Last weekend my friend from work had something come up so he wasn’t able to go to with me to ride from Twin Lakes to Aspen. The weather forecast didn’t look promising but we went and camped anyway. We camped a couple miles up the South Fork Lake Creek road which is part way up Independence Pass at about 10,000 feet. The trailhead for Since it wasn’t raining, I put on my cycling clothes and started riding up Independence Pass. Julie was going to wait for me at the top to see if I needed more clothes. It wasn’t long until it started pouring rain. In Colorado there is no such thing as warm rain and with the temperature around 40 degrees it was very cold. Julie had stopped part way up to see if I was warm enough. I was but I didn’t want to spend the day riding in the rain so I jumped into the car. Once I started driving, it wasn’t long until the rain turned a little slushy.
Then all of a sudden we got through the clouds and the sun was out and it looked like a nice day. I got back on my bike and rode up to the top. By then the weather wasn’t looking so promising to the west toward Aspen.
After a short break with Julie and the kids, I started the plummet into Aspen. The descent down into Aspen is one of my favorite road descents in the state. It drops 4,300 feet and most of it is in the first 16 miles. It’s not a road for someone that is scared of heights or big drop offs. There are a couple sections where there’s no center line because the road is really only wide enough for one lane. The uphill traffic has right off way and if you’re going down you have to stop if you can’t fit. I can remember when they did have a center line but even in a little car you’d do go to have one tire on the center line and the other on the white line. The road was wet so it was a bit less fun since I took the corners a little slower than normal and also had water spraying into my face. I made it about half way down before it started pouring rain but it had stopped by the time I got into Aspen.
I then started the climb up to Maroon Lake. Once again it started pouring rain. When I got to the Forest Service booth where they restrict people driving up to the lake because of limited parking area, the ranger suggested I turn around. I told her I’d be fine and kept going since Julie and the girls were taking the bus up and were going to meet me. By the time, I got to the lake it had quit raining and wasn’t too bad although I couldn’t quite see the tops of the Maroon Bells.
I then descended back into Aspen and waited for Julie and the girls and had lunch with them. After we ate, I rode a little ways down valley because I wanted to get in at least 90 miles so that the ride would count for the Larry Schwartz Year Rounder Challenge and I hadn’t gotten a ride in for August yet. I didn’t go as far as I had planned to because I could see the rain coming again. I wanted to get started back up Independence Pass so I’d at least have a chance at finishing the ride.
Of course going back, meant climbing back up the 4,300 feet I had descended earlier. I was still on the rolling section before the real climbing started when it started raining again. This time though it was a light rain and wasn’t too bad. I had climbed for a while before it stopped but with the climbing I was staying plenty warm. I just took the climb nice and steady. At the top I put my vest on but I was still getting a bit cold on the descent back down to the South Fork Lake Creek road. Just before I got back to the road, Julie came since she had stayed in Aspen for a while at the rec center. I went down the road a little and back up to make it a 90 mile ride.
I have more pictures posted on my web site.