06, 2004 - I am sure you have
noticed the Independence Pass Ride information on the
event page for the
Colorado Ride in July.
If you are unfamiliar with the ride or
area, you may decide to check it out, and see what it
has to offer you.
You see a few mountain passes and the
towns of Leadville,
Aspen, and Glenwood Springs. It captures your attention.
Interesting you think, it may have some possibilities,
so you check into it further. And then you see it.
The BIG NUMBER! 385
MILES. Oh no Mr. Bill!
Let me tell you of my experience doing
this ride, and what I think about that daunting number
We did this ride for the first time last
year in June. Carol and I had really wanted to ride to Leadville for
quite some time, and on a spur of moment idea, this
seemed like a good time to try it. Seeing the mileage,
we tried several ways to shorten it up, but none of the
shortcuts took us in the area we wanted to go.
A few of the local VTX Riders were going
for Brunch in Black Hawk and then off on various short
rides. Several ideas were in the mix, but nothing very
specific. Carol and I mentioned we were going to
Leadville, and a few asked about our plan. Comments
like, are you sure, and WOW that is a long day ride,
were voiced. But that was the plan and we were sticking
to it. We enjoyed the Colorado definition of
buffeting and the seven or so interested riders, joined us on
our little adventure.
So here we are leaving Black Hawk, it was
pushing noon, and we were off on a full day ride of 385
miles. A bit of a late start, a long ride, unfamiliar route and
we did not know quite what to expect. Sounds
like the perfect beginning to a perfect day. Nothing
will deter us from our mission!
We take Hwy. 119 to I-70 and on to
Frisco. It is a quaint little town that as late as 1946
only had a population of 50 and then came the ski
industry. Today it has 2800 residents and hosts 3
million slat rats a year.
Town of Frisco
We take SR-91 and head south for our main
objective of Leadville and find a very unexpected
surprise. That little thing called Fremont Pass. We
climb to a chilling 11,318 feet seeing the Continental
Divide like you never saw it before. What an awesome
sight to see, it will give you a picture and memory that
will last for years to come.
Information on Fremont Pass
Continuing on down SR-91 we find
Leadville the highest incorporated city in the
continental United States at 10,152 feet above sea
level. Unlike most old west towns it was never really a
cowboy town. It was settled by miners and merchants, and
most of the buildings standing today were built between
1880 and 1905.
History of Leadville
Leaving Leadville we take US-24 to SR-82
and this route can not be described in words. It must be
experienced first hand. You go by Twin Lakes and just
when you think you have a sensory overload from the
scenery, you find this little thing called Independence
Pass. A small climb to 12,095 feet and a chill is in the
air. At least it is fair to say, I had MAJOR goose
bumps! In a word…Spectacular!
Photographs of Independence Pass
At the base of the pass you come into
Aspen. Nothing amazing about Aspen really, it is just a
quiet little town. We grabbed a bite to eat, walked around a bit,
and we kept hearing a “ching – ching” sound. We thought
it was all the money making the noise, but found if was
just Jack Nicholson beating a Mercedes hood with his
golf club. No biggie, time to move on.
We stay on SR-82 and take an enjoyable
ride into Glenwood Springs. Glenwood is known for
its Hot Springs, Caverns, and a spectacular little spot,
called Hanging Lake. It has a population of around 8,000
residents year round and for a tourist type area, it
really can be enjoyed.
We pick up I-70 here and head for home,
where we find another pleasant surprise called Glenwood
Canyon. The highway itself is amazing to see, 4 lane
with two levels
built through this canyon. Add to that, the incredible
ride and scenic slow sweeping corners. You just set your
pace, lean back and enjoy the ride… You know, that
moment in time when you relax and find all is right with
We returned home somewhere close to 10
hours later and none the less for wear. It had been a
great ride shared with special friends.
After the ride, we talked nonstop about
our experience for two weeks. Finally I told Carol, we
live in Colorado, and we see these mountain roads all
the time. Why are we still talking about this one? What is so
special that we can’t stop thinking about it? Two weeks
later, enough talking, we reversed the direction and
decided to do it again. Once and for all, we would end this
nagging feeling; we would get it out of our mind. NOT!
In an effort to include others in our
passion for this route, we rode it in August one more
time. We dubbed it the End of Summer Ride, when the
chill of autumn was in the air and the trees were
changing. This has truly become one of our favorite
Now the question before you is this. Are
you ready to take this short 385 mile jaunt with us in
July 2004 and find your own passion for this route? Let
us know, we are ready to do it again.
Until we ride again
Independence Pass Picture Collage