Ride the Rockies – Day 5 Granby to Estes Park
Most of the time, I think the word epic is overused when describing bike rides, but today was EPIC!
The Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is awesome, any way you travel it, but by bike is truly an experience.
The day actually started kind of grumpily for me because we had to get packed up and on the road in time to be at the park entrance by an 8:00 am cutoff. Imagine the chaos of 2,000 riders all trying to get to the same place by the same time….
Once inside the park, however, things got more pleasant. What happened is that we started climbing and that began the separation process for the peleton. The climbs were mostly gentle until we got to about the 30 mile mark, then we started climbing for the sky!
We would have about 12 miles of serious climbing before we hit the false summit. As I worked my way up the average 6% grade, I know I had this foolish grin on my face the whole time. You just couldn’t help it with all that splendor around every turn.
After about an hour, we reached the Continental Divide at Milner Pass, which is over two miles above sea level. Unfortunately, we had nearly another two thousand feet of elevation gain to make it over the summit.
From Milner Pass, there was nearly another hour of climbing before we reached the summit. In the picture below, you can see the road going up above the timber line.
I finally hit the summit at about 11:30 am. After trading picture taking duties with another guy, I bundled up for the ride down the mountain.
I can’t even begin to describe how fun that ride down the mountain was. From the summit to Estes Park, it was 23 miles of downhill through the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. The first 15 of those miles were the kind of downhills I imagined when I signed up for the ride. It was an absolute blast.
About half-way down, I noticed smoke hanging in the air, and presumed it was from the big fire over near Fort Collins.
I made it down in time for lunch! Here’s the GPS track if you’re interested.
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