Monday, July 16

Scenic Byways

Over the weekend Mandy and I took a road trip west to a little place on the Colorado-Utah state line. We camped in the Manti-La Sal Nat'l Forest in the highlands on the eastern slope of the La Sal mountain range.

The La Sal Range from the south

We took the MTBs and did a fun ride from Buckeye Reservoir, up onto Carpenter Ridge and back, riding in two states on our 10 mile loop.

Along Carpenter Ridge

The next day we attempted to bag Mount Peale, the highest peak in the La Sals at 12,721, but we're thwarted due to weather and a slow moving party. But we got above treeline on Peale, and that's always a success in my book.

Looking toward South Mountain from the western 
slopes of Mount Peale at around 11,300'

We drove home south of I-70 across the middle of Colorado, first dropping into the Paradox Valley, then picking up the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway at Naturita, taking to to the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway into Ridgway and then up to Montrose, over to Gunnison (West Elk Loop SB), over Monarch Pass to Poncha Springs, up the Arkansas River valley (Collegiate Peaks SB) to the 285 split over Trout Creek Pass, then across South Park to Kenosha and over familiar roads all the way home. We travelled a total of five of Colorado's scenic byways on our trip.

We also saw Glenwood Canyon, the Colorado River east of Grand Junction, Utah (a new state for both of us), Moab, the La Sals, a bear along the San Miguel River, the Sneffels Range, Montrose, almost saw the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Blue Mesa Lake, the town of Gunnison, the route of the Salida to Crested Butte stage of last year's USAPCC, crossed the Colorado Trail east of Monarch, kissed the Tour Divide route in Poncha, crossed it at Como, and rode with the CTR route on 285 north of Kenosha Pass.

We didn't detour to Fruita, but that's okay.

Moab is a cool town. Lots of bikes. Some some MTBers that appeared to be bikepacking long distances. We saw lots of bikes in general in Moab. We'll be going back soon.

Montrose and Gunnison both seemed to be ultra-bike-friendly towns. I think I could fall in love. For me, the most bikeable road on the trip was the San Juan Skyway between Placerville and Ridgway over the Dallas Divide. But the whole drive home would make for a spectacular 400 mile bike tour.

Colorado is an amazing place to be a cyclist (any kind) and I appreciate it most when I get away from the Denver metro area and see the infrastructure, presence, and welcoming attitude all over the state.

But the highlands around the La Sals was my favorite part of the trip. I could spend a week there: relaxing by the lake, riding my bike on the roads, hiking in the mountains, enjoying the peace, the quiet, and the sublime beauty of the area. In my old age I am slowing down a bit. I like it though. I'm savoring my experiences more, more fully appreciating what I see and do.

Along Carpenter Ridge with the La Sals in the background

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