Four weeks later (July 24th), I decided to take another long ride. I still wanted to do Independence Pass, but after my experience last time, I figured I'd better get to it quickly. So, I headed straight West on I-70, opting for the tunnel this time instead of the pass. About 25 miles past the tunnel, I jumped off of the interstate at Copper Mountain and headed up CO 91 towards Fremont Pass and Leadville. '
At the top of Fremont Pass is a huge mine called the Climax mine. The Climax Mine is one of the biggest molybdenum mines in the world. It's an open pit mine that has been in operation since about 1914. Unfortunately, when it first opened, there wasn't much concern for the environment and leftover tailings were dumped everywhere. By the 1980's this was causing a real health concern and so, starting in the 1990s, clean up efforts began. Last time I went over Fremont Pass in 2007, this area looked like a toxic moonscape of browns and reds, with tainted water collected in big evaporation ponds. Four years later, it looks a lot better:
Still not perfect but a distinct improvement!
If you look hard, you can see one of Colorado's more well known "fourteeners", Mount of the Holy Cross:
I continued down through Leadville which was buzzing with Summertime traffic and headed down to CO 82 to start the climb up to Independence Pass.
I stopped to stretch my legs and get a caffeine dose in the gorgeous little town of Twin Lakes...
Then it was "up and over!" Independence Pass is always spectacular:
The downhill side is even more breathtaking:
Had a great ride down the amazingly narrow road and narrowly missed getting stuck in traffic again when an idiot pulling a trailer (trailers are not recommended on Independence pass) got a flat tire at one of the narrowest parts of the road! Fortunately, it was just a little bit in front of me so I was able to pass, but I think traffic behind me got very jammed up waiting for this person to either change their tire or get off the road!
Passed through Aspen and Snowmass and then stopped at one of my favorite little diners in Carbondale:
It was hot in Carbondale (which at 6,000' was more than a mile below the peak of Independence Pass) but the food was good. They had some awesome wildflowers out front, too.
From there it was back to Glenwood Springs, then Glenwood Canyon, then I-70 over Vail Pass, and back home through Breckenridge, Hoosier Pass (11,532'), then Fairplay, Woodland Park and home to Englewood.
Final tally of both trips: 851 miles (401 on 06/26 and 450 on 07/24)
Passes over 10,000': Loveland, 11,990' (6/26); Vail, 10,650' (6/26 and 7/24); Tennessee, 10,275' (6/26), Fremont, 11,318' (7/24); Independence, 12,095' (7/24); Hoosier, 11,532' (7/24.) (I could count Kenosha Pass at 10,000' but I usually don't as it's a very mild pass.)
Great rides in a great state! Anyone passing through the middle of the country in the summer would be missing out if they didn't pass through Colorado at least once!
Englewood, CO (Denver suburb)
UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) Fanatic
Previous Bikes: '69 Honda CL450; '74 Honda CB750; '83 Honda 550 Nighthawk; '92 Yamaha Virago 1100; '83 Yamaha Maxim 750; '84 Kawasaki ZN700 LTD; '01 Triumph Thunderbird 900; '82 Kawasaki Spectre 750
Post Edited (martinjmpr) : 7/29/2011 4:27:40 PM GMT