In the last blog, we spent the day mountain bike riding around Grand Lake, Colorado. Day 7, the last day of the tour, we rode the 78 miles from the Grand Lake entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park to Loveland. I've ridden over Trail Ridge Road many times and I never get bored with it.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved, continuous, highway in the United States. (Recall Mt. Evans, that we did on Day 2, is the highest paved road North America.) Trail Ridge is closed in the winter and the National Park officials try to have it open by Memorial Day each year.
If you decide to ride this scenic route, know that bikes are charged $10 each to get into the National Park. If you're driving, it's $10 per vehicle. For the locals, $35 gets you and annual pass for your vehicle. In our situation, it was much more economical to drive a couple of miles and begin inside the park.
The gang that did the last day's ride included Ed Shaw, Todd Singiser, me, Bill Frielingsdorf and Scott Ellis.
The ride begins with lush meadows as a backdrop. No one got a photo of the bull elk in full velvet and giant racks; but you can see several cow elk and a wild turkey(?) in the shot below.
As the road climbs, the terrain changes from meadows to rocky forest. Bill and Todd are climbing with stealth-sag Sandy, Craig and Allie close behind.
In the shot below, Ed is tossing Janie his water bottle and off-camera she gives him a new one. Other than the flying water bottle, and of course Ed, there are a few other interesting items to note in this photo. First, the dark area on the right third of the photo is the last of the trees. Ed is riding above treeline (roughly 11,500 ft.). Eleven miles of this road are above treeline and the high point is 12,183. You are indeed on top of the world riding here.
The road moves to the left side of the photo, curving around until it is beneath Ed. The post you see on the side of the road is so snowplows can tell where the road is when it is time to plow in the spring. The rotary snow remover can cut into snow drifts as high as 21 ft. and blow the snow up into the air 150 ft.
In the photo below, I am closing in on the area known as Rock Cut, after crossing the Continental Divide and over the High Point overlook. You can barely see the road winding behind me and disappearing about mid-photo.
Scott Ellis took a photo of cow elk, managing to find something to eat well above treeline.
While Ed got himself down off of the mountain, the rest of us hammed it up for a photo. (Allie, Craig and Todd Singiser, me, Scott and Bill.)
A great trip made possible by Del and his stealth sag driving team of Janie Shaw and Sandy Singiser.
We stopped in Estes for a bite of lunch, then headed down the mountain to Loveland. Our ride time for today was 4:21 and "out" time was 6:00.
I don't have total ride time for the week, but "out" time was close to 36:30. A big week for sure.
Already looking forward to next year...