Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Loveland Pass, Colorado Classic, and Moving On


Our neighbors rode their bikes up Loveland Pass Rd last week, not something we had any intention of doing, but it sounded like a nice scenic drive with a couple of hiking trails at the top. This is the road that hazmat vehicles have to take to avoid the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 but otherwise isn’t heavily traveled.

Another shot-up sign greeted us at the trailhead.


Yes, it was almost noon when we made our way up the long and winding road up to the pass, but there were only a few dark clouds so we headed off on the West Ridge trail, which actually goes along the ridge of the Continental Divide.


These photos don’t give any hint of how windy and cold it was up there. 55 degrees but with the wind chill it had to have been in the 40s based on our freezing hands and ears.


Jim was ready to turn around but I wanted to keep going and he reluctantly did, too.



Looking back towards the parking area you can see a trail on the east side of the road that goes to Mount Sniktau and Grizzly Peak, 3 miles to a 13er with 2,900’ of elevation gain, which is why we hiked on the “easy” side.


I finally got a photo of a pika that was close enough for me to capture with my 10x zoom. They are very vocal little creatures, herbivores that only live in mountainous areas between 8-000-13,000’. Here is an interesting article about how pikas are being affected by global warming.


Once we got up the very steep trail at the beginning, it continued along the ridge with more gentle ups and downs.


Also views of the ski runs at Keystone.



It was absolutely gorgeous up there but the wind was brutal, and after a mile the skies began darkening so we thought it best to turn back.





This is not a place you would want to be caught out in a thunderstorm.


On the way home I remembered reading about a lake near the pass, and when I spotted a forest service road and small parking lot I thought that might be it. We turned down it and sure enough there was not only one, but three small lakes.


The other two lakes are only visible if you walk the trail past the first one.


More idyllic Colorado scenery, and an easy hike of about a mile. There were a couple people fishing and that was it.


On Friday we spent the day in Breckenridge to watch stage 2 of the Colorado Classic bike race. After dealing with traffic to get to a big parking lot near the gondola, there was a “full” sign. Since we had already pulled in we drove up to the gate and the man said there were spaces available so we paid our $10. Wonder how many cars turned around thinking there was no parking.

We walked along the Blue River to get to our lunch destination, where they were giving awards for the winners of the woman’s race that had just ended.



We passed this cute bar/restaurant called The Dredge, billed as the world’s highest floating restaurant. It’s only open for dinner.


The men’s race started at 2, so we had about an hour for lunch at Piante Pizzeria, serving all plant-based, wood-fired gourmet pizzas. They even put plants in the water.


We got the Pesto, which is kale-walnut pesto topped with sundried tomatoes, red onions, artichoke hearts and cashew cheese, an excellent vegan pizza.


We wanted to get up to Moonstone Hill to watch the cyclists on the climb, since that is where all the action was supposed to be. A volunteer gave us directions to a very steep hiking trail that was a shortcut to get up the hill. There’s a great view of the ski runs from the trail.


By the time we made it up to Moonstone the riders had been by twice, since they were doing a 10k circuit 10 times around. There was loud music, people in costumes, and dancing.





Bike races are high energy events, not just for the riders but also for the spectators. When the police and course marshal cars start coming by, the riders are soon to follow.


Here they come.


As the riders pass by, people ring cow bells, clap, and cheer them on. Cycling is really better watched on TV as you get to see all of the race rather than just a few seconds, which is why we wanted to be on the hill, since they aren’t riding as fast.




The team support crews follow the riders.



Some people run along with the riders as they go by, and they are usually in costume of some kind.


Or not!


We walked back down along the course road to get to see the riders at different points along the way.



This is the finish line, but we left with two more laps to go since we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and it was starting to rain. It was a fun afternoon.


We didn’t end up making it to the Leadville 100 mountain bike race on Saturday, but our friend Terry raced although he still wasn’t feeling great, and completed the 100 miles in 9 hours. That’s pretty impressive! The record is just over 6 hours and the cut-off time is 12 hours. I can’t believe anyone can ride a bike on trails for that many miles and that many hours at a time, but he’s already planning to do it again next year.

On Saturday the camera our friends sent arrived, and on Monday we packed up and moved south over 3 mountain passes and 100 miles to Woodland Park, CO. Today we pick up Jim’s new bike, but more about all of that next time.


  1. You are going to be overcome with oxygen when you finally leave Colorado...try to ease into it.
    Looking forward to how Jim's new bike works out.

  2. I’m with you on riding or driving up Loveland Pass. 55 and windy hiking up a mountain doesn’t sound super. Glad you kept going. Although if the wind was whipping, I might have been with Jim. Really fantastic pictures. So beautiful up there but I get why you turned back with the dark clouds. Nice intuition on the lakes. What a great find. Idyllic Colorado Scenery is it exactly and your posts are making us want to figure out how we might be able to spend next summer out there. We just need a cancer center near the beauty rather than in Denver.  Guess we’ll need to check out where you’ve been and see if there are any near there. I’ve never seen a bike race….what fun everyone is having. Love the guy in the bathing suit. Love that delicious sounding pizza too.

  3. BRRRRR...that wind chill sounds brutal, but the scenery is lovely!

  4. It seems like you guys had a grand finale to your Dillon stay with the hike and bike race. Jim looks a lot more at home in the pizzeria than on that cold windy trail!

  5. You can tell that Pika has had enough of the paparazzi.

    1. Yes, it was giving me the evil eye for sure :)
      By the way, I meant to mention we never did get out on a SUP while we were at Dillon lake. Looks like it would be fun to try one of these days, but Jim doesn't swim so water sports are not a high priority. Probably because the few times we've gone canoeing I always tip us over.

  6. Beautiful views from those windy slopes! That Blue River is so pretty with all the rocks. Had no idea bike races have such enthusiastic fans - the people watching is as fun as the racers!

  7. We drove that pass many, many years ago. Still a beautiful as I remember.
    That pika is darling.
    That hike is gorgeous. So many break taking views.
    Oh my gosh, those runner/spectators are a hoot.

  8. Wherever you are in your travels, every landscape photo you post is gorgeous. And that pika is adorable! Even though we're not vegan, that pizza looks delicious. I think we need to plan some time in Colorado and follow in your footsteps.

  9. Your photos are beautiful. The open mountains are calling and I must go!!! I so miss these views. I don't see windy and cold temps so I love your hike.

  10. Our home was in Woodland Park. It is beautiful with lots of great hiking trails. Checkout Lovell Gulch but the wild lowers are probably all gone. Mueller State Park is also a favorite along with the Pancake Rock hike. I could go on and on. Have fun.
    We would watch the Colorado Classic as they flew by.

  11. I didn't realize you used to live in Woodland Park. Nice area. Lovell Gulch is on my list and will check out Pancake Rocks, too. Thanks!

  12. Hi,

    I work with Colorado Tents & Events. We are trying to build our gallery of festivals and sporting events that we provide tents and rentals for on our website. Would we be able to use the photo in this post with our tents in the background?

    If you have any other photos with our tents I would love to see them as well!

    Thank you!

    1. You are welcome to use that photo. We have one of the finish line on that day with tents but don't know if they belong to you. Feel free to email if those are yours.