Will you have a car to get to different places to start?
I was going to suggest this book "Road Biking Colorado" by Michael Seeberg, but it appears to be out of print. It shows a ton of great looking rides in the Canon City & Florrisant areas. Honestly, I don't think there are a ton of choices right in Salida, but if you have a car, there's a ton of stuff in a 50 mile radius.
Hwy 50 is reasonably safe east of the pass. Probably safer than on the pass. I've ridden it, it's only OK.
Are you referring to North Cochetopa Pass (hwy 114) as the loop to the South? It is really beautiful, and very remote. That would be a very long ride.
Out of Buena Vista, ride up to the top of Cottonwood Pass to the west. 12K'
Out of Twin Lakes, ride up Independence Pass 12K', and over to Aspen and back if you want.
Ride the Buena Vista Century route - would be easy to self support, as you can get everything you need in Leadville. http://www.bvbf.org/extra-files/bvbf-alt-map.jpg
Out of Leadville, ride the COpper Triangle route http://www.coppertriangle.com/course.html
very easy to self support, lots of services at the vertices of the triangle. I prefer counterclockwise, because Vail Pass from the west is just so hard.