Thursday, April 19, 2012

VGV (Vail - Glenwood Springs - Vail) - 200k of Tailwinds?

Last week I got to try out Catherine Shenk's VGV 200k Permanent.  Though a mountain route, it can be ridden most of the year, depending on road conditions.  You are surrounded by mountains but protected from higher, exposed terrain.

Sign of a warmer-than-usual spring on the Vail ski pistes:

From Vail, we take US route 6 past sage and red cliffs.

A tranquil scene, with a cabin along the Eagle River:


After a bit of traffic through Avon and Edwards, the road is quiet and serene through Walcott, and in places seems out in the midst of nowhere.

There are recurring hints that you are going downhill. 
(Vail is at 8,150 ft.; Glenwood Springs at 5,761 ft.)

And the occasional diversion, such as Eagle County's "Rare Duck" Open Space:

These typical geological formations ...
suggest Parachute, CO, further down the road.

At Dotsero, the Colorado River joins the Eagle River, and we're about to enter a "narrower" landscape.

In addition to a Kingfisher and a Great Blue Heron pair, I saw quite large hawks soaring on thermals west of Dotsero.  Here's one.

The treat of Glenwood Canyon is the great canyon scenery combined with a quiet trail to bike down (watching out for casual users, of course). 

The engineering achievement of the I-70 transit of the canyon - the last piece, nationwide, of I-70 to be completed - is impressive.  Kind of a canyon version of the elevated engineering of the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway - the Parkway's final segment.

Eastbound lanes, westbound lanes, and the path intertwine, and occasionally I-70 disappears in tunnels:

Across the river, some locomotives in the midst of a sizable coal train.  The rightmost engine shows the historic Southern Pacific livery preserved by Union Pacific after acquiring the SP.

As the remnants of US-6 trail off near Glenwood Springs, rockslides have encroached, leaving it bikepath-wide.

These Canada Geese were sitting in this relaxed position as I swept around the curve.  Clearly not much traffic on this segment!

Lots to crane your neck to see on the VGV.

Mt. Sopris beckons in the distance at the turnaround point on the Roaring Fork path.

Catherine's prospectus says you may enjoy tailwinds homeward bound.  In fact if you're lucky, as I was, you'll get tailwinds both going and coming back.

I thoroughly enjoyed the VGV and imagine you will, too!


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