Today was the day I was looking forward to the most during this year’s Ride the Rockies. I’ve ridden up Cottonwood Pass before, but never got a chance to descend.
The weather looked perfect starting this morning so looked like a perfect opportunity to finally get a chance to see what this pass really looked like and how fun the descent would be.
Like everyone I talked to, this morning’s cold weather really made getting out of the tent and going difficult. I waited, as snug as possible, until the sun finally made it over the mountains before venturing out. I still managed to get on the road by 7:30am so not too much time was lost waiting.
The ride down to Almont was amazingly fast, and a great way to start the day. Likewise, the ride through Taylor Canyon has great – perfect weather, gentle climbs, and little traffic to contend with. Once we made it over the Taylor dam we were blessed with one of my favorite sites in Colorado – the Taylor Reservoir with the mountains beyond it.
The climb up Cottonwood Pass itself was great fun. Even though it’s a dirt road, it’s in such good condition that there’s very little lost traction to contend with. The weather on the climb up was cool, but not too cold – perfect climbing weather. Even though Cottonwood Pass is one of the highest, the road grade coming from the Taylor Reservoir is rather gentle and makes the climb a lot of fun.
Granted, once the we cleared 10,000 ft it was really hard to keep the pace up as before. I got into a groove and kept it there, just happy to be there and enjoying the climb in great weather.
The best view of the day came just before reaching the stop of Cottonwood Pass by looking back down and being able to see the entirety of the pass road and the Taylor Reservoir in the distance.
And finally, the descent (but not before indulging in a quesadilla!) – fast, smooth, and a blast. Car traffic was well-behaved, it wasn’t raining, and the wind was mostly playing nice, with only a few big gusts to contend with.
Day 1 – what a gem.
This post originally appeared on the Denver Post at http://blogs.denverpost.com/ridetherockies/2011/06/13/day-1-what-a-gem/422/