21 July 2014

Stardate 2014.553

Shut up, Legs!  Just keep pedaling!

Another Day Up High

Hi, girls and boys! Snowcatcher and I put in another ride up Vail Pass Saturday. Little did we know the Courage Classic was taking place as well. In a roundabout way, we were part of another sanctioned ride, which was kind of fun. The Courage Classic is a 3-day, 155-mile charity ride through mountainous Summit, Lake and Eagle Counties, Colorado. The event benefits Children's Hospital in Denver.

East side of Vail Pass, I-70 Corridor

The ride up the west side of Vail Pass into the hazy atmosphere was a grind as usual. I felt kind of guilty riding by riders who had 80 miles on their legs whilst I had a whopping 5. Nonetheless, good spirits filled the mountains. I always enjoy pedaling on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide through the subalpine and montane life zones. In this area, the lodgepole pine of the Atlantic side have given way to the lush spruce forests of the wetter Pacific side; everything is bushy, large and green.

Stafford Creek, east side of Vail Pass

Many, many moons ago, I learned about dictionaries and how to thumb through them for word info. For many, many moons, I've wondered if Vail had a definition. Well, after many, many moons, I finally opened a dictionary (it was tough at first) and perused the meaning of Vail. As it turns out, the former sheep ranch turned mega ski area and year-round resort has a meaning after all, "to be of use or profit." World War II skiers from the 10th Mountain Division brought lift skiing to Vail and Aspen. Hmmmm... in all honesty, I don't think these famed skiers of the 10th Mountain Division ever dreamed Vail and Aspen would become what they've become.

Close to the summit of Vail Pass, Snowcatcher and I parted ways and I continued on over the pass and down to Copper Mountain Resort, sharing the bike path with numerous bikes.

Looking west across Copper Mountain Resort toward Vail Pass.

At Copper, I picked up a bike path and headed north toward Frisco. The day's haze never did lift and I think perhaps fire smoke from somewhere in the west was visiting us.

13,852 foot Crystal Peak, 13,950 foot Pacific Peak and some Copper Mountain ski runs from Tenmile Creek.

On a side note, along the way the path dissected an avalanche chute (actually a handful of them) that hadn't completely melted out. It was a good example of the dangers of backcountry ski travel and slides. Buried within it are rock and woody debris. People caught in slides often not only suffocate, but are beat to death by wood and rock debris picked up by the slide, as well as being bounced over undulating topography and tree stumps. As a backcountry skier, it's kind of spooky to think about.

Avalanche runout zone with the Blue Banshee for scale

Embedded avy debris

Rounding the northern apex of the Tenmile Range, I headed east along the bike path that leads to Breckenridge Ski Resort. The path is lined with purple and red flowers while 12,933-foot Tenmile Peak and 12,805-foot Peak 1 loom above. My ride too quickly ends when I make the turn south and meet Snowcatcher at the Summit County High School.

12,933 foot Tenmile Peak and 12,805 foot Peak 1 oversee an aging fence from simpler times.



  1. What a cool ride it was, and what a wonderful riding partner I had! Any day in the mountains is a good day!

  2. Okay, that avalanche info is really scary!

    What a glorious ride. I never knew until now that the western side of the divide is wetter than the eastern side.

    Have a great time in WA!


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