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Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend ride over Independence Pass

I and a couple of friends rode our motorcycles to Breckenridge Colorado for the weekend. The ride from Denver took longer than usual because of heavy traffic on I-70. We learned later there had been a fatal accident near Idaho Springs.

We arrived late afternoon Friday. After unloading our gear we took a break while we compiled a grocery list. There were only three of us but we bought enough food for six.

Saturday was a very laid-back day. None of us could muster enough energy to go riding. I suspect the big meal Friday evening and the higher altitude were contributing factors. We spent all of Saturday eating and napping but a couple of us did muster the energy to go for a swim in the pool.

Sunday was a big day. The three of us went on a 7 1/2 hour ride over Independence Pass. I've wanted to ride over Independence Pass since I got a motorcycle. We got off to a late start but it was a great ride. We made several stops along the way.

We took state highway 91 over Fremont Pass past the Climax molybdenum mine to the town of Leadville Colorado. We stopped in Leadville for a break and to people watch at their annual Boom Days celebration.

We took US-24 south several miles to reach state highway 82. US-24 runs parallel with the headwaters of the Arkansas River between Leadville and Buena Vista. Mount Elbert and Mount Massive can clearly be seen west of US-24. Standing at 14,440 feet, Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

We made a picture stop at the Twin Lakes Reservoir after turning west onto Colorado state highway 82. The Twin Lakes Reservoir is one of the reservoirs in a massive system that supplies water to eastern Colorado. The Twin Lakes area is very picturesque.

Colorado State Highway 82 isn't the highest paved road in the state but it is closed over Independence Pass during the winter. The road doesn't have guard rails along the switch backs and it is quite narrow in places. It isn't a difficult ride and is among the most scenic routes in Colorado. We stopped at the pass (12,095 feet) for pictures and to take a break.

Independence Pass is along the Continental Divide. Water east of the divide will flow east toward the Atlantic while water west of the divide will flow west toward the Pacific. Highway 82 parallels the Roaring Fork river west of the pass until it reaches Aspen Colorado. We stopped and had a picnic lunch beside the Roaring Fork river.

I'd never been to Aspen Colorado before. Now I can truthfully say I've been to Aspen. The city is aptly named; the Roaring Fork Valley is nearly carpeted with Aspen trees. It was amassing to notice the change of geology as we descended into the valley from the east; the color of the rock changes from a gray color to a flaming red color.

Highway 82 is four lane highway between Aspen and Glenwood Springs Colorado where it terminates. We stopped at Glenwood Springs for gas and to take a break. We took Interstate 70 east to Frisco Colorado where we turned off to Breckenridge.

This was a great weekend ride full of lots of beautiful scenery. It wasn't difficult and I finally rode the motorcycle over Independence Pass. It was 426 miles round trip.

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