Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hot Sulphur Springs, CO


Bike path from Frisco to Silverthorne

Westbound cyclists often have difficulty finding the way out of Frisco onto the bike path to Silverthorne. One of the benefits of overnighting in Frisco was the opportunity it gave me to make enquiries on this point. For the benefit of cyclists coming behind me, here is the route: from 6th Ave, turn right onto Main St, cross SR 9, and turn left onto bike path after the cemetery.

Turn left here down to Silverthorne
At the far end of the dam wall, take the signed turn hard left down the steep and twisty path to Silverthorne. Ride under I-70 and exit bike path by turning right onto Wildernest Rd then left onto SR 9. A Wendy's on the corner is a convenient place to have breakfast.

Blue River with Route 9 beyond
Early this Sunday morning, Route 9 was almost devoid of traffic. I whizzed along the Blue River valley in a NNW direction at a tremendous speed thanks to a glorious tailwind. The highway follows the east side of Green Mountain Reservoir. I turned off with the TransAm Trail to go along the even quieter west side. Nothing was open at Heeney.

Kremmling beneath its cliffs
The Trail returned to Route 9, which by now had lost its shoulder and acquired some traffic. Most of it was going in the opposite direction to me, or that is how it appeared as I raced along propelled by the tailwind. Between September and May, as a wildlife protection measure, a lower speed limit applies on this road during the hours of darkness and penalties for infringement are higher. At Kremmling (elevation 2,229 m), I finally left Route 9, which I had been on much of the time since Royal Gorge three days ago.

I made a ninety degree right turn here and headed, most unusually, eastwards on US 40. I still had some help from the wind, which either changed direction with me while I consumed a doughnut and Gatorade in Kremmling or had been from the SSW all the time. The new road sometimes had an excellent 2 m shoulder, but sometimes it had none at all. That was the situation when I crossed a touring tandem headed the other way. On the busy road it was impossible for either of us to stop. We waved greetings and pedalled on.

Colorado River at Kremmling
Just before Kremmling I cycled over the not-yet-mighty Colorado River and after it I followed the river upstream towards its headwaters in the Rockies. Road, railway and river occupied a broad valley which, approaching Hot Sulphur Springs, squeezed together through Byers Canyon.

I reached Hot Sulphur Springs (elevation 2,341 m) a minute or two before 12 noon. Distance for the day was 105 km. Tomorrow begins with a long climb up to a second crossing of the Continental Divide.

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