Since I never really bothered to adjust to mountain time, I consistently wake up around 5:45am (which is 6:45am central time, my normal wake up time). Today, I decided to take advantage of it and opted to take an extra long route to Steamboat Springs, where I was going to be meeting my cousin Amy and her husband and kids: Kelly, Wyatt and Brennan. In truth, I had always wanted to do the extra long route, but I was a bit concerned about it because it would be a 3.5 hour ride to Steamboat Springs, followed by another 2 hour ride to my final destination of Glenwood Springs. A lot of riding for one day (not to mention that I still haven’t found a suitable massage place along my route!).
The extra long route appealed to me because at the beginning of it there are switchbacks up the side of the mountain, ultimately culminating at Berthoud pass, elevation 11,307 feet. There was just one problem: to get to the start of this route on the US 40, I’d have to ride about 50 miles East on I-70 at 6:30 am in single digit temperatures (in Celsius). Well, you only live once, right?
Thinking that I had learned from yesterday, I added an extra layer of clothing today and got going. Apparently I hadn’t learned enough because I was still cold. I suppose that at some point no amount of clothing is going to keep you completely warm with 70 mph apparent wind as you barrel down the highway. Fortunately, with little traffic so early in the morning, I made record time to the start of US 40.
The climb up the mountain via the switchbacks up to Berthoud Pass was totally worth it. Amazing vistas of snow capped mountains with valleys far below greeted me at each turn. I was high enough that snow was on either side of the road as well.
The road continued north for a while until Granby where it turned west. The difference in landscape from the beginning of the route was fascinating. On this plateau, at an elevation of nearly 8000 feet, it could almost be described as desolate. There were almost no trees, and it seemed very dreary.
The road eventually turned north again towards Steamboat Springs, and just a few miles from town, coming around Walton Peak, suddenly I was greeted by this beautiful sunlit green valley. Once I got in to the town it’s clear it was bustling. One day I would like to go back and spend some time in the area, but today I went straight to my cousin’s.
My cousin Amy and I couldn’t quite figure out the last time we had seen each other, but if it had been at her wedding (which we both suspect) then it has been over a decade. It was great to see her and her family. Her two kids, ages 8 and 10 were busy with activities all around the yard and house. Her husband, Kelly, talked about how he had purchased a small engine repair business a few years back in order to be close to his family (previously he was a deep sea diver, and naturally there’s no deep sea in Colorado!).
After the lunch, I felt glad to have made the trip. It was worth it to reconnect with an extended family member, even if it was only for a couple hours.
My route to Glenwood Springs took me directly South through some sparsely populated areas (but cool scenery) before dropping me back on to the I-70 this time to go West. Though I knew that Glenwood Canyon was on the way to Glenwood Springs, what I didn’t expect was that the highway actually goes through the canyon. This has to be one of the most scenic sections of interstate in the country. It’s not often that you get the chance to zip through a canyon on an elevated roadway with the Colorado River at your feet and thousand foot high walls on either side.
The town of Glenwood Springs seemed nice with lots of eateries, patios in full swing and many people walking around. I enjoyed a patio for a while before picking up some supplies at Walmart and then retiring to my room for the evening.