June 14th – Day #3
Gunnison Co – Independence Pass Loop

324 Miles

Last night was COLD!!..brrrrrr

We woke up to a nice chilly 34 degrees this fine morning. we were both cold thru out the night. It rained a little which did not help. We crawled out of the tent and as many of you know, leaving a tent to crawl out into the cold is not the most appealing thing at 7 in the morning.

I was excited about today’s loop. Pete & Kim have never been up to Colorado. I remember the first time I saw Independence pass (IP) and the rest of this loop. I was hoping they would be as excited as I was the first time. It is really hard to explain how majestic these 12,000 to 14,000 foot peaks just appear. It is awesome! As we were heading for IP the weather looked pretty good. We heard that they had some snow a few days back, so we were not really worried about the roads. It started off on a little bad note as I got lost leaving Gunnison. It seems like the Garmin hates routes that make a complete loop. It sent me one direction and said that we had arrived… WTH?? We had not even started yet. We opened up the net book and got on our way.

We started the climb and the views were spectacular! I never get tired of riding these mountain roads. Our first stop was Monarch Pass. It was getting colder as we reached this little pass (only 11,000 feet)

We descended down the pass and noticed that the weather towards IP looked a tad menacing. We stopped at a place to get our bigger gloves on. I love the climbs over these passes. Makes for some great riding. It was a little chilly, but with all the gear on we were good. I love all of the Grand views.

As we started the climb up IP we noticed that the temp started to fall dramatically. By the time we reached the top it was snowing! Not just flakes, but real honest to goodness snow storm flurries. It got worse and worse, the longer we stayed up there. We decided that we needed to get off the mountain before it got really bad. Well it was too late. There were times going down from the top where you could not see 10-15 feet in front of the bike. My face shield started to get iced over. It was down right COLD! The road up there is very narrow so that did not help our plight. We made it down and when we stopped we were all smiles! How often do you get say we road in a snow storm.. cool stuff!

We took our time getting off the hill and then rolled into Aspen for fuel. I have never gotten the appeal of that city. Too many people, cars and way to expensive! We paid almost $4 a gallon for fuel. We boogied out of town and headed for Carbondale.

As much as I dislike Aspen, I love Carbondale. Just a very cool place. We stopped off and had lunch. The conversation was all good and the smiles were large as we all relived the passed 3 hours. We had a great slice of Pizza. We wanted to eat at the Village Smithy, but we got to town too late.

The ride from Carbondale on HWY 133 is one of my favorites. It follows the river and the sweepers are perfect for some high speed sport touring.

I know I keep saying this, but another great stretch of road and one of my all time favorites is CO92. It goes down thru the Black Canyon in Gunnison and is another spectacular ride. We hit the fun stuff a little too late in the day and had to really be careful as the deer were out in force. Now these are not those small Texas deer we are used to. These things were huge and I did not want to see how a Deer vs. Concours duel would play out. We would ride this road three times in the next couple of days so we would have another chance to push it thru the fun stuff at a more safe time and place.

The views are wonderful and with the sun starting to set we decided to stop at a lookout and get some group pictures. A nice young couple was there when we pulled in. They offered to take some pictures of the four of us. After a quick lesson on the finer points of the point and shoot camera we have, he informed us that he was a professional photo dude.. doh! I guess my tips probably did not help him. it was all good as he got some great shots of the group. it is hard finding pictures with all of us in them.

It was getting late so we needed to high tail it back to camp. We did make a quick stop at family dollar for a few quick snacks. We were not really hungry, but wanted something to get us thru the evening. Nothing but the best on our trips!

What another day of great riding. We hung out by the fire the rest of the night. We even enjoyed some cobbler that Pete made over the fire. Yummy stuff! The evening was chilly, but you could tell that it would not be as cold over night as the previous evening. We all hit the sack pretty early. I tell you what… it is going to be hard to beat this day of riding!

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite shots of the day. Thanks Kim for getting these.