Thanks for the reply; I'm kind of leaning towards staying in CO, so if anything major goes wrong (like falling off a cliff) I'm not far from a ride back to Denver. Someone was nice enough to suggest some routes in Co. (see below) Let me know what you think of those. Thanks again
Here is a nice one, google says 463 miles. Since we did this there has been a lot of beetle kill in Colorado which may have affected parts of this route.
We also really liked the San Juan 8 trip. A bit of a drive from Denver.
The San Juan 8 is a bit hard core with the inclusion of a leg of the Alpine Loop over Cinnamon Pass on a 4WD road. You might think it is a bit like backpacking! We all walked a bit. It is extremely beautiful country though. A layover in American Basin near Cinnamon Pass to hike Handies Peak (14,048') and check out the wild flowers would be recommended. Redcloud Peak (14034 ft), Sunshine Peak (14001 ft) could also be done from a bit east of American Basin. Those two are usually done together in one day.
If you want to make the first choice longer (613 miles) you could change it to
or even longer (681 miles)
If you do this version it is worth adding a layover day in mesa verde national park to ride out and back to take some cliff dwelling tours. You can see photos on the San Juan 8 tour.
You need to be a bit careful with the google maps links, they tend to change the route with time and it might not be what I intended and I didn't check every mile. But I have ridden every mile (although not in the order presented) so as you narrow it down I can make sure they are correct.
Southwestern CO has not had much beetle kill, so it is as beautiful as ever (which is to say very beautiful).
All these are going to have a lot of climbing. I don't know how you would train for climbing and elevation in Florida. I would recommend some acclimatization to high altitude before you start in earnest. The only one of these with any dirt is the San Juan 8, and it has a fairly long section of moderate 4WD road. You should expect it to be cold at night up high, perhaps 30-40 degrees F.
I could route you out of Denver if you really want or need to start there, but I think the first two days out of Denver (and back) may not be quite as nice. The nicest route I know out of Denver would head northwest over Trail Ridge Road (12183'), this would be nice riding but is a bit out of the way for the routes above. It is also possible to ride up the I70 corridor. We did go up the I70 corridor when we did the Western Express which we started in Boulder instead of Pueblo. The I70 corridor has lots of beetle kill these days. An amazing side trip in the I70 corridor is Mt. Evans, it is paved all the way to the parking lot above 14,000'. The parking lot is about 100 feet below the summit. I think this ride (Bergen Park - Mt. Evans - Bergen Park) is the most beautiful day ride I know of in the USA. Thunderstorms (specifically the lightning) are a definite problem on this ride.
You may want to write these people for a free map. The scale leaves a bit to be desired but it gives a nice overview and details of the I70 corridor.
Feel free to write back with your thoughts and I can help adjust the recommendations to your desires.
On 5/20/2011 9:10 AM, Steve Mrachek wrote:
> Web site information request firstname.lastname@example.org
(Steve Mrachek) on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 10:10:30.
> realname: Steve Mrachek
> message: Steve,
> I accidentally came upon your site and was impressed with your travels. I am planning my first "solo" unsupported bike tour and had planed to go from Portland to Denver. But now because of time restraints I am considering just doing 2 weeks starting in Denver (I have a daughter who lives there, I'm from south Florida) and ending in Denver. I am a avid cyclist but have done no long distance touring before. I'm just at the beginning of this experience and do not even have a touring bike yet, but have been researching. Used to do a lot of camping and backpacking in my pre marriage and children days. Was wondering if you could recommend a nice route leaving Denver and returning in about two weeks. I'm a little familiar with the area, did the MS 150 last year with my daughter (Denver to Ft Collins) and also dragged my wife on a 5 day hiking trip from Estes Park to Allenspark. Any advice on anything would be deeply appreciated. Thanks