Aspen- Twin Lakes, CO: Granny and I spent quality time together today. - I'm as loose as a Type A person can be. - CycleBlaze

July 6, 2017

Aspen- Twin Lakes, CO: Granny and I spent quality time together today.

I slept better than I expected last night. After my rough climb up McClure Pass, I've been intimidated thinking about today's climb. I debated between getting on the road early before it heats up vs waiting for the downslope winds to subside. I set the alarm for 6:30, but ended up getting out of bed at 6. I was out the door and on the road by 7:30. The sun hadn't yet made it over the mountain. It was a perfect 49 degrees with no wind. Commuter traffic was heavy, but I was out of town within a mile.

I saw a total of four local riders heading up the pass. One man came right back down. Perhaps he went five miles up? A couple parked their car at a lot six miles out of town. I guess they just wanted to do the good part of the climb.

It's been a couple of years since I've had trouble on a climb. Since I've lost so much weight, everything feels easy. I was surprised by the trouble I had on McClure. I decided to take a conservative approach today. I ate very well yesterday. I had my expensive/tasty Clark's meal. Then Jacinto went back last night and got a salad in a bag and a rotisserie chicken. We had chicken salad for dinner. It was $15. total, a cheap meal for Aspen. There was even leftover chicken for Jacinto's breakfast.

I ate well last night. I ate my usual breakfast this morning, I had a Spiz bottle and cold water. I decided not to eat at all on the climb. My body would be too busy working to process food. Spiz goes down easily. Two big factors for me were the cool temperatures and the fact that I decided to take a very conservative approach to the climb. It has been quite awhile since I used the 'stop every mile on the mile' method of climbing. Now I don't weigh so much I frequently do the entire climb without stopping. My bladder is more of a problem than my cycling capability. I decided in the interest of making it to the top in good condition, I should start stopping every mile from the start. It was 20 miles to the top and it's up all the way with significant elevation.

Traffic was very light for most of the day. The road is very twisty turny - there's a section called The Narrows that fits only one car at a time. Well, probably two small cars could go through - but not two SUVs. There is strategically placed pull outs. I saw a large percentage of vehicles with fleet plates. I believe that means that they are rental cars. The tourists were probably driving this road with white knuckles. I've only driven it once and I know I had white knuckles!

Bicycling is an entirely different story. Going slowly through a majestic mountain valley is the perfect way to view it. I don't know if the beetle kill hasn't reached Aspen or if they have managed it. The pine tree forest was thick and lush with few dead trees. The aspen looked healthy. The water was clear and bright. There were a couple of spots with run off coming down the mountain.

I have seldom enjoyed a climb more. I caught myself skipping my one mile stop and silently chastised myself to ride smart and stop anyway.

The pavement was near new all the way to the top. Nice and smooth.

I had gone through some undulating areas and checked my ridewithgps map to see where I was in the ride. There are some very twisty switch backs on this road. I was quite surprised to see I wasn't even close to the switch backs! How could that be, as twisty as the road has been? But, no - here they were. The road doubled back on itself so steeply it's a surprise vehicles don't have to back up to make the turn. I could see the giant climb away from that switchback for miles down the road. OK. This is the last big push. Two miles and only 300 feet of climbing. I was one mile from the top when a car slowed down next to me and a college age guy yelled out the window, "You're looking good, beautiful!" - I hardly felt the pedals turn the rest of the way to the top, I was so pleased. I resolved to yell compliments to cyclists whenever possible.

Conditions were certainly perfect today. The only wind I felt was a tailwind. It had clouded over and I felt a few fat drops, but no rain. I didn't want to temp fate. I took a quick photo at the top and put on my Earbags and headed downhill. I was ready to be to town and eat real food! I'd had two bottles of Spiz and it was sloshing around in my stomach.

It took hardly any time to get to town. It was a steep, steady downhill the entire distance. I put the brakes on hard when I saw a little food trailer on the edge of town. Their sign advertised gluten free. When I inquired - that means they can put the fixings on the top of homemade chips. For $9. I had rueben fixings on top of potatoes. It was far more generous with the homemade chips than the meat. The meat was very skimpy. Darn. That wasn't what I was hoping to get.

Perhaps a half mile down the road was our lodging - The Roadhouse Inn. We have stayed here before. No one was around , but I buzzed Steve on the intercom. I remembered homemade baked goods. Steve said that's only every other day. We missed out. Darn. He said 'the' restaurant in town has new owners. Maybe we'll give it a try? I had a bad meal the last trip through - ribs that were straight from the fridge cold. Obviously they were leftovers that hadn't been heated properly.

Steve nicely gave me some Shout stain remover to use on my white shirt where I had dripped sauce down my front from my food truck visit. I parked my bike on the patio and went inside to take care of the getting to town routine.

I had just gotten out of the shower and here came Jacinto. He had as good of a ride as I did. We agreed that McClure Pass was more difficult and that today had been mighty fine. Jacinto had several photos that people had taken for him. I didn't have anyone offer to take my photo - although Jacinto didn't have anyone yell compliments at him.

He went walking back to the little store for a drink with his pistachios. I finally got a V-8. My first of the trip. I had asked for food, he forgot. Jacinto nicely made a second trip back to the store. I wanted a can of chili, but they didn't have chili, only canned soup. I hate canned soup. It smells like cat food. My opinion. But I was very hungry. I got about 3/4 of the can eaten before I just couldn't stand it anymore. The soup stained my oatmeal spoon pink. That's not good. People shouldn't eat things that stain plastic. I've had this spoon for a number of years. It's not a fast food spoon, but a hiker spoon.

Speaking of hikers - I'm not sure what trail crosses here, but we've seen a number of long distance hikers with faded, dirty packs. While we were sitting on the deck, one hiker asked us where the hostel is. I didn't know there's a hostel in Twin Lakes. Our room at the Roadhouse was $128. That was typical of Twin Lakes.

I don't know if we're going to give the restaurant a try or not. Jacinto was told that the bar served great hamburgers. He went looking for the bar, but it seems the bar and restaurant are the same place. There's only 4-5 businesses in town, so it's not like he can't find it. We shall see. I am full at the moment due to my $4. can of Campbells. But I'm sure I'll be hungry again within the hour.

This was an excellent ride. It's very close to home, but I've never wanted to ride it because of the traffic (a non issue) and the difficulty. According to Bertha, we had 4,500 feet of climbing today. If you are in good climbing condition, you'll be just fine. I would even go so far as to say the traffic is less of a problem than most passes because the speed limit is 20?, 25? miles an hour and the road is so narrow that people are really paying attention.

I don't know how we will have a better riding day this trip. All conditions came together perfectly. How lucky am I.

Dinner edit - we went next door to the only game in town. Steve, here at the Roadhouse, said the owners of the restaurant were new. When I asked Andy (restaurant owner), how long they had been there, he said 2012. So I guess they were the owners when I had the stone cold ribs. I sure didn't order ribs tonight, but the salmon was excellent.

It is raining here now and supposed to rain off and on all day tomorrow. Salida looks better, weather wise. If we can get out of here when it's dry. There's nothing more fun than cleaning a long recumbent chain that is full of road muck.

It has been a satisfying day. I'm going to sleep well tonight. I have to admit I had a nap this afternoon and slept hard. I woke myself up snoring. Jacinto said I snored almost the entire time. That was a tough climb!

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You can't believe all the people at the top. I don't know how Jacinto got a photo all alone.
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A lady stopped in the middle of the road to ask Jacinto if he would like her to take a photo. I think it was his legs - she wanted a closer look.
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This must mean things are getting serious!
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Blue skies and aspen. What more could a cyclist ask for?
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The skies are closing in. It's a little early for the afternoon clouds. It's not afternoon!
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The flag is indicating a tailwind.
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looking back down the road for Jacinto. I was at the top at noon. He got there at 1:30.
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I am not good at this selfie thing. I don't know where to look.
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At the top.
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There's still plenty of aspen on the way down.
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The wild roses are long gone at home. Obviously they bloom later at altitude.
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There's nothing better than seeing the town sign after a big climb.
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Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 289 miles (465 km)

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