Salida-Twin Lakes, CO: A surprisingly fun day. - Colorado Independence - CycleBlaze

June 29, 2014

Salida-Twin Lakes, CO: A surprisingly fun day.

I was awake at 4 AM, tried to go back to sleep and finally gave up about 4:45 AM. I stuck my nose out the door like a cat, sniffing the air. So far no wind, and just a bit chilly. Getting ready didn't take long as I'd done most of it the night before. I was out the door at 5:37 AM. I was a bit surprised at the traffic (though light) at that hour on a Sunday. I expected to see no one at all, but did see the occasional car. We caught Hwy 291 directly behind our motel, saving us three miles and a climb from going to Poncha Springs and then turning right.

I had a half hour of cold finger riding before the sun got to me. Then the nip in the air was pleasant.
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Shadow shots are always fun.
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I happily watched the miles tick by. Each time I checked the odometer and the wind still wasn't blowing was a big plus. I reached the right turn to Hwy 24/285 - we had just ridden this section to Johnson Village last week, so the sights were familiar. We did cut one climb out and had only the big climb to the pipe lines across the road. Otherwise it was a very steady uphill all day long. It's easy on the body to gain elevation in a gradual manner. Thank you, thank you.

I kept watching for Jacinto in the truck. He wanted to get an early start to go hike. It's best to be off the top of the mountain before the afternoon thunderstorms hit. I kept debating - stop in Buena Vista for water and ice, or get some from Jacinto? Back and forth I went. It's silly how many times I wondered what to do. I left him a text saying I'd like a SAG stop as he passed by. No answer. I called. No answer. Hurmph. I would just go ahead and stop. I pulled in at the first convenience store on my side of the road. What a pleasant surprise. It was like an old fashioned candy store. Real homemade fudge, lots and lots of specialty sodas in the bottle (Jones type), plenty of candies from my childhood that I thought had been discontinued. Blue Bell ice cream. And I thought I would be seeing chips and Pepsi! What did I buy? A V-8 juice - the cheapest of the trip so far at $1.60.

The candies from my childhood that I thought were discontinued were here, in Buena Vista!
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I called Jacinto as I left the store and he answered. He would stop and say hello as he passed by. I estimated he'd catch me in a half hour. I watched and watched my rear view mirror. Nope. Nothing yet. Waited and waited. Watched the scenery some (and was appreciative that the wind hadn't picked up). But no Jacinto. At mile 37 on my odometer he called and said he was at the trail head in Twin Lakes! How had he passed me with both of us watching? Who knows - but he was long past me. He was off for his hike and I could pay more attention to my surroundings.

The Arkansas River is one of the most popular for rafting trips. I saw plenty of buses pulling trailers loaded with rafts. Everyone was out to enjoy a bright Colorado day, me on my bike, the tourists on the rafts.

Little restaurants and stores seem to come and go, you can't count on them being there from year to year. Granite town was some bigger (13 miles from Buena Vista) and had a convenience store. I didn't stop, but made note that it seemed to be a likely place to actually survive from season to season.

The turn to Hwy 82 was 19 miles past Buena Vista as I had figured out -but our total mileage was going to be short. I didn't suppose anyone would complain as long as they don't get extra miles going up Independence Pass tomorrow.

I took the turn, then stopped to organize myself for what I thought would be the start of some stiff climbing. There was a large group of motorcycle riders (20?) organizing themselves also at the intersection. I mixed a half bottle of Spiz (should be good enough for six miles) and ate some grapes and carrots. Then I took off, happy that my early morning approach had worked on not getting a headwind.

Nice looking cabins right at the intersection of Hwy 24 and 82. No food options here.
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I slowed down some and enjoyed the view. I knew I had beat the wind and would probably be to town long before my room was ready - might was well take some photos. I took a bunch of photos in different spots. Then I heard a voice and there was Oren! We took more photos and finally headed to town. It was an easy ride along the lake, not the stiff grunt I had anticipated. I guess we'll save that for tomorrow.

Isn't this a grand view?
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It's an excellent back drop for my RANS Stratus XP in Ti - the K frame version. Otherwise known as the Magic Carpet Ride.
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Oren Wright with his trusty Bachetta Bella. The only reason I was in front of Oren is because I left an hour earlier. Ha, got you this time, Oren!
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Then I had to do the selfie thing. Tourists, you know.
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We are at the Twin Lakes Roadhouse. Our luggage was waiting in the office, where Steve had nicely allowed Jacinto to leave it so we cyclists could have clean clothes while he was off hiking. It took a minute, but we got checked in. My room wasn't quite ready, so we went to lunch next door. The Roadhouse was a very pleasant surprise. Often when we stay in one horse towns, we get what we get and we are happy to have it. I told Oren that this was a place he could bring his wife to. Tile floors, fancy furniture and bedding. You can tell Aspen is just 38 miles away. Even if it is over a 12,000 foot pass. Excellent place to stay if you are ever in the area. They also include breakfast - homemade rolls, fruit, oatmeal, etc. I'm not sure if we will be eating here or not. Breakfast doesn't start until 7 AM - Oren and I discussed getting down the road to beat the wind - but it will be 36 degrees in the morning. That's chilly!

While Oren and I were eating lunch, Jacinto called - from the top of Mt Elbert! Can you believe his phone worked at 14,000 feet? The connection wasn't real good - but it's still amazing he could call. We wondered which mountain it was, as there were a number in front of us. I'm pretty sure we couldn't see Mt Elbert, since I saw the road to the trailhead on the opposite side of the road.

We finished our lunch and walked back to the Roadhouse - there was Ken, he had just pulled up. Ken said he cycled into Buena Vista and there was no wind at all. He cycled out the other side and it was as if someone had turned a fan on in his face. Ken said it got really bad when he made the west turn on Hwy 82.

I went to my room, did the shower thing, and have been typing this. The wind is absolutely howling outside. Steve, the owner here, is a windsurfer and says the conditions on the lake have been excellent lately. As in, it's been really windy. I'm glad someone is happy.

We just finished lunch when Ken pulled in.
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Jacinto's first 14er - Mt Elbert from Twin Lakes.
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This is not Villa Grove or Crawford! It was a nice surprise to find such lux accommodations.
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We went to dinner at the only place in town, same place we had lunch. Right next door to our lodge - the Twin Lakes Roadhouse. Lunch was fine - not extra special but not bad either. Expensive, but they have a captive audience and are the only game in town.

For dinner I ordered a full rack of ribs. $24. They were stone cold. Out of the fridge cold. As were the potatoes. I'm not usually a picky eater, but for that price, I'd like warm food. I sent them back. They brought a plate of hot ribs - they were doused in so much sauce, who knew what was under there. In the meanwhile Jacinto had ordered the chicken sausage penne pasta - by appearances it was a can of Campbell's Chicken Soup poured over pasta. Little tiny pieces of meat in broth over pasta. The manager (?) came by and asked how the food was and I honestly told her. Maybe I could have been more explicit and said it was the worst food I've had in years. The big insult was the price for how horrible the food was. Bill had meatloaf ($20.) and said it was okay, nothing special. Oren had the pasta also and just shrugged his shoulders when asked how it was. Ken had the buffalo fajitas and said they were good.

So - that's a very long story - but definitely don't eat dinner in Twin Lakes. Go for the cold microwave burrito that Ken had for lunch - that would have been tastier and far cheaper.

We are all organized and ready to go in the morning. I'm going for the normal 7 AM depart - I hope that's not a mistake with the wind. Temperature is also a factor tomorrow. I'm hoping once we get on the climb to the pass that the wind won't be as much of a factor. Hoping.

Ending on a funny note - Bill said that the wind was so strong on the last six miles to town that he was coasting on a little down spot and the wind started pushing him backward. I'm not sure if that's truth or not.

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 51 miles (82 km)

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