two. The Hotel Frisco location is better for food and browsing town.

Speaking of browsing town - we walked downtown for lunch. We were a touch too late. Jim wanted to go to the Butterhorn Bakery, which he had seen favorably mentioned in a journal. Closed at 2 PM. Bread and Salt also closed at 2 PM. We ended up at a pizza and pasta place (just the thing if you are on a gluten free diet). It was a cloth napkin place that wasn't busy. They did have a gluten free pizza for an $8. upcharge. I went for a $20. salad with chicken. Jim and Genny shared a pizza and said it was delicious. 

Genny wanted to walk around town. I decided to come work on the journal. I did mention that Frisco looked like the sort of place that would have a fudge shop and a piece of fudge would be just the reward for the day. Guess what I had delivered to my room? Yes! A piece of chocolate fudge with walnuts. I did not let that go to waste, I ate it right away, and used my wet finger to smoosh up the stray crumbs.

We ate dinner at the 5th Avenue Grille. Genny had made us reservations, which was a good thing. They were packed. They offered gluten free buns, so I got a hamburger. It was excellent. There aren't many burgers in my life. The bun was not dried out and crumbly, as most gluten free buns are. We had an annoying sconce light right at eye height for Jim and me. We tried covering it with a cloth napkin, which the waitress approved . The man in charge quickly came by and nixed that. Instead he dimmed the lights. 

A pastime of mine is comparing lodging and lodging prices. If you decide to stay at the Hotel Frisco, ask for Jim and Genny's room, 100. They had a larger room, king bed, and an enviable bathroom. I was in 101, it was adequate for one person, snug for two. It had a double bed (my feet hung off the end annoyingly), and a minuscule bathroom. We could not find ice, and at the time we were looking there wasn't an attendant.

I checked lodging prices - just for fun. I paid $143. for my room. Tonight the same room is going for $84. The Snowshoe Lodge is $110. tonight for a two queen room. It's like buying airline tickets, you never know which day to reserve to get the best deal.  

I know, I have a strange hobby, checking out prices. It must come from doing motel tours for so many years.

Jim was puzzled when I stopped him only a couple of miles into the ride. Look at the Aspen!
Heart 1 Comment 0
We have to have a photo here!
Heart 2 Comment 0
I need another photo in this spot. I think you are going to be seeing a lot of tree photos the next few days!
Heart 1 Comment 1
I tried to switch it up by doing a bike with trees photo. My bicycle is a RANS Stratus XP, with the K style frame. It is an XL length, eight feet long!
Heart 4 Comment 0
We had a little obstacle course early in the ride.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The sunlight shimmered and twinkled just so on the water.
Heart 4 Comment 0
My poor computer can’t go over 9,999 feet.
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On the downhill, almost to Frisco.
Heart 3 Comment 0
This was an excellent stand of Aspen.
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Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 197 miles (317 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Rachael AndersonGreat job on the climb!
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3 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezThat little section of the bike path was the most thigh busting of the trip. The part under the highway where I didn’t want to stop because drivers would think recumbents can’t climb.

Thanks for the recognition!
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3 weeks ago