Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vail Pass Volley -- July 2013

The Vail Pass Volley was ridden by three riders preparing for 1200 km brevets later this year.  Bob Dean is scheduled to ride the Last Chance in September, while John Flanigan and I will both be riding the Taste of Carolina in October.
Paul Foley, John Flanigan, and Bob Dean starting in Frisco.
This was a perfect ride for working on mid-season form as we had very favorable conditions.  The day started with blue skies and cool temperatures that quickly warmed up as we climbed through the shadows of 10 mile canyon to Copper Mountain.  We continued climbing over Vail pass with a light breeze and were thoroughly warmed up upon reaching the top.

John Flanigan conquers Vail Pass with ease.
A nice respite on the west side of Vail Pass.
From the top of Vail Pass to the turn around point in Gypsum is about 53 miles of rolling down hill, dropping from an elevation of 10,563 feet to 6,380 feet.  Although there was a gentle headwind, the descent made for a fast first half of the brevet.  As we descended, the alpine forest gave way to the arid beginnings of the Western Slope, providing a beautiful contrast of scenery.

The red dirt of some mountains would give way to the gray soil further west.
This covered bridge reminded me of riding Boston-Montreal-Boston.
John Flanigan resisted the urge to explore an enticing side canyon just east of Gypsum.
The white cliffs of Gypsum??
Turning around in Gypsum after a light lunch, I feared we would have to pay the piper for all our descending as we began heading back up the Vail Valley.  However, the cycling gods were smiling on us as a gentle tail wind carried us to the top of Vail Pass.  We also happened to be riding on the same day as the Colorado-Eagle River Century ride, which gave us unexpected company to help pace us as far as Avon where that ride ended.

The manicured gardens of Avon contrasted with the arid valley around Gypsum.
The green grass in Vail belied the fact that ski season starts in only 117 days.
John Flanigan heading east towards the Gore range.

A waterfall in east Vail.
A curious marmot watched us climb the west side of Vail Pass.
We finished with a thrilling descent of about 12 miles through Copper Mountain and the 10 mile canyon into Frisco paying close attention to all the other cyclists on the bike path who were enjoying the beautiful Colorado scenery also.  Clouds were gathering in the sky as we concluded our ride, but fortunately we avoided any rain.

John Flanigan and Paul Foley pleased to have finished a beautiful ride.

I look forward to riding the Vail Pass Volley again, as this is an extremely scenic ride, with a good amount of climbing to insure an appropriate effort is paid for the joy of riding in the Colorado mountains!!


  1. Nice! I esp. like the vista in the background of the "John Flanigan conquers Vail Pass".

    I'm confident that you've seen the profile of Tony's prospective course (which I understand he has modified). If haven't seen the profile, be sure to practice some FLAT, er, lots of FLAT.


    1. Martin
      You are correct, the 2013 Taste of Carolina profile is drastically different than that which I rode in 2012. The new route seems to promise much more ocean vistas.
      I hope the climbs of the Vail Pass Volley will increase my ability to endure potential winds in North Carolina in October.