Day 12 – Glenwood Springs to Buena Vista

Today was one of the biggest days on PAC Tour. From Glenwood Springs, Colorado to Buena Vista, Colorado is only 103 miles, but the first 62 miles are all uphill culminating in an ascent of Independance Pass, one of the highest in the Rockies at 12095ft. Total climbing for the day comes in at around 8550ft.

As this was to be a long hard day, we had an early start with breakfast at 5.30am for a 6am departure. The first 42 miles consisted of a gentle but consistent uphill ride along a tarmaced cycle path which runs all the way to Aspen.

The superb cycle route running from Glenwood Springs to Aspen

The superb cycle route running from Glenwood Springs to Aspen

Part of the cycle path follows a lovely river. Great scenery

Part of the cycle path follows a lovely river. Great scenery

Russ on the Aspen bike path

We had one SAG stop part way along the path and then a second on arrival in Aspen. On entering Aspen it is clear that this is a very well off neigbourhood. The houses and cars all look very expensive – which of course you would expect as it is one of the worlds premier ski resorts in the winter.

As we left Aspen, the real serious hard work began. Over the next 20 miles or so we would climb a further 5000ft to the summit of Independance Pass.

The climb was long, winding and hot but the views were spectacular.

On the climb of Independance Pass

On the climb of Independance Pass

Higher up - looking back down

Higher up - looking back down

As we got higher the altitiude started to make  its presence felt and by the time we got to the summit there was a marked shortness of breath. This was soon followed by the familiar altitude induced headache which stayed with me for the rest of the day. The summit of this pass also marked the crossing of the Continental Divide. From here eastwards all rivers eventually feed into the Atlantic rather than the Pacific.

The summit at last!!

The summit at last!!

I felt that getting to the top of this pass was quite an achievement as I have never cycled over 2500ft before!

As soon as we left the summit we started what amounted to a 40 mile decent which would have been very fast at times were it not for the fact that in places the road surface was so poor that it would have been down right dangerous to descend at high speed.

The best bit - descending!

The best bit - descending!

Stats for the day:-

Distance: 103 miles

Climbing: 8550ft (including 5000ft in one go on the pass)

Temps: Low to mid 80’s

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