COPPER MOUNTAIN, COLORADO
Nothing screams Colorado quite like Independence Pass; the fourth highest paved roadway in the U.S., streaming with wildflowers and high alpine pools. The grade is tough and the road is narrow, but the views are well worth the grind. Once at the summit, cyclists will be rewarded with fast straights and brake-burning curves as they approach Twin Lakes. After touring the famous mining community of Leadville, it’s one last punch over Fremont Pass – home of the Climax Molybdenum Mine – before a fantastic descent to Copper Mountain Resort.
I went to breakfast at the Limelight Hotel. I proudly wore my Pittsburgh Penguins jersey (cycling) in celebration of the Pens winning the Stanley Cup last night. While I was downstairs a woman saw me and told me she was a Sharks fan from San Jose. Sorry (not).
I rolled out of Aspen shortly after 7:00 a.m. Almost immediately the climb up Independence Pass began. I rolled past Aid Station 1 (too crowded). I passed many people saying “On your left, and Let’s Go Pens!” I wasn’t pushing myself but neither was I completely lazy when three women passed me. One was the Sharks fan, Christine Currie.
The three of them broke up and I found myself riding with Christine. We rode together to the summit of Independence Pass. There we went our separate ways although not by design.
After 15 minutes I began the descent off Independence Pass. I am always chasing 50 mph and I figured if Christine had ridden ahead I might catch her. And I did. We talked all the way to Aid Station 3 then rolled out together to Leadville.
Once in Leadville, the trek up Fremont Pass was a repeat of two years ago. And I remembered it well.
From the top of Fremont Pass it was an 11 mile descent to Copper Mountain. I was chasing 50 mph but there was a pretty formidable headwind. I only hit 48 mph.
We arrived at Copper Mountain. Ron Kiefel was coming out and we talked with him briefly. I found my Condo, the Mill Club, then got a slice of Pizza for dinner. I was dead tired. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride Copper Triangle tomorrow.