Ride the Rockies Days 2 & 3
Day 2: Aspen to Copper Mt., 85 miles, 7,655 Ft. vertical gain
Day 3: Copper Triangle, 79 miles, 6,537 Ft. vertical gain
Mt. Elbert Climb
Day 3; 14,440 Ft., 14 miles, 4,700 Ft. vertical gain
Mt. Elbert – on the route and in the plan
Ghost Town of Independence on the Day 2 climb
Day 2 Aspen to Copper
Day 2 started the real riding on the tour – with a 20 mile, 4,100 foot climb up Independence Pass. This is a beautiful climb, starting in the outskirts of Aspen, and ending in the snow at the summit. The day started with temperatures around 25°. This is about a 3.5-hour climb, and the road was narrow and crowded. They got a lot of snow this year, and the rivers are raging, including Lincoln Stream beside the road up Independence. We both were pretty careful about the altitude, and rolled over the top without incident.
Day 2 profile
Day 2 map
Plenty of snow on Independence Pass
Steve and I got separated on the climb, we didn’t reconnect until just outside Leadville – about 60 miles into the ride. The descent was really fast – but with a few strong cross winds. We made it down to Twin Lakes in one piece, and headed off to Leadville the highest town in the US at 10,200 feet.
Climbing Independence in the early morning
View across Twin Lakes
This day is really tough, including a 1,400 climb up Fremont Pass, ending at mile 72.5, and through the operations of the Climax Molybdenum Mine. The descant onto Copper is normally one of my favorites, since I first did it with my brother David in the late ‘80’s, but today the cross winds were a bear, and we had to ride the brakes all the way down.
Steve enjoying Fremont Pass
A carnival on the summit of Independence Pass
A great trip up
The end of the day was cold and wet, promising a fresh coating of ice on the bikes in the morning. We were joined by my old friend Stan Spencer, who joined me on the trip up Mt. Elbert today, while Steve did the Copper triangle ride.
Day 3: Copper Triangle & Elbert
Day 3 had Stan and me headed to Mt. Elbert – we rode past it the prior day and I was itching to get another state highpoint. Stan has been a friend since 3rd grade, and the last mountain that we did together was Rainier in 2010. Stan is a terrific guide and mountaineer, despite being (his description) a one lunged, old diabetic. It was wonderful to get back on a hill with Stan after too much time.
Elbert is only slightly higher than its next door neighbor, Mt. Massive (14 feet). It is the highest mountain in Colorado, the Rockies, and the second in the contiguous US. Elbert is a walk up, and we were unexpectedly joined by 11 other Nashville folks, who were part of a church group from the Church of Christ, Franklin. These were really nice guys, who were doing their first 14-er, as part of a bucket list. Also joining us on the hike were a couple of ladies from Colorado, with their dogs – I was frankly very jealous. The circus at the summit included a guy heading down on a snowboard – until he either ran out of snow or mountain.
Stan & Wes on the Summit of Elbert
Stan points out the target
View from the summit
Steve had a solitary day on the Copper Triangle. Most of the riders took a look at the weather, and stayed in bed. The day started out climbing back up Fremont pass, and then heading down through Leadville, up Tennessee Pass, down to Minturn, and ending with a short, steep and painful ride up Vail Pass. He had a great ride, but I would not have missed the day on Elbert for anything.
Steve on Tennessee Pass
Steve on Independence Pass
Battle Mountain – on the way to Vail
Profile Day 3
Map Day 3
Adios, from Mt. Elbert