Tuesday, February 22, 2011

crmbt 2011 - grand mesa

We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. And the fun way! The route on the final day of CRMBT for 2011 is 62 miles from Hotchkiss back to Grand Junction. The exact same route as the first day, in reverse. Or, when you get to Austin, CO you can cut over to CO 65 and head north. By the time you reach Cedaredge you'll have ridden 25 miles and gained a couple thousand feet. Now the real fun starts.
You will already be at about 6,000 feet, leaving only a little less than 5,000 feet to the high point of the Grand Mesa. Oh yeah, you'll be climbing for the next 20 miles! The grades are often in the 3% range, occasionally ramping up to 6-7%, but you're climbing for 20 miles! And it's awesome! You ride out of the desert to an alpine flat-top mountain, the largest in the world. You will be treated to views of the valley below as you make your way up.
As you near the high point the views aren't the same because of the forest, but the lakes and aspens and pines seem endless and the scenery is still beautiful. After 20 miles and a few hours one of the most beautiful sights is the elevation marker at the top.
There are still some awesome views as you head off the mesa, but before long you'll be treated to a great descent. Twenty-plus miles of downhill on good roads is your reward for one of the toughest climbs in Colorado. Make sure your bottles are full. When the grades back off you still have 25-30 miles to get into Grand Junction. And in August it will be hot. You'll end up with your second century of the week, and will be able to add Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass, as well as Grand Mesa to your cycling resume.Every cyclist should ride the Grand Mesa once. Maybe twice.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to ride this - the scenery looks awesome..!