Day 43: Crossing the Continental Divide and Independence Day

Start/End: Idaho Springs/Granby, CO
Mileage: 58.9+
Weather: mostly good. Stayed cooler, but there was an afternoon rain/hail shower that caught a few groups

Happy 4th of July and happy birthday to the United States. I cannot imagine a more patriotic celebration of this holiday the to climb a mountain, cross the continental divide and really just see how beautiful our country is.

We started our morning in Idaho Springs, and are so thankful to the private home owner who graciously opened up their house for our team to stay last night. It was a very comfortable place today and we are just very grateful.

Rolling out of Idaho Springs, we got to see this sleepy touristy town begin to wake up. We quickly joined with many other cyclists who were headed on their day ride. It is exciting to be amongst so many other cycling enthusiasts, especially friendly ones! The first part of our day, which was the main grind, was going up to Berthoud Pass, which had an elevation of 11,304 feet. Climbing today was much better than yesterday as the grade was much less on average. There was a lot of traffic but most of the ride had a very generous shoulder that not only allowed us to bike safely, but even to pull aside and take some pictures of the incredible views. As the mountain had many switchbacks, it was fun to be able to see just how high we had climbed in a short period.

Some groups had the great opportunity to see a family of mountain goats playing along the mountains. They were so comfortable jumping between the rocks, which seemed pretty unstable from where we were. Beautiful creatures, though!

Once we reached the top of the pass, we had our lunch stop and then many group members went exploring the Continental Divide Trail. It was a longer hike but very worth it. In fact, group mates even brought snow back from the peak!

As groups descended after their hikes, a few groups unfortunately encountered some inclement weather including rain, hail and thunder. One group on the mountain pulled off and was shuttled with the van safely, while another group further down the mountain was able to take shelter while the weather passed. We are always so happy when groups makes decisions like these to stay safe during the ride.

The rest of the ride was downhill and went by much quicker than the first half of the day. After getting off of the major steepness of the mountain, the riders were able to take in a few more scenic views. We passed through Winter Park, which seems to be the place to be if you are into skiing. There were a ton of lifts and lodges that are probably very busy during the winter. Winter Park also had a very nice little downtown area that was hopping with people who were out for the holiday weekend. As we rounded out the ride for the day, we got to go through a beautiful valley which was home to a lot of horse ranches. It was a beautiful sight to see the valley and the mountains.

Tonight many of us decided to go to Granby’s Rodeo! It was the first rodeo for many of our riders and we all had a great time. This was such a patriotic celebration as there was a huge horse and rider team that did many routines with at least 30 horse/rider pairs holding flags and dancing around the arena. There was so much going on but it was great to watch. There were lots of different events, including roping, bull riding, barrel racing, mutton chops/shoe scramble for kids and last but not least, a great fireworks show.

Long day with an absolutely wonderful ending. The lights are off and we are off to sleep! And although we may not go to a rodeo tomorrow, we have heard good things about our route to Steamboat Springs!

Apologies for the late post of yesterday’s blog….data connections aren’t always everywhere and we do not always have access to wifi. Thanks for your patience!
-LAH

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