“The guides have been all exceedingly friendly, helpful, and genuinely fun to be around, especially to my son, whose first question upon returning home is always, "Where are we going next year?" ”
Rocky Mountain Loop
- Jul 21, 2014 - Jul 25, 2014
- Jul 28, 2014 - Aug 1, 2014
- Aug 4, 2014 - Aug 8, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Have Bob Roll, Phil Liggett, and Paul Sherwin inspired you to climb high mountain passes and rip down incredible descents like a “grand prix motor car”?
There is no need to travel to Europe for such an experience. Right here in the Rocky Mountains we have spectacular passes surrounded by snow capped peaks and lush wildflowers. Are you ready for the challenge of five days of mountain passes through the heart of the Colorado Rockies?
This trip promises a serious challenge, but with the full support of a Western Spirit team and comfortable places to stay each night, you’re going to love it. Our most advanced road tour incorporates several of Colorado’s most scenic and historic byways.
We start by riding up and over Grand Mesa, east of Grand Junction, Colorado. From here we head to the West Elk Scenic Loop and on to the North Rim of Colorado’s newest national park, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Then it’s up and over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista and the famous Independence Pass into Aspen.
Finally we spin out of Carbondale over McClure Pass to complete the circle. For those ready for a serious effort towards a higher plane of being, this route offers a truly transcendent experience. Up for the challenge? Call us at 800-845-2453. Let one of our guides give you the inside scoop.
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Rocky Mountain Loop Itinerary
MEETING TIME AND PLACE
This trip will meet at 8:00am MST at the Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Dr, Grand Junction, Colorado, 970-254-3130. You will need to spend the night before in Grand Junction.
ENDING TIME AND PLACE
We will return to Grand Junction between 4:00-5:00 pm on the last day.
TRIP DAY 1
Colorado is known for its high mountain passes and breathtaking vistas, so on this trip we don't waste any time delivering the goods. After a short shuttle from Grand Junction we start our week by climbing the scenic and historic Grand Mesa Byway. The byway starts climbing through the picturesque canyon of Plateau Creek to cool evergreen forests 11,000 feet above sea level. The mesa is home to all kinds of wildlife and more than 300 stream-fed lakes, so as we climb up to our highpoint we will have beauty all around us to ease the suffering. After topping out and a nice picnic lunch, we begin our descent into the fruit growing town of Cedaredge. From here we bear east and do a bit more climbing through some classic farm land which eventually leads us right to our evening destination. The Leroux Creek Inn is a luxurious bed & breakfast with a spectacular vineyard and breathtaking views of the West Elk mountains. The Inn is just outside of Hotchkiss in order to put us in place for tomorrow's big ride towards Gunnison. TOTAL MILEAGE - 64 miles. Elevation Gain: 6,950 ft., Loss: 5,200 ft. Ride high point: 10,800 ft on Grand Mesa.
TRIP DAY 2
After a hearty breakfast with our hosts Joanna & Yvon at the Inn, we begin our journey south towards America's newest national park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison. On scenic Route 92 we wind our way up and down, then in and out through this backcountry byway that feels like it was built for road biking. Very little traffic, a challenging route and fantastic scenery make this day one to look forward to. There is no huge mountain pass today, but the cumulative elevation gain will surely make for some tired legs and hungry bellies. Once we pop out at the Gunnison River, we make our way along Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Currecanti National Recreation Area. We wind through the Gunnison Gorge and with the Elk Mountains to the north, finally roll into the beautiful Gunnison Valley. With a big ranching heritage, and a down home feel, Gunnison will give us a chance to kick back, have a big ol' cowboy dinner, watch the sun set over the Elks and dream about the high mountain passes of days to come. TOTAL MILEAGE - 85 miles. Elevation Gain: 5,800 ft., Loss: 2,800 ft. Ride high point: 8,600 ft on Scenic Rte 92.
TRIP DAY 3
If you like climbing and don't mind an extra challenge along the way, today's your day. We'll start riding a bit earlier since afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon during Colorado summers and it's a good idea to get an early start for days spent up high. Today's challenge is the famous climb up to Cottonwood Pass. This pass sits at a whopping 12,126 feet and usually does not even open until Memorial Day, when the snow is finally plowed through. From Gunnison the climb represents a 4,500 foot vertical gain and if that's not enough, the final 16 miles of climbing are actually on a compacted dirt surface. With the local road department's annual mag-chloride treatment, the surface is fine for road bikes and provides just a little extra challenge for our ascent. The paved downhill to our night's destination in Buena Vista is pure reward for a big day in the saddle. Our lodging is nestled right in the Arkansas River Valley with the mighty Sawatch Range providing the backdrop. TOTAL MILEAGE - 69 miles. Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft., Loss: 4,200 ft. Ride high point: 12,126 ft on Cottonwood Pass
TRIP DAY 4
If yesterday's climb was the "Mt. Ventoux" of the Tour de France, then today is the "Alpe d'Huez". Yes another day of climbing through the legendary Colorado Rockies and yes, another 12,000 foot pass. This time it's all paved, but not necessarily any easier. Our route takes us up the Arkansas Valley, until we turn west and head up toward Twin Lakes. From here the road twists and turns as it steadily climbs toward the sky. We pass in the shadow of Mt. Elbert (at 14,433 feet it's Colorado's tallest peak) and test our legs on the big climb up Independence Pass. Just a few feet lower than Cottonwood Pass, this is one that will take most of the morning to tackle and most of the evening to talk about. Views off the summit go on forever and the photo ops will surely make your fridge, if not your Christmas card. From the top it's practically all downhill into Colorado's tinsel town, also known as the town of Aspen. The town itself will dazzle first timers, who will be impressed by the shopping and nightlife in the heart of the mountains. For those who have visited before, it will be just as impressive to be nestled right in the heart of Colorado with a warm shower, a fabulous meal and one last night in the Rocky Mountains. TOTAL MILEAGE - 60 miles. Elevation Gain: 4,100 ft., Loss: 4,200 ft. Ride high point: 12,095 ft on Independence Pass.
TRIP DAY 5
Our final day brings us down valley from Aspen and past the twin summits of Mount Sopris which is the north western edge of the West Elk Loop. This magnificent landscape has been home to generations of Native Americans, most recently the Utes. We ride past the earthen coke ovens at Redstone which bear witness to the toil that built the communities of today. White settlers originally came in search of minerals and stayed to farm and ranch. The raging waters of the Crystal River remind us of where all that snow goes in the summer and the final day's climb over 8,755 foot McClure Pass gives us one final challenge before coming back towards the farmland of Paonia. The riding on this day will feel a bit easier since our elevation stays lower overall, but we still do a good 50 miles before lunch. The trip ends with a picnic lunch at one of our favorite area fruit stands before shuttling back to Grand Junction in the afternoon. TOTAL MILEAGE - 54 miles. Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft., Loss: 3,000 ft. Ride high point: 8,755 ft on McClure Pass.
Physical Difficulty: Very Difficult. High elevations, steep climbs, long miles.
Altitude: 4,000-12,000 feet.
Please Note: Accommodations may be changed due to availability.
This tour contains some very challenging riding on narrow, steep mountain passes. A high level of fitness is required to enjoyably complete the route. A support van will be there so you can "control" your challenge, but only you can turn your pedals. If you do not consider yourself to be an expert rider and doubt your ability to complete this tour, please call us and we can help you determine whether this trip is appropriate for you. Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the trip.
To fully enjoy Colorado's amazing riding, training is required. Working up to these mileages over several months will help you enjoy the tour that much more once the big week finally comes. Having good low gears on your bike that you can spin as much as possible will also help ease the challenge of multiple days of climbing.
Grand Junction is 250 miles west of Denver and 50 miles east of the Utah-Colorado state line on Interstate 70.
-Flying into Grand Junction
Airport Code: GJT
Sunshine Taxi 970-245-8294
It is a good idea to book your rooms ahead; here are a few recommendations.
This is where the trip will meet, mention that you are on a Western Spirit trip. They have storage available while you are on your trip.
Best Western Sandman
Quality Inn of Grand Junction
All of these hotels offer airport shuttles.
Above rates are approximate.
There are really just two kinds of weather: weather you like and weather you do not like. Come prepared for both and you won't care what the weather does.
If you have questions about temperatures for your specific trip please feel free to give us a call 800-845-2453 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to give you packing suggestions and help you with ideas for things to do before and after your bike trip.
PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
You will receive a tour packing list with your tour confirmation package. Weather on the Colorado Plateau can be unpredictable so be sure to bring all the warm clothing and rain gear listed! When you arrive for your tour, we will give you a dry bag in which to pack your gear. If you have any questions about anything on the list, please call us.
SHIPPING YOUR BIKE
You are welcome to ship your bike to us in advance of your trip. For a moderate fee we will unpack it, build it, and ship it back home to you afterwards. Bikes can be insured to $4,000. Domestic shipping only. If you decide you want to go this route, you must call us in advance of your trip so we can inform the shop that your bike is on its way.
To ship your bike UPS, send it to Western Spirit Cycling, 478 Mill Creek Dr., Moab, UT 84532; 435-259-8732. It is critical that you include your name and tour date on the outside of the box. Check with your local UPS people for the number of days needed for it to arrive in time. It is imperative to have your bike finely tuned and cleaned before your tour so you know it is in top running condition.
If you have any other questions about trip logistics, please feel free to send us an email or, better yet, to call us at 800-845-2453. We will be happy to try to help you answer any other questions you might have about our bike trips.
THINGS TO DO
COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Colorado National Monument is a great destination for road riding, hiking or just a scenic drive.