Bike Tour 2022 – Fairplay to Silverthorne over the Great Divide at Hoosier Pass

Last night’s motel was kind of scuzzy, but after spending a night in the hellhole at Guffey it seemed like the Ritz.

I worked on cleaning my chain and trying to fix a few annoying shifting problems. Mark used Corey’s screwdriver to lower the chain catcher (it’s designed to keep the chain from falling off to the inside). I cleaned and lubed everything I could. It did not pass Corey’s cleanliness inspection so I wiped the chain down with my bandanna in the morning. The bandanna died a hero.

Last night’s dinner was Asian fusion. Corey had drunken noodles with jalapeño slices. Mark had broccoli stir fry. I had a disturbingly large bowl of chicken fried rice. Thumbs up all around.

Corey had oatmeal in his motel room for breakfast. Mark and I went across the highway to a diner. Mark had the basic eggs, hash browns, and toast. I went for huevos rancheros. Note to self: order the eggs scrambled or you get a near liquid breakfast.) I also had coffee for the first time above 7,000 feet. It didn’t give me a headache which tells me I was pretty well adapted to 9,900 feet of elevation.

After breakfast the fun began. We rode six miles uphill to the town of Alma. Once again I expected tough climbing and once again I was treated to false flats. I handled them fine.

The weather could not have been better. Tail breezes, comfortable temperatures, low humidity, and sunny skies. And scenery that improved by the mile.

Alas, the ride to Alma was a mere warm up for the next five miles up another 1,100 or so feet to Hoosier Pass.

Just shift into your granny and start pedaling. There was only about 60 feet of descending so the climb was very nearly relentless. Head down. Breathe. Try not to wobble.

I stopped intentionally three times. After about a mile and a half I had to get my heart and lungs under control. Then I did another three miles before stopping where Mark was taking a break, I stopped one more time about a half mile before the top. I stopped a couple other times to bail out from the vehicles going uphill. The road had a sandy unpaved shoulder and a jagged edge to the pavement. And did I mention beaucoup traffic?

The summit came a bit earlier than I expected. Corey and Mark we’re waiting. I took a selfie at the summit sign and a couple of day hikers took a picture of the three of us. (We reciprocated, of course.)

The three of us put on windbreakers and gloves and began the descent. It’s a good thing there were occasional bumps in the pavement or I’d have zoomed right over a guardrail into the unknown.

There were switchbacks at the top then gentler curves. I feathered my brakes, aware that rim brakes can overheat and cause a blowout. (Mark and Corey had disc brakes.) No worries. I’ve done this before.

For family, the descent reminded me of Deepwater Mountain in West Virginia but much, much longer.

For the life of me I have no idea how west to east riders on the TransAm make it up this hill. When I think about the people who rode up this on ten speeds in the 1979s and 1980s, I am flabbergasted.

On the way down we entered a construction zone. A crew was painting new center lines. This meant that traffic couldn’t pass us for several miles. The shoulders were unusable so we took the lane and kept a steady pace over 30 mph.

We returned to Planet Oxygen, after 11 insanely fun miles, in the town of Breckinridge. The place was swarming with touroids. We didn’t stop. We found the very nice paved bike trail that would take us downhill all the way to Frisco.

What a treat to leave all that traffic behind and cruise along at 20 mph.

In Frisco there was a BBQ festival going on but we needed to sit and recuperate a bit. We had lunch in a brew pub, sans brews.

Over lunch we decided to book beds in a hostel in the next town of Silverthorne. We booked three beds in a four bed room, the hit the trail again.

We needed to buy some provisions so we pulled into a Walmart right along the trail. A squall line came through so we ended up hanging out. Five hikers on the Great Divide Trail were there so we had an entertaining conversation.

We took the bike trail all the way to Frisco. Several times we had navigational issues but the trail led us to the front door of the hostel. It’s called The Pad. It’s brand new and could not be a nicer place to stay.

There is a bar in the lobby. I think I could do with a celebratory root beer. Or maybe skip the root part.

Miles today: 40.5 Tour miles: 1,384.

The road to Alma. The side trail was unusable, for the most part
Climbing to Hoosier Pass. Yes, it was steep.
Some knucklehead at Hoosier Pass
Mark, me, and Corey
Going down. Oddly, there weren’t any runaway bike lanes
The bike trail ran along this amazing lake
Two of the hikers we met at WalMart. Trail names: Grand Perambulator and Shady Grove